Paul Grace: VP of Janes Combat Simulations and Executive Producer of Aegis and 688i
The term 'aegis' originally meant the shield of Zeus, supreme deity of the ancient Greeks, and that of his daughter Athena, the goddess of wisdom, and has come to mean protection or sponsorship. Some years back the term was applied to a new naval platform which mounted some of the most sophisticated weapons and tracking systems yet devised.
The Aegis system was designed as a total weapon system, from detection to kill.
The heart of the system is an advanced, automatic detect and track, multi-function phased-array radar, the AN/SPY-1. This high powered (four megawatt) radar is able to perform search, track and missile guidance functions simultaneously with a track capacity of over 100 targets. The first Engineering Development Model (EDM-1) was installed in the test ship, USS Norton Sound (AVM 1) in 1973.
Technological advances have improved the capability of modern destroyers culminating in the Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) class. Named for the Navy's most famous destroyer squadron combat commander and three-time Chief of Naval Operations, the Arleigh Burke was commissioned on the 4th of July, 1991 and was the most powerful surface combatant ever put to sea. Like the larger Ticonderoga class cruisers, DDG-51's combat systems center around the AEGIS combat system and the SPY-lD, multi-function phased array radar. The combination of AEGIS, the Vertical Launching System, an advanced anti-submarine warfare system, advanced anti-aircraft missiles and Tomahawk ASM/LAM, the Burke class continues a revolution at sea.
DDG 51s were constructed in flights, allowing technological advances during construction. Flight II, introduced in FY 1992, incorporates improvements to the SPY radar and the Standard missile, active electronic countermeasures and communications. Flight IIA, introduced in fiscal year 1994, added a helicopter hangar with one anti-submarine helicopter and one armed attack helicopter. The Aegis program has also projected reducing the cost of each Flight IIA ship by at least $30 million.
What does all this have to do with Paul Grace and EA? I'm glad you asked! Paul Grace and the design team responsible for 688i have been working hard to bring an under ice campaign to 688i. Better yet, there is a second simulation in the series that will allow for joint surface/undersea missions with 688i. YES! This is the second installment of a naval virtual battlefield!
Without further ado, lets let Paul Grace tell us about it:
Thanks for taking the time, Paul! As you know, interest in 688I
remains high. How have you felt about the reception given 688I?
Paul: Well, you can never sell too many units! :-)
I've been very pleased with the reception from the "community", probably
best represented on comp.sys.pc.games.naval The feedback was helpful, and
drove us to make some changes as quickly as we could. That being done, the
group has been helpful to other readers, and pretty balanced. We are using
a lot of the input for the next game from Sonalysts.
Csim: Lets cover a little history here. At what stage in the planning did you
decide you would do a separate under the ice campaign, and why?
Paul: We talked about the concepts during the design of the original product.
Typically when you sit down to do a game, there are a lot more good ideas
than you could possibly ship in a product. Not that you can't do them all,
but you shouldn't do them all--each "new" thing you want to add will burden
the project with risk--schedule, technology, etc. During the development you
go through an editing stage, where a lot of good ideas are put into the
"Data Disk" shelf, awaiting the time to complete them. Under the Ice was
one of those things. It combined a technical challage (visualizing the ice
effect) with a whole group of tactical operations in one convenient module.
Seemed a "no-brainer" to hold this for the follow-on.
General Characteristics, Arleigh Burke Class
- Builders: Bath Iron Works, Ingalls Shipbuilding
- Power Plant: Four General Electric LM 2500-30 gas turbines; two shafts, 100,000 total shaft horsepower.
- Length: 466 feet (142 meters)
- Beam: 59 feet (18 meters)
- Displacement: 8,300 tons (7,470 metric tons) full load
- Speed: 31 knots (35.7 mph, 57.1 kph)
- Aircraft: None. LAMPS III electronics installed on landing deck for coordinated DDG 51/helo ASW operations
Csim: What is involved in the design of this new campaign that made it wise to
separate it from the original product?
Paul: See above-- the technical risk, the calendar risk, add to that the large
number of missions that we would want to do if we had that technology done.
Csim: Are Sonalysts involved in this new campaign also?
Paul: 100% Sonalysts is the designer and developer for the Jane's Naval line
right now. They have expertise that no other developer has. We want to
build a variety of titles with them.
