An interview with Strategy Mill

Sweden has been a great place for video games, both in terms of the great people playing them and the fantastic companies making the games. There’s a very high standard been set by developers there, with recent titles including Payday 2, Minecraft and the SteamWorld series, so any game that comes out of the country is likely to be well thought of. So when I got an email from Strategy Mill, telling me about their currently-in-development game Terminal Conflict, I was pretty excited to see what they had – and was even fortunate enough to get them to answer a few of my questions…

“Can you tell us a bit more about Terminal Conflict?”

In the rich tradition of the early day computer terminals, players can chose from a number of game modes, with each offering a slightly different experience. Core gameplay in Terminal Conflict is a one-versus-one battle between two opponents. Playing as the President of the USA or the General Secretary of the Soviet Union, players take turns launching plausible events, recruiting historical leaders, racing to expand the influence of their superpower by all means:Terminal Conflict- LechWalesa In military, economic, intelligence, space and/or on the geopolitical arena of diplomacy. The aim is to improve your country’s standing in the world or win the space race without triggering the apocalypse. Should that fail, mutual assured destruction will commence and hopefully you’ll be the last one standing when the radioactive dust settles. This brinkmanship is not only a unique feature in a strategy game, but the reality of any modern leader, making the game easy to get into but hard to master.

“How did you come up with the idea for Terminal Conflict?”

Terminal Conflict has its inception in a water resource management project using non-cooperative games from 2008. If that doesn’t sound fascinating at first, what if I told you that the mathematical theory used on that project is the same principle as that governing the management of nuclear stockpiles. The mathematics, using a solution concept by the world famous Nobel Prize winning mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr, has been famously turned into a movie featuring the Russel Crow, titled A Beautiful Mind. For the readers who are interested in game theory, mathematics, the arms race, Russel Crow or just plainly want to get an edge on the competition and prepare for the game, I would warmly recommend checking it out.

“What are your favourite games, and did they inspire you with certain aspects of the game?”

This is a great question as I was very much a kid of the 80s influenced by the geopolitics and the tension on the continent. Both in the west and in particular the east, where governments faced challenges they did not have credible answers for. There was a lot of talk about crises and the end of the world much like today. That didn’t stop us kids though. My friends and I used to sit around and make up stories and boast about how we would solve it all. And then strategy games made an entrance and I couldn’t wait to turn on my PC to play games that influence us all to this day. Civilization, Red Alert, Hearts of Iron and Chris Crawford’s classic Balance of Power. I also love Avalon Hill’s board game Kremlin and GMT’s Twilight Struggle. If you like those games, I’m convinced that the feel, gameplay, and challenges in Terminal Conflict will be something you would not want to miss experiencing.

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For the imagination and the artwork, draw a lot of inspiration from books like the Hunt for Red October, Ian Fleming’s novels about James Bond and movies capturing that mindset of the Cold War; Dr. Strangelove, Fail Safe and WarGames chiefly. You can see the influence of these in our graphical art as we sought to capture that feeling of playing at a sturdy old-style terminal.

“You’ve been very active on your site with dev blog posts and updating with news – how important do you feel this is to developing a game, and has it helped you with Terminal Conflict?”

Today, game making and game development is becoming more mainstream and is more accessible than ever. Also to gamers, thanks to evolutions and availability of stable gaming platform engines; Unity, Unreal and others. With digital distribution and viral marketing, there is a feeling among gamers that they want more involvement in the games they play and that has made a revolution in the industry. This is something we can offer as indie developers and give the players more of a voice by replacing the traditional influence of publishers. At the end of the day, the player experience is what matters first and foremost for us. It allows us to focus on creating the content without us having to compromise with our creative vision.

“What is the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome so far in developing the game?”

We have created and funded our game engine and our team is made up of highly experienced industry veterans, thus the technological risks have been overcome. By far the biggest hurdle is opting out on publishers and PR production companies. Replacing a constant hype machinery megaphoning out on all propaganda channels might seem daunting but I believe it’s the way of the future. We know what we do well and we purposefully set ourselves goals outside of our current comfortable reach. It’s terribly expensive but every invested dollar goes into the game so it’s definitely worth it!

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Setbacks and successes will come along the way and we are seeing the first among a growing community. It has perhaps not materialized yet in financial backers on our Kickstarter campaign but the first two developer diaries have absolutely flooded our mailboxes! Loving the response and keep us busy with your questions and feedback!

“How big is the team at Strategy Mill?”

Currently the development team of Terminal Conflict consists of 20 individuals, from producers to programmers, artists and composers. It includes the strategy wargame developer BL-Logic, and staff from two graphical studios: Scribble Pad Studios (USA) and Polywick Studio (Singapore). There was also a concept development team consisting of ten additional individuals and amazing input and guidance from the art director company 1910.

“Where can we find out more info?”

For company and game information check out our official Website: http://www.strategy-mill.com

Company and game news updates can also be found on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/StrategyMill/

Special content and news announcements Twitter – https://twitter.com/strategymillab

Newly started Reddit page for community discussions – Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/terminalconflict/

“Anything you’d like to add?”

Add more? Absolutely! Dev Diary 3 is coming out this week! Now I’m off as I’m needed at HQ. Take care for now!

And finally…

I’ve had a few conversations with the guys at Strategy Mill and I couldn’t be more impressed with the way they’ve started developing Terminal Conflict. Scheduled for a release in Q3 of 2016, it’s something I know I’ll be keen to sink my teeth into, and I’m sure I won’t be alone in that. It’s a game that is well worth getting excited about, and I highly recommend checking out the links above. If you don’t, who knows what may happen…

Doomsday

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