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The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre

Posted By: Anonymous

The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/03/04 05:18 PM

S! All!

This is not a nay-sayer post calling for the end of the world. I don't believe that the sky is falling or that there will never be another flight simulator. I do however believe that the flight simulator market is struggling, and further I believe that most of the problems are entirely the fault of the flight sim community.

So what is the problem?

Most would say that the problem is that there are not enough people interested in propeller-based combat flight simulations. I disagree. Certainly this is a problem, but it is a problem that I believe is caused by another, underlying problem: I believe we have allowed our egos to get in the way of practicality and made our genre inaccessible to many new potential players.

What is the goal of a simulation? That's easy - right? The goal of a simulation is to make something as close to real as possible; to simulate the real thing. So why is it that whenever we read an interview with real pilots flying modern flight simulators (like Forgotten Battles) they all say that the simulator is harder than real life? Think about that for a minute before you read any further. Is it really our goal to have simulators that are harder than the real thing? Is that what simulators should do? What does that do to the sellability of flight simulators? Flight simulations have a reputation for being too hard. Part of that is because flying aircraft in combat is hard, but we are not doing ourselves any favors by making it even harder in the games than it is in real life.

If our goal is to make ourselves look better by making a game that is harder than the real thing, then we are succeeding. This however also makes it darn near impossible for new players to get involved in our hobby. Yeah - they can 'turn off' realism settings, but that goes against the instincts of a flight sim hobbyist. The Quake crowd might like Ďgod mode,í but the flight sim crowd does not. People who fly simulators want a realistic simulator and thus want to fly with the realism cranked all the way over. If that makes the game too hard, most players will shelve the game rather than fiddle with realism settings. The hardest settings in a game should reflect the closest settings to real flight. There should be NO settings that make a game even harder than the real thing. And joystick settings? Why would a new pilot want to fiddle with joystick settings? And you need different joystick settings with each plane??? Come on now! That will work for those of us who have been flying sims for years, but a new pilot will stall a couple of times and then buy Doom 3.

If the flight simulation world wants to survive, we need to re-prioritize our expectations back to what they used to be. More realistic = better. When harder = less realistic, then harder is bad.

What would a more realistic flight simulator be like? Well, it would be easier to fly than contemporary sims (like Forgotten Battles). That would make it more accessible to newer players. It would also make us focus on the dynamics of the dogfight rather than the dynamics of the game. Believe me when I tell you that when you fly a well modeled flight sim against another good pilot, you won't think it is easy. But you WILL have to focus on the dynamics of the FIGHT rather than just the dynamics of the game.

And let us talk for a moment about plane performance. As long as the developer makes a realistic effort how about we give them a break? How much development time goes into trying to make every plane fly absolutely perfect according to historical statistics? And what does that get us? Even if we could agree on statistics, historical matchups are usually biased in favor of one side or the other. I for one would rather have great matchups even if they are not entirely historically accurate. I want it historically close, but I like to see a developer keep things even. I like different planes with different capabilities, but I also like a real chance to win if I fly my plane within its most favored flight techniques. I donít give a rip whether or not my 109 is 2 MPH faster or slower than in real life. I only care how it matches up against its contemporaries. Is it close? Do I have a good matchup? Thatís good enough for me.

When we force developers to spend more time fiddling with individual plane performance statistics than with any other part of the game, we are also forcing them to increase their development costs. Our drive for harder and harder sims with more and more historical accuracy is making flight sims more difficult to sell and at the same time more expensive to create. This in turn makes flight simulations less profitable. Now we are facing a world where nobody wants to make a flight sim. We want to blame the developers, but really we ought to blame ourselves. This is entirely our fault.

So what is the solution? The first part is realistic expectations. It was stupid of us to keep demanding that flight simulations get harder even after they caught-up with the difficulty of real flight. Now we need to ask that the difficulty be scaled-back to make a more realistic experience. Iím not going to get into a debate about what specific settings that means. Rather I am going to say that we need to change the whole rationale used for realism settings. It is also stupid for us to argue with developers over and over again about the flight characteristics of different planes. Are they close? Do they matchup well against one another? If so, then good enough!!

The second thing we need to do is tell the game publishers we are willing to pay more for quality flight simulators than for other games. Game developers donít care about sales quantities as much as they care about sales dollars. If they get more money for each copy, then they donít need to sell as many copies. We can create more demand just by paying more. How much more? I donít know the answer to that. I know that I would be willing to pay $150 for a good flight simulation. That doesnít mean $150 is the right number though. New players might not be willing to pay that much. But let the marketing people figure that out. We just need to make sure the game publishers understand that we are willing to pay more for quality. We are not the Quake crowd. The economic model they use for Quake games does not apply. They need to use a different economic model to make flight simulations profitable.

Third, the developers need to cut development costs. There are a number of open-source flight simulation engines out there. Some of these engines are quite advanced. Why not use one? As long as you donít use the open-source engine in such a way that it makes your product a Ďderivative workí, you donít have to open your code. That may take some fancy marketing. Maybe you have a free game with one plane for each side and one map (representing the Ďopen sourceí part) and then you have a $100 package (or whatever the cost is) with the rest? Maybe you give out the SP game for free and then sell the multi-player part. My point is that the developers donít need to keep re-inventing the wheel. They can all use the SAME basic flight model. By using open-source pieces game companies would be able to make great games at minimal expense and with maximum profit. Everyone wins.

I think that covers it! It IS possible to make and sell a great flight simulation. It IS possible to make money doing it. It may not be easy to do, but few things worth doing are easy. And doing this will take some work from both the consumer-base (which in our case has become down-right anal) as well as the developer side.

Thoughts?
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/03/04 08:43 PM

Salute RAF74 Wall-Dog!
Great Post!
I just want to add a few things that i think is destroying PC gaming. Xbox & PS2 consoles are the big money makers right now. They are way to easy to play, no messing around trying to tweek your anything to beable to play the game. Gamers have always liked to upgrade there puters to get a advantage over the playing field. I don`t think the new generation of gamers are all that inpressed with computers anymore. The internet isn`t all that exciting as it was in the late 90s.
I no puters have a funner and more realistic games, but PS2 & Xbox isn`t that far behind. Once they come out with next generation consoles watch out. We probable all be using them. I hardle ever see anyone using there puters anymore for gaming. I believe we are a dieing breed of gamers. The puters have to be to big and powerful to play the new games. Especially at full detail. So what do buyers do, they buy a 200 console and don`t have to upgrade anything for a few years. Everyone is on a even playing field for online games. Computers online gaming your always against people with faster connections plus bigger cpu and vedeo cards. We all no that speed and power in gaming gives you great advantages over your opponents.
Take Care!
US95 Rooster
Posted By: FlyXwire

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/03/04 11:06 PM

I compliment you Wall-dog and Capt.Rooster both for two excellent posting, and I would like to say that there are some VERY astute observations here for the reader, some of which I am only now coming to realize myself!

Perhaps much of what Wall-dog's words express is the need for eminent simulation playability to be tied to an alluring sense of realism. I've really never thought of making a qualitative comparison between simulating realism, and simulating harder realism, but this is an excellent way to approach the on-going debate between simulation playability, the fun factor, and hardcore realism as opposed to a simulated feel of authenticity.

Firstly, I've always felt that more-real, means more-fun, well now I'm not so sure. Because as Wall-dog puts it, sometimes more-real means too-hard-real, and a loss of playabilty, as well as introducing a factor which threatens to raise the benchmark for developers so high that it jeopardizes to stifle our genre's future!

A personal case in point may be my current experience in two on-going WWI mod developments, both having high-fidelity modeling, good to great graphics, and "open-source" coding. One to me is superbly playable, although it's flight modeling may not be as dynamically demanding as it could be, while the other is so "realistic" as to threaten to smother any desire or ability I have to enter into the FIGHT with it! Now I thought an "ultra-realistic" mod would undoubtedly trump the latter iteration, but now I'm beginning to loose enthusiasm for it, because it almost seems to be pretending to be real, by just being "real hard". The end result of this experience is that I'm now longing to jump back into my "imperfect" experience, because it's a perfectly playable mod!

I still believe in the stalwart goals of quality and immersion, but as Wall-dog expresses, I'm beginning to have real doubts about the need for hard-realism, as opposed to convincing, but eminently playable realism, with the adjunct of game appeal and ease of development thrown into the equation!

This is truly a set of issues I'm finding quite relevant, not only because of my current flight sim experiences, but also because it's something that most certainly may relate to our hobby in general, and in a much broader way, as Wall-dog and Capt.Rooster have explained above.

Sorry if I may have been a bit behind the ball in understanding this, but I'm really starting to "get it" now!

Thanks guys for taking the time to form these thoughts, and to present them here for us!
Posted By: Dantes

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/03/04 11:34 PM

Interesting reading. Can you do me a favour and just change the heading of your thread to be less abrasive? It's sitting right on top of the WW1 sim poll and kind of puts a damper on things.

It's generally not wrong for simmers to ask the limits to be pushed because we are the market that will purchase the product and things should progress in simulations gaming in one form or another.

I agree about some of us not seeing the forest from the trees. Remember that article for IL2FB where an actual test pilot gave settings that felt were closer to the real thing? We could not accept the settings and the fact we were playing a game and had to debate away his findings. Funny enough, it was the limitations of our sim games and our computers that made up the brunt of the debate. Proving once again, we have a long, long way to go. That is why they are called Simulations and not Real Life. We need to take a step back and reassess our wants and needs.

Much as people like to degrade them for some reason, the first-person shooter games have complex programming and physics as well to satisfy the purchasers. It's not all eye-candy and huge debates will start about any weapon that unbalances the game and makes it less enjoyable.

There is that phrase again: Balance. Basic concepts in what makes something challenging without making it frustrating is tough with any decent game. However, that should also be paired with attempting to provide something that fulfills real-life expectations of what we should or should not be able to do. We need that so we can find our foothold in that virtual balance and conduct ourselves accordingly.

The effort expended to be proficient at something is in itself the greatest reward, be it becoming Quake clanner with a keen eye or a virtual WW1 flyer with good tactics. Of course, that is probably an outdated concept these days.

As the phrase goes: Be careful of what you wish for because you just might get it. ;\)

S!
Posted By: killdevil

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/03/04 11:59 PM

Rooster nailed it. It is the playstation and X-box that take away any potential customers. Walk into any game store and ask for a title, first response is "x-box or playstation". Not soley their fault as publishers push and fund where the cash is.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/04/04 01:16 AM

Yeah, it's got to be easier to make a game/sim for a console because they are all basically the same. No need to worry about different video cards, cpu power, ram amounts...if it plays on one xbox it will play on them all.

As far as difficulty goes, I like the scalabilty options. I fly for the same squad as Wall-dog, {S! Wall-dog, Penguin here} and we generally fly in "difficult" servers and "wars".

I know when I first started online with IL2 I needed to turn down the difficulty. I typically take that approach with any new sim I'm learning.

Another big feature for me is a good offline campaign as in RB3D.

As far as price goes, I'd be willing to pay more for a good sim. One thing that does and has hurt developers is pirated copies. I wonder what percentage that comes to?

I think most simmers would be willing to pay more for quality games/sims. Not sure if stores such as Wallmart would stock them, thats a biggie for publishers. Hopefully sims such as KOE find a way to sell online to enthusiasts via word of mouth.

I want my KOE!!!
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/04/04 02:59 AM

S! All!

I can remember the same arguments about consoles having computer games in their death-throes back in the Atari 2600 and Intellivision days. It just ain't so! ColecoVision was VERY cool when it came out, but it went away. Meanwhile computers are still here.

Will the next generation of consoles be as good as computers? They will probably be about as good as a cheap computer the day the console is released. So was the ColecoVision. But then the next day a new CPU came out while the ColecoVision got older and older for two or three years. Consoles NEVER quite catch-up. You just can't get the hardware for $200, and neither can Microsoft and Nintendo. Consoles won't catch computers until they really honestly become computers themselves.

What will happen I think is that we will start to see a convergence between computers and consoles. TVs are now of a comparable resolution to computer monitors. Consoles won't defeat computers. Rather, consoles will become computers. Every time I see an X-Box I remember that it runs essentially on a stripped-down version of Windows XP. The convergence is coming. But that won't save the flight simulator because that isn't what the problem is. I'll grant you that one problem is that consoles don't come with joysticks. THAT is a problem because so many OTHER games get ported onto multiple platforms.

But even when the computer and the console merge you will have different models in different price ranges. Someone with a $2500 computer will do better than someone with a $400 computer. And the high-speed games will be made for the higher-end computers with the idea that people will catch-up. Nothing really changes. Itís a big cycle. If you hang out with computers for 20 years you see it all go full-circle again.

Just for clarification - I'm not against 'full real.' I prefer 'full real.' I can remember playing Battle of Britain (the Lucas Arts title) and figuring out that it took exactly three bullets to shoot-down a plane. Then I made a mission with as many enemy planes as possible and flew it over and over again until I could shoot down as many planes as I had bullets for at three shots each. I don't remember how many planes that was. It was something like 40. That wasn't real by ANY stretch of the imagination. Nor was the ability to instantly saddle-up out of a full break-turn.

My first flight simulator (not including the Red Baron arcade game with stick-figure planes that I sunk a fortune into) was on a Radio Shack Color Computer 2. I don't remember the name of it. It might have just been called 'Flight Simulator.' You had a list of airports on a map. You took off, flew somewhere, and landed. You needed to watch your altitude too, because there was absolutely NOTHING between airbases. You had no ground objects at all. And because everything was a stick-figure you didn't even have different colors between the sky and ground. You had the horizon and that was it. Talk about boring!! And then I lost the map!! But I flew it anyway because it was all there was.

Then I got a Color Computer 3 and a Commodore 64 and flew titles like Aces High and Microsoft Flight Simulator (remember the WWI part of that?).

Back in those days the games were entirely too easy. But somewhere along the way the computer hardware caught up and we had systems that could accurately model the physics of flight. From what I've read the AFM in RB3D was pretty darn close to the real thing, minus the ubering of course. But did we stop trying to make those physics harder? No - we overmodeled stalling and speed loss in turns. We made planes bouncy in the middle so that you couldn't keep them on target. Not only isn't that fun, but it isn't realistic either.

You know what the best flight model ever on any game was? Great War Four. Excellent job Razman! I wish I could still fly it. Too bad glide wrappers don't work well online.

