Battle of the Bulge – Diary
16 December 1944 – The once quiet Ardennes forest erupts with the shells of thousands artillery guns. Under the snow lie the bodies of the first American soldiers caught by a completely unexpected large-scale German offensive.
The Allies have underestimated the Reich’s ability to mobilize its resources, and now they are facing the OberkommandoWest’s charge towards the river Meuse. They race forwards, aiming to gain the banks of the Meuse before the allied air forces can react to stop the panzer march.
Who will win this race against time?
Battle of the Bulge is releasing today for Pc, Mac and iOS platforms, and is putting you in charge of the German or Allied forces during one of the toughest battle fought on the Western Front!
Directly from the product description:
“Command infantry, mechanized and armoured units in hard fights through the various phases of the … Read More »
A new dawn for Shenandoah!
We have been working hard for months on many projects, both announced and unannounced and today we are proud to announce the first stepping-stone of this quiet revolution!
A new version of our first classic game, Battle of the Bulge, is coming to PC, iPhone, iPad and Mac and it will be available on September 17th!
The game engine was ported to a different technology in order to support more platforms and expand Shenandoah’s legacy into the future. There are also numerous improvements to the game including a much improved AI opponent.
Now you will be able to play multiplayer matches across different platforms, using proprietary PBEM++ system and participate in official tournaments, using the new tournaments system recently launched by Slitherine last month.
Join the ranks! Battle of the Bulge is open for Pc Beta!
Shenandoah’s masterpiece Battle of the Bulge, was released for iPad over two years ago. It has been acclaimed as “a must-have for anyone with an interest in historical wargaming” (TouchArcade 10/10), “sleek and accesible turn-based strategy game” (148Apps 9/10) and “simply a great game” (Quarter to Three 10/10).
We have been working hard in making this possible and we are not ready to launch the first beta call for the PC version of the game!
In the mid of January 1944 the last German attempt to regain initiative on the Western Front is launched.
Over 200,000 men and 340 tanks, previously secretly massed and hidden, sprung into action crossing the Ardenne’s Forest with the aim to split the allied forces in two and to repel the invaders to the beaches.
In this turn-based … Read More »
If the sounds of clashing tanks and the roaring of artilleries are set as your alarm clock, we have something special for you!
The whole Shenandoah line-up, including Battle of the Bulge, Drive on Moscow and Desert Fox: The Battle of El Alamein is bundled and discounted at only $ 19.99.
These turn based games are set during the World War II and they will put you in command during three major military operations of that time! Easy to learn, but with a great strategic depth each game is packed with fun for casual and veteran players alike.
Check out the Metacritic scores for all three games and be amazed!
Battle of the Bulge – 85
Drive on Moscow – 90
Desert Fox: The Battle of El Alamein – 84
Grab all the games here!
Gettysburg is now almost ready to go beta.
We are now planning an ETA of end of March to kick off the beta phase for the game. Of course Gettysburg will feature the same level of playability and strategic depth that we are known for, as well as the polish and intuitive interface that made Bulge so exciting to gaming veterans and so welcoming to people who had never played a wargame before.
So if you feel up to the task, keep checking the Slitherine beta area and we will also be posting the news here when we make the beta of Gettysburg available!
Desert Fox has been awarded Wargame of the Year runner up by Pocket Tactics!
“Even with its unfamiliar geography and modified campaign rules, Desert Fox still boasts the accessible core mechanics and careful craftsmanship that have made the Crisis in Command games something special. Mastering those ridges and driers and blasting an opponent out of a sodding minefield were among the year’s best gaming highs – don’t pass it up for fear of a little sand“.
Thanks to Pocket Tactics for the award and to all the fans for making Desert Fox so popular!
Slitherine Press Announcement – For Immediate Release
For inquiries, please contact: Olivier Georges, email@example.com
Slitherine Group acquires Shenandoah Studio
Fine makers of strategy games to continue evolution of portable wargaming
Epsom, UK – September 03 2014.
