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Small Battles

Dwarf King

So I teased two projects in the New Year’s posts, one of which was this one: “Small Battles”. It is a tactical battle system that I’ve been working on in one form or another for a very long time. It originates in the battle engine work I did on the Imperium project and builds on those ideas together with a lot of my board and miniature gaming experience.

“Small Battles” is a simple, but comprehensive game system that covers the battles of ancient and medieval warfare. The system features low unit density (20 units or less per side), fast battle resolution, and simultaneous turn-based gameplay. The system should be ideal for multiplayer, so that will be one of the features that I will be looking to implement at some point (though perhaps not in the first version).

The game focuses on the big picture of battles: as a General, you use the limited amount of command points at your disposal to direct your units, initiate combat, and rally or inspire your troops. The troops themselves are distinguished by their quality, morale and type, with enough detail to distinguish between the tactical strengths and weaknesses of legions and phalanxes, warbands and disciplined troops, and troops fighting in open or closed order. The map will be a low density square grid, but this does not mean that terrain plays less of a role. On the contrary, every terrain feature represented has an impact, making the right use of the battlefield critical for victory. Each turn will give the players difficult decisions about where, how, and when to expend their limited units and command resources on the battlefield.

Visually, I am still in the process of deciding how the battles will look, before I finalize the specs for the artwork. One possibility is a top-down look with the player attacking up from the bottom; essentially, the boardgame look. Units would look something like the illustrated counters that you’d encounter in a game like Rome at War and similar boardgames. The alternative I’m considering is the sideways unit view, similar to Imperialism and the old Heroes of Might and Magic series. I’m happy to hear what you guys think – just post on the forum – with one caveat: you guys asking for Pirates and Traders to be 3D – I’m sorry – it’s just not going to happen. ;-) I have enough work to do without having to deal with annoying OpenGL inconsistencies on the Android platform.

The first version of the game will be single-player, released free, and focus on a small selection of historical battles (mostly Roman) and historical armies (Celts, Epirote, Italian). Depending on interest and how much time I get to work on this, I will add multiplayer and (hopefully) a battle editor that will allow players to create their own battles that they can play against the AI or against friends for free. Then we’ll see where it goes from there. The battle system is going to be pretty flexible, so the possibility to extend the game system with additional armies and additional battles in DLC obviously exist if the game has enough of a fanbase to make that worthwhile.

If not, then I have other plans for the system. For one, the battle system will be used in my other project for this year, “Dwarf King” (more on that one later). Secondly, when/if I get around to developing “Pirates and Traders 2″, this battle engine will probably be the one used for the port attack battles.

My schedule is pretty much nonexistent at the moment (too much going on to plan), but if there was a schedule, it would say that an early, very limited test version of the game might come out during the next two months. We’ll see if I manage to make that deadline. I’ll also be setting up a Facebook page once I have some more visual material to post. Otherwise, watch my Twitter (or subscribe to the RSS feed of this blog) if this piques your interest.

Thanks for reading.