STRATEGIC DEPTH Development
The motivation for this project was to make a strategy game for people who are interested in strategy games but find them off-putting. The following design pillars were based on solutions to problems in strategy games that novices find off-putting.
Players must never lose track of any entity on the battlefield and must always be able to view the entire battlefield at once.
A strategy game novices and experts must be able to play the game collaboratively and find it fun on the first try while their resources and structures are shared.
Macros, shortcuts or nested information that players need to look for or memorise, must not be in the game, while every action in the game must be at player’s fingertips.
Inspirations & Research
A wide range of design principles e.g. industrial, martial, software, games and user experience design were researched.
Operation levels of warfare, historical events, world views and media authentic to the first half of the 20th century served as strong inspiration for Strategic Depth.
Over 500 videos, board and war games were played, and their UI and UX elements were screenshotted and analysed.
WW1 and WW2 logistical, strategic and tactical maps and aerial photography were analysed and referenced, while Google Maps were used for location scouting.
Real life and XR military sandbox and war tables and wargames, and Google Maps UI and maps in games were used for references.
National War Museum and Armchair Generals community archives were used to analyse maps and events from WW1 and WW2 that are related to the western and eastern theatres respectively.
5 prototypes of Strategic Depths were developed to identify challenges with the project, test feasibility and find out if the concept is truly fun.
Afterwards, the project was iterated for 7 months and it was consistently tested with a fresh group of playtesters every week. Strategic Depth was remade from scratch 3 times and its entire UI and visuals were remade from scratch several dozen times.
This process allowed to solve issues without being restricted by the project architecture. Furthermore, instead of assumptions; data, experience and theory were leveraged to solve problems.
Finally, the project was polished for 2 months, in that time UI and flow of Strategic Depth was balanced and amplified. The screenshots showcase how strategic depth evolved from the very first prototype to its current stage.
The design process for Strategic depth involved simulation of gameplay through paper prototypes and visualisation of user stories, moreover extensive notes were taken to support the development efforts and to keep track of brainstorming sessions outcomes.
For this project, over 100 pages of notes were taken. Most of them included some text and sketches of overlapping ideas and their iterations or examples.
Over the course of the project, many game features were produced and evolved because of trying to solve various conceptual and technical issues.
Problems were seen not as barriers to success, but as opportunities to make something great and different, while the more challenging or bigger the problem was, the more impactful and memorable was the solution.