It’s that time of the year again!
IndieDB, webportal for everything indie, is holding their 4th Annual Indie of the Year Awards – and with over 11,000 indie games competing for the title, the Jackboots need your help!
The competition is separated into two stages: During the first stage the Top 100 of over 11,000 indie titles is established by you, the fans and voters. From the 11th of December on another ten days of voting will comence during which one project from the Top 100 is voted the 2013 Indie of the Year and an Editor’s Choice determined.
By nature, the Indie of the Year contest is highly competitive, and thus we need your help!
Please vote for Festung Europa in the 2013 Indie of the Year awards!
After voting, don’t forget to choose your favourite social media platform and spread the word!
Remember: Every vote counts and every little helps!
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
John McCrae, 1915
On this day 95 years ago, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month 1918, the armistice came into effect that marked the end of the First World War. The Jackboot Games team would like to take this moment to honour, remember, and pay their respects to the sacrifice of all soldiers who fought and died during that and the other great conflicts of the 20th century.
Hello everyone, it’s time for a Dev Diary!
This time we want to give you guys a look behind the scenes and kick off a new series of developer diaries with the story of one Jackboot dev, who accidently turned level designer! Here at Jackboot Games no talent goes wasted, most members of the team wear several hats and contribute in every field they can. When our resident artist Jan “Regular John” Klimecky, decided to play around a little with the CryENGINE SDK, he quickly discovered that his artistic skills translated very well into the world of level design. This is his dev diary Mapping Normandy No.1:
Hello, I am Jan from the Czech Republic, 27 years old and Concept Artist who turned Level Designer for Jackboot Games. I always enjoyed playing maps that are based on real locations (for example DH-stavelot is my favorite) and as we want to have high level of realism of weapons, vehicles and sounds, I want to keep the same level of realism for the game’s maps. So at some point I started messing around with the CryEngine SDK – and let me just say that I was really impressed by how easy to learn and generally user friendly the CryEngine and its Editor are – and soon found out, that I could really get things done with it!
Concept images are the first thing that is made before we start modeling the actual map. It all starts with team discussion using what we call a “moodboard”, after we agree on a certain feeling that we want, we start creating quick concepts. All of our maps so far are exact copies of real locations in 1:1 scale. To achieve this, we use everything we can find: satellite images, terrain heightmaps and aerial reconnaissance photos. With all that data, we can be as detailed as never before and include trenches, roadblocks, MG nests or hedgerow gaps in the same locations as they were during the battle. For the reference we also use WW2 era photos, old postcards of the area and tons of books which are usually the most important pieces to our “puzzle”.
On the left image (black and white) you can see how a heightmap looks like, which when imported into the CryEngine forms the terrain accordingly. On the right image the modified terrain is covered with a texture made from aerial pictures, in this case Google Earth.
This image taken in CryEngine shows modeled terrain with custom made placeholder texture – the map is in 1:1 scale. Now I know where I have to place buildings, roads, defence works etc. I can place solids as temporary objects and test how it would feel to play on that map. Of course, we can be only as accurate as our materials that we have, so there are still some locations that aren’t covered with photographs – we have to use our creative intuition to imagine what might have been for those places.
A lot of research goes into creating signature landmarks, like the famous Canada House.
Picking the right maps for the game
When I’m picking the right map, I always look for battles that:
1. Have an interesting historical background – the famous battles and the names attached to them are what define our memories of this conflict up to this day and thus will define what Festung Europa will ultimatly feel and look like.
2. Have interesting and diverse terrain that won’t be boring for players – since we focus on combined arms, we want to have interesting environment. For example: hilly terrain with some orchards, rivers and ditches where you can take some cover.
3. Have decent historic documentation for the historically based maps – I want to be as accurate as possible so we also need battles that are covered in detail by books, aerial photos and so on.
4. Have good potential for re-playability – I want maps that will be fun even after 10th round, so there are usually more ways of attack etc.
Thanks for reading this far!
Let us emphasise what was said in this diary: With the capability of the CryENGINE to render large open environments and the accessibility of the Level Editor, we are able to create 1:1 maps of the historical locations. Bocages, roads, individual houses, defence works – all will be in place where they were at the time of battle in the fateful summer of 1944. If you are facing difficult terrain, a line of hedgerows is giving you particular trouble or the defending force is favoured by an open field of fire – chances are these obstacles and challenges are exactly what the Allied and German soldiers had to face. Now it will be our job to give you the necessary tools of war and communication, and your job will be to put them to good use and reach the objective! The only real limitations here from a level design perspective are the wealth or lack of sources and reference materials, which has not been a problem so far. We also use other sources and techniques, that have not been disclosed in this diary, to create the most realistic and historical World War 2 Normandy experience we can.