I've read I don't even know how many books by and/or about people who actually flew in aerial combat. I consider what they call 'real' to be 'real.' If they say a game is too easy, I say it is too easy. If they say it is too hard, I say it is too hard. And every one of them says that modern flight simulators are harder than real life. I don't want to fly something harder than Chuck Yeager's P51. Rather I want to fly something EXACTLY LIKE Chuck Yeager's P51. I want to feel what Adolf Galland felt. I want to see what he saw and have the same understandings he had. I can't get that in a book. Books are great for story-telling but you don't get the same feel you get actually doing it. Flight simulators for me have always been a way to reach out and touch history. You can't ride the Titanic down, but you CAN hop into a 1916 Sopwith Pup and shoot down Albatross DIIIs.

What I would like to see is a movement back toward making flight sims as realistic as possible instead of just trying to make them harder. Once they were too easy. Now we've gone too far the other way. That's all I'm trying to say. I'd like to see it come back to the middle.

Now look at what I've done! I've spent all my time talking about Flight Models. Views are just as big of a problem. TrackIR helps, but it still isn't where we need to be. What ever happened to headsets that panned your view as you turn your head? They came out with the headsets, but nobody supported them in games. I can't believe the hardware can't support it. I'd give up a few hexagons for a view system like that. Imagine looking over your wing by moving your head around the wing and looking down!! Now THAT is realistic! Until that type of system is commercially available though we are stuck with bad view systems and will have to make trade-offs between not being able to find anything (and not knowing whether or not it is a foe until you bump into it) and having radar in 1916. Neither is perfect. But I can tell you with absolute certainty which is harder.
Posted By: JG1Hautz_J10

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/04/04 05:32 AM

S! Wall-dog

Boy, I couldn't agree more about the "realism" cult in modern flight sims.
I engaged in a debate a few years back about the realism settings in Il-2 and seeing targets without padlock. I'm sorry, but in real-life it's much easier to see aircraft than in IL-2. I base this on almost 6,000 hours of military flying--take it or leave it for what it's worth.

One thing I do disagree with--this is just my personal position. I love WW1 aviation, and have been an avid RB player since RB first came out. I personally would NOT be willing to drop 150 bones on a WW1 flight sim. I've seen a few people here state "I'll pay anything." I will not.

I think this "$150 road" is a dead-end. Sure, some guys might be willing to pay this, but how many? To what end? To produce a cult game with a hard-core niche gaming audience. No thanks. I've lived that world the past few years with RB, and I most certainly would not pay a premium price for a game that would have a MMP audience of perhaps a few 100's worldwide. Empty servers, no thanks--been there, done that.

Not trying to rain on anyone's parade--but to produce a WW1 flight-sim that will have a general-marker audience the price is going to have to settle in at around $50 max.

Getting back to your post--again you've hit many the proverbial nail on the head.

Hautz
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/04/04 08:30 AM

Salute Everyone!
I agree flight sims have to be harder then real life. There wouldn`t of been that many Aces. You can`t hardly survive 1 mission in a flight sim. I wouldn`t mind trying to help out K.O.E. if they try and make a go of it. But we have one big game developer that is giving us flight simmers really cool games, that is Oleg. I no everyone of us could come up with something we don`t like or wish he would change in his flight sims. As i see it, he has got the best to offer us right now. And its free to play online, plus he has upgrades to his games everytime you turn around. I`am going to help support Oleg by buying his new Pacific Fighters. :p Can`t wait to Dive on a Carrier in a Hellcat with people trying to take off \:\) Us WW1 pilots are going to have to learn to fly these WW2 birds intill another great WW1 sim comes along. Hope its not to long await, sure gonna miss shooting down DR1s in my N28.
Hope to see everyone flying at Hypperfighter.
Take Care!
US95 Rooster
Posted By: FinnN

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/04/04 02:03 PM

Personally I think that military sims develop in 3 different ways:

1. Graphics
2. Flight modelling (in the very broadest sense, I'll include opponent AI and the relative accuracy of gauges/panels and other instruments that are available)
3. The campaign

Graphics have certainly moved on since the early days. IL2, CFS3, FS2004 (ok, not military but needs including) and all the rest like LoMac etc all have unique aspects to their graphics that can make them look better than the others in certain circumstances and can all look very real at times. There's still a lot of room for improvement of course but graphics are generally pretty good in modern sims. As graphics cards support more and more features in the hardware and with increased CPU power to throw at models, not to mention some of the shared knowledge from other game types' engines, I think that getting the graphics right and looking 'modern' is probably easier than ever before.

Flight modelling has also come a long way, not just the flight characteristics but also the accuracy of cockpits and the range of instruments available and their usefulness in the air. Opponent and friendly AI has a long way to go, but again a reasonable amount of interaction is generally there. Whilst people can argue about which sim has the better characteristics, all of them are certainly better than what was around years ago.

Campaigns though - just what has happened? I look back at Aces of the Pacific, the Lucas Arts' BoB, Red Baron (and RBII/3D), Falcon, etc and then I look at what's available in the current slew of games. IL2 has very primitive campaigns (a bit better in FB/FBAces), CFS2 was pretty simplistic, etc. CFS3 had a good stab at getting a campaign back in the centre of the action again, but was clearly just a first version of something that could have been a lot better with refinement. I've not really played much of the other sims out there, but nothing I've read indicates to me that any of them are even half of what's available in Falcon or RB3D. So not only have things not progressed in 10 years, they've if anything gone backwards.

The problem with this is that all of the flight sims are in fact games and of the 3 areas it's the campaigns that make them games. Whilst we all appreciate realism and graphics it seems to me that flight sims have pigeon-holed themselves by failing to have accessible campaigns. Years ago flight sims were fairly mainstream and whilst the number of computer games sold has gone up enormously I'd bet everything I have that the proportion of flight sims sold has dropped dramatically. I think this is because all the effort has gone into graphics and flight modelling and precious little into gaming. For sure 1&2 need to be top of the priority list, but not to the exclusion of everything else (at least not if the genre is going to become more and more sidelined in the next 10 years).

Of course the requirement to have a joystick to get anything from a flight sim only makes things worse in terms of reaching a mass market. 10+ years ago I'd guess most people who played games on a computer would have a joystick, now it's a minority. If a sim developer manages to get some sort of control mechanism where keyboard, mouse and joystick can be used to enjoy the game (not necessarily in the same way) then it could be the case again where everyone has a sim next door to their FPSes and so on.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/05/04 01:36 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by FinnN:
The problem with this is that all of the flight sims are in fact games and of the 3 areas it's the campaigns that make them games.
Just want to say I agree completely with what you say, FinnN. I hear that KoE is probably gone for good; but I have a sneaking suspicion it would never have delivered as a game anyway - enormous effort seemed to have been expended on graphics and damage modelling, but I never heard anything about how it would play as a game.

I suspect that flight sims have killed themselves as a genre by their obsession with graphics and flight modelling at the expense of gameplay. I firmly believe that the game should be developed first, then the flashy graphics and realistic (whatever that means) flight models added on top, if there is time. Instead we see products like KoE with superbly modelled aircraft, and the plug gets pulled on them before anyone gets around to adding a game. No wonder the publisher lost their nerve. (Apologies to all at Aspect if I'm wrong - that's how it looks to an outsider).

The two things I want from a flight sim are gameplay and immersion. Graphics and flight models can be essential to immersion (just as arcade gamey things like power ups can kill immersion), but they aren't an end in themselves, IMO. I would guess that most in the flight sim community are propeller heads, more concerned with technical aspects of flight than anything else. The board wargame hobby went through a similar phase a few years ago, as the obsessively 'realistic' (in a technical sense) wargames died out when people discovered that there were other games out there that were much more fun to play.

The sad part is that I believe that a realistic, immersive, fun game could very easily be built around WW1 aviation, much more easily than in any other period, because of the relative simplicity of the aircraft. But so long as people insist on 3000 polygon models and perfect to the last newton physics modelling, then they will never get what they want; or if they do, they will soon discover it isn't much fun to play.

So it's back to playing RB3D with FCJ for me...
Posted By: Zander

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/05/04 02:29 PM

My feeling is that Flight Sims have tended to concentrate to a far greater extent on the minutae of the aircraft and have forgotten the world around them. Personally (and I know I may be in the minority here) I feel that if more attention in future games should be paid to what is going on on the ground. A world war 2 flight simulator should in an ideal world see something akin to World War 2 going on below him. You don't often see people just wonderng around in Flight Sims yet I am pretty sure this happens in real life as do aircraft taxiing. In war you tend to get ongoing fighting, damaged tanks from each other and a scene more reminiscent of Shogo Total War than most sims! I know that for practical reasons these things are difficult to simulate but I believe that the more immersive a simulator can be in the world around it the more the player is drawn into it. Immersion in games is all important and this is particularly true of flight sims - to look at it another way you won't get people buying your game if your roll rate in an FW190-A3 is ever so slightly better modelled than in Forgotten Battles. You will sell lots if you can make the average worker believe that he realy is about to cover the retreat from Dunkirk or fly observation over the Somme at the end of the first day.
Posted By: Mahoney

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/05/04 02:39 PM

I agree with von Stalhein - I've been throwing designs around for ages, and in them graphics and flight models take a back seat - they are essentially compartmentalised bits that can be developed entirely separately from the main game, the campaign engine. That's the bit I really want to have a go at designing. If I ever find myself with a barrel load of free time...
Posted By: Huey52

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/05/04 02:41 PM

Falcon4 ;\)
Posted By: Zander

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/05/04 02:51 PM

I was wondering whether a D-Day flight sim would be the sort of thing - huge numbers of ships, supporting troops in entrenched positions, operating from forward bases - add in a really slick interface (something like a massively updated version of Origin's Strike Fighters)and a branching storyline and you could have something quite impressive. The simulation side would be bang on and there would be mission editors etc but it would also appeal to the "casual player" so that you could shift units off shelves and therefore make a bit of money as well!
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/05/04 07:30 PM

S! All!

I can certainly tell you what the future of online campaign systems is for the IL2/FB family of games...

It's called SCORCHED EARTH!

But that's not WWI, and deep down inside I'm a Sopwith Pup pilot.
Posted By: TerribleTwo

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/05/04 11:18 PM

Oh shut up.

So sick of hearing of the "death" of this and that.

WW2Online has all the sims bottled up into one with no end in sight. And that's just one sim. Give it a rest.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/05/04 11:49 PM

Terrible Two,

I don't think anyone forced you to read this thread, so if you find it offensive, you'll have to excuse me if I don't give a rip. This has been up until your post a very constructive thread.

You are sick of reading this kind of thread? There is a simple solution to that: stop reading!
Posted By: Hentzau

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/06/04 04:55 AM

Quote:
Originally posted by FinnN:
Campaigns though - just what has happened? I look back at Aces of the Pacific, the Lucas Arts' BoB, Red Baron (and RBII/3D), Falcon, etc and then I look at what's available in the current slew of games. IL2 has very primitive campaigns (a bit better in FB/FBAces), CFS2 was pretty simplistic, etc. CFS3 had a good stab at getting a campaign back in the centre of the action again, but was clearly just a first version of something that could have been a lot better with refinement. I've not really played much of the other sims out there, but nothing I've read indicates to me that any of them are even half of what's available in Falcon or RB3D. So not only have things not progressed in 10 years, they've if anything gone backwards.

The problem with this is that all of the flight sims are in fact games and of the 3 areas it's the campaigns that make them games. Whilst we all appreciate realism and graphics it seems to me that flight sims have pigeon-holed themselves by failing to have accessible campaigns. Years ago flight sims were fairly mainstream and whilst the number of computer games sold has gone up enormously I'd bet everything I have that the proportion of flight sims sold has dropped dramatically. I think this is because all the effort has gone into graphics and flight modelling and precious little into gaming. For sure 1&2 need to be top of the priority list, but not to the exclusion of everything else (at least not if the genre is going to become more and more sidelined in the next 10 years).
Its not only flight sims that are lacking offline. Cossacks for example didn't have any AI to play historical battles against. After reading several posts regarding piracy, I was thinking that maybe the single player game is being neglected because of piracy. You can steal a game an play it offline all you want, but try to take it online and you have a problem(if I understand correctly). Guess maybe that doesn't make producers too keen on single player gaming.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/06/04 10:20 AM

Just to add to this discussion ...

Flight sims aren't dying because of the community. The hardcore community has always been there for many years through many different simulations.

What has changed is that PC games publishers are no longer willing to invest the amounts of money and time required to develop a AAA flight sim when they can go and develop a console game that will sell a lot more units and make a heck of a lot more money.

That is why most of the combat flight sim development has shifted to Eastern Europe and Russia where development costs are infinitely lower than the U.S. Notice that there are almost no US flight sim developers left. Of course Microsoft still has Flight Simulator but that is the only one.

The only other U.S. developers still writing sims are those publishing pay-per-play online games. IL2 and LOMAC both come from Russia. Quite a few PC games are now coming from Russia and East Europe.

Except for some major PC games franchises very few U.S. devs are still writing PC games. It may be cyclic and we may see a resurgence but the days of big ticket flightsims coming from the U.S. market are well and truly over.
Posted By: Wklink

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/06/04 01:02 PM

Pretty much echoes my sentements here gents.

Vicious I partially agree with you that the hard core gamers didn't kill the market. We didn't kill it but our demanding nature didn't help in some instances. Let me explain and this isn't a slam on anyone, well maybe on some of our more arrogent members but not on the general numbers here.

By nature these games are expensive. Even games like Railroad Tycoon are not cheap to make. Coding takes time. What makes it so expensive for us is the need to code reality. Guys that make Quake III or Doom III have a distinct advantage over the developers of EAW or LOMAC. They don't have to worry about someone complaining about the unrealistic rate of fire of the Mk1 Plasma cannon or the porked damage model of zombie 1zulu. Guys like Oleg Maddox, on the other hand, get handed loads of crap because supposedly the turn radius of his Spit V is 4.3 meters off based upon the notes some guy found on the internet. Coding reality is pretty hard and a lot of guys have given up on it.

I also think we eat our own here. We have a small group of people in our genre that feel that if it isn't full realism then it is crap and that people who fly without stalls, spins, red/blackouts/ with icons, etc. are weenies. I once got crap from a review I wrote because some of my screenies had icon's in them. Literally someone blasted me for pointing out a feature in a game. These people tend to drive away new gamers interested in playing these things.

