Taking AIM: Jagged Alliance – Flashback Interview

By Adam Smith on April 2nd, 2014 at 1:00 pm.

Jagged Alliance: Flashback’s first alpha slice releases to backers tomorrow. It’s the first time, to my knowledge, that anyone outside of Full Control will have played the game and CEO Thomas Hentschel Lund is excited and, it’s fair to say, a little anxious. Since I last spoke to Lund, the company has released its Space Hulk adaptation and the Jagged Alliance Kickstarter crept over the finish line with moments to spare.

In a long and exhaustive conversation, we discussed the huge changes to the game’s story and setting since the Kickstarter launched, and the mechanical and interface changes that differentiate Full Control’s game from Jagged Alliance 2. I also found time to ask if Full Control had tracked down the original merc voice actors and to begin a discussion of the extensive modding capabilities that will be in the game from day one of Early Access.

RPS: The alpha releases to backers tomorrow. Is that just a single sector tactical map?

Lund: We have more than what will be in the alpha but the slice we will release is what you might call a minigame. There are four sectors and you start out at the gas station that you may have seen in screenshots. Then you go through to other levels and end up at a prison. In each sector you have to kill all the enemies before you can move on and there’s an increasing difficulty curve.
The aim of the alpha, apart from fulfilling a backer obligation, is to show the core combat and get some feedback from the alpha backers. That’s what we hope to get out of it.

RPS: I have seen the gas station graphic. I think before that, the only image of a combat scenario I’d seen was the diorama. You’d talked about how important clarity was in the visuals and the gas station suggests you’re closer to that ideal. How important is the graphical design overall?

Lund: It’s a balance in a turn-based game. The mechanics are the most important thing. If the combat doesn’t work and the mechanics aren’t satisfying then it doesn’t matter what it looks like. That’s how I feel, as a gamer and a fan of turn-based games. For Jag, it’s important to have the tropical island feeling – it’s important to the overall theme – but we have an ambition to take the game into a direction where it has its own visual style.

If you look at Back in Action, it tries to go into some sort of realistic visual direction without really hitting it and it turned out a little bland. For my taste. That’s one of the things that our art lead and concept guy wanted to do, to give Jagged Alliance: Flashback a visual style that everyone can see in a screenshot and recognise it.

RPS: What is that style?

Lund: I’m not an artist! (laughs) But the guys call it stylistic realism. It’s a similar direction to the one that Wasteland has gone in. We take real textures and oversaturate them with some colour without ending up in World of Warcraft. It’s important for us not to end up with a pastel-coloured game that looks like Team Fortress 2.

We maintain some realism but we do exaggerate some elements to highlight the important things, the things that matter to the gameplay. Make them pop. That has been a success and we’re really happy about how all of the sectors have come out – I think we have twenty or twenty five done now, and we’re adding more as we go. It looks right for where we wanted it to be. The diorama was a little too cartoony or pastel-coloured. A little too much bloom.

RPS: You mentioned the importance of the tropical island setting. Isn’t it also important to change things up as the game progresses, to keep the world interesting?

Lund: Yes, there’s variety and it builds toward a theme. There’s jungle, beach, the main urban area. Then there are farm areas. There will be groups of sectors with the same overall visual theme – there is a coherent look throughout the entire game but with sector-specific art styles. There’s a progression moving across the island rather than having all of the assets used right away at the beginning.

RPS: As I remember it, the first Jagged Alliance was mostly just green. But 2 had a good sense of place.

Lund: That’s one of the things we’re trying to keep track of. If you take a sector and look at it on a screenshot, it’s a pretty place but fairly dead as well, so we add moving things. Moving butterflies, the wind blowing. We added a cloud shader so you can see clouds moving across the ground and the water moving. Those things take it from a dead place to a living place, and then you add the mechanics on top of that.

RPS: Do you do anything interesting in terms of lighting, like the day/night cycles or destructible light sources?

Lund: I think day/night cycles were a stretch goal that didn’t make it but I can’t remember if we’re planning to find the time to add some anyway. We did have some prototypes earlier on, where we’d have lights that could be shot out but at night time, that just makes everything black and how interesting is that? There’s also a lot of technical stuff with light maps that means that removing and adding lighting effects makes the game struggle on lower-end machines.

