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StephanRewind

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A member registered Aug 23, 2021 · View creator page →

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Thank you. First, if this is how you feel, I don’t pretend to change your point of view, and I understand that you want to stay away from a game that makes you uncomfortable. I still want to explain where I come from.

The Nazi party was the governing body in Germany during WW2. As such, technically, all German armed forces were under Nazi command. However, many soldiers were not sympathetic to the views of the party, let alone official members of it. Certain sections of the army, like the U-boat crews, were known for having many dissidents in their ranks. The film “Das Boot” demonstrates this well. I write this candidly; to lump all German soldiers into the Nazi stereotype is at best a mistaken shortcut, and at worst a profound lack of understanding of the history of Germany during WW2. 

Many games and films portray the German army without adhering to the views of the Nazis. For my part I despise both the ideology and the actions of the Nazis, but I have educated myself on the subject, which allowed me to form a nuanced and informed point of view about the horrors of war, and better understand that every side had villains, heroes, and victims. Consequently, it doesn’t prevent me from wanting to portray and honor all the men who fought during WW2, regardless of the nation they belonged to.  We should remember that many men from all sides didn’t agree to the war nor wanted to take part, but they were not given a choice. It’s not to say that I want to shy away from reality in the game. As a U-boat captain, you will have to attack and sink allied ships, sometimes even civilian ships, and I believe that any wargame should have the courage to put the player in front of their contradictions, because war was not a pretty affair, regardless whom you killed, and whom you did it for.  If you’re interested to know more, I’ve detailed in my devlog the historical and technical reasons that led me to focus this game on U-boats. Also, I intend to make a sequel to Atlantic ‘41 with the American B-29 bombers as central theme, which shows another side of WW2 that interests me. But this game too will have to confront its history; it was B-29 bombers which dropped the only two atomic bombs ever used against human beings, with a toll estimated to 200,000 casualties, essentially civilians.

To be clear, I’m not making an equivalence between the ignominy of the Holocaust and the use of atomic bombs against Japan. I try to illustrate how the personal views and actions of individuals dragged into a war should not be conflated with those of their governments. 

As for Nazi Germany in particular, and WW2 in general, I recommend that you read on the subject. There’s many good books and essays available. WW2 is one of the most tragic and important moments of human history. It shaped the world we live in today, and we owe to the fifty million people who lost their lives to collectively try to better understand history, so that we can talk about it with care and respect, and avoid falling prey to caricature and ignorance.

It was maybe a longer answer than you cared for. I just want to make sure that you understand that I don’t take your question lightly, and that I did the research and the reflection before getting into this project. 

Thank you for the link. I didn’t know that game. The idea is to stick to the representation of a physical map, where trajectories are always straight. Keep in mind that a turn is 10 minutes, so at the scale of the map, a trajectory covers several kilometers, so even a course change would only show a tiny arc over a fraction of the entire line, which would be straight for the most part.

Yes I mentioned in a previous log how the Playdate seems a counterintuitive choice. But sometimes you got to follow your instincts. We’ll see how this all turns out :)

You’re very welcome. Please don’t hesitate to keep sharing your thoughts. 

Thank you!

Very happy you enjoyed the log! Thank you for the feedback. I’m glad that you mention this point because I thought about what you suggest, and forgot to explain why I didn’t do it.

I did my fair bit of reading about life aboard U-boats, and I got from it that the captain was very rarely challenged, if ever, regardless of the situation. Now I guess that the first officer could offer a respectful reminder, and that would be okay. But then what about the second time, and the third, and the time after that? We would be in this bizarre situation where a crew member systematically challenges the order. Also, I think that there’s going to be other situations in which it will be difficult to find a plausible objection from the crew, in which case we would have an inconsistent system, where sometimes we stay in game and sometimes we step out. I was afraid to paint myself into a corner. So in the end I figured that it’s just easier to admit that this is a game and we sometimes have to break immersion.


Of course I’ll be glad to have you and others test the game. It’s way too early for that, but when the time comes I’ll have an announcement here, and you’ll be able to opt in.

Quite a lot to unpack. Thank you for taking the time of giving such detailed feedback and suggestions.

The curved lines, like you said yourself, wouldn’t make much sense in the context of the map, and I’m afraid that this would generate confusion (even though it would look nice).


I think the Echolot confirmation works well as it is. Your suggestion is sound, but I feel that sometimes it’s best to stick to the simplest system that most people are familiar with, unless you have a very specific reason not to.  I also think that the window is a more elegant way to present the text.


You’re right about the numbers. They do offer certainty. I mentioned this as a reason to explain why they’re so popular in many games. But that’s precisely why I don’t think it’s right for what I want to do. One of the major themes of U-boat warfare is the tension; and this tension comes in great part from never having any certainty about anything. If you think of real life U-boat combat, there was never any way of knowing what were the chances of hitting, or being detected. Captains only knew what worked in their favor, and what worked against them, and their appreciation improved over time, with experience. That’s what I would like the game to convey. I had a similar experience with Silent Service, but I think that the struggle came from the game not communicating well the parameters that went into the resolution of any situation. Games were different back then. It was a do or die philosophy, with very poor quality of life. Atlantic ‘41 will be a modern game, that (hopefully), gently introduces the player to all the concepts needed to succeed, and conveys clearly all the variables. But I want the player to learn the impact of these variables with experience, like a real captain would do. The advantage being that you have the luxury of starting the war over as many times as you want. I realize that it’s a risky and challenging bet, and that it asks more investment from the player, but I believe in the idea, and I hope that there’s enough patient players out there that are willing to get their asses kicked a few times. ;)

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It’s coming in a few days. Christmas break didn’t help. 

