WWI Meets RPG: The Trench

By Nathan Grayson on July 6th, 2012 at 8:00 pm.

OK, OK, jeez, truce. Now you go hide and I'll seek.

If I’m being honest, neither of The Trench‘s trailers – both of which you’ll find after the break – look too terribly different standard World War Whichever fare. But, reading more about the WWI “50 percent FPS, 50 percent RPG” from Gallica Game Studio, it sounds like its most interesting bits wouldn’t trailer well anyway. Basically, though, The Trench puts you in the meticulously laced combat boots of a French soldier on the Verdun front three days before the German assault on February 21st, 1916. So, for the most part, you’ll spend those precious few moments preparing – which, among other things, includes positioning soldiers and weaponry, exploring your trench, customizing equipment, and taking sidequests from NPCs.

So, awkward character movement aside, it seems like Gallica’s at least nailed the look. I am, however, incredibly fascinated by this one from a conceptual standpoint. Obviously, good World War I games are depressingly close to one in number, but I also love the idea of dedicating a game’s entire runtime to a single, relatively small location. It really gives little details – characters, smaller stories, individual items – a chance to shine. War shooters, especially, hardly ever focus on a single location (let alone one battle or set of characters), so The Trench has a chance to explore an entirely different side of one of the biggest conflicts in all of human history. Here’s hoping the team at Gallica manages to do it justice.

Thanks, Indie Games.

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75 Comments »

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  1. wodin says:

    Been in development for years and the trailers now look badly dated.

  2. weirdoo says:

    Wow, i’m rather interested in this game, i hope everything goes alright during its release

  3. Havok9120 says:

    What is the good World War One game? I don’t think I’ve ever encountered one that wasn’t a mod.

    Well, aside from AGEOD’s WWI, but that doesn’t seem like something most people would reference.

  4. Shooop says:

    This is interesting to say the least. I like this possible new trend of focusing on gritty realism instead of throwing dashes of it on top of a Micheal Bay movie.

  5. RyuRanX says:

    Where’s the RPG?

    • sinister agent says:

      Careful. You’ll summon him.

      • LionsPhil says:

        It’s been too long since he last graced us with his presence.

        • MOKKA says:

          You have to say his name three times in a row.

        • Niyeaux says:

          Off topic, but how did you get your name to be a link? I can’t find an edit profile/user CP button anywhere.

        • Jesus H. Christ says:

          I wonder if he is ok or if he just got bored of trying to explain what an rpg actually is for the x # of times to an audience that couldn’t care less as long as they get to fuck shit up.

          Either way, +1 for the rps echo chamber. All hail groupthink!

      • Zork says:

        If you’re talking about Wizardry, I say good riddance. That whippersnapper wouldn’t know an RPG if it bit him on the isocahedral die.

        In my day we didn’t abide by fancy talking pictures watering down the purity of our RPG maths.

  6. wodin says:

    As I said further up I’ve had this game bookmarked for probably two maybe even three years and little has happened.

    I thought it was bordering on vapourware. Not sure why RPS have suddenly written an article as if it was a new game announced.

    I hope it comes off but I also think it’s going to look real dated due to it’s very long development.

    • bdd458 says:

      If you knew, the Alpha is scheduled for next month. The Devs said so on the 5th, after a mix up with Indie DB saying the release date was July 4th.

      They turned down financial and publishing offers just so they could have the game how they wanted it, at the expense of development time.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    World War 1 has always stuck me as one of those things that just wouldn’t really work in game format.

    • Gasmask Hero says:

      Presumably you mean the static grind of trench warfare, and not the aerial combat as depicted in Dawn Patrol/Flying Corps/ the Red Baron series.

    • Premium User Badge

      FhnuZoag says:

      Why not?

      Pointless suffering.
      Unending tedium.
      Years of strategic stasis.
      A lingering reminder of man’s inhumanity to man.

      Just like a MMO!

      • Doctor_Hellsturm says:

        I came for the article. I stay for the comments.

      • Geen says:


        Well played. *claps*

      • RegisteredUser says:

        To me it conjures the image of a cover based shooter, which ironically enough is oh-so reminiscent of WWI in many ways as well..

        • Universal Quitter says:

          Cover-based shooter? Isn’t all combat a cover-based shooter? Or are you talking about games like Rainbow Six Vegas and Gears of War?