If you wish to contribute your knowledge or share some additional information or images to help us create a more authentic experience, then head over to our forums and join in on the discussion!
This concludes our Mapping Normandy dev diary, the first in a series bringing you closer to Festung Europa’s level creation – hope you enjoyed it!
We are recruiting – take a look at our Jobs Section and contact us!
Maintenance in the field is a regular occurrence with any army at war – sights need to be adjusted, barrels exchanged, and battle damage repaired. Similarly, we constantly re-evaluate our products to make sure they adhere to both yours and our own high quality standards. Following some in-depth, detailed and constructive criticism by the community of the initially released Lee-Enfield No.4, we decided not to just give the ole No.4 an overhaul, but to completely redo it from scratch! What happened next, nobody could have foreseen, as our 3D artist Günther “r0tzbua” Feldbaumer, who was tasked with rebuilding the weapon was called up as a national reserve to combat extreme flooding in Central Europe during the summer:
Anyway, Gunny did make it back safe & sound – much to the joy of samthegreat – and finished up the job on the No.4! Therefore Jackboot Games proudly re-introduces the
Lee-Enfield No.4 Mk I*
Being the main battle rifle for the Commonwealth forces in the Normandy Campaign, we already had introduced the Lee-Enfield No.4 Mk I* as one of the most important and iconic weapons to be featured in Festung Europa. Ultimatley however we felt we could and should do better! Detailed community criticism did play a vital role in this decision. Have a look at the completley new model with the Mk II Spike Bayonet attached.
We took the opportunity and sent one of the most reliable K98s in the arsenal back to the armoury to be fitted with a telescopic sight, turning it into a sniper rifle much coveted by marksmen around the world. Here we have a Scharfschützengewehr K98 fitted with a Zeiss ZF 39 4x Zielvier telescopic sight. This weapon will be available in the game for certain classes only. While in the shop, following a heated discussion the Waffenmeister decided to give the K98 a good and proper overhaul and bring it up to company standards. See the results below!
While the armoury has been busy, Crytek has released version 3.5 of its powerful CRYENGINE. Among many other features, the update includes Physically Based Rendering (which essentially lets us emulate surfaces more realistically) and procedural weather effects amongst other features. Expect us to exploit the CRYENGINE to the best of our abilities!
Secondly, the art department is undergoing a major restructure in order to streamline asset production and ensure AAA quality throughout. The whole pipeline will begin with concept art to help us establish the mood and feel of each environment – something that we strongly believe will allow us to develop an emotional level of immersion. This leads us to asset modelling where the artists will stay very close to the concepts to match the tone of each environment, with particularly close attention being paid to historical references. While the level assets are being built, our Level Artists will work with the leads to layout each map. Finally, our Finishing Artists will go in and polish up the map with nice lighting and atmospherics- again staying very close to the original concept and the references. Expect a dedicated Level Creation blog in the not-so-distant future highlighting each phase of construction!
Let us conclude this Media Release with a close-up of the K98′s Seitengewehr 1884/98 bayonet. Remember – bayonets will be detachable in the game!
As always, you can help the Jackboots by Liking, Linking, Retweeting, Sharing our messages and Talking about Festung Europa on the forum!
We are recruiting – take a look at our Jobs Section and contact us!
Hello everyone, it is time for another Festung Europa Media Release! This time we put the spotlight on two vital pieces of equipment for the German infantry squad – the MG 42 and the M 24 Stielhandgranate. Without further ado, let’s just jump right into it:
As the designation suggests, the MG 42 was introduced as a general purpose machine gun in 1942 in the German Wehrmacht. While being optimized for war production and cheaper and faster to produce compared to the MG 34, the MG 42 wasn’t a stopgap solution and about 415.000 where produced until the end of the war. In fact it would become one of the more iconic and by its enemies most dreaded weapons of the Second World War. It’s exceptionally high firing rate of about 25 rounds per second was unique for its time and defined the weapon’s characteristic sound which turned out to be genuinely frightening to the Allied soldiers encountering the weapon on both the Western and Eastern Front.
