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New Carriers at War Screenshots and AAR!

 
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New Carriers at War Screenshots and AAR! - 5/22/2007 4:15:31 PM   
Alex Fiedler


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Get some never-before-seen digital eye candy and an inside look at the Battle of Coral Sea

Matrix Games and Strategic Studies Group (www.ssg.com.au) are excited to announce new screenshots a new after action report (AAR) for their highly anticipated real time naval warfare title, Carriers at War. The new AAR, written by Gregor Whiley, vice president and lead developer at SSG, shows the intense action and historical realism that comes in Carriers at War as he wages the famous battle at Coral Sea.

Gregor Whiley, Vice President of Strategic Studies, added “SSG has been hard at work remaking this timeless classic. We are confident that our efforts will no doubt yield the same addictive gameplay and intense strategic situations that gave the original Carriers at War its fame.”

David Heath, Director of Operations at Matrix Games, said “The SSG team has been tremendous in their efforts at their previous wargame titles and so I’m particularly excited to see the results of a remake of one of their timeless classics. This new AAR shows just a small snippet of the great potential Carriers at War brings to the table.”

Carriers at War is a WWII naval combat and strategy game set in the Pacific Theatre. Focusing heavily on carrier fleet command strategy, the player will have to use all of their naval prowess to best the enemy. Throughout the myriad of scenarios and campaigns found in Carriers at War history buffs and strategy fans alike will recognize and enjoy playing through famous engagements like including Pearl Harbor, Midway, Coral Sea, Eastern Solomons, and more. To round out the Carriers at War experience, SSG’s latest work will include among the greatest and most challenging AI in wargaming history make this game fun for single player as well as multiplayer.

Get more information on Carriers at War from its official Matrix Games webpage and be sure to check out the AAR for the Battle of Coral Sea.
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RE: New Carriers at War Screenshots and AAR! - 5/22/2007 5:11:05 PM   
Prince of Eckmühl


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Hiya Alex,

I enjoyed the AAR, but I have a question about the situations as depicted on the tactical panels, the battle displays if you will:

http://www.matrixgames.com/articles/caw_aar/13at.jpg

I know that the units are likely oversized, to make the characteristics of each more discernible, and because of this an element of spatial distortion has been introduced. Even with this understanding, however, it appears as though the Japanese ships are far too close to each other. It's my understanding that IJN doctrine of the period dictated that formations which included a carrier division be very loosely spaced, with approximately 8000m between decks. Further, while other large vessels in the formation might be closer, only the "plane-guard" destroyers attached to each carrier would be close enough to the flat-top to perhaps provide effective AA support. The rationale for this was that carriers needed room to maneuver for plane handling and defensive purposes. Rather than rely on the massed firepower of escorts to fend off an attack, these ships would depend on the task force CAP, their own AA (which was rather anemic) and evasive turns for defense.

As depicted in the screen-shot, however, it appears as though the Japanese formations are arrayed exactly like their U.S. counterparts, with carriers and escorts packed quite closely together. Is the spacing between the ships actually just distorted for scaling purposes, or are the Japanese carriers too close to each other and to their surrounding escorts?

PoE (aka ivanmoe)





< Message edited by Prince of Eckmühl -- 5/23/2007 5:12:33 AM >


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RE: New Carriers at War Screenshots and AAR! - 5/22/2007 6:14:16 PM   
Deerslayer


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Nice job guys.  If this AAR doesn't make you interested in this game, nothing would!


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RE: New Carriers at War Screenshots and AAR! - 5/22/2007 6:43:22 PM   
GeneralChaos


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Yep, sure looks good. Saving my pennies now(I'm at $7.13). Can't wait. I never had orig CAW, but i did have Carrier Strike. Alot of time spent there, I bet I'll eclipse that with new CAW!

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RE: New Carriers at War Screenshots and AAR! - 5/22/2007 7:20:53 PM   
fabforrest

 

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gregor...nice to see progress!!!   this AAR should reactivate the "buzz" for CAW.

here is a question for you.  are the overhead battle scenes animated (i.e. do the planes fly through)?

