the screen before me is an idyllic, impressively nuanced
Pennsylvania farmscape, mottled by text describing features like
“Little Round Top” and “Seminary
Ridge”, along with tattered waving star-deficient US flags
representing blue-uniformed Union troops. “The environment is
procedurally generated,” says Danny Green, whose card states
he’s the President, Lead Programmer, and sole Artist of
Then, Danny blows my mind: “I built the rendering engine in
just over a day.” He calls it the Impostor rendering system
– named as such because the game switches between 2D and
3D just before the average eye could appreciate the
distinction. Notwithstanding some assistance from the Havok physics
engine… a day?
Danny, deadpan yet almost vibrating with nervous intensity, dropped
these little gems throughout the interview. I’ve
been in the presence of genius several times – people who
have the knowledge, energy, and drive to do things that 20 everyday
people, given the same training – would struggle to do.
It’s always a little like this, and I get the feeling Danny
works best when he’s working alone, given loose rein by a
publisher that earnestly appreciates the value of an independent
developer (such as his current arrangement) .
This is confirmed when I ask about his history in games programming.
Danny began programming in C++ at an age when most of us were still
thought that it didn’t get much better than Matchbox cars and
Barbie dolls. Then, in his early twenties, while most of the more
computer literate of us were taking introductory computer programming
classes, Danny had invested a quarter million dollars of his own money
Empires, an 3D online gangster
warfare RTS that (you guessed it) he alone had built. With that game,
Danny had made the mistake of selling the rights to Strategy First and
had no shortage of expletives to describe how that company, now in
bankruptcy, had ill-treated his freshman commercial project.
With Danny’s style="font-style: italic;">Gettysburg: Armored
Warfare, he ‘s
confident that things will go much better. This stands to reason:
Paradox Interactive is a publisher well acquainted with smaller, more
innovative studios making games for nichey audiences (especially the
grand strategy / high-realism wargaming crowd).
Setting aside the astonishment factor occasioned by Danny’s
one-man show, style="font-style: italic;">G:AW
is a monumentally unapologetic genre-fuser. Consider the backstory: a
mad genius travels back through time from 2060, bringing futuristic
weaponry to the Confederate side at the American Civil War’s
turning-point: Gettysburg. A future government responds to
this weird-ass plan by diametrically arming the Union side, and the
stage is set for players to take on the form of generals on both
sides. The highest ranking generals get the best arms and
armament from their time-forward benefactors, but nothing too high
powered. Think steampunk armor and airships, not fusion weaponry and
style="border: 0px solid ; width: 580px; height: 410px;"
alt="gettysburg: armored warfare"
Check out that sweet steampunk
These player generals, rather than a
campaign mode or territorial
control system, are the persistent side of the game; they not only
level up and gain new abilities, but through the item store feature of
Paradox Connect can build and equip their armies (using an army
point-buy basis,typical of miniature gaming). Paradox Connect will also
do things like achievements and stat tracking.
Danny explained that the style="font-style: italic;">Gettyburg: Armored Warfare
will be a true action RTS, meaning that players could command units
around the 9 km x 9 km battlefield as a general or jump directly into
the hobnailed boots of into any of the 500+ unites per side (just over
1,000 total can be on the map at any given time). Up to 64 players can
compete in any given map. But rather than 64 players doing 64
different things, Danny plans to implement a chain of command just like
a real army, with different sized armies (and, of course, different
general abilities) for different ranks.
Despite the name of the game, a variety of different Civil War battles
will be included in the game, so water units will be seen (as well as
the slightly advanced air and ground units featured in the concept art).
If developing the game solo isn’t tough enough, Danny has put
himself on a blistering 8-month development cycle, so launch is
expected in summer 2011 with beta in the next few months. Until then,
we’ll watch Civil War documentaries while reading Paul Di
Filippo steampunk novels and wonder… what if?
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