Csim: Tell us about the campaign itself. What is the political background. How is
the campaign executed?
Paul: The basic flow is similar to the original 688. We have not decided to do a
dynamic campaign in 688, it is a huge sink for play balance, and in my
opinion the missions presented are not well tuned. Yes they are replayable,
and that is a big advantage. They are, again in my opinion, not as fun,
they seem mechanical. I know I differ from a lot of players on this
subject, and we have created a number of behaviors which will address the
replayability issue, plus the multiplayer game allows users to design
scenarios and play with each other, and that of course is infinitely
As for the politcal background, we are extending the political
situation directly from 688. I don't want to go into details, but we
deliberately left out under the ice missions from 688 because we knew we were
doing them in the campaign disk.
Csim: What about difficulty level overall. Is the AI for this campaign identical
Paul: Sonalysts has extended the AI with particular attention to behaviors that
will increase replayability. As far as difficulty, the missions are about
the same in difficulty, but since they will be different each play-through
you will not be able to anticipate what is going to happen. Overall it will
Csim: Will we see a new enemy sub type in the under ice campaign?
Paul: We're not sure. It's not too difficult, and it is more appropriate for this
Csim: What other enhancements will we see to the 688 engine in this campaign?
Paul: A new graphics renderer, more objects, 3D hardware support top the list.
Csim: Everyone who pilots the 688I knows by now that there is a fantastic surface
simulation coming in the new year based on the Aegis class ship. You must be
pretty excited about this direction! Can you tell us about the design concept
here? What will game play look like with this new sim in multiplay with 688I?
Paul: The design is really different, and it's still expanding. As far as the multi-play element is concerned, it will be transparent to both players. The 688
player will see what he sees in the normal game, the interface will be the
same. The Aegis player will see his game unchanged as well. The only
difference is that the skimmer and the sub will be operated by humans. If
the Aegis player wants a 688 to run a screen, and the "human" sub decides to
run away, then the sub runs away. Nothing can be done. If your sub driver
is great, you have a strong force multiplyer. If he's weak, then you'd
better be good at running ASW.
Regarding interoperability, I'm more than excited--the whole Jane's line
ill be moving toward complete compatibility wherever it makes sense (Fokker
DR-1s against 688s doesn't make sense). 688/Aegis will probably be first, but
I guarantee you it won't be the last. Mind you, not everthing shipping this
year will be interoperable, but very soon.
Csim: Will we see a greater integration of surface and under sea warfare with the
Paul: Much greater. That is really the thrust of Aegis. Combined
air/surface/underwater operations, as fought by the US Navy.
Csim: We have been hearing from EA that a truly dynamic campaign in this kind of
simulation could potentially be quite boring. But SSI avoided this conclusion
by adding a monstrous time acceleration feature to their Silent Hunter
simulation that just cut out near an enemy encounter. Is this possible for
688I? Any chance we might eventually see a dynamic campaign engine in the
Paul: You can't have time compression with multiplayer, it doesn't work because
the time scales for the different players prohibits it. 688 will probably
never have a dynamic campaign. Aegis probably won't in the traditional
sense, we are going so far into combined operations that it won't be
relevant. Online will allow us dyanmic, persistant campaigns, but they will
be multiplayer. 688 will be compatible with that, so you can play a dynamic
campaign with 688, but I don't know if that is the spirit of your question.
Csim: Many players have requested the ability to pilot an advanced class of
Russian boat against the 688I in multiplayer mode. Is this on the design
board after the Aegis add on? Any clues as to what boat we might be
Paul: Russian boats will probably never be done. It's just too difficult to get
the information at the detail level that Sonalysts likes.
Csim: Jane's Combat Simulations has contributed a great deal to the simulation
scene in the past couple of years. On behalf of the sim community, thanks and
all the best with 688I and Aegis!!
Paul: Thanks so much. We are having a tremendous time working with Sonalysts, and
I personally love 688. Aegis is going to be a much broader game, and it's
incredibly exciting. The community has given us so much great feedback,
we're cranking! Thanks again!
To read the Janes Longbow 2 Preview go to:
Go to the Janes Combat Simulations Site.
© 1997 - 2000 COMBATSIM.COM, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Last Updated November 13th, 1997