Battlestations: Pacific

Pacific designer Alastair Cornish speaks.  

Battlestations: Pacific designer Alastair Cornish has been answering your questions this afternoon, tackling the tricky subjects of sharks, demo dates and much more.

Thank you to Alastair and also to all of you taking part.

The full Battlestations: Pacific interview follows, with the earliest questions and answers presented first.

Our live coverage of this event has finished.



Super Moderating Hero: Alastair is with us now, and we're ready to begin.


Super Moderating Hero: Hello, Alastair! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and why you're so famous?

Alastair Cornish: Hi there. I'm a designer at Eidos and I'm not so sure about the famous part - infamous maybe! I have over 13 years of industry experience and more than 25 published titles to my name in various roles.


Super Moderating Hero: Battlestations Pacific comes across as an enhanced version of Battlestations Midway, one that addresses the problems of the first game but does little to really evolve on them. How much of a sequel is Pacific?

Alastair Cornish: It's a true sequel. There's a huge amount changes, improvements, additions - it's far beyond enhancement. With two campaigns, five multiplayer modes, skirmish mode, tonnes of new war machines and a vast raft of technical and gameplay improvements it's a really big jump.


I'd just like to mention, I really enjoyed the first game. My only issue was that to be really effective, especially in multiplayer and later single player levels, I often found myself spending 90% of my time in the map screen directing units without actually seeing or getting invloved in the action myself. Has anything been changed in the sequel, that allows you feel more involved in the action this time round?

Alastair Cornish: Good question! Something the team spent a lot of time on was trying to keep the user in the action as much as possible. To give some concrete examples in Midway in order to trigger repairs you needed to go to a separate screen, taking you out of the action - now in Pacific you can trigger repairs from a small pop up that sits in the HUD so you are still in the action, able to see what's going on.

Of course the map screen is still a dedicated screen and if users want to they can spend plenty of time there ordering units. However for those users who prefer action they will be able to spend more time in the thick of things! The Battlestations games are all about a balance between the two (Action / Strategy).


Hello! I'm just curious about the kamikazes. Do you select from the airport, that you will load the plane full of bombs? And about the Ohka, can you control the ohka from cockpit view? How long can you control it? And the last question. Do the japanese speak japanese or english in the game? Thanks!

Alastair Cornish: Kamikazes are one of the most interesting new class of units. You do choose to specifically launch as a kamikaze (so it's not something you do spontaneously while in the air), so you are effectively launching an explosive packed plane, yes. As for the Ohka yes you control it all the way into its target, at first you glide and try to line up on your target, then you kick in the rocket engine and scream down on the enemy (there's no turning back once triggered). You control it until destroyed. As for power the Ohka's are extremely potent war machines!

Super Moderating Hero: Can they take down battleships in one blow?

Alastair Cornish: Not unless the Battleship was severely damaged beforehand. There are some ships which can be sunk with one successful kamikaze strike.

Oh! I realised I missed an earlier question. The Japanese forces are voiced by Japanese actors, however the actors speak in English, this is to ensure that users can understand important info like they are about to lose an island or a battleship! We didn't want it to be unfair and have Japanese players needing to read subtitles, ie people playing for the Japanese side.

Super Moderating Hero: Did you run into any tricky political situations with kamikaze pilots?

Alistair Cornish: As for the political question, concerns arose and were discussed concerning their (Kamikazes) use but we felt they were such an interesting part of the war in the pacific that they shouldn't have been left out. All in all it's a very even handed treatment of the conflict, we feel.


It is possible to get more information about the subs! There's so much information on the web about the ships and planes but nothing on submarines! Maybe you could give us some gameplay videos and also some information of launching planes from a submarine or a battleship, because this is new to the game!

Alastair Cornish: Well we have a number of submarines in the game: Gato, Narwhal, I-400, minisubs, Type B's. Some can launch small suicide minisubs, others can even launch planes. As for releasing movies of them in action, I honestly don't know if / when that'll happen. Subs are sneaky units able to travel at 4 different depth levels (though they take crushing damage at the lowest depth but are hard to detect there) and some are fitted with rear firing torpedo tubes, great for hit and run!


