Task Force Admiral WIP shows a ton of promise [Pacific]

HOA_KSOP

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Yes, this game, the Seapower: Naval Combat in the Missile Age title and the War on the Sea tile all have my attention. One that has popped up that I am tracking is Destroyer: The U-Boat Hunter.
 

Lethaface

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With Sea Power coming up also, there's quite a bit of 'new standard' naval games on the radar. Ultimate Admirals Dreadnoughts is also improving, I bought it a while back and have some fun with it now and then but waiting for the campaign.

TF Admirals does indeed look very promising. The music in the trailer is rather 'hyping up' :).
 

Lethaface

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I think they're getting there with the naval AA... they just need to add a lot more noise and smoke :)

Interesting movie! Skipped through it quickly during lunch. Some quite tense moments in it, like the thermite dripping from the plane with crew still in it. Will be a good one to watch in anticipation of this game :)
 

Drifter Man

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Interesting movie! Skipped through it quickly during lunch. Some quite tense moments in it, like the thermite dripping from the plane with crew still in it. Will be a good one to watch in anticipation of this game :)
"The Fighting Lady" is a classic. If you like it, I can also recommend the book "The Aircraft Carrier" by Joseph Bryan III.
 

Zeke_21

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I have a lot of hope for this one. Microprose was a great company back in the day and bought just about everything they released. I'm hoping they can bring back the glory days.
 

Drifter Man

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Still looking tasty indeedy about 10 months later.
The developers provide regular weekly updates on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/TaskForceAdmiral/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/pacwargaminghistory/

Also on Twitter. I am not a member of any of these networks, nor I wish to become one, but I can view the content without having to create an account, which is good enough for me.

For the most part, they showcase whatever they are working at the moment, like dogfighting AI, formation control, latest paintjob of a new ship etc. What I am missing there is occasionally giving a broader picture of where the development stands and where they want to get to, even without a release date, for which they clearly aren't ready yet.
What they are showing is a continued, uncompromising attention to detail and to historical accuracy, which is the main selling point for me. TFA is going to be more a simulation than a game. The publisher seems to be giving them free rein for now, which is a good thing.

From the more useful updates, here's a briefing prototype from about half a year ago. In my opinion, a terrible way to provide a briefing for a complex operation. I want to see the facts: my orders, maps, available intelligence, available forces etc., all in a document that I can view and review at my own pace. Not a guy "trying to sound tough", as one of the commenters correctly points out, blurting out one sentence after another on the background of a dramatic music track (can be turned off, hopefully) interspersed with sounds of aircraft engines, supplementary material showing up and vanishing too fast to read (i.e., useless), photos of admirals and models of their flagships that add nothing to the message... just about everything is wrong about this briefing. Too much style, too little substance:

https://www.facebook.com/TaskForceA...prototype-task-force-admiral/1083582642430253

On the good side, it shows that assets and commands not controlled by the player will be involved in the game (like RAAF and USAAF units operating from Papua).

But otherwise what I see far outweighs this briefing blunder. I especially like this menu prototype, which shows what the developers are cooking up for us. First, it would seem that we will be able to play whole operations (as multi-day missions), not just the "main action day", which opens opportunities for replay value: given enough time, each replay can turn out very differently. Second, carrier operations that did not involve carrier vs carrier combat ("Early Battles" and "Watchtower") are covered. This again adds variety to the missions and opens the pathway to a meaningful campaign. This, however, isn't part of the plan for now.

Multiplayer would definitely be interesting - as much as I can imagine the trouble with e.g. managing time compression - and the developers have not ruled out this idea, once (and if ever) the Japanese side is playable.

What I would also like to see is command of non-carrier task forces and operations not involving carriers at all. That's not part of the plan, either - I remember the developers saying that the player will only be able to have flag on a carrier.

272132507_667042657983137_1123687829640856961_n.jpg
 
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Drifter Man

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Getting closer, but from my perspective there still are mountains of work for this little team to move.

