Last week, we posted our interview with the lead designers of Haunted Hollow, but Firaxis has another mobile game up its sleeve for later this week. If you’re trying to decide whether to invest time in the upcoming World War I flight/strategy game, Sid Meier had the following to share about the title, on which he served as lead designer.

Thanks for taking some time to answer questions about the new project! 

My pleasure!

What is your title and role on this project? 

I’m Sid Meier, and I’m the lead designer and one of the programmers on Ace Patrol. I’m also Creative Director at Firaxis Games.

What’s the top-level game concept for Ace Patrol? 

Ace Patrol is a game that puts you in command of some cool World War I biplanes in turn-based combat against enemy aircraft and aces. You’ll need to choose your maneuvers carefully each turn in order to protect your squadron and pilots, get the drop on the enemy, and succeed in your mission. Along the way you’ll be upgrading your aircraft and trying new aircraft models, as you experience a variety of missions along the Western Front. 

What makes the game a good fit for iOS? 

Turn-based combat works very well on iOS. Also the missions are a good, bite-sized length for mobile gaming, lasting maybe five to fifteen missions. Bigger missions might take a bit longer. You can play through a whole campaign in an hour or two, or you can play intermittently through a couple of days. The concept works well technically on these devices, and we’ve really tried to make the touch controls feel intuitive and easy. Touch controls feel like a natural fit for turn-based games, because you’re moving one thing at a time as you play the game.

Many gamers are familiar with Firaxis’ work on XCOM and Civilization. What features does Ace Patrol share with those games, and in what ways does it move off in other directions? 

Primarily, Ace Patrol is a game that is aimed at a similar audience, strategy gamers who like to think ahead, make a plan, try out lots of different approaches to the game, and then discuss and compare what they do with other players. You get to use cool hardware in our games, whether it’s a biplane in Ace Patrol or alien-technology-based guns in XCOM. There are a lot of cool pieces that you get, but you get to put them together in your own strategy, and then watch yourself improve as you play more and more. 

World War I-era fighter planes seems like a fascinating game setting, but an unusual one for turn-based strategy. Without the benefit of cover, buildings, and ground landmarks, how does Ace Patrol remain strategically interesting? 

That’s a very good question! We actually did find cover in clouds, and we found buildings in the various targets around the world, such as anti-aircraft gun emplacements, which make certain areas dangerous or safe to fly in. Part of the strategy might be luring the enemy into range of your anti-aircraft guns, so the map actually has a really good sense of safety, danger, and cover – all the basic elements that cover provides you in a ground combat game. The map is an important part of the game. There’s also positioning in whether you’re lower or higher than your target, and that has implications for attacking and maneuvering, and so the world is pretty interesting when you’re playing in it, and is definitely part of the tactics and strategy. The interaction of the planes with each other, the landmarks, and the ground is a constantly changing, fascinating strategic problem. 

[Next up: Upgrades, improvements, and multiplayer]