RPS: Are there things that you thought would work, or that the Jag or Kickstarter community thought would work, that when you’ve prototyped them you’ve realised that they’re just not very enjoyable? There’s sometimes a danger of overcomplicating and veiling the core mechanics.

Lund: A lot of the things that we ended up not implementing have been on the plan since day one, since our aim was to take JA 2 as a baseline. We have the source code, as others do as well, and we’ve been fishing through to dig out the mechanics. Some things were a given, that we knew had to be the same way, and we haven’t diverted far at all. It was important to modernise without taking it too far from JA 2.

A lot of the modernisation is interface-based, so adding context-sensitive cursors and more information in the HUD. That explains some of the underlying mechanics and in JA 2 there were mechanics that were never explained – we talked to some of the original developers and dug through that source code, and found that there are a lot of things that have no explanation and no real impact.
So we had a discussion. Do we remove those things because they have no real impact? That’s the kind of thing we work out in prototypes.

Experimentation-wise, the changes we have made from our original plan is mostly on the story side. The original plan that we thought up and used on the Kickstarter is a Cold War setting, where we did have remnants of the Soviet Union and the US forces fighting on an island. The logo was the Hammer and Sickle. That has totally changed as we moved through the story planning.

RPS: Is that because the Soviet Union is in the process of being rebuilt at the moment?

Lund: (laughs) Yes and no, really! One of the things we took as a lesson out of the Kickstarter was that huge parts of the Russian community hated our game without looking at it properly. They thought it was just another Russian Kill Simulator where the US Forces just slaughter them as generic enemies.

We also made the mistake of calling them Russians instead of Soviets because, from our end, we didn’t have that sense of the language. Russians are very proud of their country and in some ways too nationalistic even and you can see some of that right now, with what is happening in the Ukraine and so forth.

So we’ve made it a more traditional Jagged Alliance story. There’s an island and a Prince and his drug cartel. We’ve removed the Superpowers [a moment when I think Freedom Force Jagged Alliance crossover was nearly a thing and then realise what Lund actually means] and made it into more of a CIA agent setting. As part of the alpha on Thursday, we’re shipping out the new logo, which doesn’t have the hammer and sickle anymore.

RPS: One of the things you said from the beginning was that you wanted to keep the sense of humour, which has always seemed to me like a gung-ho, Soldier of Fortune, Guns N’ Ammo kind of deal. Jagged Alliance finds the idea of men and women with big guns extremely enjoyable and amusing. I guess that’s one of the reasons it needs to be removed from a real political situation because in a real war, those things aren’t quite as amusing or entertaining.

Lund: It was never our intention to do an East vs West story. It was just a cool setting and time period to drop the mercenaries into.

RPS: When we spoke before the Kickstarter began, you told me that you’d chosen the period because it fit the timeline for AIM’s origin story.

Lund: It’s still the same timeline. I think we’re in ’91 now instead of ’89 but the focus on the Superpower part has been removed and it’s now a more classic Banana Republic dictator-prince setting. For me, Jag is a lot like the A Team, that’s primarily what I think of. A little bit exaggerated in terms of the combat and explosions, and having fun blowing shit up!

RPS: Did you never consider a gritty reboot then? About the existential tragedy of the mercenary life? (both laugh) I wonder if the humour in particular might be jarring to some people – it has gone out of fashion, I think.

Lund: A little bit, unfortunately. But it has its audience and there aren’t too many games in this style anymore. I think it’s an opportunity to test the water – three years ago, people didn’t realise that turn-based strategy games could be such a huge deal. We can experiment and try to see if these things still float.

We haven’t dumbed this game down. It’s still hardcore and a lot of the core combat mechanics are still in there, but now in a 3d world, with a stronger art style. We could have gone with a more realistic ARMA style, visually, but then we couldn’t include the over the top violence without being TOO violent, if you know what I mean.

RPS: The personalities of the characters veer toward stereotype as well, with humour to temper the violence. Even if they’re dying horribly, many of them tend to quip about it.

Lund: Yeah.

RPS: One mechanic that interests me is the cover system. Have you changed it? Because in Jagged Alliance 2 [which I love dearly and am not being mean about] you just sort of stand diagonally next to a tree and hope that you’re in cover. There’s no feedback, which some people no doubt like because it creates tension but it can be frustrating.

