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