Category Archives: predreadnought

Storm Eagle Software: a company that would have made George Orwell proud

IF this is the new paradigm for software distribution, it leaves a lot to be desired.  (written in 2012, not posted until now)

Note from the year 2013: I wrote this a year ago, and sort of let it lay in the draft hopper out of apathy.  It’s still all true, but I would add a small epilogue: I did finally get the software installed after two weeks of effort and lots of repeated system admin tasks…. and it sucked!  The game interface is moronic, you have very little control over individual ships beyond steering them and hoping for the best, and it’s a bit of a yawner.  Not really worth giving an in-depth review too.  Kind of anti-climatic after all that work, no?  I have to stress that Storm Eagle, cited here, did not create the software I’m trying to install in this transaction, so I can’t fault them directly for that, that’s all on Totem Software’s head. In the end, I wasted my money, and went through a lot of stress, to boot.  I’m posting this a year later, really because it amuses me more than it angers me.  The so-called customer service rep’s replies become blander and less officious as the exchange continues, and in the end I wondered if he could type that drivel with a straight face.

There are days when I feel like a relic, and the last four days have certainly made me feel that way. I have always had an interest in games with a military history element to them; that much might be obvious from casual reading of this blog. So when I was idly responding to an advert banner ad about Dreadnoughts at the Storm Eagle Software site, I noticed this boffo new-ish product:

Totem Games Victorian Admirals

They are having a sail on Totem Games’ VICTORIAN ADMIRALS collection for roughly 30 bucks. This is just ducky for a guy like me who’s nuts for the pre-dreadnought Age of Steam naval conflict era– I have reservations about the Totem Games interface– it’s a little clunky and not exactly inspirational, but the art is lovely and the history is obscure.

So I did a mental version of “Yipppeee!” and ordered it.

Full disclosure: I just ordered it. This is TOTALLY my fault for jumping and not looking.  Don’t even bother lecturing me or shaking your head.  I didn’t think about reading the damned fine print. I did zero research. I saw something about digital delivery, but so what? I’ve ordered games from Matrix Games with a digital delivery option, I just got a download code, downloaded the thing and that was it. I’ve even ordered from in the past, and though it was slow, I downloaded their version of digital delivery. So what could possibly go wrong?

There was a link on the Storm Eagle website that informed me that they were selling the software as an affiliate for SES.  Yeah, yeah, so…

Without reading much more than that, I paid by paypal, and was then told I had to download the STORMPOWERED application which is the way they were going to send me VICTORIAN ADMIRALS.  I should have had alarm bells going off at that stage, but I complied, downloaded their “STORMPOWERED” client application, which is somehow beneficial to the software delivery process.   Digital Delivery, as my hipster younger friends tell me, is the way of the future for computer programs.  That’s progress.

FOUR DAYS LATER, after frequent attempts to download the product I PAID FOR, with NO CHANCE OF A REFUND, I realized that A) I was foolish and should have read the fine print, and B) this ain’t no way to run a railroad.  Because we’re in the age of “Digital Distribution”, Storm Eagle Software has essentially adopted policies that preclude the customer getting a refund if he or she is dissatisfied, with no redress whatsoever.  There are no reasonable alternatives offered if the client doesn’t work– I can’t get a CD download (hell, I’d even pay extra for it now).  I can’t access the software from a secure FTP site, like I can with Matrix Games.  Throughout the process of dealing with Storm Eagle Software’s so-called customer service agents, I have been told that this is essentially my fault.  I have followed their instructions.  I’ve tried to download this at home and at work.  The STORMPOWERED client, essentially, is defective.  It will apparently work if I add exceptions to my anti-virus software and log in as an administrator to install and run it.  I have done so, and it still doesn’t work.   So, apparently, I’m also supposed to do all these extra system administrator tasks to download a file.   I rapidly got fed up with the defective software, requested a refund, and was told that no refunds are granted.  I asked for a CD delivery, and was told they don’t supply software that way.  I asked for a FTP download and was told they wouldn’t make an exception for me.  During the four days of increasingly fruitless “customer service” emails from  the while, every message ended with a cheerful variant of “We’re committed to doing whatever it takes to make sure you get your product”.   Except, of course, CD Delivery, FTP delivery, or any other reasonable option to satisfy a very disgruntled customer.

