Preview - Great Naval Battles Vol. III: Fury in the Pacific, 1941-44 (DOS, 1995)

Transcript of interview with James Young, designer of SSI's Great Naval Battles III

Interactive Entertainment: We're obviously talking about another version of Great Naval Battles. What's this one based on?
James Young: This is based on Great Naval Battles number 2. We're using a similar engine. The big difference between this one and the previous one is it covers a greater time period from 1939-1944, whereas the first game only covered 1942 and 1943. You can pretty much play the entire Pacific war in this game. The other big thing is the scenario editor, which none of the previous Great Naval Battle games had. You can build your own scenarios, the database includes all the ships of the American and Japanese, plus you can use all the available aircraft. You can create any scenario you want with any naval battle you want in the Pacific.
IE: How is the game laid out as far as campaigns?
JY: The previous game had two long campaigns, and we thought this time we would use a couple of smaller, shorter campaigns, lasting around 15 or 20 days. Some of them are historical, like the fight in the Solomons. Others are hypothetical, like a Japanese invasion of Hawaii in 1941. We tried to keep them shorter in length. We found that our users want a quick and dirty campaign.
IE: You're not going to have that many people who want to play the whole war.
JY: No. This engine wasn't built for that anyway. The maximum campaign we would put in would be 30 days. The game is real time, and the basic time is one second, although you can speed it up to 16 times faster.
IE: The scenario editor is interesting. That seems to be a very popular thing to have for games like this. People really seem to want that.
JY: People want the freedom and ability to make their own stuff, to change and design their own battles.
IE: This game will be on CD?
JY: Yes, it's CD only.
IE: What are some of the other changes from GNB2?
JY: In the previous game there were comments from the users that they wanted customize the effects, such as how effective the torpedoes were or how effective their gunnery ranges were or how much damage a ship can do. There was really no way to do that in GNB2, but in this game what we've put in is a customizer screen. Users now can tinker with the values and effects of each weapon, so you can make torpedoes have more duds or less duds, you can have bomb accuracy that's really high or really low, and you can do it for either the Americans or the Japanese. That way, you can make the Americans really great and the Japanese really bad if you want to.
IE: It's obviously a way of customizing the difficulty. If you want to be invincible and make sure that the other side can't get out of it's own way, you can do it.
JY: It's the ultimate tinkering tool for the user.
IE: Did you make any other changes based on user feedback?
JY: The other big change we did was we added a view window for when things happen during gameplay. In the previous games, there was nothing there, so you had to switch from the main menu to the outside view. Now you get both the map view and the outside window so you can see things happen as they occur. There's also digitized speech when you get messages. There's also a Japanese-language equivalent.
One of the best parts of this system is that it does actually keep track of individual planes, each and every plane that comes out. You can click on individual planes and get a report which tells what the target is.
IE: When will this game be out?
JY: We're looking at February of 1994.
IE: How about the scenario editor?
JY: Basically, what we have is four different worlds, or maps, for the user to tinker around with. You can choose your area, the base, the type of aircraft, what kind of troops I have, how many replacements. I can also put an enemy presence on the island. You also will have a list of the available ships that the user can add to the game.
IE: Do you have to set a time frame for the scenario you're designing?
JY: You have to set a starting time and an ending time. These dates are based on the availability of each ship.
IE: So you couldn't bring the F-6 until December of 1942.
JY: We have practically every ship that was built for World War II, plus some historical ships. We even included some of the old World War I ships.
IE: Does each ship come with a specific detachment, or do you control the number of people?
JY: You can actually control the complement of each ship. For aircraft, you can use any planes that were available during the time frame of your scenario. Of course, you have a maximum number of planes you can put on each ship. The scenario editor is a very powerful tool.