In 2013, we set out to create Thunder Run: War of Clans, a prototype for our new game engine built to create fast-action experiences in HTML5.
Our creative team began with concept art for a modern war title using real world vehicles, like the below scene of a Blackhawk helicopter attacking a tank.
We brought on military advisors to review our early designs, and to help lay out the technical specifications for our modern military armies. For example, replacing the Blackhawk helicopter in the image above (which in the real world is a transport vehicle, without weapons guidance systems) with a gunship.
The next step was building accurate 3D assets. As an example of the attention to detail, in the “Motor Pool” building shown below we see the M1 Abrams tank stored as they would be in real life, with turrets turned backwards to take up less space in a parking area.
Everything from transmitter antennas to fuel storage blivets came from real world military references. That said, we knew we could only go so far in realism. To paraphrase one of our advisors: “Modern war is about asymmetry, where you attack only with an overwhelming advantage. Games are about symmetry, where you want even matches. Therefore, no modern war game can be realistic.”
So while we respect realism, our goal is not strictness, it’s authenticity — an atmosphere in the game drawn from the real world, yet balanced for game play. As another example, our advisors helped us design the headquarters of the game — called a Tactical Operations Center or “TOC” — based on real world scenarios for how military vehicles and tents assemble to form a mobile office. When operations become large, it’s not uncommon to take over buildings found in area to use as an “upgraded” TOC, which is what players experience in Thunder Run as they advance.
Next came the design of the real world military vehicles, where we detailed everything from the modernized scopes installed on the M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle, to the computer-controlled machine guns on the HMMWV (not to be confused with “Humvee”, which is the civilian model).
While the 3D assets developed, our illustrators created our cast of in-game characters, whose interwoven stories and dialog formed the foundation of our world lore.
Since its launch, our world continues to evolve, with new characters, new vehicles, and new weapons drawn from the facts and headlines of modern war.
While the title is designed today’s browsers, our assets continue to be developed in full 3D to one day take advantage of new 3D rendering features being developed by browser makers.
Thunder Run: War of Clans can currently be played in the Facebook App Store. In 2013, the title was recognized as one of the Best New Games of 2013 in Hardcore Strategy by the Facebook platform team.
It’s been a fun year, watching an idea become a vision, a vision become a title, and a title become an experience for millions of players in over 80 countries.
What to see what we built? Join us at https://www.thunderrun.com