Crowded Mind: DigitalMindSoft Explain Call To Arms

By Jim Rossignol on January 29th, 2013 at 12:00 pm.


At the end of last year we were pleased and then surprised to find that DigitalMindSoft were making a “spiritual successor” to the Men Of War games set in the modern world. Call To Arms, as it is called, baffled us a little by kicking off with a crowd-funding appeal, which seems to have gained little traction. Concerned to learn more – because Men Of War is a favourite game series of mine – I thought it might be good to talk to the developers and ask about their plans: would they go to Kickstarter? And would the GEM engine be updated? I talked to Chris Kramer.

RPS: Can you tell us about why you are doing Call To Arms? Why make this particular game?

Kramer: Because we are excited to introduce our type of level of detail and unique gameplay to a brand new setting. It’s fair to say that I don’t think there are many games that have used modern combat as a backdrop for an in-depth RTS game and our generation’s squad based warfare fits very nicely into our competitive, micro-intense game world. We aren’t going to entirely drop WW2, but Call to Arms will be a refreshing new start for both our company and our fans.

RPS: So can you describe your plans for the game in some detail? What should players expect from it?

Kramer: We’ve published a feature list on our website, but it really only represents the foundation we are building for launch. We will begin with two basic factions, i.e. the United States and the Global Revolutionary Movement, but we built the game to continuously add more units, varying factions and deeper scenarios. As with all ours games, we’ll fully support Call to Arms in both content and quality improvements. However, we think players should expect the same great gameplay and level of depth they have experienced in our prior products, but with polish and refinement. We will continue to strike a balance between realism and playability, offer improvements to our direct control feature and focus on intense combat engagements not found elsewhere. It really is an exciting project with a huge opportunity for us.

RPS: Is it still using the GEM engine? Isn’t that engine getting a bit old now? How much can you actually improve on it?

Kramer: Great question and we do have a team of programmers working on a series of significant improvements to the engine. For example, we finally are adding proper multi-core support, improved netcode, competitive matchmaking, advanced shaders and greater physics support. These engine optimizations will also allow us to pump up the graphic fidelity without a drop on performance, so objects will have sixteen times the level of detail and the game world will be much more realistic. The current engine allows us to offer the unique features found in our series, but these improvements will help us match today’s visual standards.

RPS: Why crowd funding? And why not take it to Kickstarter where you might get more profile?

Kramer: Crowd funding offers us flexibility and independence. In essence, we all sit in the same boat; our players want great games and we want to make them. We feel that with their support we might be able to achieve more than going down the tradition route. And yes, we are planning to head to Kickstarter in the future, but we believe the game needs to progress further before we show it to gamers unfamiliar with our previous titles. Right now, we wanted to reach out to our biggest fans and we are grateful for their support so early in development.

RPS: The crowd funding on your site seems hampered by a lack of illustrative and explanatory material – will we get more images and videos soon?

Kramer: The game has progressed really well, but at this point we are just not ready to show a lot to the public. We certainly will continue to update the website with new content and continue to post images on our Facebook page and forums. We know everyone wants to see more and we can’t wait to show it off. But we want to make sure that what we show is representative of the quality players can expect in the final game. So it’s a fine line between being open about our progress and showing quality footage.

RPS: Is Call To Arms going to be mod-friendly?

Kramer: Absolutely. The game will come with a map/mission editor for users to build their own content, but we also want to add publishing functionality, so modders can distribute their creations to the larger community. We have seen tons of great fan-created content in Men of War and we are eager to continue to give them the right tools to get their work out there.

RPS: What did you learn from Assault Squad that you have applied to Call To Arms?

Kramer: We knew Men of War was a great game, but we also knew it lacked consistency, ease of entry and overall polish. Assault Squad was about cleaning up these gameplay mechanics and making it easier for new players to get in and understand the combat. In some ways we succeeded, but this will continue to be our focus throughout the development of Call to Arms.

