Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Melee: Battlegrounds. An exercise in excellence which needs your help!

Several years ago, I met a remarkable young man from Serbia. We struck a genuine friendship, and with whom I speak to on a daily basis. Despite the fact he has been involved in a super, ultra secret project with all sorts dire consequences if he even mentioned the name of his project. Which consequently ate massive amounts of his time. After seeing what he and his fellow team-mates have accomplished I understand why they have been living like hermits. It is project Melee: Battlegrounds which has brought us here today and to bring attention to the Kickstart Campaign they need to bring their project forward.

Here is the look they have worked so hard to perfect:


Q: Who are you? And what project have you been working on for over two years.

A: Hi, I am Siniša Vučković, people and modding community knows me by the nickname Zimke.
I am working on a Medieval Combat Sandbox, a game where you can fight in massive multi-player battles as a single soldier, have duels, tournaments, have your on heraldry and customize the way you look, build fortifications and castles, own a house in a town and socialize in taverns(play board games, even have brawl fist fights there, just beware not to get arrested by guards). Some social system will be also present in that town and you can customize your house as well, it's pretty much medieval life simulator

Beautifully rendered combat scenarios, give this a real world feel. Designed by some of the most passionate and gifted
game designers currently working in the field. 

We made our own engine to make this possible, there just wasn't any other way if we want all of this to happen. The Company and Project are made up of gamers and modders who made all of the modifications on a game called "Mount & Blade: Warband." We are just regular guys that felt passionately about what could happen or better still how to take a game and make it come alive. We knew what we had helped build once before, we knew we could do better. We have created a truly amazing looking and reactive environment but, we need help getting the game to the level where we can manufacture it. That takes money. With money comes the space for us to gather and plan. With money comes the distance from everyday life, so we can concentrate on finishing this amazing game. And lastly with money comes the ability for us to continue to invest ourselves and our spirit into the game.

Q: Tell us of some of the difficulties you have experienced in developing this game.

This is not just an infantry game of sword bashing. Cavalry will charge, or archers and crossbowmen will attack.
This is very much a game that keeps pushing your personal learning curve.

A: The engine itself, took two years to develop, it was really hard during this time, we barely had funds, worked from homes from all around the world while having our regular daily jobs, relationships suffered, friends got alienated because all of the free time we devoted to this, I can't remember when was the last time I slept for more than 5 hours. The name of our company is Donkey Crew, it came from internal joke from within the cRPG mod community.

Q: What countries are home to the Donkey Crew?

A: We come from all over the planet. USA, Russia, Serbia, Austria, Italy, Spain, Poland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Singapore. So it is really hard making a game like this, we really need to get together in one place, rent an office and living quarters, you just come to a point when people need to be together in one room. Telecommuting can only carry you so far. Which is why it is critical we get funds to carry this project forward.
Q: What is exceptional and different about this game... Because there are a lot of games out there. Why should I part with my hard earned money to buy yours?

The level of detail is just amazing! -We knew we have only one chance of producing this game. We worked really hard at getting the details just right.-Zimke.

A: If you want to fight with a new and revolutionary system where you actually control the weapons entirely, and those weapons are actually treated like physical objects, we made it!
If you want to experience massive multi-player battles with far FAR more then 200 players, yes, we give you that as well! Imagine all those players at the same time, every one of them is unique real person, and you just have to figure out how to kill them! But beware of crossbowmen, archers, cavalry, this is not a foot combat only game!

Build a Castle or Assault one! You can do both in this game!

If you prefer to build, you can do that too! Gather resources, stone, wood, make fortifications, or houses which enable faster and closer re-spawn; make smiths for better weapons, build an entire castle and fill it in with all necessary objects!
If you prefer to destroy, we have it as well! Attack supply caravans that bring resources for builders, use siege engine to destroy fortifications and castle walls, and help your friend capture it!
If you prefer to socialize, we have made an entire town, where you can advance in society, own and equip a house, visit taverns and play board games or drink or brawl, might even end up thrown in prison. Be a beggar, peasant, a guard or a governor if people elect you.

Beautifully rendered objects with their historical references can be seen.

If you are modder, this is a dream game, entire engine and tools we use will be handed out to modders, and they can personally collaborate with us, literally anything is possible in our engine, you can make fire spitting dragon which will be controlled by you, or you can make robots with laser, you name it, it is possible.

Q: What era do you start and does the game allow you to just jump in and begin fighting or do you have to build yourself and your armour level by level?

Even civilian clothing in the game is modeled after historically documented examples.

A: We actually want to implement very wide range of cultures. For the initial release we will work on 13th century, then we will add 14th and after that 15th. At the moment in our trailer you see Teutonic knights attacking Novgorod, that event is when the Battle on the Ice happened.( Which is why you see snow drifting through the battle scenes.) As for cultures, you will see Western, Eastern, Northern and Southern European, Balkan, Mongol, Byzantine, Turkic, and lastly Persian..

Q: Tell us about your research...

A kettle helm straight from the pages of the Maciejowski Bible.

A: I use archaeological finds and manuscripts, for this to make possible a lot of historians archaeologists and enthusiast from all around the world helped out. I myself as an reenactor have been researching the medieval history archaeological finds for many years. Not only how they looks, but also how they behave, real life reconstructions offer a lot of answers once you test them out. Hollywood implanted a lot of prejudice about middle ages, this game will help straight few things out. I would also like to take this time to express my deepest gratitude to those professionals who gave of their expertise. Each was a master of their particular field of research and they gave of themselves and their time in helping this project achieve the look it has.

Q: So let me get this straight, your arms and armour are historically correct and the simulations actually fight like they are wielding real arms and equipment?

Weapons as seen in the Maciejowski Bible and the Morgan Bible.

A: Yes, all that you see in our game is documented, and the real life experiences of handling recreations from those or similar items are gathered and being transferred to the game, we want to make it as much realistic and fun at the same time.

Game play on a massive scale!

Thank you Zimke for taking the time to explain to myself and my readers the game you and your fellows have sacrificed and dedicated so much of your lives to create!

Here is the link to the Donkey Crews aka Melee: Battlegrounds Kickstart Campaign:


On personal note, I think the art is so beautifully rendered, I would like to share a few more pictures that have been graciously granted exclusive first looks by Zimke and his fellows at the Donkey Crew.-Thank you very much!