Essential part of the concept behind Land of War is a thorough reconstruction of real, historical events and places. In today’s article we briefly how we find balance between playability and historical facts.
Everything starts with research.
We started our work on the game from collecting dozens of memories, stories and historical descriptions from WWII events that took place on Polish soil. In particular we were interested in September 1939 defensive war against Nazi Germany, but we also searched for inspiration in depiction of later resistance and sabotage actions.
We quickly realised that – despite losing the first accord of WWII – this part of war was so incredibly rich with heroic deeds and twists of fate, it is this moment in history we want to depict in Land of War. So we focused on numerous, sometimes hardly known episodes of this hot and dry September, 1939.
We have seen two more advantages of choosing this particular moment in time as the canvas for the game: first, no one ever made a game about these events, second, the weapons and vehicles used in this phase of WWII were hardly – if ever – used in games.
How did we fit our plot into historical events.
After long discussions,form the whole gathered material, we picked some 20 stories which, for various reasons, appealed to us the most and only then our real research. To make sure we understand how an event took place, where, who was involved, what tactics and equipment were used, we travelled to see the place ourselves. We took lots of pictures, visited local museums, bought books on the topic and talked to custodians of such places. Undoubtedly, major part of the job was done in the Internet, by browsing on-line archive resources and contacting reconstruction groups and history aficionados.
For each location we had to find out which army units were involved and – as a result – what type of equipment, weapons and uniforms could be used on both sides of the conflict. We also wanted to show less known, conceptual weapons, native to this war theater and not utilised in later stages of WWII, because Polish equipment was not used by other armies and German equipment was quickly replaced with newer constructions, created on the basis of experience gathered during Polish campaign.
Because our game is a traditional FPS we had to adjust some aspects of the history. Either the battlefield was too big and would take hours to pass, too plain, so there was nowhere to hide or we added trenches and ditches, so our hero could sneak in and out of places unnoticed. The goal was to keep the location graphically attractive and interesting to play. On the other hand some locations were so iconic we decided we should not change anything there and adjusted our plot instead.
Another important job was to find references for structures and machinery critical to the location but entirely destroyed during the conflict. Sometimes national archives were the place to go, other times we used sources as exotic as ebay or internet arms auctions.
To get a better feeling of depicted events, some of us sent to a shooting range, where they could understand the intensity and loudness of a battlefield and well as contemplate the sheer force of a kickback when shooting Mauser 1898 rifle and other weapons.
It took a lot of effort to convert collected materials into interesting plot and great gaming experience. Maintaining proper balance between staying true to historic facts and requirements of playability resulted in a product which will provide players a very satisfying experience.