The Slitherine Group announces that it is partnering with Shenandoah Studio to ensure that their innovative titles have the benefit of multi-channel distribution, backed by the development resources needed to achieve their full potential. Shenandoah Studio, the development house behind iPad successes such Battle of the Bulge and Drive on Moscow, is winner of many awards. The US-based developer was a breath of fresh air bringing innovation to the strategy genre on iOS thanks to a clever, streamlined game design and a state-of-the-art game engine.
“As Shenandoah has grown, the needs of supporting, upgrading, and distributing our current titles imposed ever-increasing burdens on our ability to move ahead with the new material our customers want“, said … Read More »
Reviews on Desert Fox: The Battle of El Alamein are out!
Click here to read articles at Pocket Tactics, Touch Arcade, Pocket Gamer and more.
In a shared folder for Gettysburg: The Tide Turns on our company network a few weeks ago, I saw a bunch of copies of photos of my face suddenly appear. They were added by Art Director Pat Ward, so I reached out to him to see what was up.
It turns out our art department has been hard at work creating filters to make regular photographs appear as etchings. This process will allow us to use a wider range of images and, yet, ensure that they all maintain a cohesive look and feel. – Brad Cummings
Here’s Pat Ward with an explanation of his process:
The historical sections of our Crisis in Command games have always been important to us so naturally we have every intention of including the same level of background information and visual detail in Gettysburg. I wanted to be … Read More »
Desert Fox: The Battle of El Alamein covers a sweeping campaign from the point of view of a commander. In each of those digital units are individual soldiers who fought with bravery. This week we have collected a few stories from soldiers at the Battle of El Alamein from the excellent WW2 People’s War from BBC and other sources.
1. In Debt to the Battalion
Thomas Arthur Murray with the 10th Armoured Division of the 8th Army served and was wounded during Operation Lightfoot. He shared his experience up to the battle starting in summer 1942. One highlight is an officer who informed Murray that if he did not survive the battle, one of the officers would have to pay his 5 pound debt to the battalion. Murray explained he would do his best to make it through. War really shifts perspectives.
Read the full … Read More »
Gettysburg: The Tide Turns captures the heart of the Civil War, immersing you as commander in one of the most important battles of the war. We are building a game that will be both strategic, fun, and thematic. We are still hard at work on development and look forward to getting the game in your hands as soon as we can. In the mean time, why not check out five films we recommend for getting in the American Civil War spirit. Have a film you love that we missed? Let us know in the comments.
This Behemoth of a film captures this decisive battle of the American Civil War. Based on the novel The Killer Angels, it is a staggeringly large film, covering events surrounding the battle as well as the battle itself.
In Glory, Rober Gould Shaw leads the American Civil War’s … Read More »
Live Q&A Session with Designer Mark Herman
Time & Place: Google Hangout OnAir, Thursday, April 17th at 4:00pm EDT
Head here to watch the broadcast:
Why is the map divided the way it is?
What are the space names based on?
Why were Flak guns added to Desert Fox?
You have questions, and we have the man with the answers. Join us Thursday as we sit down with designer Mark Herman to chat about Desert Fox: The Battle of El Alamein.
With every game in our Crisis in Command series, we attempt to capture the important elements of the historical situation while also creating a fun game. Much of this responsibility falls on the designer. Join us as we talk with Mark Herman about how he made this happen in Desert Fox.
About Mark Herman:
Mark Herman is a renowned historical strategy game designer and winner of three … Read More »
Tim Day and Travis Chandler have been working at Shenandoah Studio for the past six months and, later this week, will head back to Drexel University to continue their studies. In the past we’ve highlighted their work on Drive on Moscow and other projects.
For the past few months they have been focused on Gettysburg: The Tide Turns, contributing to the complex groundwork for the game. I sat down with them for a quick chat before they leave, focusing on their Gettysburg work and a their time at Shenandoah Studio.
Brad: Can you tell me a little bit about your specific role in the Gettysburg development?
When I first started working on Gettysburg, I was working on developing some basic tests to make sure the groundwork for the game was properly in place. Things like the functionality of moving units, and checking the amount … Read More »
As we mentioned in our last update, we are using MVC as our software development pattern for Gettysburg: The Tide Turns. Currently, we are focused on the Model and are trying to get all the game rules set and in place. Last time we explained how a command line interface has allowed us to interact with the Model and do testing. Today I want to introduce you to a new method we are using to test the Model: Fuzz testing.
