Why finding it difficult to categorise your game isn't necessarily a bad thing
Hi, I'm @Dukeeen from indie developer KAVA Game Studio, creators of Divided We Fall who are based in Amsterdam. Even though our game has a history spanning over a decade, we still find it difficult to nail it down to a specific genre. Often, you would hear one of us describe it as 'a competitive multiplayer WW2 RTS community-driven' game... which is a bit of a mouthful, especially if repeating it many times a week to different people new to the game. Other times, we would say 'it's a mixture of X-COM and Company of Heroes', among others.
So why is it so difficult to put it into a specific genre? The main reason we've found is there doesn't seem to be another game out there like it. Believe me when a previous version of the game finally turned off its servers after more than 11 years, many of us searched endlessly looking for something similar we could play when our beloved game was gone.
After much debate and longing for our old game back, it became very clear that what we missed most was the community the game had created.
You could log on to the game at a specific time each day and see the same names and faces, and with the clan system that was in place even smaller communities developed within. We called clans Army Groups and these were the players you would compete alongside in the monthly AG league. Because of the competitiveness of the monthly league, you would spend time between games rehearsing strategies and timings for maneuvers around the map. At the core of the game is teamwork and this is reflected in the name of the latest version of the game: Divided We Fall (more on that later). The people in your AG became very close friends and our community has even produced some real life romances ;) I couldn't find this same feeling of community in any other multiplayer game that consisted of everyone who played it.
The game is separated into a single lobby and multiple rooms where the matches take place. This setup ensures every player enters the lobby when they log in to the game and provided a platform for a variety of topics of discussion while players were hanging out between matches. Often people would log in to the lobby just to chat with others in the community if they were busy doing something else other than games. The game rooms themselves load into one of many maps based on real WW2 battles that could be changed by the highest ranking player. Gameplay consists of each player controlling a squad of 4 soldiers.
Each soldier has his own line of sight system which governs whether you can see an enemy or not, and can throw grenades that stun and have a chance to kill if accurate enough.
Extra weapons and ammo are distributed by the commanding officer down the chain of command based on the plan of attack. Teams also capture victory points on the map which would win the game if you held a majority for long enough. This forces tactical play to ensure you can assault and successfully defend a VP for long enough to win the game or wipe out the enemy team.
The first version of the game was called Call of Combat (2001-2012), and was based on an even older game Chain of Command (1997) from another company. Florian, our lead developer and co-founder, set about creating Call of Combat after being inspired by Chains gameplay and the decline of its own community. Call of combat, written in Java and with fairly basic graphics, ran for over 11 years before Florian decided to call it a day after our own community had started to dwindle. 11 years is an amazing length of time for a game to exist so we can only be proud of it's achievements, one of which was boasting over 100,000 registered users during it's lifetime. Back then those were huge numbers for an indie developer, this was done in Florian's spare time! Divided We Fall is being developed in Unity. This allows us to more easily create gorgeous dynamic maps and take the game in directions we couldn't before due to technical limitations. It's also perfect to deploy to multiple different platforms as we want to support as many as we can!
After many desperate pleas from people who still wanted to play the original version Florian decided to start work on a 2nd version of Call of Combat which has since been renamed to Divided We Fall.
The name change was for a number of reasons. A couple of these were we wanted the game's name to be an indicator of what it consists of since we have so much trouble describing it ourselves! Another reason was that even though it was created long before Call of Duty, when contacting the media about our game it was inevitably dismissed by many as a CoD clone without even reading anything about the game. The WW2 connection was enough for many. This felt unfair but it was always going to be difficult convincing someone that your game came first and the names similarity are only a coincidence when they had already formed their own first impression.
So we announced the name change to our community, both old faces from the previous version and new people who had heard about it, to mostly positive feedback. You can never please everyone!
Even with the name change marketing the game has still proved an obstacle because it simply cannot be described in a simple sentence. The gameplay itself is incredibly tactical and skill based but there are so many other factors that make the whole experience awesome. The community, the rivalries between clans and players for the number one spot on the leaderboard. It garnered great deals of respect from players in game, which is a welcome contrast to today's toxic online experiences.
What's become clear over time is this obstacle (as we considered it then) could actually be a rare blessing in disguise. If we can't quite compare it fully to any other game out there, maybe we have something special. There is surely a gap in the market for such a unique game that has proved can successfully bring people together to enjoy gaming again.
I realised this initially back when I was a player of the first version. I was studying software engineering and wanted to get involved with the game to help in any way I could. I emailed Florian when I was 16 asking if I could help with the game. He tried to find me something to do but sadly I lacked the experience to be more helpful than the time it took to explain things to someone new to game development. Fast forward 10 years and I now live in Amsterdam. After learning this is where the office was based, and with a few years of software development under my belt I mailed Florian again offering to help. This time I could.
For over a year I've been on the development team, and it's an absolute blast! I created the website www.dividedwefall.co and help with game design. As I have a fond memory of the first version I can help point out what we know works and what doesn't.
I hope you've enjoyed reading about our history and look forward to seeing you online for games! We often run tournaments that are streamed and casted by the DEV (yeah the devs have a clan too! We love playing the game just as much as the players) team and everyone is welcome to come along and get involved.
You can find more information on our website www.dividedwefall.co or you can come hang out with us on Discord.