Carrier Command - Information
Carrier Command was coded by Realtime Games, a small team of programmers who were behind a number of successful 8-bit games including 3D Tank Duel , 3D Starstrike, Starstrike II (all published under their own label except for the Amstrad CPC version of Starstrike II which was published by Firebird) as well as conversions of the original Starglider game for Rainbird. 3D was their speciality.
Set in the mid 22nd Century, Carrier Command was a 3D arcade strategy game which saw the player take command of a futuristic aircraft carrier. New volcanic islands were popping up in the 'Southern Ocean' due to huge movements of tectonic plates on the earth's crust. This new archipelago was to become the battleground between two opposing super-carriers - the Epsilon and the Omega.
The game offered the player two choices from the start. They could opt for the full strategic experience, with both carriers starting off at opposite ends of the map. Alternatively, the Action game threw the two carriers close together in the middle of the map with an equal distribution of islands to control. The action would literally start there and then, with the enemy launching an immediate attack on the Epsilon.
Carrier Command had lots of 3D action, but it also had a fair amount of resource management. Whilst that particular gameplay element is very common these days, it was still a fairly new and intriguing idea back in the late 80s. Islands could be Neutral, Friendly or Enemy. They were also one of three types: Defence, Factory or Resource. Any of these could also be designated as your 'Base' or 'Stockpile' island (for fuel, weaponry and other equipment built on other islands).
The player had to take control of islands and build a network infrastructure, allowing their carrier to progress across the map by shipping more fuel, weapons, craft etc. across the islands to your current location on the map. Friendly islands were easy enough to occupy and take over. Enemy islands would obviously offer resistance. You could either destroy every enemy craft and building and then setup your own buildings accordingly, or you could launch a computer virus on the main building (the command centre) which would reconfigure it from Enemy to Friendly. The game would end if either side occupied every island, or either carrier was destroyed.
Apart from controlling the ACC Epsilon, the player could also program or manually control Manta aircraft or Walrus AAVs (Amphibious Assault Vehicles) launched from the carrier. They also had to keep an eye on the carrier's damage status and give certain tasks priorities over others when repairing. The player could also deploy defensive drones to protect the carrier, launch flares, fire surface to air missiles, and much more besides.
The manual for Carrier Command was quite large and detailed. The game was quite complex to master but was simple enough to learn thanks to the icon-based system, and the manual lead the player through the basics in a nice, logical order. It also had a little in-joke buried within the plot. According to the manual, the lead programmer for the rogue Omega carrier was one ...Dr. Oliver Baird-Onions - in reality a mixture of the three members of the Realtime team - Andy Onions, Graeme Baird and Ian Oliver!
Carrier Command was Realtime's first original 16-bit title, and was initially published for the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga in early 1988. All other versions (Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, C64, PC and Mac) were published the following year, after Rainbird had been sold to Microprose. The C64 version was the only version not coded by Realtime, probably due to the hardware not being particularly adept at 3D. C64 experts Source took the game design and employed a sprite-based top-down view.