Author Topic: Carriers at War  (Read 20369 times)

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Offline FarAway Sooner

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Re: Carriers at War
« Reply #105 on: May 14, 2019, 10:58:47 AM »
I love Andrew's naming convention idea.  I myself would prefer an even more ironic or over-the-top title, perhaps something along the lines of All Your Islands are Belong to Us or Awesome Carrier Battles of Pacific Awesomeness?   ;D

If anybody, either on the design team or with an interest in the topic, hasn't read Parshall & Tully's Shattered Sword, it's the best English-language write-up of the Battle of Midway and came out about ten years ago.  I'll spare you the extensive book review, but it's got a real focus on carrier operations and carrier doctrine.  It's not perfect, but it does a good job of debunking the Fuchida myth that dominated the American view of Midway for the previous 50+ years...


Offline The_Admiral

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Re: Carriers at War
« Reply #106 on: May 14, 2019, 11:09:06 AM »
Thanks for the suggestion bro - but fear not!

I wouldn't dare starting that sort of adventure without doing my homework first, I am a good boy  ;)

« Last Edit: May 14, 2019, 11:11:31 AM by The_Admiral »

Offline SirAndrewD

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Re: Carriers at War
« Reply #107 on: May 14, 2019, 02:39:36 PM »

Thanks for the kind proposal Andrew.
Of course we might need that sort of help. As you might have seen already, my English is far from perfect (ok, yesterday was a bit special, had to finish that bottle of wine watching Game of Thrones, but still...) that means that we will need, at a certain point, people with the right sort of sensitivity and knowledge to proofread our written material. And even though I can't say just yet if we'll be able to pay actual money, I am pretty sure that there will be at least a deluxe box edition for anyone able to help  ;)

I may indeed be able to help with that when the time comes.  Well outside my history background I'm the current VP of Sales for a publishing house and my wife is an ghostwriter/editor/project manager, so we've done some proofing. 

Maybe we can work something out.

Offline FarAway Sooner

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Re: Carriers at War
« Reply #108 on: May 15, 2019, 01:00:45 AM »
Sweet research!    :bd:

Offline The_Admiral

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Re: Carriers at War
« Reply #109 on: May 15, 2019, 07:52:44 PM »
Sweet research!    :bd:

Thanks! It is kinda needed.

For instance, we came to the realization that plane management and its most troublesome moments will be one of the core components of the sim, and we need to make it right as early as possible in the development. The AI is doing a satisfactory job so far spotting, respotting & clearing the decks, but it needs to be super adaptable in order to recreate all kinds of situations and SNAFUs. We do not have access to most tools/hacks air officers had (tables or rulers used to calculate the take off distance based on plane weight, for example). In books such as Lundstrom's or Pacific Payback, strike deckloads are quite detailed enough to allow us to determine patterns (a 500lbs and a 1000lbs armed SBD just don't need the same space to take off, obviously), so that we can easily cross reference their info with data found in original plane manuals & handbooks from the 30s-40s.


I may indeed be able to help with that when the time comes.  Well outside my history background I'm the current VP of Sales for a publishing house and my wife is an ghostwriter/editor/project manager, so we've done some proofing. 

Maybe we can work something out.

We certainly might find a way indeed :)
Thanks again Andrew, I will not fail to keep you updated.

Edit: Aw gawd typos everywhere... (Somewhat) fixed now, oops.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2019, 08:21:52 PM by The_Admiral »

Offline Strela

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Re: Carriers at War
« Reply #110 on: May 15, 2019, 10:58:45 PM »
The_Admiral,

Having worked with SSG back in the 80s when Carriers at War was crafted and subsequently John Tiller Software and now, Wargame Design Studio, Im super excited (and impressed) to see what your doing. It looks like you have a very capable team and a solid underpinning of code and just as importantly taking the time to research the topic properly.

In my experience, taking the time to research turns up some very clear directions for game play and code creation. As you mention, it solidifies the focus you want the player to have such as the interplay of search, flying and most importantly the deck logistics that usually defined the winners or losers.

Will be cheering you and the team on and if there is any assistance we can give, please let us know.

David

Offline The_Admiral

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Re: Carriers at War
« Reply #111 on: May 16, 2019, 09:04:17 AM »
Dear David

It's an honour for us to be noticed, Sensei :notworthy:
My lone and yet very capable dev says hello, by the way! He is the one guy to be impressed about indeed, on my part I am just the cuckoo who has been bothering him for ages to try his luck with me. Fortunately, our 2D and 3D guys are heroes on their own too, I am just plain lucky to have such nice people around, but I guess you know the feeling well enough.

