Sleep deprivation in games: Silent Hunter 4

Posted on 27th Feb 2009 at 11:35 by James Gorbold with 10 comments

James Gorbold
As the guys in the office will attest I’m somewhat obsessed by realistic military simulations, choosing to forego the dubious pleasures of games such as Team Fortress 2. As a result, every day for the last two weeks I’ve been stumbling into the office, with a brand new set of black patches under both eyes.

Contrary to suggestions, I haven’t developed a drug habit, or been moonlighting as a delivery man for Milk Tray, I’ve simply reinstalled Silent Hunter 4.

Released in early 2007, Silent Hunter 4 is a US Navy submarine simulator set in the Pacific during the Second World War. Although SH4 can be played as an arcade style shooter, it's far more satisfying when played with most, if not all the realism settings enabled.

I forgo the mental gymnastics of having to calculate torpedo trajectories via trigonometry (it's a game after all), as real submarine commanders had a bridge crew and TDC (torpedo data computer) to help them out, so I don’t consider this too much of a break with realism. Instead, you can configure the difficulty settings so that the TDC does most of the calculations for you – although you still have to factor in any changes in the targets course and speed and the sea state (smooth/rough).

The trouble is, submarine warfare isn’t particularly fast-paced, and even with several time compression settings to choose from, SH4 has a tendency to destroy your sense of the passing of time in the real world. As a result, my reinstalling of SH4 has had a severe impact on my sleep patterns.

Sleep deprivation in games: Silent Hunter 4 Sleep depravation in games: Silent Hunter 4

To further add to my sleep deprivation, Bohemia Interactive recently announced that they will start selling a cut-down version of their battlefield simulator, VBS2, to civilians soon, and have agreed to send me a copy for review. VBS2 is an enhanced version of Arma: Armed Assault, and is used by several government organisations around the world, including the British Ministry of Defence, for training purposes.

As I mentally prepare for another weekend of ship hunting in SH4, what games are you afraid may deprive you of sleep?


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Nicb 27th February 2009, 16:18 Quote
I've played Civilization ever since the first release. I feel for you my brother when playing addictive slow pace games. I put Civ 4 on its highest settings "Warload" and spend many hours in the day and night taking a serious path to victory.
1ad7 27th February 2009, 18:49 Quote
You really ought to check out something if you like military simulation. I play ARMA but in our group we take it to a new level as far as realism goes were the 15thmeu of armed assault not sure if I can post links or not but if you google 15th meu and arma youll find us, we are the #1 hit for 15thmeu on google anyways. It can be a demanding group but also very rewarding, its much more like a group of civil war/ww2 reenactors than a clan or even a realism unit currently we are at 50 active members and 200 have applied and gone through our basic orientation in about a year and 3 months of being operational. Maybe just stop by to check it out :)
AltruiSisu 28th February 2009, 05:36 Quote
Originally Posted by Nicb
I've played Civilization ever since the first release. I feel for you my brother when playing addictive slow pace games. I put Civ 4 on its highest settings "Warload" and spend many hours in the day and night taking a serious path to victory.


i was going to bring up exactly this. ...just one more turn!
Lizard 28th February 2009, 10:46 Quote
Ah yes, the joys of seemingly endless nights of the Civ games, although for some reason the series reached its zenith at Civ 2 for me.
Skiddywinks 2nd March 2009, 17:28 Quote
Forged Alliance. Easily. I might as well be comatose for the amount of time I spend in a micro-managing, adrenaline filled state of mental absenteeism.

The problem with it, is the length of a game. If you are thinking "Oh, just a game of CSS before I do some work" then fair enough; 20 or 30 minutes later, you have had your fix, and start to work.

A friend asks if you want a game of FA though, and things change. Games can take hours, literally. Countless small skirmishes, massive power struggles, and dozens of individual, behemoth like super units make for a truly epic game. And that's even before you realise the enemy you are heading for has sent what can only be described as a UFO to your base. As if the Independence Day-like beam weapon it employs wasn't enough (it cut's through base defenses like... well, an Independence Day-like beam weapon would), it then unleashes enough Tech 3 gunships to level the map. And then someone launches a nuke. Cock.

The moment you bring up the score screen, reality kicks in. You are incredibly hungry, havent showered, need to do laundry, and have at least one university assignment in for the next day that you planned on doing after FA. Fair enough, let's get cracking...

Except for the fact it is 5 in the morning and you have to choose between a good night's sleep with terribly rushed work to hand in later that day, or grab some food (which helps fend off the worry that if you do go to bed, you will starve to death in your sleep) and nail the coursework until the day breaks.

Either way, it is life ruining. But when you are playing, the entertainment is more than worth the cost. And you know full well what the cost is. Usually from experience.
Lizard 2nd March 2009, 18:02 Quote
Sticking with the RTS theme I once won a head a multiplayer LAN game of Red Alert by waiting for my opponent to fall asleep before launching a massive airstrike in his base around 4.30am - he awoke to the sound of his construction yard exploding :)
Skiddywinks 2nd March 2009, 18:08 Quote
Haha, excellent!

RTSes are so epic :D
Bauul 3rd March 2009, 17:16 Quote
Recently L4D has been sucking up all my time. Especially on Expert, as if you're keen on actually finishing a campaign it can take you hours and hours and hours. Just one more go, hopefully the tank will spawn later in the level.... no? Oh, well, one more go, maybe it will this time? No? Oh ok, well what about this time? Oh wait, it's 6am.
[PUNK] crompers 3rd March 2009, 23:57 Quote
oblivion - this ate three months of my life and as much as i hate to admit it probably resulted in my girlfriend getting dumped
LAGMonkey 4th March 2009, 18:57 Quote
Birth of the Federation.

although it really does take longer than it should to complete a game thanks to the memory leak once you get passed turn 120. At university i spend 3 months playing a continuous game (several hours a night) and broke into a four figure turn count!

Civ is also on that list although i now choose to play it on the DS. its easier to get my head into the game than the original as although the games are epic you can get it done in a night.
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