Intel Depot

OFPEC Spotlights "Steffen Trombke"

May
18
2012

 

Before his spotlight debut to the world, we have here in our own community spotlight, the managing director of X1Software and Lead developer for Iron Front Liberation 1944, SteffenTrombke. Accompanying him in some of the technical questions is AWAR art director,  Vasileios Patelaros.

In what part of the world do you live?

Steffen: I am from Frankfurt/Germany.

Are you married? Do you have children?

Steffen: I am not married. You have only one choice - make games or get married. As for children, I don’t know, maybe there are some running around that look like me ;)

When and how were you introduced to BI titles?

Steffen: Oh I started playing with Operation Flashpoint – a long, long time ago.

As a gamer/editor, we all receive inspiration from other peoples work. Does any particular project or mission stand out above others to you?

Steffen: My personal inspiration was that there is not Tactical – Shooter out there where player can play as German soldier in a campaign. We all remember the most recent games in the WW2-Theater - German soldiers only as cannon fodder and mindless “zombies”. In addition there is no game in sight with a focus on WW2 tanks with realistic damage model and behavior. So we wanted to change that and so we did!

How much time do you actually spend each day editing in the RV engine (Real Virtuality)?

Steffen: X1 Software and AWAR Team are working since the start of the project Iron Front 7 days a week and up to 12 hours a day.  But we have also some days off here and there. We working so hard because we believe in Iron Front and also the whole want to deliver the best product they can.

What do you do to relieve the stress of all day coding and editing?

Steffen: To relieve the stress I love to drive bicycle in the nice countryside/area, watch movies and cookin.

How long were you a gamer before you decided to offer your own contributions to the community and what area was it in: missions, add-ons, etc?

Steffen: I play games since 1997 with my first PC.  The first dedicated game was “Warbirds”, followed by IL2, the Silent Hunter series and ArmA of course. With IL2 I started to create add-ons; also the Silent Hunter and FSX add-ons were very popular.

What was your occupation before this current endeavor and what caused you to decide to go all in?

Steffen: I was working as an investment banker. However, I moved to the Gaming Industry, because it is better making people happy and here I can let out my creativity.

Please tell us a little bit about the history of Iron Front. How did this project start, who were the original developers of the mod for ArmA2 and how did it become a commercial game?

Vasileios: “Iron Front Liberation 1944” was first a small mod by the name “Liberation 1941-45” from Sarmat for Arma 2. We found the inspiration to make it into a commercial game, because a lot of people were interested in it. Luckily we found an investor to make our dream come true - and so the story for X1 Software/AWAR was began.

Can you tell us a little bit about X1 Software, who the developers of Iron Front are and how many devs have been working on Iron Front so far?

Steffen: X1Software and AWAR have cooperation and develop Iron Front together. We are over 25 developers. The most developers coming from the modding scene.

How has it been working with BI on this?

Steffen: Without BI helps and support allow us to do a commercial game; there would be no Iron Front today. In addition they provided us a set of very important changes to the engine to be able to realize our distinct features. Finally thankfully they help us promote the game and they will also offer Iron Front in their own online store.

How much freedom do you have to change the engine, if any at all?

Vasileios: As most community people already know we don’t have direct access to the engine. However BI provide us with the important fixes or corrections, despite the little time they have available.

What was the most challenging aspect of development?

Vasileios: The tank system part and the missions making. Especially the tank system, it passed through a lot of experiments, tests, updates, I remember how problematical it was at the first stages of the development, and I realize that our AWAR programmer, Sergey Permyakov, did a great job, making a realistic and working system.

How about the system specs? Are they higher than those for ArmA2?

Steffen: They are basically the same as in Arma 2 Operation Arrowhead.

Will Iron Front and ArmA2 user made content be compatible?

Vasileios: Not out of the box, but it is possible and we will try to support the community as much as possible when they want to port their work to Iron Front.

What specific time period and operations are to be included in the single player campaign? Does it just cover Operation Bagration (22 June – 19 August 1944) or will it include more than that?

