Aug 11
WARSAW - kmpaplinski

(this is a still from the PAX East'19 WARSAW coverage reel we were showing at our booth)

The 7-part coverage of WARSAW’s Announcement comes to closing today. And what better way to round it up than with a handful of excerpts taken from various publications that covered the game’s announcement. Reading the past six parts you should have a pretty good idea of what we were going for. Now you can see how it worked out.

Tomorrow (or – depending on your time zone – still today) we will be starting a new 7-part piece. This one will focus on… Just check back here and see for yourself.

The order of the below excerpts is as they show in the google search. Some edits to the helpful google translate were in order to make things a bit more clear. And these are just a selected few of the stories than sprang after the GameSpot announcement.

(WARSAW) does show is the kind of horrors and heartbreaks associated with World War 2, and it doesn't shy away from emotional reveals.

The Warsaw announcement trailer will give you chills

I’m always telling you (bullying really) to watch the trailers I post, but you would be cheating yourself if you ignored the announcement trailer for WARSAW. It’s heavy, but it’s really effective. (…). Announced today, WARSAW is a tactical RPG set in 1944 as a group of people tries to oust the Nazis from their homeland of Poland.

(…) we do get to see a wonderful looking animation that was created by Human Ark and features a song by Polish singer Brodka. The trailer introduces the setting as the 28th day of the uprising and shows a battle breaking out as a female character runs through beaten down streets amongst gunfire.

We are waiting for participation in the events of 1944, in the legendary Warsaw Uprising. This is one of the most tragic pages of the history of World War II for Poland(…)

As commander of the guerrilla group, you have the task of liberating Warsaw from the Nazi occupiers.

Warsaw is an artfully designed role-playing game with an unusual theme: In Nazi-occupied Warsaw you fight as a Polish resistance for freedom.

WARSAW will immerse us in the context of the Second World War alongside a group of Polish resistance fighters (…)

(…) a city devastated by World War II and where real events of the conflict will be told in 1944, with the mechanics of RPG and strategy. It seems that he will want to tell a fairly adult and mature story about the drama of war

(…) a fascinating and heartbreaking Warsaw trailer, a new tactical role-playing game (…).Set during the famous Warsaw Uprising, the rebellion of the Polish people bloodily suppressed by the Nazis in 1944 which led to the complete destruction of the city(...)

(…) combines beautiful visuals with the ugliness of war. Set in the uprising of Poland in 1944, the game tells the story of love, loyalty, friendship and adversity as the protagonists try to conquer their country from the Nazis.

(…)the theme of Warsaw invasion by German troops in World War II

Aug 10
WARSAW - kmpaplinski

When a major gaming website announces your game and for 24 hours it’s the only carrier of that information different things might happen.

For example quite a few of other media outlets from all over the world can republish that story. And if it’s helped by a proper media blast delivered by a specialized PR agency as well as your own channels it might turn out that when you type do a google search of your game you find there’s almost 300 mentions across more than 20 countries in the first 72 hours alone. Countries from Australia to Vietnam (sadly, nothing in Yemen and Zanzibar, and unless you tried Catalan – Xina also doesn’t count). All covering WARSAW.

I believe a certain admission is owed here. When we set out to make a game based around Warsaw Rising we knew that we can’t push that out to the front of the messaging. As mentioned before – Warsaw Rising isn’t a story many people are familiar with. And we never felt this should be something we constantly bring up.

The way we communicated WARSAW outside of Poland from the start was: “a tactical rpg set in WWII”.

We felt if the game has arresting visuals, compelling gameplay, engaging mechanics and an interesting tactical layer combined with historical setting – we will have gamers interest. And then – and only then do we uncover the facts. That the length of the Rising is actually the imposed time limit on the player. That all the characters are based on people or groups of people who actually took part in the Rising. That all the weapons you wield in game were used in the Rising. That uniforms and equipment were all consulted with a historian dealing with Warsaw Rising. That a dialogist made sure that the lines spoken during the battle by the combatants would be true to the era. That you move on a map based on the maps from Warsaw ’44. That the names of the streets are factual.

And we hoped that when WARSAW was being covered by whatever medium decided to run the story – once the genre, the visuals and all surface level qualities are mentioned – there will just be no way around mentioning what Warsaw Rising actually was.

Near total destruction of the city. Hundreds of thousands people killed. Even more relocated from the capital. Which until that point might not have featured in

Months later there’s more than 400 publications on WARSAW across major gaming media all around the world, and all of these mention Warsaw Rising. Sometimes in media that never touched upon that subject. All of these refer to the game first – as was intended. WARSAW is not a performance project but a game and needs to be one if it is to succeed commercially.

