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Posted on Jul 17, 2006 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Battlefront – Interview

Armchair General

ACG: Can you give us an update of Battlefront as a whole? What games are next on the release list for 2006/2007? Anything new about the site you’d like to share with our readers?

Oh boy, where do I start. There is so much going on right now. Not only are we publishing as many games as ever before, we’ve also recently launched our own digital delivery platform to allow people to download games right to their hard drive. The launch was incredibly successful for us and supplements (but does not replace) our usual mail-order delivery. One of the neat things is that you can now order the game as both download (to have it on release day) AND as mail-delivery with a fully printed manual (and backup CD). Most people favor this choice apparently.

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After the last three recent releases (Strategic Command 2, DropTeam and at the beginning of July For Liberty!), we still have a few games in development which we’re (very loosely) planning to release towards the end of the year – among them HistWar, the Combat Mission Campaigns add-on to CMBB, and our own new Combat Mission game, Shockforce.

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Sneak peek at Shockforce.

HistWar from game designer Jean-Michael Mathé is well on its way to become THE ultimate Napoleonic wargame ever made. After 10 years of research and development, JMM is really nearing the end, and we don’t intend to rush the last few steps of the way.

Combat Mission Campaigns is also still in development after three years under the lead design of Bruce Poon. As you know, CMC will provide a strategic layer to our Combat Mission Barbarossa to Berlin game. After losing a key member of the team, work is now going at full speed again. I don’t want to predict any release, though, but progress is steady, especially in how CMC will interface with CMBB’s tactical game.

Shockforce will soon enter beta stage officially. Progress is slower than anticipated, but what’s new? At the moment we’re more worried to become OBE (overtaken by events) in our hypothetical near-future scenario of a war in Syria to be honest…

Besides the known games, we also have a couple more surprises up our sleeves! Both are games which have not yet been announced, and at least one of these will be BIG news. And if I say BIG, I mean unbelievable freaking huge news. If all goes well, we’ll spill the beans already this month. Only so much: it’s WW2.

ACG: Speaking of Shockforce, can you tell us how it will be different than the previous versions and name a few features which will bring the series into the modern era? It isn’t even listed as "In Development" on your website. Should we take that to mean it still has a long way to go?

After you said that, we listed it immediately as “in development.” :-)

As I mentioned above, we’re hoping to announce a beta formally pretty soon. So you can say that it’s a long way still I guess before we’re gold as we’re just leaving alpha, but then again the (by far) bigger stretch is already behind us.

CM: Shockforce will be totally different from the previous versions. It’s a totally new game, designed and coded from the ground up, and won’t share a single line of code with the first three CM titles. In a nutshell, what we’ve done is take the experience and the good stuff from the first CM games, digest it, and then design a completely new game with the goal of delivering the best tactical battlefield simulation out there. As such, I guess, the only thing that didn’t change from when Steve and Charles set out to make CMBO, is the goal. Everything else is different. :-)

The new engine allows us to take advantage of all the new technology out there which wasn’t around when CMBO was made. From motion-captured human animations (for CMBO all animations had to be hand-coded! Motion-capturing didn’t even exist for games), to all sorts of new 3D card features (CMBO was made to the specs of the very first 3D video cards!), to an improved set of physics, ballistics and human simulations (like morale) in real time. People who are expecting simply a revamped CMBO or who think that we’re going to take the easy route and simply clone one of the existing RTS clickfest games couldn’t be more wrong.

ACG: A lot of people are also interested in learning more about HistWar: Les Grognards. Can you tell us anything new about this game?

As mentioned above, HistWar will be the culmination of 10 years of research and programming by JMM, and is setting out to be no less than the ultimate Napoleonics wargame. JMM’s dedication can be seen by the meticulous research and representation of historical uniforms down to, literally, the last button; the inclusion of a full selection of historical tactics and formations; the availability of a mindblowing amount of historical OOBs; the ability to program the AI on several strategic and tactical levels; the simulation of runners and so forth… Another good example is that JMM has spent now several months (!) to tweak the code for proper ballistics and trajectories!

Obviously after such a long time we do not want to rush the last few steps to complete the game, so it’s very difficult to predict a release date, but we’re loosely planning for the end of the year.

ACG: With so many good games out there, this may seem like a loaded question, but can you tell us what games you are playing (and hopefully enjoying) these days? This assumes of course that you have time to actually play games!

Actually I do, but only for play(testing) our own games. I play SC2, For Liberty! and especially DropTeam (infantry is yummy!) a lot at the moment, usually beta versions. I have virtually no time for anything beyond that to be honest. But you will find (sometimes unopened) games from all sorts of genres in my office, like Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion or Vietcong 2 or F.E.A.R. Interestingly enough you will find very few RTS games as I find most of them boring mindless clickfest orgies, and you will also find very few wargames except for oldtime classics. Most of these seem to be either remakes of old stuff or so overloaded with details that it doesn’t make any sense (and fun) for me to play them. Others lack even the tiniest bit of innovation. [Shrug ]

Thanks again for your time. We of course are looking forward to many more titles from Battlefront in the future, including this BIG project you mention. We’ll keep our ear to the ground to get the scoop when it becomes available.

Armchair General

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