But yes, we are putting ourselves in the same kind of philosophy as the one you have been championing for years - if I say decades I'd be impolite to you ( O:-)), but I grew up with games made and tested by people like you. It is all the more interesting and funnier then that I happen to be sort of following in your steps all the way to the point that I am doing this also on my free time, with my own money, and being an expat in Asia. If it rings any bell on your side...  :coolsmiley:

Anyway, if you ever happen to come to Mainland China during your business trips, especially in or around Shanghai, don't forget I'll be happy to treat you to a good meal! And thank you again for your kind and inspiring support!

Offline Strela

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Re: Carriers at War
« Reply #112 on: May 16, 2019, 10:29:41 AM »
Dear David

It's an honour for us to be noticed, Sensei :notworthy:
My lone and yet very capable dev says hello, by the way! He is the one guy to be impressed about indeed, on my part I am just the cuckoo who has been bothering him for ages to try his luck with me. Fortunately, our 2D and 3D guys are heroes on their own too, I am just plain lucky to have such nice people around, but I guess you know the feeling well enough.

But yes, we are putting ourselves in the same kind of philosophy as the one you have been championing for years - if I say decades I'd be impolite to you ( O:-)), but I grew up with games made and tested by people like you. It is all the more interesting and funnier then that I happen to be sort of following in your steps all the way to the point that I am doing this also on my free time, with my own money, and being an expat in Asia. If it rings any bell on your side...  :coolsmiley:

Anyway, if you ever happen to come to Mainland China during your business trips, especially in or around Shanghai, don't forget I'll be happy to treat you to a good meal! And thank you again for your kind and inspiring support!

Footsteps indeed! Too funny that youre in Shanghai and Im in Singapore!

I do occasionally get to Shanghai and the offer is there if you come down here closer to the equator!  :bd:

Ill stay in touch.

David

Offline Toonces

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Re: Carriers at War
« Reply #113 on: May 17, 2019, 11:34:55 PM »
Sorry this took so long.  I've given your questions and your posts a lot of thought.  When I'm unimpaired from external forces (ie. scotch) I have some thoughts on your project. 

More to follow.  :)
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Offline The_Admiral

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Re: Carriers at War
« Reply #114 on: May 18, 2019, 05:09:00 AM »
Well, thank you Toonces. No worries, there's hardly any hurry, we're still in the prototyping stage.

Nothing very fancy to show for this week, our dev has been hard at work designing the future air ops mission planner, and it's not easy to make some sense out of this complicated exercise. Here is a first very early look at his work.

The key in this video is the timeline at the bottom. Not saying that everything in the game will be about timelines, but anyone who studied a tad bit carrier battles knows that, at the end of the day, seemingly logical decisions made two or three hours before will come back bite you in the a*se in case of an unplanned event or a bad surprise - bad surprises being, unlike what the wording might suggest, the rule more than the exception. Having one's plan utterly destroyed by the flow of events in battle is more often than not the norm in carrier combat, even more so than in other kinds of warfare, and time management is of the essence. It seemed to us that a good way of visualizing how much times it takes to arm/prepare, spot, launch, recover a strike is a central matter in a serious recreation of the genre. Naturally, detailed data will be available and tweakable too, and other parameters (such as preferred cruise speed, mission type or special instructions) will add to the randomness of flight time, even in the most uneventful mission.

As usual, it's all placeholders. CAP and inner/outer patrol missions will probably be handled from the formation screen, although LRCAP over a friendly TF, base or ground unit will be a choice too (and will probably be handled like any other package).



Tier 2 development of this module will naturally address other matters, especially point option configuration - carriers were rarely expected to be at their original launching spot at the time of recovering a strike, and point option management will be an important feature too. Make sure to be on time at the position you gave your guys, or you'd better pray that their Zed Baker receivers (a radio-based gear that allowed returning plane to obtain a heading on their carrier) works flawlessly. Spoilers: in 1942, it certainly didn't.