Do you think I’m over stating this?  Maybe, being a bit of a drama queen?  Read on by clicking below.

But wait, there’s more!


Diving the Vizcaya

Cristobal Colon and Vizcaya, copyright CC

Cristobal Colon and Vizcaya, copyright CC

My recent acquisition of Richard Houston’s Battle of Lissa fleet at the FALL-IN! flea market has had me revisiting some old websites on pre-dreadnoughts.  One that I have visited on and off again is BIG,BAD BATTLESHIPS (BBB), a comprehensive library of articles, photographs and information on pre-dreadnought naval ships.  I’m a little confused as to the status of this site– my google search showed the site down and non-responsive, yet my link on the left hand column of my own site goes directly to the navigation table for the main BBB website.  So the link above is to the web-archive listing, the “official url” is:

Like many great historical websites, visiting BBB is kind of like shopping on the Ikea self-service floor… you’re not sure you want this but this leads you to that and after a while you’ve been there several hours wondering where the time has gone.  Two examples of BBB verisimilitude are these videos I just discovered about diving the wrecks still on the ocean floor left over from the Battle of Santiago de Cuba on 3 July 1898.  This battle was a one-sided affair at best and resulted in the complete destruction of the Spanish Caribbean fleet.    As a result of the battle many wrecks litter the ocean floor just south of Cuba.  The videos are of a dive on the wreck of the Vizcaya.  Fascinating to watch– they appear to be a video from a company that seems to specialize in wreck diving.

Alimrante Oquendo part 1/2:

Almirante Oquendo part 2/2:

HMVS Cerberus, for *free* on the Paper Shipwright

I love the pre-dreadnought era of naval history, with its giant flaring brass ventilator shafts, underpowered guns, white paint and coal funnels. The fleets are so charming and picturesque looking. It’s a great pity (from a naval history enthusiast’s point of view) that there really are no great clashes of Great Powers during the late 19th century– sure, a few minor scrapes like Lissa, Yalu and the Fashoda scare, but no substantial clash of cordite and steel until the great battle of Tsushima, which occurs right on the cusp of the Dreadnought class of warship.

Thanks to the “pre-dred” Yahoogroup, I’ve discovered a paper model of the HMVS Cerberus, a pre-dreadnought ship christened by the pre-federation Australian state of Victoria. The Cerberus was ordered in 1868 by Victoria to provide protection for Port Phillip Bay. Cerberus was the first major warship to rely on steam propulsion alone. She was a breastwork monitor, her turrets being raised on an armoured breastwork to improve her sea-keeping. Cerberus arrived in Port Phillip Bay in 1871 and never left. Sold for scrap in 1925, she was sunk as a breakwater in the bay in 1926.

Here is a picture of the Cerberus as launched:

Cerberus Ship Model

Cerberus Ship model, early (Launching) configuration

The model is available HERE and can be configured in the paint scheme she launched in (for free download), or as a purchased model that depicts her later appearance.

Model Details
Scale Length/Width Pieces Sheets Difficulty (1-5)
1:250 27cm/7cm 340/700 5 x A4 3/4 [?Help]

Ironclads: High Seas demo

This is looking interesting. I don’t know where to pick this up but I’m interested in getting it. Pre-dreadnoughts and ironclads? Nuff said. I think it’s a Russian company.

Cool Nautical Warfare-wear

The SEAWARSTORE has a series of shirts for naval geeks like me.

Famous Nineteenth Century Naval Battle Tee-Shirts

Dreadnought Age Sea Battles Tee Shirts

And many more! Great White Fleet, Sink the Bismarck, Midway, etc. There are many history geek tshirts out there, but very few on naval subjects, and even fewer on 19th century and dreadnought era battles and themes.

There are also polo shirts with embroidered naval flags of the time period:

The SEAWARSTORE’s Naval Theme and Naval Battle Shirt page is HERE.

Pre-Dred Nautical at COLD WARS

Fire When Ready, Gridley!

From my great friend John Buck, who dropped by on Saturday to take some pictures and buy stuff, here’s a pre-dreadnought naval battle at Cold Wars (recently)

Bangs and Splashes!

I see by the black smoke that it’s not a great day for everyone..

Ramming action!

and finally… fleet maneuvers