Interview: War Hospital Dev Discusses Depicting A Different War Perspective
There are countless games that depict different aspects of the war, but none do it quite like the way War Hospital aims to do. This title takes the player on a deep emotional experience as they fight on the front lines with their medic tools and limited resources. The aim here is to treat your fellow soldiers and either send them home or let them continue fighting in the Great War.
Players will neither win nor lose in War Hospital, but they will make morally tough decisions in the heat of the battle. This take on WW1 has mostly remained unexplored, and while this means that Brave Lamb Studio can be very free with what they do, it comes with its own set of risks and challenges.
In order to get a better understanding of the development process and to have some of our questions answered, we spoke with Jakub Kędzior, the Lead Game Designer at Brave Lamb Studio, over an email interview.
Introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your work on War Hospital.
My name is Jakub Kędzior; I’m a Lead Game Designer at Brave Lamb Studio. I mainly oversee the design process for the game. I was also responsible for creating the game scenario and setting up the logic behind it.
War strategy games mostly tend to focus on the fighting aspect, and there are barely any titles like War Hospital. What was the team's approach to this setting?
Jakub: The goal of War Hospital was to take on the topic of what happened to wounded soldiers after the fight. Movies or video games frequently show only the romanticized version of the war, but our goal was to show how cruel, full of pain, and tragic it was.
Since there aren't many games you could take as a reference, what were some of the unexpected challenges?
Jakub: As this game is pretty unique in its gameplay, the biggest challenge was to establish a way to give the topic enough seriousness without too much gamification. We wanted players to experience the problems and hard choices faced by the staff of Field Hospitals in WWI without simplifying them to efficiency or resource management issues and bringing the “human” factor into these problems.
Are there any characters in the game that were inspired by real-life people?
Jakub: Yes, there are a few that were inspired by real-life historical figures. There are also a few based on real events that we were able to find during our research and cooperation with IWM.
Usually, when going with a sort of experimental premise, developers tend to release the game in Early Access or give a demo to get a general idea of what the fans expect from the title. Is there a particular reason War Hospital did not go in either of those directions?
Jakub: There is no particular reason. It was just the right model for us to take.
How was the research process for the game? What were some of the ways you looked into this setting before turning it into War Hospital?
Jakub: Yes, we did extensive research into the topic, starting from simple articles and things we could find in the historical books, but as this wasn’t enough, we also delved into the scientific literature related to the topic, mostly medical that talked about the injuries and treatment methods used during that time. We also collaborated with the Imperial War Museum. Resources, references, and knowledge provided by them greatly increased our understanding of the topic and allowed us to increase the level of realism in our game.
Were there any pieces of content you couldn't implement due to limitations or simply because they didn't work in the game? Could you tell us a bit more about them?
Jakub: There were many. As this game was experimental and quite unique, there were many mechanics that never got past the prototype stage or were removed. Many of the mechanics still in the game also went through many iterations or variants as we needed to test and check different ideas and approaches. One of the most heavily iterated mechanics was the Triage, which is part of the Casualty Clearing Station, as this is one of the most unique mechanics in the game.
How many developers are now actively working on the game?
Jakub: At the height of the production, around 30-40 people were working on the title. Currently, just days before the premiere, only 4 people work on the title, mainly ensuring all is ready for launch and overseeing the end of the production.
Anything else you would like to share with the readers?
Jakub: I hope they will enjoy the game and maybe take a little interest in the topic of WWI.
War Hospital was developed by Brave Lamb Studio and published by Nacon. This unique take on WW1 was released on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC on January 11, 2024.
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