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SimBattleshipUnderFire 512.jpg
SimFireControlMechanism 512.jpg

In 2002-2006, I created a simulation I called Fleet Action Imminent. I hoped to then create a massively multiplayer game called With the Fleet, but except for a few prototypes, WTF never got very far before I set it aside for other pursuits — notably, this wiki.

Fleet Action Imminent

FAI was written in Java, and delivered a Spartan 3D interactive environment using an extinct, WIndows-only 3D plug-in called Wildtangent Web Driver. It delivered low frame-rates and a dated appearance, but these were not a barrier to what I wanted to focus on: creating a realistic simulation of the ships, duties and mechanisms of fire control.

FAI embodied realistic ballistics and implementations of 20+ distinct AI behaviours for sailors with different shipboard duties, manning a virtual Dreyer table, wireless transmitter, many data transmitters and receivers, Vickers director, coincidence rangefinders, dumaresqs, etc, etc. It was fairly glorious.

I toyed with the idea of tearing out Wildtangent in favour of jMonkeyEngine, but didn't proceed with it, as the FAI architecture was unlikely to ever deliver me the massively multiplayer experience I felt was necessary to achieve my broadest vision. This does not mean that I would not permit a talented and motivated hacker from trying to achieve this.

One limited fruit of the switch to using jMonkeyEngine was that I took out the ballistics code into an application called Blammo that creates very accurate HTML range tables for simulated weapons based on very little input data. I may eventually release Blammo.

With the Fleet

When I was setting aside FAI's Java code, I made a few prototypes of the proper game I wanted to create. The first was based in Torque Game Engine, and the second built atop Ogre3D. The prototypes had some innovative features I won't divulge, but never got very naval. I sorely needed a better coder than myself to get where I was going.

I since have looked at Unity3D, which tries to be easy to use but is harder to understand than a C++ game engine... how did they do that?

Developer Blog

5 Sep 2011

I am working to bring the FAI sim up on jMonkeyEngine. I have a subset of the old sim working nicely. My hope is that I can share it with others. Things are promising, but no guarantees.

11 Oct 2011

I have been working hard and have destroyers with helmsmen, 4-in guns and gunners working. I find myself now spending time getting smokestacks to throw their smoke in the right direction and volume, etc. Progress is slow.

4-in gun fire

11 Dec 2011

I have made steps toward making the sim multiplayer, but am not going to press ahead on this for a bit. I dashed ahead and worked to create the battlecruiser with its entire fire control systems again. It will require much debugging and I see some art is around 5 times too big... I will have to go and check why that is and apply fixes to orientation (Wildtangent was in a righthanded graphics space, and JME is lefthanded).

3 Jan 2012

I have been working, slowly, on getting the battlecruiser up and running and adding unique gameplay elements. The battlecruiser and its many instruments is imported, but I have to do much of that work again, as I have most parts yawed 180 degrees from the most convenient norm. Argh!

21 Feb 2012

Some solid progress toward getting the battlecruiser up and running.

  • The coincidence rangefinder now works
  • the transmitting station has a Dreyer table. Some of the pieces are facing the wrong way, or react "backwards" to the user interface, but most are corrected after a little thinking. Most recent task has been getting the paper plots and the brass plates on hatches set up. The good news is that this allows me to tie into Java2D, which provides much of the utility that went missing when I switched from the old Wildtangent platform.
  • magic portal hatches permit access between the gun deck to the director platform, transmitting station and spotting top

Some parts I am leaving for later:

  • the ShipsLogPlayback app is in real disrepair. If it comes back, it will be in Java2D
  • the Wireless stations may need some more attention than they merit
  • particle effects of gunfire and shell splashes leaves much to be desired
  • flags don't work (waiting on native physic libraries for this)
  • some of my secret features are shelved for now
  • multiplayer
  • PC compatibility (it presently runs on a Mac), as well as a means for others to run it on any platform

1 Mar 2012

The battlecruiser fired its guns under director control today. It was chaos; still much to do. I need to resurrect the cheater navyphone network I use to quickly tell everyone there is a target to shoot at, and the turrets lost the gunlayer on the right gun and never had proper sightsetting equipment. Adding that in next.

22 Mar 2012

I had to take a long time to revamp the audio propagation logic which determined who could hear what commands, etc. It makes for a more natural treatment... speaking into a voicepipe now is as simple as moving over next to it and pressing shift while speaking. Not the final UI I'd like, but good enough for now. The battlecruiser is now firing its weapons under director control with a crew of over 70 (according to a printout in the code ... I am not sure I see that reflected in the accounting below) virtual sailors and two phone networks.

I have only been controlling them in Director Firing for the main battery so far, but they have substantial understanding of local laying and firing. There is as yet no treatment of the secondary battery -- the guns are dummy artwork.

Fore Top accessible by magic portal on gundeck
  • Range Officer (w/ telaupad to Top network)
  • Spotter (w/ telaupad to Top network)
  • Voicepipe to Conn
Director Platform accessible by magic portal on gundeck
  • Vickers Light Aloft director manned by
  • Phone Man (w/ telaupad to Top network)
  • Sightsetter
  • Director Layer
  • Director Trainer
Transmitting Station accessible by magic portal on gundeck
  • TS Officer
  • Top Talker (w/ telaupad to Top network)
  • Main Talker (w/ telaupad to Main network)
  • Dreyer Table Mark III (c1918 sans Wind Dumaresq), manned by
  • Range Plotter (w/ six overhead single range receivers, two functioning)
  • Bearing Plotter
  • Range Tuner
  • Spotting Corrector
  • Dumaresq Operator
  • Totaliser Operator
  • Range Master Transmitter w/operator
  • Deflection Master Transmitter w/operator
  • Bearing Transmitter w/operator
  • Gun Ready Board with Fire push
Conning Tower accessible by hatch to signal deck
  • Captain
  • Helmsman
  • Voicepipe to Fore Top
  • Captain's Cease Fire push
Gun Control Tower accessible by hatch on its top
  • Rangetaker (w/telaupad to Main network and nine-foot coincidence rangefinder)
  • Gunnery Officer (with bearing and rate transmitters)
  • placeholder sailor
  • placeholder sailor
Torpedo Control Tower accessible by hatch if you trek back there!
Signal Deck
  • Semaphore Signaller (partly functional)
  • Flag Signaller (broken)
Four Twin 13.5-in Turrets, each with
  • Officer of Quarters
  • Turret Talker (w/ telaupad to Main network)
  • Two loaders (abstractly representing the entire loading process)
  • Two gun layers with elevation receivers, controls for elevating gun, sighting scopes and triggers
  • Turret trainer with 2 telescopes and trainer's switch, controls for training the turret
  • Turret Director Trainer with training receiver
  • Four sightsetters
  • a few miscellaneous receivers

23 Mar 2012

A hellish 2 days. My iMac shat the bed and I bought a new one. It was a lemon. I returned it and brought home another. It worked better but also had serious issues. I have no development machine at the moment, though my code is backed up (I pray). Off to the UK on Sunday the 25th for some study with Simon.

May 31 2012

Anniversary of the Battle of Jutland.

Marsden Samuel is helping me with some art. It's proving difficult, so I set him up with what I hope is a runnable WIndows version of my sim so he can walk around the Queen Mary and see whether textures are right or wrong, and check on geometry, etc. It's encouraging to consider someone other than me running my sim!

See Also