But at the same we’re extremely proud with what we achieved. In bringing a piece of Polish history to the forefront for hundreds of gaming media outlets.
WARSAW - kmpaplinski
Gaming company’s first title was the well received Project Warlock – an fps retro shooter created by a 19-year old Pole Jakub Cislo.

Pixelated Milk’s first title was the well received Regalia: of Men and Monarchs – a jrpg created by a team of close friends from Poland.

Despite these two companies’ earlier efforts were good – we couldn't be sure that our unannounced project will actually get people talking. Or even - that the story will be picked up just on the merit of a press release alone. We needed the attention.

Last year Steam saw the launch of some 8 000 games. Getting even a modicum of coverage fighting all the tripe A, triple I, sequels and next efforts from established devs is a challenge. You literally have to fight for attention among the 20 other games that show up daily. And in getting the media attention you also have to continuously combat the giants – games that continuously get coverage as they are what these websites’ audience and viewers continuously want to read and watch.

In short: it’s hard. (whatshesaid).

We felt that our announcement package was solid. A moving trailer. Non-fake, promising in-game screenshots. A less than obvious genre for a WWII game. An unknown chapter of a well known conflict. And a talented team attached. One that actually delivered a good game before.

But for the effect we hoped for we needed the attention from the biggest players out there. We wanted to show up on the radar by presenting the game through a largest possible gaming outlet.

Thanks to the intro by two great guys – Michal and Radek – we managed to get in touch with the editorial team at GameSpot, reached out and then waited. All of 24 hours when we were given the go ahead.

For one months we were going back and forth to deliver additional information, assets, work out the details of the timing and the announcement. Given the implied relationship of the trailer’s characters we were considering the announcement on 14th of February, but decided this might prove to be too much on the nose. And also diverting the attention from the actual story and setting of the game. We then pushed the release by further 12 days.

On the 25th of February, GameSpot shared a teaser Tweet, that currently (and appropriately) sits at 44,4k views.

The teaser consists of the sound of Karl's huge mortat shell hitting the Prudential building, but doesn't show too much. Or anything actually. The only visual clue was the background color that was to evoke more or less contemporary warfare setting. We were quite paranoid and felt that even one tiny detail might have everyone go - "oh. i knew it. It's obviously a Warsaw Rising game". So the sound and the color were the only hints we gave.

Oh. apart from the game's title that was prominently visible: in the Twitter handle's location. We actually alluded to that. But no-one guessed that until the next day.

And then the reveal happened.
Aug 8
WARSAW - kmpaplinski
In general you can approach making the trailer in two ways.

Either build it around the music or work the music into it. I guess the fact that we started with the visual part kind of betrays how we went about it.

Well, scratch that. We had some ideas for a song that we wanted to accompany the trailer and those were thrown around for quite a while. Some of more exotic ones were a hardcore punk, an old school rap, a pure piano and violin number, a 70s Polish song and contemporary rock hits. But nothing worked.

We listened to hundreds of songs. Proposed them, argued why they did or did not work, and moved in another direction. Quite a few at some point seemingly perfect stopped feeling so perfect for this or that reason. We felt we should go with a Polish song, but couldn’t find the right one. At some point we bounced in another direction and went for huge, anthemic hits. A long running one was David Bowie’s “Heroes” (no, not the more obvious but way less fitting “Warsaw”). Talking of obvious choices Muse’s “Uprising” also was considered for a while. There was the ambiguous “Wish you were here” by Pink Floyd that felt both right and wrong at the same time. But there was always something not working.

Enter Mariusz. The composer on WARSAW. Artist in a true meaning of the word. A musician. Game developer. And a close friend. It took him the better part of five minutes to come out with “Varsovie”.

Why was this the right choice you ask?

A Polish singer. A song about Warsaw. With contemporary sound. And an accordion.

It. Was. Perfect.

It took us around one month to get everyone on board for the project. The management of Monika Brodka and the two other co-credited authors: Bartosz Dziedzic and Quentin Carenzo went along. Mariusz remastered the track bringing out some of the instruments and our favourite - that purposefully out of tune accordion that you can hear at the beginning and the end of the announcement trailer.

That it required an extra pair of ears to introduce us to one of the largest contemporary Polish hits with Varsovie in the title is so painfully obvious it doesn't even require pointing out.

So, we locked down the deal. Had the terms negotiated. All we needed was the final green light. Which was due sometime over the next seven days.

All good right? Yes, only we had our exclusive reveal spot of WARSAW the following day. On the largest gaming website in the world. No biggie.
WARSAW - kmpaplinski
The fake script for the fake trailer that Human Ark built their non-fake winning presentation around featured three unnamed hero characters, non descript enemies and a vague urban environment.

