Quoting a Mr_Blastman post on the Microprose thead...

"What I loved about the early Microprose sims that were pre-1991 is they were quick and easy to get into. Missions were relatively short at about 15 minutes to half an hour, and the action picked up quickly and was quite intense. Plus they had charm and character. I didn't mind the lowered realism, and knew even then as a kid some of the stuff the planes sensors were doing such as perfect positional missile track, easy lock ons, hell--even the targeting button were impossible with 1980s technology, but I still didn't mind, because the total package of the sims made up for that."


After reading Red Storm Rising and Dangerous Ground (Larry Bond) back-to-back, and then starting again on The Hunt for Red October (having read them all numerous times already), I desperately wanted to play a sub sim. So once again I pulled out Dangerous Waters with a Manual that I'm sure cost me an entire printer cartridge (each platform has its own 3-ring binder). DW is quite an achievement of a game, graphics are great (as a DOS retro-simmer, they really are to me) and there's no complaining that the details are lacking or that the manual is boring. I appreciate it for what it is, I really do. And one day I'll actually learn how to play it properly (plotting my own firing solutions).

The problem is, overall the game is kind of stale, with none of the old magic sprinkled in with detailed realism. So after a while I put it aside and went digging through my games archives. What I found was 688 Attack Sub (1989) by John Ratcliff and EA Games (also with Paul Grace, a name I remember from Fighters Anthology and WWII Fighters, I think)...


I'm having a blast with this game, even if the periscope view uses 2D sprites! eek Nothing like getting your orders from a dot-matrix printer and then getting your butt chewed for screwing up! biggrin

The follow-up (which I also have in waiting) is SSN-21 Seawolf (1994)...


...with updated graphics, although I've noticed there's no graphical display of the control room (see pic on first Wiki link). That's a disappointment, a small but nice touch in the first game, being able to mouse select a station. Also, I don't believe the second game has a damage screen with a sectional cutaway view of a 688 (although I could be wrong about that).

But the main thing to me (in a good way) is that some realism was sacrificed for better gameplay. From the 688 Attack Sub Manual...

Designer's Notes
By Paul Grace

When John, Randy, and I started 688 Attack Sub, we wanted to design a game where the strategic and tactical decisions that confront the player occur at a reasonably exciting pace. An attack sub isn't a jet fighter, of course, but we felt that a submarine game's potential for excitement and serious challenge was at least equal to that of an air combat simulator -- and given the things that today's billion-dollar subs can do, the potential might even be greater. However, creating a submarine game that's both reasonably accurate as a simulation yet exciting enough to play as a game presents certain problems. For example, a long-range (two-speed) torpedo can travel up to 40 miles, at speeds between 20 and 50 knots. Its run time could easily end up being more than 30 minutes long. If we changed the game scale so that this is compressed to a reasonable time frame for a game (say one or two minutes "real time"), then the speed of a helicopter (or worse, a missile) is so great that it can't even be represented!

To overcome this difficulty, we had to throw out "conventional" game design theories (as might be published in trade journals) and invent something truly radical. By selecting a "combat range" on the order of 15 miles, we've brought real excitement to an otherwise slow process. The game scale is such that ships move at a reasonable rate, torpedo run times are short enough to provide a fast feedback loop without the need for too much time compression. (In fact, by using this technique, time compression runs the entire game, not a simplified statistical model.) The bad news is: many weapons have incorrect maximum ranges.

Furthermore, (or, as we say at Electronic Arts, Farthermore,) we had to simplify several features present in modern submarine warfare. Some of these modifications were trivial (modern SONAR sounds more like a "warble" than a "ping"). Other modifications had real game impact -- for example, we decided to place the appropriate weapons on board your vessel at the start of each mission, which improved the play balance of the missions greatly. The US enjoys some strong advantages in weapons, and we wanted to focus on specific problems facing hunter-killer commanders, not the intricacies of weapons selection. For similar reasons, we left out nuclear "superweapons" that would rob you of long-term satisfaction. You'll have to pretend you've used them all up, you're stuck with what you have....

Please, NO telephone calls regarding the top speeds of the various submarines modelled in the game. The published data in Jane's Defense Weekly seems ludicrously low, while other sources would have us towing water-skiers behind our beloved Los Angeles. We picked what WE felt were reasonable speeds, and then balanced the game around those speeds.

Good hunting,
Paul Grace

In this case, the shorter mission times really are more fun to me, while making it seem like I'm actually accomplishing something. F-19/F-117 solves this by making geographic distances shorter than real-life while having a faster than real-life game clock (as indicated on Waypoints MFD screen, updates every couple of real-time seconds while skipping some game-time seconds).

But the *real* disappointment to me is that the developer of Dangerous Waters (Sonalysts) apparently knows how to sprinkle in some of that extra immersive magic that you see in older titles (like their own Jane's 688(I) Hunter/Killer) but chose not to with their newer Dangerous Waters (couldn't find many Jane's 688 screens in English)...

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

Attached Files 34364-jane-s-combat-simulations-688-i-hunter-killer-screenshot.jpg100992-jane-s-combat-simulations-688-i-hunter-killer-windows-screenshot.jpg100994-jane-s-combat-simulations-688-i-hunter-killer-windows-screenshot.jpg101007-jane-s-combat-simulations-688-i-hunter-killer-windows-screenshot.jpg