Graviteam, Black Hand Studios, Freedom Games, Matrix Games, 1C… you can count the devs that have attempted to produce Combat Mission-comparable 3D tactical wargames on the fingers of one hand. Counting the devs that have actually succeeded arguably requires just one finger. A second digit will be needed if Ali Hamza, the bullish newcomer behind Battle Tactics 2025, delivers.
THC: Do you see yourself as a wargame designer or a game designer?
Ali: I see myself as a game designer. Before starting out I had a list of problematic games whose problems I could attempt to solve by building my own game. I chose to build Battle Tactics 2025 as it was the only game in that list that could be built alone.
THC: So there are other genres you’d like to explore?
Ali: Yes. If I get the chance, I would like to build a 3rd person action game which would, similar to BT2025, attempt to solve problems in a competitor’s game.
THC: How did you acquire the skill set necessary to code a high-fidelity 3D tactical wargame?
Ali: I knew how to code before starting to learn game development. I took courses on 3D modeling, texturing, and animation. Also, YouTube, documentation, and forums are all great sources of information that have helped me figure out how to build the game.
THC: How many hours a week are you able to devote to BT2025.
Ali: I work twelve to fourteen hours a day.
THC: Do you have any assistance?
Ali: No direct assistance on development from anyone. But I am helped by the plugins I bought which were made by other devs. For example, the code for unit vision is a plugin I bought. I need to work this long because I make most of the important assets like tanks and weapons 3D models and then texture them myself. Some assets are bought, but if they are important assets like tanks, I retexture them to make sure all the assets look coherent. I also do all the coding for the game. Tank animations are also done by me.
I was mainly inspired by Zeng “FYQD” Xiancheng, who to my knowledge was the first person to solo-develop a AAA-looking game (Bright Memory) in Unreal Engine. I thought to myself if another human being can do it why can’t I? That question has been a driving force behind a lot of the game’s development.
THC: How are you approaching AI? Will scenario designers need to devise complex CMx2-style plans or will victory locations drive decision-making?
Ali: The AI system is still in development so it is subject to changes. The AI will have plans which will be either time-based actions or a set of scripts that will activate if a player does something. For example, if the player’s units are spotted attempting to cross a bridge, the AI will act accordingly and send more units to defend their side of the bridge.
THC: When a unit spots a foe will all friendlies with LoS to that foe’s position immediately spot it too?
Ali: Depends on the reason why the other units did not spot it in the first place. For the enemy unit to be spotted immediately they would need to do something that exposes their location to the other units – like shooting or trying to run. If the enemy unit does nothing, and if C2 links are intact then after some time the information will go to the other units that there is an enemy in that place and they will get spotted.
THC: Keeping infantry alive on Combat Mission’s battlefields can be tricky. Is it likely to be easier in your game?
Ali: BT2025 is set in one of the most brutal battlefields. Artillery, anti personnel mines, AFVs with thermal sights, all sorts of small explosives, mortars, cruise missiles, Close Air Support. It is going to be difficult to keep infantry alive amidst all of this.
THC: Has combat footage from the war in Ukraine influenced Battle Tactics in any way?
Ali: Yes. Before, loitering munitions were not high on the list of things to be added. After seeing the effectiveness of it on a near-peer battlefield, it was clear to me that they will be important additions to any game set in a near future conflict.
THC: Name a game either in production or released that you feel deserves more attention.
Ali: The entire Combat Mission series, which is why I am building BT2025. CM is held back by its graphics. BT2025 will solve that problem and hopefully appeal to a much larger audience than its existing one.
THC: Thank you for your time.