Has Spec Ops benefited from a hard time in Berlin?

Pt 1: A developer's journey from cracking to creating

The Berlin Wall divided the world. Standing three and a half metres high and over a metre wide, the wall was fortified with barbed wire, tripwires, trenches, and a no man's land with clear firing lines from the wall's 116 watchtowers.

It split Berlin in two and became iconic of the East/West capitalist/socialist divide.

Following Germany's defeat in the Second World War control of Germany was divided between the allied nations.

Berlin sat in the middle of the Soviet controlled eastern part of the nation and was itself split in half and divided between France, the US, and the UK in the west and the Soviet Union in the east.


West Germany remained a capitalist state while in the east property and industry was nationalised and Marxism became part of every school's curriculum.

As young and skilled Germans fled west the German Democratic Republic established a formal border between the two halves of the nation, but with Berlin's western sectors still under allied control West Berlin remained a capitalist 'island' in the middle of East Germany.

It became a means of defection for many East Germans until the wall's construction began in August of 1961.

The Berliner Mauer would divide the city for almost 30 years and would become a part of everyday life for every Berliner, including the friends who would one day begin work on Spec Ops: The Line.

"From our side the wall was very clean," says Timo Ullmann, Managing Director of Yager and one of the studio's five founding members.

"You couldn't get near it because you would have seemed suspicious; even taking pictures was forbidden on our side. There was no graffiti on the eastern side of the wall - none of the graffiti you see in photos of the western side."

Timo Ullmann, Philipp Schellbach, Roman Golka, Mathias Wiese, and Uwe Beneke are Yager's founders. Of the five, only one grew up outside of East Berlin - Mathias, a fellow East German who would join the four friends later.

The rest were childhood friends who were in their late teens when the wall finally fell and Germany was united in 1989.

"Yeah, Roman, Phillip and me used to be friends in East Germany," says Timo. "Roman and I know each other from school but we met Philipp and Uwe at our computer club in '88 or maybe '87.

We went to a couple of computer clubs because home computers were pretty rare in East Germany and if you were lucky enough to have one you'd want to share software and computing tips.

"There were no computers available unless you were lucky enough that your Grandma was living in West Germany or you had family outside Germany," Timo recalls.


"There were East German computers like the KC-85 but the most popular ones were Commodore 64 and the Atari 800.

Later on, around '89, the Amiga arrived in East Germany and it was so valuable you could easily have traded one for a car.

In East Germany people had to wait like 18 years or so to get a car. I'm not making this up, it was really that long."

Already into their late teens at the time, the four have strong memories of East Berlin before the fall of the wall and of the differences between life in the East and the West.

"I had a pretty nice childhood in our school," says Timo. "I mean, from a certain age we had to learn details about Marxism and Leninism and the exploitation of the working class and things like that but except for that I think it was a pretty regular experience.

"But there was an awareness of what we were missing because we could watch western television from West Berlin and you could feel the difference between western lifestyle and eastern lifestyle.

  1 2 3