Back in 2016 a couple of guys in Sweden were making a project where 4 players would co-op manage a submarine online. (think Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator for submarine nerds). Shortly after that post I went to Stockholm for three months and struck a deal to produce the game. It’s now known as Wolfpack.
We are now getting close to early access on Steam. The game is not complete, there is still some work to do, but it is quite playable. The AI is working, and there are more functional systems and levels of detection than previous sub games. The enemy has a visible detection ability that varies by the time of day, weather, range and even if your sub is facing him head-on or broadside. The escorts have passive sonar detection and active (pinging) detection, and there are several dependencies that determine when they can use these and how effective they are (destroyers MUST accelerate to flank speed before dropping depth charges or they will blow off their own stern; this renders them deaf until they complete a pass. During this time a U-boat can change course and speed without risk of detection, until the escort makes its turn back.)
There are other systems and physics variables that complicate the life of the Captain and his crew. For example, if your U-boat is running deep to evade the enemy, well, naturally it will take on small amounts of water, no sub is 100% water tight at deep depths, right? One of your team needs to keep an eye on the bilge level…if it gets too high, then the dive officer will need to increase forward propulsion to maintain depth. And we know what speed does, it makes more noise, which in turn makes evading detection more difficult. Don’t ask about water leaks when your boat is getting pounded by depth charges, the whole crew worries about that. So, Neal, why don’t you start the bilge pump and pump it overboard? Hmm… the bilge pump makes noise too. Oh boy.
Wolfpack is designed to compel the players to run the sub like a real machine. You don’t press “P” to go to periscope depth–the player who is Captain will ensure the hatch is closed and issue the order to make periscope depth. The guy playing as Dive Officer will crank a valve to flood the negative tank and then set the dive planes to full dive (manually), while the player as Helmsman will switch the Engine Order Telegraph to “Electric Engine” and then order Full Speed Ahead (forward motion is needed to dive and if the crew leaves the telegraph in "Diesel Engine, the boat will flood); and then he will open the forward ballast tank vents, as the Navigator is doing the same to the aft ballast tanks to make the boat negatively buoyant. Then they have another series of steps in the procedure to maintain depth and get to 12~14 meters. From then on, the Dive Officer will have to keep a steady hand on the dive planes to make sure they stay at that depth, there is no auto-pilot in this game.
That’s just a sample of the procedural game design in Wolfpack. There are similar systems for aiming torpedoes with the Torpedo Data Computer, for using the hydrophones and Enigma machine, and managing navigation and charting the enemy ships. We want the game to give the players plenty to do and put them in pressure situations where fast, smart decisions have to be made to survive.
There’s a video on the Steam page that can give you an overview.Once the game is released and the funding improves, we are aiming to complete the game by October 2019. One thing I can vouch for with the developers, they have poured their hearts into this project.