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Looks Great! - 5/22/2007 9:59:08 PM   
flintlock

 

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Looking very good indeed.

First Battlefront, now Carriers at War. Good times to be a war gamer. :)

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RE: Looks Great! - 5/23/2007 1:25:41 AM   
alexs


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Fabforrest - yes the combat scenes are animated.



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RE: Looks Great! - 5/23/2007 4:48:51 AM   
Gregor_SSG


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The question about combat formations is a good one. The air/naval combat animations can be thought of as a movie, revealing to the human player the results of calculations the system has already made. Like movie makers, we cram everything into the frame in order to enhance the dramatic effect, but this has no effect on gameplay.

Especially early in the war, AA is never going to shoot down or even damage enough planes to make a difference to a full strike against a carrier. It is essentially a source of attrition rather than decision.

There was a relentless increase in AA armament throughout the war, and some ships even had other armament removed in order to mount more weapons to counter aircraft, which had become the real enemy.

Notwithstanding this improvement, and technological advances which accompanied it, even in the late war period you still can't rely on AA to save your ships. It takes radar directed high performance fighters, as deployed by the US, to do that.

Gregor



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RE: Looks Great! - 5/23/2007 5:29:11 AM   
Prince of Eckmühl


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Hi Gregor,

Thanks for your response. The game will be an absolute hoot to play online. I can't help but look at the screens and see possibilities for further development down the way. It's my sincerest hope that this major update and release will generate enough revenue for SSG to seriously consider taking the game to the next level, whatever you decide that might be.

PoE (aka ivanmoe)

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RE: Looks Great! - 5/24/2007 7:50:54 PM   
spence

 

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quote:

The question about combat formations is a good one. The air/naval combat animations can be thought of as a movie, revealing to the human player the results of calculations the system has already made. Like movie makers, we cram everything into the frame in order to enhance the dramatic effect, but this has no effect on gameplay.


Question: Apparently all ships in a TF are displayed on the combat screen. Do IJN CVs benefit from AAA support from other ships in their TF even though IRL almost all of those ships would be too far away from the CV to actually render that support?


quote:

Notwithstanding this improvement, and technological advances which accompanied it, even in the late war period you still can't rely on AA to save your ships. It takes radar directed high performance fighters, as deployed by the US, to do that



Question: Does Japanese CAP, which more or less functioned without any effective shipboard direction throughout the war perform at reduced effectiveness as a result? Does early war US CAP perform somewhere between "these extremes"?

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RE: Looks Great! - 5/24/2007 10:31:56 PM   
von Curow

 

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Looks fantastic and fun. Thanks for giving us the "test play" before the AAR. I remember playing this game on my C64 and being repeatedly frustrated when my carriers were sunk seemingly without a chance. Of course, I was 14 and didn't know much about carrier warfare. I'm glad/fearful to see that utter failure remains a real possibility. As it should!

Can't wait. Thanks for remaking this classic.

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RE: New Carriers at War Screenshots and AAR! - 5/25/2007 9:31:45 PM   
wesy


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It looks great - This may be a nit, but the plane that is depicted looks more like a "Nell" than a "Betty" in the AAR and Screenshot.


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RE: New Carriers at War Screenshots and AAR! - 5/25/2007 10:34:36 PM   
Prince of Eckmühl


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quote:

ORIGINAL: wesy

It looks great - This may be a nit, but the plane that is depicted looks more like a "Nell" than a "Betty" in the AAR and Screenshot.


Think of it as a War Department publicist's SNAFU. Historically, there's no problem with the Nell. They were being operated out of Rabaul at the time of Coral Sea.

PoE (aka ivanmoe)


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RE: Looks Great! - 5/26/2007 1:19:34 AM   
Prince of Eckmühl


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Hiya spence,

I got to thinking about the questions that you posed above. They're insightful ones, indeed. And while I'm certainly not gonna try and respond to your query on behalf of anyone from the development team, I do have considerable interest in how these issues have been handled from the standpoint of board-gaming, which is, after all, the conceptual antecedent to games such as CAW.

