As the year marches on inexorably, it only feels like yesterday that we shared our Quarter One Update.
The release of our Quarter One Update prompted a lot of comments and questions and we attempted to answer them in a follow-on Blog post here.
But here we are in July, and we know you would all like a peek at what we’ve been working on in the second quarter of the year.
Firstly, thank you for all that supported us in the recent sale. We were really pleased to see a range of both previous and new customers. A few statistics comparing this year to last year, for you all. The number of orders we took daily was up by approximately 10%. The average order value though was down by 15%, but this in the main was driven by a range of $0 value orders as people ‘bought’ demos. The more pleasing statistic was the increase in sessions. Sessions are based on time, with each session being up to thirty minutes. Visitors to the website will be considered a single session unless they stay for longer, with another session recorded every thirty minutes. The number of sessions were up by over 215% daily compared to the sale in June 2021. Many of you visited more often and spent longer looking through the various collections on the WDS site. The posting of blog posts also helped drive traffic and in the case of the Panzer Campaigns – France ’40 blog post, materially increased the sales of that title. All in all, we are very happy with the sale and saw many of you adding to your libraries.
So, what has happened over the last three months?
We released a brand-new Naval Campaigns title: Kriegsmarine. This introduced a range of enhancements to the series engine as well as improved graphics and additional fidelity. You can read about the game and its enhancements here. The title has been very well received and has been followed up with a 4.01 update to Wolfpack. The details of the patch are here.
The next planned games to be updated are the Pacific pair of Midway and Guadalcanal. This may move the whole Naval series to version 4.02 as there are several features and issues that we would like to address in all titles, including Kriegsmarine and Wolfpack. Jutland and Tsushima will follow.
All fifteen titles in the Napoleonic series were updated in May to version 4.01.
This was a major series of enhancements tackling engine changes, graphics, and documentation changes. User interface enhancements with our new toolbars were also included and several titles also saw the scenario descriptions formatted and standardized. The remainder will have their scenario descriptions updated over time. You can read more about what was included in the 4.01 updates here.
We have just started to share our planned updates for the 3D graphics using Campaign Waterloo as an appropriate showcase. This is work that Rolf Hall and Nick Ferry have embarked on. This is a large job and will take time, but you can see below some examples of the changes in a range of before (left) and after (right) shots. Hopefully some of these will be in the future 4.02 updates. (All images can be clicked for full size - if available)
Civil War Battles
The Civil War Battles series saw a brand-new Demo released in June, not surprisingly called ‘Civil War Battles Demo’.
The Demo covers the Bristoe Station engagement in 1863. All going well, we may add more content to this Demo in the future. You can read more about the Demo here. With sixteen titles in the Civil War Battles series and the major 4.01 patches released in March, we believe this presents the most complete collection for Civil War gaming enthusiast in the computer wargame market. Many of the 3D unit enhancements now appearing in the Napoleonic series had already been completed by Frank Mullins, so any future enhancements will be engine related. There is no plan for any additional full Civil War Battles titles.
Game Series Demos
As far as Demo’s overall, we now have five: Civil War Battles Demo, Napoleonic Campaigns The Final Struggle, Panzer Battles Demo, Panzer Campaigns Mius ’43 and Squad Battles Grenada. We are planning to have a Demo title for each series and in some cases, review the content in the existing Demo’s. More on that soon, but providing a Demo allows you to try before you buy. One final comment regarding the Panzer Battles Demo. We are planning to upgrade that very soon as a ‘new map’ has broken the Getting Started scenario and that is not the best introduction to that game series. We will message when the update is available, but it will also include our new toolbars and a range of other enhancements.
Regarding Panzer Battles, there has been an increase in the number of queries on the status of the Panzer Battles – Moscow title. The good news is that the project is progressing again. We are planning to dedicate a blog post to what is included in the title and the overall status soon, but we can provide a short summary here.
We have decided to expand the map to allow us to cover some interesting operations in January 1942. You can see below the current jump map and the new jump map including the expanded area. The master map is expanding from the current 856,100 hexes to over 1,061,000. That is a 25% increase of 205,000 additional hexes. To give an idea how large this map is, the map in Panzer Battles – Kursk is 102,600 hexes (10% the size of Moscow) and Panzer Battles Normandy is 393,500 hexes (37% the size of Moscow). A big thank you to Mike Avanzini who has labored long and hard on both the map and the Order of Battles.
We already have seven major operations mapped out and underway ranging from October 1941 through to January 1942. One of the operations recently started is the fall of Klin in November 1941. We have found some superlative, contemporary Soviet maps that are really assisting with laying out where units were at particular dates and times.
The maps, matched up with the Soviet General Staff volume on The Battle of Moscow 1941-1942 has really helped pull together this particular operation.
The expanded map is going to allow us to add battles around Yukhnov in early January 1941 as per Panzer Campaigns – Moscow ’42 where 1st Guards Cavalry Corps took on a stretched 19th Panzer Division. The following two screenshots are from the Panzer Campaigns title.
It will also allow us to include the Soviet airborne operations around Znamenka in late January 1942 which was one of the largest early war parachute operations after Crete in 1941. Included will be the Soviet attempts to breakthrough and reach the airborne troops.
This again will be a large operation with a range of scenarios created from the larger situation. We have enough potential content that this could end up being two titles. We will know a little further into development whether that will be the case but with a map of this size we are spoiled for choice. As mentioned, we will do a deeper dive in a future blog post, but here are a few teaser images of existing work.