It had some impact. But it lacked WARSAW’s setting and heroes. And it was for a fake script.

A couple of days after we decided to invite Human Ark to the project we requested a proper script, based around WARSAW. Set in World War II. With three characters that we felt encompassed both the spirit of Warsaw the city and WARSAW the game. The brave paramedic Jadwiga, the hotheaded rifleman Krzysztof and the shady smuggler Kazimierz.

The fake script chronicled the death of one of the characters almost from the start, showed another fighting the overwhelming odds and falling, and the third’s fate was not sealed on screen, although most likely not a happy one. That much remained. As well as the opening and closing shot of Prudential building hit with Karl’s mortar shell.

The rest was a work of the talented Human Ark team, who, after having taken part in a gameplay demo came up with their story. One that included the menacing dog and the whole concept that you can see in the animated feature.

The amount of work, meeting, back and forth on character designs and near mental breakdowns after delayed approvals were all a part of the package.

So was the Human Ark’s guys and girls’ talent and nearly non-exhaustible amount of patience for the unending number of revisions, re-revisions and re-re-revisions of nearly all character models and scenes.

But the absolute amazement as some of the scenes came together from the initial black and white storyboards to complete and locked scenes was something

The visual style we wanted to go for was somewhere between that of the Bungie's first Myth intro and the GITS Innocence anime: the sophisticated backgrounds with simpler, more easily animated characters.

And the end result delivered that and much much more. The only thing missing was the music. And this could make or break the whole big announcement. But… That’s something we will want to talk about tomorrow.
WARSAW - kmpaplinski

We wanted to introduce WARSAW with a trailer. Just like only a couple hundred thousand games before did. And we knew from the start the trailer will be almost devoid of gameplay, but rather set the mood for what was about to come afterwards. The effect we were hoping for was that of the first Dead Island’s reverse chronology piece or Halo 3’s Believe diorama wonder. Grim, lacking hope and definitely missing the happy ending.

The mood was easy to nail, but the technique to get there wasn’t. Full blown CGI affair wasn’t an option, as it did not fit with the stylized visuals of WARSAW the game, so we looked into two different approaches. Either a hand drawn cinematic or a figurine/diorama based one.

The first had obvious advantage of being more in line with the visual style in the game, and the second allowed us to use dioramas to nail that tangible urban setting.

Both of these choices had their disadvantages though. Both would be time consuming. The first would also require a studio with experience in style that isn’t really very popular for commercial projects in Poland. The second – was even less predictable and still required a painstakingly long process before we would know if it would even work.

For a better part of two months we were exploring both the options, when in July’18 a trailer for Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics dropped. And that was it for the figurine/diorama based approach.

With the initial work put in the months before in September’18 we reached out to four animation studios. The email was short. “Need a video for an unannounced game. 45 secs, hand painted animation, evoking images of European comics mixed with GITS Innocence stylized visuals. Come back with a budget and a timeline”.

One studio came back very swiftly mentioning that hand painted animation isn’t their thing. Two others came back with request for further details. One is yet to respond.

For the two studios that wanted to get in on the details we created a short and dramatic script that for the reasons of total secrecy on our part (the game wasn’t yet announced) was named Uncivil War (a codename that almost became the actual name as per yesterday's story) and set in near future.

Of the two companies left one came back with the budget and timeline. And the other invited us and treated to an animated feature consisting of storyboards + music combo that sold us immediately.

That’s how we got to work with Human Ark Studio on WARSAW’s announcement trailer. Which took three very long months to complete. But that’s a story for tomorrow.

Aug 5
WARSAW - kmpaplinski
78. The total number of titles that “the game currently known as WARSAW” tried on and dismissed before we decided to go with WARSAW itself.

When we set out with an idea to create a game based on the Warsaw Rising we knew there was one major obstacle to overcome. Not a lot of people outside of Poland – and not everyone in the country for that matter – knows or knows intimately what Warsaw Rising was.

This isn’t an accusation. Rather – stating the fact. And we don’t feel there is something wrong with it. We don’t come at anyone expecting them to know what Warsaw Rising was. Quite the opposite. The less you know – the better. Once you will play the game, that will change though.

But not because we will drown you with facts, thrust down encyclopaedia worth of trivia down your throat and expose you to multitude of stats. But rather by sewing the fabric of the Warsaw Rising into the game mechanics themselves. Don’t know how long the Rising lasted? You will, as this is how long you need to make sure your characters live. Not sure what “błyskawica” is? You will by picking it up on one of the missions and equipping one of your heroes with it. Not sure where Długa is? You will, by traversing it during your patrols. Wonder what or who the Silent Unseen is? Ok, you get the point.

