In Addition to Whiskey, an Army Never Runs Out of Paper.
When playing the battles in Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865), even though the game pace is not hectic, the player will not be able to follow every single corner of the action. To help, the game offers a collection of papers to inform about important development in the front, or to give an overview of the situation and status of the troops. Wasel, our paper, map and typography specialist, web designer, musician, &c. is the man behind the historically inspired papers you will see in the game.
The first paper presented to you, when starting a battle, is the map. Instead of a traditional minimap you see in most games, we decided to go for a full screen map, drawn in historical style, showing the overall situation of the battle. The map style is hand drawn by Wasel Arar, drawing inspiration from the maps Civil War generals had available, usually drawn by the engineer officers under their command. Our digital paper map is cunningly layered with hand drawn elements like wear and tear, the legends &c., but also contains dynamically changing elements like battle information, the units and so on. Some ahistorical choices needed to be made, for example because for game play reasons we need to show commanders’ position on map, which was not done in the historical maps. Here we chose to use commonly understood Nato -symbols.
In comparison to historical maps used by the Civil War generals, ours are, unfortunately, always correct, showing all the roads and details. While having imperfect maps would be a cool feature, making it work for player and AI would be impossible. And of course the player would be able to “cheat” by checking the actual maps…
Orders and Reports.
When entering the Headquarters -view during a battle, you can browse through the most important papers, that the ever busy staff officers have prepared for you. The game’s consolidated report forms, the large folded ones, look just like the consolidated morning report the staff would have made during the Civil War for their commander. The Excel of its time, the report will keep track of everything from service history to breakdown of strength of the units, to victories in combat and ranking within the army. How many men have deserted or have fallen sick? And who is your most experienced commander? Look no further. Player can browse the order of battle in the reports, from army overview to single brigades.
In the headquarters the staff also keeps copies of briefings, as well as the battle field objectives and their status. One noticeable detail is how good the hand writing of the officers was, before the type writer and modern ruggerized computers! When creating the forms, we used real forms as reference, from the condition and look of the paper to fonts. Some of the telegrams you will see, are those really received by the generals during the war. When going through The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies – Correspondence I have also learned quite a lot about how words were used differently back then – and then portray this in the papers you will see in the game to-day.
With your army fighting in the battle field, it’s important to know the latest information about the situation of your subordinates. As the player cannot be everywhere, we decided to teach the AI commanders to send short dispatches when something of note happens. Whether they capture an objective, run into contact with an enemy, or run low on ammunition, a messenger will deliver the information to you to review. The dispatches are also stored during the battle, so you can backtrack the development of the situation later, if needed. The dispatch form used, when creating the messages, was: J.E.B. Stuart’s dispatch to Braxton Bragg on May 11th, 1864.
These papers are some of the small details our talented artists are adding in the game to capture the Civil War -atmosphere. We hope they will help immerse You, the player, to enjoy the game even more.
Gen’l. Ilja Varha,