Hey Artists, Unity of Command WANTS YOU

We’re looking for an artist to add to our team for our secret new project. In case you’re reading this post because you want to know what that project is, you are welcome, but frankly I’m not going to spill an awful lot because it’s still, you know… secret.

Unity of Command, just in case you haven’t heard of it before, is a truly awesome WWII wargame we made a few years back. We are now moving on, and are making a not-entirely-unrelated new game. You can find out more about the original game on this site.

Anyway, we are looking for a 3D environment artist, who would be comfortable working on a hybrid of a somewhat realistic environment and an information-heavy map. If you’re unsure of just what I’m talking about, look at our previous game… that, only in proper 3D, m’kay?

Are YOU this artist? Here are some more details about the job:

  • we are looking for a freelance/contract artist. We pay reliably and on time. At the same time we request that you deliver on time too (within reason, we’re not monsters alright).
  • you must not be working under a contract that could enforce ownership of your work. If you are currently working for a games company, you need to have a contract that states that they don’t have any claim to work done in your spare time.
  • feel free to send us your portfolio, or some other form of a reference. Frankly, we are not interested in people who have never done this kind of work before. Some sort of relevant prior experience is a must.
  • finally, being a fan or just having previous experience with Unity of Command would be very much appreciated, but please don’t bullshit us on this point. We would be just fine working with someone who only just heard of this game. Provided they are awesome, that is :-)

If you’re thinking “hey, this is me!”, please do email me right now: tom at unityofcommand.net.

Otherwise, if you know someone who’d fit, or simply work in games and want to help: please tweet/repost/share this to anyone who you think may be interested.

Thanks!

 

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My Finnish Addon for Black Turn

In 1990 I moved from a relatively luxurious and warm childhood existance under the Mediterranean sun, to a freezing and, to me, unknown country at the north eastern extremity of Europe. Finland was its name and over the next 6 years I came to appreciate the initial(!) un-welcoming atmosphere of this country and – more importantly – the moral tenacity of its people. ”Moral tenacity” looks weird even as I write it, but to further describe what defines this country and its people to me… Well that would take five books and a shrink!

At the time World War 2 did not interest me. But later in life, when this era of history became my all-consuming interest one of the first things that struck me was this: Finland – then and now a social/liberal democracy – fought on the side of Nazi Germany?!? What?!

As always with history the whole story turned out to be more complicated than expected. In essence the Finns were caught in the same (yet opposite) situation as that of the western allies: Namely they saw themselves forced to ally with a gruesome dictatorship to attain their own – arguably noble – goals.

Putting aside moral dilemmas and the intricacies of history: There were also many large and interesting battles fought between Finland and the Soviet Union in the years 1939-1944. And this is where Unity of Command comes in…

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Designer Notes – Black Turn DLC

Just as emperor Barbarossa drowned in the Saleph river during the Third Crusade, the Germans would eventually be stopped at the Don and Volga in 1942 in their attempt to occupy European Russia. You will know that part of the story of the war in the East, as told in countless books and wargames and in the original Unity of Command and its first DLC, Red Turn. Black Turn covers the first part of that epic tale, where you’ll get the chance to rewrite the rest of the story by capturing Moscow.

First, a summary of the situation you’ll be facing in the various campaign scenarios.

The initial scenarios cover the drives to Pskov and the Luga beyond it by Army Group North, to Minsk and Smolensk by Army Group Center, and to Kiev and the banks of the Dnieper by Army Group South and Army Group Antonescu. Time works against you, but you have strong mobile forces and enough supporting infantry to deal with any Soviet resistance.

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Black Turn – Operation Barbarossa 1941

uoc_black_turn_teaser

Operation Barbarossa, as a historical event, should not need much of an introduction. It was the largest invasion in the history of warfare, part of the largest military confrontation of all time. The nature of the operation, and its actual historical flow, are perfectly suited for the Unity of Command system. We always knew we were going to do it eventually.

Still, it took us full two years, from the game’s original release in 2011, to complete the Eastern Front trilogy with a Barbarossa campaign. For me at least, it was worth the wait. The scenarios, designed mostly by Pieter de Jong (aka ComradeP), are some of the best in the series. The campaign is longer than “Stalingrad Campaign” and it flows more naturally from easier to harder, as the fortunes of war change for the invading Wehrmacht.