Now. Making a game based on historical fact is one thing. Making sure anyone actually wants to play it is another. Main reason: not a lot of people care for the history of other countries. Not many care for their own. Lots of other things to do it turns out.

In order to interest people in the game about Warsaw Rising, we would have to not speak of the Warsaw Rising. At least not first. We wanted everyone to soak up the ambience. The visuals. The setting. The genre. And then, once we had the attention – there was no way to talk about the game without bringing up Warsaw Rising. At least as long as we had the right title. The one that would, without a doubt, indicate what the game was about. Easy.

There was no guarantee that this would work, but it did. Well the exclusive reveal with GameSpot and the amazing trailer by Human Ark with Brodka’s moving rendition of Varsovie certainly did help. But... we’ll get to that part in a couple of days.

Now back to the titles. We evaluated each of the candidates on a very subjective, 10 criteria scale. “Sequelability”, “Translationability”, "Freshness", “Memorability” were some of those. Our current title excelled in most of these. The only one where WARSAW actually underperformed is the one you can probably guess immediately. Yup. “Searchability”.

You probably want to know what some of the other names we considered were. “Heroes” (will get into that this Thursday), “63” (spoiler) and “Occupied” (uhh).

To make sure no stone was left unturned we went after some famous musical numbers (“No tears to cry”), movies (“The edge of oppression”, “Doomed Squad”), and everything "Streets": (“(…) of blood”, “(…) of sorrow”, “(…) of hope”, “(…) of fire”, “(…) of red”).

The longest running champion was the “Uncivil War”. At one point just a codename for the game it then morphed into a strongest candidate. “Collateral City” also scored high.

The search started on 12th of November, and almost to the day, two months later on 11th of January two victors emerged. Uncivil War and Warsaw. Warsaw itself a result of taking the saw and pliers to Warsaw War and truncating it a little.

Since we knew we wanted the game to be easily recognized both outside of Poland and in Poland, Uncivil war had to go. It just did not work in Polish.

And so, Warsaw, and subsequently WARSAW was born. Which was probably the last call as we felt we wanted to announce the game in February and wanted to go about it in the grandest way we could imagine.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves, as this takes us into tomorrow’s tale about the inspirations behind how we wanted everyone to find out our super secret game no-one knew existed was coming out later this year...
EXPOSURE, a game of camouflage - (Katharine Castle)

As you may have surmised from a bunch of very non-hardware-related interviews I’ve done recently about the likes of the excellent Nowhere Prophet, Sparklite, Unrailed, the return of Super Meat Boy and what’s next for Astroneer, I was packed off to PAX East a couple of months ago. I was mostly there to host a panel about the best video game weapon of all time (the winner was the Portal Gun inside> Hitman 2’s homing briefcase, in case you were wondering), but I also got to play a bunch of cool games as well. Here are five of my absolute favs.



Today is an important anniversary. At 1700 hours (4pm UK time), Warsaw will fall silent. Sirens will sound and the Polish capital will grind to a halt, as it has on this day, at this hour, for the past 74 years. Today, people will remember the hundreds of thousands of men, women and children who died as a result of the Warsaw Uprising. But 75 years ago, it had just begun.

The Uprising was only supposed to last a few days. Soviet help was presumed on its way. But for whatever reason - did Stalin hold back on purpose? - it never arrived, and the Poles were on their own. And alone, they could never win. Somehow, they held out for 63 days, until 2nd October, then the Warsaw Uprising was officially declared over.

It's a history not many people outside of Poland know, but you sense it if you go there. I've been, I've seen it. People ask why the city is so new. They can't understand why they don't see castles and churches, cobblestones and monuments, spread out before them. Warsaw is a city which has seen more than 1400 years of history, so where has it all gone? Well, what wasn't already ruined by the invasion of Poland in 1939 was systematically torched in 1944 following the Warsaw Uprising. More than 85 per cent of the city was destroyed.

Read more

WARSAW - (Alice O'Connor)

Looking a fair bit like Darkest Dungeon only with Nazis instead of fishmen, Warsaw is coming our way on September 4th, developers Pixelated Milk announced today. It’s a turn-based tactical battler set during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, when Polish resistance groups battled German occupiers. The real Warsaw Uprising ended with so much death and destruction, and I do wonder how much Warsaw the game will commit to that. The devs do say we’ll encounter both historical and fictional scenarios as we build a resistance group and fight for the city. Hmm! For now, here, peep the new trailer.



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