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Fleet Command

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Fleet Command (FC), previously labeled as Jane's Fleet Command, is a real-time tactics naval warfare simulation computer game released in 1999. It was developed by Sonalysts Inc. and published by Electronic Arts (EA). The game licensed parts of Jane's Information Group's military information database, which was used as an in-game "Jane's Library", reference material that the player could refer to while in-game. Jane's also licensed to EA the "Jane's" name and the "Jane's Combat Simulations" logo, and the game was marketed under the "Jane's" name, much like the previous "Jane's Fighters Anthology", also published by Electronic Arts. The game was also released in a three-game "Naval Combat Pack" along with 688(I) and F/A-18 Hornet.

The game supported 3D rendering by either D3D or 3dfxGlide, but not OpenGL or software rendering. Fleet Command was written primarily for the use of the now defunct Voodoo brand video cards that used Glide. D3D rendering is slower than the native 3dfxGlide rendering of the same map, even when using the newest D3D-capable cards. The game was written for Windows 98, although it would run (albeit slightly less stable) on Windows 95. On Windows XP, the game had serious stability and installation issues until the 1.34 and 1.38 patches and the XP installation utility/patch.[citation needed]

Re-release

On October 26, 2006 Strategy First re-released Fleet Command as SCS-Fleet Command, without the "Jane's" branding. It was released as part of a three-game retail package called Naval Combat Pack(NCP), which also included 688(I) Hunter/Killer and Sub Command and also includes a video CD "A Century of Silent Service." The changes in the new release are as follows:

  • Removal of all references to the name "Jane's" in both text and art work
  • Data revised using unclassified sources
  • Reworked rendering engine to be DirectX 9.0c and Windows XP compatible
  • Minor code improvements to improve Windows XP compatibility[2]

The SCS-FC re-release has so far been quite reliable, stable and crash free. The graphics are smoother than before, but not using the Direct3D video mode instead of the 3dfx results in a darker 3D video display. The 3dfx compatibility was retained and some players have reported better graphics using a Glide wrapper.

The 2006 version of Fleet Command was also released on GameTap as of Thursday, March 20, 2008.

Gameplay

File:Jane's Fleet Command - world map.jpg
In terms of gameplay, as a real-time tactics game it is a realistic military simulator and only involves resource management of weapons and the fuel of irborn aircraft. The scenario defines the units that a player has at the beginning of the scenario, and the player can never have more than what they started with until the scenario ends. Like other real-time tactics games, losses cannot be replaced, which emphasizes the value of units and the judicious use of them (though some scenarios make it impossible to save a particular unit). The military realism is emphasized further by such means as using some authentic NTDS symbology on the 2D tactical planning map. Much of the game and mission events are presented in the form of full-motion video sequences.
File:Jane's Fleet Command - FMV clips.jpg

Gameplay can be chosen from one of three different options. First is a series of preset missions that contain certain objectives. These missions contain specific goals that must be accomplished in order to be graded successfully. They vary in difficulty from one star to four with four stars being the most difficult. A second game play theme is to play one of four provided scenarios. These are generally "wars" verses "battles" that require the player to win each successive challenge before continuing. The last type of game play is using a feature called "mission editing," where a player can input their own configurations and force strength and objectives. Preset mission objectives and goals can be inputed into the editor and displayed to the player at various intervals throughout gameplay. Inputed objectives can be configured in such a way that they must be completed in predetermined orders for the overall mission to be successful. The programming skills necessary are quite basic and are a credit to the ingenuity of the software designers.

The "mission editor" feature is simple to use and relatively uncommon in other game play software. The feature enables players to interface directly with the software and provide a relatively limitless amount of possible combat scenarios.

Setting

The game is set in the late 1990s. The game focused exclusively on contemporary units. Units that were in service when the game was released were featured, and units that were out of service or not yet in service were not featured. The game reflects that some of the world's military forces are more advanced than others.

Realism

File:Jane's Fleet Command - online weapons reference.jpg

The game is basically a naval combat strategic training simulator. It covers the full spectrum of modern naval operations, including submarine warfare, surface warfare, naval aviation, and electronic warfare. Air Force, Marine Corps and Army units are also modeled in the game, although the Army units are generally static. Although the initial release focused mainly on the U.S. Military, it did include a wide variety of forces from nations around the world including the U.K., India, Russia, China, and others. The actual forces under a player's command can include units from several nations (a multi-national force), or it may be limited to a selection of forces from just the one nation's military Arsenal.

File:Jane's Fleet Command - mission and interface.jpg

The game includes both aircraft carriers and land-based air bases. It maintains a level of realism in that aircraft that are limited to land-based operations in real life are similarly limited to land-based operations in the game. This prevents the player from having heavy bombers (like the B-52) taking off or landing from aircraft carriers, something that never happens in the real world. Moreover, only aircraft that are actually assigned to a particular class of aircraft carrier in real life are available on in-game carriers. This concept of realism in units carries through to the weaponry, ordinance, speed, accuracy, radar coverage, detectability, and survivability of all of the units and weapons in the game. One feature that was deliberately kept out of the game was nuclear weapons.

Game Dynamics

In a single-player game, the player starts by selecting a stand-alone scenario or a campaign scenario. Campaign scenarios are linked in that if the player successfully completes a scenario in the campaign, this unlocks the next scenario in that campaign for play. However, the game is limited in that it can only ever have the one campaign available to the player at any one time. In fact, the original version of the game only included one campaign (since then, several replacement campaigns have been made by FC and NWP-FC enthusiasts). A stand-alone scenario is not linked to other scenarios like the campaign scenarios are, although they may be related in terms of setting, theater-of-war, combatants, alliances, fictitious or historical conflicts, etc.

Once the player is in the scenario, a 2-D representation of the forces available is presented. This display also shows a representation of the sensor (radar, visual, sonar, etc.) ranges that any of his units have. Individual units are shown in a 3D rendering. If the player has selected the EMCOMS option, none of his units start the game with active sensors on; only passive sensors will be engaged. This can be an effective strategy for keeping the player's ships undetected, but it also blinds their GCI and leaves them "groping in the dark", so to speak. If the player has AWACS aircraft and/or fighter jets available, these are often the first units deployed; it is important to find the enemy before they find you.

Trivia

The United States Naval Academy actually had the game installed in computer labs and used it to introduce prospective students to the concepts of fleet level decision making during its Summer Seminar program.

External links

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 To install the Janes's FC on a Windows 2000 or XP system you need to use the 2000/XP Installer
  2. Discussed on a Subsim.com forum

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