Making waves!

A follow-up to our earlier announcement

Ah dear, this post took its sweet time! Here it is, at last. It sure was not a short one to write, but hopefully those who might find an interest in the game will probably appreciate getting to know it – and know us – a bit better. Still, in order to make this wall of text a little bit friendlier to the eye, we inserted some of our latest pics and videos for you to watch. Let’s go!

A big thanks and a few apologies

First of all, I want to tell you all people how much of a joyful ride these last 10 days have been. Following the announcement of the game, we were blessed with a very positive coverage of our humble tech demo. Gotta thanks Magz, the History Guy & Tim Stone for their support and their kind words, not to mention other gentlemen (Hetstaine from the Il2 subreddit, Spelk from the Computer Wargames subreddit, Rocketman from A Few Good Men…) whose posts definitely helped raise awareness. Following this initial powerful kickstart, it seems that Youtube algorithms have taken the lead and are providing us with a constant flux of new visitors and – hopefully – followers.

Big thanks also to 总捅达人 for sharing our video on Bilibili, which is the closest thing to Youtube the Chinese internet offers these days. With more than 10k views already, he reminds us of the potential of our Chinese audience. Exchanging with the Chinese players so far has been a treat and a great, original personal experience. It’s a good thing that I happened to speak a few words of mandarin too, it helps with the overall mood 🙂

Overall the number of people interested in knowing more about the project comforts us in the idea that such a game was long overdue. We will move forward confident about the potential of our game – but all the more aware that we will have to do right by you and your expectations.

Finally, I wanted to personally apologize for the time it took me to post this new article, and for my lack of reactivity when it came to replying to new comments last weekend. I happen to be often away from the computer and from my social tools due to my real-life job. I suppose community management requires much more time than I have right now in my hands, but as long as we are self-financing this project, I will have to make both worlds work together in the long term. Still, sorry if I have not answered your comment, your email or your request just yet, I might need some more time to catch up with all the stuff in our mailbox! Now, about the game…

Wait, what kind of game is that anyway?

We are happy to see that our original bet based on the premise of making a game at the crossroads of different genres was confirmed by the reactions we have seen so far. The game resonates with digital veterans from the Il-2, Battlestations, World of Warships, War Thunder, Task Force/Great Naval Battles fanbases alike, all for different reasons, and we are grateful for the enthusiasm they have showed to us. Granted, we have been witnessing a few charming occurrences of worlds colliding – for instance when it comes to decide what’s “good looking in 2019” – but overall, people either praise the graphics, or otherwise are ready to cut us some slack because there’s nothing else to play on the topic, so… so far so good!

But with this community blossoming before our eyes come responsibilities. One of them is to keep you entertained in order not to lose you along the way of this long development, of course, but the other one is all the more critical to the trust we are building between you and us.

Coming from different backgrounds, each and everyone of you hopes to find in Task Force Admiral that follow-up to the game that meant so much years ago. But we have also to come clean about what this game is and what it isn’t, if we want to start this journey on the right foot. In order to give you a practical idea of what we are making here, I decided unimaginatively to invoke the spirit of our elders and betters in order to illustrate our vision using more commonly-known experiences. It is not a 1:1 thing, but it will help :

  • The Wargaming/Strategy gameplay is SSG Carriers at War on steroids – that is with pausable real-time instead of Run5 (which was, by all means, a way to emulate real-time back then), advanced carrier ops and proper surface combat ;
  • The C3i management, the fog of war and the narration is more akin Radio Commander. Although you will not have to place your counters on the map by yourself, you will still have to rely on an inaccurate picture in a chaotic environment ;
  • In the event of a gun engagement, surface combat itself will be SSI Fighting Steel grade. Don’t expect it to be as innovative as carrier ops will be, but at the very least you will have a workable, enjoyable experience if a slugfest was to take place ;
  • Finally, the environment itself is “sim-like”, that is close to what you would expect from Il-2 Great Battles or Il-2 1946, for instance. It is somewhere in between, in terms of graphics, physics and the likes. Although we will make sure to have a good base for further development in this direction, for now you will not be able to man the guns or fly the planes: it is a command simulation, not a flight simulation.