When we all started the big games were (depending on when you joined) Red Baron, Aces over Europe/Pacific, F-22 or USNF. Compare any of those to today's sims and they could be called arcadish. Many of us lose track of the fact that these games can get very hard to get into by the newbies unless they are 'dumbed down'. Many don't even know that there are easier modes.

I am guilty of this myself. My reviews rarely talk about the ease that a new person can get into simulations with a particular piece of software. I harp on the hardness of something and it probably turns off a new person interested in playing. Most folks want to play a game, not spend four hours trying to get off the ground. For most of us taking off in a P-47 in full realism is fairly easy. We have HOTAS setups and have flown enough sims with P-47s that we know the torque effects and expect to compensate. Someone who has never flown a P-47 in a simulation probably planted himself 18 times in IL2:FB and gave up. Now if he played it a while he would get the hang of it, maybe pick up an X45 setup and a new hardcore simmer is born.

Just some observations. We tend to eat our own here.
Posted By: Zander

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/06/04 01:45 PM

I agree - have lost count of the number of times a new plane has been released and people have criticised some aspect of it (or, even worese the person modelling it) rather than work out that they are gettng something that is a positive addition to whichever sim for free. I never criticize add ons other to suggest improvements and only when asked. I can think of a fair few modders who have given up helping out because all they got for their hard work is a slagging off.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/06/04 01:52 PM

Glad I'm not the only one feeling this way.

As to the hard core flight sim community killing flight sims, I have a feeling that they might have contributed to their demise by making unrealistic demands for the wrong things. This has pushed developers into developing products that won't sell, or which are so complicated and time consuming to produce that publishers won't touch them.

The insistence on stupendously detailed 3D models of everything makes it technically impossible to have the sort of rich environment Zander refers to above. I remember before B17 II came out, reading an interview where the developers said they didn't want large numbers of low detailed aircraft models, and instead were building every aircraft in maximum detail. The result was a sim that ran like a tortoise on the PCs of the day and consequently sold disappointingly, but it also totally ruined immersion (a shame since B17 scored well in many other areas) - every mission involved at most 12 B17s, with maybe up to 6 fighters attacking, a pitiful little cluster of planes, instead of the formations of hundreds of the real war. Why is it more "realistic" to have rotating gun turrets on every one of 12 planes than to have historically accurate numbers of planes even if their turrets don't rotate? The only reason for having all these detailed models is so that every aircraft looks good when studied in paused external view. I would ban external views from flight sims - the only function they serve is to allow people to complain that the models don't have enough polygons. If I want to look at a pretty picture of a plane, I'll look at a photograph of the real thing. Flight sims should be about flying and fighting, not about admiring pictures. But because flight simmers often demand eye candy (and a very specific, one plane at a time sort of eye candy) above all else, developers spend all their time and effort concentrating on the wrong things.

As for hardness - I think hardness in a game is a good thing, but it should be hard to play well, not hard to play at all. A target rich environment packed with friendly and enemy aircraft diving in and out of the clouds should be exciting and frantic enough for any type of gamer, and is also very realistic. Instead we get a handful of beautifully modelled planes engaging in duels - for which it is very difficult to write adequate AI. Of course serious simmers want their full realism modes, and that's where a high degree of scalability comes in. Every option should be swtich off and on able. Though I suppose that adds to coding complexity too.
Posted By: Zander

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/06/04 01:57 PM

Interstng point VS - one thing people often forget is that the sims back in the days of yore had easy and realistic settings - release a game with that option and of enough interest to the general public and people will want to play it (the average gamer does not want to spend 3 hours woirking through checklists but wants to get up there and shoot things down!). The realistic flight model could either be incorporated as a later patch or be there for us serious simmers. This would also get more people interested in the more detailed sims (after all I doubt many people here just launched straight into Falcon 4 on max realism!)
Posted By: Tailgunner

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/06/04 02:31 PM

All hail the great god of Polycounts \:D

Let me bounce a few numbers around to give some weight to the very pertinent points raised by VS.

IL2 / FB .... polycounts for the high detail model are around 2500. The same number, or a fraction mode, goes into the cockpit.

SFP1 .... 6-7000 polys for the high detail

CFS3 .....Some of the add-on's have 20,000 + !!!! You see useless spheres with perfect roundness used to make blisters...all sorts of rubbish.

Ironically, they have less impact on the speed of a game than you might think! What killed FR's for me on CFS3 was the scenery low down. Wouldn't have minded if it was pretty....

Anyway, for me, it is quantity of planes that give immersion. Play a dogfight in Rowans old Battle of Britain, and the skies are full of dogfighting. You can ignore the low-poly planes because if you spend time looking at the pretties, the fight is very short...and you be dead \:D

Modern graphic cards have got so good at pushing the polygons around that modern sims can throw a lot more polygons around that they used to. Where things go wrong is when the new power is used.

I think 2500 polys is a good figurefor a plane...IL2 aircraft look pretty enough for even the 'external view' merchants. Where sims need to increase their expenditure of polygons is in terrain dressing! Swoop down over the battlefields of flanders and what should you see. Trenches. Men. Shell holes. Gun batteries, shattered villages, and above all... MOVEMENT!

And in the air...well, clouds that block the AI's line of sight would be nice...and ones that know how to fly their planes properly! Nothing worse than an AI that thinks it can turn fight a zero in a B17 ;\)
Posted By: Zander

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/06/04 03:08 PM

Totally second that Tailgunner - I find there is nothing worse than landing at a supposed airfield to find a couple of buildings - no people, no lorries or cars or people just going about their business....nothing!

Am sure that usually happens at all the airfields I have ever seen! \:D
Posted By: Osram

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/06/04 03:10 PM

Tom Cofield - I couldn't agree more !

I won't name names, but there was one of the top posters in one of the top flight sims who very often touted the "real way" to fly a sim saying he would help people and the sim, explaining to them how to avoid being wheenies. I know of two hardcore sim pilots that did not fly (and buy?) that sim because the athmosphere in all forums for that sim was so bad.

The same person who unselfishly helped 6000 hour pilots (not me!) understabd the only way to fly a sim now mods another sim. So he now has a interest in the well being of the sim and suddenly he now longer helps the sim by helping people to see the light. I was not surprised! *******!

Only very few of us use flight sims to save lives. We use flight sims for entertainment (or, if you want, edutainment). As long as he hurts noone, someone that has bought a sim can do with it what he wants.

That includes using it as 3D model viewer BTW ;\) .

BTW - the 3d models are often not the reason you can only have few planes. Someone made a test in CFS 3, using 6 polygone boxes as planes and was not able to run many without massive slowdowns.

Back on topic, I think there are several bad effects of some people posting on forums, all todo with demotivation:
Saying "You are not a real man if you turn things down" - demotivates especially new pilots but also old ones that want to have fun.

In some forums, a lot of people say "this is crap" about very good flight sims. There are many 1000 aspects of a sim - you will never be able to excell in all, so people always have something to whine. I think it makes them feel better, either by thinking "even them are stupid, I can't be bad" or "I would have done better" or simply by feeling a lot of power by being able to destroy big groups. In the MSFS scene, some big groups folded when only a few dedicated people invested some hours into efficiently demotivating / angering / putting fear into the main modders, that had spent thousands or even ten thousands of hours into the hobby.

In an industry in which people do not work for money, since they would get more elsewhere, this affects paid professionals as well as modders. Like Xeidos2 said, developers see forums as hostile places. Unfortunately, a few bad apples are enough. And in some forums (not speaking SimHQ) there are more bad apples than good ones.
Posted By: FinnN

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/06/04 03:22 PM

Yep, I remember B17-II. In fact it's the game responsible for (re)getting me into flight sims. I'd loved the original B17 and bought II as soon as it hit the shops, although by then as it was delayed I'd bought CFS2. Unfortunately I felt it lacked some of the finesse of the original, and it didn't take long to realise that a lot of what was happening wasn't real. For example you mention 12 B17's - well only 4 of them could ever actually do anything, the others just pottered along and didn't even drop bombs or fire guns. Of course the AI fighters would ignore them in every possible way...er...except for collisions which happened regularly. In the end I gave up on B17-II and went with CFS2, which with some mods was a cracking game in its time and to my mind the only really successful prop game between EAW and IL2.

As to poly counts, well I personally think that ball-park 2,500 is pretty low, especially for the larger planes which often look very crude in IL2. On the other hand I don't think 20K is necessary for externals either, although if properly LODed and it doesn't affect FPS I doubt it really matters that much. CFS3 for example can handle huge numbers of planes in the air and not bat an eyelid. Internals are another matter though, lots of cockpits really look bad with low poly counts and there's very few that look totally convincing (and most of those are in FS2004). Edit: in CFS3 two things cause stutter - sounds and scenery. The first one is easily solved by editing one of the xml files so that the problem files are preloaded, the other one, well...you can make it a lot smoother, but to me it looks a bit (OK, very) blech from low down. I guess time will tell if it can be made to look passable and smooth at the same time.

The problem is that while I think it's fine for an add-on developer to push game engines and hardware to the limits, I'd rather commercial developers would pay at least some attention to campaigns and immersion. They managed it years ago so why not now?
Posted By: Tailgunner

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/06/04 03:44 PM

The point about polycounts, though, was how much you notice them when actually flying. I know when I attack a B17 in IL2FB that I don't have much time to sight-see! If you have a poly budget of 25,000 to spend, would you rather have 1 25K plane, or 10 2.5K planes?

Though, as Osram pointed out, poly count isn't the sole cause of slowdown! Making planes fly in 3D space is a CPU intensive thing! The more real you want it, the more CPU cycles you need to devote to making that happen. How many people have had to upgrade to fly the latest flightsims?

Sadly, the things that make a good sim Great are not the ones that will make glamourous screenshots or excite. We see screenshots and drool... we can't drool so much over the promise of a highly immersive campaign or the high-fidelity flight modelling...cynics that we are, we just assume that to be marketting hype and wait for some reviews!

That developers find forums such hostile places is probably the saddest thing to come out of this whole story. Between us, in a few threads, we have outlined pretty much what we want from flightsims, looked at ways to achieve it, and sympathised with a group of guys who tried and failed. All very adult, mature, and thoughtful stuff. If only MORE forums were like this MORE of the time...well, who knows! As long as the flame-fests such as the UBI forums dominate, it's no wonder the Dev's don't want to get invovled!

In the end...we all lose out.
Posted By: Mahoney

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/06/04 03:54 PM

AI and FM are the real killers, particularly combined. TO move 3D objects, even very detailed 3D objects, in 3D space is not that tough - FPS's do it all the time. To make the behave physically realistically particularly with bullets that need to behave physically realistically and planes that need to take damage and then fly physically realistically for their damage - now that's quite tough on a CPU. And then to make an AI that can fly and fight intelligently taking into account the accurate behaviour of his plane - now that's very tough on a CPU!
Posted By: Zander

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/06/04 03:59 PM

Quote:
That developers find forums such hostile places is probably the saddest thing to come out of this whole story. Between us, in a few threads, we have outlined pretty much what we want from flightsims, looked at ways to achieve it, and sympathised with a group of guys who tried and failed. All very adult, mature, and thoughtful stuff. If only MORE forums were like this MORE of the time...well, who knows! As long as the flame-fests such as the UBI forums dominate, it's no wonder the Dev's don't want to get invovled!

In the end...we all lose out.
As Osram and the rest of the BOB team has effectively re-written half of BOB I am sure he knows more than most.

The other thing I find odd is that people get isolated into one sim - the idea that "I play Il2 so I'm not playing CFS3" is non sensical. We are all in this together as a community and it is only as a community that we can ever be heard. If one good thing has cme out of this it is that I believe people have increasingly realized that we need to support the sim aspect of the games industry if it is to be developed.
Posted By: Mahoney

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/06/04 04:01 PM

Quote:
the idea that "I play Il2 so I'm not playing CFS3" is non sensical
Well... maybe from a flight-sim community point of view, but personally I don't begin to have enough time to play more than one sim at a time. They are far too hard and require far too much time to swap and change between them.
Posted By: Wklink

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/06/04 04:18 PM

Eye candy is what brings people to the game, especially newbies. I hate to say it but it does. People wouldn't buy Doom3 if it had the same graphics of a game made three years ago. Likewise people wouldn't buy a new simulation if it had the graphics of EAW (today).

Saying that, it is all relevant. We don't need super high poly counts to create a decent looking model. EAW was my favorate sim of the entire crop in 98-99 because of the 'feeling' of being in a major war. The numbers of planes were amazing, the campaign was outstanding (if somewhat repetitive at times) and the options were incredible for its day. BOB was a few bugs away from unseating EAW as the best flight simulation ever made IMHO. IL2:FB ties EAW as the best (my opinions here). The reason EAW was so good was because it gave a feeling of immersion, it could be modded, and it had a solid base.

IL2 is another example of a game that set the genre apart, and it became incredibly successful for that. What set IL2 apart when released were the little things, the different markings on each plane, the visuals, the ground combat that could go on under you. It wasn't perfect and it never will be. The fact that the game continues to be supported in it's current form is a testament to the developer and the community, both have made the game much more popular and its shelf life has been extended due to that. I would love to see IL2's sales figures, I bet it probably has one of the best continuous selling records of all games. When you consider that the base engine (through IL2 to FB to Aces Expansion) has been on the market for almost three years and still sells at almost base price you understand that a good sim can sell, if done right.

Look, I like realism. Sure I fly with Icons on, I only have a 17 inch monitor and I wear glasses so I need the help. Other than that it pretty much is full realism. I know others that don't. I think a sim needs to cater to both to be successful and it has to advertise to both to be successful. Cater to only the hardcore market and you will sell maybe 50K units. Cater to the arcade bunch and for the most part the game will end up ignored, or panned. Everyone remembers SDOE when it first came out. Great idea, lousy execution. Too arcadish on hard settings. They fixed it but the damage was done and the game overall tanked.

I have my ideas on what could be done to create a mini revival of the genre. I actually have written an editorial but I have no idea if it will go up on the site. A lot of what Walldog said is echoed by myself. Some of my ideas may be panned. That's fine, just because it is a good idea to me doesn't mean it is a good one.

I will promise you this, ever new simulation I review will have a section devoted to ease of use for the newbie. How will I tell? I will look at the ability for someone with no simulation experience to get into a dogfight game and how easy you can make the flight models. Almost all sims have this feature, we just never report it. We need to do that more.