In our Quarter One update we highlighted the work to upgrade Squad Battles. This is progressing, but never as fast as we would like. As mentioned previously Squad Battles - Advance of the Reich is our prototype for the remainder of the game series. We have a clear list of enhancements and fixes we want to include with the 4.01 updates for this series and now dependent on programming and graphical input. Like all projects we have allowed a little ‘scope creep’ into the mix and these will be significant upgrades when available. This has put pressure on our programming resources, so it is all about prioritization currently. We don’t want to announce additional features beyond what was shared in the Quarter One Update, but we hope you will be delighted with what is planned. To give an idea of some of the differences here is the original unit ‘heads’ in the 4.00 release of Advance of the Reich. There were ninety-five images for all nations in total.
In the upcoming version, we have one hundred and fifty images for the Soviets and a further one hundred and twenty for the Germans alone, and that is before we include all the Axis minor forces. Our current template calls for five hundred and twenty images in total! Many of these images will be usable in the other Eastern front titles as well as for the Germans on the Western Front, but there is a lot of graphics need for the seventeen titles in this game series. Below you can see the proposed template and graphics planned for Advance of the Reich.
Previously, we also shared the Order of Battle reports created by our contributor Xerxes77 in the last quarterly update. Xerxes77 has continued his work and added a Vehicles and Weapons listing that will also be included in the update. The tool that has been built will allow us to create the equivalent document for each title, using the graphics provided in game. Here are a few sample pages and like all things this is currently work in progress.
Finally, here is some example shots with the German SS and Soviet Marines that are now implemented in game.
We have a lot still to do, but progress is being made and once we have the planned programming done hopefully things will accelerate. We are hopeful that the improvements elevate what is already a very solid tactical game series.
Musket & Pike
The Musket & Pike series which currently consist of two titles: Renaissance and Seven Years War has a range of new projects in development. We are not at the point that we can announce anything definitive at this time but know that there is both a lot of active projects and ongoing development of the engine. We hope to share more before the end of the year.
Panzer Campaigns is also challenging Musket & Pike for the number of titles being actively researched. This is probably surprising with twenty-six titles already released but there are a range of gaps in the coverage of World War Two.
Back in our 2021 End of Year Update we announced that the next Panzer Campaigns game would be Rumyantsev ’43. Panzer Campaigns Rumyantsev ’43 covers the Soviet counterattacks straight after the German operations of Army Group South at Kursk in July 1943.
This title is well into testing and if all goes well, we are hoping to release this title within the next three months. This will also be the first Panzer Campaigns title to move to the new user interface as well as the cleaner folder structure that has been in the more recent updates in other game series. We plan to post a deeper blog entry on this title before release but be assured that our play testers are really enjoying the title, and this was a period where both sides were quite evenly balanced, resulting in some great matchups.
With the release of Rumyantsev ’43 we will be looking to update the other Panzer Campaigns series to what will be version 4.01. You can not only expect the user interface improvements but also a range of tweaks and fixes. One example is that all the headquarters images have been updated by a contributor, John Stevens to include the leader’s image where available. Below you can see some examples of the revised leader/headquarter graphics. Please note that we do not have these for the Pacific titles currently, but all other titles will be upgraded.
As mentioned earlier, Panzer Campaigns France ’40 will be getting a huge increase in content when we release its 4.01 update. You can read more here on what will be included. Mike Prucha and Dave Michas will be moving full time onto their next title and that is already well progressed and covers one of the most underserved campaigns in World War Two. More on that once work progresses sufficiently but expect this to be a unique and interesting campaign, with the hallmark of the detail the Prucha/Michas team has provided to date.
In our Quarter One Update we mentioned that a second Panzer Campaigns title had entered testing in tandem with Rumyantsev ’43 and Naval Campaigns Kriegsmarine. We are happy to announce that the new title is Panzer Campaigns Philippines ’44.
This title is also making positive headway in testing, and we have tentatively set a pre-Christmas release date. The game covers the campaigns in both Leyte and Luzon and covers all the landings as well as fall of Manila, Clark Field and much more. We have been very fortunate to have had support from a Japanese expert that has provided us with a huge amount of information regarding the Japanese forces that was not easily available outside of Japan. We are hopeful that we continue the John Tiller tradition of deeply researched subjects that may not be normally played or accessible in the Western world.
We again will provide a dedicated blog post(s) later in the year as we near release but here are a couple of screenshots to whet your appetite.
We are in the process of migrating and updating the Modern Campaigns Quang Tri ’72 Demo from the mobile platforms across to PC. This will obviously include all the enhancements coming in Panzer Campaigns. We don’t want to commit to a release date yet, but we believe this is the perfect title for the series as well as interesting content.
First World War Campaigns
Ed Williams and team are working on the next First World War Campaigns title and like all things done to date, it will be a very interesting situation and title. We will share more once the title progresses but be assured there is work underway.
Over the last year or so we have seen traffic at our Facebook sites at JTS Wargame Opponent Group and Wargame Design Studios page really increase. This is very positive, but with Facebook’s structure, threads are easily lost over time. This has proved to be particularly an issue with requests for opponents and other topical information.
With that in mind, we have decided to open our own, dedicated Wargame Design Studios forums.
You will be able to reach these forums via our web page in the top menu or directly via this link.
We have forums for all twelve-game series as well as Opponent Finder and General areas. We also have sub-forums for After Action Reports and Design & Modding under each game series. Please consider the first month or so of operation as an open beta as we determine traffic and overall fit for purpose. There is no requirement to register on the forum unless you want to post something. That means all can read the forums content, whether registered or not.
Opening public forums is a big step for us as it adds significant daily overhead in terms of work and moderation so, please all play nice 😊 We already have a lot on our plate!
The forums are available now and we welcome all to visit, read, and register if you would like to post something. The forum will be another way we hope we can positively interact with you all.
We hope this update gives you a view of just some of the activities underway. We really are busy and sometimes our ambition exceeds capacity but be assured we want everything done as quickly as you do.
Till our next post.