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Panzer Elite: Update Interview

  by Leonard "Viking1" Hjalmarson


  Panzer Elite mastered last week and is heading for release around October 23rd. Panzer Elite pushes the boundaries for armor combat on the PC in many areas and should be great hit with armor fans all over the world.

Teut Weidemann and Heiko Schroeder founded Wings Simulations GmbH in 1996. Both have worked in various fields of the gaming industry for 11 years until the opportunity arose to gather the creative talent needed for work on high-level PC simulations.

Panzer Elite follows the initial skirmishes between the German and American forces through North Africa, moving on to Sicily, Italy and Normandy. As a Platoon Commander, your primary objective is assuring your own and your crew's battle performance. You must fulfil your mission goals using guile and tactics -- not by taking foolhardy risks to the detriment of your crew. You must also strategically limit the risks posed to your wingmen. Survival of the war is your primary objective.

Recently we talke to Teut and here is that interview...

Q: Panzer Elite pushes many boundaries for WWII armor combat on the PC. Which ones do you see as the most significant areas of advance for armor sims?

A: Well, we call Panzer Elite (PE for short) the first true armor sim because for the first time you got it all together: the terrain, the unit mix, the simulation. If one of these elements is missing a bit you can't really employ proper tactics, so the siulation aspect is mindered. If I would have to pick one from those three areas I would pick the terrain: No simulation offered the detail and usefulness of terrain we have.

Normal Town

Q: Through the long process and with a project this ambitious you must have learned a few lessons. Which ones stand out for you?

A: Reduce ambition. We had far too much on our list what we wanted to do. Of course the customer will love this, but our schedule and finances didnt like it. I would have reduced the scope of the project to maybe one campaign and expand it later. We had to research not only all vehicles from 1942 to 44, no we had to map the regions in an incredible small scale, research the tactics, weapons, and doctrine....a lot if you consider how it changed in those few years in WWII alone.

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PE Wingmen

Q: As you researched and built Panzer Elite, what facts did you uncover along the way that surprised you? Did they influence the design?

A: Oh, many. We didn't know the units removed their unit markings because they were excellent target markers for the enemy. We didn't know that only a few tanks could turn on the spot. We didn't know that a Tiger consumed 700 liters fuel on 100 kilometers range. We didn't know how gunnery optics worked properly. We didn't know that shells not only dropped due to gravity but also dragged to the right due to their spin. We didn't know that gunners sat on the other side in allied tanks except for the M10, where they sat like in german tanks. We didn't know that over 60% of German tank crews were killed outside the tank. All of those factors influenced design and decisions of course.

Q: How much of your original vision actually made it into the sim? What would you add if you were given another three months?

A: Oh, most has gone in there, and more. We only deleted a couple of things. If we had three more months I would spend that on minor details anoying me. We have some polygon flickers here and there, some tank models are not quite optimal, a tutorial is missing...

Q: How many of these things might yet be seen in an add on?

A: We want to make a tutorial for the demo. Some of the things we where in the initial design which will be seen in the mission disk: Air Strikes, Commanders MG, Mine Fields, Bunkers.

Q: Somewhere I read that PE is an open design and users will be able to edit and add new elements. What kind of user edits and add-ons do you expect to see?

A: I expect units to pop up first, they are easiest to do. Scenarios will likely show up when we publish the scenario editor. Modifications of existing scenarios are easy to do too.

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