Vasileios: We portray a part of the Lvov Operation. We have the battle of Staszow, a part of Lvov-Sandomiez operation, in which the first time ever in World War 2 the German King Tiger entered the battlefield - which in turn met heavy resistance by the Soviet JS-2 tanks. The time period of Iron Front is August 1944 and location southeastern Poland.

I've heard that Iron Front will be leaning more towards RTS gameplay than ArmA2. It this rumor true or does Iron Front stay close to the squad-level tactics that ArmA2 exercises so well?

Steffen: No, not really. Although we have some missions were you command several armored platoons, Iron Front really is more about the story of soldiers in war.

What will the Resistance/Independent side be? Polish Home Army (Armija Krawoja) units? Soviet Partisans - Belorussian, Ukrainian, etc communists, possibly nationalist partisans as well?

Vasileios: No resistance side available so far unfortunately. We wanted to focus on getting the Wehrmacht and USSR sides as quality as possible. However it might possible to see them enter the arena, if the sales are good and the community want to see DLC.

We've seen the videos of the armor hit/penetration system. Will that system simulate the effects of specific shell types vs. specific armor types?

Vasileios: Yes! The system simulates it as well as a lot of other parameters – distance, angle, force and many more.

Will there be portable heavy weapons, such as the tow-able Sokolov mount for the M1910 or man pack-able 8cm mortars?

Steffen: All of the static weapons are either towable, portable or mobile.

Will it be possible to tow broken down vehicles?

Steffen: No, only artillery and Russian flak.

As promised early on the vehicles in IFL44 can break into pieces when destroyed, each falling to the ground separately, and we've even seen individual soldier's helmets drop to the ground when shot. Are these types of physics simple systems by themselves, or is there an all around physics-engine implemented (to some degree as Bohemia is featuring in ArmA 3)? In what other ways will we see forms of physics implemented in the game?

Vasileios: There is no big magic involved – it is done all with the possibilities the Arrowhead engine provides. So there are no special changes of the physics in the engine like there is in the upcoming Arma 3.

In the ArmA 2 series (IFL44's grand-daddy) it is a lot of fun to fly airplanes, and X1Software has an impressive resume of mods and addons made for existing flight sims (IL-2 Sturmovik & Microsoft Flight Simulator series). To what extent, if any, have you changed and/or improved the flight mechanics in IFL44? To tap in the previously mentioned physics aspect again - will for instance shooting off parts of the wings reduce lift or make turning more difficult?

Steffen: We have carefully tweaked our planes to achieve a good flight model! It is still within the limits of the Arrowhead engine and not to be compared with a dedicated flight simulator – however we wanted to keep it also more accessible compared to games like IL2. With that being said, dogfights are quite a challenge without radar, any modern system or the limits of each plane. There is a team vs. team multiplayer mission focused on air combat and we have a lot of fun doing dogfights and doing bomb runs. Also attacking ground troops is so intensive and no Flight simulation can beat that – I am biased of course. My latest story from Multiplayer: Tanks are hunting my team of soldiers and me in a small city;  all the explosion sounds and shaking was a true horror; we desperately called in air support to survive this hell. After a while we hear the sounds of incoming Fw190 and here they come with full speed dropping loads of bombs - the tanks vanish in a series of big explosions. That was so amazing!!

Will there be an integrated wounds mechanic similar to ArmA 2's wounding modules?

Vasileios: Yes, it’s the same as in Arma 2.

Is there an artillery system?

Vasileios: Right now our both main artillery assets, PAK-40 and ZiS-3, have an realistic distance sight. In the future patches it’s possible that an advanced, realistic system of artillery long range firing will become available, as we are working at the moment on such system.

Will there be signaling equipment such as flares, radios, field telephones represented in any form?

Vasileios: Radio flares and radio headset are present.

What does the command menu look like? More similar to Operation Flashpoint's, or Arma2's?

Vasileios: The same as Arma 2.

Will there be "weapon resting" for *ALL* weapons, al la I44/A.C.E. or just for LMGs?

Vasileios: At the moment we did it only for LMGs. If community feedback about gameplay will prove that is needed for the rest of weapons too, we will make add it for all weapons.

