Ladies & gentlemen, welcome back!
Alright. We certainly owe an apology to those who have been following us only through this website. Truth is, over the course of the last few months, the hectic rhythm of development led us to an awkward situation. We would be sharing often on social networks – that is on the average two to three times a week – and amass a considerate amount of contents. Still, each time, as the producer, I felt that I would be better off waiting a little longer to offer a proper, lengthy summary of our latest activities. Then holidays happened (yes, they were a thing in France this year in these trouble times still!). Once we were back from them lovely Summer beaches, we ended up in no time with much more content than a single update could possibly feature. It is time now to somewhat atone for this unreasonable conduct by providing you with a selection of the best stuff Summer had to offer. After that, smaller and more regular updates shall follow in order to quench your thirst for further Task Force Admiral-related delicacies.
As usual, here’s the menu for the day. Feel free to jump to the chapters you fancy best. A small disclaimer – some of the content was covered in our Steam mid-Summer update, which you can access by clicking here. Still, we have some extra info and media that we did not reveal back then, so please stick with us, you shall not be disappointed!
Among other news, we are on track to deliver our first fully operational battleset for the game, so that we might start experimenting on scenario building proper with all the needed actors in place. For now, we will focus our efforts on the ships and the planes which took part to Operation MO in order to turn this – relatively – simple series of engagements into a showcase of the engine and the gameplay. More on that below after this intro.
We also made great progress in terms of air artificial intelligence behavior, air planning tools and logics, while steaming at good speed in the art department too. Day after day, Task Force Admiral looks a bit more like an actual game with a community of followers rather than a mere hobby shooting from the hip, and for that I am grateful to our hard-working team members and our dedicated fans.
Most of our tech is still in its infancy though, so we’ll leave a sneak peek here for the moment, to give you an idea of the sort of tools we currently have in the making. These are far from final and most of the content is using placeholders. I trust that our audience is mature and smart enough to appreciate the work in progress for what it is worth. No worries, polish is coming, we will uphold our high production values – but as a rule, substance always shall always come before style. What you see below is an early prototype we shared earlier this month on our social media – those who are long-time players of naval wargames will certainly understand better than anyone the implications of what they have under their eyes. We’re getting there, one step at a time!
Over the last few months, we started to post regularly on our Steam page and our discord channel, in addition to Twitter, Facebook and Bili Bili. It is now kind of hard to miss us, but who knows – that might still happen. At any rate, don’t forget to check regularly over there if you want your weekly fix, so far we have never failed to deliver!
The Battle of the Coral Sea, the first actual carrier battle in history, is a captivating and seminal event which will feature to no small degree in our volume 1. We started assembling the forces which were involved in the different phases of the battle – the carrier fight of the last day, of course, but also the action of the previous day and the invasion of Tulagi too.
Fought in a most confusing matter, with plenty of failed opportunities, experiments and incidents of all sorts, the Coral Sea is the perfect benchmark for our gameplay system. If we manage to do it right, everything will be in place to answer the needs of the other carrier encounters of 1942, including Midway. The rich order of battle requires a lot of different models to be included from the get-go, in the air and on the sea. Today we will start small but strong with the most iconic forces – that is Task Force 17/11/44 and its Japanese counterpart, centered around Carrier Division 5.
These ships already offer a good diversity. Task Force 11 and 17, which assembled a few days before the climax of the battle, provided the force with a solid array of heavy cruisers and a large destroyer screen used to air operations, as Destroyer Squadron 1 had been provided escort to USS Lexington and Destroyer Squadron 2 to USS Yorktown since the early days of the war. Having already operated closely together back in March during the air attack against Lae, the men and the ships offered a cohesive lot, and had as much experience as one could hope for an Allied formation that early in the war.
Besides the American ships, the Allied order of battle notably also included HMAS Australia and HMAS Hobart, as part of the ANZAC squadron under Task Force 44 and Admiral Crace’s (RAN) command. At the time of the carrier engagement proper, Task Force 44 had been detached for surface interdiction of the straits leading to Port Moresby, and also included USS Chicago (CA-29) together with three destroyers.
Finally, the unfortunate USS Neosho and USS Sims complete the Allied order of battle. Hammered mercilessly by the Japanese fliers who tragically mistook them for a carrier and a cruiser, the ordeal of the surviving crew members lasted for days, as they simply vanished from the radio net, unable to provide friendly forces with an accurate position. As the commander of TF-17, it will be your job to find them and rescue the survivors as soon as the flow of the battle will allow it.
On the Japanese side, Shokaku and Zuikaku led a relatively simple force made of Cruiser Division 5’s Myoko and Haguro, screened by Destroyer Division 8’s Ushio and Akebono since they left Japan back in April. Ariake, Yugure, Shiratsuyu and Shigure of Destroyer Division 27 completed the formation. As mentioned by a keen eye in the audience, Ushio and Akebono do not have the right gun turrets as of now, and will be provided with them ASAP; just like Ariake and Yugure of the Hatsuharu class also depicted here, they were equipped with dual-purpose type B double turret mounts capable of high-elevation angle, which allowed them to function in an anti-air role – a rather important detail when dealing with a game about planes attacking ships…!
The remaining Japanese forces are still in the making, but as you can see below, we are already pretty advanced in regard of the short-lived Shoho, the first Japanese carrier sunk in the war during a textbook combined attack by the Lexington and the Yorktown airgroups.
