We have been going back and forth on the question of: should General Staff have a 2D or 3D battlefield? Arguments can be made on both sides. The key points for 3D are:
- we already are storing all the necessary data (we know the height of every square meter on the battlefield)
- we have topographical maps that we can use for the 3D texture
- being in 3D may increase General Staff‘s popularity
A General Staff topographical map in 2D. (Click to enlarge.)
So, after going back and forth on this issue for many months, we finally did some tests (thanks Ed Isenberg!). And here is what the same topographical map looks like utilizing our stored elevation data:
The same topographical map rendered in 3D. (Click to enlarge.)
Well, it’s definitely 3D. But, it appears to me, that we’ve lost more than we have gained. The user hasn’t acquired any new information; hills, rivers, ridges and valleys were all quite apparent in the 2D map. We’ve also lost that wonderful historical Kriegsspiel feel of Victoriana typography and cartography. Our 3D display looks like a wrinkled pigskin and not a map that was used by the General Staffs of the great armies of the world. Also, not being in 3D will facilitate porting General Staff to smartphones.
We certainly would like to hear your opinion. But, as things stand now, General Staff will be moving forward in 2D.
Screen capture of General Staff on April 28, 2016. Click to enlarge.
We are very pleased to show the first actual screen shot from the development of General Staff. This will give you a good idea of what it looks like and how it works. Currently, General Staff is in 2D. We’ve always planned to have it in 3D but, frankly, this looks so great as it is we’re thinking that maybe we’ll just have a 3D view option. Either way, as you can see the elevation display in the lower left hand corner, we have a complete 3D map of the battlefield ‘underneath’ the gorgeous topographical map made by Ed Isenberg. We will use this data for calculating line of sight and movement.
This is what the invisible 3D height map for the same battlefield looks like:
The 3D height map for the above topographical map. Click to enlarge.
Other interesting gameplay features that are visible in the screenshot: there are certain areas of each battlefield that are worth ‘victory points’. This will help establish the goals for the battle. The most important ‘victory points’, however, are the Red and Blue retreat routes.
We anticipate shipping with about 20 different battles from ancient history to the 19th century.
Let’s just start off by saying that General Staff will be in 3D. It’s the only way to display the blocks that represent units. But the question is: should the map be flat with just 3D unit blocks (simulating the original Kriegsspiel ) or should we employ a technique that I used for a project for the U. S. Army in which a 2D topographical map was used as the skin for 3D elevation that was extrapolated at runtime from USGS (United States Geological Survey) data?
A screenshot of a project that I did for the U. S. Army. Click to enlarge.
There are certainly pros and cons for both ideas. Frankly, I like the idea of using a flat, 2D, map with only the unit blocks in 3D. However, the one thing I don’t like about ‘traditional’ Kriegsspiel is that the unit blocks are rigid and always perfect rectangles that do not conform to map contours or allow units to change formations.
On the other hand, I’m concerned that if we go full 3D (like in the above screen capture), it’s going to be to similar to current 3D wargames (I won’t mention names, here).
I’ve tried to keep the overarching theme of ‘simplicity’ for General Staff in clear view. General Staff is supposed to be a fun, simple game where the graphics don’t get in the way of a pure tactical, enjoyable real-time game.
Either way, we will be employing my optimized 3D Line of Sight (LOS) algorithms. That is to say, units behind ridges will not be visible to opponents.
What do you think? Send us a note or leave a reply.
I tell my students that one of the first things they should do when creating a game is design a logo. This may not seem obvious or logical. Probably a lot of people leave designing a logo towards the end of a project. I think this is a mistake.
Click to enlarge.
Once you have a logo it shows everybody working on the project exactly what the feel and image is we’re working towards.
For General Staff I wanted a 19th century feel; something that brought back the original Kriegsspiel, old, faded maps and general staff officers in Napoleonic and Victorian uniforms. The type that I chose (Blaisdell and K22 Monastic) are classic Victorian fonts. The image in the logo is an engraving of the original Kriegsspiel being played; presumably in Prussia.
When you look at the General Staff logo it is obvious what the game looks and feels like; this is not a zombie chasing game, this is not an RPG, this is not Lara Croft, Tomb Raider (games that I all like and play, by the way). General Staff is a thinking game. It is a tactical game.
Ed Isenberg did a fantastic job creating the first map for General Staff.
He perfectly captured the feel of playing Kriegsspiel on an old map; complete with coffee stains and map folds.
The first General Staff battlefield. Click to enlarge.