In Festung Europa the machine gun in general is the cornerstone of the German infantry squad as it historically was. It is the main source of firepower and enjoys the direct or indirect support of all squad members. Just as it was back then, it will be the responsibility of the Squad Leader to direct the MG 42′s fire and use the rest of the squad for close protection, assault and flanking maneuvers and ammunition resupply. Extreme ammunition consumption and forced breaks from firing for barrel changes are tactical drawbacks of the MG 42 that Commonwealth players must learn to exploit in order to survive any engagement with one.
After the war the design was further developed and adopted as the MG 3 into Germany’s post-war armed forces, the Bundeswehr. Other nations adopted modified versions of it throughout the Cold War, while the American M60 multi purpose machine gun was heavily influenced by the weapon. Thus the MG 42 design served through most of World War 2 until today, making it one of the longest active serving weapon designs in the world. Only now the Bundeswehr is starting to replace the MG 3 with a new general purpose machine gun based on Heckler & Koch’s HK 121, designated the MG 5.
Stielhandgranate M 24
The Model 24 Stielhandgranate was the standard hand thrown grenade of the German soldier during World War 2. The wooden handle gave the user a significant increase in range compared to the standard egg-shaped/pineapple design, allowing the grenade to play vital roles both in defensive and offensive situations. The grenade made improvising in the field easy, by tying 6 unscrewed explosive heads around one intact detonator/handle, one would get a Geballte Ladung to use as an impromptu demolition device or to combat tanks at close range. The basic Stielhandgranate was designed for offensive action, however by applying a fragmentation sleeve or Splitterring, the grenade had increased defensive capabilities. About 75 Million Stielhandgranaten where produced during World War 2.
The Nebelgranate 39 is the smoke variant of the standard hand grenade.
What else is going on?
Besides producing the much needed weapons and equipment for the game, there is a lot of programming, historical research, mapping, creating of 3d and 2d assets going on behind the scenes. While we are keeping busy working on the game, we don’t want to burden you guys with imperfect design products or by talking about game features that have yet to survive intensive testing. Having said that, there is much more stuff lined up in the pipeline we want to show off to you guys as soon as possible, and we will!
In the meantime, here’s another concept art by our resident artist Jan for you to enjoy:
Panzergrenadiere im Angriff, by Jan Klimecký.
Like with the production of movies, we use concept art like this to give the team a feel for an idea before we translate things it into working features, programming, levels or 3d assets. We will continue to publicise this kind of concept art to share the flavour of the game with you shaping up as it happens. However, Jan thought it wasn’t enough to provide art for the team and decided to help on another front of the ongoing effort to bring you Festung Europa. You will hear more on that soon enough…
One good way to let us know what you think is to participate in the polls, let us know what your opinion is and why! In the wake of this media release we will initiate the following poll on this webpage:
“Which one of these Darkest Hour Maps would you like to see make a comeback in Festung Europa?”
Please take your time and participate!
Stay tuned for more news in the coming weeks and don’t forget to Like, Link, Retweet, Share our messages and Talk to us!
Please register on the forum and make your opinion known!
Also, we are recruiting – take a look at our Jobs Section and contact us!
On this day sixty-nine years ago, on D-Day June 6, the combined Allied Forces undertook the biggest sea to land invasion in history as part of Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy. Commonwealth Forces consisting of British and Canadian forces landed at the Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches facing staunch German defences, as everywhere Allied Forces ran from the start into a dogged, but ultimately doomed German resistance. The initial landings were successful, the beachheads would soon become consolidated, strengthened, and filled with men and material for their breakout. However, despite these early successes, vital Day 1 objectives couldn’t be reached, most importantly the city of Caen – the key to the Falaise lowlands. Although it soon became clear that the Germans where in no position to throw the Allied Forces back into the sea, they made the best out of it and prepared a resiliant and in-depth defensive strategy. Thus D-Day would be a forebearer of much bloodier things to come on the long way to breaching the Fortress that was Europe…
Taking Juno Beach, by Jan Klimecký.
The battles are long over and now, sixty-nine years later, we find that all the right technical and personnel preconditions have made it possible for an international group of people to pay hommage to this great conflict. Jackboot Games is the right group of people at the right place at the right time – we will make Festung Europa the best World War 2 FPS we can! Since the last time we took stock, we found that a significant number of members on the development team have substantial military experience from being former, current or reserve service personnel in their respective countries. This is, of course, no qualification for game development in itself, but it does mean we have the utmost respect for the history, the conflict and the soldiers on all sides involved in it. We’ve said it before: do expect us to be as historically accurate as possible without making the game tedious or turning it into a simulation!