          Maybe they could make a reward-based labor game…

    • ktbluear says:

      Though some of the iconic western front was pretty static, there was plenty of very dynamic infantry combat throughout the war. If you want a really good personal account (and discussion of tactics), check out Erwin Rommel’s book Infanterie Greift An (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infanterie_Greift_An), or Infantry Attacks in English. Apart from being a really compelling read, Rommel’s point of view was that of an infantry commander, so you understand how he approached situations tactically, and that approach was anything but static.

      “… his Stoßtruppen (shock troops) tactics, which used speed, deception and deep penetration into enemy territory to surprise and overwhelm. Throughout the book, Rommel reports assigning small numbers of men to approach enemy lines from the direction in which attack was expected. The men would yell, throw hand grenades and otherwise simulate the anticipated attack from concealment, while attack squads and larger bodies of men sneaked to the flanks and rears of the defenders to take them by surprise, very often intimidating them into surrender, avoiding unnecessary exertion, expenditures of ammunition and risk of injury.”

      So I would still love to see a WWI shooter of quality because, though we typically associate the conflict with the intractable trench slog, it was quite varied overall, and would make for fascinating and incredibly tense encounters.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I had a vaguely amusing idea for a WW1 stealth game.

      act 1: be a spy, but you got captured behind enemy lines? time to escape
      act 2: you just arrived at a trenched frontline, time to stealth your way through enemy trenches to no man’s land
      act 3: you’re in no man’s land, time to avoid getting shot by either side
      act 4: welcome to friendly trenches, uh-oh, they want to send you straight back out into the gunfight, time to escape from your own side and go AWOL
      act 5: you’re in the countryside, now find a nice barn to hide in until the war ends.

      • ImAUnicorn says:

        Where’s the punchline?

      • pmcp says:

        How about a game where you have to convince your superior your entire regiment is insane so they can escape the trenches? This works using a terribly glitchy physics simulator and awful ai and you have to take photographs of the soldiers in increasingly compromising positions with everyday objects.

        • adrichardson says:

          Possibly involving some kind of underpants/pencils combination?

        • Universal Quitter says:

          You joke, but that would certainly be interesting. I think more games should have broken or wonky physics, but then again, I am a big fan of hallucinogenic substances (not that I consume them, of course.)

    • Jesus H. Christ says:

      The missing element in WWI is a clearly defined unambiguous villain. You need a Hitler or some Reapers so people don’t get confused as to why they are headshoting people.

  8. jakonovski says:

    The gameplay bit was kind of ruined by the random artillery barrage going on, to which nobody seemed to give a second thought.

    • kibble-n-bullets says:

      Ooh, ooh, me too! That bit at 1:11 in the second clip took me right out of it sir. Right out of it.

    • bdd458 says:

      Because they’ve been on the Frontlines for 2 years now, they’re used to it. Their bodies don’t react the same.

      • TariqOne says:

        Yessir:

        Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
        But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
        Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
        Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

  9. Gasmask Hero says:

    This is one era that is crying out for a grand strategy game. Here you have the fall of several major empires, the first major deployment of air power, tactical and technological developments and the seed being laid for WWII and the development of some of the cornerstones of modern society and what…..nothing. We have some, admittedly quality, flight sims.

    I would love to play with history at this point and see what emerges.

  10. Stevostin says:

    It’s funny : being french I can see how acting’s terrible. But english people can’t. Usually I am the one surprised by reaction on english voicing =)

    Hey, maybe STALKER’s russian voices are terrible as well, for all I know !

    The weapon animations are really good thus.

    • Baines says:

      The voice thing happens with other games. Years back, it was quite the common thing for Americans to denounce English dubs of Japanese games. To be fair, the English dubs were often bad (even some using professional anime dubbing groups). But you’d have complainers acting as if all the original Japanese audio was perfection in digital form, when sometimes the Japanese was also nothing to write home about. (Personally, the most entertaining situation to me was one of the Soul Calibur games. Some characters had much inferior English voices, others had much inferior Japanese voices, and all in all I might have come to around a 50/50 split if I were to pick a “best” voice for every character.)

