I'm a huge fan of Sid Meier's Ace Patrol, and was excited to learn this week that Sid Meier and the team at Firaxis is hard at work on a follow-up title, Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies. With that announcement, it was clear that I needed to take a moment to ask Sid Meier himself, lead designer & gameplay programmer, a few questions about the upcoming title.
148Apps: Did you learn anything from the release of Ace Patrol that will help Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies when it launches this fall?
Sid Meier (SM): We got a lot of great suggestions from our players, we listened to the feedback they gave us, and we looked at how they played the game. For example, we found that most of the people who purchased content in the game preferred to buy everything, and so we’ve specifically designed Pacific Skies around the idea of charging a lower price than what the full slate of IAP would be, and giving players all the content from the start. There are also a number of new mission types.
148Apps: How similar are the two games in terms of gameplay and what makes Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies different from the original Ace Patrol?
SM: They’re very close by design. The specific details of the aircraft have changed, and the higher power of the real-life aircraft means we could put in some tighter turns. Experienced players of the original Ace Patrol should be able to adapt pretty easily: The Japanese aircraft are more maneuverable but more fragile, and the American aircraft are faster and tougher.
148Apps: Did you have any plans for Ace Patrol that didn’t make it into the game but may have made its way into Pacific Skies?
SM: No, the plan from the beginning was to make the original Ace Patrol with a clearly defined scope, which let us move onto Pacific Skies, incorporating feedback from the players.
148Apps: How many missions can we expect from the game at launch and are there any new mission types?
SM: There are about 180 missions, including some new ones including dive bombing, torpedo bombing, and ground attack. We also have a category of special missions, which have unique objectives or high-risk, high reward possibilities.
148Apps: What’s the presentation going to be like this time around with the mission briefings and visual presentation?
SM: The presentation is a bit different from Ace Patrol. You no longer get your choice of three missions, the game provides you with the next mission in the campaign at random. At the start of each battle, there’s a defined situation between you and the enemy. You might be at an island base with the enemy approaching from sea. The game then looks at the pool of missions it can draw from for this situation, and chooses one of these. So while you can’t pick the specific mission, it will give you a different challenge each time you begin a new campaign.
148Apps: What’s the best World War II aircraft? Is the P-51 just as beautiful in-game as it is in real life?
SM: My favorite is the Hellcat. A long time ago, one of the first games I made was called Hellcat Ace. The rest is history.
148Apps: How many types of aircraft are available in Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies?
SM: Thirty – four each from the US Army, US Navy, Imperial Japanese Navy, and Imperial Japanese Army, as well as bombers, torpedo planes, and recon aircraft.
148Apps: What’s been your favorite moment in the creation of the Ace Patrol series?
SM: It’s hard to say! For the first Ace Patrol, it was the first time the game was working and playable on phones. That was pretty amazing. For this current game, it was getting the shiny metal USAF planes into the game, and how the artists were able to get that effect.
148Apps: What excites you most about Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies?
SM: Really my favorite part is getting to be the lead gameplay programmer, and coming in every day to make a game. That’s always been my favorite part of this job, and the chance to work with a small group to make a game that has all of the depth and gameplay of a triple-A title is wonderful. Working on the Ace Patrol and defining this new category of game has been great.
148Apps: How many enemy aircraft have you shot down? You’re the ace, right? Let’s hear it!
SM: Well, since I have access to cheat commands, I shoot down every plane.
148Apps: What do we need to know most about Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies?
SM: I did want to mention the reworked AI this time around. It considers the entire situation and the mission objectives before it chooses a move, so it’s harder to fool than before. I also wanted to thank our players who gave us such great feedback from the original Ace Patrol. We appreciate what they have to say and we’re always listening to them.
Thank you, Sid Meier, for taking the time to answer my questions!