Hello, and welcome back to the next DevDiary for the upcoming DLC! Today, we will talk a bit about how we are going to represent Vichy and Free France during the war.
Vichy France is perhaps the best example for what I like to call “trying to fit a history-shaped peg through a mechanics-shaped hole”. They were a puppet state of Germany by any reasonable metric - except they never formally joined the war. They weren’t at war with the Allies - and yet there were several battles between Allied and Vichy forces in Syria, Madagascar and most famously Dakar and during Operation Torch. Even after the battles were fought, however, Vichy France did not join the war, and the Vichy French troops engaged there were usually repatriated by the Allies after operations were over.
Currently, the division between Vichy France and Free France is handled by creating a civil war in France and Germany puppeting the fascist side. This automatically solves a number of issues that come with the sandbox nature of the game, such as dividing the military the player built instead of relying on pre-scripted OoBs, making sure both sides start with the same technology base and so on. It does, however, immediately put Vichy into war with Free France and (usually), by extension, the Allies.
This is somewhat accurate in the sense that there were engagements between Allies and Vichy France and Vichy France lost territory in those engagements. But there was never a formal state of war between Vichy France and the Allies, and the total contribution of Vichy French forces to the war in Russia amounted to a single regiment of volunteers. In fact, in a lot of ways, the Allies preferred Vichy France to de Gaulle, despite de Gaulle’s winning personality and great people skills.
To really do this situation justice, we decided to make special focus trees to handle it.
My design goals were to have
A way to separate France into a government-in-exile and a collaborating government in metropolitan France that did not require a gigantic ramshackle script system to handle all the edge cases
A Vichy France that remains neutral in the war for at least some time
A way for Vichy to become the “legitimate” France and even potentially join the Allies
A way to have Free France gain territories that were assigned to Vichy France when the whole thing was created, without bringing them into the war
Thankfully, we now have the ability to essentially run the civil war creation effect without actually creating a civil war. This does split the country, reassign the military, split the stockpiles, give both sides the right technologies and so on and so forth. This makes the whole process a lot less painful and reduces the number of edge cases, because as far as the game is concerned, Free France and Vichy France both qualify as France under the right conditions.