Well if you came here for a first look at our Battle of the Bulge game you’re out of luck! But don’t turn tail just yet. It’s early days.

I’ve not had the game that long but have played through it several times. I’ve also amassed quite a bit of research as I’m also involved with Academy Games’ Conflict of Heroes Bulge game. The two games differ in scale though – CoH being tactical and this being .. maybe grand tactical(?) or operational(?). I’m sure I’ll be corrected. What’s important is that it’s not tactical.

Bulge early playtesting

Yes that's a Liverpool FC cup. YNWA!

I have very definite thoughts on tactical artwork. To me, tactical is all about people and their stories. Individual men, machinegun crews, tanks and the world they are fighting through. I like my tactical maps to reflect that world and to provide a framework and enough background detail to build the story on. The world is alive, was inhabited before our guys arrived and usually still is. It is the opposite of sterile.

However grand tactical/operational is a step removed from the individuals. Their story is not important and the artwork becomes more functional. You’re more concerned about blitzkrieging your battalion to cut off the enemies supplies and for that you need to know more general features and have to have a clear idea of the bigger picture.

Redmond Simonsen’s work hasn’t had as much influence on me as it has on some of the rest of the team but his ideas are based on sound graphic design principals. Saying that I’ve got to put my hand up and admit I really didn’t like a lot of the early artwork and don’t like some of the modern work thats based on his teachings. Not to say it’s not technically and functionally very good but it’s 2012, not 1970. The world has moved on and people’s expectations have changed. Yes the core functionality and graphic design principals are unchanged and are still essential, but we’re all a lot more visually and aesthetically sophisticated and what was acceptable then no longer stands up.

[aside title=” “]Let’s not forget that we are in the business of making computer games, not board games, and expectations are different[/aside]And lets not forget that Shenandoah is in the business of making computer games, not physical board games, and expectations are different. Much of our audience will not be traditional wargamers. They’ll want an engrossing, challenging, fun experience that’s deeper and more rewarding than the casual games flooding the market and meets their graphical expectations for a computer game in 2012. But then the most important audience to us as gamers (from a ‘we love you guys’ point of view rather than economic) is the traditional board gamers who’re expecting the well established war game conventions to be maintained.

So can we meet the expectations of both with out one or the other being dissappointed? The answer is .. I hope so. I can’t see the future and can’t predict how successful we’ll be, but I’m feeling confident both will be satisfied.

Of course I’m saying all this before I’ve begun designing the visuals but hey.

We’ve a plan. A list. A great team. It’s all good!

If you’ve read this far I’d really be interested to hear your comments about anything I’ve mentioned above. If I knew everything I’d be unfeasibly rich and extremely bored so I’m open to any suggestions, opinions or advice.