Fuzz testing is the process of using randomized, automated input to test a software program. It is used to quickly root out exceptions or flaws in a system. Security systems use this method to ensure that they are entirely protected. We can use it in Gettysburg: The Tide Turns to look for edge cases in gameplay. The game rules along with … Read More »
Today, most of us interact with computers through graphical interfaces. We use an input device such as a mouse or controller to manipulate objects on a screen. Increasingly we are using touch based devices. 40 years ago, this was not the case. Most interaction with computers was done through text commands. With Gettysburg: The Tide Turns as part of our development process, we have made the game playable through a command line text interface. Why would we take time on this throwback approach? Let me explain.
With Gettysburg: The Tide Turns we are using a software development pattern called Model-View-Controller (MVC). In this approach the model is the base of all game code, rules, functions etc. The view and controller are what the user interacts with. So in the case of Gettysburg: The Tide Turns the controller and view will eventually … Read More »
A wargame’s heart and soul is its map. It is the leading character, the first and last thing a player sees. In the past, we’ve gone into the artistic process behind our maps. Outside of making the maps look great, there is a lengthy process of coding the rules enforcement for the map into a game.
For Drive on Moscow there were 96 spaces and 906 data points that needed to be coded in by hand. This took many hours. With Gettysburg: The Tide Turns this is an even bigger challenge as we are dealing with 884 hexes and nearly 10,000 data points. How could we save the nearly 100 man-hours it would take to get the map ready?
Meet Mapper, a custom program created by Shenandoah Studio’s own Robert Gray. You’ve seen the above Gettysburg playtesting map in our previous posts. … Read More »
In the week we launched Drive on Moscow, high school interns Nick Bolger and Shay Inkpen, from the Kimberton Waldorf School, joined us at the studio and spent the week playtesting Gettsyburg: The Tide Turns.
As part of a business course at their High School, Nick and Shay were asked to participate in a weeklong internship at a start-up company. We had the opportunity to invite Nick and Shay to join us in our daily work for one week. Shay loves gaming and hopes to pursue it as a future career. Nick is interested in becoming a music producer in the future.
Over lunch, Brad and I heard more from Nick and Shay about their experience here.
Do you guys play other board games?
Shay: Yes I do, on top of video games. There was a game called Eye of The Jungle, I’m not sure if you’ve heard … Read More »
This week we present a playtest game from Adam Schneider, one of our stalwart testers. We hope this gives you greater insight into Gettysburg: The Tide Turns. – Brad
For this game, I chose CSA and my girlfriend (who has never played a wargame before) was the USA. I didn’t sit her down with the rules ahead of time, although, it became necessary, as the game went on, to explain things to her if only to have someone to help keep track of everything.
Hour 20 Sequence:
1 – Hood
2 – USA Combat
3 – Artillery Reserve
4 – V Corps
5 – McLaws
6 – CSA Combat
As the CSA player, my domination of the three western, “Union” victory hexes was more or less assured (or so I thought), and my ability to reach the hexes near Cemetery Ridge (barring some ridiculous battle luck) was nonexistent, so … Read More »
In previous design diaries Eric has discussed combat, movement, and art direction (twice). . Today he continues his previous post on playtesting. He uses a recent internal playtest result to show how gameplay is evolving. – Brad
I recently finished a playtest of the first day scenario of Gettysburg: The Tide Turns with Robert Gray (who goes by Gray), one of our programmers. It was a tense game and was decided on the last die roll, of the last Combat turn of the game – it was that close.