We also need to encourage our bretheren in other genres to look at these games. There is a ton of interest in games like MOH, Op Flashpoint and Battlfield 1942. There is a lot of crossover potential here, if we don't scare them away. Tomorrows hard core simmer is today's Call of Duty player.
Posted By: Osram

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/06/04 04:20 PM

I have been very fortunate that the BoB forums are a very nice place. One reason for this is that the "trouble makers" were there when the sim came out and after a short while moved on. So, when we started working on BoB, the forum was already much less flame infested than in the beginning or than other forums of sims that had just been released.

One thing I hate is when people start to lie, especially to make something look bad. And strangely this "I am playing A, so I have to make B look bad with all means" certainly does happen.

If someone does not play B, because he has no time, money, no interest in the scenario or whatever, this is completely ok.
Posted By: Zander

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/06/04 04:32 PM

Don't get me wrong Mahoney - neither have I (I wish I had) - it is rather more the way many users seem to pan other popular sims just because they don't like them themselves. There are very few really duff sims (though I know we can all think of a few!). All I am saying is that people should try not to segregate themselves into the IL2 crowd or the EAW crowd because their are few enough of us around and we can only get what we want released (such as KOE) if we stand together and show that there are a hell of a lot of flight simmers out there!

Why else do they think that Logitech and their competitors produce new joysticks and other peripherals for PCs?!
Posted By: McGonigle

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/06/04 04:55 PM

Some very good questions are raised here.

Difficulty and gameplay. Are they different animals, or merely two sides to the same thing?

Is harder better? more realistic? Not in itself, but if making a sim more realistic makes it harder, then I'm of the persuasion that harder
is better.

One thing that makes any flight sim harder than real life, is the lack of any physical sensation, in terms of "seat-of-pants" feeling.

Difficulty is very relative in terms of the user, a complete newbie at flight sims will find any flight sim more difficult than a seasoned
flight simmer.

Flying a sim a/c in a straight line and doing basic manouvers after a bit of practive is probably whithin most peoples reach. But getting
the most out of the a/c and flying it with excellence, is probably a lot harder.

Motivation is also very different. There are propellor heads that need the sim to be a credible experience in tems of difficulty and the amount of time it takes to master the a/c. People who are willing to spend quite a lot of time to study the differenet a/c and how to fly
them properly and who care about the sim a/c being as close to real life perfomance as is possible. Who like to get the feeling that "if I
were a better pilot, the sim would actually be able to let me execute this or that manouvre to as near perfection as I could get it".

Then there are people who seek another experience, who primarily want to fight the AI or the multiplayer, or to a lesser degree think
about historical or engineering accuracy.

And people who range anywhere between the two.

All points of view are valid and one pov is just as good as the other.

Some want the full monty, others can do without, I think it's important that the choice is there for the individual user to make. No one else.

That is why I believe that any sim should have scaleablility in terms of tuning the realism level for flight model, AI, campaign goals etc.

And what do we mean when we use the term of "balance"?

Does it mean that the a/c in the sim should perform in such a way that the a/c that in real life was the better a/c, will also be the better
a/c in the sim?

This is one good use of the term.

I would also suggest that the balance between the physics engine and the data going into that engine should be balanced. I've tried other's mods, and made some of my own minor mods, for sims or games or whatever I should call them, where I found that the modded data going into the engine were more correct than the data that came with the sim, but the endresult did not quite live up to my expectations.

My main thought about those examples is that the physcis engine and other important parts of the sim; i.e. the coding of the controller, in those cases really were not designed to use real life data, so the whole experience became unbalanced.

IOW: it seems to be possible to have a very good physics engine and implement data that makes the sim easier, but it doesn't seem as feasible to to go the other way and put in better data if the physics engine is not really up to the task.

Then there is also the balance in terms of the package. The perfect package in terms of balance for me would be:

- One huge map where I can fly anywhere, as I always felt that being given just a small part of the front in a map, to be very confining
and detrimenatal to my immersion.

- Replays and saveable, editable replays, OK, it's not just to admire eye-candy, but more to study the areal manouvers.

- Optional Flight Training; I'd love to enter flight school in say 1915, be given a bit of instruction, dual flight, gunnery, solo and "you're off son, they need replacements in France..... now"

- Quick Shots like in Rowan's BoB; great for the times when I have little time but would like a fairly concentrated battle.

- Campaign, and again I think Rowan, or RB3D are the benchmarks to aim for.

- Ground details; for a WW1 sim the trenches, troops moving to and from the front, flying over the troops as they go over the top. The environment which has been mentioned more than once.

- Multiplayer

- Good, intuitive and simple menus

- And easy to use tweaks to the controller settings, because bad controller settings can completely ruin the experience, and the developers are not always giving us the best settings.
Posted By: Osram

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/06/04 05:07 PM

Quote:

I have my ideas on what could be done to create a mini revival of the genre.
Sounds interesting!

Quote:

I will promise you this, ever new simulation I review will have a section devoted to ease of use for the newbie.
Good idea. Many people on here forget that there HAVE to be many many more buyers than the few people actively posting on SimHQ and other forums.

We have someone that still remembers seeing the BoB as a small child. He once admitted to using easy settings. I slightly scolded him - for using the word "admit" ;\) \:D . He went on to buy a TrackIR, a projector and one of those "linked" joysticks they produce to order. And he was the one that made our stand at the Birmingham flight sim show possible by bringing his computer, poster stands and other paraphernalia. \:\)

I am convinced that combat sim people do have a bigger ego than people have on average, just like real (fighter) pilots do. I fear this can be counter productive. With typical labels like "easy versus realistic", it is clear what someone thinking of himself as "real man" (or "real woman" \:D :p ) has to choose. However, some of us never were first class fighter pilot stuff (I am the first one to admit this). Some of us are older and reflexes have suffered. We have disadvantages like the monitor res and the seat of the missing pants feeling a real pilot has. I am not sure how many people in RL would have been able to land a 109 or Spitfire if they had not trained in gliders, then Tiger Moths/Klemm 35 and then an Arado 96? When I started hanggliding, we drove to Italy to a very remote area with a 6 x 7 km large flat valley floor as landing ground. This is at speeds of say 40 km/h during final. And one person even managed to miss that \:D . And I was the king of downtubes \:o . Anyway, with all these things taken together, it is no wonder a lot of people fail in the first few tries and then get demotivated or angry ("it can't be that hard in RL!").

Sometimes I have been thinking, one would need to label the options more psychologically, but I have no really good idea. Maybe "fun versus realistic" instead of "easy versus realistic"?
Posted By: Wklink

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/06/04 06:47 PM

Oh, I don't know if we have a bigger ego. I know some folks do but you get that with any group of game players. Trust me, the wargaming crowd can be just as bad.

The IL2 vs EAW vs CFS bloodbath was a good exercise in futility. Lord I remember those days. It seems like lovers of one game take an almost fanatical devotion to it. Going onto the boards is like going into an English soccer match some days. We saw some of that with the LOMAC/F4/SFP1 forums as well.

I never faulted anyone for liking CFS or SDOE. I never got into them, even SDOE with all the mods never seemed to trip my trigger. I do appreciate all those that do though, it makes the genre stronger for it. All the mods, the skins, the add ons make the games more appealing. When someone stumbles onto a site like ours and sees all the skins he or she can find for IL2, or the add ons for CFS3, then that person may want to pick it up.

I don't ever expect to see Pacific Fighters out in the front of Walmart (like Doom3 is now) but we do need to positively show that sims can work without trying to one up each other.
Posted By: McGonigle

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/06/04 06:55 PM

I'd rather prefer arcade vs. realistic instead of fun vs. realistic, since "fun" would be no fun for some. \:D \:D

Or scalable realism.

Maybe the term arcade has become a bit of a derogatory label, but beginnning to rephrase arcade into something else is going to be hard without sounding very PC'ish:

"Gameplay enhanced realism"
"Realism subjected to enhanced gameplay"

With arcade and realism we know exactly what is meant.
Posted By: FlyXwire

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/07/04 12:41 AM

In my mind sims are fun and interesting if the gameplay allows oneself to become absorbed into the virtual reality. This has been termed in gaming parlance as enabling the player to temporarily suspend disbelief, but for each player (customer) the benchmark will be slightly different from another, and ever-evolving over time.

To me it's the things that inhibit or intrude into this immersive state that ultimately spoils my simming experience.

Firstly, as Wall-dog questioned earlier in this thread, if we perceive a sim is pretending to be real, by just being "real-hard", is this enough for us to maintain our interest in it, afterall, what brings us to try a sim in the first place..........the graphics, the aircraft selection, the terrain, some specific game feature, theaters or missions (with combat flight sims), or multiplayer action, someone's personal recommendation.........all the above?

Well a well crafted flight sim would do well to incorporate as many of these items into consideration as possible, because they all contribute to the larger whole, but this is to miss the finer point here I believe, because I think the larger issue in this discussion is what is it that makes us lose interest in a flight sim, and how quickly?

To me the issue has always been one of quality and immersion, and how well a sim incorporates it's features into a playable package (what others call "balance"). If a new sim presents nothing new or better than an older offering, then what value does it really have? If a new sim is lacking in certain features, does it's other qualities compensate for this fact? Lastly, and perhaps most important for a sim's longevity and ultimate success, the question has to be asked whether a sim offers it's players a true challenge, while at the same time working towards that ideal of temporary "suspension of disbelief"?

I think most simmers can detect pretentious "gimmicks" meant to ramp up a game's challenge (sometimes unfortunately after their purchase), while at the same time be able to recognize essential gameplay features that may be sorely lacking in development. It's this lack of game balance which can ruin the virtual experience from the beginning, and thereby spoil any challenge and interest we may hold for a particular flight sim. So what is it that holds our interest once we decide a sim belongs on our hard drive?

Well, I guess a sim must offer a competitive challenge of some sort, whether that's solely by presenting an alluring learning experience where we try to perfect our technique (as in civil avaition flight sims), or whether we're also competing against opponents too (as with combat flight sims). Anyway you look at it, the sim must provide a challenge to hold our interest for any length of time.

Perhaps the most important reasons we loose interest in a sim occur when we no longer believe it's worthy of our time (it's skill requirements have been mastered), or when the competion (whether AI or human as in combat sims) no longer provides enough personal challenge. Of course our attention spans vary (and tollerance too), and familiarity and knowledge will reduce the worthiness of the personal flight challenge over time. Now perhaps with combat flight sims the challenge can be more long-lived, because we're also competing with others that find the challenge worthy and interesting also, but every flight sim has a life-span, and it derives from whether we find the experience fun or interesting anymore.

So in summary here, let me say that I think it's perceived improvements in the offerings and features of a new flight sim that lead us to try it out. Next, it's the process of discovery, and the quality of the immersive experience that convinces us to invest our time in mastering it's requirements. Lastly, it's the personal challenge of competition (with ourselves, with others, and comradery too) that keeps us interested in a sim once it's become very familiar over time.

For success, a sim must incorporate an overall balance in it's build, and therefore no one feature alone can foot that bill!

I've come to the personal realization that I'm willing to sacrifice some "ultimate realism" in one category or another, if a sim has that overall balance, and represents eminent playability.

Sure I want "more", that's ever-evolving with time, but for a good flight sim I want balance and quality first, and then I'll have that immersion and long-term playabilty I so desire...........

............and thanks for listening!!! \:\)
Posted By: Osram

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/07/04 10:18 AM

Quote:
Originally posted by SimHq Tom Cofield:
Oh, I don't know if we have a bigger ego. I know some folks do but you get that with any group of game players. Trust me, the wargaming crowd can be just as bad.
Hm. Have you followed civ sim forums closely and if so, do you think the crowd there has on average an as big ego?
Posted By: Cas141

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/07/04 11:42 AM

There is some very good reasoning here, even though there are differences in emphasis, about why the flight sim industry is not thriving.
IMHO, it is because there are not enough newbies.
After all, flight sims are not potatoes. Once you have bought one copy, you don't need to keep buying another.
.
So, why is that we are not attracting and keeping the newbies?
Going on my experience of trying to get my mates into flight sims, raises some interesting points.
All have an interest in aviation- R.C model aircraft fliers- so you'd think they would jump at it.!
No way - One thinks it is a computer "game", he doesn't play computer games; he won't investigate further. The other looks and dabbles and has an occasional go, but doesn't commit.
I suspect the first feels the same as the second, ie- it is too hard and requires too much time to learn.
There is a learning curve at least as hard as learning to drive a car, and like that, there is a point where you "crack" it. I remember reaching that point and then I loved my flight sim. But if I hadn't managed to get to that point soon enough, I would have packed up sims.
We need "You can crack it Sims "
Today, not many have too much time to "crack" it. So what will keep them there long enough?
Tom gave one good reason - eye candy . It has to look real enough to pretend you are flying. They don't need the wife/kids/girlfriend over their shoulder saying, "What's that supposed to look like?"
They also have to have the prospect of succeeding.
I remember first playing IL-2, and when the enemy came at me and passed me head on and I looked back and saw that he was taking just as long to turn as i was, and seemingly finding it as hard as I was, I knew I wanted to play this game.Before long I shot one down and that was it!!
Then FB came out and suddenly the AI was dead eye dick and turning on a sixpence behind me and superman was flying it.I was dead every time!!
I thought, this sim has "improved worse", and in that respect, it has. It has fallen in to satisfy the "hardcore", so the previous realistic give- you-a -chance gameplay has gone.
And, I suspect , that so have some newbies who may well have stayed with IL-2.
You can't blame Oleg too much re that, 'cos he was getting pressure from the hardcore to improve this, improve that. Posts from guys saying "the AI is crap because I can take out 2 Aces on my own whilst lighting a cigarette", and "improve the FM of this and that" etc. And " where is this gun, or that gun" ?
But, what was wrong with IL-2 original in these respects if it was capable of being handled by newbies.??
Another newbie friendly sim was Flying Corps Gold.
For it's time it was leading edge , but now, it would need new terrain graphics.- But that's all.
If Tom was reviewing it today, with his "newbie rating " in mind, I suggest it would rate highly without any changes at all ( except the graphics).

Yes, we have got too nicketty-picketty re FMs, and dynamic Campaigns etc.
Perhaps "Help for newbie" sub forums, in Sim forums, would also help. Newcomers reading some posts must be put off by many threads talking about matters they have never heard of. etc.
It can all add up to them thinking "this is all too much"

It is a difficult subject to get the balance right, but I hope the guys do,- and that our hobby doesn't fade away.
Posted By: FlyXwire

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/07/04 12:34 PM

More good reasoning Cas!