A digest for those who are interested but don't want to watch the whole 1-hour interview (my notes in italics):
  • The idea of TFA was born in part out of frustration with a number of naval game titles of the 1990s that carrier and surface warfare seemingly could not coexist in one game
    • Interesting that Amiral keeps going back to these titles from the stone age. I think that Norm Koger's Distant Guns and Jutland would also deserve a mention, as perhaps the only serious attempts at a naval wargame in the past ~20 years - and conceptually similar to TFA, being a blend of simulation and wargame.
    • Also interesting that he was "frustrated" by this aspect at the age of 10 as he says!
  • The outcome of many WWII naval battles - both carrier and surface - often hung on a thread, decided by actions of individual pilots or minute decisions by officers that turned out to have far-reaching, unintended consequences. The battles "were a mess" due to FOW and communication failures. I understand that they want to recreate this aspect in TFA.
  • Each battle/operation will come in several variations (scenarios) - the historical one, plus several partly fictional "what ifs"; in addition, some parameters within the scenario can be randomized, e.g., in terms of the opposing OOB or weather. Change of weather can entirely change the conditions of the battle. This is where they see the power of having a simulation, as opposed to a highly abstracted wargame with dice rolls. Also, a source of replayability.
  • The developers are a small team of 4 people: "Amiral" (vision, communication, research?, funding?), 1 developer, 2 artists + several helpers. This is much smaller than some of those age-old titles. Which means they want to keep the selected scope of the first project well defined and don't want to promise the impossible.
    • No campaign at this time
    • No "sandbox" gameplay, which would not be the way carriers operated
    • Adding playable Japanese side to the game with the same level of fidelity they plan for the US Navy side is well above the capacity of the team - this is left for Vol. 2
    • I understand they don't have the money to fund a bigger team and perhaps don't see enough economic potential in such a step
  • Microprose give them full freedom of action (a condition of their cooperation with DDG from the start)
  • They want to evolve the title in the future - that's the ambition, but first they want to make one good game, then build on it
    • evolve "horizontally" - to new navies, periods and theaters
    • evolve "vertically" - by adding a campaign, or going down to ship/station level
  • Multiplayer is of secondary importance
    • Difficult to make an enjoyable real time multiplayer when the battles take hours or days to complete - and much of the time it is just waiting
      • Amiral mentions World of Warships as an example of naval multiplayer - I would rather see a "Combat Mission" style, where I can find a dedicated opponent on a site like FGM, focusing more on the experience and less on who wins, and finish the game in multiple sessions over a few weeks
    • Similar to having animated crew on board - that's something they want to leave for the end. Not central to the development
    • Multiplayer is not ruled out for the future and some foundational elements are in place - but not part of the first product
  • Replay feature - you can replay the whole battle and see what actually happened (even if your difficulty/FOW settings prevented you from seeing it during the game)
  • Modding: You can make new ships, new scenarios, skins for planes and ships. Tools will be provided for that. They envisage a workshop for exchanging modded content.
    • But the game needs to be great without modders' help
  • Surface combat will receive an AI but apparently that's something they have yet to start working on
    • Game still centered on carriers
    • Players places waypoints, specifies ROE, the AI will fight it out
    • The AI will be working in divisions rather than individual ships, proper hierarchy is maintained within the Task Force
    • I still don't see, and would like to see, the option to take command of a battleship/cruiser/destroyer TF instead of a carrier TF and make tactical decisions in a surface action. The "Admiral" in TFA is Fletcher or Spruance, not Callaghan, Scott or Lee. Vol. I is called "American Carrier Battles" after all.
  • The gameplay focuses on the admiral's role - you do not operate the ship's systems
  • The game needs to be accessible to players with different preferences
    • From an arcade to an advanced wargame
    • This is controlled by managing the flow of information available to the player and by having detailed difficulty/realism settings
    • This flexibility is necessary in a niche market
 

Drifter Man

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Some interesting updates from DDG over the past few weeks. First, they do plan surface battles with the player in control. I'm still wondering what this is going to look like when we are sitting in the flag plot of an aircraft carrier. Maybe there will be a cruiser bridge option, too?

Although TFA will be carrier-focused, we will let you take part to surface battles too - if we can call these messy brawls battles at all. Don't worry, you'll get to taste the infamy firsthand - or avenge it!

Second, they want to recreate amphibious operations, including landing craft moving around. I don't care much about the eye candy but having specific assets to protect or destroy during landing operations sounds pretty revolutionary to me. I'd thought we'd just get an abstract "landing operations area" to keep the enemy out of.

Daihatsu barges and fast merchants will all feature alongside the destroyers and seaplane tenders from the famed Tokyo Express, for you to dramatically interdict & turn back before they reach the disputed shores of Guadalcanal.
Don't expect to see actual soldiers move around & all, but at least we'll tr to have all these little landing crafts make turns in the water around the transports so as to indicate on-going landing activity.


Third, today they're showing an engine stress-test with 200 planes and 50 ships. Exciting, but a lot more will be needed to recreate some operations 1:1 :)

So far so good!
 

Artkin

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Microsoft Combat Flight Sim 2 Pacific Theater solved that for me. THAT was an epic game. I wish that was remade with new features that come with the new games. I haven't looked into the game mentioned on this post, but I might if it's anything like MCFS 2: PT.
 
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