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Posted on Oct 31, 2008 in Electronic Games

Jutland – PC Game Preview

By Jim Cobb

A German ship comes under fire in the Jutland PC game.

Jutland. Storm Eagle Studios. PC Game. Developed by Jim Rose and Norm Koger.

Passed Inspection: Great graphics; detailed modeling; improved interface.

Failed Basic: The learning curve might be steep for the casual gamer.

Jutland will almost certainly continue Storm Eagle’s reputation for quality tactical and operational gaming.

Storm Eagle Studios’ Distant Guns: The Russo-Japanese War sparked interest, controversy and admiration among connoisseurs of tactical naval gamers. Developers Jim Rose and Norm Koger take their innovative concepts a few steps farther with their examination of World War I naval combat, Jutland. The steps truly cover a large amount of territory.

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All the Ships at Sea
Two hallmarks of the Distant Guns series are detailed graphics and extremely well-researched data on craft characteristics. Jutland shows advances in both. The 3D graphics show details down to links of the anchor chains on ships. Damage is depicted as impressively as it was in the first game; even scorch marks from near misses are shown.

The shell cam still allows players to follow single shells on their journey to the enemy. The size and low velocity of large caliber shells make their flight easy to follow; even the geysers caused by misses are impressive.

Discriminating gamers will appreciate the new dynamic environment effects. As battle progresses, shadows will move along with the sun, and the sun’s position will affect firing accuracy. Wind may also shift, causing smoke to obscure targets or clearing it away to allow better shots. Twilight, fog, and rain can all bring on murky visibility. Night action prompts searchlights, star shells and phosphorescent bow waves. Changes in sea states cause waves to rage or calm down. Both dawn and twilight have “rosy fingers.” Stargazers will notice the astronomically correct arraignment of stars at the different dates of the battles in 1916. All of these views can be seen through many pans, tilts and zoom levels; even the mini-maps have five different zooms. Pausing the mouse over any ship toggles the telescope view which brings up a small but detailed picture of the ship, its most important specs as well as course and speed. The binocular view puts players on the bridge or fire control positions.

Jutland’s modeling captures every detail of a ship: hull armor, belt armor, conning tower armor, propulsion and fire control are measured. The impact of each shell and torpedo is gauged minutely against the target. The 2D information shows the building specification of the craft but is dynamic. The impact of German shells on British turrets marks a crucial element in combat, reflecting the superiority of the Kaiser’s shells over the faulty British armor.

As time passes, the time from a ship’s last overhaul is shown as well as its relative efficiency. Combat damage is shown as it occurs, with fires and flooding monitored. Mousing over vital positions like gun mounts shows their condition, ammunition level and reload time. Icons on the right give even more information about general ship condition, navigation and speed status, fire control and condition of all gun and torpedo mounts. The amazing aspect of this modeling is that over 900 craft are covered. From lowly torpedo boats to the innovative seaplane carrier HMS Engadine and the lordly HMS Agincourt, this game provides an impressive amount of information. Added value comes from the inclusion of zeppelins and U-boats. Zeppelins are used for reconnaissance in the campaign game but the U-boats are useful not only for recon but also torpedo attacks. The naval situation in the North Atlantic in 1916 can be seen completely in this game.

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28 Comments

  1. Hi Jim. I left a note for you on the GameSquad forums as well, but I was wondering if, by that last paragraph, you meant that:

    a. Jutland uses the same DRM scheme they used in DG but the game is so good we should buy it anyway?

    or

    b. Jutland uses a new, more reasonable/tolerable DRM scheme, therefore we should buy it?

    This is a make or break issue for me, so I’d really like to know one way or the other.

    Thanks.

    JD

  2. Newbie question –What is DRM ? I played D-Guns demo –and am
    cosidering buying Jutland when it finally comes out? Thank
    you .Jim

  3. DRM = Digital Rights Management

    SES have developed their own system and it’s a real mess. If you make the mistake of doing any number of things techies might be expected to do at
    some time or another – such as upgrading your computer, or reinstalling/upgrading your OS – without first starting the game and performing some kind
    of convoluted de-licencing gyration, your game will no longer function. At that point you’re at the mercy of SES tech support. And in my experience,
    that’s not a good place to be.

    This has happened to me twice now. The first time because my hard drive crashed, so there was no opportunity to do the “de-licencing” thing. When I
    realized my game was kaput, I emailed SES then waited a week or so for them to get back to me, In fact, it was a moderator on the Game Squad board
    (not an SES employee at all) with contacts within SES that actually got me up and running again. Who knows how long I would have waited otherwise?