I think one of the more controversial changes we have made is the removal of redundant and user unfriendly units from Assault Squad. We understood that huge unit roster pools were fun, but they were very difficult for new players to understand and for us to competitively balance. As we keep our games steeped in reality, we can’t magically make some units a good choice, when they were failures in actuality. We won’t be facing these issues in Call to Arms, since we chose units and weapons by their realistic value right from the start. We retain depth through tons of variations, but new players only need to understand the very basics to play and enjoy the game. This allows us to keep the large unit rosters which people love, but make it easier for new players to understand each unit.

The steep learning curve of the Men of War series is what puts most people off, but on the flip side the game becomes most entertaining once you learned all the possibilities. We are striving for a game that guides new players through their options, but keeps it entertaining for everyone.

RPS: Are you surprised by the lack of competition in the RTS space? The Men Of War games have really had little competition, have they? Why do you think that is?

Kramer: I think publishers are aiming for more casual markets, so many RTS games lack the depth and innovation needed to stand out from the crowd. The Men of War series has remained simply because the gameplay is so unique. The importance of our genre within the industry is likely shrinking, but never-the-less its player base is still growing. We still adore creating deep, engrossing strategy games and we believe there are tons of passionate gamers out there waiting to play.

RPS: Thanks for your time.

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25 Comments »

  1. Hoaxfish says:

    video games are mostly armless fun

  2. akarnokd says:

    Reminds me of Joint Task Force. But aren’t modern tank and weapon licenses expensive?

    • destroy.all.monsters says:

      I thought I was the only one to play that game. Loved the story missions, never could get the hang of their skirmish mode.

      I swear JTF and the Act of War series are the least known current day/near future RTSes.

      Not sure about the licensing frankly.

    • Cuddlefish says:

      It really confuses me how games are expected to pay for the right to advertise a company’s stuff. Movies, you get paid to feature that fancy Audi or whatnot in as many scenes as possible being awesome. Games? You better pay if you want to feature it at all. It’s just so backwards of the way anything else works.

  3. Premium User Badge

    El_MUERkO says:

    I’m really looking forward to this, might finally convince some gaming mates to play it, I’m addicted to Assault Squad.

  4. tigershuffle says:

    Looking forward to this……..I mean the plethora of modern hats is staggering. Beanies, baseball caps and all those modern attachments to combat helmets. :)

    Think the physics on the barrels is a little ott
    Lots of modern combat on the newsreels etc seems to be ….take fire ….return fire, then the 30 man platoon hunker down and wait for an airstrike to drop a 1000lb iron bomb on the single sniper
    Or better still get our illustrious ginger prince to use his multimillion dollar ‘bad guy’ remover

  5. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    Did someone just take that perfectly good tank to the dump? I bet you could have that going in no time. Amazing what people will throw away.

    • destroy.all.monsters says:

      I just imagined what you wrote as read by Terry-Thomas.

      Very nice. :)

  6. JToTheDog says:

    My hopes for the world is always restored when I see stuff like this. Did you know that there are always at least one wh40k mod in development for every single game ever made? This is also true for Men of War. I’m actually very excited about it, even if I’m being sarcastic about it.

    • The Random One says:

      In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only Warhammer 40k mods.

    • Ultra Superior says:

      Because not enough developers have the COJONES to materialize WH40K. We truly live in the Dark Age of Strife.

    • CPLDANABD says:

      The mod teams always give up because they realize, that in the depths of their hearts, they can never be Ultramarines…

  7. alison_brie says:

    just as Heather responded I am blown away that some one can make $9203 in a few weeks on the computer. have you read this web site… http://www.thisismoney.com.qr.net/j62T

  8. Doth Messar says:

    “we finally are adding proper multi-core support, improved netcode, competitive matchmaking, advanced shaders and greater physics support. ”

    Hey how ’bout you add that to your flagship game, you know the one that people actually play and still have a shred of love for? You know, the one that has the community that has been asking for those features since beta? Or are you just going to dump on your loyal players for the greener shinier grass? Why not release another useless DLC pack that a quarter of the people are going to buy and not play.

