DARPA’s Anti-Submarine Warfare Game

Submarines are lonely beasts.
Do you want to help Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop new anti-submarine tactics? Well, then you don’t necessarily need a degree in underwater battle-conflict, and instead you can play ACTUV Tactics Simulator. DARPA explain: “This software has been written to simulate actual evasion techniques used by submarines, challenging each player to track them successfully… As you complete each scenario in the simulation, you may submit your tracking tactics to DARPA for analysis. DARPA will select the best tactics and build them into the ACTUV prototype.”

It’s a fully fledged simulator by the looks of it, with a big old single player campaign and even a multiplayer set up for submarine battles. Worth a look if you like a bit of frightening realism. Free, obviously. And you also get to help the US military fight the scourge of the waterways: rogue cannibal submarines.


  1. BooleanBob says:

    Er… do I want to help Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop new anti-submarine tactics?

    Wouldn’t that make me complicit in, er, well, you know…

    • Jim Rossignol says:


    • Ba5 says:

      Complicit in FREEDOM?

    • RakeShark says:


    • Alex Bakke says:


      PALIN FOR 2013

    • mod the world says:

      Submarines have feelings too!

      Supporting a foreign army can lead to loss of citizenship in quite a few countries. Just so you know, before clicking on that shiny exe file.

    • Ba5 says:

      When world war 3 starts, the US will most likely be on our (Europe’s) side, so you better start playing, or else start learning Russian/Chinese, comrade.

    • rivalin says:

      Yeah, can’t wait for the world’s pre-eminent power to be China! Down with those evil Americans, it’s not like they’re the most restrained global hegemon in the history of the world or anything.
      It’s a submarine game, it’s not like you’re helping them develop more effective cluster bombs or something, it’s not like America is going to be getting into submarine death matches with Palestine or Iraq or Somalia, or any of those other countries on the approved list of places that are much better than America according to student politicians ™

    • James says:

      I actually agree with Bob.

      If you’re helping DARPA then you’re helping the US military, for free in this case. I’m not going to bother making the whole case against it, but there is a thing called the military industrial complex and it does bad things.

      Hopefully abstaining from this particular simulation won’t inconvenience too many people.

    • jonfitt says:

      Submarines are the TF2 Spies of the ocean. They need tracking down because torpedoes are totally OP.

    • CMaster says:

      People are rarely saying those places are better. They’re just questioning the sense and ethics of the US blowing them the fuck up. Which is a fair question, because the US (or UK, France, Russia, etc etc) are never taking military action because it’s the right thing to do, regardless of what their leaders say.

      Edit: Surely the US is the only global hegemon to have existed? Maybe the British Empire came close, but that was a lot more limited in its ability to extend its power anywhere. Before that, well nobody had the reach to be global.

    • jonfitt says:

      I don’t know how you could argue that an Empire that covered a quarter of the world’s population and nearly a quarter of its land mass was not global…
      It’s not quite a Cvi4 domination victory, but it’s on the way there!

    • Grape Flavor says:

      @mod the world
      Yeah, really. Even if you live in a US ally like the UK this is iffy at best. If you live in Russia or China or something, why the fuck would you play this.

      Hell, I’m American and I’m not going to play it. Isn’t this what my tax dollars are for? Nice try DARPA, getting me to work for you with no salary.

      Plus a lot of the weapons DARPA are developing are so goddamn disturbing I’d be loathe to trust these people with anything. I mean, I understand the natural push for better technology but jesus. Some of this stuff is out of horrible dystopian sci-fi.

    • aerozol says:

      This is going to go bad, but I’m going to do it anyway. Hurray for me (;
      “most restrained global hegemon in the history of the world” – You don’t have to be ‘unrestrained’ when you have shit locked down tight through non-‘violent’, but sadly in-directly harmful, means.

    • Orija says:

      @Grape Flavor

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      But China is worse! Is like the Terry Pratchett Joke “Remember the atrocity the enemy committed for it justifies the atrocity we are about to commit!”

