On Wednesday evening I flew into San Francisco to spend time with the SSI crew. While vaulting about their new offices north of town I had a chance to meet with the Ultimation crew as well as talk to Rick Martinez, Sean Decker and Carl Norman. This brief report will clue you in to the immediate news and next week I'll have in-depth reports on Destroyer Command, Su39, and Harpoon4. We'll also have new screens from Silent Hunter II and a new title that I'll save for later.
First the sad news: Silent Hunter II and Destroyer Command have been delayed til Q2, 2000. Harpoon4 is likely to show up in the summer or fall. Some of these changes have been inevitable as a result of changes in the composition of the production teams.
Next the good news: delays often mean improvements, and these delays make it even more likely that we will see an inter-operable pair in Destroyer Command and Silent Hunter II! The goal is to build these two together so that you can man the U-boats, or provide the escort buffer to face the wolf packs. Both games are looking great and will provide a unique entry into the naval simulation genre.
It's a bit eerie watching the rolling seas in Silent Hunter II and in Destroyer Command. The graphics I saw are still quite early and we will even see white caps on rough seas, while a complete weather system will complicate tactics.
The destroyer class of ship came into existence as a weapon against the torpedo boat, which itself arose as a cheap weapon against capital ships. The destroyer was in fact developed out of torpedo boat design. Destroyers were larger and more durable than torpedo boats, and began to serve as scout ships for the fleet.
Eventually the destroyer became the general workhorse of the world's navies. The destroyer was a significant force in the convoy escort duties in the Atlantic and for much of the war was the only protection afforded to the merchant ships who carried supplies and troops to the Allies in Europe. In that role the destroyer ran head to head against the feared U-boat packs who prowled the Atlantic looking for targets.
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Harpoon4 will build on its predecessor while expanding tactical command and building an order of battle that is beyond even the board game.
At the same time one of the concerns of the team is to make Harpoon4 more accessible to novices than Harpoon II. Watch for a more intuitive interface and easier access to automated features. Players will be able to access levels of control in accord with their interest and tactical ability.
Goroshov carrier from Harpoon4
The 3d interface will be reminiscent of TAW, but with the ability to bring up multiple windows. I asked Dave Bringhurst at Ultimation about the possibility of dual monitor support so that one could keep the 3d window in a full screen while accessing control windows on a separate display. Dave would like to include such a feature, but it will depend on the production schedule.
Flanker 2 and the Digital Combat Series: Su 39
Take Flanker 2. Stir in one ground war. Add a large clump of Su39s (the navalized version of the Su25). Now bake a stand alone simulation that is connectable to the Flanker 2 world. Voila! You have Su39, slated for release late in 2000.
The goal is to expand the Flanker 2 world and increase the gameplay and the fun. The new game would include enhanced tactical and command options, granting the player greater control over his wingman and flight. Enhanced communications might also include AWACS and Forward Air Controllers. But there is lots more to tell on Su39, and you'll have to wait until after the weekend.
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