VGB Feature: Panzer Tactics DS Q&A with Game Designer Christoph Quas

Christoph Quas.jpgInvading game shops across North America today from 10TACLE STUDIOS AG and Conspiracy Entertainment, Panzer Tactics DS brings authentic WWII strategy action to the Nintendo DS for the first time, complete with epic turn-based battles, three historical single-player campaigns and a full compliment of robust multiplayer features. We were recently able to squeeze in a quick 10-question Q&A with Christoph Quas, Game Designer at Austria-based game development studio Sproing, to learn more about the development behind Panzer Tactics DS and what the game has to offer, and are now back to share our findings. Read on for the full interview.

VGBlogger: For better or worse, any new war-themed strategy game that comes to a Nintendo portable is going to draw immediate comparisons to the Advance Wars series. What about Panzer Tactics DS sets it apart?

Christoph Quas: First of all, Panzer Tactics DS emphasizes more on serious war-gaming compared to the more comic-style Advance Wars. Panzer Tactics DS offers more tactical depth and strategic variety, featuring more than 150 different authentic units. Finally, Panzer Tactics DS provides you with a comprehensive multiplayer mode including WiFi, a worldwide online ranking system and much more.

VGB: What is the general storyline across the three single-player campaigns? Is the story strictly based on historical fact or have you taken liberties to put any sort of twist on events?

CQ: In Panzer Tactics DS you can choose between 3 increasingly difficult campaigns. In the first and easiest campaign – playing the German Wehrmacht – you’ll start in 1939 with the invasion of Poland and end in 1943 with the decisive Battle of Stalingrad. At this point you’ll switch over to the enemy side and drive the Germans back to Berlin again playing the Russian campaign. In the third and hardest campaign you’ll play as the Western Allied, starting with the landing operations in Italy and the Normandy and finally ending the war in the heart of Germany in 1945.

VGB: In terms of unit types, how many and what sort of WWII hardware can tactics fans expect to see?

CQ: As mentioned before, Panzer Tactics DS offers over 150 different units. You’ll be able to play the famous German Tiger tank as well as the dominant P-51 Mustang fighter or the dreaded Russian Katyusha rocket launcher. We strongly focused on balancing the units in relation to their original strengths and weaknesses, for we know that experienced wargamers expect authenticity down to the last screw 🙂

VGB: How do heroic officers factor into the gameplay? Do they offer bonuses to other units or have special attacks to unleash?

CQ: Officers are heroic figures that the player can recruit (if he can afford them) and assign to an existing ingame unit. If assigned to a unit an officer raises certain parameters of the unit itself and all surrounding friendly units. Officers come in different qualities and special abilities, like air officers, tank officers and so on. After all, officers are very precious, but vulnerable against enemy commandos that operate secretly and invisible behind enemy lines, so you’d better keep an eye on your heroes!

VGB: What can you tell us about the multiplayer modes and features? Does the game support full online play or only local?

CQ: Panzer Tactics DS offers a comprehensive multiplayer mode including Hotseat, LAN and full WiFi. That means you can battle against other generals all over the world and compare yourselves in an online high score ranking list. Every online game can be customized in terms of turn time, win condition, player faction and much more. Besides that we implemented an anti-cheat system that punishes cheaters (e.g. for disconnecting from the game when they are losing) and supports honest gamers.

VGB: Was fitting such a huge game on the DS one of the inspirations for bringing Panzer Tactics to a portable system? What were some of the biggest challenges during the development cycle?

CQ: First of all it is important to state that Panzer Tactics DS is a complete new game and is not derived from an existing game. Our task and inspiration was to reanimate the good old wargaming experience that had its peak in the 90ies, primarily on the PC and bring it to the next century. We wanted to combine the quality of those classical games with a modern approach in terms of new features and controlling, supported by the Nintendo DS. The main problem obviously was that the DS is not a powerhouse and the display size is quite limiting, but on the other hand we benefited a lot from the unique features of the DS, such as the touch screen.

VGB: Although the game is so massive, was anything left out due to time and/or space limitations? Like maybe a map editor…

CQ: Yes, unfortunately there were a couple of features that we had to leave out, such as the editor, but in a project of that scope you have to cut somewhere. That’s the toughest part for a game designer, trust me 😉

VGB: Turn-based WWII strategy is something of a niche genre, yet once people try this and see how addictive it can be, this is just the sort of game that would also do pretty well on a home console as a budget title. Any chance of seeing an enhanced version show up on the Wii, PS2, PS3 or 360 at some point?

CQ: Bringing a game like Panzer Tactics DS to another console is probably not easy. There are not too many good examples for a hex-based TBS strategy game on other consoles – for good reason. Controlling is just awkward. Yet, the Nintendo Wii could make the difference, for controlling with the Wiimote is very similar to using a stylus or mouse. So, if people like Panzer Tactics DS we’ll see what the future brings.

VGB: What is the current status of the game’s North American release? CDV announced the title back at last year’s E3, but since then I haven’t heard much of anything about its plans for the US. Who is publishing the title now and when can DS owners expect to see it on store shelves?

CQ: Panzer Tactics DS is published by 10TACLE STUDIOS and is distributed in the U.S. by Conspiracy Entertainment and will hit the shelves on November 7th. So be ready for hot battles in cold winter nights 🙂

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!