I Have A Dream…
By Adam Bryant, Director – MadMinute Games
Almost 5 years ago, I convinced Norb (Norb Timpko, my partner at MadMinute Games) that there was a hole in the niche market of wargames. I told him that we could fill this void with a new style of wargame that could break the mold. So, he & I started MadMinute Games. Take Command was to be the brand name for this innovative style of Real-Time wargames. I am a historical wargame fanatic. Norb...not so much! However, instead of that being a negative, it ended up becoming a strength because of the ideas Norb brought to the table from playing different game genres than me (FPS-RPG Fantasy games).
We had loads of ideas that we blended together to make some real juicy components of what we felt would be the ultimate wargame….I mean a supreme all encompassing, persistent gaming system where the player could play the role of any historical leader and take him thru the entire conflict!!! Only problem was… we were just two people who worked full-time during the day and had no funding whatsoever. If this was going to happen it would be on our own free time… nights/weekends/vacations…and would take a long time because it would have to be made from scratch.
As we worked on the engine it became quite clear that the sheer scale of our dreams would sink even the most passionate efforts. We had to make the game system in modules that increased in scope & scale with the every release. That was a hard truth for us because we wanted to do it all the first time out! So, what module do we start with first? The hardest! It has got to be the development of a real-time, tactical combat model…and so that’s where we started.
Understand this…I’m a Starbucks Napkin Designer (can I copyright that?). Meaning I am a caffeinated, passionate dreamer with too many ideas to count, let alone write down fast enough. A paper scrap, PostIts, napkins, talking, & keeping the entire design floating in my head is the way I design a game. Norb is a programmer…logical, analytical, & meticulous. Anyone see a potential problem here? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Well, poor Norb had to interpret all my conversations, scraps, & napkins into game code. I don’t think anyone else but Norb would’ve had the patience to do it. He organized and coded the foundation for what I believe (and many critics too) is the best 19th century real-time combat engine ever written for a PC.
The hardest part of a tactical wargame is the AI. It took Norb & I over a year to design and implement it. The problem is how to make units behave realistically and not like mindless robots. Norb & I wanted there to be a real human component in the game that allowed for AI controlled leaders to interpret their orders based on how they see it. Anyone who studies history knows that humans do the darnedest things when the bullets start flying. Troops you’d count on to fight...don’t…Officers you depended on to follow orders…didn’t!!…and everything in between.
Well, how in the heck do you code that?! Norb did. Together we designed many different formulas that would take tons of factors into account. This means that during a battle, a player can never be too sure what’s going to happen because leaders and units will react differently to a situation every time the game is played…just like real life!
We wanted to make fighting a Take Command battle flow in an organic and natural way… where there are times of quite stillness where the player is marching his men into positions on the map. And then explode into furious desperate combat where the player can barely catch his breath…and all of this without being a click-fest. We wanted to make a game system more like chess than checkers, but still with the excitement of real-time. And we did.
Take Command: 2nd Manassas is our new release due out April 18th. It is the finest and most accurate American Civil War game ever made. It was born out of pure passion...and we think it shows.