      • YourMessageHere says:

        For the record, I speak no French beyond ‘oui/non/merde’, but I can tell it’s dreadful too. The timing, the intonation, it’s just unnatural. Doesn’t help that 1) the speaking character is completely immobile and in fact looks a bit like a painted balloon, and 2) epic orchestral score is epic – and completely inappropriate…

        things to bear in mind:

        1) about 95% of English voice actors who work on anime are completely terrible; just because they do it for a living doesn’t mean they have a damn clue what they are doing. Localisation of anime is small enough that it doesn’t get the wide critical attention which might cause this to change, and also means the same small cadre of people keep getting work despite their lack of actual ability.

        2) The Japanese voice acting industry is are in a totally different league to English-language dubbing casts, and indeed most other languages, by and large. Due to the increasing reliance on formula and stock character archetypes/characterisation/voices that’s been happening in the anime industry, this is less true today than it was, say, ten years back, but the Japanese VA industry are more professional and more skilled than the English dubbing industry ever will be. The tough competition means the talented are the only ones who keep afloat.

        3) Games I’m less sure about, but I’ve often gotten the impression that VA’s often prefer film and TV to games, and lead roles aside, the game roles go to slightly less talented people, irrespective of language. Possibly this is a byproduct of games not really starting out as a narrative format.

  11. MistyMike says:

    Appuyez le souris droit pour actionner la culasse!
    LOL

  12. birds says:

    Is it Multiplayer or Singleplayer? It isn´t clear for me. A Multiplayer Trench-War FPS would be nice!

  13. bronze says:

    The vids don’t really show much do they. The only thing I found interesting was the lack of a cross hair for non iron sight mode.

  14. iridescence says:

    Certainly an original idea for a game but I hope they won’t shy away from making it realistic ( which will be very dark and depressing subject matter for a videogame but interesting nonetheless if they can pull it off).

    • bdd458 says:

      It’s the reason they turned down publishing offers, so it would be REALISTIC.

  15. GenBanks says:

    Seems like an awesome concept.

    I reckon we need fully destructible and physics based dirt and mud rendering before we can have a true WW1 experience though.

  16. Synesthesia says:

    if any of the developers are reading this, and need some backing stuff, please, please, read ernst junger’s steel tempest, or tempest of steel, i dunno the english title. A first hand description of a german soldier during the first war, a real, young, low ranking soldier with a huge brain and an amazing pair of eyes.

    Amazing author, lived more lives than any of us probably will. Those who like the soldier figure, or drugs and entheogeny, should go grab one of his books.

    • Jesus H. Christ says:

      I’d also recommend “The Pity Of War: Explaining World War I” The the best part of the book is his debunking of 10 myths about the war. For example, men fought because they were manipulated by propaganda, they continued to fight only because of heavy coercion, and they hated fighting and were traumatized by war. In reality, only a small fraction of soldiers suffered from PTSD, and a large number saw their time in WWI as the best time of their lives. No shit.

      • Torgen says:

        My great uncle sure as shit didn’t see it as the best time in his life.

        Can’t say I’ve ever heard or read of a single account in the infantry, who were the *vast* majority of the combatants, where they said they had a good time.

        EDIT: also, how does your book explain the mass mutinies of troops in the latter part of the war, refusing to once again march into interlocking fields of fire of machine gun nests and poison gas?

      • deejayem says:

        It’s worth noting that “Pity of War” is by Niall Ferguson, who is one of the biggest wind-up merchants in modern history (and in modern history).

  17. PolloDiablo says:

    This looked promising, but they were aiming for release last summer, so they’re now nearly a year late and with seemingly no progress to show for it. I’m extremely skeptical at this point.

    WWI would be the best war for a videogame, though.

    • bdd458 says:

      They haven’t really updated anything, but in a statement made THURSDAY they said that the Alpha is going to be NEXT MONTH to all those that preorded like myself.

  18. pupsikaso says:

    Will there be an NPC that asks me to kill 5 rats? You know, vermin in the trenches can be deadly and all.

  19. Premium User Badge

    equatorian says:

    You have my attention at ‘WWI RPG’. While the vids don’t show much, I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on this one. Concept seems to be a bit hard to pull off, but I can very well give points for even attempting.

    One pointless complaint, though : WWI is possibly the least morally-charged modern conflict there is, it’s all very grey and horribly messy and every single side in it suffered terrible things, and the Germans are STILL the faceless bad guys? All Quiet on the Western Front, anyone? Maybe it’s just my fascination with German/Austrian war diaries from that particular war, but man, this is an opportunity to do some more new things. (For the record, my country was occupied by the Japanese in WWII and sometimes I thought it’d be interesting to play as them, so maybe I’m just ridiculously insensitive.)

