Wedge]Could someone please copy and then post the article here. That site is blocked here at work. Thanks.
Here you go:
Work is progressing apace on this exciting new map...see the gorgeous new screenshots below!
(Please go to the site when home to see the pics- they are worth it!!!)
Follow progress HEREhttp://352ndfg.com/smf/index.php?board=33.0
Creating a time machine
An interview with 352nd Fighter Group's 352ndDeacon, 352ndBooze, and 352ndPersecutor
The Blue Nosed Bastards of Bodney have embarked on a project to recreate the airfields and atmosphere of the European Theatre of Operation for IL2, with never before seen accuracy, in a new Cross Channel Map.
If you want an idea of their level of ambition, just look at these two screenshots. First, a historical shot of Westhampnett RAF airfield in 1940.
And here, a work-in-progress shot of the same airfield as created by the team from the 352nd.
Read on for more details of this exciting project.
• The historical accuracy of airfield and landmark layouts seems to be a major feature. What sources did you use for these, and how true do you believe them to be?
An early goal of our map development was to create airfields that are as historically accurate as we can make them, given the limitation of available information, the game engine itself, and our knowledge of map making (which is an art-in-development). We are sensitive to the need to keep the map detail low enough so that the result is playable on the largest number of systems while at the same time presenting a virtual world that gives a sense of “being there”.
For example, our home field of Bodney, England is painstakingly recreated from blueprints, drawings, and available photographs and is as accurate a virtual representation as we can make it. We have given the same attention to detail to each of the airfields we have included in the map. We are keenly aware that squadrons other than the 352nd VFG feel the same way about their home fields as we do and we have worked with many of them to ensure that their fields are as accurate as is Bodney.
Our desire is that the airfields look “real” both from the air and the ground, so that when, sitting in the cockpit on the tarmac, taxiing around the airfield, or flying a mission over or from the field, looking around takes the pilot “back in time”.
We are grateful to the many members of the community that have helped us in gathering accurate period information about geographical locations, airfield sites, design, and appearance. All of the airfields and harbors have been created from aerial photos donated by our map team members or from IL2 community members, most the result of untold hours of research. Geographical sites including the Dover and Pont du Hoc cliffs have been created with the help of many community members, some of whom live in or near the area and have sent us invaluable photographic and verbal descriptions. Without their help the result would not be nearly as visually rich, or accurate, as it is.
One of the truly remarkable things that has happened during our project is the eager assistance that community members readily offer. Such a willingness to help and share so openly is awesome to behold.
• The screenshots are very object rich. Do you intend to deliver the map with this level of object density, and if so, what PC specs will the map be optimized for?
The screen shots that have been posted on the 352nd Virtual Fighter Group forum accurately depict the Cross-Channel Map as it is evolving, although they also include human figures, static aircraft (and occasionally those in flight over the field) and static vehicles, all of which have been added for “color” to help flesh out the feeling of the actual map as it may look during a mission. The map itself, in its raw form, will present the player with an empty airfield complete with surrounding buildings and other structures. It is up to the mission designer to add the static components they feel appropriate for their mission.
Our design approach is to develop a map which gives the mission creator an accurate depiction of the ETO of the period to which he or she can add such detail as they believe is necessary to “flesh out” the mission being created. We hope, by approaching map development in this way, to keep object density at an acceptable level realizing that it all involves compromise; the more detail fixed in the map itself, the greater the requirement for system strength. This map may very well be the largest in the game; we realize we are in “virgin territory” here and are treading carefully.
We test the map repeatedly on our squadron's member systems, which vary from extremely powerful systems to more average, and so far no one has experienced unplayability. We will make no claim or provide no assurance that the map will be all things to all people, or playable on all systems, but from our testing it is apparent that it will run very well on the majority of current systems.
• What coastlines/areas will the map represent?
Our goal was to develop a map that included our Squadron's home field of Bodney, a sufficient portion of north-western Europe to permit cross-Channel flights, and enough of the south-west England, Normandy, and the low countries to make a realistic Battle of Britain arena possible. To this end we ended up with a map area depicted in the image that can be found at Base Map screenshot
A comparison graphic showing the relative sizes of the Cross-Channel map, the Normandy may from the game itself, and CanonUK's Battle of Britain map can be found at How does the Cross Channel Map Compare with Others in Scope??.
• Does the map require soundmod? Which flavours of IL2 will it work with?
To enjoy our map a player must use a sound-mod version of 4.09m. Because the map uses textures from the maps included in 4.09m it will not run on 4.08m. In addition to giving IL2 users the chance to use custom maps like this one, the sound mod adds so much more to the game, including such things as the 6DoF mod; the game is infinitely more enjoyable with the addition of the mods and our hope is that this map will add to that enjoyment.
• Will it come with installer or require some user expertise with installing mods and aircraft?
We recognize that one of the problems faced by the average user of IL2 by the wonderful mods is the complexity of adding so many different mods, in seemingly complicated and conflicting ways. Fortunately the folks at AAA have settled on a folder structure that helps in standardizing the process.