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Testing Ahoy!

barbarossaWe’re starting the beta test for our Barbarossa DLC this week, and I’m real happy for it. I get asked about the new content quite often, and it feels good to finally move from vague reassurances that it’s going to happen, to actually having something to show to people. :-)

I won’t spill too much about the DLC itself at this time. There will be a proper announcement going out at a later date (in a few weeks, say). If you join us for the test you’ll be able to see everything for yourself soon enough. To do that, please send email to testing at unityofcommand.net promising that you will “play it to the death” or “play the crap out of it”, as is customary with our tests by now.

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Good Luck in Court

I got myself into a mini spat with whoever is running @onlinekeystore twitter. Here’s a screenshot of what happened:

Soo… “good luck in court”, eh? I searched on google, and it looks like these are UK people who actually went through the trouble of offshoring their business to Singapore. No wonder they’re not worried trampling on people who can’t just hop over to Singapore and sue them there. Good luck in court, indie developer…

But even before that, I was in tears already at “it’s no crime to sell a game”. Take a hint dude: telling off a small indie dev does not make you a freedom fighter. We are not Microsoft, you’re not fighting the Man here. Do not try to portray yourself as something you’re not.

Your later protestations of “we are all for supporting indie development :-)”, and “[you are free to] contact us regarding contracts” tell me much more about you. And yes, that was an actual smiley there. That’s just hilarious. I have a kid, and I see playground bullies with more finesse daily at the actual playground…

As to why this is bad, if you can be bothered with the gory details, read on…

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Introducing Red Turn: The Road to Berlin 1943-45

Hitler: Whenever I think of this attack, my stomach turns over.
Guderian: In that case your reaction is correct. Leave it alone!

The dying days of the Stalingrad Campaign saw the German Army reeling under heavy blows from resurgent Soviet forces. Yet, even as von Manstein’s efforts to restore the situation were still ongoing, planning was already under way for a new summer offensive. With their ambitions now diminished and their apprehension clearly showing, the Germans chose to pursue an offensive agenda for one last time in the East.

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Marginal Gains

We’ve made several changes to “Unity of Command” core game mechanics in our upcoming “Road to Berlin” expansion. It’s not a huge number of changes and really they’re not all that big, as we believe the game is solid basically. That said, some modifications were called for, to correctly capture the Soviet way of war during this “Third Period of the Great Patriotic War”.

#1 Disbanding Units

You are now docked between 25 and 200 prestige when you disband a unit. The only exception is the first (in a scenario) disband of a weak unit which is free, otherwise the costs mount rapidly.

This should quickly put a break on various gamey tactics that involved disbanding a large number of your own units, especially in the last turn. The precise formulation of the rule is as follows: for the first disband in a scenario your prestige penalty is 50 (0 if the unit is weak), for the second it’s 100 (25) and for third and all later disbands it’s 200 (50).
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Map Making for Fun and Profit

If you’ve been following the goings-on with Unity of Command, you may know that we’re working on an expansion that follows the Soviet forces as they advance westward after the battle of Kursk. The working title for this expansion is “Road to Berlin” and while that work is progressing nicely, I’ve hit a snag unexpectedly a few weeks ago when I found out exactly how much mapmaking I need to do.

Now, maybe I should’ve realized ahead of time that the USSR was a big place and that mapping it is going to require some effort. Then perhaps I wouldn’t be so surprised at how little of the map I managed to complete on my first day. But I guess I was misled by the nature of terrain around Stalingrad, which is what we had in the original game – and it turns out it’s nearly featureless in comparison with the other sections (Danube delta and Leningrad area shown here).

Anyway, since it looks like I’m going to be mapmaking for a while, it’s a good time to write down a little bit of something about each of the steps involved in making the map.

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Cast in Bronze

Although it’s been high time I post something relevant about the game on the blog for a while now, it took for some nice people to actually give us an award to get me unstuck (writers block, you know).

Anyway, a big thanks to the discerning wargamers at comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.war-historical for awarding us the 3rd place in their annual Wargame of the Year poll for 2011.

For me it’s a bit of a surprise. I was aware of the award since I’m a sometime lurker on this newsgroup, just never thought we’d actually get that much traction with the more hardcore wargaming crowd. Still, it’s much appreciated!

Of course, if you didn’t know beforehand, the continued existence of Usenet could be an equally big surprise to you. Well, it’s still alive thank you, and thanks to google groups you can now easily access most of the newsgroups (I think posting is possible too). It’s also remarkably spam-free, I guess this is due to google deploying some of its anti-spam firepower.

On second thought, I’m actually surprised this hasn’t caught on with hipsters. Because it’s so like 70s, the Usenet, eh? :-)

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