From the desk of Dondergod:
Welcome to this second newspaper special! A bit later than my plan was, but here it finally is! In this article I am going to take you back into 2012. Do you for example remember the time when the campaign map was only future music? I myself only joined the beta in march, so I cannot say anything about the months before. Enjoy! Note: The screenshots used have nothing to do with the builds,
Questions to Reto
I also took the liberty of asking some questions to Reto. I first wanted to give a whole list of questions to all seperate reto’s, but because of the time and their time which I didn’t want to waste, I decided to go with 3 open questions. I want to thank Reto.RedBjarne for his participation and the answers to my questions.
What do you think is the greatest accomplishment the company made in the past year?
From a company perspective, joining up with Square-Enix is definitely the greatest accomplishment. We can now develop Heroes & Generals even further than originally thought. From a game perspective it’s much harder to pick one specific feature that is ‘greatest’. I would probably say; ‘getting our build process under control’ as it lays the foundation for the rest of the game.
If you were to redo the past year, were there any things you would have done differently?
Hmm.. another tough question :-) To be honest I would like if we had focused on tying up those loose ends before starting on new features, but then again, a lot of those features are part of what makes the game fun to play.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I love what you do with the newspaper, and to the rest of the community. I do read as much as I can find time to on the forums, but OMFG can you please go easy on the wall-of-texts! (Donder: no… just no :P) There simply isn’t enough hours in a day for me to real all of that :-) Keep it simple guys but keep it coming!!
From Alpha to Felber
For me, it all started in February 2012, this was the first time I heard about the game and it got me interested straight away, I joined the forums and got into the discussions. I of course also registered for a beta-key and the waiting began. The wait ended 9 march (if I’m correct) when I received my beta-key and logged in for the first time. Knowing my laptop, I was really afraid I couldn’t run the game, but having logged in, and playing my first match, I noticed I could, on low graphics and with very low fps, but I could play the game.
I remember the Alpha Days well, I think the game just received an update, introducing the APCs. The weapons that are now laying on the map in boxed, used to float somewhere mid-air. Bikes only had 1 seat, jeeps only had 3, tanks 2 and the Stuart, motorcycles, Pz.I and Pz.III weren’t even in the planning yet.
Back then, the servers were only open 2/3 evenings in the week for about 4 hours. The amount of testers was limited, so they had to be online during the same periods of time.
Also the campaign map the generals move their assault teams over, wasn’t there yet. Or well, it was, but it wasn’t playable yet. I remember when one day the Reto’s were moving some assault teams around and we were so exited to just see those little envelopes move across the map. A little while later, they actually opened the ‘stable-server’ for all players for a few hours. Myself and others quickly joined and with the money we were given we bought ourselves some assault teams.
Another aspect that wasn’t there yet, was character customization when you joined a battle, you could simply join in a standard character. Just like the assault teams, this all got added during pre-beta.
I do also remember the gameplay well, the current town-map looked very different from now, the river crossing and pontoon bridge weren’t there yet, so all attacks either came over the stone bridge, the iron bridge, or the North-East. Mostly for the iron-bridge it was a lot of pot-shot shooting. Except when someone managed to cross with a machinegun though. The machineguns back then were even stronger than they are today. The MG42 and the Browning could be used not just from the hip, but while running around as well. People simply ran into building, emptied their clip and killed all in their path. One other thing the game had… exploding bikes! Back then bikes were counted as ‘vehicles’ and vehicles apparently were programmed to explode when destroyed, so the bike did what it was asked and every time it got destroyed, it really went up in flames.
The alpha stage was also the place where I made my name well known. I was very active on the forums, tried to help new players find their way and contributed that way to H&G. Together with cRo4Ti4 and Jumana we got recognition by Reto in one of the info-bulletins, which made me (and probably the other two as well) very very proud.
In late april 2012 it was time for a huge update. War bonds found their way into game, assault teams got added and also the character customizing had begun. The game went open 24/7, beta keys were handed out and the game started it’s growth.
Jumana and I again had our moment in the spotlight, where it were his and my units who first met on the battlefield. The first player-generated battle had started and as well all know, a lot of them followed.
I also remember how I spent the rest of the evening softcapping between London and the Rhine, and said the axis should do the own. Only to log in the next day and find out we were at war 7. Wars lasted short in that time, even shorter than today. Axis paratroopers did not yet lose their planes when they jumped from airfield to airfield and sometimes they ended wars in no more than 10 minutes, by simply jumping their paratroopers straight towards the enemy capital.
Of course this wasn’t the only problem the strategy part had, 9 out of 10 assault teams got stuck somewhere during the war, units got sent to the upper-left corner of the map and without a reset-unit, it was waiting for a new war. After a few dozen wars, several ‘veteran’ players decided to put up some ‘gentleman-rules’ which meant that in the beginning of a war both sides would give each-other some time to start up. The paratroopers were put to some restrictions, and for a few wars, those rules really helped the war. The wars went from 7 hours to 7 days and we could keep that up for almost 3 wars, after which more and more people went to their old habits.
This is also the time I started working on the game guide. Many things that are in the game guide, are still based on this build.
Beta → Avery
Only a month later, on 22 may, closed-beta was announced. This build mostly had bug fixes, which is why I quickly continue to build Bradley.
Halfway through June, Bradley saw daylight. Bradley was again a much bigger build, with a lot of new features. Even though they made huge steps towards the final product, Bradley was a build with a lot of mixed feelings from the playerbase. The run and gun MG had disappeared and was nerfed so much hardly anyone used it, the M1 Garand vs Kar 98k became a huge obstacle and the squad leader was removed to make place for ‘infantry’ meaning soldiers who could carry either a SMG or a rifle. The victory points also got an extended cap zone, like the one we know nowadays. The church and police station also used to be a radio-humping cap zone.
The townmap was also reformed into what it is now, the pontoon and river crossing were added to overhaul the town map.
Crace & Dietl
Since both these builds came out short after one another, I’m naming both of them in the same part. Dietl came out halfway through August. In these builds we gained the ‘rank’ for our characters. Even though it didn’t unlock anything yet, it was interesting to see how much you had killed and how many CPs you had captured. Also the first iteration of the lobby system. This last came with a lot of problems, since at that point 10 vs 10 was how many players Reto wanted to start a battle. After an entire day of hardly any fights, Reto quickly changed it to 1vs1 minimum.
During this stage of the game, I also got my first newspaper our of the door!
We are getting close to the current build, where in November 2012 it was time to bring Eisenhower to the live servers. In this build another often misunderstood function made it’s way into Heroes & Generals, the matchmaking system. Which was placed for heroes to easily get into a battle. Next to that the mounted MGs on vehicles were improved as well as the 16 vs. 16 battles that were made possible. Also the binoculars got added to the game (re-added it was present sometime in early alpha as well /Reto.Robotron3000).
The current build of course. Here we met the Stuart, Pz.I, Pz.III and the motorcycles. Next to that, also the new assault teams were introduced to the game. This is also where we met the new skirmish map. Rather then fighting over a single point in the middle, the map became a domination map. The trenches were removed and the entire map was redesigned.