It's out of question that torpedoes are limited to every single machinery using them. But is it possible to reload torpedoes somehow, most notably when it comes to submarines and smaller ship-classes?

Alastair Cornish: In certain missions submarines and ships can be reloaded. Torpedo bombers can always be reloaded.


Can we get any more information on the I-400 class? Such as how launching sea planes works, and how to use the kaiten manned torpeadoes...

Alastair Cornish: It's straightforward really, just get to the right depth level / surface and press a button to launch. Kaitens can then be guided into their targets manually (if desired). Kaitens are really NASTY! Don't let one hit you.


The community wants to know if there will be a demo! When? What will be in it? Spill those beans!

Alastair Cornish: My beans must remain in the tin I'm afraid.


Super Moderating Hero: Let's delve into multiplayer, a hot topic for our readers. What are the biggest changes here?

Alastair Cornish: Where to begin! It's been completely overhauled. It (along with Skirmish mode) features 5 game types (Island Capture, Escort, Siege, Competitive, Duel), all playable over a number of maps, each map and map size dramatically altering the experience. Island Capture is what I'm most excited about since it's a very free from mode where users can construct their own fleets and try out all kinds of different tactics.


Will Pacific allow the use of bots so you can play multiplayer games in co-op? Playing a game of Midway without a full amount of players was not ideal and lead to myself, and a lot of my online friends, giving up on it fairly quickly.

Alastair Cornish: Yes you can play co-op against bots. Or have bots fill in and play alongside human players.


Does the new game allow for more players online in a single game? a squadron of planes or a single battleship per player for example?

Alastair Cornish: The game supports 8 players. The number of units each player has control over depends on the game type, in Island capture one player may have chosen to spend his command points on 2 squadrons of planes and a landing ship, another player may have spent it all on a single attack cruiser. It's very fluid though since you get your command points back to spend again once a unit is destroyed, so you are never left without units and out of the game.


Some may hate me for this time wasting question, but at least it's exotic! On some renders you can see sharks, are they also in-game? And can they eat boats and jump out at low-flying planes? Conversely, can submarines purposely run them down and break their fins off?

Alastair Cornish: You have NO IDEA how much I wanted all kinds of shark related tomfoolery in the game - I'm right there with you on that one! Sadly sharks and all the fun they bring didn't make the cut.


What stage is BSP at now? Can you tell us what the PC system specs will be? Will they make us cry? And why did you decide not to do a PS3 version?

Alastair Cornish: I'm afraid I can't answer any of those questions! Sorry. Obviously most of that info will come out soon, though.


How much more can you get out of the American/Japanese battles of World War II? Are you concerned in any way that European gamers might not be as interested in Battlestation: Pacific as US gamers?

Alastair Cornish: I think the war in the Pacific has proven time and again, across all kinds of different media, to be a really compelling period of history. I think Battlestations Pacific and the alternate-history Japanese campaign is testament to how much more there is to explore. So we certainly hope that gamers out there are looking forward to going to war again!


How will the "buying" of units work? Are there restrictions? And what's the wackiest machine on offer? (Are you sure there are no sharks? What about birds to get caught in aeroplane engines?)

Alastair Cornish: When it comes to the commissioning (buying) of units in island capture the type of bases you hold will alter the kind of units you can launch e.g. Before being able to launch battleships you might need to capture a shipyard on a central island. Each unit costs a different amount of command points to balance things out, so a battleship costs far more than a landing boat for example. Some maps or map sizes may not feature airfields, so planes can't be commissioned. Also you may need to unlock certain units in single player in order to be able to access them in multiplayer. As for wacky machines, being an Ohka pilot sounds pretty crazy to me!


How many hours of gameplay can we expect from the campaigns? And, er, when's that demo due again?

Alastair Cornish: Nice try! As for playthrough times it's a rough guesstimate but I'll say about 18 hours just for the single player campaigns, and lots, lots more in Skirmish and Multiplayer. It depends on how good you are really, and if you go for all the gold medals, and if you go through on harder difficulty levels.


