World, Ahoy!

The state of Task Force Admiral as of October 2019

Fellow gamers, followers and virtual sailors of all kinds and all seas,

Welcome to our world, welcome to Task Force Admiral – welcome aboard! We’re breaking ground here, making waves for our first post on our humble dev blog.

It has been six months since our lead developer JB started to work full-time on the game. Finally; we are happy to use the opportunity offered by this brand new website to show our progress to our future audience. Most of the features you can read about in these pages are still in their infancy and might need some more work before going public. Still, in the following short tech demo reel you will be shown some of the features already unveiled to a few people around the internet in the course of the past summer. We hope that they still look solid enough in their current state, even a few months later!

The following tech features are showcased in this short film. You will witness:

  • Take-offs and formation flying involving some F4F-4 fighters ;
  • A zoom sequence taking us from the map view to the actual 3D world in real-time, along with custom map labels ;
  • A demonstration of our procedural terrain generation made from actual level maps ;
  • A showcase of our dynamic day/night cycle and weather system ;
  • A quick look at our in-engine physics showing how ships roll dynamically in heavy seas ;
  • A few glimpses of our early FX effects for naval artillery ;
  • A detailed view of our engine for ballistics and naval damage ;
  • A few details about how textures an dynamic decals/markings are managed by the engine (skinners, rejoice!) ;
  • A few shots of the player’s command hub – that is, the Admiral’s Flag Plot – and faces of some of the men you will interact with during the narrative sequences ;
  • Some of the 90+ 3D ships models expected at release for Vol.1 ;
  • Some TBDs demonstrating our early carrier AI landing routines and wing folding (yes I know, it’s too fast! But at least it works properly for now) ;
  • Our dedicated Air Boss AI in action, shuffling around the planes on the flight deck and clearing the bow for a group take-off ;
  • A F4F-3 Wildcat painted as Butch O’Hare’s number 15 harassing a bomber formation not unlike the one he faced off Bougainville in his Medal of Honor moment, as a preliminary test for our dynamic air-combat AI (work in progress, don’t worry about the ammo count and the damage model, it is just a prototype) ;
  • A TBD making its R-1830 Twin Wasp roar, demonstrating the current state of our sound engine ;
  • A few sequences showcasing what we plan for environmental sounds of all sorts.


Saying that the road is still long would be quite the understatement. Even though activity is happening 24/7 in our worldwide workshop as I write these lines, we are still far enough from a playable vertical slice that promising it for 2020 would feel premature, if not bold. Still, progress is steadily being accomplished every day, and I thank my team for their dedication and their trust in this endeavor. However, any machine, as efficiently designed or managed as it may be, needs some form of fuel to run. That fuel that keeps us going is coming from you.

By the end of this development cycle, we hope to be fortunate enough to meet your expectations, to succeed in crafting enough of a jewel to find our audience and redefine, with your precious support, the very genre for the years to come. In the meantime, always expect the utmost honesty and openness about our work, our results and delays – and, please, do not shy away from asking questions. Each and every new element you might bring to the table will be food for thought and could very well end up being that additional twist or bit of soul we were looking for.

Don’t hesitate to drop us a line, it means the world to us. Wish us fortune, for the seas will be heavy on our long journey to Point Luck! o7

Amiral Crapaud & the Team

New Year's Resolutions

Yes, we’re still alive and kicking – and by the way: Happy New Year!

Hello there, community!

Before we even begin, allow me to wish each and every one of you Merry Christmas & – of course, first and foremost considering the day, Happy New Year. We sincerely hope that everything is and will remain well with you, your family and your friends. In this moment of happiness and reunion, enjoy every bit of kindness you come across, for there’s never enough of it around.

But it wouldn’t be right for you alone to have all the fun. Julien, our dear 2D Art Lead blessed us with a lovely custom desktop wallpaper for Christmas & a swell greeting card for the New Year – so that your computer might spend the holidays in style too! The Christmas issue depicts a colorful representation of USS Yorktown, while the New Year card is all about USS New Orleans, one of the most decorated ships of the war (we went for the 16 battle stars theory – apologies in advance if we offended anyone…!).