The Real Virtuality Engine has been plagued with AI pathfinding on elevated platforms such as piers, dams, bridges and editor placed structures that are setpositioned; have there been any attempts to correct that issue?

Steffen: We tried to get some solution / improvements from Bohemia Interactive, but no proper solution was found. It is easy to underestimate the complexity involved to get AI working well in such complex environment.

Will there be Warfare2/CTI in Iron Front?

Steffen: We preferred to add in other interesting game types. They are more accessible and easier to learn for the beginners. That said the more advanced game modes in Iron Front provide a lot of depth and flexibility for complex, realistic or competitive gameplay. At the same we are pretty sure to see Warfare 2 and crCTI ported by the community to Iron Front soon and we will gladly help them in their efforts.

Can we expect all of the in-game content to be accessible by mission designers in the map editor and has the editor itself been changed somehow to any degree?

Vasileios: All content is accessible. The editor is basically the same as in Arma 2; so mission makers used to it will feel home instantly and will be able to make missions for Iron Front with just the same possibilities and freedom.

All of the screen shots show the officers and soldiers in fresh, cleanly pressed uniforms. Has any thought went into adding a system that changes textures to allow for dirt, grime or actual trench warfare?

Vasileios: We have a lot of various soldiers, with various textures. Some are dirtier, some are less, and you will be able to see it by yourself in the game.

Have death animations or textures been improved at all?

Vasileios: Yes, we have added completely new death animations and death textures (?). They are very detailed and add a lot to the atmosphere. Soon a new promo video about Blitzkrieg multiplayer game mode will be released that shows some of the death animations in the game.

Will the Multiplayer in Iron Front be developed to engage the player more - not necessarily in terms of combat - but rather something that makes and maybe awards people who work as a team and stay closer to each others? Clear objectives, points, score, flags... for instance; whatever that makes you more tied to your teammates?

Vasileios: We don’t have a high opinion of awards, unlocks and all these modern gimmicks. We tried to create missions with straight forward goals and tasks for the players, so people can focus on teamwork to achieve them. Most prominent this presented in the Blitzkrieg game mode.

Any plans to introduce downloadable content into Iron Front in the near future such as winter terrain with snow textured objects, vehicles, particles, winter breathe and apparel?

Steffen: Not too positive about winter terrain as it would involve a lot of effort to provide the respective winter skins for units and vehicles as well.

Is there any connection between Sarmat (OFP Liberation modification 1941-1945 developers) and AWAR studio? If so, can you elaborate on that affiliation?

Vasileios: The part of Sarmat working on the mod transformed into AWAR studio to create Iron Front. Let me introduce our core team and their achievements - some of them are known from Sarmat.

Arsenij Smirnov aka Senchi - He created all by himself our four terrains with the largest one being 16x16 km.
Anatoliy Astashko aka TTHAM - He created almost all the tanks, and almost all the buildings for our terrains.
Sergey Permyakov aka Sofd - The creator of the tank system and various feature systems.
Mikhail Gorbunov aka GMS - Our main config guru and creator of the small arms.
Aleksei Timoshenko aka RusPartizan - The modeler of all our trucks.
VasilevVasili aka Wass - The sole designer of the German campaign.
Ivan Zimin and Sergey Basharovski aka DesertEagle and SniperGRU -  The main designers of the Russian campaign.
Aleksandr Shelegeda aka AleksF1 - My personal assistant in the development of the infantry.
Igor Sandiuk and Vladimir Tarasenko aka Ingvar and Madcap - Our artillery modelers.
Yuri Pasholok and Sergey Khazov aka Taranov and Ingeneer - Our historical consultants.

Any plans to continue this great work into Arma 3?

Steffen: No comment.

And with that, we'll conclude the interview. To get in on the discussions visit the Iron Front Liberation 1944 forums at DeepSilver

Iron Front Liberation 1944 is slated for release exclusively for PC on May 25th 2012. You can preorder your copy today at store.bistudio.com/iron-front. For more information, please visit the Deepsilver website or  Bohemia Interactive website.

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