Dec 092017
 
Design notes and playing hints for 688 Sub game, by author.
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Design notes and playing hints for 688 Sub game, by author.
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The following message is by the author of 688 Attack Sub:
==================================================================


Thank you for the time you have spent playing 688.
The following are some comments and advice from an author's point of view.

Hints:
------------------------------------------------------------------
Sound:
If you own a Tandy computer the sound in 688 is quite good. In
general sound on a straight IBM is pretty abysmal. If the sound
gets in the way I suggest you turn if off during game play by
pressing control-N. As you know the standard IBM has literally no
sound capabilies. On the Tandy machines, which have good sound,
or an IBM with the Covox speech thing sound effects in 688 are
excellent. In regards to the issue of the AdLib board, this
device became popular when 688 was late in development and could
not be supported inside the game itself. I am quite happy with the
work that Rob Hubbard did on the intro-music. As far as the
product being promoted as 'supporting' the AdLib, you can, and
have, taken issue with Electronic Art's marketing decision. I
might point out though that the intro music that Rob Hubbard wrote
for 688 is arguably the best piece of computer music every
developed for the Adlib board and is well worth owning if you have
an Adlib.

Performance:

It is clear from playing 688 at all that it was targeted
towards an AT class 286 type machine. My personal development
system when working on 688 was a 10MHZ AT. If you have ever
tried to develop a product on a range of microprocessers from
a 4.77 MHZ 8088 to a 25 MHZ 386 you will begin to appreciate
the dilema that the developer faces. In fact a 25MHZ 386 system
is on the order of 20 to 30 times faster than a 4.77 MHZ 8088. If
the game is to run 'fast' on an XT class machine you are quickly
relegating yourself to a limited 8 bit product. A 4.77 MHZ XT
machine is almost slower than the original Apple II computer.
Obviously a happy medium needs to be met. When playing 688 on a
slow machine use the following tips:

1. Press the SPACEBAR to advance past a crew member message.

2. Don't use the contour map. Use the 'B' key on the control
keypad to turn the map off. This will give you a high
speed feedback of your current target information.

3. Use the functions keys to get from station to station.


KEYBOARD ADVICE:

I am flattered that so many people who use 688 like the mouse
option. But here is some good advice. I personally never
use the mouse when playing 688. The keyboard is by far
a much faster way of navigating 688's screens. All you
need to know is the following:

1. Use the function keys to get from station to station.

2. On any screen the differnt command areas are organized
as groups. Simply press the number keys from '1'-'9'
to get to any group from any group. Once you are on that
group, if there is more than one selection, use the
arrow keys. You won't be playing very long before
you know which group number you want to be on where.
The neat part is it is an automatic learning process.
Even when you don't know what group number you want
you can very quickly find out by trying. Key commands
work exactly the same on the US and Soviet subs, thus no
relearning anything on the screen when you play the Russian
scenarios.

3. Use the common key commands which are available
across stations. The 9 key keypad for controlling your
current point of view, the 'G' key for targeting, the
'L' key for launch, and the 'X' key for exit. Beyond
this just use the group numbers as suggested in #2.

Game design issues:

To begin with I am a software developer. I enjoy developing state
of the art software products. I have developed educational
sofware, medical diagnostic software, and computer games. When I
began 688 there were virtually no IBM products which supported
EGA or addressed the larger memory, and faster AT class machines.
During development I took it upon myself to also create the first
true 256 color game for the IBM. I was personally fed up with
opening simulation products and having a keyboard template fall to
the floor. I always felt that I was being asked way too much to
learn how to play the game I had just paid forty bucks for. If you
have played 688 you have noticed that it has a Hypercard mouse
interface and a Microsoft Windows type keyboard interface.

688 has a 'beginner' mode which is better described as 'cheat'
mode. In this mode you have unreasonable, and unrealistic
characteristics. You have a large strength value, huge
detection value, and low noise. This is to allow you, the buyer,
to be able to play a scenario, explore it, and blow things up.
Hell, you paid forty bucks why not? However, if you really want
to play any scenrario the way it was designed, play it in
STANDARD mode. Here noise, detection and strength values are
modeled such that the scenario is sure to be challenging.

IMPORTANT STRATEGY NOTE!!!
When playing 688 every tool at your disposal counts!! The
towed array has a huge affect on your detection capabilities.
Please note your current target information. You will be sure
to note the bearing of your target as well as other relevant
information. The signal analzyer, active sonar, plot projections,
guided weapons system and every other tool in 688 has great
strategic impact. If you have doubts play someone who is really
good at 688 over the modem and you will quickly get a 'sinking'
feeling you didn't use all of your submarine's resources
wisely.

688 Attack Sub was meant to be a game. If you don't want to
refer to it as a simulation that is fine with me. I just want
it to be fun. Playing 688 is an experience, especially over
the modem. As far as simulation accuracy goes that, like everything
else, is relative. Yeah, if you have served on nuclear submarines,
and have memorized every statistic from Jane's you are sure to
find plenty to pick about. But what about all of the other
people who don't know anything about submarines but purchased
688 to blow some things up and find out what a submarine is about?
Well, he gets to blow something up within a few minutes. And there
is a towed array, pretty sophisticated targeting system, signal
analyzer, and a lot of other things to play with. There are
22 scenarios of which he may find a number challenging and fun.
The purchaser may, hopefully, spend more than forty hours
playing a fun game, and come away feeling like he knows
a lot more about submarines then he ever knew before. 688 is
not a purist's simulation by any means but Paul, Randy and I
set our sights on making it a fun game. I certainly hope that
we have acheived that goal.

A little more background. Before I started 688 I knew absolutely
nothing about submarines. I then read The Hunt for Red October
and Red Storm Rising. I enjoyed these two books at the same
level that I am certain millions of other people did. When
Electronic Arts and I began working on a submarine simulation
product we had input from a lot of people including some
very knowlegable in the naval simulations arena. Together
we created a product that includes a whole lot of elements that
go into real Naval warfare and packaged them into an easy to
use, and hot product. We incorporated excellent sound, hot,
hot, graphics, cool technology like 3D sonar imaging, digitized
bit maps with a great explosion sequence, multi-player modem
support, amd 22 scenarios providing a wide range of experiences
for the user. We even went so far as to provide scenarios that
could be played from both points of view, providing a unique
ability to observe weaknesses and strengths while 'diving'
in your enemy's boots.

I would also like to point out that I took a personal risk by
giving away a free demo copy of my product in the Maxell
promotion. I did this because I wanted people to know that a
submarine simulation product could be fun, easy to use, and have
good graphics. The actual product has a large number of scenarios
that address many different game player's appetites. I certainly
hope that you feel that 688 Attack Sub is worth taking for a
drive. There is a lot of game here and hopefully a lot of fun for
all!


Thanks,

John W. Ratcliff




 December 9, 2017  Add comments

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