    • sinister agent says:

      WWI surely ranks as the worst war ever in terms of its ratio of destruction:resolution. World War 2 was bigger, longer, and more awful all round, but at least when it was done, it was done. The end of World War 1 changed nothing, and made another terrible war inevitable.

      And yeah, absolutely, there was pretty much nothing to really distinguish between any of the powers involved morally. Naked self interest all round, complete madness and idiocy all round, abject horror and misery on an unprecedented scale all round. It really was one of the worst and most pointless things in human history.

      • Hypernetic says:

        Actually a lot changed following the surrender of Germany in WW1. In fact, the changes that were made and the compensation demanded of Germany for the destruction caused by the war directly led to WW2. If the treaty were handled differently WW2 may have never happened.

        • sinister agent says:

          That’s exactly my point. They didn’t really resolve the underlying issues that caused the war, and basically just guaranteed that it’d happen all over again. As Ferdinand Foch said, Versailles wasn’t a peace treaty, it was a 20 year armistice.

  20. bdd458 says:

    OK, so I’m pretty active on the English forums (bdd458) and I would like to make some stuff clear.

    The Alpha is planned for NEXT MONTH to all those that preordered. And I preordered LAST YEAR, so one more month isn’t going to kill me.
    The devs gave up publishing deals and financial offers so they could have the game as THEY wanted it, so they had to take jobs on the side so they would have an income.
    There was a mixup with IndieDB setting the release date as July 3rd/4th.

    They released an official statement about it all, in French but here is the translated English.

    I’ve been following this game for a while, and was pleasantly surprised by this article :D.

    “Balance first 2012!

    First of all I want to reassure the whole community, we are still developing!

    To exit the game it has not escaped you that will not come out this July 4th. This is an unfortunate negligence on our part on the site IndieDB, we are very sorry

    To clarify the situation:

    In the balance sheet of June 2011, I had expressed our situation in Game Studio.Il Gallica is still eight months I was personally a full-time on THE TRENCH, now development continues on the lesser time available I found at night on weekends etc. … Same for FredT.Donc necessarily we have less time to respond to email or on Forums (having said that we consult daily the French forum of THE TRENCH).

    This is a financial imperative that leads us to engage in an activity parallel to the development of THE TRENCH (it must be that we eat and that one member provides to the needs of our families). Of course we could give in to temptations of various publishers and financial offers, and believe us, the temptation was great and difficult choices. So we decided to return to work than having to disguise
    THE TRENCH, lose his creative freedom, to compromise on elements of the game (violence, adding chariots, and so on …).

    We do not regret this choice, but we regret every day that passes the resulting consequence: longer development time.

    This is the price we pay for that THE TRENCH may be what it is now.

    Finally we received a few emails really not nice people unhappy, I am aware of the expectations of everyone on THE TRENCH and I can understand some irritation or mistrust.

    If for some reason or another, a person who preordered the game feels ripped off, he can simply send us a Paypal transaction number and we will immediately refund.

    And now talking about concrete!

    Focusing on the release of THE TRENCH:

    I’ll give you dates, but they are still dates that we would achieve by taking into account the current state of development and the time allotted to us.

    Current July-August: we will finally give you a nice FAQ and new gameplay videos.

    Phase 1 Alpha-Version: followed by some versions. It will be accessible to all who have pre-ordered and well-obviously we will seek to participate in debugging. We expect the end of August.

    Beta-Phase 2 Revision: October theoretically for the same for several alpha versions.

    Phase3 Version Final: The final version by the end of the year.

    Here, we would like to thank every member who by their presence and the individual initiatives that help maintain this small community.

    The team Gallica Game Studio ”

    Remember they are a TWO MAN Indie devs that have families to support, give them time :D.

  21. thebigJ_A says:

    If only Ludendorff hadn’t skipped all those kill ten rats quests, the world would be a different place.

  22. sk2k says:

    Uhh, i clicked on Pre-Order Now. $31.50 is a bit too much, i think. $45 for the final version?

  23. Jupiah says:

    They should do a kickstarter.

  24. robeweise says:

    Anyone into WW1 aviation really needs to check out “Rise of Flight”, it’s pretty amazing.