Strategic Mind: Fight for Freedom is a history-driven turn-based strategy set in WW2. You will fight across Europe, Africa, and Burma. Will you spend the time on proper reconnaissance before the attack, or rely on aggressive tactics? Will you use night time or rain to your advantage, sneaking up on enemy positions, or just complain that the weather was unfavorable? Will you help the locals or leave them to their fate? It is up to you to save the stronghold of Democracy and Freedom in Europe from the totalitarian oppression of the Axis powers.

WITNESS WW2 FROM TWO DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES

The game has 2 campaigns: the British one features fully historical battles, while the US one has historical operations up to the defeat of Germany and also features a number of alternate history battles against the USSR afterward. It is created with great care and attention to historical detail by a team that is passionate about WW2 history.

Lead the British Army as Sir Harold Alexander

Go all the way from Norway landings to the liberation of northern Italy. Command your troops in bitter defeats and in the moments of triumph. Take charge of the Dunkirk evacuation. Fight the Japanese in Burma, and Italians in Africa. Turn the tide of war against Germany at El Alamein. Finish the war in North Africa and lead the victorious landing in Italy in 1943.

Lead the US Army as General Dwight Eisenhower

Go all the way from D-Day landings to the fall of Berlin. Ensure the success of Operation Market Garden, repel the last German offensive at the Ardennes, and strike the killing blow into the heart of the Reich.

Then move into the alternate history of 1946 and face your strongest adversary yet - the Red Army. Command US and Allied forces and minimize your losses. Employ the units of all Allied and liberated countries to achieve maximum synergy. Exploit all available means to bring Freedom and Democracy to Eastern Europe.

HISTORICAL OPERATIONS AND “WHAT IF” SCENARIOS

Take part in historic events

Make sure all of your troops manage to escape the Dunkirk trap. Show the Italian troops they should choose their allies more carefully by conducting operation Compass flawlessly. Change the course of the entire war in Africa by defeating Rommel in the Second Battle of El-Alamein. Go back to Europe by landing in Italy. Commence the D-Day landing and fight your way to Berlin to put an end to the Nazi regime and its crimes.

Sate your curiosity of alternate history flow

What would have happened if the Allies had to go to war against USSR in 1946, following the ideas of Operation Unthinkable? Now you can take the lead and explore such possibilities. Free the Eastern European countries from Communist rule!

MEET THE TOP BRASS

The gameplay is plot-driven and features many historical personalities such as Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harold Alexander, Bernard Law Montgomery, Dwight D. Eisenhower, George S. Patton, and others.

GAMEPLAY FEATURES

Immerse yourself in history

Enjoy the narrative-driven gameplay with lots of dialogues between the historical characters throughout each operation. The dialogues are affected by your actions. Dive deeper into the events of 1939-1946 by watching plot-driven cinematics before and after every operation.

Manage your Army

Choose the composition of your forces. Acquire new units, upgrade or dismiss the outdated ones. There are 10 unit classes available in the game, with lots of models in each.

Upgrade your units to newer models

Get new unit models as soon as they become available. As the campaign progresses you gain access to more advanced units at historically accurate periods.

Choose the best equipment for each operation

Make sure that your forces have all the necessary tools for the upcoming battle. All units can employ various equipment and transport.

Train your troops and choose new abilities for them

Oversee your forces getting combat experience and choose news skills for them that best suit your strategy and tactics.

Assign heroes

Assign heroes to the units of your choosing and get access to special skills. All heroes are real historical personalities.

Develop your headquarters’ skills and employ advanced combat tactics

Learn new HQ skills before every operation and use your newly-acquired knowledge to make a difference on the battlefield.

Use the enemy`s most advanced units against him

Capture the best enemy units and add them to your forces. Then crash the enemy using his own strength.

Enjoy realistic 3D graphics

Study the battle map and take advantage of 3D graphics, featuring volumetric terrain and physically-simulated movement of units. All units are very detailed representations of real models.

WELCOME THE SUCCESSOR

Strategic Mind: Fight for Freedom is the fourth installment in the Strategic Mind line of games, featuring both the United Kingdom and the United States in WW2.

Previous titles in the series:

Strategic Mind: The Pacific - the first game, featuring both the United States and the Empire of Japan waging war in the Pacific.

Strategic Mind: Blitzkrieg - the second game, featuring Germany in WW2.

Strategic Mind: Spectre of Communism - the third game, featuring the USSR in WW2.

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Hello, guys! Today we will tell you in detail about the whole scenario creation process. To illustrate it we will use footage taken during the creation of the 5th scenario of the US campaign in the upcoming Strategic Mind: Fight for Freedom — Western Allied invasion of Germany.

The following article is brought to you by Alex Marchenko, Lead Level Designer at Starni Games.

Stage 1: Creating a PSD file

Every level development starts with the Narrative Designers making research about a chosen operation. After studying different maps of the region (war plans, geographic maps, river maps etc.), they are making a PSD file with all hexes, where terrain types are marked with different colors.

Terrain design in a PSD file.


- Terrain design in a PSD file.

After designing the terrain, the Narrative Designers put different symbols on separate layers indicating: roads, infrastructure, units, objectives and other tips for the Level Designers team.

2


- PSD file with all the marks. Well, almost all.

Additionally, Narrative Designers create a larger version of the map that includes territories outside the combat zone — hex grid, but which are still visible. We do not want our maps to be cut off abruptly at the edge, so we put considerable extra effort to create additional terrain around the operational area to allow a gradual fade of the visible area into the fog.