Hey all I need to mention to get that "nicketty-picketty" in all of us resounding off the walls again is to bring up padlocking (and please lets not debate this over again here too), but in reference to your posting above Cas, padlocking is for some (maybe more so for newbies) a very helpful playability feature.

Sure, some sim "experten" will say "don't need it", "destroys SA", "get TrackIR", etc.! Well suffice it to say that if it helps balance the virtual gameplay of a sim, or enables dogfighting w/o some tremendous cost in historical accuracy then just "let it be".

After all, people can group on different multiplayer servers for different realism settings, but for some (especially newbies), having balancing gameplay features like padlocking makes that sim more accessible out of the box, and without lots of people willing to buy that box, this hobby isn't going anywhere. ;\)
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/07/04 03:05 PM

S! All!

I'll tell you what my favorite 'crutch' is. I like the External View format of RB3D. I could look very quickly for enemies, friendlies, whomever just shot at me, and could pick one and stick a key on him. Was that realistic? REAL pilots thought it did a good job of making up for the limitations of computer monitors.

Externals are not the perfect answer. I'd like to see them modeled such that you lose a plane briefly if it is underneath you or in another position where you would not be able to see it, but then you pick it up again when it comes back into view. I'd also like to see externals done such that you can't use them like a radar.

Externals in these cases give you a good perspective of where your plane is relative to another plane. You get a sense of position, direction, track, and speed. Real pilots say they can do this from within their cockpits.

Track IR works pretty well for those who have it, but newbies don't have it. Padlock doesn't help you if you have Track IR. I see no reason to disable Padlock. Track IR works better anyway! In fact, Track IR works pretty darn well. But not quite well enough - I have a very hard time re-centering my view with Track IR... Maybe I should try Track IR 3...

But the real be-all end-all for flight sims will be goggles that pan as you move your head. These will work in a 3-d movement cycle, such that moving your head laterally and horizantally will change your view just as much as turning it or looking up.

Imagine leaning over your chair and looking down around your wing. The technology is there. If we had that, we wouldn't NEED help with anything other than identifying planes. And with goggles, you could make a true 3D view (with depth perception) so it would only be a matter of time before even identifying planes became easy.

But we have to keep our genre alive until this kind of technology makes it into flight sims.

I'm going to stick to my original statement that the 'hardest' settings should not make a flight sim harder than real life.

I remember reading a review shortly after RB3D came out where a real pilot flew it and said 'Yeah. That's right.' I really took that compliment to heart. A real pilot was saying that the game felt to him the same as the real thing.

I'm an armchair pilot. I have no idea what 'real flight' feels like from the pilot's chair. I'd be talking out of my bottom-side if I said I did. I can't tell Oleg or anyone else what real flight 'feels' like. What I can ask for though is legitimate criteria. I can ask that the game be made to feel 'right' to REAL pilots instead of a bunch of armchair pilots like myself.

I fly almost entirely online. I'm not big on AI. They just don't move right - they don't fly smart. I like a challenge, and I only find it online. RAF74_Taipan, I_JGI_FourShades and I have been working on an online dynamic campaign system for years now for IL2/FB/AEP. It should also be compatable with PF and BOB when they come out (provided Oleg doesn't make major changes to his log file and mission file formats). Our campaign system lets the players control the flight assignments, and will eventually let them control the ground war as well. And I think this is the FIRST time a group has tried to do this sort of thing ONLINE.

When Taipan and I started this project something like three or four years ago we envisioned something pretty grand. We made great strides for a while, but then my free-time dried up and our progress slowed. When FourShades joined our group we started picking up our progress again. Now we are getting VERY close to having a real multiplayer dynamic campaign where the PLAYERS control the war.

If you guys want something to work on that is close to completion and that can make a real impact on immersion, take a look. Our website doesn't give much info and the 'program' you can download is quite old and does not work with the current version of FB/AEP. But you can look at the forums, and you can track our progress on SourceForge. We are working under the GPL Open Source license. Anyone who wants to help can. Just look for the 'Scorched Earth Online War' and you'll find us...

But our project doesn't address the root-problem either. I think our project will revolutionize online wars, but it won't make the game more accessible to new players.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/07/04 06:02 PM

Hey Cas,
You ought to see the kind of treatment a newbie gets in a RB server...lol. It reminds me a lot of a room full of guys and one pretty girl..they are falling all over themselves just to help.

MM
Posted By: Icer

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/24/04 03:57 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by RAF74_Wall-dog:
S! All!

snip many good points to save the internet..

Maybe you give out the SP game for free and then sell the multi-player part.
A lot of good points RAF. To comment on the one model I picked out - it does exist -free SP to a small extent, target practice only in reality-, pay for MP, and it is successful. Aces High 2 is a free download, has a free two week trial, and after that costs $15 per month. IF you don't like it they still allow you to use it with as many as 8 players online in a H2H mode at no cost. MANY thousands pay their $15 per month happily which of course equates to $180 every year per person. It works. And that leads to another thing, acceptable cost of boxed sims.

As i've had EAW and Falcon 4.0 for over 5 years lets see, $50/5 < $10 per yer and falling.. I for one also see no problem in paying $100 up front for a another quality title with that type of longevity. Let's not confuse this with the garbage that has been shoveled out the door the past few years that wasn't worth the $40 I paid just to support the genre. Can you say Strike Fighters? Only the fact that talented people outside of the developers have been messing with it is it not a forgotten bad memory..
Posted By: Cas141

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/24/04 08:04 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by FlyXwire:
!

I've come to the personal realization that I'm willing to sacrifice some "ultimate realism" in one category or another, if a sim has that overall balance, and represents eminent playability.

A lot of sense written in the last few posts, especially the above.
Over the years, I have tried to interest some fellow RC model plane/glider fliers into flight sims.
And the fact that they haven't really gone for it is down,I think, to (1) not having cracked it, combined with, (2) the sim not looking real enough.
Same thing, (1),happens with guys who try RC models.
There is a learning curve and if they don't crack it- get to the point where they they are having some success, more times than not,then they lose interest.
Newbies and Sims - If they like the look of it, and they learn it well enough for success, then they will enjoy it and then progress.
Then the niceties come in- skins; scripted or dynamic; what type of missions; online or offline; duels or furballs, etc etc..
No newbie was ever hooked on to flight sims because one had a superb dynamic campaign.

So! - looks, balance and playability it is.
Posted By: FlyXwire

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/24/04 11:32 PM

Cas141, I too have thought back to this thread as the discussion around Wings of War continues, and as we dance around the issue of what hooks new players to a gaming genre, as well as what keeps established gamers in a genre happy.

Call it a bit of foreshadowing, but the very points made in this discussion here have preceeded the release of WoW, and are especially appropriate now after its release!

Perhaps the most important thing for all of us simmers to admit to ourselves, is that our interest evolve over time, and that we don't always need ever increasing levels of difficulty to be able to take our next sim experience seriously, but that things like playability and balance, and feature sets can have just as much impact on our enjoyment level as increases made to perceived "realism".

I once had a discussion with a cost accounting manager here at the automotive plant I work at, and it revolved around customer satisfaction and perceived levels of build quality. I insisted that manufactures like Toyota have acheived the level of customer satisfaction they enjoy because they have attempted not only to satisfy the customer's expectations, but that they routinely attempt to exceed those expectations! Now our cost manager insisted "we give the customer what he wants", and if he's not complaining about something, then we have met those expectations. I again insisted that this is not enough, that the competition will always win against an attitude like this, because if the competition continually exceeds the customer's expectations, then they will earn greater customer loyalty because they incorporate things that the customer doesn't even know to expect, but once made aware of will be grateful to have benefitted from nonetheless!

It's called driving the marketplace, and it doesn't only apply to automobile manufacturing.

There's many hidden features and design ideas that reside in a successful computer game, or within the build of a combat flight sim. We as customers may not always be aware of these features, but they are often reflected through an overall sense of game playability/replayability, immersiveness, and the degree of fun we enjoy from the gaming experience.

I'm going to give Wings of War a try, even though my first reactions against the game's marketer once led me to call for a boycott of the product because KOE apparently had been dropped as a result.

Yes, sometimes we have to admit there are things we might not know we even want.........or are unaware that we eventually want!

LOL......tryin' not to be that "old dog".............and maybe there's a few tricks we all can stand to learn, if we just give em a chance (that is).
Posted By: Cas141

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/25/04 09:26 AM

FlyXwire S! - Yes, I think we are more or less on the same wavelength.
You know, until your last post and that of Xeidos2 in another thread, Ursus', I did not know of any connection between KOE and WoW companies; nor of any "boycott call"
I am not too interested in getting involved in the politics of such matters, for a number of reasons, but mainly because I am unlikely to find out the full story.
What does spring to mind is that I don't suppose any publisher feels he can support both sims and has to make a decision to go for one.? I dunno... and it's not for me to worry too much about it.

All I know is, I saw a WW1 "sim" for £20, someone had said it had good terrain and so I thought I'd give it a go. Probably would have at that price , even if I'd seen Santa Claus was the publisher \:\)

The rest is history - I've posted my thoughts on what I found; I like it and I think others will too.IMHO it happens to fit in with the subject of this thread.

When(if) KOE comes out I'll buy that and give it a go. I may have to finish up playing one, I don't know yet. ( But I think RB3d is coming off the HD!, as my first love, FCG, has already done )

cheers
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/25/04 01:09 PM

Yes it's interesting - it sounds as if WoW is very much like the 'simple sim to encourage the newbies' that many people (incl me) on this thread were saying was needed. Which is great, but then it's such a shame that the game isn't scaleable so that it can please newbies and simmers alike. It would take so little extra effort to make all features switchable, and include if nothing else a mission builder, and then everyone is happy. Sounds like some of the arcade features can be switched off - so why not all of them? It makes no sense to me.

The main problem I have with WoW is the basic game structure ie scripted missions in a linear progression. All this means is that I reach a point where I fail a mission over and over, and after replaying exactly the same mission ten or so times I get sick to death of it. I've lost count of the number of games I've given up on because of this 'feature' - and yet for some reason this is the established wisdom in computer games.

Added to that, scripted campaigns just don't have the replayability. 70 missions sounds like loads, but I must have played hundreds of EAW and RB missions. I suppose developers/publishers don't care, because they want to build in obsolescence to their games - once you've completed the campaign you will have to go out and buy a new game. Depressingly, it seems to work.

Worst of all though, and completely outrageous to my mind, is the idea of 'locking' planes. I've paid for the sim, that should mean I can use every plane in it. Can you imagine buying a book on WW1 aircraft, and finding at the end of chapter 1 that you are physically prevented from reading chapter 2 or any other chapter until you have passed a test on what you've read. No one would fall for that, yet in computer games it is commonplace. Mad. At least there's a cheat available.

I think computer games have got themselves stuck in a time warp. Games need a system of rewards to encourage players to keep playing. In the early days of Space Invaders and such like the rewards were completing levels and building up a score, and here we are thirty years later with the same structure - complete levels, only now they are called missions, get a high score. Even otherwise realistic sims like Il2 have the same structure - complete the levels. Even now with the dynamic campaigns of FB - silly messages popping up in the middle of a fight saying 'MISSION COMPLETED' - what's that supposed to mean? If I get back to base and land in one piece the mission is completed. If most of my squadron make it back too, and the CO is pleased with the damage we inflicted on the enemy then the mission is successful. Computer games should be complex and sophisticated enough to provide real world rewards, not have to resort to gamey nonsense about completing missions. I want a pilot with a flight record - if a mission turns out well the flight record should reflect that. If I perform badly I should be bawled out by the CO, maybe get a black mark in my record. A run of successes should mean high squadron morale and praise from HQ; failures mean dropping morale, maybe a reprimand. Flight sims should be able to provide all this, instead we have to put up with this 'MISSION COMPLETE' or even worse, 'MISSION FAILED - REPLAY' nonsense.

Just some more of my opinions...
Posted By: Wireman

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/25/04 01:35 PM

Good post von.
Posted By: Cas141

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/25/04 03:30 PM

Well, Von - I'd like it to be like that, but when the best graphics and a minimum # of planes have to be in the sim also, that is what puts the development costs too high that no one is prepared to do it.
So, we either fly simple missions, which I haven't consistently done well at all, BTW - always room for improvement- or we get no flight sims at all?
A golfing analogy. I don't change my golf club because I have played the same course time and again. I play it again to either beat others or the course better than I have before.

cheers
Posted By: McGonigle

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/25/04 03:54 PM

Ecellent post von, my thoughts exactly.

It seems to me that every developer takes the easy way out in terms of copying the FPS titles in terms of scripting missions and events, try to introduce "cinematic" qualities and in some instances introduce feeble attempts at mimicking RPG's by introducing characters that evolve.

In part, I suspect they do so because they read reviews of sims made by PFS gamers, and those reviews tend to ask for such stuff. But those reviews are not very representative of what some of us wish for.

Why not have a GAME that is much more open ended in it's structure, as you say von; do away with the silly "You won" screens and instead let the mission conclude to it's very end, and if the pilot survives there could be a lot of creative things done to make a debriefing session that incorporates the mission just flown.

I believe that we do a disservice to our own interests, if we just go along and meekly accept the developers offerings, even if we do not agree to what is being offered.

It shouldn't hit development costs, I rather think they would fall, as what I'm basically saying is that they can do away with the gimmicks that work once, but uppon repetition becomes painfully boring.

Just my 2 cents mind you \:\)
Posted By: Xeidos2

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/25/04 05:56 PM

Just saw a little bit of news over at the Aerodrome forum that might be of interests to the people here and this seems to be the right thread in which to mention it.

It's just a rumor now, but if true it will have a big impact on the development of WW1 flight sims.
Apparently Peter Jackson is a big fan of WW1 aircraft. He's making King Kong right now and in the opening sequence there is suppose to be a WW1 dogfight since one of the main human characters is suppose to be a former WW1 pilot. Well the rumor is that he might be in the process of re-making The Blue Max once King Kong is finished. During my one and only meeting with a rep from Destineer, he said that the only thing execs at game companies were intersted in was getting franchise names to develop into games. Well if someone with the reputation of Peter Jackson re-makes The Blue Max, it will certainly go a long way in changing game publisher's outlook toward WW1 flight sims. Of course it could mean a boatload of more versions of WoW. Look at all the cheap WW2 flight games that came out after the movie Pearl Harbor.
Posted By: Sparks

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/25/04 07:51 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by Xeidos2:
Well the rumor is that he might be in the process of re-making The Blue Max once King Kong is finished.
!!!

