1. “Aim to be the same – but different”: Obviously, Red Orchestra shares a lot with other games in the busy WWII First Person Shooter marketplace. As a mod, we had the luxury of looking at what works well in previous games, learning from it and adapting. We also had the luxury of being able to try things out in one release, tweak them in another and then toss them out later if we needed to. This gave us a lot of freedom. We could also enjoy pulling apart other games, dissecting what we thought worked well and what didn’t. Where things didn’t work well, we could go off and experiment with our own ideas to replace that feature.

  2. “Realism can be fun to play, but it must actually BE real”: We wanted the game to be real, to feel real. And one of the absolute key points we realized along the way was that anything that is simple to do in real life, has to be simple to do in game. No annoying key combinations to pop a rifle to your shoulder, aim and shoot. In real life, pretty much everyone can figure it out in seconds – so it has to be the same in the game. The corollary is that there is no point having people sit through a real 2-hour artillery barrage. Boring and pointless, even if it is “realistic”. We’ve had a lot of realism nuts discussing some very teeny bits of detail, that simply aren’t worth putting in to a game (well, not into a mod, anyway!). There are also a load of myths about the period, including the superiority of German armor: on the whole, it wasn’t. The early war German hardware was poor. But the absolute key was to make simple things simple – and to reflect what it was actually like. Which is why we ended up writing our own ballistics engine for all projectiles!

  3. “Remote working works”: We were deeply worried about the remote working concept along the way, simply because it can make it very hard to communicate effectively. However, it also has some strange side-benefits. We found that production was going almost round the clock, with people in different time-zones. Testing was also fairly continuous. This had the advantage of keeping things moving at speed. Of course, it also introduced additional stress as well!

  4. “Time and target-driven”: Traditionally, mod teams tend to wander on delivery dates; no-one is ever sure when they’ll be finished anything. NVIDIA’s “Make Something Unreal” competition gave us fixed deadlines to work to. This means that we also fixed the design and content for each release early on and had absolutely no room for slippage. It also helped to minimize the “oooo, it would be really neat if…” headache that plagues so many mods – and games! While it can be hard on the nerves and stress levels, it is always good discipline to work to. It ensured that we delivered!

  5. “Listen”: This sounds desperately trite, but it is true. We realized early on that we weren’t the only ones with the good ideas – a fair number of them came from within the fan-base of the game. We ran whole sections of the forums on this topic. We summarized and reviewed all these suggestions before launching into the next development cycle – and we incorporated ideas we considered fitted well with our aims. The end result was a better game, with more players. Everyone wins!

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