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Imagine a battlefield where gun positions are effectively mapped out and the defenders are alert and ready to respond to your intrusion. To traverse that field risks cross-fire from a variety of locations arranged with the precision of caliper and slide rule. Once you step foot onto this engineered battlefield, you can expect deadly fire coming at you from straight ahead, from the right, from the left…from above and even from below. It is designed to deter any intrusion, and if you are the poor soul who is ordered to enter that lethal field, your only hope is to do so quickly and exit just as rapidly.
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The feared combat box formation of heavy bombers was a three dimensional “object” flying across the sky thousands of feet above the ground. It was not a flat object, like a pancake, but a round and thorny cluster of aircraft that was just as tall as it was wide.
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The B-17 Flying Fortress was a menacing machine of the air, but it was positively frightening when it flew in formation. Skies Above the Reich is premised on a simple idea: the formation can be thought of as a terrain. For the Luftwaffe pilot tasked with the job of knocking those B-17s out of the sky, that terrain was lethal.
I asked my design partner, Mark Aasted, if he wanted to write something for InsideGMT about our game, Skies Above the Reich. He came back with a pithy reply. Actually, he came back with an uncooperative, evasive, mildly combative, yet unexpected, reply. It’s worth printing here. His reply may not provide the details of the difficult and often contentious design process that must be negotiated between two intelligent and mature designers (I hear you snickering, Mark), nevertheless it elucidates a certain something about what it’s like co-designing a game. This is what he wrote back:
“Do I wanna write one? Ha ha ha…it almost sounds as if you asked if I wanted to write an article for a war game magazine. I remember how well the last one went. Hold on, let me wipe the tear from my eye and catch my breath…