Underused Historical Periods for Games?

Russian Civil War and associated conflicts such as the Polish-Soviet War

even some WWII fronts are underrepresented I think

A lot of WW2 games are either very large scale (all of the Pacific or all of Europe or fully Global) strategy games or really American-centric. Like a lot of North Africa, then Sicily, then Italy, then Normandy, now Battle of the Bulge things and little Eastern Front. Or even Western front before American involvement outside of maybe El-Alamein and Stalingrad.
 
i don't think i've ever seen any game about South American history. even in gsg games it ends up falling to the wayside flavor-wise
 
according to wiki here are the games set in ancient greece:
  • Age of Empires
  • Zeus: Master of Olympus
  • Warriors: Legends of Troy
  • Titan Quest
  • Spartan: Total Warrior
  • Rygar: The Legendary Adventure
  • Rise of the Argonauts
  • Rampage Through Time
  • Phelios
  • Fate of Hellas
  • God of War
  • Battle of Olympus
  • Assassin's Creed Odyssey
  • Apotheon
  • Ancient Wars: Sparta
  • Age of Mythology
Lot of mythological stuff there.
 
little Eastern Front.
not sure about computer games, but in board games, the Eastern Front has been covered extensively. Panzerblitz, Stalingrad, The Russian Campaign, Russian Front, Drang Nach Osten, parts of Squad Leader.... those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head...
 
Here are the ones I can think of at the top of my head:
  • Roaring Twenties
  • Chinese Front during WW2
  • Hundred Years War
  • Franco-Prussian War
  • Spanish-American War
If anyone can point me towards any games based on any of these, please do so because I'd love to know about them.
 
Seconding Latin American wars of independence, and pretty much anything in Qing or warlord-era China.

I don't think the Chinese theater of WW2/the Second Sino-Japanese War is covered much, either.
 
Russia and the former USSR in the 1990s is a very underrepresented time period. I still think it would make a very good setting for a GTA-style game.

Regarding military conflicts, these ones are also underused:
1. The Korean War
2. Various conflicts in the former USSR in the 1990s that are not the two Chechen Wars (Nagorno-Karabakh, Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Tajikistan). Even the war in Chechnya is underrepresented, with the only game seriously focusing on it being the Russian turn-based tactics game Alfa: Antiterror from 2005.
3. Yugoslav Wars, surprisingly. Only game I can recall being set in that period is the tank simulator T-72: Balkans on Fire, again from Russia.
 
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I've always felt that, of the more eastern theatres of WWII, the Slovak National Uprising - both the combined arms phase, and the later guerilla phase after autumn - could make for a really interesting WWII game. An FPS style one, but rather than the rah-rah tone you see in Call of Duty and its clones, I think it would be far more true to life and cooler if it had some elements of a survival RPG. The context and events of the SNU are just begging for it. You'd have to ration your stuff (especially heavy weaponry, but also supply stocks, etc.), communications would not be always reliable and miscommunication about the battlefield situation could occur quite often, you'd have missions focused not only on defending chokepoints, strategic communication points, tank and infantry battles, but also on scouting (including mounted infantry scouting - horses, ponies and mules proved surprisingly useful, especially in the mountains), on stealthy ambushes and guerilla attacks, even missions focused on retreat (the retreat through the snowed-in Low Tatras, with Šverma and co., would be an example).

Throughout, you'd have this atmosphere that would be in part hopeful, but in part also bordering on dread and increasing hopelessness. Historical spoiler: The uprising achieved a good many useful goals, but was never a Hollywood happy ending victory. Still, it was a moment of great defiance. As there were plenty of local nationalities and foreign fighters in the uprising, it would not be out of the ordinary to occassionally meet Jewish citizens, hidden until then, coming out to help with the fighting, or French soldiers taking part in some heavy fighting. Also Russians, Ukrainians, some Americans and Brits ferrying supplies to the airfield by air or air drop. Loads of possibilities.