Panzer Counterattack, by Jan Klimecký.
This is where we ask for your help. But what can you do?
You can help us by Liking, Linking, Retweeting, Sharing our messages and Talking about Festung Europa with your friends and fellow gamers…but most important of all: Talk to us! Get involved, comment on Facebook, Twitter and the Community Forum! A good start would be to participate in our
“What are you looking forward to the most in Festung Europa?” thread!
Another good way to let us know what you think is to participate in the polls, let us know what your opinion is and why! Also we will soon start a new poll: “Which one of these Darkest Hour Maps would you like to see make a comeback in Festung Europa?” Please take your time and participate!
Let this June 6 be the start of Operation Overlord 2013, the combined effort by Jackboot Games and YOU the Community, putting Festung Europa on the road to victory!
So – what’s new?
German Player Models
Here’s an example of German troop variation in Festung Europa. The soldiers are wearing the Pea Dot 44 Pattern type camouflage typical of field uniforms worn by certain Waffen-SS units in Normandy ’44. Since there was no actual universal style of the Pea Dot 44 Pattern, the shade of the camo or the pattern sizes varied depending on which fabrication company made the pattern being worn.
The Karabiner 98 Kurz, or K98, was the standard battle rifle of the German soldier during World War 2. Based on the famous and often copied Mauser bolting system of its predecessor, the K98 was a rifle known for being a very dependable and accurate weapon. However, the K98 was already facing its own obsolescence at the begining of World War 2. Holding only 5 rounds in an internal magazine was disadvantageous compared to rifles with bigger magazines like the British Lee-Enfield No.4 holding 10 rounds or semi-automatic battle rifles such as the American M1 Garand. Attachments included the bayonet for all riflemen, a Schiessbecher for firing 30mm rifle grenades and of course various scopes and telescopic sights. Models found having above average precision after production or in the field where designated for the marksman or sniper role, the most common scope used was the 4x Zeiss ZF42 telescopic sight. Nearly 15 Million K98s where produced over a ten-years period up until the very last days of World War 2. The K98 remains in service with Germany’s armed forces to this day as a ceremonial weapon.
In this part of the Media Release, we wanted to present the Lee-Enfield No.4 after its extensive overhaul due to FE community feedback – Unfortunatley, our responsible modeller has been called up as a national reserve and is busy hurling sandbags and combating the extreme flooding that is currently happening in Central Europe. Our best wishes go to “Gunny” r0tzbua! Keep it up and stay safe!
There are a couple more infantry weapons and pieces of equipment coming your way soon!
Again we received several questions regarding the game and our design choices!
We would like to take the opportunity and answer some of your questions in
Operation: Questions and Answers #2:
“Is there going to be a HUD?”
Yes, there is going to be a HUD. However we want to make it as less distracting and obstructing as possible. There is an ongoing thread in the forums on this topic – since the HUD is not finalized yet, take a look and have your say in the matter!
QUESTION NO. 2
“Will there be different seasons, or is this going to be a summer only game?”
Since Festung Europa will initially be taking place in the summer of 1944, the environment will be set in summer time and there will be no seasonal changes. As the game might possibly be expanding towards other scenarios and time frames, we could very well see fall or winter scenarios in the future!
QUESTION NO. 3
“How about day and night cycles?”
We are looking at several ways to increase randomisation and replayability of maps and scenarios. This includes different daylight settings for individual maps. What we are not going to have are real time day/night cycles though. In other words a map is probably set in a fixed state of light, but a map may be played as a day or night scenario!
QUESTION NO. 4
“Will there be flare guns/signal pistols?”
We are certainly considering them! They have their uses with historic and current militaries for signalling during daylight, so they would not necessarily be a night setting only asset.
QUESTION NO. 5
“You said ‘no perks, no unlocks’. Really? What about scopes and other attachments?”
There will be sensible attachments like these of course, but they will be exclusively available to certain classes/roles instead of having to be unlocked by the player. Attachments would include bayonet (all riflemen), scopes (sniper/marksman), or rifle grenade launchers (grenadier). There won’t be any unrealistic, fantasy, or prototype kinds of attachments or equipment in the game.
This concludes our June 6 Media Release – stay tuned for future updates, as bigger things lay in wait for us all!