We hope it makes sense. We’re not cloning Carriers at War. We’re not remaking Battlestations. Or designing a PTO Il-2. It’s a new game, but with familiar traits that most of you can relate to, in a way or another. At any rate, for further info, don’t hesitate to browse this website – or wait until we finally release our first actual gameplay video, this should help you to make up your mind too!

Regarding why the game is about the US Navy (again!)

Alright. There were a few other comments, some showing disappointment, some showing deeper feelings, regarding our choice to focus the first volume on the US Navy (USN). I thought it would be a good opportunity to clarify the reasons of such a choice in here.

First of all, unlike what some people might be thinking, this was not an easy choice to make at all. Everybody in the team, of course, is quite passionate and knowledgeable about the War in the Pacific and all the same frustrated by the limits we had to set for ourselves. But eventually, this choice ended up as the most logical thing to do, for several reasons – please bear with us :

  • We had to make sure that the very first product would reflect properly the gameplay we envision for the series. In that regard, the command decisions you have to make are, for some of them, based on actual events happening right then, right there in the stressful environment of the flag plot. In regard of historical accuracy, details about these moments in history are much more accessible in the existing literature dedicated to the woes and conundrums of carrier command on the US side. You will find plenty anecdotes of that kind in books the likes of J.Lundstrom’s Black Shoe Carrier Admiral, providing us with readily available historical contents that we would be silly not to adapt. Why dramatize and make up things when you have this sort of resources at hand? In that regard, a Japanese version of this system will eventually shine all the same, but will require much more research in order to come up with a convincing, comparable experience. And I am not even mentioning the additional work needed to bring a Japanese command simulation to the same level of polish as the one we plan for this game (aka hundreds of lines recorded for radio traffic, custom art & music, 30+ portraits, etc…). From that perspective, which is the need to be realistic about our means while doing the best job possible, it felt like that limiting ourselves to the USN was a better choice in order to make sure we are doing right by one single side, instead of botching up the work on both. We want to deliver a carefully-crafted jewel, not just a rough diamond.
  • Besides, in terms of gameplay modes, we had to limit ourselves to single engagements (aka single battles: Coral Sea, Midway, Eastern Solomons, etc.). In that regard, the narrative is arguably more attractive on the US side than it is for the IJN. From December 1941 all the way to the Enterprise vs the Japan period, the USN is the underdog, on the brink of losing everything in every single battle. Even Midway, because of all the shortcomings and mistakes we are well aware of, is as dramatic as a victory gets. What do we mean by that? We mean that historical single scenarios are not necessarily the best way to introduce IJN to our peculiar gameplay right off the bat. We are convinced that one really needs to provide the IJN player with more options in order not to frustrate the player base, and by that (beyond the obvious what-ifs) we mean some sort of campaign-based gameplay, allowing for dynamic setups which will, in return, provide dynamic results. We were not ready for this in Vol.1 just yet, and we decided to start small, but nice & beautiful.
  • Finally, I have to mention the undeniable pragmatic advantage of going USN: the audience is huge. Although it might be the result of a bias of confirmation, preliminary metrics show that we are doing very well with the US audience so far, and this is encouraging for the future of the game. As we explain later on in the next section, we need a strong start if we want our next stages to happen at all, and it felt that this was also the safer road to get there. Still, our feeling – not just based on the metrics, but also on the fact that our core team happens to be made of three Frenchmen and one Indonesian fellow – show that USN battle history, and carrier battles in the Pacific Theater more generally DO appeal to a much broader audience than just American history buffs. We are the living proof that the topic transcends its natural cultural base, and we are not worried about players (including Japanese players) enjoying our game despite these necessary, albeit disappointing limitations. Of note, the only wargame released about this topic in the last five years was Carrier Battles for Guadalcanal for iOS, which happens to be designed by a French gentleman too, which is yet again a telling illustration of the broader appeal of this topic (by the way, please do not hesitate to pay their website a visit and say hi, they will release a PC version shortly. Highly recommended!)

