Norman Lenda, Development Head, Red Wings: Aces of the Sky
- Noman Lenda, the head of the development team behind Red Wings: Aces of the Sky, talks about the game’s development
- The main inspiration behind Red Wings: Aces of the Sky is World War I and the Red Baron
- We aimed for simple yet satisfying, a compromise between historical reality and engaging gameplay
As a teenager, I spent a lot of time playing arcade games and airplane shooters. Now, as the genre moves towards realistic simulations, I miss games that would allow me to recreate the sensation of playing old-school Sega games and arcade machines and I think I’m not the only one. We created Red Wings: Aces of the Sky for players who are looking for simple, yet satisfying gameplay.
I decided to set the game in the World War I era because I have a lot of respect for the legendary games Red Baron and Red Baron Arcade. I also think the stories of the flying aces of that period are amazing. Who wouldn’t be inspired by their courage and bravado?
We settled on the story of the Red Baron, because, first of all, his is a little-known tale these days. Most would use WWII for their subject matter, often presented as a classic conflict between good and evil. In this aspect, WWII is much more complex and ambiguous. What’s more, the character of the Red Baron is fascinating, including his role as a celebrity of that time. Can you imagine a soldier so famous that even prisoners-of-war got in line for his autograph?
The game’s story was written by Alicja Sułkowska, a Polish writer who’s also published a history book on the life of Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron. While working on the game’s Triple Alliance story, she used the letters of real pilots from that period. The story of the Triple Alliance is also interesting, as it’s based on a rumor spread by the media of that time. The press wrote about a special flight unit dedicated to fighting the Red Baron. The rumor turned out to be false, but the Red Baron believed that he was fighting this unit the whole war. We asked ourselves, “What if…” and there was our story for the Triple Alliance.
As a team, we wanted the core gameplay to be as simple as possible, allowing players to enjoy short sessions — just a few minutes long. Our main challenge was to introduce as many different enemies as possible to keep the gameplay satisfying, while at the same time taking care to not make them too outrageous and making sure they fit the game’s theme. In terms of diverse gameplay, WWI is a bit limited when it comes to the kinds of ammo available, so we decided to “fly away” from historical reality a bit to enhance player’s experience. We introduced armored enemies, much more agile and aggressive assassins, and boss fights with enormous Zeppelins. This was a necessary compromise between the historical reality of the setting and the need to diversify gameplay.
We also felt that there was no reason to limit ourselves to arcade gameplay with all of the advances the gaming industry has seen since it’s arcade hall beginning. We needed the game to meet a modern player’s needs. Our whole team loves MOBA games so we decided to use a MOBA-style skill and upgrade system in the game. Players will also have the possibility to switch upgrades depending on what’s the best for a given mission. Even if a player collects all upgrade points, it won’t be enough to max out the skill tree. Hence, they need to choose their skills carefully for missions. The most unique skill we introduced to the game is ‘Ultimate’, which triggers an animation in which our pilot shoots an enemy with a pistol. At the beginning of The Great War, before planes were equipped with rifles, pilots really did use hand-held guns. It seems both crazy and fascinating. As far as I know, this is the first time such combat’s been shown in a video game.
It wasn’t easy, but I think we managed to meet our goals with Red Wings: Aces of the Sky. The game stands strong among its competition not only with its pleasant arcade gameplay with a modern twist, but also with an interesting story, which is always a great plus in a game like this.
Red Wings: Aces of the Sky
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