40798b62144e211c48a4b2f3d222bff4


- Full level. Play Zone (operational area) is marked by the red rectangle.

Stage 2: Importing a PSD file to Unreal Engine. Heightmap creation and import

Now Level Designers make an empty level in Unreal Engine, using a sample with pre-set world settings.

4


- An empty level in UE4.

Next, the Level Designers use an automated script written by our Programmers to import the hex grid and all technical parameters of hexes, such as terrain types, roads and infrastructure locations into Unreal Engine 4.



- A level with imported data: terrain types, roads, railroads, rivers, deployment hexes, etc.

Using Photoshop, Level Designers make a Heightmap of the level. The Heightmap is a special file that indicates the landscape heights at different areas of the map.


- This is how the Heightmap file looks in Photoshop.

The Heightmap is then imported into UE4 as well, using the engine's features.


- The map after the heightmap file import.

Stage 3: Adding the terrain color and texture

Next step is coloring the landscape according to different terrain types. First, the Level Designers create masks for all kinds of terrain in Photoshop.


- Terrain masks for the level.

Next, we import masks into the engine, using UE4 features. As you may know, we have different visual types of maps, such as “Europe”, “Africa”, “Winter”, “Steppe”, and “Pacific”. We have also added “Jungles” setup in SM: Fight for Freedom for the operation in Burma.


- This is how the level looks in the editor after adding terrain colouring and textures.

Stage 4: Creating water surfaces

The next step is to create big rivers and lakes on the level, using UE4 tools such as splines and planes (not the fighter planes ;) ). After that, we have to smooth the river banks and paint it in the “sand” and “ground” terrain for better looks.


- The level with the proper river.

Stage 5: Laying roads, railroads and small rivers — a hell on earth

It is now time for the hardest part of level creation — laying roads, railroads and small rivers. Why is it so hard? Well, the UE4 splines are “a pain in the ... arm”, as our Level Designers would say. The task here is to lay splines on the landscape so that none will float in the air or fall through the terrain. There are useful tools to help you achieve that, but it still requires a considerable amount of manual work. Also rivers should always go downhill, so hills and mountains on their way are a regular problem. Nevertheless, a job is a job, so here is the level after road and river management:



- The level has roads, railroads and small rivers, but no cities, bridges etc.

Well, the hardest part of the work is now finished.

Stage 6: Adding buildings and infrastructure

Next step is to put buildings on the level: bridges over big and small rivers, houses in the city hexes, and infrastructure: supply points/hubs, airfields, ports, and railway stations.



- The roads no longer look weird — we have bridges and houses.

Stage 7: Planting trees, flowers, stones and adding birds. Adding more visual polish

Now it is time to give the nature some respect – we plant trees and flowers, throw stones, and raise birds.


- At this point, the work on the visual components is pretty much done.

It is high time to give some additional personalization to the level by putting different environmental features, such as destructible assets: wooden fences, statues, electric poles etc. We also add animated objects, using UE4 blueprints, such as: spinning windmills, spotlights, lighthouses etc.

We also add some of the iconic buildings and geographical features like Stonehenge, Kremlin, the Great Barrier Reef etc.

Last cosmetic part would be painting the river bottom with rocks and sea shallow water with seashells, adding clouds in the sky and putting a fog box around the map so that players cannot see “the edge of the world”.

Stage 8: Placing units and their equipment

Now we have to place the enemy units on map, including fortifications, such as forts and minefields, giving them suitable equipment and vehicles. Then we will place the player-controlled non-core units.

18 Unit management


- Units that are still without models are marked as question marks.

Stage 9: Writing mission scripts

The last part would be writing scripts and finally testing it over and over again, until perfect balance is achieved.

21 scripts


- This is how the operation script files look like. It is the Saar offensive script.

At first we just test the scripts and fix obvious balance issues for a single scenario. At this stage the use of cheat codes is allowed to speed up the testing.


- The first tests of the operation.

As you can see, the player units have 99 strength. Also there is no localisation for mission names and no pictures for the units at the bottom of the screen. Some units don't even have a model and only have a placeholder “question mark” model instead.

Stage 10: Campaign playthrough — a more thorough testing of all operations

At this stage several people on the team have to do a full campaign playthrough, testing all scenarios in a consecutive manner and without any unfair advantages — they play exactly as the players would, to gauge the difficulty and adjust all the rough edges. Of course having played Strategic Mind games a lot, they have a very good understanding of the game, so we have to take that into account when setting the turn limits and balancing enemy units.


- The UK campaign first full playthrough completed. Some of the awards pictures are still in development.

Closing words

The process of map creation from the “Basic idea is created” to the “Game ready” stage usually takes about 2 weeks. Enormous maps such as the Battle of Moscow in SM: Blitzkrieg may take up to 4 weeks. Each map requires the work of at least 4 different specialists: narrative designer creating texts and concept, level designer creating visuals, technical level designer writing scripts and QA specialist looking for bugs.

P. S. Bonus screenshot: that’s how we test maps before our artists finished working on all the unit models.


- Just imagine how difficult it is to wage war while all your troops are just a bunch of marks with different stats, lying around across the battlefield.

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Learn more about our upcoming title: Store.steampowered.com

With best regards
Starni Games team

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Strategic Mind: Fight for Freedom
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