Harpoon 2 & 3 History
When released, the Harpoon 2 and 3 simulations were the most complex, realistic and accurate strategy-simulation of air and naval operations available to non-military users. These simulators were actively supported and maintained by the developer as well as the community and new upgrades, features and scenarios were released for H3 on a regular basis.
Harpoon II was the MS/DOS version of the simulator. It was first released in 1994 on six 3.5 inch floppy disks and contained the battleset Global Conflicts One. The Global Conflicts Two and Three, Cold War, Westpac, and Regional Conflicts One battlesets were later released as add-ons. The next version, Harpoon II Deluxe Multimedia Edition, an improved version released on CD-ROM, contained the three battlesets Global Conflicts One, Two and Three as well as many new video and audio clips. It also included a printed manual and a scenario editor which allowed you to build your own scenarios. The final version was Harpoon II Admiral’s Edition. This had all six previous battlesets plus a new one, Regional Conflicts Two. However, being a MS/DOS application, Harpoon II suffered from severe stability problems on Windows 95, 98, ME platforms and would not run at all in pure 32-bit operating systems like NT 4.0, Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Because of these shortcomings, Harpoon II was ported to Windows and renamed Harpoon3.
Harpoon 3.6 was the vastly improved Windows (Windows 95, 98, ME, NT 4.0, Windows 2000 and Windows XP) and Mac (OS and OSX) version of Harpoon II. Harpoon 3 for PC was released in February 2002 while Harpoon 3 for Macintosh was released back in 2001. The simulator contains a myriad of new features and bug fixes, too numerous to mention all.
The HarpoonHQ’s DB2000 database and scenario project was started in late 1996 and has produced the most accurate, detailed and realistic dataset available for any commercial naval / air simulator. It contains more than 5000 ships, submarines, aircraft and land facilities plus about 1900 weapons. In other words, the complete 1980-2015 Order of Battle for more than 60 countries. For example, the US Navy F/A-18C has a separate database entry for use after 1988, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2010. The F-16 is represented by 149 database entries to cover all operators, main versions, subversions and progressive weapon upgrades, while the Ticonderoga-class Aegis cruiser has 79 entries that cover all major batches, upgrades and weapon / sensor configurations from 1983 to 2010.
Harpoon II screenshots. Click on any of the thumbnails for a full picture:
Harpoon 3 screenshots. Click on any of the thumbnails for a full picture:
Harpoon 3.7 Advanced Naval Warfare (ANW) is the upgraded version of Harpoon3 which adds Multiplayer and many significant changes to the simulation. This version is still under development (September 2008) but can be purchased from its publisher, Matrix Games.
We believe the release of H3.7 aka ANW was controversial as it encompassed both positive and negative elements.On the positive side, multiplayer (a longstanding desire of the community) was finally implemented, and a number of important bugs present in v3.6 were fixed and some UI enhancements were added. On the downside the new version also presented significant problems. Numerous new bugs surfaced, many of them show-stoppers in severity and affecting the vast majority of community scenarios and databases. The development team failed to communicate the numerous code changes to third-party developers with enough time and information for the necessary adjustments to be made.
Unfortunately, after a series of incremental patches, this situation has not improved substantially and we have a number of concerns.
The game still has a fairly large buglist. Some of the problems are obvious, e.g. game crashes or units performing outright stupid actions. Other flaws are more subtle; for example both friendly and enemy AI may behave significantly different than what it has been instructed to.
Third-party content painstakingly crafted over the years (and working fine in pre-ANW versions like v3.6) has been rendered semi-inoperable. Much of this is this is due to bugs or features and was never articulated completely to the user base. While we understand the developers have a right to make changes to their game it probably would be in the best interest of all to let everybody know, particularly if part of your advertising strategy is pointing at the quality of third party content.
Many of the game models have been reverted to the models used by the paper rules system. While we understand the designers right and desire for more parallels between the paper and electronic versions we think the processing power of a computer should be taken advantage of. In our opinion, reverting to a rule set designed for the human processor to efficiently solve at the gaming table is not a step forward for computer Harpoon from a modeling/simulation viewpoint.
Additionally, AGSI and Matrix have not capitalized on the chief improvement of ANW, multiplayer. No MP server has been offered by either company yet, more than 4 years after ANW’s official release and more than 7 years(!) after MP beta testing commenced. This has effectively left MP at ad-hoc community servers and shows a profound lack of trust to the game by its very own creators. If they felt good about this feature they would have clearly invested time and resources into its success.
This situation, and the lack of evidence of real progress in the game, has forced the majority of the community (including the content creators at HarpoonHQ) to concentrate on supporting pre-ANW versions like v3.6, as well as validating our re-orientation towards other projects such as Command and Global Conflict Blue.