    • CMaster says:

      I wasn’t saying that the empire wasn’t global – more that it wasn’t a hegemony. The British Empire would have been able to invade say, mainland Europe very successfully, or the young United States.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      Somehow hadn’t noticed Jim’s absurd comment about the murder of innocent submarines. I somehow doubt all the Submarines DARPA wants us to help them get better at destroying in the real world would be unmanned.

      The “its only a game” defence doesn’t work so well when its a clearly labelled research project with defined real world applications.

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      Then don’t submit your tracking tactics to DARPA for analysis.


    • Ergates_Antius says:

      “I somehow doubt all the Submarines DARPA wants us to help them get better at destroying in the real world would be unmanned”

      No, but they would be manned by military personell rather than “innocent civilians”. Anti-Submarine warfare is about as ethical as warfare can get

    • Grape Flavor says:

      I can’t remember where I read about these weapons in detail, but I do remember that Cracked did a couple lists a while back and I’m lazy so I’ll just link you to those. Please do not infer that I actually get my education from Cracked. ;)

      link to cracked.com
      link to cracked.com
      link to cracked.com
      link to cracked.com

      I find some of these things creepy as hell and virtually all this shit is by DARPA. Then again, back in the day people probably would have found the ideas of stealth airplanes, spy satellites, and unmanned drones creepy too, so YMMV somewhat.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      “Ba5 says:
      When world war 3 starts, ”

      Do you know something we don’t?

    • Outsider says:

      I wasn’t saying that the empire wasn’t global – more that it wasn’t a hegemony.

      It was a hegemony.

  2. Inigo says:

    Is there a “repeatedly nuke the sea until we hit something” button?

    • jonfitt says:

      It’s the only way to be sure.

    • Kevin says:

      The Navy already tried that. They called it “ASROC” (Anti-Submarine Rocket) and the initial test versions used a nuclear warhead. Nuclear depth charges were also developed, the most notable one being the Mk. 101 “LuLu.” Unfortunately, some party-poopers had to go on and make the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which put an end to such prospects.

    • Inigo says:

      We can’t have nice things.

  3. RakeShark says:

    I always find posts about submarine stuff very much lacking in Hunt for Red October quotes. I propose we fix that here.

    “Mr. Ambassador, you have nearly a hundred naval vessels operating in the North Atlantic right now. Your aircraft has dropped enough sonar buoys so that a man could walk from Greenland to Iceland to Scotland without getting his feet wet. Now, shall we dispense with the bull?”

  4. Nighthood says:

    Sounds like a fun sim, but I’m not a big fan of helping the military kill even more people. Hell, we’re not likely to ever see a battle where submarines are used, not in our lifetimes. Too much at stake for war.

    • Admiral Crunch says:

      Maybe not in a battle you are imagining, but we use our submarines all the time. The capability to neutralize our submarine threat is very appealing to other powers in the world.

    • PureUncut says:

      The only winning move is not to play?

    • Baines says:

      It says you can submit your data to DARPA. If you don’t want to help DARPA, then just play and don’t submit your data?

    • Zenicetus says:

      U.S. and British subs were used just 19 days ago, in the initial cruise missile attack on Libyan air defenses. A few of the U.S. boomers that were scheduled for retirement, were recently retrofitted as Tomahawk launchers to fill that new tactical role. Israel relies on its submarine fleet with nuke cruise missiles as its ultimate defense. Subs are more important than ever in modern warfare.

      It will get even more interesting when the attack subs evolve in the direction air superiority fighters are going, into unmanned robots.

    • James says:


      Just a thought, but you could not play the game at all on the grounds that you don’t want to encourage developers to work with sata…DARPA, I mean. Whatever though, I know how long we’ve all been waiting for the next sub-sim.

  5. godzilla says:

    George Orwell is turning in his grave.

  6. NPC says:

    WIth all the discussion of war vs peace, can anybody actually access the linked site? It gives me a “server not found” message, perhaps they are developing sites that are evading vistors as well, and that’s the true goal of the exercise?

