Command HQ is hailed as the first real-time multiplayer strategy ever. Whether it is true or not is of little consequence. The more important fact is that Command HQ was designed by one of the most important computer game designers ever, Dani Berry. She was the mastermind behind such games as M.U.L.E. (credited as Dan Bunten), Cartels and Cutthroats and Seven Cities of Gold. As all her other games, Command HQ is a small work of art in itself.
The game is a one-on-one real-time strategy where your goal is to conquer the world. This game offers several real-life scenarios, such as World War I, World War II (for some reason only from 1942 when the US entered the war) and a few imaginary scenarios. An editor lets you create your own scenarios as well. In the game, you build armies and send them into the field. Nothing more? Yet, the awesome balance of the game requires deep strategic thinking.
One of the first things you will notice is that you don't have to take care of the resources. Resource gathering is fully automated, handled by the cities. Yet, resources are crucial in the game, and often you'll have to adjust your strategy in order to capture some resources before commencing the main offensive. Once you start moving the armies, you will notice another thing: Because this game is real-time, it is quite hard to estimate the time an army needs to travel between two points. As a consequence, you'll spend a lot of time carefully planning when to send out armies, in order to have them arrive at a certain place at the same time. In addition, armies react with more delay as they move away from your capital, so you'll have to think into the future.
On the downside, the A.I. is very unbalanced. At the beginning, it's got the edge, but if you survive the first few minutes and capture a few cities, the balance of power will change. The A.I. is too much defense oriented to pose any serious problem. That's why there is the multiplayer mode, however, which works even today. All you need is a serial connection.
About the author
Danielle Bunten Berry "No one on their death bed ever said, 'I wish I had spent more time alone with my computer!'" Dani Berry was the first and greatest of multiplayer games advocates. Credited with designing such gems as Cartels and Cutthroats, M.U.L.E., Seven Cities of Gold, Heart of Africa, Modem Wars, Command HQ and Global Conquest, she was a designer par excellence. She was the first to design multiplayer strategies games. The first of the lot was M.U.L.E. (Multi-User Labor Element), which combined a business simulation with arcade, and was playable for up to four players on one Atari 800 (the only computer of that period that supported four joysticks). Later came Modem Wars, her first Internet multiplayer game, followed by Command HQ and its sequel, Global Conquest. Her last game was War Sport, released in 1997, one year before her death. Dani was also a perfectionist. Who does not believe the incredible amount of realism in Seven Cities of Gold? The proper use of flora and fauna, the uncertainty when dealing with native guides, their mood change that depended on your actions and the decreasing effect of your technical superiority? She will be dearly missed.
David Warhol David Warhol is one of the first masters of sound and music in computer games. He is responsible for both in games like The Bard's Tale II, Sentiel Worlds I, Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, Pool of Radiance, Neuromancer, Maniac Mansion, Loom and many, many more. I can name more catchy tunes from this author that of any single popular musician, yet his name remains obscured to many. Command HQ was his next to last game; after this one he, sadly, worked only on Chuck Yeager's Air Combat.