That's a great rumor, Xeidos. A Peter jackson remake of the Blue Max - and the possible game/sim tie-ins - have my mouth watering!
Posted By: Dantes

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/26/04 12:55 AM

Jackson doing a remake of Blue Max? I think I just wet myself at the potential of it.

If it had the same quality level of the LOTR films, it could very well be the best thing that happened to flight simming popularity.

I also agree with the scaled sim idea. That way, it appeals to hard core and newcomer alike to get their feet wet.

Still...

Personal Opinion:

Just about any sim out there has this option to make it super-easy. If you take away the sim in simulation, then why the heck would anyone want to play it though unless you're very young or just entering into the gaming genre?

Did gamers all become spoon-fed wussies all of sudden? You'll get a player who is willing to spend 5 hours completing an almost impossible FPS level but they don't have the patience to learn to fly a simulated plane in combat?

I just don't get the logic. When did gamers stop wanting to be challenged and rewarded with persistance and have everything that makes sims enjoyable thrown out? Adding some ill-chosen elements of other gaming genres is more of a band aid than well thought out solution to increasing the popularity of simming.

I guess the idea of a game without a medpack in some form or another is just too wierd these days.

Maybe it would be helpful to try to lose the old fart mentality of WW1 simming by producing good marketing campaigns. Most of the pilots were the same age as a young gamer. That alone if promoted well should get younger players interested since it involves people from their age group. It was certainly interesting enough for those involved.

I can't remember the last time I saw a decent flight sim marketing blitz. Maybe the easiest way to get more players interested is to appeal to the emotional side more than the aeronautical authenticity. That they can learn when they purchase the sim.

Get them excited about it. Study some successful game marketing and learn what works and what doesn't. Going back to the Jackson film rumour: It worked for LOTR. How many kids actually knew or cared about Tolkien's works before the film came out? Now Gandalf is a household word and kids are using the images in their sigs all over the place.

WW1 was a time full of excitement, fear, glory and death. It's all there waiting for anyone to discover.

Make it cool to be interested in it again and lose the sad geek tagline that so often ties in with simming.

Ever try to tell your friends why you like WW1 simming? It's tough isn't it? Most of us hide it as our secret obsession.

If we can't even bring ourselves to tell people about it without feeling silly then how can we expect it to be popular gaming genre again (or maybe that's just me ;\) )?

S!
Posted By: FlyXwire

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/26/04 02:38 AM

.........and then we go back to all the discussion about what brings people initially to the "table" in the first place (be it a wargaming table, or a monitor)................that's probably caused by whatever attracts our eye the most!

I never feel weird talking about WWI aviation history or gaming it (or any military history for that matter), I sit back and chuckle when I see people get fired up about professional sports in fact!

WWI happened, nations futures turned with the events, millions died to decide who had the will to fight and "overcome", this was real, and not of pretentious importance like competitions that change or effect nothing with their passing, and are self-important only because we believe that the competition has significance.

Anytime I offer to discuss military history or geo-politics with my co-workers, and the topic turns to WWI, and avaition, and inevitably to my interest in WWI flight simulation, all I need to do is show them a screenshot of one of the skinned aircraft I've done (or something from another sim or game), and the image speaks volumes by itself!

People respond to the visual arts, to imagery, and the more real it looks the easier the connection with RL and what can be perceived by the human mind.

Talk of the horror of the trenches to the uninterested...............then show them the fly-covered and swollen bodies of the fallen, they suddenly realize what is trivial in their lives, and perhaps are grateful to be concerned with such petty diversions that they have manufactured their passions for.

Certainly we all enjoy diversions, as our gaming experiences certainly are, but they portend to simulate real events, and for this reason I hold these experiences significant (when I do choose to take them seriously that is).

Dantes, I know you understand the visual arts and imagery very well, as you are an artist in your own right, I'm just surprised you say you find explaining your interest in WWI flight simulation problematic, maybe if we could all bet on the outcome of a cyber-dogfight, and huge ammounts of money rode on the outcome, more people could "get it"......but then again, is that really where it's at anyway?

Ok, sorry to get a bit off topic here, but the point being there's a lot more "silly" things to feel silly about than studying or competing over things that simulate actual historical conflicts...............that's all. \:\)
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/26/04 03:01 AM

What ho!

I must confess that I seldom look at (or read) the forums. However, Wall-dog has made me aware of this thread.

I would only add that I am a bomber pilot. Have been for over six years. Started out in RB3D. Doesn't seem that long ago.

My point is that flight sims apart from all the other items discussed here have not been really proficient at developing bombers! IL-2 is especially deficient at this. We have only an old (1933) Russian bomber to fly. (I should mention that I never fly Nazi a/c!!) We have a B-17G and a B-25 which are essentially AI type a/c but not flyable (yet).

I took over THREE MONTHS to learn to land a P-47!! The speed of that thing is tremendous! I still have to learn how to fly a Mustang.

The point is that I had to learn how to land a P-47 because it is a fighter-bomber and sometimes we needed the speed in combat. I would have preferred to take a B-25 but it was not available. Or, better yet, I would have preferred to take the B-17G! But it wasn't available.

Essentially, I am a mud-mover without the adaptive skills to fly a fighter. So I am left with flying a Sturmovik (a very nice plane) or a TB-3.

Why not allow us to use the "externals" and fly a B-25?

SpitfireB
Posted By: fearlesslds

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/26/04 04:03 AM

Cas how true . Need to bring others in and that won't happen if they have to get a real pilot's license first . I remember starting RB2 and flying into the ground over and over for 2 days . Introduced 3 friends to the game and had to coach them past the cracking stage . Otherwise they would have chunked it . Have to have a game that has a arcade feel to bring in more targets I mean players.

I love sims being hard . Hate playing Call of Duty and seeing little first aid kits on the floor that give you more health or the ability to carry 14 different weapons all at once. But the broader the appeal the better we all are.
Posted By: fearlesslds

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/26/04 04:14 AM

Did gamers all become spoon-fed wussies all of sudden? You'll get a player who is willing to spend 5 hours completing an almost impossible FPS level but they don't have the patience to learn to fly a simulated plane in combat?[/B]

The point you miss is while they are trying to get through that level they are "SHOOTING" the whole time. 2 sec into the game and you are doing 80% of what you came to do. Not bouncing off the ground like I did for 2 days with RB or trying some saber jet game a few years ago and couldn't get the stupid thing to do anything but slide along the ground . Don't care for games like Doom or Quake but as Adolf put it so well "Your message (game) can't be any smarter than the dumbest person in your audience" . Take it from me (I work with the public) there are a lot of slow people out there .Look out here comes a F-86 down the highway. :p _
Posted By: fearlesslds

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/26/04 04:20 AM

  • Ever try to tell your friends why you like WW1 simming? It's tough isn't it? Most of us hide it as our secret obsession.


Not here . When RB2 came out I got 3 friends playing it and when WW2 fighter came out I used to tell everyone at work I was going home to save democracy. \:D
Posted By: fearlesslds

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/26/04 04:30 AM

Man Flyxwire I like you . Put into words exactly how I feel about sports . I work in a PT clinic and half are mags there are Sports junk . I feel the same way.

People talk about history as being boring and if you have ever watched a segment of Jay Leno's Jaywalking they know little and care less about it . "When was the tv invented ?" 1850 was the answer.

These events determined people's /nation's fates , determined how we live etc. Not some game between grown men calling themselves the Bobcats and the Muskrats acting like it matters what they do besides entertainment . It's as stupid as me walking out of a theater screaming like the world is safe since Luke blew up the Death Star but worse at least he wasn't calling himself a Cougar or something .
Posted By: fearlesslds

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/26/04 04:37 AM

Raf

What are you Mcgiver ? Never fly Nazi aircraft . Do you fly Republican a/c? \:D
Posted By: Dantes

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/26/04 06:55 AM

Fly you are absolutely correct when you mention the visual being a huge selling point. If you gave some gamer the original Castle Wolfenstein they would probably be bored in about 30 seconds even though it is not that different to a modern day shooter.

It's what drew everyone's eye initially to IL2 because it looked better than any sim before it. Even if I don't like the whole idea of WOW I have to admit the visuals and what might be done with them gets me excited. The fact it also seems coded well to run smoothly on people's computers is a bonus too.

Refering back to the earlier point, trying to complete a fps level is usually allot more repetitive and tedious I would think. Most of them are a pre-determined loop where you know what is going to happen and where. At least with getting your plane off the ground you have accomplished an action that does not need to be relearned. It's a sense of accomplishment which should be more gratifying than blowing away endless waves of monsters, soldiers, whatever.

I'm just putting out an example of what types of tedium a player will go through to achieve their goals. Anyways, that was my point about levels of complexity being a good thing while adding goofy stuff like powerups and super weapon add-ons doing nothing beneficial for the sim genre.

WW1 flying is already stripped down enough as it is for gaming purposes because it is a game. It does not have to be Super Mario in the air though.

I guess your friends are more tolerant than mine. They just give me a strange glazed over look if I bring up the topic so I don't bother anymore.

As you mentioned fearlesslds, people talk about history being boring. That is why I was stressing any marketing needs to focus on the emotional rather than the historical semantics to capture their audience. Once they're hooked they'll find learning more about the time period more gratifying.

(Your comparisons between political ideologies were a lackluster ending to your otherwise interesting posts.)

I don't think a developer can create a good sim without having some passion or interest in it. If the developer's feel that they are good in that area, there is no reason not to pursue it. Some make good arcade games, some make good sims. Developers are not some homogenous group that doesn't have strengths or weaknesses in one area or another. A developing company that tries to force their talents and product into a gaming niche they have no experience with will only end up with a misguided product.

I guess they'll all eventually lower their standards hoping they make the next Tetris or something. ;\)

S!
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/26/04 03:57 PM

I'm not sure I would classify myself has a hardcore simmer. I am building a very simple home cockpit for use primarily with FS2004, a sim which takes most of my gaming time. Perhaps that makes me somewhat hardcore. However, that would apply to FS2004 only. I really enjoy, or have enjoyed, the likes of IL-FB, BOB, Mig Alley, USAF, EAW, and RB3D. But I tend to approach those games with the view to quick fun-- I always start but rarely finish campaigns. I want the flight models to give an experience at least close to reality, I enioy the historical context, and I am fascinated by the continuing advancement in graphics. But in the end, when it comes to combat flight sims, I don't want a huge learning curve. I don't have the time to play games that require that much from me. So, a good-looking, somewhat historical, "easy" combat flightsim game with a good fun factor is often what I look for. I'm not yet sure about WoW, but it does appear to fit my criteria. I'd also be very interested in KoE should it ever appear.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/26/04 09:08 PM

S! All!

I posted this on the editorial discussion on the General Flight Sim thread. This is a better place for it though and it is just as topical here as it is there! So forgive my re-posting it here!!

S! All!

There are some great ideas on this thread. A number of people have made great posts. None of them however really touch on what I think is wrong with this genre.

There is an idea floating around out there that flight sims don't sell well. I disagree. There is a lot of empirical evidence that flight sims don't sell well, but there hasn't been much discussion as to why they aren't selling as well as they did years ago. Have gamers changed that much? I don't think they have. I think the concept of combat flight simulations is just as viable today as it ever was. There is a romanticism involved with flight that people feel almost universally. Simulated combat is fun - be it laser tag, paint balls, or computer simulations. Add the romanticism of flight to the fun of simulated combat, and you should have something easy to sell.

I don't think there is anything making flight simulations inherently less popular. What I think is happening is that we look at flight simulations from such a grainular perspective - scrutinizing the flight model, the damage model, the view structure, etc. etc. etc. - that we forget about the most critical element: does it do a good job of simulating air combat?

Read a book about air combat. Read Adolf Galland's 'The First and the Last' or Richtofen's 'The Red Baron.' Hear from the actual participants what aerial combat was like. Then fly and see if you get the same feeling they discuss in their books.

What is aerial combat about? It is about dogfighting. That's it, folks! And guess what? Dogfighting is FUN! Make a game that centers on the dogfight and you'll make something you can sell. Everything else is secondary. Get the dogfight right and you'll have a great game engine to build around. If you want it to be fun then you build the simulation around the game engine rather than the other way around. The dogfight is 'the game' and simulations need to address that fact.

In all of my readings, one of the things I've found is that once a pilot sees another pilot they can pretty easily keep track of where they are throughout the combat. I don't remember Galland talking about flying past Bader and then wondering where Bader went. I remember reading things like "I went into a half-loop while my opponent circled around below me" and things like that. REAL pilots fought like the dogfight was a big chess game. The victor was usually the one who better employed their aircraft. That usually means starting with an advantage, but really it means they outflew their opponents before and/or after the merge.

But we don't have that. We manage our view systems instead of managing our energy. We manage our engines instead of our dogfights.

In the Red Baron 3D days we used to talk on these forums about the dynamics of a dogfight. How do you gain an angles advantage or get an energy advantage on an opponent? How do you turn-the-tables on an opponent who has an advantage over you? What are the strengths of your aircraft and how can you best employ your aircraft against different enemy aircraft? What are the different parts of a dogfight, how to you recognize what part of it you are in, and how do you react to that information? These are the things we should be talking about because these are the things that should help us win! But these are NOT the things we talk about.

In the quest for 'realism' we have defined settings that are neither realistic nor fun. Rather they are hard. Hard for realism's sake is a good thing. Hard for 'hard's sake' is just stupid!

People talk about having easier settings for newer pilots. I agree, but I think that misses the point somewhat also. Nobody really wants to fly at easier settings. Everyone wants to fly at the harder settings. Those who fly at easier settings generally do so with the expectation of getting better and increasing the difficulty with the eventual hope of cranking it all the way up.

That makes a big push toward the hardest settings. This is particularly true online, which IMHO is where the real fun is.

And someone should mention that you shouldn't need an advanced flight degree to figure out what difficulty settings or joystick settings to use!

Focus on making the game feel real. If that means doing some things that are not entirely 'realistic' then do it. It is the feeling that matters. Who cares if real pilots had external views? They didn't have computer monitors either. What should matter is making a view system that captures the experience of aerial combat. If Chuck Yeager could maintain SA in a real P-51, then Chuck Yeager should be able to maintain similar SA in a simulation.