As you will certainly realize yourself, these cards are made from screenshots taken in-game. Julien has added his own touch to Rizki’s beautiful models and the convincing way Jean-Baptiste’s engine renders them. Enjoy this instant of serenity before we get back to the business at hand! Click on the link below the images to download the hi-res version of these works.


Well, it has been two months since our last update. November came and went with a lot of IRL business that kept us busy, and so did December – but as our social media accounts will reveal, we were certainly out there doing some work.

Even though we had stuff lying around we were still wondering what our site update policy should be – as a matter of fact, should we wait for some important feature to come along, or should we simply post stuff regularly instead? Well, from now on, we will try to deliver you content on a more regular basis (at least once a month, hopefully more often). In the meantime, let us share a few highlights of what has been achieved so far, mostly as a sneak peek of our next video update.


After Kaga in October, November saw Akagi rejoin the fleet. The fact that it happened pretty much around the time R/V Petrel found her remains at the bottom of the ocean only makes her resurrection more moving & humbling. Our 3D artist Rizki gave it all, and it shows! Here are a few shots. Don’t mind the mirror-like reflections on the flight deck, these are pre-rendered in the 3D software – and as such, materials do not answer to light as they will in the game proper. The model, as one can expect according to the standards of our game, is relatively low in polygon numbers, which makes the level of detail achieved by Rizki all the more impressive considering the limited resources allowed.


Speaking of Akagi, there she is featuring in a most romantic setting, steaming nonchalantly in the breeze against a setting Sun. She agreed to lend her gracious curves to our lights & waves FX experiment, and we went to great lengths not to disappoint her expectations (KC fans, you wouldn’t dare displease your Bauxite Queen, would you? We know you wouldn’t!). Different materials are present in this scene, and react differently to the same light. Just enjoy the scenery…

Original ocean sound by F. Reichelt @ https://instagram.com/florianreichelt/

Not every ship in the Kido Butai was exactly having the time of their life the same way as Akagi did. Hiryu in particular did not pull a lucky number, as she was thoroughly abused for weeks as the testbed for our dive-bombing AI tweaking.

As of now, our pixel Dauntless pilots are able to proceed to the target area in formation, pick a target and attack according to doctrine in a rather convincing fashion. Although Hiryu was given an escort and a fully operational anti-air artillery complement, news are dire for her: the relative inefficiency of Japanese Navy early-war anti-air is obvious here, and only marginally affects the American pilots in their dive and their escape maneuvers.

In the end, her best defense remains the radical maneuvers she makes in order to disrupt the aim of her tormentors, which sort of validates this historical tactic used by the Japanese navy. Built atop a cruiser hull with powerful machinery, she was a nimble target, able to make good speed with a responsive rudder shift time and a tight turning circle. In that, she compared favorably to her elders Akagi and Kaga, whose larger battlecruiser and battleship hulls didn’t enjoy the same properties. Even then, it is dubious that she would escape punishment for very long – and, spoilers: she doesn’t. Eventually, in our trials, she always got hit sooner or later despite her best efforts to twist herself out of this bad predicament – in a fashion not unlike that of Midway.

You can run, but you can’t hide!

Overall, a lot of time was devoted to the building of a convincing AI routine for planes. Knowing that the player will not be allowed to fly them themselves (at least in Vol.1), we wanted the pixel pilots to behave in the most realistic manner despite the absence of a human interference. As you can see below, this includes among other things making sure that planes fly in a natural fashion within the flight engine parameters while executing their directives, which is no small feat with so many smaller AI-driven objects. They all want to be good boys and do what they’re told – and still, they cannot be allowed to be *too* good, otherwise they would simply not look convincing. Ah, them game development dilemmas sure are riveting, but they are exhausting too!

Fortunately, Jean-Baptiste is not the sort of person who is easily discouraged by such puny conundrums. In our opinion, he pretty much nailed it and went on providing us with a very solid flight simulation engine that will give the player just about the right feel. Here are a few more screenshots of formation flying, dive-bombing and torpedo runs. Stay put for some videos in our next update, as they look even better in motion – believe me 😉


On their end, Julien and Steven have been busy working on the gallery of historical portraits that will cross your path in the in-game narrative, spending a few tense moments with you on the radio or in the flag plot. Among the personalities who left their mark during the first half of 1942, we were pleased to feature in our on-line quizz sessions the Carrier Air Group Commanders (CAG) of USS Lexington & USS Yorktown at Coral Sea, CDR William B. Ault & LCDR Oscar Pederson.

