Danger from the Deep

If you remember my December Linux Journal column, I was excited about a particularly cool-looking submarine simulator, Danger from the Deep. This month, I'm proud to feature it. According to its Web site:

Danger from the Deep (known as dangerdeep or DftD) is a free (as in free speech), open-source World War II German submarine simulator....This game is planned as tactical simulation and will be as realistic as our time and knowledge of physics allows. Its current state is alpha, but it is playable.

DftD currently is being developed on Linux (i386 and AMD64) and Windows. There are binaries available for Linux (i386 and AMD64) and Windows (32-bit), and there are some old packages for Mac OS X. Danger from the Deep makes use of SDL/OpenGL and, thus, should be portable to other operating systems or platforms.

DftD has even been reported to work on Windows (2000/XP/98), Linux (i386/x86-64/SPARC64) and FreeBSD (x86-64/SPARC64/IA64).

Authenticity and romance are almost taken to extremes here, and touches like the captain's quarters (see above photo) really help you get into the feeling and atmosphere of the game.

Ah, authenticity! Don't speak German? Too bad! The controls stay that way, whether you like it or not (which I do).

Sometimes the environment can be quite beautiful, such as this sunset, which makes long hours in a sub much easier to bear!


In terms of hardware requirements, you'll need the following:

  • An OpenGL 1.5-compliant graphics card (OpenGL 2.0 or greater is recommended).
  • A fairly fast CPU (anything from 1.0GHz up should be okay).
  • 256MB RAM (512MB is recommended).

The Web site provides a lovely binary installer that feels much like that of a commercial game. You can compile the game from source if you want, but would you really do that when you can simply click Next, Next, Next?

The binary installer runs most things by itself, but as is the usual way with these things, you need to flag it as executable. If you're running this through a file manager, you probably need to right-click and choose executable in whatever properties section is available, but I'll leave this part up to you. For those who prefer to run things from the command line, you can flag it as executable with the following:

$ chmod u+x dangerdeep-0.3.0-linux-installer.bin

Then, run the installer with:

$ ./dangerdeep-0.3.0-linux-installer.bin

(Note: do this as root or using sudo if you're installing it system-wide.)

The installer will go through the usual Next, Next, Next...Finish process, and once it's done, you can run the game with:

$ dangerdeep


As soon as you're at the main screen, you'll be flooded by a wave of romantic nostalgia that never lets up! From the sepia-colored menus, German-labeled controls and wartime background imagery to the crackly WWII-era music, this game wears its heart on its sleeve.

Assuming you have a decent graphics card, you'll want to crank up the video resolution in the Options menu, as the graphics in this game actually are quite impressive at times.

Because this game is currently in alpha stage, the number of gaming options are limited. Nevertheless, several kinds of missions are available in single-player mode. For those wanting something to blast at from the get-go, try Historical Mission first under the menu Play single mission.

Before you embark on any voyages, however, I suggest that you print out the game's PDF manual, which is downloadable at the Web site. This game's controls are extensive (hey, you're piloting a submarine), and each key often is assigned to something different between other view modes. Here are a few basic universal controls to get you started though.

F1 through F12 all have a different view or function on the ship. Some keys bring you to actual locations within the submarine, such as the torpedo room or captain's quarters, and others bring up equipment, such as the ship's sonar. Of particular joy and amusement is the control screen on F1 and the torpedo screen on F6. The gauges and dials are in German, and as far as I know, there's no option to have them in English, so you'll have to find out what HalbeFarht and Lagenwinkel mean on your own.

Now, I'm sure at this stage you'll be keen to blast at something, so let's cover that. You may want to try surfacing for this, as it makes the above-water enemies easier to spot using more view modes, but it also shows off some of the cool graphics this game has.

Press the S key to surface, and when you're up there, have a look around with various different view modes (check out that deck for starters, and, yes, you can man that surface gun). If a target is somewhere in sight, press I to identify the target. Pressing the spacebar selects it, and T fires a torpedo.

I could go on and on, but it's been a privilege to see a project with such polish and passion as this one. In the hands of your average open-source team, a submarine simulator like this could be a bland, grey, blobby mess, and spending several hours with it might be a guaranteed cure for insomnia. This, on the other hand, is a colorful world of fine touches and authenticity that's guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

Considering this game is in the alpha stage, it's an extraordinary effort with nice graphics, a brilliant installer and even a small soundtrack! Submarine buffs, do yourself a favor, and check out this game.

Danger from the Deep ( dangerdeep.sourceforge.net )

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