I thought that having some sort of non-official thread here allowed me also to post a few old things without risking a misunderstanding - so, knowing we're a wargaming crowd after all, let me share with you a few very early prototypes from a year ago, when we were doing experiments regarding the core 3D world and its integration with a 2D system. At that time our dev was still busy with his day job, and was studying the project on his spare time. Naturally it looks better now - back then we didn't even have our own ships... But anyone with a trained eye will see the potential of the tech he developed. The whole theater was generated procedurally from an actual chart info. He computes the values, the system reads the map info, and we're provided with a 3D blanket that we might change by hand afterwards. Here's the first result we obtained :



Naturally, the goal after that is to allow us to tweak manually the result - which will be all the more needed when we will need to build historical bases. But still, in the meantime, the result was not bad at all. Here's an illustration of what the tech could achieve one year ago, hopefully we will be able to give it another try soon :





And here's a comparison between the relief of the actual location (Guadalcanal) as seen on Google Earth and our procedurally-generated version





We might still need to tweak the colors (these SOPAC places are very, very green and the shades change a lot with the weather) but I find the end result very honorable, to say the least. :P

Finally, as a last treat, and still as a very early prototype from a year ago too, here is our first experiment about integrating the Ouija board (aka the aircraft management board used aboard a carrier by the Air Ops staff) to the larger picture. There is also a wide variety of camera angles being experimented on in the video, from map 3D view to map 2D view, to zoomed map 2D view to zoomed map/3D world. Again, don't take anything for granted, all of this was and remains WIP - the only certainty being our dev's ability to deliver me with pretty much anything I can think of. A good man this one, if there ever was one.  8)

On a gameplay note, we do not intend to make the Ouija "station" playable per se - it isn't your job as a commander/player to mess around with the planes, but we want you there again to have a perfect view and understanding of what is going on aboard your carrier. Hopefully we will have a "Toy" view and a 3D view ( la Carrier Deck) just like we already have a 2D Map and a 3D World.



Hope some of you will find that stuff interesting and entertaining. In the meantime, enjoy your weekend and take care!
« Last Edit: May 18, 2019, 08:57:32 AM by The_Admiral »

Offline rocketman

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Re: Carriers at War
« Reply #115 on: May 18, 2019, 09:49:42 AM »
The zoom in from 2d operational map all the way to a single carrier is ultra cool. Impressive to say the least  :notworthy: :bd:
Loving what I see so far  :smitten:

Offline Toonces

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Re: Carriers at War
« Reply #116 on: May 18, 2019, 05:22:20 PM »
I don't know if I'm going to be able to articulate this properly, but here goes:

What I'm hoping for in your game, or a game like it, is for something that plays similar to Scourge of War (Civil War series) using the commander/courier system mode.  What I find playing in that mode is that a lot of the really critical decisions are made long before contact with the enemy takes place.  You really have to have a good idea of what you're trying to achieve before you start issuing orders.  Once you've provided orders to all of your units, the game really begins to become managing controlled chaos.

What I mean is that as the troops move out, eventually contact will develop with the enemy.  At that point the lines start to meander around and, using the courier system, you have to conceptualize how you want the troops to move and order themselves, but also try to account for the difficulties inherent in having the computer properly interpret what you're telling it to do.  Again, it's hard to put exactly into words, but rarely does the battle evolve exactly as planned.  As the troops react during the fighting, things just get messy, and you as the commander are adapting to things that are completely out of your control.  It feels more authentic than selecting a group of troops and then clicking on the map where you want them to go.

I played a Gettysburg battle a while back that took about 3 hours of real time to fight through, but only used about 40 orders total...40 "moves" if you like. 

What I'd like to see, and what I think you're doing, is to get that feel of being the commander on the bridge of a carrier, using similar map tools that they actually used for planning back then.  I'd like to be able to have enough sea room and time to develop a full blown plan, and then communicate that to my subordinates, but let them interpret and manage those orders their way.  As the enemy is detected, I'd like to have the challenges of getting my planes airborne and grouped together in a timely manner like the commanders experienced in the early war, and be faced with the difficult decision of whether to wait until my units get coordinated, or send them on their way piecemeal.  I want the units to have trouble finding the enemy, challenges maintaining cohesion, and I want the challenge of interpreting battle results from pilot reports after the strike.  When the enemy attacks, I want to feel the smoke and confusion of battle, the challenge of continuing to plan while the ship is maneuvering radically and being hit by bombs.

And so on.

If you've played SoW then you'll know what I mean.  Once the battle is truly joined, your ability to control things rapidly diminishes.  Most of the really important decisions take place before the enemy is even found, and then early in the battle.  I think there are similarities between that and carrier warfare, where the really important decisions are made early in the battle.  Once the enemy carriers are spotted and the strikes are on their way, there's really very little for the commander to do. 

I knew this was going to be hard to explain, and I'm rambling, but..well there it is.
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Offline SirAndrewD

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Re: Carriers at War
« Reply #117 on: May 18, 2019, 07:41:04 PM »

I knew this was going to be hard to explain, and I'm rambling, but..well there it is.

