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The Insider - Behind the scenes of Broken Arrow: Interview to Félix Habert, Creative Director at Steel Balalaika

Published on August 04, 2023

Hi everyone!

It's been a while since we gave news about Broken Arrow, but rest assured, the team has been working hard. 

You're probably wondering what the current development status is: the team is working on the version that will become the beta; this version of the game will also contain multiplayer, unlike the demo back in February. We want to provide a polished and refined experience from the get go, so currently we're doing a lot of internal testing, ironing out a few details and, obviously, putting together the server infrastructure to accomodate many thousands of players at the same time.

Communication wise, we decided to break silence by releasing this interview to Félix Habert, Creative Director at Steel Balalaika, who will talk of the design choices behind Broken Arrow. The interview is accompanied by new screenshots: they were previously released privately to Patreon members and those will be new to everyone else.

We're looking forward to a very heated autumn, there will be tons of Broken Arrow news coming, so stay tuned, and enjoy the interview.


Steel Balalaika as a new team is working on their first new game. Could you tell us  why you decided to make Broken Arrow? How was that decision taken and why?

Félix Habert: Broken Arrow is born from our love of strategy games and Steel Balalaika from the dream to make our own game and make it our job instead of being simple consumers.

This is a dream of freedom: creative freedom, economic freedom, freedom to work when we want and not like assembly-line workers.

Of course, with freedom come responsibilities and “when we want” rapidly becomes “all the time” but we believe that our efforts will not be in vain and that they will be rewarded in the end. That’s why our motivation never failed and is even reinforced by the very positive feedback we have received after the Steam Next Fest's demo.

What are the goals you aim to accomplish with Broken Arrow?

Félix Habert: Our first goal is to make sure at 100% that we deliver the game in the end. It sounds unambitious but this is our first game as a team, which means we cannot afford a failure.

Our second goal is more ambitious: create a new reference.

World in Conflict released 16 years ago in 2007 is a big inspiration in terms of atmosphere for us. We have the feeling that no game since WiC has managed to reach that level of immersion without sacrificing the scale of the battle.

But World in Conflict's gameplay was too simplistic in our view with its limited number of units and clear counters. We wanted something different that would feel more like a wargame with a huge number of units with statistics inspired by their real-life characteristics and the gameplay adapted around this constraint and not the other way around.

Another downside of World in Conflict was that the size of the battlefield that was too small to make planes controllable. The size of our battlefield was dictated by the fact we wanted controllable aircrafts.

In summary Broken Arrow is this: a mix between World in Conflict and a wargame.

What has been the hardest obstacle while developing Broken Arrow so far?

Félix Habert: This is the first game of the studio so we started from nothing, everything has to be made so it’s not the kind of obstacle like a cliff that you can blow up with dynamite or avoid, it is rather a very long and smooth slope that you must continue to climb every day for multiple years.

Was there a specific feature you definitely wanted in Broken Arrow?

Félix Habert: There are definitely 3 main things we wanted:

1) We want to include all the most impressive military equipment and techniques in existance or that are being developed. The logic we follow is “if it’s cool, we want it!”.

So you name it: airdrop, helicopter heavy lift, swarms of cruise and ballistic missiles, heavy bombers, all types of bombs and missiles including nuclear, AC-130 gunships, A-10 making gun runs…

2) Customization of the equipment. We wanted players to select which missiles and bombs they want for their planes, then we extended the principle to all units. Vehicles have armor upgrades, different weapon packages, infantry weapons can be swapped.

3) Give tools to the players to create and share content. Since we had to create everything from scratch including our own tools to create missions, we have decided to hit two birds with one stone and develop these tools as part of the game instead of a separate software. That way players will be able to create their own scenarios with dialogues, music, cinematics etc. 

Once the game is released, do you envision expanding the game with new factions, maps and campaigns?

Félix Habert: Yes, of course! We have started with USA and Russia because they are the most documented armies providing obvious opponents for the game but we intend to add more factions to the game.

We also intend to add new maps with new biomes and new solo campaigns.

We also intend to develop new game mechanics and provide more tools for the players like the ability to create their own campaigns.

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