Friday, April 15, 2005

Modern Anti-Submarine Warfare on your PC

“Dangerous Waters” from Sonalysts Combat Simulations has been released. You can get it here Battle Front. The game includes P-3 Orions, MH-60R SeaHawks, FFG-7 Perry Class Guided Missile Frigates, Soviet diesel and nuclear subs, as well as Improved Los Angeles 688(I) and SEAWOLF US subs. From the looks of the movies and screen shots, this is a serious game, not for the faint hearted and impatient. Get ready to do some serious data integration and thinking how to complete your missions. Update 4/15/2005: I downloaded the demo and did look at many of the screen shots. I spent 2 years training crews for the FFG-7 combat systems, and have spent a 18 months assigned to one, and have been inside SH-60 helicopters. The graphics and displays aren't far off of real in those two platforms in the game, so I can only guess these designers really did their homework. Additionally, the position names for the operators are real. The demo has two playable scenarios, one in the MH-60R, the other in a Kilo Class SS. Like I said, this game isn't for the space invaders crowd, it's a thinker. It will give you a real taste of the complexity of operations, even in the days of lots of automation....Back to the original post. “ASW” is a thinking person’s game. It takes skill, thinking ahead, lots of knowledge of the ocean environment (it’s not one big mass of water at one temperature), patience and audacity. It’s a very high stakes game of chess in the real world. Scenarios I’ve been in in “the real world” have gone on for weeks at a time. Back in the late 70’s/early 80’s an active duty Naval Officer created a board game named “NavTag.” It was used to exercise tactical decision making. It was quite good at forcing you to dredge through your memorized databases, in order to react to the threat units, without the requirement to find an available time slot in a multi-million dollar training facility, either at FCTCL Dam Neck, VA, or FCTCP, San Diego, CA. While on paper, it required an umpire to keep you from waiting forever to make decisions that wouldn’t be allowed in the real world. A few years later, there was a PC based version, with all the “charm” of mid to late 80’s IBM PC Clone quality (4 colors and beeps, with a 320x200 display). This certainly allowed replacement of the human referee, and made it even more effective. A few units were dispersed to the squadrons to allow a rotation of the equipment. While I was attending War College in 87-88, one of the local civilians I got to know was an employee at Sonalysts, where he was part of the development team for the computerized version of NavTag. My point? Sonalysts have been working with this material for a lot of years. Add to this my 27 months on a tactical Destroyer Squadron staff chasing submarines, I’m really looking forward to getting some time to try Dangerous Waters out.

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