Some missions would be about you running into moral dilemmas, e.g. a mission set during the guerilla phase, when you discover that your ostensible allies, a small unit frustrated by how badly things are going, took out their anger on some locals who they accused of collaborating with the Germans. Yep, even such sad stuff happened, among the "good guys". That's war, gents, war crimes happen on all sides, sometimes even the "good guys". And there'd be plenty of missions where you'd come across hamlets torched and locals murdered by either the invading Germans or the puppet regime's forces (whether soldiers, paramilitaries, or police). While the context would be uniquely Slovak, this is the sort of context you could potentially see in a Vichy France game as well. Government forces as eager helpers of the foreign occupiers, committing reprisals, human rights violations and war crimes on their own fellow citizens, and all that.

I thought of all these possibilities already back in the 2000s. My main point of reference back then was Operation Flashpoint, which was rather without equal at the time. Even with the older graphics it had, when I was in a mountainous forest, with the winds howling around me, and closing in on an enemy encampment, it was remarkably atmospheric. I did think, at the time, that if someone used this sort of approach and framework, you could get an excellent SNU game. Nowadays, someone would no doubt try this first as a total conversion for ARMA or something.

I think it would be an even better game to make nowadays, as a standalone proper game, when a lot of the tech capabilities have caught up to provide a more convincing and immersive experience. This would help not only gameplay, but also convincing storytelling. And I'd prefer that cutscenes, if used at all, would have a stylised, drawn look to them. I think in-engine cutscenes would undermine the atmosphere I'd like to see.

There is actually Slovak National Uprising themed content for IL-2 Sturmovik 1946, and it's been part of an official patch for that game. ;) I read many people saying our Slovak modder teams did some of the best modder-developed work for the official releases. Particularly the authentic 1940s Slovakia map. :)



In case you're wondering about the second video's music, it's from the 80s fantasy film Perinbaba. The film's soundtrack was composed by Petr Hapka.

Cold War Going Hot in the 1950s and 60s seems to be very rare, as the bulk of the games are set in the 1980s.
Codename: Panzers - Cold War is your go-to early Cold War game. Same Hungarian devs who made the first Codename: Panzers RTTs.

There was one more Cold War game by a Russian studio, set in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis going hot. All very Resurrection Day in terms of worldbuilding.

The third Death to Spies game was set in the CMC period as well, so if you like some stealth espionage... Though, apparently, it wasn't as good as the earlier two games in the series.

I'd say the Korean War is underrepresented in Video Games along with other Proxy Wars during the Cold War such as the Falklands and Arab-Israeli Wars
Tellingly, the one game I know about that takes place in the Korean War is called Korea: Forgotten Conflict. :p

Steel Panthers 2: Modern Battles was set in a post-WWII milieu and had some Arab/Israeli shenanigans in it, as well as colonial conflicts.

There were some Falklands War sims, mostly the more abstract strategic map stuff. An Argentinian indie dev was making a cool combat flight sim about the war, Jet Thunder, but I'm unsure whether that ever got finished.

There's a pretty cool, but sadly never entirely finished Falklands War total conversion mod for the original Operation Flashpoint from the early 2000s. They made so much content for it, but never completed a campaign and so on. I'm just glad they released all the playable assets back in the day.

Here are the ones I can think of at the top of my head:
  • Roaring Twenties
There's always Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven by Illussion Softworks, which is nearly two decades old at this point. The first in the Mafia series.

It's old and rough around the edges, obviously. Along with my Korean example and early Cold War shenanigans, this seems to be more of an area of interest of European devs, whether Czech, Hungarian or Russian, ironically enough. Also, you'll notice a lot of US-made Cold War themed games suddenly drop off the face of the earth once the Cold War ended. Interest at home vanished almost as soon as the Soviets were beaten at the geopolitical game.

Colonial era America
This I would vouche for. Even if it was something as simple as a roguelike in the vein of Unreal World. You as a trapper or mountain man, or a native, going about your aily business, doing your chores, trading, hunting, growing crops, building stuff, trying to survive.

Of the ones I know, you had Age of Empires III and its Warchiefs expansion, American Conquest and its expansions, Assassin's Creed III, and Betrayer.

Betrayer is a really cool indie effort I've talked about before. Check it out.