We have developed an installer that will make the addition of the map as easy as humanly possible; all the user need do is point the installer to his or her game folder. The installer will do the rest, the map and missions will be added, and the player will be able to start the game, load a mission, and visit the cross-channel area of the ETO. The installer will require the game into which it is installed contains an AAA sound mod version.
By the way, we always recommend that a player make a copy of their game and apply all mods, including our map, to that copy. In the unfortunate event of an installation problem the player will then always be able to fall back on a working copy of the game.
• Is it intended for online or offline play, or both?
The map is intended for realistic flights over accurate terrain to areas and airfields that appear as they did circa 1940-45, given the limitations of the IL2 simulator engine and our ability to create maps for it. Players who fly online should enjoy the ability to recreate a WWII era mission as it was flown, including the times of comparative routine boredom and the intense but brief periods of terror, and perhaps even fleeing to a safe haven. Up until now IL2 hasn't had, generally speaking, maps large enough to permit that.
Off-line players will have the same ability. Our hope is that both categories of player will find the map enjoyable.
For the player who want to immediately join a battle this map may not be the most appropriate tool, but our fervent hope is that this map provides an ideal opportunity for the player who is seeking the sheer enjoyment of flying back through time into a world 65 years in the past.
• Are you or others already creating missions or campaigns for it?
Missions and campaigns are being prepared that will represent actual day-to-day missions flown by both sides in the Battle of Britain. A great deal of research and mission design effort is going into making sure the results are historically accurate. Our plan is to release the missions and campaigns simultaneously with the release of the map.
The Cross-Channel map is intentionally large enough to include some of the operational area of the 352nd Fighter Group during 1944 and 45. We are developing missions that recreate the actual experiences of the Group based on input from veteran 352nd Fighter Group members and historical records.
Of course, many more Groups and Squadrons besides the 352nd flew in the ETO, and we are thrilled to be able to also offer them the possibility of recreating the arena and atmosphere in which their parent squadrons and groups operated.
• There are (luckily for Battle of Britain fans) a number of great IL2 based Battle of Britain options for players now. In traditional IL2 world there are no fewer than six popular campaigns based on existing maps. In the soundmod world Flyzo has created a workable mod of the Normandy map, and Canonuk is creating a 1:2 map of SE England. What will your project offer that is different from these?
We applaud all the map makers who have successfully adapted older maps or created new ones. Doing so is definitely a challenge and involves a steep learning curve. Our map breaks new ground; it is a 1:1 scale, large ETO map with what we believe is an extraordinary attention to detail. We haven't compared the actual map area to the Slot map, but the two must be similar in total size and detail.
Our team has spent hours in airfield design and construction with an eye to smooth runways and a minimum of overlapping runway plates or gaps between plates.
The size of the Cross-Channel map lends itself, as does the Slot map, to players who enjoy “real time” mission flying; mission planning, group take-off, forming up, flying to target, attacking (or defending), and returning to base safely, all in real time. If it took, in 1944, an hour to fly from airfield to coast (or IP, or rendezvous), it will take the same hour when flying this map. These are truly strategic maps; in that sense the Cross-Channel map brings to IL2 the ETO as many players have clamored for years; a large and accurate venue. Those who came to IL2 from the CFS series will find themselves right at home. Many will say “finally ….. “
• Who are the collaborators?
The Cross-Channel Map's size and area are the result of compromise. Clockwatcher and 352ndBooze both separately started developing, at about the same time, an England-to-France Channel map covering roughly the same areas. Clockwatcher wanted to create the Battle of Britain and 352ndBooze wanted to create a 1943 based map that had the 352nd Fighter Group's home base at Bodney, England. The two compromised and the result was one map that addressed both objectives. The Cross-Channel map is the first installment - the plan is to follow this map with a larger map that includes the majority of the ETO from England east to Berlin and beyond which we are now calling our “8th Air Force” map.
The team putting the map together includes Clockwatcher, all of the members of the 352nd Virtual Fighter Group lead by team leader 352nd Booze, and Ramjagger, who is doing a magnificent job recreating the low country airfields and surroundings. The team enjoys the invaluable assistance of many, many members of the IL2 community.
• What are your thoughts on BoB Storm of War? If you were creating the perfect Battle of Britain sim, what would it look like?
We look forward to the release of Battle of Britain – Storm of War; it holds all the promise of being as large a step forward in combat flight simulation development as IL2 was when first released. However, SoW will present the player with the Battle of Britain arena and time frame which, as much enjoyment as it promises, lacks the aircraft, periods, and battle areas that attract so many players to IL2 and who enjoy the ETO that is represented by our Cross-Channel map and its 8th Air Force big brother.
If SoW evolves as did IL2 it will be two or three more years before we see P-38s, P-47s, P-51s, later Spitfires, Tempests, B-17s, B-24s, British heavy bombers, and the corresponding Axis aircraft that filled the ETO skies of 43-45. The wait may well be worth it, but in the meantime our hope is that our Cross-Channel map offers an immediate solution, using the aging but still viable IL2 platform, to the desire to fly there now.
• It is always dangerous to ask about release dates, so we won't, but how far along do you think the project is...
The map is nearly three-quarters finished.