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We all live in an aging self-destructing nuclear submarine...
June 16, 2014 4:09 PM   Subscribe

Sub Commander is a free roguelike submarine simulator in the vein of FTL or Dwarf Fortress (but not as hard). You control the crew of a blocky nuclear attack submarine with an impressive number of onboard systems as you complete randomly generated missions. Everything from nuclear reactors to fire to ocean thermal layers to a world map complete with ports and realistic enemy ships is accurately modeled. Rock Paper Shotgun has two reviews, so far of this very playable work-in-progress. Currently only for Windows, but plays well with emulators. The learning curve is a bit steep, so some hints inside...

You can choose which of 21 nations to play, and you can find details in the FAQ.

Click on the control panels throughout the ship to send a crewperson (white=officer, blue=enlisted) there to interact with it. You can then hit F1 to get specifics on that panel.

Make sure to have your crew members who are best at repairs grab respirators and toolkits from the equipment store before the mission. You can repair holes in the hull as well as systems.

The map screen is the easiest way to navigate to your missions, you can change direction and speed as well as speed up time there. The approximate location of your target is a small x on the map. All of your actual attacks should be coordinated using the periscope.

The Misc panel contains all of the damage control functions and fire suppression switches. Make sure to avoid doing things like, say, venting your radioactively contaminated reactors into the engine room. Also, the bilge pumps (blue circles) are your friend when flooding happens.

If you go to a friendly port (green dot), you can get yourself rearmed and repaired.

The learning curve is not as steep as it first appears, and random breakdowns on your ship are harder and more dangerous than most combat encounters.
posted by blahblahblah (27 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite

If you are getting an "Illegal Memory Error," a solution is here.
posted by blahblahblah at 4:24 PM on June 16

Oooh! This looks cool!
posted by brundlefly at 4:56 PM on June 16

Wineskin Winery package for OS X (92.9 mb; appears to work fine).
posted by zachlipton at 4:57 PM on June 16 [3 favorites]

Oh, neat, I remember trying this when it first came out.
posted by aroweofshale at 6:13 PM on June 16

Impossible to play this without muttering in a Scottish-Russian accent, I suppose?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:48 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]

Impossible to play this without muttering in a Scottish-Russian accent, I suppose?

Give me a ping, Vasili. One ping only, please.
posted by nubs at 6:50 PM on June 16 [3 favorites]

Makes me think of 688 Attack Sub.
posted by curious nu at 6:56 PM on June 16 [2 favorites]

I was wondering if this was made by somebody with actual experience with submarines (nuclear in particular) right up until it made the distinction between "Engine Room" and "Generator Room". That said, the creator did do a respectable amount of research. The layout of the boat in this game looks a lot like diagrams you can find online, along with a reasonable understanding of how nuclear power plants work.

Technically the layout of the Engine Room is classified Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information, so I shouldn't be nitpicky.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:36 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]

God, those dwarfs are bad enough when you give them a volcano. Some maniac gave them a nuclear reactor.
posted by JHarris at 7:38 PM on June 16 [5 favorites]

This is a Steel torpedo. All seadwarfship is of the highest quality. It is encrusted with Brass, Copper and Aluminum, studded with steel, decorated with cat bone and encircled with bands of brass. This object is adorned with hanging rings of steel and menaces with a !!NUCLEAR!! warhead. On the item is an image of Urist McSeadwarf the dwarf and toast in merman leather. Urist McSeadwarf is surrounded by toast. Urist McSeadwarf is on fire. The toast is on fire. The artwork relates to the creation of the artifact toast Crumbs Toast the Burnt Toast in the early summer of 219.
posted by nathan_teske at 9:22 PM on June 16 [23 favorites]

I can never find my targets. I go to the X, surface and turn on my radar and... nothing.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:52 PM on June 16

Huh. I didn't find it to be too challenging to find the target. However, the developer said they could be as many as 150 nm away from the x. Make sure your radar is at the 80 nm setting and sail around a bit.

Right now, this game is amazing for 1-2 hours, then, strangely, it gets too easy, since most enemy encounters are less dangerous than random malfunctions. If you keep going back to port, it is hard to lose once you know the controls.
posted by blahblahblah at 10:14 PM on June 16

I was starting to play this but a lot of my clicks weren't registering. I'm going to try again, though. It looks great.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:30 PM on June 16

TIL that submarines catch fire and randomly break down on a daily basis. Who knew?
posted by zachlipton at 2:03 AM on June 17


- this reminds me of the tabletop solo war game, The Hunters, which I find easy to play, and

- this also reminds other people of Dwarf Fortress, which I find impossible to play, then

might it be possible to develop a 'B-17 Queen of the Skies' / 'The Hunters' type tabletop version of Dwarf Fortress, which I could play?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:12 AM on June 17

TIL that submarines catch fire and randomly break down on a daily basis. Who knew?
The Russian navy can tell you something about that.
posted by brokkr at 2:13 AM on June 17 [1 favorite]

So it turns out that I'm actually really bad at operating a nuclear submarine.

Who could have known?
posted by Avenger at 2:35 AM on June 17 [2 favorites]

The Russian navy can tell you something about that.

Or the Royal Navy.
posted by pompomtom at 3:59 AM on June 17

Or the US Navy
posted by rodlymight at 5:36 AM on June 17

Some help with the difficult level from the RPS comments:
Also, I suggest playing with the sub_reliability setting in the .ini file because, personally, I found the number of accidents the sub has to be absolutely ridiculous. Here’s the dev’s explanation of how the setting worked :

Since a lot of people are commenting on how accident prone the subs are, I will explain a bit more about what sub_reliability actually does.
Basically, the mean time between failures is 10 + 2*sub_reliability seconds. So if you use the default value of 100, there will be an accident on average once ever 210 seconds. If you set it to 0, there will be an accident on average once every 10 seconds. If you set it to a value less than -4, there will never be random accidents on the sub
For a number of missions starting out I put it on -5, so I could learn how to use the systems when they weren’t on fire. These days I run about 750. Which means my sub now only catches fire twice an hour.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:47 AM on June 17 [1 favorite]

The fact that enemies are less dangerous than your own crew and their shelter is just like Dwarf Fortress. My forts fell to tantrum spirals, inexplicable famines, flooding, disease, etc. more than they ever did to monsters.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 7:21 AM on June 17

I had a fire suppression system malfunction in the turbine room of my Dutch (!) nuclear (!!!) sub. Can anybody tell me how to repair that?

Or, well, how I should have repaired that before I was depth-charged by an Iranian destroyer north of Norway ...
posted by brokkr at 7:27 AM on June 17

(The only sub sim I was ever any good at was GATO.)
posted by brokkr at 7:34 AM on June 17

I had a fire suppression system malfunction in the turbine room of my Dutch (!) nuclear (!!!) sub. Can anybody tell me how to repair that?

Go to the Misc. Systems control panel in the Command Center and hit the red Fire Suppression button for the turbine room. Then make sure to open the vent to the room using the switch on the same panel so you get oxygen in there. If someone needs to work in the room in the meantime, you can get a self-contained breathing unit for them from the equipment store.
posted by blahblahblah at 7:55 AM on June 17

(The only sub sim I was ever any good at was GATO.)

I was just the other day thinking about how much I missed that game.
posted by COBRA! at 7:58 AM on June 17

Ah, the good old days of simulation gaming when the motto was SIMULATE ALL THE COLD WAR THINGS.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:44 PM on June 17

Am I the only one who futzed around randomly with the controls until I figured out how to pull the control rods out of the reactor just to see how long it would be until we got a meltdown?
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:03 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]

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