Every time an update is posted here I just kind of blubber incoherently and clap very loudly emitting squeals like and excited child. 

So you're doing better than me.

Offline The_Admiral

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Re: Carriers at War
« Reply #118 on: May 18, 2019, 11:00:48 PM »
The zoom in from 2d operational map all the way to a single carrier is ultra cool. Impressive to say the least  :notworthy: :bd:
Loving what I see so far  :smitten:

Thank you kind Sir!

Ok there we go

I don't know if I'm going to be able to articulate this properly, but here goes:
No worries mate! I am not even sure I am going to make my English understandable now that I ran out of coffee for the morning, but let's try.

Quote
What I'm hoping for in your game, or a game like it, is for something that plays similar to Scourge of War (Civil War series) using the commander/courier system mode.  What I find playing in that mode is that a lot of the really critical decisions are made long before contact with the enemy takes place.  You really have to have a good idea of what you're trying to achieve before you start issuing orders.  Once you've provided orders to all of your units, the game really begins to become managing controlled chaos.
Well, in that respect we're on the same page. Limited friendly feedback, command delays, limitations of comms and intercepts are to be an integral part of carrier command as a simulation. The comparison with a Civil War game is not that far-fetched: SBDs jockeys would routinely use beanbags to communicate with their homeplate in proximity of the task force before being recovered in order not to risk a SIGINT intercept (yeah, by that I mean dropping a small purse on the deck of the carrier during a flyby) ; whenever possible, the carrier would use lights to communicate with planes aloft ; CAP fighters would use wing banks or hand signals when flying low alongside the carrier's island ; flags & lights were used extensively for task force coordination, the only exception being the TBS (Talk Between Ship) system, which was good for a chat but not so much for everything else as there were risks of garble and sometimes just sheer inability to copy a message. Yes, comms are central, and the way you send messages to everybody will be carefully monitored at the highest level of realism. With lower levels of realism selected, a feature which should be kept as an option in order not to scare everybody off, let's say it will just play like a classic historical RTS - and feel like most wargames dedicated to this topic in the 1990s. Make no mistake, I don't call that a command simulation for nothing. Carriers at War, Pacific Air War, Great Naval Battles or HPS Midway are great games, and the some of them have made me the man I am today, but I don't plan on making a mere 3D adaptation of them. I would like to bring something new to the table, and arguably at a time when everybody is innovating (Unity of Command with its intuitiveness, AI and overall production, Radio Commander/General with their view of command, Command Ops with its real time take on non-hex command, Decisive Campaigns with its narrative and event engine, etc...) it sounds to me like the new normal.

Another example of what you'd find in our game that has never been done before to my knowledge would be the use of actual friendly fog of war. The topic was touched in Radio Commander, but it's no different for carrier combat - and made even more critical by the abundant existing literature about the topic. If you send a scout plane out there, there is simply no way for you to know in real time where it is and what it is doing. When reporting a contact, especially over the ocean, you have to take into account that the scouting crew own idea of where it is itself implies a certain margin of error that you *might* correct somewhat with a radio direction finding check, possibly augmented by a third-party friendly radio plot (often unlikely in 1942). There is no single occurrence on the US side of a pinpoint sighting in 1942. So far existing games have always kept it to a bare minimum (aka force mis-identification) and it seems to me that there is still some room left for further development. Add to this that there is simply no way a base would know about the loss of its scout if this one didn't send a report when attacked - there again, combat history is packed with examples of Japanese seaplanes, including flying boats, getting shot down so quick by US CAP that they never had a chance to send a message. In a case like that, Rabaul for instance wouldn't be aware of the loss before the next radio check, usually on the return leg around Bougainville, which means that quite a few hours could pass without the base getting any notice of the loss - this is one of the reasons why Fletcher never got attacked during the landing phase of Watchtower. These precious hours lost and uncertainty have rarely been simulated before, and in my opinion should be part of the whole experience more often than not.

