Michael Long, creator of a strategy game set during the Second World War called Radio General, stands next to a WWII soldier at the Saskatoon museum of military artifacts on May 28, 2020. MICHELLE BERG / Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Saskatoon-made video game showcases Canada's role in Second World War

Canada is rarely given the spotlight in video games set during the Second World War, so Michael Long (BSc'15, MSc'19) decided to fix that historical oversight.

Long, a game developer living in Saskatoon, released Radio General in April. His most ambitious project yet, Radio General is a military strategy video game that tasks players with using their own voice to command troop movements in battles based on real engagements Canadian regiments fought in during the war.

“Canada almost never gets mentioned. As a matter of fact, I don’t know if there’s any games that focus solely on Canada, so I wanted to rectify that, and Canada actually contributed quite a bit compared to its population size to the war effort,” said Long, whose development studio goes by the name Foolish Mortals.

Unlike other strategy games that show the player a bird’s eye view of the battlefield, Radio General takes a more realistic approach. Players see what commanders during the war would have: a table with a map and markers representing their forces and the enemy.

The game was released on the digital game store Steam, where it has received positive reviews from users and ascended to the number one spot of the new and trending section.

Long has a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Saskatchewan. He’s a longtime gamer who discovered he also loved making video games after participating in game jams, where participants design a game over a weekend.

After finishing school, Long dove into working on Radio General with financial assistance from the Canada Media Fund and Creative Saskatchewan. All together, the game took about two and a half years to develop, with a year of that work being full time.

About 70 per cent of the game was made by Long. He hired other people to work on artwork, music, voice acting and the game’s speech recognition technology. A local historian was brought in to help with the research that went into the game.

Long based each of the game’s missions on actual battles Canada fought in, including the Dieppe raid and the D-Day landings at Juno beach. Before and after each mission, the game shows historical photos from the areas where battles took place.

“We have hundreds of documents, we have photos, we have letters sent home, we have briefings and pamphlets…I think we have the entire infantry field manual in there,” said Long.

The game’s promotional trailer features actors portraying Canadian soldiers. To do this, Long got some help from the Saskatoon Museum of Military Artifacts. The museum loaned the production authentic military uniforms and even a real tank radio from the 1940s, which weighs a hefty 90 pounds.

Read the full article at https://thestarphoenix.com/.

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