    The second time was totally unexpected. All I did was install a new CPU… no big deal right?… and again the game choked. Again, I sent an email to
    SES tech support, and again I waited… and waited… and waited.

    And I’m not the only one this has happened to. So after these miserable experiences with this DRM system of theirs, you’d think maybe an apology from
    SES to their customers would be in order? Or given the issues people are having with this DRM system, perhaps some kind of commitment from them to be
    more responsive?

    But no. No apology, No promise to do better next time. What I got was abuse. I was flamed by the head guy at SES (Jim Rose, aka Le Empereur) in a
    public forum, for daring to complain and criticize his product. I was accused of lying about sending email, and in other threads on that same forum he
    blatantly insinuated that I was a thief trying to pirate the game.

    So do be careful when deciding whether to buy from SES. The product (DG being the only one to date) is superb, but the DRM they use is a problem and
    their customer service leaves much to be desired.

    And whether or not they agree with my opinion on SES’ brand of DRM, I’m sure any reasonable person would agree that “customer relations”… at least
    at the top level within that company… is a completely foreign concept.

    JD

  4. That’s bad really bad, I was almost sold to this game. But not with
    this kind of DRM – I might as well put my money in the lottery.

    I also had a look at SES site and they produced zero patches for
    Distant Guns, isn’t that a clear sign that they don’t support their
    games? A patch is not only there to fix bugs, but also to give the
    users some much needed improvements / features.

  5. JD:

    Distant Guns has had TONS of patches….the game automatically checks the SES site for the latest patch and pulls it down automatically on start-up.

    As for the DRM….its annoying when you lose a hard drive (which has happened to me) but their tech support team is very responsive.

    You guys REALLY should check your facts before you post.

    KV

  6. Yes, I’m aware DG has received numerous patches. I have no complaints about their product support. It’s their customer support and customer relations
    skills that are lacking.

    The former is particularly noteworthy in light of their well documented DRM issues. Read the Tech Support section of the Distant Guns forum at
    GameSquad, and the Wargames usenet newsgroups. You’ll find that I am not the only person who has had problems with them.

    My position here is quite simple. If SES chooses to inflict on their paying customers an intrusive, poorly designed and executed DRM (as demonstrated
    by the numerous false positives it generates), they have an OBLIGATION to do whatever it takes to support those customers when those DRM errors occur.
    In this they have failed miserably.

    As to the latter, again, all you have to do is read L’Empereur’s responses to some of those posts and I think you’ll agree.

    RE: your comment about checking my facts… all the facts I need to form a reasonable and supportable opinion on the matter are actually derived from
    my own 1st hand experience. The fact that others report the exact same experiences as I have had merely confirms that opinion.

    Of course, YMMV.

    JD

  7. I’ve been following this game for over a year and this is the first review to mention DRM which to me, no matter how good the game is, is a no buy
    decision. I had not bought DG as pre-dreadnoughts don’t interest me much but the favorable reviews of that games game play and mechanics led me to
    look at Jutland. However as I said before I do not tolerate DRM software installed on my machine so my money will have to go elsewhere.

  8. I have never had a problem with the DRM. I have DG on my
    desktop and laptop. The license “resides” on one computer at a
    time. When you want to switch, you start the game, hit SHIFT-
    F12 and the license is sent to SES. Then you start up your other
    computer, it asks for an ID and password and when you put it in
    the license is now on your second machine. I switch it constantly
    and have never had a problem.

  9. Hi everyone! Sorry if there are any mistakes in my message,but
    I’m from Russia and English isn’t my native language. So..I’m
    very interested in Jutland ’cause it’s one of few naval games that
    talking about WW I naval battles. That’s why it’s unique game. I
    hope that this game will be as realistic as possible. I’m not
    interested in graphics, the main valuable and essential thing is
    realism and historical precision of this game. About DRM..I think
    developers solved this problem. And..How much this game will
    cost? I hope no more than 50 $..

  10. Well, it’s being released in two different versions, “Standard” and “Pro”. The difference, as far as I know, is that the Standard version will only
    include a few missions and a 30 day mini campaign, while the Pro version contains the full 12 month campaign game and a scenario editor. They used the
    same marketing strategy with DG, and that one sold for $50 USD (Standard version) and $70 USD (Pro version).

    JD

  11. I too, was almost sold on Jutland. Until, i seen this DRM issue. I dealt with this with Sony, and it has reared its ugly head again.

    THe people who are the customer base for this niche of gaming, are not here to steal the product. I can understand with Halo or such type game, but not Jutland.

    There is no need for such an intrusive security system to be put on buyers computers.

    I will look elsewhere for my games, till this company realizes its fan base is limited.