Anyway, that's my point. I see a number of other great points and I don't want to detract from those, but I don't want what I think is the centerpiece of this whole thing to get forgotten either...
Posted By: FlyXwire

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/27/04 12:19 AM

Wall-dog,

My points about enabling padlocking, or designing in sim playability (or what Dantes calls balance) squares well with what you have written above.

Also, there's good discussions still occuring on forums (like here) concerning what makes a combat flight sim engrossing to play, and it's not always harder-realism as you've noted, but more correctly how well a sim creates a convincing ranking in performance (the relationship) between the subject aircraft, and how well that relationship seems to mesh with known recollections of those who actually flew the combat!

Get that ranking relationship right, and a convincing fascimile of the real thing will follow.

I'd like to make another quick point here before I move onto the main emphasis of this posting, and that is to say there's often little need for cockpit instrumentation in much early aviation flying. In fact early aviators flew more "in tune" with their engines (through sound), than by referencing their flight gauges (if they had any). Now the reason I'm saying this, as most of you already know, is to emphasize that real flying is done mostly through audible and other sensory cues (first), and secondly through the instruments (non IFR flying that is). In fact, if we were to take away all cockpit instrumentation in our favorite sim, and then experience combat actions between different aircraft types and pilots, our impressions would sound much like what you have referred to from Galland's writings and those of other combat pilots............they responded to how well their plane's ranked, when compared to acceleration, zoom advantage, the ability to roll or hold the edge in a turn, etc..............in general terms! As opposed to reading something like "I reached 165 kph in level flight as I eased in behind my target, he saw me and immediately dove to 3200 meters where upon backing 30 degrees I was able to fire a port deflection lead of 10 degrees and he immediately caught fire, and went down."

Again, air combat is all about where the advantages fall, and how well to maximize your's while minimizing the enemy's.........right?

Ok, my friend Stickshaker sent me a collection of his favorite forum discussions here recently (thanks again Hans), and amongst the discussions was a gem written by the designers of GMX's Firepower add-on for CFS3 about accelerated stalls. Well one entry in that thread is approproate to our discussions here I think, so allow me to reprint the text contained in a post from airfileguy through ScottFP:

POST 1:
There's been some discussion about comparisons of the IL-2 aircraft with Firepower aircraft, with respect to stall and spin characteristics. Scott mentioned that, after the Firepower package was wrapped up and ready to go, he found some time to fire up IL-2 and do a little flying. The result of this was that he found the stall/spin behaviors of some of the Firepower fighters to be remarkably similar to the IL-2 fighters.

This was not intentional -- in other words, when the flight models were being developed, we didn't say, "well, lets play IL-2 and then try the Firepower stuff and really get it matched." The way it came about was much more natural and evolutionary, and was based on a lot of different experiences and research. But the result, in our estimation, was quite pleasing.

Scott and I are both pilots in real life, as well as being avid flight simulator fans. We think we have some understanding of the difference between flying a real aircraft and flying a computer. As one friend of mine put it, who's an aerobatic pilot and aeronautical engineer, the biggest difference is that "you can't hit the pause button." Obviously there is much more to it than that. Scott and I had many discussions about this, and, aside from the fact you can't hit the pause button, we came up with a few observations about the difference between computer flight simulators and real airplane.

The biggest difference is the "seat of the pants" feel you get from a real plane. In VFR flight, at any rate, you really do rely on the sensations of motion and pressure you get from your butt, along with the visual references from the outside. That's the second biggest difference. No matter how hard we try, we can only get a small slice of the outside world to appear in our cockpit view at any given time. There is just very little outside reference, which makes PC flight simulators much harder to fly than real aircraft. It's pretty much like flying on instruments all the time, at least with respect to maintaining level, coordinated flight. That's why takeoffs and landing are so tough in the simulator; you can't see much, which is why the games always give you a HUD view without the panel, which really helps.

What we wanted to do was to provide the most analogous experience possible. One way this was accomplished was through the g-view which is describe in another thread. The second way was the method we used to model stalls and spins. There has been and always will be a lot of talk about "realism." Just what is "realism," anyway? We decided it was a simulated experience that would leave the person feeling as though they had really "been there, done that." The problem is this is different for every individual. And most computer gamers have never flown a real aircraft and probably never will. They just want to have a great, immersive experience playing the game. But, at the same time, there are quite a few folks that like to at least believe that some effort has been made to get the game as "close to reality" as possible, or as Microsoft puts it, "as real as it gets."

That's where the slow flight, stall, and spin behavior really come into play. I'll follow up on this discussion a little later with another post, explaining just how we went about putting together our version of "as real as it gets."


I think this posting jives very well with the conversations we've been having here, especially this line:

There is just very little outside reference, which makes PC flight simulators much harder to fly than real aircraft. It's pretty much like flying on instruments all the time, at least with respect to maintaining level, coordinated flight.

..........much harder to fly than real aircraft!!!

See, flight sims don't always get it better by doing it harder, they get it better by getting the relationships between the aircraft types right, and so if the relationships in performance ranking between types feels right, then so will the simulated combat too! First though, we've got to be able to fly these simulated aircraft with some degree of control and SA, and if it takes a little mechanism here that let's our eyes track an enemy aircraft, or an arrow there that shows his relative direction, or some recognizable swooshing sound to let us know we're approaching the stall...........

.........well these things should be in there, afterall, it's the general combat feel that's got to be there first, or everything will just fall flat with a big thud...........game over man! \:D
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/27/04 12:36 AM

S! FlyXWire!

I think you and I see completely eye-to-eye here. A number of other people however still, based on what I'm reading, don't really understand the point of what we are saying.
Posted By: Cas141

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/27/04 10:12 AM

Quote:
Originally posted by FlyXwire:
Wall-dog,

like "I reached 165 kph in level flight as I eased in behind my target, he saw me and immediately dove to 3200 meters where upon backing 30 degrees I was able to fire a port deflection lead of 10 degrees and he immediately caught fire, and went down."

The point using this quote is well made. I will always remember the way one ace described dogfighting, - Johhnie Johnson I think it was -
He likened it to chasing a pig round a farmyard. Nearly all the time keep the eyes on the pig. The gates, fences, obstruction you dealt with peripherally, apparently.
So, yes - no need nor desire to look at instruments when fighting - positively dangerous I would say.
But, after the "Phew!!" it is nice to see a "realistic, instruments-working cockpit, and for it to be able to be used to fly home or onward. And if the sim can do it, well, fine. However, I would never call a sim, without this level of sophistication, seriously deficient in the hardcore stakes.
Unless you are talking modern jets (F4 etc ) where avionics are essential.
Wings of War, because of the mouse view, and particularly if you have TrackIR, has you chasing round the farmyard, as much if not more than any other sim, and certainly more than any other WW1 sim, including Red Baron..( Caveat - talking about Instant Action here \:\) .

That's why I think it will be flown enough to succeed for the next stages of modders ( and hopefully ) a patch to be implemented.
Posted By: FlyXwire

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/27/04 11:34 AM

I think you see the point Cas, and of course modern jet combat is all about avionic-assited scoring.........like there should be an asterisk (*) listed after every kill achieved (sorry jet-jocks). ;\)

Simply put (and I'm a great believer in authentic modeling and graphics to a fault btw), if we were forced to fly our sims "blind" for demonstration purposes that is, without any data feedback to quantify the experience, and therefore we didn't have any quantitative benchmarks to measure our flying by, then our impressions would be drawn only by the "seat of our pants", by the feel of the flying experience, and how well our mount seemingly matched up against the other guys.

This is the essence (IMO) of "getting it right" in combat flight simming...........you against him, his mounts capabilities as opposed to yours...........it's the dynamic comparison we experience........the mental ranking our minds assembles from the experience of the dogfight that makes it feel real.

If the experince doesn't "feel" authentic, and the aircraft performances can't be reconciled with one another as we have learned to understand them, then our minds will never allow ourselves to totally accept the experience as plausible..........it'll fail in that exhalted task of "suspending disbelief".

This to me is one of the most important differences between a "sim" experience, and a "game" experience. Both can be fun as heck, and you can't (or shouldn't) argue against success, but what exist in our mind's eye can never be dispensed with, afterall, this is what we draw upon to make critical judgements, but if a sim's aircraft seem to rank and compare in their relative performances to one another well, then it doesn't matter what the "numbers" say.........the "feel" is already there. \:\)
Posted By: McGonigle

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/27/04 03:51 PM

What makes a sim?

It seems to me that many define a sim in terms of whether it is difficult or hard to play, or not.

But I havenít seen a more detailed discussion about what a sim is. I probably need to stress that there's nothing wrong with preferring one type of game over the other.

Also it should be noted that we are, most of us armchair pilots, and those amongst us who are pilots irl have not always had the chance of flying the particular aircraft that are modelled in a given sim/game. This means that there will always be an element of subjective evaluation and guestimation involved. The totally objective truth is probably impossible to ascertain. Besides, none of us were there, (as far s WW1 is concerned) so we must acknowledge that we're basing a lot of our logic on the available sources.

Now, imagine a scale from 1 to 100. Now consider that the highest value is used to indicate full sim, 50 is used to indicate "middle-of-the road, and 1 is full arcade.

Next we need to think about what parameters should go into the system. I'll suggest the following:

1. Flight-models; how well does the flight model compare with real life
2. Models; how well do the models of planes, vehicles, buildings, weapons compare with real life
3. Terrain; how well does the terrain compare with real life terrain
4. Gameplay; How well does the gameplay (missions, campaign, objectives, tactics, AI behaviour) compare with real life
5. Historical accuracy; how well are historical facts incorporated (Squadrons, markings, a/c developments, frontlines, battles)
6. Credibility/fidelity to the experience; Does the sim/game give you and me the impression that this is really like it could have been, even if the mission or campaign is not 100% backed up by established historical events? This is where the "feel" of the package comes into play.

I think those are the more obvious ones, the ones that are the first to come to mind.

Now place a couple of sims and games in that system. And see what you get. We can probably agree to quite a large extent on titles like BoB, RB3, FCG, Il-2 to being placed somewhere between 70 and 100, and Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe being between, I don't know, let's say 70 to 40.

Note that a parameter such as difficulty, or hard to play has not been mentioned yet. And that I haven't mentioned the scaleability thereof either.

These are important elements, but they really are not connected to the evaluation of a given games "sim-yness".

So we have to use a scale system again, this time to say something about these other parameters. This time we'll have to define a different scale though: 0 is for not present, 100 for present and perfect. Values in between are used to indicate that element is present but with some sort of qualifyer against it.

The parameters are (amongst others):
1. Scaleability of Flight-models, models (weapons-effectiveness, instruments), Gameplay (Easy mission/campaign, Easy objectives, Easy tactics, Easy AI)
2. Support of Mouse-look/TrackIR
3. Introduction of Aids such as e.g. threat-markers, radar-HUD

Now place the same sims you chose under the sim-scale and see what you come up with.

And in terms of Gameplay, and the scale is the one used under the scaleability section:
1. Mission Generator
2. Multiplayer, Internet, LAN, split-screen or other form of dual play
3. "What-if" scenarios or missions/campaigns that are developed to give the player "instant gratification", perhaps as "quick-shots" or "fly now" missions/campaigns.
4. That elusive quality of ambience: Some games have them some don't. It's the quality that let's you play your favourite over and over again in spite of it being technically inferior, or replaced with newer titles, with better graphics or models with more polys.
5. RPG/character development
6. Fantasy elements like power ups, your plane can be upgraded to a UFO what have you.


Same exercise as with the previous two scales.

Now we have defined the sims/gaames in 3 main categories; one that attempts to place any game or sim on a scale defining its qualities as a sim, one that defines it in terms of scaleablility/user-friendliness, and finally one scale that defines it in terms of gameplay/logevity.

Now what about the fun aspect, I hear you ask.

Well, fun is totally subjective, my idea of fun may and probably will differ from your idea of fun. That's why fun cannot be, and should not be attempted to be, pre-programmed into any kind of entertainment software. Imo it can't be done.

Determining is a game or sim is fun for you should be slightly easier, And discussing what exactly a sim is should also be slightly less confusing if you had those 6+3+5 paramaters in mind when describing a given sim or game.

With this system you can make a more informed descision (and make a more detailed review as well, if you write reviews). Consider two flight sims that score as follows (just a hypothetical example):

Sim-scale:
Sim a b
Flight-models: 60 80
Models: 60 80
Terrain: 60 80
Gameplay: 60 80
Historical: 60 80
Credibility: 80 80
Subtotal: 400 480

All this will tell us is that b is slightly more simmy than a.


Scaleablility-scale
Sim a b
Scaleability: 80 20
TIr etc. 50 80
Aids: 80 20
Subtotal 2: 210 120

Ok, now we know that the slightly less simmy alternative is the best with regards to scaleablility.

Gameplay-scale
Sim a b
Mission Gen.: 60 80
Multiplay: 80 80
Inst.Action: 80 20
Ambience: 60 80
RPG/Character: 60 0
Storyline: 80 20
Fantasy: 80 20
Subtotal 3: 500 300

And the slightly less simmy alternative scores high in terms of attempts to add RPF and other elements. Additionally it provides easy access to instant action.

So we have:
Sim a b
Subtotal 2: 210 120
Subtotal 3: 500 300
Total Score: 710 400

You see that although both alternatives seemed quite close, there are many differences too, and one or more of those differences might be very important to you, when you decide which sim to get. I'd want the one with the lowest total score. What you'd want is entirely up to you to decide.
Posted By: Polovski

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/27/04 05:03 PM

Great thread and nice detailed thoughts from everyone here, thanks guys.

From all these thoughts and from my own, I think just about every good game/sim experience comes down to doing a few things right.

Many of these things are linked to each other, help to enforce each other, and because of that draw you into a game.

Atmosphere
Very important.
Atmosphere can be created by many things, but done well it draws the player in.
For example well done weather effects, creating a real sense of "being there", how you show the world environment and events going on around you. As others have mentioned, in a WW1 sim seeing solders moving on the ground, other battles going on that may have nothing to do with you etc. Seeing the rain rush past, hearing the howling wind, the spluttering of your engine.

Wings of War for all its arcade parts does the atmosphere, landscape and weather effects etc in spades.