The picture below shows the game at the start of the last turn. This is what a Union first day victory looks like:
(A) Slocum’s 12th Corp has arrived and taken up positions on Culp’s Hill and (B) has launched a counter attack against Hays’s brigade of Early’s division. The US holds all the Confederate objectives on Culp’s Hill … Read More »
In previous design diaries Eric has discussed combat, movement, and art direction (twice). Today he tells us about the playtesting process, which is unusual in part because we start with paper prototypes. – Brad
Playtesting of Gettysburg: The Tide Turns has been underway for 6+ months in-house, but we have now begun out of house testing, traditionally called “blind-testing.” Such external testing is important because it assesses the quality of the game, and it’s rules, with people who are not being taught how to play the game by the designer. Blind-testing of Gettysburg began last week and we have 23 people, who are not Shenandoah staff, involved and testing so far. We are open to adding more members to the playtest team; you can apply on our forum.
Blind-testing requires both playing the game – which is fun – and giving useful feedback, … Read More »
This week we dive deeper into art direction with artist Rob Shields. He reveals the process behind key decisions in unit appearance, information management and more. Read our previous Gettysburg diaries here: #1, #2, #3, #4 – Brad
These designs are in an early stage and will have much refinement coming. – Eric
Having come to a tentative conclusion on the map style, we moved on to explore different ways of representing unit types. Here you see the three main types of units: cavalry, artillery, and infantry. We want these units to feel similar stylistically while at the same time being easy to differentiate from a distance. Unit morale is represented here by the color saturation of the unit and strength is represented by faded or absent sections of the unit. In the fourth hex of the strength column we see what … Read More »
Volunteers! Your Studio Needs You!
Shenandoah Studio is looking for a few good soldiers, Union or Confederate, to become playtesters of Gettysburg: The Tide Turns.
We are ready to begin board game testing, which consists of downloading the game components, assembling a game (using color printer, paper, scissors, etc.). And then begin playing against a friend or solitaire. A Vassal module is coming to enable online play.
Gettysburg: The Tide Turns scenario one is ready for testing and includes:
Rules: These are complete except for a few diagrams and historical notes. They have been tested a good deal already and are ready for true “blind testing.”
Counters: There are 128 or so in the game, many do not appear in the first scenario
Markers: Around 180 markers, could be half that if they were back-printed (but they are not)
Map: This is a playtest map, done is … Read More »
Last week, Eric introduced us to the movement system and some art concepts. This week, our artist Rob Shields explains more of the art direction concepts for Gettysburg: The Tide Turns. -Brad
The two original sketches you see here were created as a jumping off point which would help to give us a better idea of the styles used by cartographers in the late 19th century.
Many maps created at that time began as rough sketches, which were then refined with various etching techniques after the battles had ended. Our initial concepts were less about gameplay and more about achieving a certain look and feel. As you will eventually see, even at this basic level the second sketch has many things in common with the ultimate look and feel of the final Gettysburg: The Tide Turns game.
Our Kickstarter Concept Art
With the Kickstarter … Read More »
It’s been so long since I wrote a blog post that I’ve almost forgotten all the WordPress processes and tricks to make it work. Now that the reigns have passed on, I’ve got more time for art which is a definite plus, but we’re so excited about the way things are going at the moment that I had to give you at least a small heads up.
So. Where are we? Well Crisis in Command, the platform, has had a major overhaul both technically and with the production processes of graphics. I’ll leave the tech side to the developers but the art creation process is now far more efficient. Producing sequels and updates will be done faster and to a higher standard than Bulge and I’ve settled on a much more harmonious look for the CiC series and learned many lessons … Read More »
We continue our interview with Eric, this time he talks about movement and introduces the art direction. -Brad
So tell us more about movement.
To old wargaming hands, the movement system in Gettysburg: The Tide Turns is fairly standard. You move your units hex by hex across the field, paying movement point costs as you go. There are costs for hexes, clear hexes cost two movement points, for instance, and for crossing certain hex-sides. Roads cost only one Movement Point – standard war game stuff really.
So what is unusual then?
Not much really, that said cavalry and artillery have restrictions based upon history. Neither can voluntarily enter the enemy zones of control for instance. Cavalry move faster. Some terrain is prohibited to artillery – you can’t drag guns to the top of Big Round Top, for example. But what is unusual is that … Read More »
We continue our interview with Eric, this time more about combat in Gettysburg: The Tide Turns. -Brad
So tell us more about combat.
