Dear Pilots and Drivers!
We start this Dev Blog with a somber reminder that 77 years ago, on June 22, 1941, German troops, under the control of the Nazi regime in Berlin, launched the largest invasion in the history of warfare. They crossed the Soviet Union border in a surprise blitzkrieg attack obliterating the non-aggression pact signed between Germany and the USSR. This escalation of WWII would forever change the history of the USSR and the rest of the world. Modern history still to this day is divided into 'before' and 'after' the war. The German war machine was powerful, effective, modern and technologically advanced. Its soldiers were highly motivated and exceptionally trained. Operation Barbarossa was planned by the best minds of the German general staff. The plan was for three army groups, 'North', 'Center' and 'South' to smash the USSR in just 5 months with the help of the cavalry of the new age - the air force.
This outcome may have seemed inevitable if not for the tenacity of the Soviet people and military. Surprisingly for the German High Command, as Barbarossa rolled on and early victories showed Soviet unpreparedness, the Soviet resistance began to stiffen and harden with each passing day. The Soviets withstood the initial, most powerful impact of the enemy with grim determination. This determination and composure turned into a shield and spear that would eventually stop and kill the enemy. We all know the price of this victory - there was no family untouched by the war, countries were destroyed, cities turned to rubble, tens of millions of people killed and millions of children became orphans. The price was hideous and we can't forget it because our ancestors live in our memory. We hope such an event never happens again.
This price wasn't paid in vain - the modern world as we know it comes from the great joint victory over Nazis. The victory which wasn't possible without the blood of the Soviet people, which begun on this day, June 22, 1941.
This new project of ours is our tribute to this memory. We tell about the machines of WWII and the fighting in the skies above its battlefields. And starting this year, we'll also tell you about the fighting on the ground. We'll begin with one of the most famous and critical battles of the war - the battle of Kursk. In 1943, the Wehrmacht gathered all available forces, which in 1943 were still considerable and far from defeated and attempted to turn the tide of the war after the setbacks in 1941 and 1942 in one coordinated all-out assault. It can't be said that this attempt was entirely hopeless, the German forces nearly broke through the last lines of defense, but the Red Army held and counterattacked. And with that, the final outcome of the war became clear. The symbol of that battle, of course, is the armored combat machines that defined the battlefield – TANKS! Tanks alone are little more than expensive metal heaps without their human crews. This new project - Tank Crew: Clash at Prokhorovka - is dedicated to the crews who bravely went to battle in them.
The action in Tank Crew: Clash at Prokhorovka will take place in 100x100 km area around Belgorod, including the place where the greatest tank battle of all time was waged, near Prokhorovka village. You can see that the map size is smaller than in our other projects, but we made it smaller on purpose to use our recently developed landscape detail scaling technology. This tech will make the landscape wireframe 16 times more detailed than our usual maps that are designed for aircraft engagements. While being smaller than our other maps, this map size is still unequal among tank sims. We don't do this just to boast about it either - the size of our map makes joint multiplayer with tanks and aircraft possible on the same multiplayer server.
In addition to 16 times more detailed landscape, we also implemented the knock-over-trees tech which in some aspects is more advanced than in competing titles. The terrain texturing has also been improved to make creating believable settlements and villages possible.
The settlements also required new tech advances because this project is focused on tanks, so we have implemented more detailed building damage modeling. Of course, we can’t get carried away, because populating all settlements and big towns with detailed damage model buildings won't be feasible from both development resources and sim performance standpoints. The bulk of the map will be populated like on the regular maps while the historically important areas where the major tank engagements happened will have the new detailed buildings. This will make ramming the buildings possible by the way. As you can imagine, the area of the Prokhorovka battle will be one of these highly detailed areas. The size of just this area is comparable to the full size of the map in some tank games.
Now let's list the tanks that will be made for the project, it is called Tank Crew after all. There will be 10 armored vehicles and two Anti-Aircraft vehicles:
1. T-34-76 model 1943
6. GAZ-MM + 72K
7. PzKpfw III Ausf.M
8. PzKpfw IV Ausf.G
9. PzKpfw V Ausf.D "Panther"
10. PzKpfw VI Ausf.H1 "Tiger"
11. Sd. Kfz. 184 "Ferdinand"
12. Sd. Kfz. 10 + Flak38
For this project, we performed historical research on the construction of these tanks and their equipment and weapons for exterior and interior 3D modeling and texturing. Part of our team is working on improving the engine, making the physical tank models and their damage modeling, creating the map and improving the user interface for the tank crews. We've managed to set up the joint workflow with our development partners so Tank Crew development doesn't affect the progress we're making on our other big project – Battle of Bodenplatte.
We can tell you a bit about the gameplay already. The player will be able to occupy one of the four stations:
- Tank commander
- Radioman/MG gunner
The required support for drivable tanks and vehicles has been created in advance. All our customers should try the existing two tanks, T-34 and Pz. III. Now we're improving and expanding this support, and one of the most important directions of this improvement is making the damage model of the tank and its systems more detailed.
We'll also improve the ground vehicle AI so it will be capable of controlling detailed tanks, the ones that human players control. This is required for single player - you'll be acting as part of tank squads or companies.
For each side we plan to create a Scripted Campaign consisting of several missions connected with a single story, telling about the historical events of this battle.
As we see things now, the Tank Commander role is shaping up to be the most interesting one - you'll be able to command your crew, give orders to your unit as a whole or any particular tank under your command. On Expert difficulty level, you'll do all this from your seat inside the tank relying only on the visual information which has been possible to obtain in real life.
Players assuming the role of a driver will notice the realistic tank movement physics that includes the complex interaction of the tank tracks (or wheels for a car) with the ground, engine and transmission, resulting in realistic dynamic characteristics of a given tank or vehicle. Since we are not only a simulator, but also a game, it will be possible to control this complex dynamical model with simple input devices.
The gunner will operate the realistic optical gun sight. We have performed significant research to model the ballistics of all the rounds used in these tanks. At the moment we plan that it will be possible to use 5 round types: AP, APHE, APCR, HEAT and HE (it's likely you know what these mean if you're interested in tank warfare). The types available will be historically accurate, for instance, the 76mm HEAT round was forbidden to use in 1943 because of the many cases of its premature bursting in the barrel, or there were no solid AP rounds for German guns, they used APHE. All MGs installed on the tanks will be accurately modeled as well.
The Radioman/MG gunner will operate his MG most of the time but losing a radioman will prevent you from talking with other tanks of your unit. The loader will be also modeled, but he will be controlled by AI.
We plan to start the Early Access program for Tank Crew: Clash at Prokhorovka as early as this July. Of course, we'll have only a small bit of the final product available at the start. The official release date is more than one year ahead in the future, but early adopters of Tank Crew will have something to play with:
- Highly detailed (exterior and interior) KV-1s and PzKpfw VI Ausf.H1 "Tiger" tanks;
- Nearly complete physics model of these tanks;
- Detailed ballistics model for 50mm, 76mm and 88mm rounds;
- Ability to occupy any tank station (tank commander functionality won't be ready, but you'll be able to take the commander seat);
- Numerous improvements to other game functionality which will improve a ground vehicle gameplay.
Well, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, but here is a bunch for several thousand words!