Naturally, Coral Sea is only the beginning. We have a larger selection of scenario ideas brewing, some of which will push our engine to epic proportions. We communicated a work-in-progress document earlier this month, so there again allow us to share it with you. All of this is subject to change, but it should give you a good idea of what we are focusing our historical research on.
Here’s a little video feature about what we’ve been trying to achieve when it comes to Artificial Intelligence behavior when it comes to air to air combat. This sort of acrobatics were not the easiest thing to implement, but so far so good. We were happy enough with the result that we decided to make it into a video. This way please!
Our pixel combat pilots answer to changes in their tactical situation, dynamically & efficiently – or sometimes not so efficiently, which is the whole point. Sometimes they make subtle or more obvious mistakes, and they also take advantage of mistakes others make, providing eachand every engagement with a random outcome. No better way to illustrate this in a Pacific Theater environment than by showcasing the Thach Weave, the emblematic defensive dogfight maneuver named after its creator John S. Thach and used at Midway and Santa Cruz with spectacular results.
Naturally, AI combat works both ways. Do not expect your planes, as tough as they may be, to survive each and every encounter they have with the infamous Zero. Sometimes you make it through, sometimes you bite the dust…
We mentioned the ships earlier, but the ether is getting colorful above the Coral Sea too. We paid special attention to the IJN gang these last months.
The iconic 1942 carrier-borne trinity made of the Zero fighter, the Val dive bomber & the Kate torpedo bomber clashed for the first time with its American counterpart in May 1942, and taking care of this one line up will show up again in all the following carrier battles of 1942.
Also feel free to check out our large selection of Zero camos, from the Zuikaku, the Shokaku, the Shoho and the Tainan air groups. As you can see, we’re making sure that everything looks as authentic as possible down to individual planes.
In that we are helped by the precious expertise of Michael Claringbould, whose outstanding knowledge about the period and the topic allows Julien’s work to reach a most rewarding and satisfying level of accuracy. The great research of Michael Claringbould – and his co-author Peter Ingman – can be accessed in their book series called South Pacific Air War. If you are into military aviation history, tales of airborne bravery and desperate struggles, check them out, you will not regret it! Click on the picture below to access the collection on the publisher’s website, Avonmore Books.
That sort of attention to detail sure came rather handy when it was time for us to make our first collab with Christoph, the creator of the renowned Youtube channel Military Aviation History. As the online reference in his domain, it was really both a pleasure and a privilege to work with him on this feature dedicated to one plane you all love sooooo much. Well, time for you to get to know her more intimately too! One thing is certain: these countless hours our artist invested in the making of the original 3D model were not spent in vain!
Planes were not the only ones to have the privilege to parade around with shiny new feathers. Ships received some attention too. Here is our new, remade USS Yorktown 3D model exhibiting her 1942 Measure 12 camo, the garment she was wearing at her finest – yet final hour. She was helping us as a benchmark for our new in-game lighting system: we are not going for photorealism (that would be silly considering our resources) but we hope that we managed to catch the mood and the palette of the colourful South Pacific. You tell us!
Along with the plane paint schemes, these skins will be customizable in the mission builder from the get-go, as we will provide you with the very same tools we are using ourselves. Considering this interface is being developed for our own needs anyway, it would be silly not to go the extra mile. Prepare your paintbrushes!
All the while, our artists also had some fun with their virtual canvas. As the producer, I will refrain from commenting too much, but let’s say that everytime I look at this art, I feel very lucky to be surrounded by such a talented team.
First of all, sincere apologies for my mistake: our 3D artist Rizki had made a beautiful 3D composition to honor the heroes of the Doolittle raid, and although it had been shared on our social platforms, I had omitted it in our last update. This injustice has now been repaired!
Despite difficult times for him, his family and his country, Rizki has not been idle all this time. He has remained a faithful friend in adversity, and for that we are grateful to his dedication and his sense of duty. One of the great realizations of the Summer, as explained in the previous update, was the polishing of the three Yorktown sisters. Admire their differences in this series of wallpapers that we are happy and proud to share with you today :
Julien wasn’t idle either. He decided to test his talent further with a dramatic setting and a good old pagoda bridge. Ladies and gentlemen: Hiei, Hiryu… and a nasty storm!
Finally, last but not least, say hi to our latest artist: David Lagettie, the CEO of the reborn Microprose himself! David is passionate about everything he does, and it shows. When he is not managing a big serious sim company or our ever-growing label, he still finds some time to let his artistic senses express themselves. We were happy to subject TFA to this experiment, and believe me – we were not disappointed! Take a look at what he is making for us. I can tell you, beyond the art, it’s good to be published by someone who obviously knows his stuff. Enjoy it, you fellow Dauntless lovers!
Finally, pheeew! That was yet quite the update again. We promise to be more reasonable in the future – in the meantime, hopefully this one will be rich enough to keep you happy for a few more weeks. Don’t forget to regularly check our social accounts if you’re looking for more PTO love. Views, follows, wishlists, etc… are always welcome. Don’t forget either that you can always talk to us using the most obvious platform we have: our dear Steam community forums. Everything you post there & everything we post there will benefit the larger part of our audience, so don’t hesitate to use it to its fullest, it is there for you to thoroughly abuse for the Greater Good!
As always, cheers… And everybody, wherever you are, please stay safe!