Regarding the Imperial Japanese Navy and the Royal Navy

Besides explaining why we went for the US Navy first, I suppose it is important to say where we stand when it comes to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) and the Royal Navy (RN) – not to mention the ANZAC squadron and other Allied forces.

First of all, I want to make things clear: our current focus on the USN doesn’t mean that we have no love for other navies. Quite the opposite actually, if you look at the facts: go check our warship feature list on this very site, and you will see that we ambition to have the most extensive collection of 3D IJN warships in the history of gaming since, probably, 1942:The Pacific Air War (or Fighting Steel in its NWS form). Furthermore, we will do right by some of these ships like no-one did ever before, by making sure that each Kongo class battleship gets its specifics done right, or every Japanese DD subclass gets its own treatment. We do not plan on giving these ships a lesser treatment than the one we will give to the player’s own units, and for a good reason: we fully intend to make them playable sooner than later.

We were not very vocal about it before because we did not want to sound too preposterous by talking about future plans while the first game isn’t even nearly there, but – believe us – it is already all part of a larger picture. The same way the USN and the USMC hopped from an island to the next (if I might be allowed to make this dubious historical parallel…) our roadmap is made so that we will build and consolidate a solid base with the first volume, and then expand progressively afterwards methodically, step by step. We might further expand the scope of the game vertically – onto new game modes, larger or smaller scales of command – but also horizontally, to other services and theatres.

As said previously, Task Force Admiral Volume 1 already introduce most of the ships in service in the IJN in 1942 – Volume 2 will be built on these strong foundations, and bring the Japanese side up to the level of simulation and flavor the US side will enjoy in Volume 1. But making the Japanese playable implies opening the game scope to new theaters – Oahu, Indonesia or the Aleutians, true enough, but the Indian Ocean too. The same way we will complete the US line-up in order to properly recreate Pearl Harbor then, we will need to simulate the Royal Navy and the Fleet Air Arm in all their glory too. Once the Royal Navy will be accounted for, it will be time to move to other latitudes, taking advantage of the RN ships to explore the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, and so on. As the saying goes, it’s all part of the plan!

Good things take time, and believe us, restricting ourselves is as much a torture to us than it is to you. But we are convinced that this game universe and its engine are destined to great things, and as such we fully intend to make the best use of both. So no worries, we got your covered, but we need to impose ourselves some self-discipline, we need you to be patient, and more than anything, we need your on-going trust and support in our quest – for the road is long, but we will get there, eventually.

This brings me to the last point of the day. We have started our community building – which is not a small feat, considering we went for several social platforms from the get-go. Along the way, Youtube unexpectedly became our largest hub (with more than 450 subscribers in total, most of them in a matter of days) and we started to post on Bilibili too, which has social functions Youtube doesn’t feature – and might very well become our mainstay platform for our Chinese audience. Twitter and Facebook are faring alright I’d say, but it is disconcerting to end up having the actual social platform trailing the pack in terms of exposure and numbers. In that regard, we thank in advance any supporter who will be willing to become our subscriber, whether it’s on Facebook or Twitter. Any new follower adds mechanically to the traction overall, and it is always more pleasing to post new contents when you know that people will actually get to see it. You are welcome to head over to our social accounts if you want to see the kind of features that are embedded in this post without having to wait for the next devblog!

Pheeew. That was quite the long exposé. I promise to be more concise in the future – but some things were in need of a statement, and hopefully these additional facts will make sense to those among you who had their doubts.

Allow me in the name of the whole team to wholeheartedly thank again all those who decided to trust us with their expectations lately. It is truly a pleasure and an honor both to know that our audience is made of so many passionate and dedicated souls, and we can’t wait to repay your kindness with some more in-game contents. Stay tuned for more news in the weeks to come – and in the meantime, fly & sail safe!

o7 to all.

Amiral & the DDG Team

3 Comments on “Making waves!

  1. Pingback: New Year's Resolutions – Drydock Dreams Games

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