So kind of you to say this. Thank you :)

Just when I thought the whole concept couldn’t become any cooler, in a vintage 8-bit kind of way, now the martians babble like adorable Speak and Spells . So appropriate. You’re killing me.

Thank you for the kind support and pointing out the mistake. I will fix this promptly.

As for German, yes I badly need of a proof reader/translator so since you kindly volunteer I eill put you down for beta testing and when the time comes you can help with the German text if you want.

I can’t think of a better way to start the new year than reading a kind supportive post for the game. Thank you!

Actually, I did look into it and it's fixed. Now the text is revealed as the dialogue box open. It doesn't give you much more time to read, but it looks a lot cleaner.

Thank you. I’m glad that you enjoy it.

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Thank you! But Lucas Pope will absolutely beat me to it, both in terms of release time, and quality :)

Thanks :)

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Yes this is absolutely a performance issue. Displaying text real time is horrendously slow on Playdate, so every text box is pre rendered between turns. I could make some real time masking trickery but I’m not sure it’s worth the effort, considering how fast the dialogue box appears anyway. However I agree that it would feel better if the text didn’t pop all at once at the end. Thank you for the feedback. I’ll look  into it. 

Thank you!

Thank you. Funny you should mention this because I am myself a recovering addict from music GAS. I’m sure that you know what this means. Anyway, avoiding menu diving is something that I always have in mind making the UX for Atlantic ‘41. The Playdate is an interesting challenge with only 2 buttons.  But if you look at games like Advance Wars on GBA or the impressive creative flow of the Dirtywave M8  (once you get past the initial confusion), there’s no shortage of good examples to follow.

Yes! I apologize for the delay. Travel to France and other things delayed the update but it’s coming this week. I will go over the tactical chart almost fully implemented.

Thank you!

Thank you! You’re right. In spite of being a Playdate game, Atlantic ‘41 will play like an early 90’s computer game, with strong influences from board games and tabletop wargames. 

Thank you for the feedback. Silhouettes are getting ahead in the poll, which is fine, since it’s quicker to do.

I haven’t seen this game. I don’t play as often as I’d like. The thing with “physical” UI is that they can be overwhelming. On the tiny Playdate screen it’s a concern, so I have to find a balance. I’m still refining the controls in the tactical chart at the moment, counting the button presses to activate a command :)

Thank you. It seems like the preferred opinion at the moment. 

I stand corrected. I many have read this about Silent Service 2, which was quite more complex. But still I think that you can measure the workload. When the game reaches beta I’ll most likely post a call for testers here so you’ll be welcome to try the game.

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Thank you for your support and taking the time to sign up just for that! I’ll keep your suggestions in mind. Don’t worry I don’t plan to price the game unreasonably ;)

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Thank you! I have to be honest though. The game won’t release this year. That much is certain. It’s of a larger scope than say, Silent Service, which took around 18 months to develop by a team of several people working full time, and I make Atlantic ‘41 all by myself on my spare time. I don’t want to delay the game more than necessary but I also want to make every effort so that it doesn’t disappoint in the end.

Thank you so much :) Very glad that you like it!

Thank you. Well funny you should mention the paper book because I’ve been toying with the idea of kickstarting a limited physical edition that would have proper box like the old computer games, as well as feelies (maps, identification booklet etc…).

This is a tricky one to pull off,  but if I was able to find 100 or so backers, there might be a way to finance a very small run. I’m going to study the costs and look for printing vendors and such so by the time the game is ready, I’ll be able to post something here and gauge if there’s enough interest. 

Yes Balance of Terror and The Enemy Below are both classics!

Thank you for sharing. I’ll keep everyone’s opinion in mind.

Thank you.

Thank you very much!

Thank you! lol I don’t think that players should pay for my madness. It’s too early to think about pricing yet,  but I’m definitive: it will be in line with other games for the Playdate.  ;)

Thank you for your always  kind encouragements. Going the distance is, I think, the single most challenging aspect of solo game development. I’ve been doing okay in the past, which I owe to my personality; I get very upset when I give up on something I set out to do, even to an unreasonable degree.

Still this game is more complex than anything I’ve attempted before and sometimes I’m concerned about the long road ahead of me. But truth is that I have better odds of finishing a “big” game that I’m passionate about than a small one I don’t care for.

Now I declare the exterior views done, but I still have aircrafts, more animals and other small things I don’t want to spoil, but it’s at a point where I feel confident enough to move forward. I want to try and bring features to 85% in order to get a sense of the loop and the flow of the full game as quickly as possible, and then come back to polish / add less non crucial content.

Thank you for sharing your opinion on the illustrations. I tend to agree with you but there’s no rush to decide. In the end, all things being equal, if I can’t find a definitive advantage for either option, I always go for the less difficult or time consuming, which would be the silhouettes in this case.

I will have an interactive tutorial to teach the player every aspect of the game, including how to read the gauges, but it may not be enough now that you point this out. I’m going to add white and grey arcs on each side, which will be the “best” and “average”  zones, similar to the range. In fact I should make sure every gauge has a similar color code. I think this may be an effective and elegant solution. I’m glad that you asked the question. Thank you for this.

Thank you very much!

Thank you. Good for you to continue your own log :)

Thank you very much! I’m glad that you see value in this idea.

Thank you! Yes it seems like there’s two schools of thought on this. Some people like games with a simple structure and a clear set of rules, and don’t like experimenting, while others love being left in the dark to decipher the systems. I tend to be on the latter side because I’m curious and patient but I have a friend who loses interest at the first sign of challenge. 

It’s easy to fall into the trap of over complicated designs, in particular when you’ve built a system for months or even years, and there’s a real risk of alienating the player. Ideally I think the best games are the ones offering a simple, easy to understand premise that stands on its own, but hides an extra layer of sophistication under the hood for the adventurous player. But it’s easier said than done.

Thank you!