Lund: It’s a really good example of where we did change things. We have indicators on the cursor so you know where there is cover, and cover is explained in the UI as you move around. It’s those kind of small things that we explain as we go along. I don’t think that’s part of the alpha right now but we have been talking about having a switch so you can turn on the gritty detail of the calculations or turn them all off. So you can see percentage of cover, line of sight, direction you’re facing – how it all adds up.

RPS: I like having information at my fingertips. I can imagine people arguing it makes the game easier but others would argue that seeing through to the numbers proves the tactical credentials and allows people to engage more closely. For me, being able to see the figures on screen makes the game more credible – I like to know what is happening and why.

Lund: There’s a lot of information that we want to give to the player but some people don’t want that. Another thing that may make it into the UI for the alpha is that when you move the mouse to a tile, on the indicator ring for that tile you’ll see lines from enemies, in different colours, to indicate their line of sight and whether there is cover or not. It breaks down when twenty enemies see you and everything is obscured by lines.

RPS: I may have misinterpreted this aspect but is there a base on the strategic map, to defend and manage?

Lund: It’s one of those things we wanted to do when we did the Kickstarter – a full base with base management. It’s one of those things that we changed around a little bit. Now, when you take a sector you can spend money to fortify it or to build a field hospital.

RPS: So it’s more like Jagged Alliance 2 now?

Lund: Yes.

RPS: Can you recruit soldiers to defend it still – the militia system from JA 2?

Lund: Yes, that’s in.

RPS: How long do you expect the alpha to run? Will it run continuously with new slices every month or so?

Lund: This goes up on Thursday and then there will be a few additional ones up to Steam Early Access which is at the end of May, I think. So we’ll be loading up new slices to the alpha backers.

RPS: Are they distinct ‘slices’ rather than a central alpha that you’ll add new features to?

Lund: Yeah, they’re completely separate, so we can get feedback on different aspects of the game. Obviously, this first alpha is really important to us. We want to have more than just a technical slice, to show people the interface, the combat mechanics. We want the feedback but we also want people to see that, yes, this is Jagged Alliance.

RPS: The Kickstarter was touch and go for a while…

Lund: Oh yeah, it was!

RPS: I remember an update where you said if we don’t make it, we won’t try this again. We’ll talk to Bitcomposer and see what other options we have. Now, I see a lot of Kickstarters and yours looked more like a fulltime job than most – lots of updates and communication. It looked fairly draining. I wonder what you learned from that and what you’d recommend to other people doing Kickstarters or considering them?

Lund: Oh yeah, it was draining. In many ways it was really rewarding but it was horrible as well. Without mentioning names or pointing fingers, I see some Kickstarters were people set up a stream, play some games and make their goal in three hours. I just think, ‘oh man, they have it too easy’. I’ve been giving talks to local people here where my overall message is ‘Don’t do a Kickstarter.’ But then I add some caveats. If you don’t have a rockstar team, a kickass demo or a brand – if you don’t have one or two of those there, you’ll have a hard time.

The place where we failed miserably is that we didn’t have a demo. You need to have something to show that is more than screenshots and an IP name. If we do another Kickstarter, we’ll make sure that we definitely do that.

RPS: On a more positive note – I’ve been rewatching some of the update videos this morning and hearing the Jagged Alliance music kick in at the beginning is so great. Did you find the composer or do you use your own stuff in the actual game?

Lund: We don’t have our own stuff. We have had a huge amount of people who basically volunteered, sending us music, and we have access to all the old sound effects and music as part of the license deal. So we coded a little radio station and you can pick a genre and there’s a folder full of music files, like a small MP3 player, and one of the channels is the original Jagged Alliance music, and then there’s an island music channel, a reggae channel. And it’s completely moddable – people can add their own MP3s and they’ll play.

RPS: You’ve probably been asked this many times before – and I think I might even have asked you this before myself – but do you have any of the original voice actors? I imagine they’re scattered far and wide.

Lund: We don’t have any of the original ones. We investigated where they are and, unfortunately (for us), a lot of them are now voice actors in Hollywood, which makes them very expensive to hire!

RPS: I thought you were going to say, ‘one of them runs a shrimping boat, one of them is a barista in Portland’.

Lund: No, they’re real voice actors now! It’s crazy.

RPS: You mentioned adding new music but how deep does the actual modding go?

