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Strategic Simulations

Strategic Simulations
Strategic Simulations, Inc
675 Almanor Ave
Sunnyvale, CA 94085
Year Founded:
Year Defunct:
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Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI) was a computer game developer and publisher with over 100 titles to its credit since its founding in 1979. It was especially notable for its numerous wargames, and for the groundbreaking Panzer General series.

The company was founded by Joel Billings, a wargame enthusiast. He hired programmers John Lyons, who wrote Computer Bismarck, and Ed Williger, who wrote Computer Ambush. Both games were written in BASIC as were many of SSI's early games. Computer Bismarck was released for the Apple II in January 1980 and for the TRS-80 later in the year. Chuck Kroegel, the co-author with David Landry of many of the early SSI wargames, joined the company as an employee in 1983 and led product development for over ten years.

In 1982 SSI launched their RapidFire line. Although the name implies action titles, in fact it was simply a branding of games being written by 3rd party authors. The initial series consisted of Cytron Masters, Cosmic Balance and Galactic Gladiators. Later titles included Epidemic!, a real time strategy title dealing with a global plague, Queen Of Hearts, Cosmic Balance II, Broadsides and others. The branding effort did not last very long, and appeared to have been ended in either 1983 or 84.

SSI also expanded into role-playing games in 1984 with titles such as Wizard's Crown, Questron and the Phantasie series. In 1987, SSI acquired the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) license from TSR and published 30 AD&D titles over the following years, starting with Pool of Radiance in 1988. The TSR products formed the core of games released using the Gold Box engine.

SSI leapt to the forefront of strategic gaming once again in 1994 with the release of Panzer General. Panzer General was a very approachable and easy-to-play game that nevertheless had some gameplay depth and the sense of continuity and goals. It was followed by three other games based on slightly modified versions of the basic engine, including Allied General and Pacific General, the latter arguably being the most balanced. Non-historical games based on the same system were also released, Star General and Fantasy General. These were later referred to collectively as the 5-Star General Series.

As the newer versions were released over a three-year period they increasingly became outdated in terms of improving computer hardware. In 1997 they released a revamped version as Panzer General II, but this was not as successful in the market. People's General was based on the same engine. In 1999 Panzer General 3D Assault introduced a true 3D engine, but gameplay was not particularly notable. A final attempt in 2000, Panzer General III: Scorched Earth, was far more successful.

SSI was acquired by Mindscape in 1994, spent time as part of Mattel, and finally became part of Ubisoft (in March 2001), which has since retired the brand name.