So, for the sake of "accuracy in reporting," I dug them all out of the closet, my fleet of operational-level games which focus on carrier battles, Midway x2 (AH), Guadalcanal (AH), Fast Carriers (SPI), Carrier Battles (RSS), Coral Sea (GDW), Flattop (AH) and SOPAC (Avalanche). Then I sifted through the rules seeking clues as to how the designers had sought to address your (and my) desire to have considerations such as you've raised dealt with in an effective manner.

As you will see below, the results were disappointing...

quote:

ORIGINAL: spence
Question: Apparently all ships in a TF are displayed on the combat screen. Do IJN CVs benefit from AAA support from other ships in their TF even though IRL almost all of those ships would be too far away from the CV to actually render that support?


Having scanned the rules of all the games cited from my collection above, I could find few attempts to deal with this issue.

SPI's Fast Carriers makes provision for carriers to turn one hex-side, in place, movement that can affect the results of torpedo a/c attacks. One element of the rule is that any ship within four hexes AND within the 60 degree arc transcribed by the carrier's turn must be displaced one hex AWAY from the carrier. The practical result of this is to scatter the formation, and thereby diminish the ranged-fire available to help defend the carrier. The rule isn't nationality-discreet. This really doesn't strike me as applicable to IJN doctrine of spacing ships so far apart when there were, as yet, no enemies in sight.

Which brings us to the other game that deals with ship-spacing, one that handles the situation somewhat more authentically, right down to which navy did what, and what the differences mean. That game is Carrier Battles by RSS. CB provides for two types of formation, tight (one space between ships), or loose (two or more spaces between ships). These formation types affect gameplay in two ways. Ships in tight formation have a better AA "umbrella," while those in loose formation suffer because of the ranged-fire rules. Conversely, a ship in loose formation can reface to an adjacent hex-side every second turn, whereas a ship in tight formation can only change facing every fourth turn (they had less room to maneuver).

And that's all that my genre-specific, board-gaming research turned up as regards the effects of doctrine, ship-spacing and it's effect on AA. It's worth mentioning that the Japanese were, by mid-1943, tightening up their carrier formations as well. So, if a wargame/simulation is gonna deal with this issue effectively, there would have to be a time/date demarcation as relates to doctrine and the spacing of IJN vessels.

quote:

ORIGINAL: spence
Question: Does Japanese CAP, which more or less functioned without any effective shipboard direction throughout the war perform at reduced effectiveness as a result? Does early war US CAP perform somewhere between "these extremes"?


This one is really tough. I could find hardly hide or hair of any mention of the disparity between the capabilities of the USN and IJN in this regard. The one exception was the not-infrequent application of what could be generically termed as "radar rules." But, in every case, these are some manner of advance-warning mechanism (or outright combat results abstraction) which attempts to account for a U.S. side which is better able to prepare its defense, rather than better able conduct its defense, the latter of which, I believe, is what you're looking for.

Designers of a game like Flattop can reasonably claim that they took the affects of radar and effective fighter direction into account when they created their combat resolution systems, but who knows? Combat in some of these games is so abstracted as to be almost silly, "Task Forces could as well be triremes throwing lawn-darts at one another," to quote an old friend. In the defense of the creators of these titles, they were created twenty to forty years ago. As such, the talent were in no position to benefit from the ongoing historical research into the subject that has done so much to illuminate the topic for you and me.

As for CAW, I'm not completely sure what, if anything, Mr.Wizard has up his sleeve in regard to the issues that you've raised. I simply don't know how deep they've decided to go with some of this stuff. One thing is for sure, the tactical displays look great, and should serve to enhance an important component of any successful computer game, the joy of play, the FUN!

PoE (aka ivanmoe)

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RE: Looks Great! - 5/26/2007 2:13:34 AM   
wesy


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Speaking of formations - check this link out - compares IJN/USN/RN formations

AA Doctrine/Formation

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RE: Looks Great! - 5/26/2007 11:51:20 AM   
HMSWarspite

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: wesy

Speaking of formations - check this link out - compares IJN/USN/RN formations

AA Doctrine/Formation


Interesting: now there would be a good sub-game (the ordering of formations and the effects and limitations they have).