Lund: It’s the thing we’re pushing really hard on. There’s no secret about the fact that we hoped to get more money in the Kickstarter, to make a larger game. I’ve heard rumours about the original JA2 being a multi-million dollar project and here we are with $350,000 in a modern age.

The amount of content we can create is limited compared to expectations that it will be a huge huge huge huge game. We are still delivering a cool story and a reasonable-sized game with a lot of great stuff in it, but we build up the systems that we have in place – like the strategic map, on which people can swap out sectors, or build a completely new map with sectors made from scratch. Everyone who buys has access to every asset we used to make the game. The only thing that isn’t moddable directly is the code, some of the merecenary animations, which is due to technical stuff in Unity. I think we’re the first game going on to Early Access to have moddability from day one. That’ll be day one in May. The first person buying it, along with the alpha and beta backers, will be able to use all of this stuff.

RPS: Let’s assume the first person to buy it is me and the extent of my modding ability is making Quake levels and swapping out sound files in Doom so that Cacodemons shouted out ‘argh, it chafes’ when I shot them. What are my chances of making something cool?

Lund: It depends which part of the game you want to mod. If you want to take a picture of yourself and put your mugshot in as a mercenary with your own stats and name, that’s as simple as copying the file into the right folder and editing a text file, and either adding a new entry or swapping one out.

RPS: Could I add in a whole bunch of new mercenaries and have them appear in AIM?

Lund: That’s the plan. And it’s the same with weapons – change stats, add entirely new ones, swap out models. That is just text files and uploading images.

RPS: You’d always said JA 2 1.13 was the dream but it’d be a stretch to make something as large and as complex as that.

Lund: As far as we can stretch Unity, this is our plan, to let people make add-ons of that complexity. To go back to the question of how much knowledge you’d need to mod the game though – if you wanted to create a new sector, with a fortress for example, you’d need Unity, either the free or pro version. And then you can go in with our tools and assets, and start building and dragging things in. If you can assemble something in Unity, you can swap out a sector. To add your own assets, you need Unity Pro because we use asset bundles, which are an advanced form of zip files that Unity uses. But then you can add your own models.

RPS: Theoretically, people could do total conversions.

Lund: Sure! If they don’t like the art style, say, and have lots of time on their hands. It’s been important for us throughout development to tell people that we’re on a limited budget and that we can make a cool little game but we want to be a bit like JA 2 in that modding is possible in a clean way so the game can have a long life.

Tomorrow, part two explores the depth of the modding tools in detail, and we talk about the challenge of managing expectations while working with a license and a crowdfunded game.

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38 Comments »

  1. Jockie says:

    You could check the level of cover in JA2 (vanilla not sure in 1.13) by holding down the Del key, it used a red/yellow/green system to show how good the cover is in a particular spot!

    I am still sort of looking on at this with cautious curiosity. I didn’t back because the Kickstarter was basically as he says, a brand name with a bit of concept art by a team whose claim to fame was that they did quite well on another Kickstarter.

    • Adam Smith says:

      Crikey – you’re right. I’d completely forgotten that. Used it back in the day but it had completely left my memory when I reinstalled a few years ago. Never managed to rediscover somehow.

    • Gwyddelig says:

      Likewise. My entirely “meh” experience with JABIA cooled my ardour quite effectively too, perhaps unfairly.

  2. xp194 says:

    “[a moment when I think Freedom Force Jagged Alliance crossover was nearly a thing and then realise what Lund actually means]”

    A man can dream… :-(

  3. Premium User Badge

    caff says:

    Interesting interview, thanks. I like his honesty too.

    In terms of the kickstarter, I really felt it lacked clear options for backers – I would have put in more, if it had a simple “give us more money, we’ll give you more content” message.

  4. Squirly says:

    I really hope this is successful. Ideally it’ll bring in a steady stream of cash for the developer, allowing them to support and add to the game after release for a long time to come. I love me some JA2, and I recently got a friend into it (with 1.13) and he loved it as well. This sequel could be really good.

    • Premium User Badge

      caff says:

      So long as the core game is excellent, I think DLC in the form of maps/weapons/new story arcs could work very well for them.

