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UBOOT
Deep Water Studio Dev Team Interview
May 20, 2016 by Neal Stevens

It's been a while since the Silent Hunter franchise sailed over the horizon. There have been some good naval games that have come along in the meantime: Atlantic Fleet, Crash Dive, and IronClads II are all well-made and engaging games. Well, here comes a subsim unlike anything before it--UBOOT. Blending novel crew management features with eye-pleasing graphics and stimulating gameplay, UBOOT will present the player with new opportunities to fight the Battle of the Atlantic.

UBOOT is the creation of Polish dev team Deep Water Studio, and is backed by PlayWay. With a Kickstarter page that quickly reached its goal of $15,500+ though the pledges of over 800 backers, it looks like the game is on track for success. We pulled into port and invited the team aboard for a few questions.


 

SUBSIM: Welcome aboard the SS Bernard, the Subsim press yacht. I trust you didn’t have any trouble finding it. Tell us about your dev team, who started it and who buys the drinks when you hit milestones?

Dev Team: Hi! Our names are Marek Bartniczak and Michał Nowakowski. We are the creators of Deep Water Studio which has been formed to work on UBOOT. We are fans of strategy games and we bring a great deal of interest in history, which has united us in this project. The core of the team is the two of us, but we cooperate remotely with several other people. Before we hit a milestone, we make a pot of coffee for a night of hard work. :03:

 

What gave you the idea for a U-Boat game and what other games/books/films have inspired you?

It started with the two of us discussing Silent Hunter at the office during a meeting. We found it sad that the series is now probably dead and considered picking up the gauntlet to keep the genre alive. We were aware that such a big game would deprive us of our private lives for a long time and we were pretty careful at approaching the idea.

Seeing how well our design concepts were progressing, our colleagues got excited too and we finally dared to ask our investor to support it initially for later Kickstarter funding.

As for inspirations, initially it was definitely Das Boot, This War of Mine, (a really enjoyable game! –NS) and to some degree also Silent Hunter, but we have wanted to make something completely new and refreshing within the genre. A reset.

 

So, UBOOT, a submarine game. The Playway page has it billed as a “survival sandbox game with Fallout Shelter game mechanics”. It looks like the Sims crossed with Das Boot, and appears to be a fairly new concept, one that will break new ground in the Subsim arena.

With our rather modest team, we can’t really compete with Ubisoft in terms of scope, but as a small studio we may still have an advantage of flexibility and being able to more easily take the risk of engineering new creative ideas. This is what we wanted to achieve, to utilize these strengths to make UBOOT a memorable experience for players.

 

So, as a player, you are more integrated with the crew of your sub in UBOOT than in the typical sub game?

Yes, the main part of UBOOT is the crew and managing them. We have focused on people and their tasks on the ship. We believe that a well­functioning ship depends on a well­ motivated team and a player should strive for that. As a captain you have to know your crew well with all their good and bad sides. You have to make proper decisions, send the right people to the right work and react to unforeseen situations.

Moreover, in our game, we want to show how the U­boat works from the technical point of view. We have prepared many cross­sections so you can look through tanks, engines, pumps, etc. and learn in the process. That was very interesting for us and we hope it will be so for players, too. We also have made an upgrade system to make it possible to use new equipment or weapons as the war progresses. Some of this equipment is experimental and may be treated with a grain of salt.


UBOOT Development Art

 

Can you play the game as a combat sim?

The combat aspect is seamlessly connected to crew management. A better trained person will decode a radio report more accurately, while a well-rested observer will notice the enemy faster. Preparing yourself to survive the combat is actually one of the main goals of the crew management part of the game.

As part of the game design, we intentionally stopped short of simulating completely accurate combat though, mainly because we subtly compress distances on the battlefield to make the battles faster, more dynamic, and seamlessly integrated with the pace of what is happening on board. Some simplifications always have to be made and if that feels radical it’s because we all are used to the Silent Hunter simulation model that puts simplifications in other areas.

