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Hearts of Iron 3

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Strategy
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Developer: Paradox Interactive
Release Date: Aug. 7, 2009 (US), Aug. 14/28, 2009 (EU)

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'Hearts of Iron III' Developer Diary #11

by Rainier on Jan. 9, 2009 @ 5:03 a.m. PST

Hearts of Iron 3 will follow the franchise's tradition of most detailed and complete strategic game series on WW2 ever made while focusing on satisfying veteran players through a multitude of brand new features and systems, including a huge map with more than 10,000 provinces.

Hearts of Iron III lets you play through the most engaging conflict in world history, World War 2, on all fronts, as any country and through multiple different scenarios. Guide your nation to glory and wage war, conduct diplomacy and build your industry between 1936 and 1948.

Development Diary #11 – Military Intelligence

Well Christmas and New Year are over which means we have to stop sitting around enjoying holidays and go back to work. However don’t say we aren’t nice to you, despite not planning to we have decided to release a short developer diary talking abit about the intelligence system.

An important feature in any strategic war game is intelligence and perhaps most important of all only having part of the picture. The second part is how do you determine what the enemy has behind the line, especially if you are say Germany sitting in France and wondering what the Allies are up to over the other side of the channel.

As mentioned in passing in the previous developer diary we have several detection levels that allow you to see various levels of detail about a province. As with the previous incarnations of Hearts of Iron one way to find out things is your units on the front line patrolling and finding out what is on the other side of the front, this remains and forms your first shot and finding out what is there. However that doesn’t quite solve the problem of what is behind the line.

With that in mind let’s talk about a nice little change from Hearts of Iron 2, the radar station, no longer just a radar station but is now an intelligence-gathering site. The radar station is now also a signal intercept and analysis station, giving you (and the bad guys, mustn’t forget about them) the ability to peer behind enemy lines. The bigger the radar station the better you are at doing this.

A number of factors come into play here, firstly you have encryption and decryption, as with previous versions of Hearts of Iron these make it harder for the enemy to see what you are up to and easier for the you to determine what the enemy is up to. We also have a generic radio technology that gives combat bonuses to your units but also makes them easier to detect (our logic here that even if your ability to decrypt the enemy radio signals is poor things like traffic pattern analysis will allow you to build up a picture of what the enemy is doing).

Next is the level of the unit, the higher level of head quarters the easier they are to detect. Basically we feel that these have more to say than lower level HQs. It also allows you to do the rather neat trick of setting up an Army Group HQ (let’s call it the US 1st Army Group just for arguments sake) in southeastern England commanded by a senior General (perhaps Patton) and I suppose if we wanted to go the whole hog here we could assign a few army and corps HQs to this formation. As divisions are harder to detect than the higher level HQs the fact that no divisions can be detected doesn’t actually say there are none. So the German player cannot ignore the possibility that there could be an invasion at Calais.

Well that’s the theory at any rate, how does the effect the game. Well we now have an increasingly incomplete picture of what is going on behind enemy lines. We feel this adds two things to the game. First off is realism people’s intelligence picture wasn’t just limited to the front line and where aircraft happen to be flying they did know bits and pieces of what was happening else where. Secondly it adds another layer of strategy to the game, you are not just asking yourself where the enemy is but you also need to ask the question how good is my intelligence? It also has a very nice effect for the AI, a player can try and guess where the enemy is going to attack but the AI simply can’t. Now the AI can look behind enemy lines without having to resort to any of those crutches that annoy players so much. The AI can start to react to things like a build of allied troops in Southern England (could this be Overlord?) within exactly the same rule mechanics that a player is operating in.

As you can see here, Germany has a level 10 radar/listening station in western Germany, which reaches deeply into Western Europe. We are in the intelligence mapmode, where the provinces are coloured depending on what intelligence level you have on the province. Red means you have no intel, and various shades of green depict how much you know. As you can see, you can depict units or indications of units further behind frontlines, depending on the factors we’ve outlined earlier.

- Johan Andersson, Producer of Hearts of Iron III

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