  5. XhomeB says:

    Considering even the kickstarter campaign struggled to gain the necessary momentum, it’s safe to assume JA fans or fans of TB games in general find it difficult to trust anyone anymore… Who can blame them?
    Space Hulk wasn’t GOTY material, but it got criticized a bit unfairly I think, so I wish the Full Control team the best in their efforts, making a sequel to JA2 is a suicidal task almost, especially on a shoestring budget.

    • Bull0 says:

      People are always bringing up Space Hulk so they can perfunctorily dismiss the criticism of it without qualification. It’s weird. I’ve got it, and I think the criticisms of it were bang on.

      • LordCrash says:

        True. But with the source code of JA2 available I think they have a good chance to make Alliance a much better game. Hope dies last…

      • Volcanu says:

        I would happily debate some of the criticisms of Space Hulk .I’m in the same camp as XhomeB as thinking that it might not have been GOTY material (and was on the expensive side for the feature set on release), I feel it has become accepted internet wisdom that it’s awful. And it just isn’t. I think it’s a really solid effort and I had great fun with it.

        In response to some of those review criticisms:

        - Some reviews criticise the slow movement of the Terminators. They do move slowly. But it was never an issue for me as you can start moving other Termies whilst one is thunking down a corridor. Id rather they felt slow and lumbering than have them sprinting around, but I can see why some people might want an option to just pick and place them. Anyway I was concerned when I read that criticism, but was pleasantly surprised to find it a none issue for me.

        – I think Rab found the graphics to be unclear and mentioned he missed doors and so on. Have to say I didn’t have that problem at all, and as things are laid out on a grid pattern I found doors to be pretty clear.

        - He also found a number of bugs like missions not finishing when they should etc. That would be annoying I’m sure, but they seemed to have fixed all that by the time I played it.

        - Hotseat multiplayer. I haven’t tried this mode so cant say whether the flaws have been fixed. So I don’t know about that one.

        - Not using the format to add to the drama. Well that’s subjective so I guess you either feel it added tension or it didn’t. Personally I thought it was great watching hordes of genestealers pouring down a corridor towards my marine on overwatch and there was genuine tension in hoping my storm bolter wouldnt jam. I think it was the RPS review that said it was a shame you couldn’t see the dice rolls prominently like you can in say, virtual Monopoly. Well for me it was enough to have them in the text log window as I personally find computerised shaking dice to be more annoying. But again that’s a matter of opinion.

        For myself I enjoyed it even more than the latest XCOM for some reason, notwithstanding that XCOM is objectively the better game. I realise I have prattled on a bit now but on a personal level I feel it’s a little bit sad the way that Space Hulk has been declared ‘awful’ by the accepted wisdom of internet commentators, when I suspect that many haven’t actually played it themselves (clearly you have so you are fully entitled not to like it). I can understand that people might not think it’s great, it may leave some people cold. But awful it really ain’t

        • Bull0 says:

          Oh, I don’t think it’s ‘awful’, but I was disappointed all the same and think the general level of quality is below what it should’ve been and didn’t reflect the primo pricetag. There’s a lot not to like about the animation – terminators ineffectually spraying whole clips of ammo at completely static genestealers and still not killing them, etc – and I agree with the point about the overwatch mechanic being a missed opportunity to actually inject some spectacle into the thing. All felt very perfunctory.

          It’s right and proper that they’ve fixed some of the bugs now, but reviewers can’t really say “The game has some fairly bad bugs, but they’ll probably fix them with time”, can they?

          RE: Xcom, If we’re being totally objective, a new player could get Space Hulk for £23 or Xcom for £15 (yeah, it was £30 at launch; even then, a mere £7 more for a far broader and richer experience, and it’s frequently been on deep discount sales in that window anyway). Are you really saying you’d recommend Space Hulk?

          • Volcanu says:

            Oh I absolutely agree that reviewers should flag up bugs on launch. But I was giving my reaction in response to the various criticisms of the game when I played it. So the bug’s weren’t an issue for me because by the time I got Space Hulk, they had squished them. I know a few people who were on the fence about buying it have questioned whether these bugs were ever addressed. So yes, an issue on release maybe, but one that is fixed now. In the same way that FO:NV had some horrid bugs on release but if you were to pick it up today, you’d discover a really great game.

