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The Kiwi's TaleWitchBlasterDerelict Blow Stuff Up

Game Design Scrapheap #2: Raid Over Moscow (Remake)

In 1985, one of the most notorious cold-war themed C64 games ever was released. Raid Over Moscow was a game where those 'crazy Ivans' have launched a salvo of Nuclear missiles against cities in the 'land of the free', and as part of a secret American commando force you have to stop them. The game, or at least its pirated versions, was a massive hit in Ruskie-phobic areas of Eastern Europe. It was a favourite of mine in my childhood and back in 2005, its twentieth anniversary, I thought the game was well over due for a remake.

Raid Over Moscow (Remake)

The famous hangar screen. Original on the right, mine on the left. The rather amateurish 3D Stealth Fighter is one of the few 3D objects I have ever made myself.

My remake of Raid Over Moscow was going to be a 3D re-imagining of the levels from the original rather then simply adapt the gameplay with 3D graphics. The original game was a series of unique levels (although some of them repeating) where you have to defeat the soviet attack. My game was to have two separate campaigns, loosely resembling the first and second half of the original. The first campaign was going to focus on destroying Soviet missile bases from the air, so it would be action flight-sim esque. The second campaign was going to focus on invading Soviet high command from the ground and destroy it by sabotaging the generator, so it would be purely FPS (with third person views thrown in for good measure).


Unlike the rather simplistic map screen from the original, which depicted nuclear missiles as single pixelled dots, my space scene left much less to the imagination

ROM was one of my first major Blitz3D projects (after Death Derby Vengeance and NaziKill 3D, both of which will be covered in future editions of game design scrapheap). I had Geg make a title screen for it and also Goatman turned in some really great 3D meshes to be the levels. Despite working fairly hard on it for several months it never even reached Alpha.

What went wrong

One of the really cool map designs done by Goatman, unfortunately, neither this nor the surrounding landscape was ever textured.

There were two main problems with ROM. One, which is fairly obvious is that it fails to capture the -feel- of the original by completely changing a simplistic arcade shooter into a hybrid FPS/Flight Action game. I was thinking of having a classic mode which would be like the original game except with 3D graphics, but in hindsight I should have just made the main game like that.

The second one is the game was just getting too complicated and the focus had strayed too far from the core gameplay. Take these examples -
  1. There are three different sets of controls: For walking on foot, for flying in space and for flying above Moscow.
  2. If you were shot down above Moscow you could bail out proceed to the missile silo on foot (I was planning to have the player able to steal a car) and destroy it with explosives.
  3. Also in the Moscow sequence, instead of simply firing rockets or missiles to destroy the enemy silo, you had to drop a dumb bomb to hit it. It had realistic gravity physics and required switching to a special targeting view to guarantee that you'll hit the target.
  4. Instead of automatically walking towards your craft in the satellite view on the original, you could, rather pointlessly, explore the hangar on foot.
  5. In the satellite sequence you could (if you wanted) jump out of the fighter and be sucked into vacuum and die.
None of these made the game more 'fun' for the player (only more frustrating) and all of them slowed down development of the project.

The moral of the story

Focus on the core gameplay first and don't add complicated features unless it makes the game more enjoyable.


I eventually gave up on the game completely when I heard about the Retro Remakes 2006 competition and made Project Firestart instead. Since then I have lost interest in doing more remakes so it looks unlikely this project will ever see the light of day.

Developing the game wasn't a total waste though, I created several key code libraries and functions that I have been re-using right up until this day, including in Derelict.

Still, the idea of a First Person Shooter/Action Flight-Sim hybrid still interests me, so who knows, maybe I'll start work on another game resembling my original vision sometime.


JoshuaSmyth (not verified)

Good read - I think there needs to be another action-y flight sim game made , kinda like Tie-Fighter or wing commander but maybe set on a planet or moon. So there could be all sorts of missions and things.. what was that game that came out a couple years ago?? Freelancer?

Earok.Net (not verified)

[...] (This may have subconciously influenced me to this day!). As discussed on the blog previously I failed to remake it myself, so I’m glad to see someone else has finally released [...]