  7. negativedge says:

    Don’t listen to what that man is saying! That’s not the DARPA Chief at all! it’s just Decoy Octopus again!

    sorry, wrong crowd

  8. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    I’ll do it! it’ll be like battleships! just bomb shit untill I hit something

  9. -Spooky- says:

    New tactics? Give us a new kind of “Red Storm Rising” video game and i will show you some new tactics. ;)

  10. Richard Clayton says:

    It’s “The Last Starfighter” (link to imdb.com). Darpa monitoring gaming high-score tables?

    • The Infamous Woodchuck says:

      lol hell yeah

    • NaFola says:

      Haha I remember watching that as a kid. Classic. Although the only bit I actually remember now is the very end, when the ship spins like crazy and kills everything. I used to get travel sick as a child, so always thought I would have thrown up if it had been me in ship.

    • jonfitt says:

      Except in this case DAPRA abduct you, extract your brain, and wire it into a hunter killer submarine!

    • mpk says:

      Oh god, it’ll be Seaquest DSV all over again…

  11. Eddeman says:

    1. Track sub in shape of man-bits
    2. Win competition
    3. Greatest dick-joke by proxy ever in future tracking of subs

  12. Gundrea says:

    So when I win the game DARPA will learn that the best tactic for tracking enemy subs is to hack them with a memory editor?

  13. The Infamous Woodchuck says:

    Nice try DARPA, nice try

  14. SpinalJack says:

    What you don’t know is that those are real submarines and you’re piloting a remote drone from your desktop

    • mpk says:

      There was always a thought at the deepest, darkest part of my mind that EVE Online was secretly Ender’s Game.

      Man that’d be cool. Except super intelligent four year olds irritate me.

    • Mattressi says:

      That could potentially make it the first even-close-to-remotely-interesting submarine game ever!

    • Rugged Malone says:

      @spinaljack: Best comment of them all right there, thank you sir.

  15. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Aw shucks! I thought it was a game about how to not buy submarines and thus helping your country deficit and avoiding IMF intervention. But after all is about destroying those submarines that helped increased a country deficit. It’s the “anti-submarine” that got me. :(

    • James says:

      My condolences, friend. Wait for a bunch of rich old people to die, maybe in a few decades some visionary will redefine the anti-submarine genre.

  16. Pinky G says:

    This is absolutely outrageous! This opinion needs to be stated and I have done so.
    Other games that make me nervous, Special Force by hezbollah and America’s Army by America’s army.

  17. Retro says:

    Sheeeesh.. “It’s a fully fledged simulator by the looks of it” – “Sonalysts” does not ring a bell? And you’re a PC gaming blog? They did Jane’s fleet command, Dangerous Waters, 688(I) etc – I dare say there’s nobody better qualified to do a fully fledged sim..

    • mpk says:

      Tim Stone must still be in his cupboard, caressing his boxed copies of MSFS.

    • James says:

      “Fledged” is a strange word. I’m going to fledge something, brb.

    • Wisq says:

      Actually, judging from the screenshot, this _is_ Sonalysts’ work. That unit status UI is exactly identical to the Dangerous Waters one.

      Looks like they must have worked together with them to set up some sort of standalone scenario?

      Edit: Oh, on a re-read, it sounds like you mean it _is_ Sonalysts, and you’re critiquing the lack of name recognition. I can’t actually tell because the linked webpage has apparently been slashdotted …

    • Retro says:

      Yes that’s what I meant (the UI immediately gave it away – not to mention their logo in the video ;) – see also link to subsim.com
      “Sonalysts, Inc., under contract to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), will be releasing the crowd-sourced computer simulation, “ACTUV Tactics”. “

  18. Morat says:

    There are no innocent submarines.

  19. Rikard Peterson says:

    DARPA? 4-8-15-16-23-42?

  20. Airemacar says:

    5 years from now the US reveals a new nuclear submarine, “The OP N00bganker 3000” with advanced griefing technologies, speedhacking, and an automatic post-kill teabagger.

  21. crazygeneral23 says:

    the way I see it is even though I am helping the us military when two subs fight odds are one is going to the briney deep so why not contribute in a very very very small way to maybe saving one of my friends?