            On the XCOM or Space Hulk recommendation point, no I would n’t. What I was trying to get across was that XCOM is objectively the better game (and therefore I’d absolutely recommend a neutral pick that up before Space Hulk) but that for whatever highly unscientific reason, I had more fun with Space Hulk, despite really enjoying XCOM. Couldn’t really put my finger on why – but probably in no small part because I love the IP, which undeniably adds to the appeal. As I alluded, part of the problem was Space Hulk’s high launch price which made any lack of polish harder to swallow. Confession time, I picked it up for my iPad, and paid maybe £10 which I think was good value.

            I’m not sure what the current Steam price is – but if it’s around the £15 mark then I think it’s definitely worth that. £23 is a bit much, as it is quite ‘feature light’.

            I just think it gets bashed a bit unfairly in some quarters. Perhaps if it had gone on sale for £12 initially that wouldnt have happened. Out of interest, at what price wouldnt you have found it underwhelming (assuming price is part of your unhappiness with it)?

          • Bull0 says:

            Fair enough, I get it. It’s currently still £23! I think £10-12 would probably be fair enough, for what it is. Quality issues aside it’s even pretty light on content to justify £23

    • Moraven says:

      Space Hulk simply came out two patches early. While I experienced no game breaking bugs (but animation, sound bugs), Patch 1.2 had the game at a good place and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants a digital board game fix.

      With smaller dev teams, Early Access makes it easier to get the game into player’s hands and help out testing to avoid most bugs. Then when they officially launch with a marketing push, “reviews” and the like will not hurt the game as much.

  6. unmightysten says:

    I didn’t back this. I bought Back in Action for some stupid reason, yet I didn’t back this… WHY THE HELL DIDN’T I BACK THIS?

    Also… those folks are professional voice actors now? Even the one who played Ira? “She is evil… a driven bitch.”
    Incredible.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Goodtwist says:

    “They thought it was just another Russian Kill Simulator where the US Forces just slaughter them as generic enemies.

    We also made the mistake of calling them Russians instead of Soviets because, from our end, we didn’t have that sense of the language. Russians are very proud of their country and in some ways too nationalistic even and you can see some of that right now, with what is happening in the Ukraine and so forth.”
    God forbid somebody made a “‘Murican Kill Simulator”; he would get dragged onto the pillory by the Western freedom press in no time. On the other hand, voicing your discontent with being the receiving side in a “Kill Simulator” makes you “too nationalistic”.

    This part of the interview reminds of the relevance of certain distinguished media stars opinion on matters they don’t have a clue about.

    • Adam Smith says:

      I think Thomas was making a call-back to my comment about rebuilding the Soviet Union, not in an entirely serious fashion. But he was also talking about the fact that Flashback was never supposed to be an East vs West game and certainly not one that specifically targeted Russians as bad guys, yet the setting concerned some people.

      The point of Flashback, as I understand it, is to continue the amorality of AIM’s mercenary setup. They tend to be fighting for the ‘right’ side but because they’re being paid rather than because they’re good guys. But having a target who deserves some comeuppance makes the setup more palatable.

      I don’t think the Cold War setting ever intended to label America or the Soviets as the enemy – it would have been background – and I’m sure a lot of Americans would react badly if they thought their historical forces were going to be the enemy as well. Personally, I think there’s too much nationalism almost anywhere I happen to look.

      But I get your reaction to that comment – don’t think Thomas would single out any specific group, it just happened to the topic of conversation and a reflection of experiences during the Kickstarter.

      • Premium User Badge

        Goodtwist says:

        Fair enaugh, cheers. And keep up the good work ;)

      • ThomasLund says:

        Adam already pointed this out, but just want to give my voice to it too.

        Jagged was always using a fictional setting for its stories, but taking place in the real world. Every mercs background story references real places and events.

        So when we initially in the Kickstarter ran with a cold war setting, we never knew what hornets nest we stirred up. Our mailboxes quickly filled up with angry people, and that was never our intention.

        So running with the current story makes it much more clear that this is a true Jagged story similar to the old ones.

        /Thomas

        • ohminus says:

          Hint: When you are funding a game via kickstarter, it might not be wise to depict part of your potential funders as bad guys or sons of bad guys or…
          The advantage of games with fantasy or science fiction settings: Unless you have glaring parallels, no one is going to be offended by being depicted in a certain fashion…

          But biting a hand that might feed you before it even handed you treats is not conducive to getting stuffed…

      • Eggman says:

        “don’t think the Cold War setting ever intended to label America or the Soviets as the enemy – it would have been background – and I’m sure a lot of Americans would react badly if they thought their historical forces were going to be the enemy as well.”