    VC

  12. I just want to be clear about my position.. in case anyone is
    basing decisions on or being influenced by what I’m saying.

    I do not object to DRM. I understand why it’s used, even if I
    don’t like it. What I object to is intrusive, badly designed
    and/or executed DRM that punishes legitimate owners.
    Even then, if the game is good, I have been known to swallow
    hard and just live with it.

    What made DG worse than most is the combination of three things:

    - DRM badly designed and/or executed
    - Support not IMMEDIATELY responsive to this known issue
    - An arrogant, abrasive and abusive lead developer

    This last is more a personal issue for me than it is a criteria
    for objective assessment. That’s my problem. However, if
    you’ve read the GameSquad forums you’ll know that all
    along this past year, L’Empereur (Jim Rose, the lead dev
    I referred to above) has stated unequivocally that his
    DRM is here to stay and us whiny customers better just
    shut up and get used to it.

    But hold on! Now we hear that Jutland will have a new
    DRM… one that will provide users with a self-service
    interface that can be used to reactivate the game
    immediately if something goes wrong.

    Imagine that! We went from “it’s a dead horse” that
    they (SES) refused to discuss, to implementing the
    very suggestion I was making when I was told by
    L’Empereur and other SES staff to sit down and shut
    up!

    Coincidence? Sure…

    Or could it be that all that whining somehow
    reanimated Eohippus?

    In any case, if the DRM actually works as described,
    I may very well be buying this game. I just have to
    get past the queasy feeling I get when I think about
    handing my money to that arrogant ass, L’Empereur.

    But like I said, that’s a personal problem.

    JD

  13. I agree about the DRM issue.

    I was 100% ready to buy this game, even though it’s ridiculously expensive, but there’s no way I’m bying something with this kind of DRM.
    To bad, I was really looking forward to this game, but there’s no way I’m going to buy this game now.
    Actually, they should learn from Taleworlds, which has a much better way of dealing with this.

  14. I agree that I hate a DRM that requires me to contact (even if no personnel are involved) the seller if a hard drive crashes, I get a new computer, etc. I have never bought a game with that requirement and would not buy DG when it first came out for that purpose.

    With the lowering of the price I decided to try it and see what happened. I have to say, I did have a hard drive die and did have to contact the company to relicense, as I could not de-license my original verison.

    I would never try to talk someone into purchasing a game with this type of required protection, and still hate the idea of Jutland having it, but I must say that when I emailed the company I got IMMEDIATE responses to both my emails (one was for a different problem), got the game relicensed, and got it all done quickly and got it done on a Saturday! Can’t complain about that.

    I am seriously considering Jutland, but at full price with that copy protection I’m not sure yet. However, my experience with the company on DG was outstanding, and for that they deserve consideration for their new product.

    Bill

  15. Yeah, the reports go both ways… either no response for days, or an immediate response. No happy (consistent) medium. Seems to be pretty much hit or miss with these guys. It’s almost as if they jump all over a tech support email if they happen to see it, but no one is actually checking for email on a regular basis.

    JD

  16. I have tryed to get the demo to work and I’ve been locked out twice.

    Not a good first impression.

  17. After what I’ve read over their DRM, and pathetic lack of willingness to communicate let alone take criticism, I can only recommend not to buy anything from this company anymore. With their decision to stick to distributing crippleware, they have emphasized that they act solely in their own interests. And to people who are not going to heed the warnings : if support is not even accessible now, good luck trying to get this to run when the company is no more.

    No one should touch such products, thats the only way they will ever disappear. May they rot on the shelve forever.

  18. What an awful thread.

    I emailed SES customer support with a simple question half an hour ago, and had a response within ten minutes. And, frankly, I don’t care about digital rights management.

    What I do care about is having a decent naval combat simulation for World War I. And this really looks like one. It’s not exactly a mainstream wargame, but if you’re into naval warfare, it might be just what you’re looking for.

  19. Being a big navy buff I was among the first 500 customers to the predecessor of Jutland.

    I totally agree on the mercy thing. I had to reinstall twice. The first time it took three month for thec support to get me activated again, the second time they never got back to me. so essentially I have a non playable game for years on my harddrive now for which I spend a good deal of money. If Jutland has the same DRM I WILL NEVER BUY it. Even if I really long to be with the High Seas Fleet again, since all the other Jutland Games that were out there.

  20. Will this DRM rubbish be removed? Who wants a game that connects home every seven days?? People must be out of their mind who spend their hard earned cash for that, no matter how good it is.

  21. There are many forms of DRM that are not intrusive and work. Stardock studios has a backround process that runs. Steam can have you sign in manually or automatically. Both dont hickup when you change hardware. And you dont even need Cd’s or DVD’s ever again.

