Sorry for the lack of feedback – when May finally came, I found that our forces were needed on the frontlines, leaving us with little time for an actual, solid April update. Oh well, initially I feared that the stuff I had ready was a tad bit underwhelming. But now it looks like we are faced with the opposite problem, that is an embarrassment of riches on our hands. I made a small-ish selection of what should feature more prominently, and I sure hope that the menu will be agreeable enough!
Here’s the menu – click on the links if you want to jump to whatever interests you most. Otherwise, feel free to start your journey and – oh boy, believe me, it’s quite the journey!
As usual, much progress was witnessed on all fronts, but most importantly, the team has been kept busy throughout April with the assets needed for our teaser trailer and our Steam page. I doubt whoever is reading these lines has escaped the news, but here’s a link to our humble storefront.
Now, the Steam announcement was a big affair indeed, not the least because it came together with the officialization of our publishing deal with MicroProse. I thought that this update would be a good opportunity to share a few words about this agreement.
For those who would be too young to remember, MicroProse is a household name for everything strategy & simulation. It pretty much rhymed with the genre back in the 1990s, and we are happy to be on the frontlines for its rebirth as an independent, ambitious label along with our friends from the Second Front & Sea Power teams both joining at the same time. This agreement allows Task Force Admiral to reach a much wider audience, some additional financial security and, last but not least, an actual, genuine link to one legacy we haven’t ceased to honor during the early days of our development. If you see what we did there in the picture just below, computer games-wise you probably had a very happy childhood!
Indeed, Task Force 1942 and 1942: The Pacific Air War were seminal inspirations from the get-go, and it is safe to say that this game wouldn’t exist at all if it had not been for them. My own interest in the era and the theater directly stemmed from these roots, as MicroProse games used to come with extensive historical manuals and reference books which were to form the very basis of my WW2 PTO culture. To a 10 years-old kid living in France, dreaming about naval stories from days & places so remote it was a miracle in itself that I got to know about them, these precious nuggets of knowledge and history were worth their weight in gold. Game-design wise, the influence of the combat map of Task Force, the choice of a 1st person bridge view or the Carrier Battles mode of Pacific Air War were probably obvious to those among you who indulged in the same hobbies. Be certain that we will only double our efforts to have our agenda stay close to this honorable lineage and reward you – and ourselves – with the pleasure of experiencing that sort of immersive thrill again. Tim Stone at Rock Paper Shotgun, always the true Gentleman, is willing to give us the benefit of the doubt when it comes to following in the steps of our elders – please bear with us, and hopefully we might deliver just that 🙂
Last but not least, this partnership came also with the nice perk of providing with with a dedicated Discord platform. Discord users who want to follow the development from up close and interact with us regularly are welcome to hit that button and join! This Discord server will also be used to host our internal development channels, so expect to come across a few major players down there who were kind enough to accept to advise us on technical aspects. More about that in the June update.
Press Gang : Them Friendly News
In the wake of our Steam page & publishing deal announcement, we were blessed with the kind coverage of several noted experts of our little niche.
First of all, we would like to thank Magz who made a full segment about us on his Youtube channel MagzTV. Jump beyond the first minute if you want to go directly to the original content. Some of the footage is actually from an earlier build and was captured back in November last year, but you will also get to see longer sequences taken from scenes specifically filmed for the May Steam teaser.
It is refreshing to know that there are some people out there with the actual knowledge & historical background who are interested enough in the game to provide that sort of educated commentary. We sure are grateful for the positive feedback, and we will make sure to follow up with a proper interview in no time. Don’t forget to drop Magz and his video a like, and subscribe for more of that great simulation & wargame-related content of his.
We were also happy to be mentioned along with the rest of the new MicroProse line up in the latest issue of the Single Malt Strategy podcast, dedicated to the clever kind of strategy games. The Strategy Wargamer, TortugaPower & The Historical Gamer talk about how they feel following the reveal and what they expect from the return of MicroProse. We have talked a lot in the past at a time the publishing deal wasn’t public just yet, and I am sure that we will have a lot to talk about in the future. At any rate, we will do our best not to let you down, guys!
In the meantime, if you want to jump directly to the part about us, Sea Power and Second Front, here’s the menu!
More coverage is expected in the days to come (crossing fingers!). In the meantime, besides the Task Force Admiral-specific content, don’t forget to pay a visit to the websites which covered in deeper details the return of MicroProse, including this interview from David Lagettie, MicroProse’s CEO, and Wild Bill Stealey, one of the original founders himself – a great read!
Pressing Matters : April Anniversaries
April is synonymous with a certain legendary event that took off the flight deck of USS Hornet 78 years ago. We couldn’t ignore this opportunity to give the lady a well-deserved shout. As the last Doolittle raider veteran sadly passed away a year ago, it is all the more important to contribute at our own humble level. Let’s start with some beautiful digital art by our resident artist Julien.
Early on in the drawing process our Twitter & Facebook community had a preview when she didn’t have her planes just yet. Some among you pointed out that she was very pretty like that already – so here are two versions of Hornet for you to enjoy: one with the planes, and one without. Click on this link to download the wallpaper version for those who fancy having a big, beautiful carrier on their desktop.
Please feel free to download both paintings in high resolution by clicking on this link, and make Hornet your new desktop wallpaper. Come on, don’t be shy!
