Interview of Jacob Andersen, Game Director of Heroes & Generals

We had the opportunity to interview Jacob Andersen, Game Director of the online war game inspired by the Second World War, Heroes & Generals. Here's what he told us about this new title that features a mix of shooter and war strategy game on a massively multi-player scale.

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Thanks for giving us the opportunity to interview you about Heroes & Generals.
First of all, could you introduce yourself to our readers?

My name is Jacob Andersen. I work as a Game Director on Heroes & Generals, but also do graphics and a bit of tools programming. I have been making games for more than 20 years now, all the way back to the Amiga days.

How would you describe Heroes & Generals to someone who has never heard about it before?

Heroes & Generals is an action game set in WW2 where you fight it out on the ground. You fight on the ground and in the air using an ever growing arsenal of weapons and vehicles.
The game is set in a persistent world where the war is always being fought. If you play well you can rise to the rank of commander and general and will be calling the shots for the strategy of the war.

We heard that Heroes & Generals will offer two types of play: on one hand, the game is a FPS, and on the other, it is a strategic campaign in a persistent world. First, could you give us some more information about the FPS features?

The FPS is team-based shooting. You join the game in groups (Assault Teams) that consists of different combinations of spawn-types. For instance the standard infantry AT will consist of 1 machinegunner and 7 riflemen, the Armored AT will be 6 tank-crew and 3 tanks. We are aiming at a semi-realistic experience. Not too arcady but not too hard for non-fps players to get into. Sort of inbetween Battlefield and World War 2 Online.

How does the strategic campaign works? What is exactly the role of a general and how will his decisions affect the soldiers on the battlefield?

The ‘generals’ control the Assault Teams movement and battle. The Assault Teams carry the men, tanks and planes used (as spawns) on the battlefield in the FPS game (in the game it’s called ‘Army Resources’). When an AT is moved to a city (or other battlefield) it might clash with an enemy AT and thus producing a mission for players to join in FPS. If no players join the battle, it will be solved on the warserver.

Who are the belligerents? How many factions can the players choose from?

For now players can choose between the US and the German faction. When we introduce the 3rd and 4th factions they will come with an expansion of the strategic game with multiple factions. A faction will be able to split to form a new faction and the factions can join in alliances. This should give us some interesting wars were for instance the US join up with Germany and try to conquer Russia or the British and German joining forces against the US.

Will the players be able to form clans or guilds?

Yes. Actually the Assault Teams and (soon to be implemented) Command Structure is sort-of a clan structure. The owner of an Assault Team will be able to set up rules for who can join at different spawn slots. We are also considering ‘private wars’ for the very dedicated players, so for instance two clans can have their own private war against each other.

Between how many characters or classes are we going to be able to choose? What kind of character progression will Heroes & Generals offer?

We don’t have classes but rather ‘services’. Your character is part of an army-service. Right now the 4 services are ‘The Army’, ‘Paratroopers’, ‘Armor’ and ‘Air Force’. The players can re-equip the character with different weapons to fit the various spawn slots of the AT’s. For instance, in order to be able to spawn as a machingunner you need an Army character equipped with a machinegun. You might call it a ‘soft’ class system.

Characters will rise in rank based on their performance on the battlefield. The highest ranking character will be able to take the role of squad leader in a given battle, directing other players towards a common goal (‘attack this’, ‘defend this’, etc.).

The character earns ‘combat ribbons’ when in battle. The ribbons represent how the character is played and combinations of ribbons unlock ‘combat badges’. The combat badges gives the characters certain advantages when worn. Only 1 badge can be worn at a time (2 if you’re a veteran).

What kind of customization options will the game offer for players’ characters and weapons?

The game have a very elaborate modding system for weapons. The idea is, that players apply ‘field modifications’ to their weapons, tweaking them in a certain direction. Modding gives advantages in one area but also comes at a cost. Loading up with ‘cut bullets’ will increase damage but at the same time decrease precision. Players can customize the weapon to fit their style of play, or have several weapons ready modded for different situations. For instance a player might have 2 machineguns
modded differently, one for long-range open-field fighting and one for close-quarter city-fighting. It’s not a one dimensional ‘upgrade’, but a modification system. You can compare it with tweaking your car in Grand Tourismo :-)

Will Heroes & Generals be free to play?

Yes. Free to play is the way to go for gaming I believe. I think the fact that players can spend as little or as much they want is really good. Some players have a lot of time to play games and some don’t . I’m one of those with a lot of work and a family, so I don’t have much time for playing games. The great thing about twitch-based f2p is that I can pay to get a bit of handicap when playing against teenagers with 70+ hours of weekly ‘training’. I know a lot of hardcore gamers don’t like that and think of it as ‘cheating’, they should be thinking that they’ll still kick my ass in the game but at least it’s more of a challenge to them if I’m allowed to pay my way closer to their level. :-) The game is more fun if a lot of people play it so people who don’t spend a dime also provide value just by being there.

In what languages and regions are you planning to launch Heroes & Generals and do you already have an approximative date to communicate for an international version?

We’re starting with English, but most of the game is already prepared for localization it’s just not translated yet.

From your point of view, what makes this game more fun than others WW2 games?

Hmm... I don’t want to step on anybody's toes here and I think there’s an audience for most WW2 games out there. Wargames is a complex thing and you can’t be perfect to everybody. We are trying to aim for maybe a bit older audience (18-45 years) who want an action game where you have a few
more seconds to stop and think. I think a lot of action games focus too much on the ‘14 year olds’.

Would you like to add something?

I hope there is a lot of gamers who what to check out our game and help us finetune and tweak it. We run an open door development policy where we invite gamers to play the game and give us feedback. We wish to create a game for the gamers, by gamers! So go on and sign up for a Beta-key!

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