July 16, 2012
Wings Over Flanders Fields
Development Progress Report 1
By Jens "McGonigle" Lindblad
"There he was, smoking at first, then on fire, high above me. As he lost height, the fire got worse, bits of his kite started tearing off and he started coming at me by design or by chance, I don't know. The fire was by now engulfing his bus and I thought that he would surely take me with him in a fiery collision, but somehow he missed me by the smallest possible of margins, and I just sat there for what seemed like a very long time, unable to move."
The paragraph above was inspired by a short video clip posted by Over Flanders Fields' "Polovski". This, to me, is the essence of what first class simulation is about. It makes you start thinking about the pilots in the real war, realizing with renewed acuity how they must have seen, for real, such horrifying sights over and over again, perhaps within a very short time-span, wearing on their courage and the quality of most young men; their total and absolute conviction that they are immortal and invulnerable, giving them bad dreams when in fitful sleep and in waking nightmares in the skies by day they wonder; when will my luck run out, when will the dice come down against me.
In the interim between their latest release of Over Flanders Fields: Phase 3: Between Heaven and Hell and the in-development successor, Wings Over Flanders Fields (WOFF), the team behind these simulations have been very busy.
SimHQ has obtained some new screenshots from the development work of Wings Over Flanders Fields, and we bring you these, with collated information regarding some of the new features that will be brought to this simulation.
Matt Milne has composed 20 original, new, epic music tracks for Wings Over Flanders Fields.
The very popular and haunting OFF: Phase 3 music score will also be included in the new version. This includes the unforgettable and moving “Hymn to the Fallen Pilots of Flanders”, as well as the incredibly beautiful main theme which is reminiscent of the Lohengrin Prelude — Wagnerian vibrating strings and all, and Aram Khachaturian's Gayane ballet suite in Adagio.
No other sim I know of, manages to use such beautiful music to such great effect and this is why I have chosen to spend quite a few words on, and start this article (!) with a small amateur's review of the music, that of it which we have heard in the movies that have been released as of time of writing.
The music presented in Preview Movie #1 is as far as I have been able to determine a main theme and a variation. The main theme in the movie starts with the introduction of smaller drums, tapping the rhythm like the drums carried onto the battlefield by troops, to encourage their own soldiers and to strike fear into the hearts of the enemy. Another application of such drums would be prior to standing before the firing squad! A call for arms as well as a potential execution these two counterpoints balance the feelings of striking at the enemy while secretly suppressing the fear of death that must have built in the young men of that conflict on either side of the frontline. Strings build up the theme while horns provide the voices of musical harmonies and the simple but evocative tune, stretched out in lamenting calls.
The theme used in Preview Movie #2 opens with big drums resembling the guns on the battlefield, and through the danger and hardship imminent and inherently expressed in the percussion and the underlying bass parts, the theme carries great sense of purpose, hope, and confidence, at times with a quickening beat like a human pulse rising. The hope is finally expressed in a climax with full orchestra and church-bells chiming. All representing the great struggle, hardships, and sheer bloody mindedness of the combatants, effectively ensuring goose bumps and chills of awe in the listener.
In Preview Movie #3 the music seems to be a more condensed version of the theme from Movie #2. Preceded by goose bumps inducing somber horns, the focus is on the melody and the chiming bells, in a tempo suggesting urgency, stress, action and just brief moments of respite and pause before the aerial battles continue with renewed vigor. No time to linger on close calls, only time to carry on doing your job.
Just as you will always think of Bond when you hear the original John Barry theme and it's variations in the Bond movies, you'll hum the melody line of these WOFF variations and think instantly of furious fighting in the skies above Flanders.
I'm informed that the main theme, or signature WOFF theme is still kept a secret and that we haven't heard it yet.
I've become a huge fan of Matt's music, and dearly hope there will be an option for purchasing a super deluxe version of WOFF which includes Matt's majestic scores!
Now we turn to what the sim developers themselves have been working on, and are willing to share at this point in time.
A tranquil moment of flight
A new interface will be included with an improved OFF Manager which manages the whole of the OFF "world". The Manager will have brand new menus, features and options, and new artwork.
The Campaign, Missions, Quick Combat, and Results are all managed in the OFF Manager. It includes many new campaign and new Quick Combat options, and allows great customization of your WWI experience. This will also dramatically improve on many areas including new campaign engine features.
For example, real outcomes and real data. Player and AI pilots will be tracked more accurately. Now your AI pilots are tracked fully in flight, their real stats counted and kills. Now you can really care about your wingmen and see their rise or fall.
The create pilot screen
The interface is only the tip of the iceberg however. The eyes of the soul if you will. And in keeping with that analogy, the soul, and heart, and the mind of WOFF is the Campaign Manager.
Because it does not present itself in shiny colors or spectacular effects it might easily be overlooked how crucial the Campaign Manager is to the entire experience. It literally manages and keeps track of everything that goes on in the WOFF world, even when you are engaged elsewhere, developments in the war continue at unabated pace all along the front.
The quick combat screen
Battles and orders of the war affect the campaign — they are more accurate now too as squads have more accurate historical local tasks too — Germans do not encroach over the lines as much, true to real events and tactics.
Night operations will be possible as night mission searchlights, airfield torches, airfield and vehicle lights are being added, and the scenery will also be improved.
In Over Flanders Fields - Phase 3, what happened in the air and what happened to other pilots in the OFF Manager were completely separate. You could watch your wingman shoot down three planes and he wouldn't get any claims, watch him crash and he'd be fine, or bring him home safe to find he's dead. WOFF should fix this.
Or as "Winding Man", Lead Developer told me, "In WOFF we now track dynamically every squad member in the players squad / flight and in fact this can be extended to every flight and every pilot that flies in the whole theater. This is not standard CFS3 capability."
The tracking is real time and automatic, and outcomes reflect exactly what happened to all craft and pilots in the theater. Some of the items include:
- Pilot Health
- Craft Status (damage)
- Pilot Air Kills (number / craft type)
- Pilot Ground Kills (number / ground unit type)
- Pilot Balloon Kills
- Final Place Landed / Crashed
- Captivity Status
- Gone Missing
- Destroyed by Enemy Ground Fire
- Destroyed by Enemy Action
- Fatal Crash (as well as whether he hit Friendly units)
- Ordnance Expended (bullets, bombs, rockets)
- Ordnance Effect / Hits (bullets, bombs, rockets)
This enables the tracking automatically of the squad craft quantity, and of pilots that are in good shape.
Tracking also includes those craft that need repair and for how long they'll be under repair, and right down to ordnance — and of course resupply happens dynamically as well over time — both pilots and craft.
If you lose a lot of pilots and craft your activities will be curtailed in terms of flights and quantity of craft — you are thus encouraged to look after your pilots and yourself and your craft.
The dynamic resupply also fits the historical situation for both sides as the war progresses. We can track right down to bullets.
All cockpits will be renewed with new models and artwork many dramatically improved upon, as well as flight models and AI. Many aircraft will have some improvements to exterior models too.
New aircraft such as the Sopwith Snipe, Morane Parasol and others enter the simulation. Many thousands of updated, new, fully researched, and authentic skins will be included.
Sopwith Pup cockpit
Sopwith Triplane cockpit
Albatross DIII cockpit
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