The text below is a first look at what the bios provided in the in-game encyclopedia might contain regarding these characters. This is, naturally, work in progress, but it seems to us that Steven, as a former serviceman himself, managed to strike the right balance between the trivia & the historical dimension.

CDR William B. Ault

Born: 06 October 1898; Died 08 May 1942

Career:
Ault joined in the Navy in April 1917, serving as an enlisted man until entering the US Naval Academy in 1918. After his graduation and subsequent designation as a naval aviator, he served in a variety of scouting and torpedo squadrons until 1938 when he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and assumed command of VT-6. In July 1941, he took command of the air group onboard the USS Lexington (CV-2).

Wartime Service:
As the Lexington air group commander, Ault helped to plan the daring 10 March 1942 attack on transports supporting the Japanese landing at Lae and Salamaua, New Guinea. In the first coordinated strike of the war, the Yorktown and Lexington air wings surprised the invasion fleet by flying a hazardous, 100-mile route through the cloud-obscured Owen Stanley mountain range to attack the Japanese unexpectedly from the west.

The day before the attack, Ault flew to Port Moresby and identified this route after learning of a pass through the mountains.The day of the strike, Ault flew unaccompanied to the pass to help guide the strike through. In the ensuing attack, two thirds of the invasion transports were damaged or sunk, shocking the Japanese military and postponing their drive towards Tulagi and Port Moresby.

Source: US Navy “Combat Narratives: Early Raids in the Pacific Ocean,
Feb 1-March 10, 1942, pg. 59 (1943, reprint 2017)

Two months later, Ault led Lexington’s air group in the Battle of the Coral Sea. On 7 May, he directed the Lexington’s strike against the Japanese light carrier Shoho, resulting in two 1000 lb. bomb and five torpedo hits on the carrier. The next day Ault led his air group on a long-range strike against the Shokaku. Despite discovering the Japanese carrier when his aircraft were at the extreme limit of their range and scattered because of weather, Ault ordered the Lexington aircraft to attack. Because of cloud cover near the Shokaku, he ordered a glide bomb attack from 5,500 feet, resulting in a 1000 lb. bomb hit on its deck.

Sometime during this attack, both Ault and his radio-gunner, ARM 1 William Butler, were apparently wounded and became lost flying back to the US task force. Although Ault established radio contact with the Yorktown, it was unable to pick up his aircraft on radar. When advised he was “on his own” and to try to find land, Ault replied: “Okay. So long, people. Remember we got a 1,000-pound hit on the flat top.” Neither Ault nor Butler was ever seen again.

Ault was posthumously awarded both the Navy Cross and the Purple Heart for his actions. The Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer USS Ault (DD-698) and Ault Field at Whidbey Island are named after him.


And last but not least: as one of the brains behind the March 1942 raid against the Lae-Salamaua landings, we couldn’t leave you with a bio of William B. Ault without showing you the progress Jean-Baptiste has achieved when it comes to delivering us convincing ground features. Here is what the famed Owen Stanley Range in Eastern New-Guinea look like in real life (courtesy of Wikipedia):

And these screenshots below show the first prototypes we came up with when recreating the typical South Pacific topography and its rough features. Although these TBDs are not wearing the right markings for the time, their laborious yet realistic climb over the unforgiving heights can be felt in every single shot and certainly look convincing enough. Here they are, trying to keep up with the SBDs in order to unleash hell on the northern side of the mountain range. Wish them luck!


There we go – it was longer than anticipated, but certainly worth the time spent! With time, we will get a good grasp of the exercise and updates are expected to be a bit shorter – and more regular – in the future. In the meantime, in order not to miss anything, don’t forget to keep following us on our usual platforms :

And again, allow us to wish you the best for 2020. We certainly plan to make the most of of this new year by providing our testers with a first playable slice before next December (!) along with everything needed to give you a good idea of what we do and where we are headed to… Hopefully with your blessing and your kind support!

That’s all Folks. Take care & stay safe, pixel Admirals!

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