Vale Berto

We lost one of our own over the weekend.

Robert ‘Berto’ Osterlund passed away at home in Chicago after a hard battle with cancer, he had just turned 71 years old.

He leaves behind wife Lucy, and adult children, Mike, Laura, and Chris.

Berto became ‘Berto’ during a stint in the Philippines as a member of the Peace Corps. He not only came back with a new nom de plume but also a new bride in Lucy.

Berto was a foundation member of Wargame Design Studio (WDS) when it was established in August 2016. John Tiller had just passed us the rights to develop Panzer Battles, and Berto joined myself (David Freer) and Mike Avanzini as we looked to improve that game series. Berto’s love of the American Civil War saw him volunteering to work on the Civil War Battles series and he subsequently took over Panzer Campaigns, First World War Campaigns and Modern Campaigns as well. This was half of all the titles John Tiller Software was publishing at the time.

In tandem, Berto was working with Jason Petho and the Campaign Series Legion to develop the Talonsoft John Tiller’s Campaign Series that had subsequently been bought by Matrix Games/Slitherine. The result was Middle East 1948-1985 and Vietnam 1948-1967. Both had some of the best AI in the genre, all thanks to Berto.

Many of the innovations you are seeing in the WDS releases such as standardised user interfaces, hotkeys, variable victory locations, folders and a raft of game engine and other enhancements is thanks to Berto. He pioneered many of our improvements and the other teams subsequently lifted them and applied them across our other series. We have been fortunate to have had such a collaborative group of programmers as there has been a flow of ideas and execution both ways.

But more than anything, Berto was a fantastic human being. Always calm, he was a joy to work with despite us all operating virtually in multiple locations around the world. His love of history was a major impetus for him becoming a member, but it was his pride and love of family that shone through. He regularly talked about the achievements of his children, considering it one of his greatest successes in life.

We are all going to miss him. He has helped and guided us over the last eight years and our thoughts are with his family and friends as they prepare to both farewell, and celebrate a life well lived.



  • Mark Rue

    My Deepest condolences to Vale his Wife and Children may he rest in peace.

  • Josh Jansen

    True Gentleman. All my interactions with him were cordial and receptive. Me being a nobody didnt matter, he seemed to read and give my opinions and ideas actual thought. Sorry to see him go, and send best wishes to his family. Thank you, Sir!

  • Ian Leask

    Really sad to see this, the passing of a real giant of the world of wargames design. May he rest in peace.

  • Richard White

    My condolences to the family and the company

  • Mike Mihalik

    Left a message of condolence at the Mason-Dixon Tavern, but after reading this, my respect for this man has only increased.

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