    These companies are bigger and stardock is a professional windows application developer as well as just doing games. They have more resources. I hate DRM as much as the next guy. And even though I like the idea of a jutland game, I am still deciding if I will play this game enough to justify the cost and having a 4th DRM app running in the backround.

  22. For what it’s worth, I found out that DG_RJW runs perfectly on linux (in fact it runs better than in windows, since you don’t have all those norton cans of worms and sniffing microsoft software running in the background) and can be easily upgraded from demo to full fledged game with any good debugger, stupid software protections notwithstanding. The only problems are a minor graphic one (the information lens of all ships show an inverted upside down image of the ship in question) and the fact that you cannot update from the storm eagle servers (you will have to find stand alone updates on the web).

    I dislike proprietary software, but understand that some good games deserve credit and maybe even money, so I think that (after having tried it fully) you should buy this simulation if you like it, but for those that have already bought it, at least the fact that you can bypass the crap and install it on as many boxes as you want, and play wherever and whenever you want, should be of confort.
    You don’t have to renounce to a good game because of the DRM, just buy it and then bypass it.

    The irony of the thing is that while the DRM annoys to death all legitimate owners, any average reverser can patch DG_RJWp.exe (in .wine/drive_c/Program Files/Storm Eagle Studios) with two simple breakpoints (after having unpacked the exe and bypassed the cheksum) . Takes 20 minutes at most: on my version they were on 01582F6E for key 1 and 01582EF3 for key 2.

    I haven’t tried Jutland yet, but I guess that the DRM approach wont be all that different.

    Apropos legality: if I’m not mistaken in the European Union (contrary to the States), you are not only allowed but even encouraged to check that the software you install on your box doesn’t contain any trojan. So your right to have a look cannot be questioned.
    As for the right of modifying the source code of a patented proprietary program (one of the main freedom rights granted for all linux software, btw) if you are worried just do the manipulations in some country, like S.Marino, that didn’t sign the Geneva convention of the patent’s holders mafia :-)

    So if you already bought the game my advice would be:
    1) switch to linux
    2) install the DG_RJW demo and check that everything runs
    3) patch it & forget the DRM crap

    and if you didn’t buy the game:
    4) if you like it, be ethical and buy it

    Cheers!

  23. Is it me or do the games these people make look like a copy of SSI’s “Fighting Steel” that was made in the 1998? Just seems like the up the eye sight on the ships a little.

    I lol at DRM who in there right mind would use that?

  24. The DRM is not something I would ever pay for. I’d stop gaming first. The way I look at it is………..it’s their loss not mine. Both titles look very interesting but I won’t be buying either.

  25. I would not have believed some of these comments had I not come across this game, gone ‘Ooooh! This looks wonderful’ and then gone ‘WTF’ at the DRM used. (Hint: just because US workers have very short holidays doesn’t mean the rest of the world is never away for more than a week.)

    Incredibly, for a company only selling online, the only ways on their site to contact them are via post or by creating an account for their support ticket system and creating a ticket on it.

    So I did that, saying that I would happily buy the game, but not with this DRM. The response was to close the ticket and mark it as “mindless rant”,

    Yeah, that’ll do wonders for customer relations.

    As has been said, this is always going to be a niche product with a limited audience. Presuming they are thieves – even when you have their credit card and valid contact details before selling to them – and insulting them is the way to ensure you go out of business.

    Still, when that happens, they will “most likely” release a version without the DRM bugs and I will get a chance to play it.

  26. DRM aside, I think it’s great someone tackles WW1 at sea. A shame only that once again the war at sea – like in most WW2 games – is reduced to big guns, which sort of takes the flavour out of naval warfare. What’s with ocean and convoy raiding, blockading, barrage attacks and all the other nuts and bolts that made up the war at sea in WW1 and that were much more important than the inconclusive engagement at Jutland? I think it would have added a bit of variety both for the campaigns as well as tactically. As it is, it really appears to be a “Fighting Steel” knock-off set in WW1. And what happened to the years 1914, 15, 17 and 18?

  27. Another one who is REALLY interested in this game but NOT buying it because of DRM. Im actually never going to storm eagle studios website EVER again unless they specifically state that the DRM is gone in HUGE BOLD letters, but the lead developer is a douche and that will never happen, even when the studio does go down :D

  28. Was thinking about purchasing the Jutland Pro and Dogger Bank via SES site but after reading the many pro/con post I’ll hold off..or has the DRM issue been resolved by now??..for the last post is over a year old.

    Admiral of the North Atlantic

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