As you can see below, Hornet is nearing completion in her 3D form too. The greenlighting of Hornet being more of a stop-gap affair in the years before the war, she was only commissioned in October 1941. By then, Yorktown had been in service for more than four years, and Enterprise three and a half years. A lot had been learned in the meantime, and she was designed with a few modifications. Some of these were external, as you can see for yourself on these screenshots where the conning tower of Yorktown, Enterprise, and Hornet are placed next to each other. Others not so much, including probably the single most important improvement she received: an early version of what was to become the ubiquitous Command Information Center (CIC), a room that has been present in a form or another aboard most American fighting ships since then.
Please note that there is still a lot of work ahead of us – the sisters are yet to be fitted with their full sensor array – but we want to make sure that the main subclasses on the US side all receive fair treatment. Can’t be perfect of course, but we’ll do what we can – after all, to our knowledge, it is the first time that anybody has tried to recreate them separately in a video game.
As you could already see with the Yorktown sisters above, our 3D artist Rizki had a very busy April. As a nod to her fate 75 years ago, he also tackled a monument that many of you wanted to see for some time: the most famous floating 5-star hotel in the South Seas area, a.k.a. Lady Yamato.
As some sort of bonus, here she is the configuration she had when she went down in April 1945. By then, she had received a major increase in anti-air firepower at the expense of her secondary batteries. This did not make much of a difference eventually, except esthetically that is of course – look at that monster!
These Yamato models are still to undergo the detail analysis that will make sure that every configuration is as accurate as it can get. We’re not there yet, so just cut us some slack for the time being and enjoy her nice shapes. We’ll get back to her in due time!
Under Pressure : Tales of Models & Rivet Counters
Yamato is only one of our numerous models to reach this stage. I cannot stress enough the great proficiency of Rizki’s work, which is made all the more apparent by the line-up you can admire below. The sheer amount of ships is a reassuring thought – and an exciting one too. We are firmly on schedule, and our way to deliver you with one of the most complete 3D rosters ever to have seen the light of day on this topic. As you know, our objective is to remake no less than 90+ ship models needed for the carrier battles of 1942 – and as you can see for yourself, I’d say we’re 30% there. Of course, the road is still long, but give us your support and I don’t doubt that we will get there eventually!
This allows me to give the spotlight to our ship research group and to the tremendous work it has been providing for weeks now, all in order to provide you with the most accurate visual experience one can hope for. Granted, none of these models is going to put World of Warships or Warthunder to shame considering our limited polycount budget, but I cannot hide my admiration for the professionalism our advisors have been displaying so far. Because pictures sometimes speak more sense than a thousand words, just look at this and marvel at the work that went into this very selfless rivet-counting duty!
Akos and Ian were the contributors in this case. Akos is the curator of his own blog dedicated to warships that sometimes were – and many others that never came to be. His website, warship projects is a great source of information for some fan-favorite monsters the likes of Yamato or the US interwar battlecruiser program. A lot of good, well-informed reading to have by simply clicking on the banner below:
Ian is one of the co-founders of Shipbucket, a web community dedicated to producing ship and aircraft drawings of all eras in a uniform scale and style. Shipbucket’s archive of nearly 8500 naval drawings can be browsed here, at http://shipbucket.com. If it ever floated, Shipbucket probably has a plan for it!
The archive is continuously updated with new work and has an extensive USN & IJN collection. Besides, the Shipbucket community has a rather dynamic discord server that you can join freely by clicking on the link below.
Press to Release : Development, ahoy!
Naturally, during all this time Jean-Baptiste our developer was also very busy all this type with his own under-the-hood kind of business. In order to look pretty for the teaser, the game had first to undergo some accurate & efficient tweaking.
The FX and the air-to-air ballistics were worked on to allow for some of the shots you see in the teaser, with the integration of new tech to the engine. Explosions look more convincing, light and heavy Flak both look deadly – and muzzle flashes sure are impressive. Here’s another look at the teaser where some of these effects are showcased. They will do nicely as placeholders in the eye candy department until we find time to improve them somewhat.
Another topic that kept Jean-Baptiste busy was vegetation management. The conundrum here is that we want trees to look convincing from any distance – that is, both thick & pretty – while keeping performance at a reasonable level. Naturally, it is easier said than done, and a lot of coding and experimental effort had to go in what might sound like a pretty mundane task – but a strategic one in a theater-like SOPAC, the landmasses of which are pretty much all covered with jungle terrain.
Finally, the 3D world didn’t only get populated with new features on the surface, it also developed into a much more complex affair ashore. By using the data extracted from the awesome GEBCO Grid bathymetric initiative, we were able to reconstitute accurately the coastline in-game, not leaving a single shoal or sandbar untouched. With this level of detail, you will now understand why iconic areas such as the Iron Bottom Sound required ships to use specific, well-identified channels in order not to run ground and possibly bring their whole task force to a halt – and their mission to an end.
As a US Navy flag officer who would have advanced his career in the interwar years, the memory of the so-called Honda Point disaster in 1923 is certainly still vivid, and you might want to avoid making a WW2-rendition of the event – that is, if you want to keep your command operational for your next encounter with the Imperial Japanese Navy!
We also added a few effects to the coastal waters in order to make the surf look a bit more relatable. So far so good I’d say – so much that I’d definitely go out there have a digital cocktail by the beach or attempt some good old surfin’, if there were not more pressing matters to address first. And believe me, these have never been in greater number …
The next stage will be primarily about refining Air Ops planning. This means a lot of work happening behind the scenes, and perhaps fewer colorful screenshots indeed. But as one of these functions which fuel the core experience of the game, Air Ops have to be as well-thought as possible right off the bat. More on this in the next update, or so I hope!