        Mhm, Fantasy Flight (US boardgame company) originally intended their remake of Fortress America (one country defends against 3 invaders) to change setting, placing the US as one of the invading countries.

        Brave company! But after a ragestorm on boardgame forums, they reverted to the original setting – where the US is invaded by the Euro-Socialist pact (not making this up), Asians and and Central Americans. But they were able to make it more tongue-in-cheek than the original.

        • Bull0 says:

          That socialist pact thing is basically the plot of Red Dawn, right?

          Fortress America and the whole cold war US invasion setting, being done in the 21st century, is kind of pastiche to facilitate the game mechanics rather than the point of the affair. Taking it seriously would be a mistake.

          • Eggman says:

            Of course. Unfortunately, many people took it seriously enough to make a forum ragestorm when FF wanted to switch up the setting.

  8. LordCrash says:

    I’m looking forward to this. I’m a big JA2 fan and I hope they can catch the look and feel as well as the gamplay the way we expect it without just making a simple reskin/clone…

    Oh, and I hope they will give “normal” backers the option to buy into the alpha/beta now as well.

    • ThomasLund says:

      The website has the option now to purchase alpha access. And beta will come through Steam Early Access :-)

  9. StanRex says:

    Since the militia is going to be in, I do wonder if they’ve done something to deal with the ridiculously long turns when defending a town. When you had 20 attackers, 30 militia + your team, and all of them have to play their turn, the game turned into a borefest…

    • Herkimer says:

      I…actually loved those scenarios. Particularly as the majority of the reds and blues were so spectacularly inept that they couldn’t shotgun a dude standing 5m away. And then one of them would nail a headshot with a pistol from half a map away and it was glorious.

      I miss JA2.

    • nakano says:

      I remember that I suggested adding a feature to speed up the animations (=movement) by holding a key (like in the emulators). I am not sure if it’s technically doable. If the player turns have optional maximum time limit / reaction time set (I don’t play JA2 with that feature), speeding up shouldn’t of course be usable during player turns.

  10. Wurstwaffel says:

    I just hope it does all the essential gameplay things, like aiming for head, torso or legs, putting variable amounts of action points in a shot and the wounding/patching up mechanics. Too many modern turn based games are too dumbed down in that regard, for my tastes anyway.

    • ThomasLund says:

      The alpha will have most of these already in place :-) Needs testing, balancing, finalization etc. But its there

  11. teije says:

    I didn’t back this because I was very skeptical at KS time that it would ever actually materialize. But now I’m actually quite intrigued – he hit the right points and seemed quite realistic in the interview.

    Loved JA2 and if this can bring back some of that magic while removing some of the tedious bits I’m on board.

    • MistaJah says:

      I was a skeptic too. But they rethought and backpedaled on these two important things:

      “The original plan that we thought up and used on the Kickstarter is a Cold War setting, where we did remnants of the Soviet Union and the US forces fighting on an island. The logo was the Hammer and Sickle. That has totally changed as we moved through the story planning.” and “a full base with base management. It’s one of those things that we changed around a little bit. Now, when you take a sector you can spend money to fortify it or to build a field hospital”.

      Main base management would have been lame, I want my mercenaries to be always on the move and mobile. Of course I can see this being a problem with the map being smaller than in JA2, but not good enough of a reason to compromise gameplay.
      Also, art style’s very pleasing now. I might even get the alpha/early access now! Definitely interested.
      I wish the devs could squeeze in a couple of times of day like evening and night if dynamic ToD is too much.

  12. GunFox says:

    I’m guessing that the amazing inventory system from 1.13 won’t make it into this?

    For those who don’t recall or played versions prior to the implementation of the new system: the equipment you wore would determine your inventory and the type of equipment you were best suited to carrying. So a guy with a machine gun wouldn’t do too well with a rifleman chest rig because he would lack the space to put boxes of ammunition. It was a beautiful system that was relatively intuitive and really improved customization and immersion.

    I also enjoyed the hell out of the changes they made to the weapon attachment system.

  13. TheSplund says:

    I read “Jagged Alliance: Flashdance” – imagine my thoughts!