This template is my personal vision for how the next Wargame and Steel Division should be made and improved. This is meant for both Eugen Systems and the community. I hope you find it interesting!
Have 4 countries per faction (USSR, DDR, China, North Korea. USA, West Germany, UK and South Korea) in Wargame. The factions in the next Steel Division should be Germany, Japan, USA, UK and the USSR (the core factions during WW2).
Once the core factions are built, you can add more through cheap DLC, to avoid bloating the base game and allow players to pick what additional countries they want. Personally, I would prefer a small number of countries, as the individual countries stand out more.
Invest more in the campaign narratives, as some players are far more into the campaigns than online matches. The next Wargame should take place during the entire Cold War, allowing for versatile campaigns and maps. If the game or parts of it take place during an alternate timeline, state it clearly to avoid misunderstanding.
DIVISIONS AND DECKS
Have 3 deck types: Armoured, Motorised and Airborne. Each of these have unique units and focus on a specific playstyle. Steel Division Normandy 1944 works as a baseline, but the system of historical divisions was cluttered. Each division caters to a different kind of player.
Armoured divisions focus on heavy tanks, heavy artillery and strong long-range AA. Their not very stealthy nature is balanced by their firepower and their units’ ability to take punishment.
Motorised divisions focus on fast transports, infantry, cheap AA and light air support. Hit and run-tactics, stealth and speed are preferred, as motorised divisions are fragile.
Airborne divisions focus on elite paratroopers, full air support and light vehicles. Has no AA. They are very specialised and require careful micromanagement.
The problem with having lots of deck types is that they end up being too narrow, meaning that choosing a specific deck type punishes the player for making a decision, because the limitations imposed upon unit choices are harsher than the bonuses given.
Most decks are ignored for not being competitive online. By having fewer but broader decks in terms of specialisation, the deck types can be natural rather than contrived, fine tuning them is easier and the player gets the bonuses of many special decks in a compact form.
Alternatively, you could have only one division type, with no restrictions, bonuses or exclusive units. In my opinion, this idea of one division with everything available is quite bland, however.
Double or triple the availability of all units, to better reflect the massed battles of the Cold War and allow players to experiment with tactics more freely. This could be tweaked in the game lobby.
Remove naval units or build upon them, with aircraft carriers, submarines and combat divers adding much needed versatility. The current system seems tagged on. Have clearly separated land and sea maps, since they require a different mindset and strategy.
ONLINE MATCHES AND LOBBIES
Separate lobbies for softcore and hardcore players. In softcore lobbies, resource income is much slower, vehicles have unlimited fuel and the focus is on macromanagement, such as players being alerted to spotted units. No profile experience is gained and no Win/Loss ratio is shown. The aim of this is to make the game more welcoming for new and softcore players.
The hardcore players are hard to please but loyal, and softcore players are the opposite, but present a larger potential customer base. By appealing to both of these, you can maximise your profits. Only appealing to casual players is too risky.
The hardcore lobbies would emphasise a competitive atmosphere with none of the concessions of softcore lobbies. By separating these two player bases, both can enjoy the game without getting in each others' way.
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
Greatly reduce the number of units, since certain units are often more cost-effective or simply better than others. Have 2 wheeled transports, 2 tracked transports and 2 helicopter transports with major differences between them, such as Btr-70 and Btr-90, depending on the player’s needs. Currently, there is a lot of very similar transports with minuscule differences, which creates overlap.
Most units are slightly improved variations of the same basic unit with a different paint job, such as the almost ten variants of T-72. Focus instead on improving the game mechanics and realism in terms of unit stats and capabilities, since the units are often criticised for having "invented" stats.
Use the saved resources and development time for researching the "stats" of your units in real life. If you cannot be bothered, make an extensive unit encyclopedia instead, where the capabilities of each unit are listed.
THE DECK BUILDING SYSTEM
The Armory UI is cluttered. All units within a category should, within reason, fit on one page, with multiple weapon and defensive loadouts per unit, in order to reduce the number of units using the same model and increase unit versatility. The stronger the weapon, the less of them you can have per deck, and the more they increase the unit’s final price (bombs cost more than autocannons).
When clicking on a unit’s weapons, separate menus would open up, listing all available loadouts and the total amount of loadouts remaining. Below are a few examples.