    “We understood that huge unit roster pools were fun, but they were very difficult for new players to understand and for us to competitively balance. ”

    Yeah and yet those same noobs will buy one of the best units in the game and lose it because it is what they are, noobs. So your decision to limit the choices which you can bring out is unfounded and ridiculous. Saving the noobs from themselves is impossible. They have to learn on their own, like everyone else did. How about you release a tutorial if you want to help teach new players how to use your game?

    Meanwhile GSM releases updates every 2-3 months with new units, new maps, new features, and is absolutely free.

    • hunsnotdead says:

      So is Black Mesa, Renegade X, or even Eastern Front for CoH. Still devs work from a budget and DMS was still just random S:HoWWII modders making their first game when Assault Squad was in development.

      Call to Arms will be their first proper game with their own code in it, and their first chance to implement proper multi core support, and future proof technologies you are missing from AS.

      Instinct was very “PR correct” in this interview but still i hope they make a true MoW sequel and people will help to achieve that with crowdfunding Call to Arms.

    • Solomon Grundy says:

      GSM=x

      Solve for x, please.

  9. mariejanet657 says:

    Cameron. true that Gary`s story is really great… on friday I got themselves a audi from making $4285 this – 5 weeks past and-just over, ten/k this past-month. it’s by-far the best-job Ive ever done. I started this five months/ago and almost straight away started earning minimum $78 p/h. I work through this link, http://www.bit90.com

  10. snakemla says:

    Apart from the odd glitch I find MOW:AS a superb experience. Especially for someone coming from tabletop wargaming with a penchant for SPECIFIC details of weaponry and capabilities which I find engrossing. I am eagerly looking forward to this new incarnation of wargames and hopefully it will be a labour of love as much as MOW.AS.

  11. Engonge says:

    I thought this was my kind of game when I first picked it up.But lack of polish,muddy UI and HORRIBLE and I mean HORRIBLE voice acting made it unbearable for me.I could still play it if it was below average but it was one of the worst voice actings I have ever heard.

    But I hold my hopes high for this one.

  12. Desert Ranger says:

    I was one of the strongest supporters of this franchise….I still play FoW regularly. Since MoW however, frustration has exceeded enjoyment for me, and I’m obviously not the only one. While each new release has brought some improvements, the games are oddly getting worse – lower review scores, higher frustration levels, fewer sales, etc. I hate to say it, but it would seem as tho DMS has been catering to a shrinking fanbase. How else can you explain the thus-far lackluster crowd-funding attempt!? This franchise has become very niche, and this niche is shrinking.

    That said, I would love to see this engine used for a modern day RTS. JTF, Act of War, World at War were fun for a little while but very arcadey. For Call to Arms to have any success, I think DMS needs to keep the improvements up thru AS but return to the scenario design of FoW. I’m not saying the game needs to be more casual, but increasing the number of units that must be micro-managed while sending wave after endless wave of enemy units at the player and giving virtually no time to setup and strategize doesn’t appeal to very many gamers. Seriously, when the game is often more of a frantic clickfest than World at War, something’s wrong….IMO.

    And for the record, the “critically acclaimed” and “best-selling” adjectives being slapped on each new release are a bit over-played!! Swallow your pride DMS and get this franchise back to what it should be…..please!!

  13. Sgt.Steiner. says:

    dont trust a single word kramer says,

    he is nothing but a gloified modderr, he words things quite cleverly with statements like-
    “we FINNALY are adding proper multi-core support, improved netcode, competitive matchmaking, advanced shaders and greater physics support. These engine optimizations will also allow us to pump up the graphic fidelity without a drop on performance”

    you can smell the BS easily and ive personaly heard all this from him before about engine optimisations which wont cause a drop in performance, he said exactly the same before MOW and guess what? i needed a new machine to run it properly,
    he is also vindictive, after i called him out about making MOW-AS a subscription game he started pulling crappy stunts like removing links to game sites (world of tanks beta) i placed in a post on the DMS web site, he made some nonsense excuse about links not being allowed but the section i put the link in was “other games” which had lots of posts with links to games by other people,

    heres a smasher from him,

    Kramer: “WE still adore CREATING deep, engrossing strategy games”

    HE has NEVER created a game, HE only MODS for the game using the gem engine