I don't think the Chinese theater of WW2/the Second Sino-Japanese War is covered much, either.
  • Chinese Front during WW2
If you don't mind mods, there's the pretty excellent WWII China Battlefield total conversion for Mount and Blade: Warband. Started out on the original release (on which I played most of it), then got a Warband version later on. IIRC, it also has multiplayer, and is still one of the most detailed 20th century warfare mods (there were also a few other WWI and WWII mods, though mostly European-themed). If you want to ride horsies as part of mounted infantry, use machine guns, chop with dadaos, manage your baggage trains and squads, or shoot stock-equipped Mausers gangsta-style, be my guest. ;) I think the mod's main dev is from Hong Kong or somewhere or other. I doubt you'd ever get a WWII China game made in the PRC that would have a balanced portrayal of the factions, so a mod like this is the next best thing to a true game.

  • Hundred Years War
Age of Empires II has the Joan of Arc campaign (which actually concludes post-Joan-mortem in the 1450s, with the taking of Bordeaux) and a one-shot mission that includes Agincourt. All "15th century greatest hits", but it's something.

Again, Mount and Blade to the rescue. There were at least several HYW mods. Including ones set firmly in the 14th century.

The Napoleonic Wars. One TW game and that's pretty much it.
Well, here's Imperial Glory. Its "poor man's cousin", actually made earlier, by the Spanish guys behind the Commandos series and the Praetorians game. (Sidenote: The latter is criminally underrated. If you want a more tactical Roman era military strategy, with more of a focus on sieges in addition to field battles, Praetorians has you covered.)

Mount and Blade comes to the rescue as well, per usual. XD Plenty of Napoleonic mods, and one even got remade into the Napoleonic Wars expansion pack. ;) Fix bayonets (or swords) and chargeee !

Russian Civil War and associated conflicts such as the Polish-Soviet War
This feels like a running gag at this point, but once again, Mount and Blade comes to the rescue via its modders. :D I played the Russian Civil War 1917-1922 mod earlier this decade and while still fairly barebones, it was well made. Not sure if they ever completed it. Seems the version made for Warband got released, in addition to the OG one. Whether it's complete enough, I dunno. Bukhar Emirate, the Whites, the Reds, Makhnovite anarchists, the Entente expeditionary forces... Here's a little vid showing the early 2010s version (though I dunno why the mod's fan didn't rework it.)

  • Franco-Prussian War
  • Spanish-American War
No idea about these.

Seconding Latin American wars of independence, and pretty much anything in Qing or warlord-era China.
i don't think i've ever seen any game about South American history. even in gsg games it ends up falling to the wayside flavor-wise
Yes, those are underserved. The warlord era stuff is partly represented in the M&B total conversion I mention. Weapons and stuff left over from the 1920s and 1930s, that sort of thing.

Yugoslav Wars, surprisingly. Only game I can recall being set in that period is the tank simulator T-72: Balkans on Fire, again from Russia.
Aside from that one tank game, I'd say not so surprisingly. For a 1990s series of wars, and ones that took place in what's almost contemporary Europe, the YWs were highly distinct for their levels of anti-civilian savagery, perpetrated by virtually all sides in those civil wars (Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, Albanians all have their war criminals).

There is one Yugoslav Wars game that does not specify its setting, but is very clearly based on the Bosnian War and the Siege of Sarajevo. This War of Mine. Yep, that pretty famous survival sim is set in what's blatantly meant to be Sarajevo (just look at some of the vistas and loading screens of the game), but they never mention it. Partly to avoid any political arguments over the inspiration, no doubt. (Imagine if they said it's set in Sarajevo. You'd immediately have Bosnian Serb and Bosniak politicians appearing in media, and having not actually played the game, start claiming it's a smear campaign against either government. So it's good they kept quiet about the Bosnian inspiration.)

A quarter century on, you still have people, in Bosnia in particular, living in the mentality of the war as if it ended just yesterday. With the unresolved issues from that era still looming large, it's still a fresh wound for many. I think the YWs are still too sensitive a topic for most game devs to tackle. I suppose the most engaging games wouldn't be the ones about fighting in those wars, but organising relief efforts, and how muddled or ineffective some of those efforts could get. (Well, such is war, unfortunately.) The YWs are a better setting for the theme of modern day civilians struggling through wartime and trying to survive atrocities planned against them, rather than a hey-ho-let's-go-shootin' FPS or RTS.
 
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