There seems to be quite a lot of secrecy around the game, but we're only a couple of months from launch. Is the May date still concrete?

Alastair Cornish: Battlestations Pacific is set to release in North America on May 12th and May 15th across Europe and Australia. [That's a yes, then - Ed]


Super Moderating Hero: We only have time for one more for Alastair, so we'd better make it insightful. Alastair, would you rather have lasers for eyes or be able to turn invisible? And why?

Alastair Cornish: DAMN! That's tough. Lasers are sweet, eye lasers are even better... However, the amount of dubious activities you can get up to while invisible is too good to pass up. So I'll go with invisibility (as long as I can turn it on and off at will!). Why don't I get to fly though - what the hell is wrong with you people?


Super Moderating Hero: Fish and chips and tea and scones, Alastair! Thank you ever so much for answering our questions.

Latest comments

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    RedSparrows 13 years ago
    I liked Midway. It was pretty tricky at times.
    battleshipman 13 years ago
    The edited my question to the point that I thought they put some elses question after my name.
    metalangel 13 years ago
    Too bad the interviews were so busy being wacky and indeed zany that more proper questions weren't asked. I wanna know if the superweapons can be turned off so you can just play with standard vehicles.
    Darkjinxter 13 years ago
    I've never played a Battlestations game so I'll shut up after this. I was taken aback with Anthony_UK's comments that you spend most of your time in the map screens to be effective in the previous games and he'd like so see more immersion.
    This immersion of real-time strategy, unit mangement and in yer face FPS was achieved 10 years ago.
    Is it too much to ask for it now in 2009?
    Anthony_UK 13 years ago
    Brilliant, I got both of my questions posted! Fairly positive answers too... I haven't really been keeping tabs on this in all honesty, but after hearing of there attempts to make people feel more involved this time (My main issue first time round) and some of the new unit types, I'm really looking forward to this now! As with the first game, it'll be almost like a breath of fresh air, being so different to everything else out there.
    Spekingur 13 years ago
    I wonder since they are introducing proper infantry into the game if mainland Europe might warrant a Battlestations game.
    glaeken 13 years ago

    I had exactly the same issue with the first game. I am thinking the solution actually might be to make the game a bit easier as some of the later missions were fairly tough and you just had to stay in the mini-map to keep things co-ordinated.

    I did enjoy the first game but I am undecided on if I will get the sequel. I do like the sound of some of the changes listed so far though so maybe one to wait for the reviews on.
    TechnoHippy 13 years ago
    I won't be able to attend this Q&A, can someone ask if there's any chance of a modern era battlestations?
    5:29 13 years ago
    Half Day mate???
    HonestJoe 13 years ago
    1. Are you the last person in the Eidos office?

    Al: Yes, back in a sec - just need to sign for a parcel!
    Bertie 13 years ago
    Oho perfectly timed for my return
    Machetazo 13 years ago
    Is this that one for which all that seemed to be released of it was an image of a frigate (or, possibly large sub) about to be hit with a missile, and something vague about October - or is that "the last one" that Anthony mentions? This game not being on the radar, I'm going to need help to place it, else my questions will be incredibly random, lol

    There seem to be so many under-the-radar air combat titles, set around World War (of your preference!) but not directly related to bits that anyone would likely be that interested to know about that weren't directly involved in, or perhaps affected by such operations, or writing educational papers, that these titles all have a nasty habit of merging into each other - until someone comes out with a name, and you have to try to figure out which identifit game of the "genre" they're actually talking about! :(
    Anthony_UK 13 years ago
    My main and only issue with first game was that, dispite all the effort they had put into the controls and detail of the ships and planes etc. You really couldn't be effective during the multiplayer or single player unless you spent 95% of your time on the map screen ordering your units about. To be expected to a certain extent I know, but it did become quite boring all the same. If i've got a dozen fighters attacking an aircraft carrier, I want to be in the middle of it all, not stuck on some boring map screen.

    Stll if they can somehow make you feel like you more involved in the action this time round, maybe even ramping up the players over live so everyone has just one unit each, i'll be picking this up!