1) First of all, thanks a lot for this great opportunity and for answering some questions about your upcoming game Command: Modern Operations. May I start asking to introduce you and the rest of the team briefly for the few that might not know the “Man behind the Work”?
I am Dimitris, co-founder and head of development at WarfareSims. Apart from leading the development team, the job entails a lot of other things - pretty much anything that is not explicitly assigned to someone else on the team falls by default on my shoulders (yes, that means I also have to take care of the pizzas). It can definitely be a wild horse to ride, but the satisfaction can make it worth it.
The rest of the team is distributed literally around the world. We have members and contributors from pretty much the entire NATO and ex-SEATO spectrum. This makes coordination more challenging but does afford us some significant advantages in coverage, responsiveness and diversity.
2) CMANO has been for several years the most accurate, complex and realistic military simulator around. We know that its full potential has been understood by many Armed Forces around the World, for training and scenario analysis. Having said that, may I ask why and when you decided to move to C:MO and how the development of this title could impact the partnership with the military?
The rallying cry for CMO (or CMANO2 if you will, as it really is “Command 2” in all but name) during its development all these years has been “a better game first, a better simulation second”. Understanding this mindset takes a bit of elaboration.
As you know, we have steadily supported CMANO v1.x for six years now, with a series of major free updates. These updates provided a ton of simulation, mechanics & AI improvement, as well as content; it has been pointed out to us repeatedly that the changes/additions we’ve freely provided to CMANO easily compare to new full-price releases by other companies. However, you wouldn’t know this by comparing a screenshot from Command v1.0 to one from the current public version. Almost all the changes are “under the hood”, so to speak. With this in mind, improving the user interface and gameplay experience became a primary pillar in CMANO2’s development.
At the same time, our market audience composition has shifted. When we initially launched Command, there was only one version, and in that single version we had to pour everything we had in our minds and wanted to share with the world, both from a “game” perspective and a “serious simulation” one. This resulted in a wonderful but slightly bipolar product that sometimes couldn’t decide if it wanted to be above all a mainstream-friendly game or a professional-oriented tool. The branching-off of a dedicated pro-oriented series has liberated us from this conundrum and allowed each path to evolve optimized for its dedicated audience. While the underlying simulation core and various data are similar (and often identical), Command-PE is now firmly a sim-first product loaded to the brim with tools for the professional user, while CMANO and now CMO/CMANO2 are first are foremost (serious) games.
Once this design focus is absorbed, several priorities naturally emerge: The game must be easier on the eyes than before. It must be more visually appealing, without losing its serious foundations. It must be easier to learn, both on the user interface and also on the basic mechanics of modern warfare. It must hold the player's hand more in the beginning. It must avoid flooding the player with information. It must make it easier for the player to find the one specific bit of information (amongst the sea of data) that he's actually looking for. It must let the player put together a basic dust-up without too much consideration for geopolitical realism and diplomatic realities. In short, while remaining a top-notch simulation, it must also become a better game.
3) C:MO appears to be a major step forward from CMANO. A rewritten map engine, new UI, new capabilities, etc. One of the striking new element seems the ability to integrate tools from professional software. I’m talking about mainly the TacView and new map layers. Could you tell us more about them?
he new map layers is one of the features we are particularly proud of, as it has been one of the most persistent requests for years now. In summary, the layers are:
- BMNGv2, an improved version of NASA’s public “Blue Marble NG” global map
- Relief-90, a high resolution overlay optimized to show terrain features
- Stamen Terrain / Roads / Labels: This global map combines terrain, roads & cities and placenames down to a very high detail level (you can literally zoom down to house level). This map is kindly provided by the fine folks at Stamen (http://maps.stamen.com), whom we heartily recommend for any map-related project.
- Terrain land-cover. This is a new layer type, necessary for displaying the different land cover type (urban, forest, desert, snow etc.) at any location on the planet. This is tightly related to the improvements we have added to land operations.
- Sentinel-2 Cloudless: This is the same map that is browsable here: https://s2maps.eu/ . This allows us to provide global satellite imagery to a very good level of detail (it’s detailed enough that you can make out features at airbases, ports etc.), and thus serves as an excellent “baseline” layer for scenario authors to place their objects on, as well as a more immersive environment for players.
Tacview integration is another hotly-requested item for years now. We have been in close contact with Frantz Raia (creator of Tacview) over the years and he has made several additions to the software, upon our request, which have been very useful both to us and to his own professional work (such as the real-time streaming feature). We worked hard together with Frantz on finding a way to make the commercial version of CMANO work well with Tacview (the requirements, priorities and constraints are different than the pro implementation of this feature, which has been available for a while now).
So what we came up with is an optional ability to stream part of the simulation information to Tacview. Basically the player can select a “3D view” menu option, and if Tacview is installed, a new window pops up which contains the 3D visualization (this requires Tacview Advanced edition in order to work). This window behaves similar to all other secondary windows in Command, so it can be resized, placed anywhere atop the main map window, or parked on another monitor. The player can jump from one unit to another, rotate and plan the camera etc., just like when normally using Tacview as a standalone app. As I said this is an optional feature and Command can run just fine without it.
4) Any other software you think could be added in the future?
There are a number of different programs we have investigated for possible integration. Some of them are pure visualizers (or “image generators”, to use the defence industry lingo) similar to Tacview, while others are full-fledged simulation and analysis suites. Most of them are really more relevant to the defence industry rather than the commercial wargaming sector (unless there is a hidden untapped market on e.g. radio-frequency spectrum analysis!), but we are certainly open to pointers.
One suggestion that seems to bubble up fairly consistently is possible integration with either F4-BMS or DCS World, with Command acting as the operational/strategic “command and control” layer for these primarily tactical simulations. We haven’t really run the numbers yet to determine whether this would be a worthwhile investment (this would obviously depend on the work required to get things up and running), but it could be something worth considering at some point in the future.
PART II QUESTIONS: FULL SPECTRUM OPERATIONS - Tune on Wednesday 25th to check the second part of the Interview!
5) Speaking of new terrain types, we noticed that the announcement references improvements in ground operations. We also saw some screenshots with high-res maps with roads and similar infrastructures. Can you elaborate on what’s in store for digital grunts in CMO?
6) Let’s talk a bit about the naval component. What do you think is the most innovative feature that will be added, or the most significant improvement from CMANO?
7) Could you tell us a little more about what do you mean exactly by “realistic submarine comms”?
8) Beside naval, Air warfare has always been the other major focus in CMANO. Will C:MO players see differences in managing squadrons, targets, aircraft behavior and missions in general?
9) In the public Feature list, there is a mention on “Aircraft crew G-tolerance”. Could you elaborate this point a bit more?
< Message edited by Daniele -- 9/23/2019 2:13:32 PM >