As promised, we’re going to provide an update on the state of Panzer Battles 3 in this post.
We’ve been working on this title since the release of Panzer Battles – Normandy in December 2015. Normally, a title has an 18 month to 30-month gestation period – as we cross the 18-month mark for Panzer Battles 3, we’re looking at a longer development cycle. That said, we became an independent studio in August 2016 and that has added a lot of overhead – web pages, blogs etc. Additionally, we have released the Panzer Battles Demo (almost like a full release), prepared upgrades for Panzer Campaigns and created our own builds with new features for the existing Panzer Battle titles.
Panzer Battles 3 has continued through our normal development cycle. The process is normally as follows;
- Determine potential topics
- Conduct initial research for feasibility
- Confirm the operation(s) to be covered
- Conduct deeper research to identify battles to simulate in each operation
- Build the initial order of battle(s) based on the identified battles
- Create graphics for all units in the order of battle
- Create game maps for each operation
- Focused research on each battle to start scenario creation and confirm the applicability of the order of battle
- Create the parameter data values to represent any of the unique features of the operations
- Create scenarios, which may also spawn the need to update both the maps and order of battle
- Test the created scenarios and run through an iteration process
- Create campaigns if required and test
- Write documentation including briefings, player’s note’s and Getting Started documentation. Where necessary update the game manuals for new game features.
- Final quality assurance
- Prepare web properties, store pages and PR plan
- Release the game
- Post release patch cycle
We’re currently in the midst of step 10 & 11 – creating (and testing) scenarios. The steps prior is all pretty mechanical. Creating maps and graphics are a standard practice that just requires time. The real creative work is in the order of battle and scenario creation
For the scenarios, we currently have thirty-two completed and in the test cycle. These cover four of the eight proposed operations we hope to cover in the game. Ideally we would have sixty plus playable scenarios in the final game release. Currently there are a further sixteen ‘reference’ scenarios laying out the various order of battles and game maps.
We’ve already released information on two of the operations we’re including in Panzer Battles 3. The first is Operation Sonnenblume (Sunflower) coving the arrival of the Afrika Korps in North Africa. The Mersa el Brega scenario that was included in the Panzer Battles Demo is from this operation. Crete is the second operation that has been publicly shown through our ‘So you want to design a War Game’ blog series. We have almost completed all the scenarios for the Crete operation with fourteen done to date and the need for play against the AI and other variants to be determined during testing.
Of interest, we have found a new source of information for the Sonnenblume operation with the acquisition of the book; ‘Infantry, Artillery and Tank Combat in Libya and Egypt – Volume One from Armour Publishing Limited. You can learn more here; http://www.armourpublishing.co.uk/outlinevolume1.html
Julian Shales book is built up from primary sources and based upon his description we expect to revise the Mersa el Brega scenario quite significantly. His book also covers off a range of operations that we had little data for and has some fascinating comparisons of various weapons systems as well as their effectiveness. He has a particularly insightful view of the performance of the 88mm Flak gun in the anti-tank role from contemporary accounts, that may surprise as it was not as ‘feared’ as many currently believe. If you have an interest in the initial operations of the Afrika Korps, from March '41 to May '41, this is a must have book. The Mobile Force/7th Support Group's Columns fighting Panzer Abteilung Hohman and Gruppe Herff in the Frontier area 11th April - 14th May is something I have not seen documented in any depth, anywhere else. The second volume covering Operations Brevity and Battleaxe is expected out later in 2017.
The testing of the scenarios has been very interesting. As expected, there is a low density of units and room to manoeuvre. The forces on both sides have a range of strengths and weaknesses with variation coming less from difference in the technology of the weaponry than the quality of leadership and training. Many of the Allied forces (particularly the initial Commonwealth Divisions) were worthy opponents for the Germans.
The other interesting observation is the role the Italians play. Other than the initial push into Egypt that led up to Operation Compass, the Italians are not the patsy’s history has written them up to be. The 1941 Italians were quite good units with only their leadership and logistical support letting them down. The Italians made up the bulk of the Axis forces for the whole North African campaign and were effective, particularly on the defence.
We are not planning to release details on the other six (potential) operations just yet, but we’re confident that we will get a good range of tactical and operational situations. The jury is still out on the value of including campaigns (linked scenarios that follow a branching dialog) as we have had little feedback or evidence of these being played when first released with Normandy. We will probably poll the community to get their opinion.
Finally, for reference, we can get a few scenarios done each week dependent on how much time we can dedicate to the game. Unfortunately, there is always lots of distractions such as having to write this blog(!), but be aware we are making solid progress overall. I’m looking forward to moving onto step 13 – Documentation as that is an indication that we’re almost done.
Here are a few more shots from in-game.
Until next time.