USSR --> Anti-tank team --> Fagot, Konkurs or Konkurs-M missiles --> Konkurs-M --> 2/3 Konkurs-M loadouts remaining --> choose a transport --> Btr-70 chosen --> 3/4 Btr-70 remaining
USSR --> Tank --> T-55, T-72 or T-90 --> Choose model, armament and armour upgrades. Notice how units are divided into separate low, mid and high tier categories.
The difference between this and Wargame Red Dragon is that in WG RD all unit variants are listed separately in the armory (especially with infantry), whereas this system focuses on a unit as a basis to build upon and customise.
The aim is to clean up the armory UI and give the player clear alternatives. Strive for a minimalistic UI with as little eye candy as possible, but as much explanation as possible.
GAME MECHANICS, REALISM AND CONVENIENCE
Unit ranks should be Trained, Hardened and Veteran, since their meaning is obvious. Optics and Stealth should be classed as Poor, Medium and Good. Explain what these stats mean, for example: every level in optics adds 100m to detection range. Add Morale as a unit stat, and integrate the bonuses of the Training stat into the unit stats themselves.
Add shrapnel mechanics and different shell types (HE, AT etc.) to artillery, and increased lethality radius around the impact location (the shrapnel kills, not the explosion itself). Currently, artillery is completely optional, which is unrealistic.
Move the FOB outside of the map and triple its supply, as airplanes should require supplies when returning to the airbase. They currently require nothing. Resurrecting dead soldiers with supply trucks should be an optional feature for players, available in the game lobby.
Double the flight altitude of all flying units and the range of all AA units, for a cosmetic boost in realism. AA missiles should chase their target rather than meeting them at a predestined point. Focus on sounds and special effects, such as tanks kicking up dust when firing. Include background noise when choosing tanks, helicopters or planes. Strive for a more authentic feel.
Vehicles and tanks should be able to drive over infantry and roadkill them.
Different colour schemes for units. Resource income should slowly increase over time, to make instant rushing more difficult. Do not have phases in the battle system, it is artificial.
The frontline system from Steel Division Normandy 1944 was a good idea, since it increased focus on the actual battle rather than players hunting each other’s command units. However, the constantly visible frontline made surprise attacks impossible, which requires tweaking. Units should automatically attack enemies they see, because so many players online use Attack Move by default.
Invest more resources into moddability, with all files being in English. Modding provides longevity and attention for a game long after its launch has passed. Bethesda is a good example of this, as games such as Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas and Skyrim are still being played.
Treating your employees well results in more people wanting to work for you, more effective workers and steadily rising profits with a low degree of risk, which keeps investors satisfied. Burning out employees may work in the short term, but results in brain drain from the company.
You could try the free to play-model, with unit skins, additional maps and countries being available through microtransactions. Focus on inspiring rather than coercing the player to spend money. Ask your players what they are willing to pay for.
Exploiting players angers them, and the problem with exploitation is that you will be struggling to stay ahead of regulation. In the long run, investor expectations will become so high that they cannot be met anymore. This is because all the exploitative techniques have been regulated and you lack the customer trust to sell your products the regular way. This can result in a company collapse.
A business model based on customer satisfaction will not skyrocket your profits, but has a low degree of risk with an almost assured increase in profit every year, as customers buy your new products based on how much they enjoyed the previous one, resulting in a snowball effect. This makes it much easier to keep investor expectations manageable and satisfied.
As many large game publishers (EA, Activision-Blizzard etc) ruin their PR, the perceived value of game companies with integrity increases, allowing you to secure future sales by earning the respect of your customers.
You have a player base eagerly waiting for a Wargame 4, and many of your customers resent the Steel Division series as they feel they are being denied what they want. If you want to make more money than you do with Steel Division, make Wargame 4 and make it well. There is great demand, be the supplier.
A smaller well-designed game is better than a larger mediocre one, because it has fewer moving parts and as such is less likely to fall apart and is easier to design. The depth of a game is more important than its size, and ideally you can expand the game’s size without sacrificing quality.
Make the game more approachable for new players without sacrificing the enjoyment of the hardcore community. Focus on player convenience, quality of life features and modding. A happy customer is a paying customer and will likely tell about your game to his or her friends.
If you do not have it, buy the Wargame license. If it is too expensive, you can use crowdfunding, but you have to be transparent. Alternatively, you could merge with the owner of the license, if it seems viable.
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