What I mean is that as the troops move out, eventually contact will develop with the enemy.  At that point the lines start to meander around and, using the courier system, you have to conceptualize how you want the troops to move and order themselves, but also try to account for the difficulties inherent in having the computer properly interpret what you're telling it to do.  Again, it's hard to put exactly into words, but rarely does the battle evolve exactly as planned.  As the troops react during the fighting, things just get messy, and you as the commander are adapting to things that are completely out of your control.  It feels more authentic than selecting a group of troops and then clicking on the map where you want them to go.
No worries I know what you mean. In that regard hopefully some day I'll be able to propose something along the lines of good old 1989 Waterloo (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterloo_(video_game)). Funny and depressing both to see how simple game concepts in the era of CGA/EGA fared better in 1989 than they do today, right?
I'll make no mystery, even if the latter half of our product name will broadly follow "Andrews' standard for WW2 game nomenclature" (c) we want to make the whole experience sort of new by putting the men rather than the machines in the spotlight, and this will be featured in the title. The intent is very much like everything you have described here: we're playing people, not robots, and there has to be room for mistakes and misjudgements - and drama alike. We envision an event engine that will feature dynamic events (the likes of flight deck SNAFU, equipment failure, message relay delay, coding mistakes...) and scripted ones (specific to each scenario, with specific messages, notable events & even some flagplot drama - such as Forrest Biard's disagreement with Fletcher on the night before the Coral Sea last day, for instance). Mistakes were made but they are part of the whole experience: if we want the player to make them too, he needs to be given a proper environment and proper rules to recreate the very same battlefield uncertainty commanders had to face back then.

Quote
What I'd like to see, and what I think you're doing, is to get that feel of being the commander on the bridge of a carrier, using similar map tools that they actually used for planning back then.  I'd like to be able to have enough sea room and time to develop a full blown plan, and then communicate that to my subordinates, but let them interpret and manage those orders their way.  As the enemy is detected, I'd like to have the challenges of getting my planes airborne and grouped together in a timely manner like the commanders experienced in the early war, and be faced with the difficult decision of whether to wait until my units get coordinated, or send them on their way piecemeal.  I want the units to have trouble finding the enemy, challenges maintaining cohesion, and I want the challenge of interpreting battle results from pilot reports after the strike.  When the enemy attacks, I want to feel the smoke and confusion of battle, the challenge of continuing to plan while the ship is maneuvering radically and being hit by bombs.

And so on.
Well, I'll take the risk of sounding boring by telling you that we fully intend to have all of this from the get-go.  ^-^


Quote
If you've played SoW then you'll know what I mean.  Once the battle is truly joined, your ability to control things rapidly diminishes.  Most of the really important decisions take place before the enemy is even found, and then early in the battle.  I think there are similarities between that and carrier warfare, where the really important decisions are made early in the battle.  Once the enemy carriers are spotted and the strikes are on their way, there's really very little for the commander to do. 

I knew this was going to be hard to explain, and I'm rambling, but..well there it is.

Well, yeah, that's the problem with Carrier combat though, it's that I am not sure people will find the tension waiting for the strike to reach its target absolutely nail-biting. Arleigh Burke (if I am not mistaken) used to say that he was exchanging fishing stories with Mitscher waiting for the flight packages to come back. Fortunately early war CV to CV combat will provide ample opportunities for pleasantries exchanges with the enemy, so it shouldn't be as void as it sounds - but that is also why difficulty and realism settings will be tweakable. If you want a full experience from the flag plot and the CV island side catwalk, it will be possible. If you want to enable 3D view, and disable friendly FoW in order to follow your planes around and watch them fight, it is possible too. One size might not fit all, but we are bringing the whole shop with us.

Besides, fear not, we intend on having a replay module (with full 3D functionality, actual and hidden message logs, detailed damages, etc...) that will allow you to analyze the action as a all-knowing post-combat feature, so that you might pick the highest realism setting and still have the possibility of checking how your birds performed and did their job after the battle. After all, it would be rather awkward to have a great 3D engine and prevent you from taking nice screenshots for your AAR, wouldn't it  >:D



Every time an update is posted here I just kind of blubber incoherently and clap very loudly emitting squeals like and excited child. 

So you're doing better than me.

Awwww. You are a good man. You certainly deserve a treat!
Here's Julien Lepelletier's latest version of the commission he kindly took for us. He added the whole TF action, and apart from a few tweaks to the clouds it is pretty much ready. That would make for a great mouse mat for the collector edition, don't ya think?  :smitten:

A question for you Ladies & Gents: who's the guy flying this one?



Look at that beauty, you can nearly hear the Twin Wasp roar from here!







« Last Edit: May 19, 2019, 04:33:54 AM by The_Admiral »

Online Staggerwing

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Re: Carriers at War
« Reply #119 on: May 19, 2019, 05:41:18 AM »
One of these two guys?




If so, I'm guessing Thatch, because the scene looks like Midway and I think O'hare was Stateside then.
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