On the subject of radar (USN/IJN) cap rules, I am surprised that this is not dealt with well, it would have been fairly easy to come up with simple rules for a boardgame. I would make the number of CAP elements able to engage a random die roll on a table, as a fraction of total planes eligable for cap (to reflect position, luck, and warning, and in extreme cases extra launches or time since last attack a la Midway). Radar gives a beneficial modifier. Similar with other warning types (pickets etc). Better the radar/fleet doctine or date, bigger the modifier. Really good radar/doctrine gives a big enough modifier to elinate the 'flat footed - no cap' line of the table etc.

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RE: Looks Great! - 5/26/2007 11:04:35 PM   
fabforrest

 

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so, gregor, my habit of placing cruiser groups in escort duty with my japanese carriers to provide more AAA weight (back when i was playing on my mac...ah, those were the days) was a mistaken practice?


also, i remember a huge, massive fantasy scenario that pitted both sides virtually complete against each other somewhere in the middle of the pacific.  i think it was called "plan orange," but i could be mistaken.  i LOVED that scenario.  will it return?

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RE: Looks Great! - 5/28/2007 4:01:43 AM   
Gregor_SSG


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quote:

ORIGINAL: fabforrest

so, gregor, my habit of placing cruiser groups in escort duty with my japanese carriers to provide more AAA weight (back when i was playing on my mac...ah, those were the days) was a mistaken practice?


also, i remember a huge, massive fantasy scenario that pitted both sides virtually complete against each other somewhere in the middle of the pacific. i think it was called "plan orange," but i could be mistaken. i LOVED that scenario. will it return?



I'm honestly not sure of the exact details of the AA routines so I'll ask someone who knows.

However, I can say that there are some good techniques for ship placement that I can pass on. Having surface ships about 2 hexes closer to the enemy along the threat axis is a good idea, as if incoming strikes spot this, some pilots will find it impossible to fly over ships they can clearly see in order to try and strike other ships as yet unspotted.

Having warships on escort duty in the same hex as your carriers is also a good idea as once again the attackers can make mistakes and bomb the wrong ships.

Naturally, these techniques require you to be capable of making somewhat calculating decisions regarding the risks to which you subject your ships, but if you are, they will help a bit.

Gregor

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RE: Looks Great! - 5/29/2007 12:13:57 AM   
fabforrest

 

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thanks, gregor.


what about that scenario i mentioned.  will it be there?   was it one added via Run5 later on?

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RE: Looks Great! - 5/29/2007 3:43:20 AM   
Gregor_SSG


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Some more details on AA fire. Naturally the target gets to fire at attacking planes, then other ships in the same TG have a chance to add their fire by rolling a virtual dice. This chance is controlled by the AA Effectiveness value set by the scenario designer.

Ships add fire until the test is failed. If your AA Effectiveness is low, then that will tend to happen very quickly, if it is high then, on average, more ships will add their fire.

This might seem a bit random, but so was the real thing. Also, there are lots of planes attacking so results will even themselves out over the course of a strike.

As for Plan Orange, I remember the scenario, and I'm sure we'll get around to it at some stage, though it will require some new artwork for pre-war planes.

Gregor

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RE: Looks Great! - 5/29/2007 7:18:33 AM   
Son_of_Montfort


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If I am not mistaken, isn't War Plan Orange covered in another Matrix Game based on the Uncommon Valor and WitP engine? I could be way off base, but I believe War Plan Orange has covered such a scenario in a moderately similar (if not far more complicated) type of game. Now, this isn't strictly an update of the old CAW scenario, for which the OP was asking.

I'm just excited about CAW, so lets get that out the door, then add alternative history later!

SoM


< Message edited by Son_of_Montfort -- 5/29/2007 7:19:00 AM >


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RE: Looks Great! - 5/30/2007 10:55:26 PM   
fabforrest

 

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well, the scenario i remember did not have pre-war planes.  it had WWII planes and ships.  must have had a different name.

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