First, I need to describe the units – keep in mind that this is a playtest copy, in board game format, and the resulting electronic game will look quite different (and much better). So an infantry unit looks like this:
The two critical values for combat are the unit’s Strength and its Morale Rating. Let’s jump right into an example:
Two Union brigades, Weed and Baxter, are engaged with Wright’s Confederate brigade. The USA strength is 10 versus the CSA strength of 5. They are all in clear terrain, which means losses are going to be high. Our game uses the “bucket of dice” system, as does Battle of the Bulge, which means that each strength point fires separately. In this … Read More »
Battle of the Bulge is the first game in the Crisis in Command game series. We conceived the system for low-complexity iPad boardgames on 20th century battles. The mechanics of area movement, unit activation, quick back-and-forth impulses, strength-based fire and differentiation of armor and infantry come from boardgaming. The system leverages the iPad platform to incorporate gesture-based interactions, calls to action, movement guides, combat previews, calculations of combat modifiers, time passage and daily reports.
So what parts of Battle of the Bulge are part of the Crisis in Command system and what parts are unique to December 1944 in the Ardennes? In addition to specifics of the order of battle I mentioned in my previous blog, several features impart the historical essence of the battle:
Defensive benefits of Ardennes terrain. The forests and river ravines throughout the battlefield channeled avenues of attack, rendering WWII tactics of breakthrough and pursuit ineffective. In BOtB, … Read More »
Key to a game that purports to simulate a military operation is the Order of Battle – the identification of the forces that participated in the conflict (or could have participated), their placement and time of appearance, and their relative strengths. Many excellent OB sources for the Battle of The Bulge are available. I use as a starting point the OB compiled by Danny S. Parker for the book A Time for Trumpets, James McDonald’s excellent history of the campaign.
Key to a fun wargame is the translation of the order of battle into playing pieces – or units – that give players a wide range of viable strategic and tactical decisions, but not so many to overwhelm the players in a sea of units.
For a relatively simple wargame such as Battle of the Bulge and its back-and-forth activation system, I figured that 20-25 … Read More »
Simplicity is a key design parameter of Battle of the Bulge and this applies to the game board itself – the graphic expression of the battleground’s geography.
The Ardennes Forest region of Belgium presents some of the roughest terrain in northwest Europe. The combination of dense forest and river ravines largely limits vehicle movement to roads, rendering the region unsuitable for large scale mechanized military operations.
In the Crisis in Command game system the battlefield is divided into a quilt of large areas – a chessboard of organic shapes that simplify the placement and movement of pieces. Each of these areas actually contain a wide range of terrain abstracted into a single type. In the Battle of the Bulge game, the terrain of each area is simplified into four types:
Clear — The only terrain type really suited for mechanized warfare. As the Crisis in Command series moves to other … Read More »
Continuing this design blog with a look at design goals for iPad Bulge.
As the concept for iPad Bulge began to take shape, several principles drove our design decisions:
1) The game should be turn based, with just a few decisions per turn.
2) The interaction between players should create back-and-forth tension
3) Each player should be able to complete his turn without decisions by the other player interrupting the flow.
4) The game should impart a feel of commanding at the overview level, leaving tactical decisions to subordinate commanders represented by the system.
5) The game should be playable when the iPad view is zoomed out to show the entire game board – zooming in may enhance the experience but is not required.
In most classic wargames, one side moves and fights with all his forces during his, then his opponent does the same — the … Read More »
John Butterfield, the designer of Battle of the Bulge has written a short post about his experience designing the Battle of the Bulge for the iPad. Do check it out!
Its about time some blog entries appeared from the game’s designer. First up: How did Battle of the Bulge for the iPad come to be?
Three years ago I got together with my friend and software guru James Terry to create a board wargame for the iPhone. We devised a simple, straight-forward game system inspired by area impulse movement games such asBreakout: Normandy, as well as concepts from Rick Young’s Fast Action Battle series. We wanted to focus our efforts on game play and interface so I chose an historical situation for which I had all the necessary research in hand from previous design work – The Battle of the Bulge.
I created a paper version of the … Read More »