The politics of the Russia-Ukraine war has also rubbed off on the entertainment and gaming industry. An under-development game, ‘Death from Above,’ features commercial Ukrainian drones dropping bombs on Russian targets and seeking crowdfunding for its development.
The drone in the advertising campaign is one of the several civilian-origin commercially available Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) that Ukrainian soldiers rigged to carry small explosives and drop them on Russian soldiers – where the footage became incredibly popular on the internet.
In line with the Ukraine government’s long-running crowdfunding efforts to generate money for their charities and assist civilians and soldiers affected by the war, the game’s publisher, Lesser Evil, has promised a portion of the net proceeds. These will be 70% of the remaining sales profits after the production costs are accounted for.
The Kickstarter campaign, seeking Euro 25,000 to develop the game, has tied up with leading aid organizations like the Army of Drones, Come Back Alive, GIS Arta, and Aerorozvidika.
With Ukrainian artists and graphics designers possibly being roped in for the game’s development, according to one report, gamers can expect authentic war footage and some realistic battlefield design, given the currency of the war and the involvement of many levels of the Ukrainian government in generating support.
Ukrainian Military Will Help With Money Or Material?
Most importantly, with the Army of Drones being named as one of the official partners, it can be assumed that some of the sale revenues would go for military purchases of at least smaller tactical weapons systems and actual UAVs for the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU).
Army of Drones is an official project launched by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy last year, calling for building an extensive inventory of unmanned aerial, surface, and maritime drones through donations.
Fundraisers are organized for specific drone systems when the General Staff of the Armed Forces finds the need. However, what kind of support AoD is offering initially is unclear, i.e., whether a small seed investment or helping with the publicity.
But AoD will share actual footage from operations, which the game’s developers can significantly exploit to make it more realistic. Most importantly, direct military inputs in war games aim to bring the weapons systems’ in-game performance closer to its real-world characteristics.
Interesting Promotional Video
The teaser footage showed how a player would be put in the shoes of an AFU drone operator, where a simple civilian quadcopter is shown dropping bombs on Russian soldiers, tanks, and other military vehicles.
One of the tasks also involves ‘recovering stolen washing machines’ from the battlefield. This pertains to an October 2022 footage from a drone, showing Russian soldiers walking out of a house with a washing machine and then loading it onto a military vehicle with the marking ‘Z’ on it.
“You will play as a Ukrainian military drone operator who fights enemy forces, salvages valuable equipment, and restores crucial communication lines disrupted by the conflict,” said the information on the Kickstarter website.
At one point, the game’s footage showed the player’s drone also knocking out Russian soldiers by flying into them before being shot at by tanks and small arms fire.
The graphics appear to be simple 3D animation. However, whether this would be the final gameplay experience and design or a basic trailer to begin the marketing and funding campaign is unclear.
Quite often, initial promotional visuals and final release versions are significantly different since the latter are hastily made under monetary constraints. Moreover, the possibility of the game’s developers coming under fire for making a poorly designed final product by the gaming community and questions eventually raised by Ukraine’s government is high.
The political stakes attached to the game are expected to ensure that the developers live up to the hype.
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