Ultimately the battles feel very similar to those in other subsims, yet without the time compression thing; that we really wanted to avoid.

 

And there are other things for the player to do, such as maintain equipment like pumps and compressors. Will the player have direct control of keeping the boat trim, or just watch animations of the process?

Manually keeping the boat trim doesn’t sound like much of a challenge :)

Stations that currently may be manually controlled by the player at will are the combat periscope, the flak gun, and the artillery. We are open to any ideas of extending this list though, so if someone comes up with a fun way for controlling the trim pump, we will add it to the game.

Obviously you have a control over many other things on the ship, just not manual, but by passing it on to your crew.

 

How does the player plot an intercept course, and how does he calculate the torpedo data to hit his target?

You can simply click on your target marker to get the interception course, but you may also plot it manually, if you have some additional considerations. Actual interception is also a bit easier, because of the way we compress distances as we have mentioned earlier.

As for torpedo calculations, this is something that your crew may do for you, too, but we will probably add an option to do it manually. At some point we are going to ask UBOOT backers for their opinion to decide on the shape of this system.

 


UBOOT Development Art

 

This is a single player game, right? Does the player have the ability to increase the time compression, and can he save the game and resume later in the same place?

We have abandoned the time compression concept. It was there during the earlier stages of production, but it just felt to be a bad design. That button just screamed at you that there is nothing to do, game producers were lazy and you should skip the boring part.  :)  Instead we have filled these parts with a crew-centric content inside the ship. It feels more natural that way and gives the players things to do between engagements that he normally would not have in other subsims.

A save game system will be included, but we can’t say exactly how it will work. We are still experimenting with it. There is going to be optional Ironman Mode though, because we like the challenge it creates.

 

One aspect of UBOOT that looks really interesting to me is the cutaway view of the boat, where the player can monitor several compartments and their crew. The screenshots also show a first-person perspective, similar to Silent Hunter 5. Will the player be able to manage the crew in both?

Yes, you can do both. We support a range of views between which you can switch with your mouse wheel starting with First Person Perspective, through cutaway views and ending on the world map. Cutaway view is the most natural for a crew management, though.

 

How much automation does the crew get? Can the player allow the crew to run the boat, or does he need to manage the duties and direct the crew?

Yes, some basic tasks are performed automatically by your crew. Each crew member has his work assignment that he will do in the first place when his needs are generally met. During the alarm, everyone will go on alert and go to either their work place or, if all slots are occupied already, any other work place on the ship.

They won’t do this optimally though and a good captain will find many ways to optimize the crew assignment to achieve his goals.

Repairs on the other hand is something that always needs to be ordered directly because this uses your spare parts and sometimes you may prefer to leave something broken to save them for more serious failures.

 

What period of the war does UBOOT cover?

The Type VIIc entered the service in the 1940s so we cover 1940-1945.

 

Give me some idea of what a Subsim captain should expect from the enemy AI.

We cooperate with our experts from marine forums to determine the behavior patterns used against submarines at all stages of war. We are aiming for realism in this area and we have already implemented many of these patterns pretty well.

For example, for most of the wartime, the Allies had no idea that U­boats were able to dive to 300m or even more, so you will be safe from depth charges there.

 

Will there be aircraft to worry about in the game?

Yup, many reasons to worry about them. They will surprise the player on many occasions.

 

Can you really shoot the cook? I’ve always wanted to shoot a cook.

Everybody asks about this one. Poor cooks! :)

Thank you for invitation. We hope that your readers learned something interesting about our game. Also we want to thank everyone for supporting UBOOT on Kickstarter and for all the kind words we have received. We hope that the game will meet the players' expectations and give them a lot of fun.


UBOOT Development Art

 

Developer: Deep Water Studio Kickstarter page
UBOOT gameplay video
SUBSIM on Facebook UBOOT thread
 


SUBSIM forumsCare to add something or discuss UBOOT? Los!

 

See also:

Crash Dive for PC released
Naval Battles Simulator preview
Crash Dive Review
What kind of subsim skipper are you? Sub skipper Quiz


    


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