Realism/Suspension of disbelief

Realism in terms of things looking and behaving realistically, moving in what we deem to be a "realistic" manner. So seeing a plane crash and bounce 10 times 200 meters up like a rubber ball is bad, seeing a player model run like he has piles the size of footballs all destroy the feeling). This includes FMs of course and AI.

So yes letís ease off a little on the anal realism in terms of measuring turning circles to the nth degree. Yes there are some people who think this is a big problem, as I say everyone is different. But for the vast majority of players this detail isnít as important as long as itís known plane x turns faster than plane y in real life, and it does so in the game in a believable way thatís fine.

Randomness
Seeing the same plane turn the same way 17 times in a row is a sure way to kill interest quickly. One reason RB3D still survives today, people playing this for 6 years still sometime see something really amazing happen for the first time etc.

Remembering that everyone is different
ďEveryone in life is differentĒ with different requirements and expectations. Watch one of those morning discussion programs about life, and say this to yourself and all the arguments become irrelevant. In the end you see the conclusion they reach is ďwell everyone is differentĒ ;\)

So make it customisable!

Environmental Detail
ADDS to the atmosphere and therefore closely linked with the first point, these are the little extras that may not be completely necessary but help to draw you in to believing itís a ďrealĒ world.

I want to believe Iím in a world, thatís living and breathing around me, not just a cold set of perfect mathematical calculations and measurements.

These are sometimes small effects or details that may not seem important for everyone, but it really adds to the immersion for many. If you suddenly find they actually thought about the world and what a player might see or what he might try to do.
For instance in Joint Operations, looking backwards whilst in a helicopter and seeing the heat warping the air from the engine, seeing the air bruised and pushed aside by a very close high speed sniper bullet passing your face, and the dust blow from below a chopper which steadily lessens as the dust is blown away \:\) , IL2 seeing the engine smoke when you first fire it up. All these add, not essential but really help to draw you into believing this is a real object or world. All are extras and are easy to leave out but they are important touches.

So we need a sim that FEELS right, can be easy or real (not too hard just realistic to the point of satisfying most sim needs) and makes us forget for a moment itís a game. I agree flight sims are often harder than real life. Itís almost impossible to take off for newbies in some sims so help (Like in Geoff Crammond's Grand Prix with the auto breaking, auto gears etc) and have an option to go with less help as they improve maybe do this automatically by default (can be disabled) as they progress?

Also maybe have this clear and visible somewhere so people know exactly what setting they are on and how they are improving.

So a sim with two main modes and make it clear and obvious which mode you are in, and then let it be further customisable. Arcade FM and arcade campaign with an option for full sim FM and sim campaign mode with good multiplayer would be the killer WW1 game. Appealing to many types simmers and general arcade players too. In WoW for instance they have most things done well, it has the eye candy, it has the some of the best atmospheric dogfighting I have seen when the arcade options are off (apart from the some of the FM and rockets). It also has real extra detail in some parts such as rotating magazines, great model detail, some amazing fragile looking and under used planes etc), but is lacking in some obvious detail e.g. no wing warping on the Eindeckers. It has a fun arcade mode if you can just turn off the ďitís not a simĒĒ attitude and just enjoy yourself for a moment, and it also can be made more sim-like although not enough.

We are nearly there, come on KOE! \:\)
Posted By: FlyXwire

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/27/04 05:09 PM

This is most fascinating Jens..........a process for quantifying a game's "sim-yness", as well as for evaluating other parameters too, like playability, and scaleability!

Thanks for the posting, I think this organized approach to game/sim evaluation will help expand our thinking here greatly.

First-class!
Posted By: FlyXwire

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/27/04 05:12 PM

Geesh, here comes Polovski's list too. \:D

Guess I'm going to have get my printer up and running now.............

Good stuff here!
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/29/04 11:03 AM

RAF74_Wall-dog surrenders::
Quote:
I've come to the personal realization that I'm willing to sacrifice some "ultimate realism" in one category or another, if a sim has that overall balance, and represents eminent playability.
Wall Dog personally admits Defeat. Don't anybody here follow Wall Dog or you will personally never see another flight sim worth buying.

Why?


(0) The claim that we have become too "nitpicky" about FM is false. Only a loud vocal minority of simmers post on flight sim internet webboards that Whine about FM so loud. Did anybody here at the sinhq stop to think that in the quiet "old flight sim days" there were no flight sim webboards for these dozen or so FM Whiners to advertise themselves as the total community? Indeed it is possible that Wall~Dog has confused the Whining of a very few with the silent majority of flight simmers out there.


(1) You need no difficulty settings in a flight sim. You need historical era flight sim training planes and a deep manual and game interface that leads the flight sim Newbie through basic flight training and into combat training. This requires programming effort, not watering down realism as suggested here.

(2) Wall's idea of using External View to "make up" for computer monitor demonstrates the danger of following his/her entire advice in this thread. Why? To start, full cockpit view can be made so it is as easy to use as natural human vision...

Mouse view for those that don't have TrekkieIR ( ;\) ) It works.

Aircraft grafix that don't vanish and monitor resolution dependent "dot" sizes for distant aircraft. Some may recognize here that I am come from the FB camp which is totally diseased with this problem of aircraft invisibility.

A wider zoom cockpit view, at least 120 degrees maximum like LOMAC, and with zoom in view possible. And I don't mean the Sloppy LOMAC zoom controls that are slow but instant zoom in view like FB provides (here we have one minor example of sloppy implementation in LOMAC that makes the game hard to play).

Pilot Lean. I agree with Wall Dog that we need pilot leaning control, but then Wall Dog states we can't have it yet (we can).

I could go on with more, but the pattern so far shows that everything here all depends on programming code to make it happen, programming that is not being done but could be, and not bizzare debates about flight sims being too realistic or too hard. There can never be such a thing. Just thinking and it sounds dumb. Don't be fooled here. Flying can be easy and very difficult at the same time. Modelling both requires programming effort.

I believe what turns off most Newbie flight simmers is the lack of immersive air combat environment. Wall~Dog is conspicously silent on this. Going by my experience with FB, a flight sim should provide the basic air combat game engine but allow 3rd Party people to easily communicate with the the game to create engaging frontline situations.

Wall Dog::
Quote:
I fly almost entirely online. I'm not big on AI. They just don't move right - they don't fly smart.
Bingo. Wall Dog must by admission ignore 95% of flight sim purchasers.

Why don't AI fly smart? Because the AI needs more programming. I will say that AI programming in flight sims is an afterthought.
The goal of AI programming is to reduce the visible difference between computer and humanoid operator. AI can be programmed far more deeply than is done now. Follow Wall Dog and AI will never be improved.


Again, all this requires much more programming effort than we have seen so far, and more effort than would be required by Wall's ideas about watering down flight sims into arcade games (okay, I said it). Wall's claim that flight sims are too hard are correct but he/she conceals the reasons--lack of programming. Ignoring this will truly be the Death of the Flight Sim Genre (possibly why Wall chose this as a title).

Granted, IL~2/FB was Oleg's first flight sim with limited funding, and his future sims may be far more deeply programmed for gameplay. If so, we are about to witness the Birth of the Flight Simulation Genre.

:p Granted, Oleg still refuses to allow re~fuel and re~arming for those who wish to sim an all day "scenario" with multiple missions.


Better, and more, programming is the key to Victory. \:\)

I shall agree with Wall Dog about the prices....that such programming could use a more expensive retail package, or at least far greater sales volume at current flight sim prices. \:\)
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/29/04 11:14 AM

*Think*

If somebody programmed DOOM~3 with the (apparently) fantastic AI of ROME TOTAL WAR the retail package would be worth...?

...how much...?
Posted By: Tailgunner

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/29/04 11:33 AM

Interesting read ... and it does raise some interesting questions!

The flightsim 'world' is a divided entity. The mention of AI is a pertinent one, and the crux of the division. Most 'newbies' are going to start off flying Offline. They are unlikely to dive in and subscribe to an online arena, or start flying online. They don't know the tricks, and will want to 'learn' the game first.

Lets look at Flight Sim AI.....

Going back to the sims I started flying..SDOE and EAW. The AI was able to give a reasonable fight, but was basically a 1-trick pony. They tried to get on your tail, and that was all they did. You couldn't pretend they were real.... you knew what they were going to do.

AI, though, is actually a VERY complex area. It takes a lot of resource, and will use up more CPU than fancy graphics.... Would you go for a sim that looked like EAW today...with good AI? Now try to sell it to a casual gamer...

Any sim builder looking to spec out a project can read this thread and learn what Us... the sim buyer.. wants from a sim. How we would tailor it to encourage learners. Whether padlock was a good idea ( personally.... it made me dizzy!) whether external views are good or bad ( I hate em..ruins the sense of being there ) or how the thing would hang together, we have to face reality. Making a modern sim costs big bucks, and there has to be a reasoanble chance of making some!

Lexx made a good point about 'learning' though... having a flightsim where you had to learn to fly would be a damn good idea.

You start off flying circuits in an Avro 504, being given lectures on the basics of flight control. Then doing 'exams' to demonstrate your ability to fly 'circuits'. Bump and go landing practice....then basic gunnery training. Depending on how you do, you may get posted as an observer/gunner to a 2 seater.... THAT would be a proper career \:D Shouldn't be hard to do... just needs some thought. NEVER seen it actually done though \:D
Posted By: FlyXwire

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/29/04 12:48 PM

Well Lexx_Luthor don't blame Wall-dog for this quote:
Quote:
I've come to the personal realization that I'm willing to sacrifice some "ultimate realism" in one category or another, if a sim has that overall balance, and represents eminent playability.
Those are my words. ;\)

The issue we're talking about here is the degree of difficulty needed to fly an "ultimate realism" FM on a PC, as opposed to a "realistic" FM.

Until we get hardware and coding that enables us to experience 3D surround-visuals, surround-sound ambients, g-force pressure for our posteriors (as well as the rest of our body), realistic force-feedback, stall buffeting...........and all programmed to work for everyone's system, no one is going to be flying the "ultimate realism" flight sim...........in fact I think this is why Wall-dog mentioned the following concept in another one of his thread here:

Quote:
Everyone has seen the NASCAR simulators in some of the malls? You sit in them for like $5 and drive against others. These simulators have hydraulics, wrap-around screens, etc. and really give the feeling of driving in NASCAR.

Why not offer the same thing with WWI aircraft in combat?

The mall simulators would be just a part of the project though. Really, what I see is making TWO WWI Flight Simulators. One would be for use in malls and would have hydraulics, etc. The other one would be a computer program sold for home use.
If you want all the "hard-realism" in your flight sim experience that comes with the real world, then it will have to be realistically servicable from a hardware/software point of view too, in the meantime we'll be staring at these flat screens of ours until that day arrives.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/29/04 04:28 PM

S! Lexx!

I had to laugh a little when I read your thread. You completely miss the point. I'm not saying I want to see watered-down flight sims. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rather I'm saying that there is a difference between something being difficult and something being realistic. I'm also saying that there is a difference between trying to capture the mechanics of something and trying to capture the feel of something. If you try to capture the feel of aerial combat and try to do so such that the simulation is the same difficulty as the real thing, then I think you will have accomplished something very special and very realistic.

I said at one point that I wanted to try and stay away from debates regarding specific settings. I said that for a reason - I didn't want this thread to degrade into an agrument about padlock or externals or anything else. My point has nothing to do with specific settings. Do I believe in external views? I think they are one way (and with current technology a GOOD way) to make up for some of the limitations inherent in modern computer sims. That does not mean I view externals as the only way or even the best way to make up for those limitations. What I do believe is that there are limitations inherent in current computer simulations, and I think it is frankly stupid to ignore that. All of this 'a real pilot can't do that so we shouldn't be able to either' talk is the #1 reason our genre is in trouble.

Look at the numbers. The more flight sims center on the mechanics of 'realism' rather than the feel of 'realism,' the lower flight sim sales go. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the trend. It ironically doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the solution either.

Why doesn't anyone buy flight sims anymore? Because they are no longer fun. We have such a grainular view on 'realism' that we have forgotten how to capture feeling of the real thing. We have forgotten from the most basic sense what it is a simulation is for. Simulations are by definition not real. The point of them is not to make them real, but rather to make them feel real. None of the modern flight sims do that.

As for Artificial Intelligence, you say that all we need is to code better AI. I disagree. I think that the Internet gives us a unique opportunity to move away from AI entirely. Just as simulations are by definition not real, AI is by definition not intelligent - hence the word 'Artificial' in the name... Why simulate intelligence when you can use real people? Why not simulate the offline campaign instead?
Posted By: Tailgunner

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/29/04 06:05 PM

Ditch AI and you ditch a lot of customers. Period.
Myself included.

It needs to be a part of the sim, and an enjoyable part. If you prefer flying online against real pilots, then thats fine, but don't assume that everyone can or will. To consider online as the 'solution' is just another nail in the coffin. How many novice pilots will want to fire up their new game and go looking for real pilots to fly against...

No practice, no chance to get to grips with the plane...and straight into a potentially hostile environment. Or..maybe the whole online world just got fair and friendly? You can't guarantee that ;\) How many people bought into Warbirds etc. as their FIRST flightsim? I'm guessing not many.

How many RB pilots played the offline game for a while before going online? Most I would think.

Yes you need stable multiplay... but you MUST have good AI. And I refuse to believe that it is impossible to make AI pilots that can fly 3 or 4 basic tactics and be able to use the right one for the right plane. Usually, the AI just tries to circle....and if you fly a Zero or an I16 in IL2 FB against the AI in, say, a P38, you will see it making pathetic attempts to out-turn you. Keep it up and they lose speed and die. A good pilot knows HOW to use his plane. The AI should do the same. Thats all a novice needs!
Posted By: FlyXwire

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/29/04 06:39 PM

I think AI is essential online for one very simple reason, you've got to make sure there's plenty of army cooperation aircraft to replicate the WWI aerial arena.

No matter how many people say they love multi-seat aircraft, there's not many people who will continually look forward to taking Be 2Cs, or Harry Tates over the lines to be the fighter fodder...........the AI will end up be tasked with most of these arduous but essential missions!
Posted By: Wireman

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/29/04 06:39 PM

I would have to agree with Tailgunner about an ai being a no-go item. When I played RB3d, I did far more offline than online. Some of the best furballs I have ever been in were with RB3d, hell's angels addon, glide wrapper and someone's (I forget who, but bless him all the same) ai enhancer. Once, me and my 2 ai wingmen bounced a Harry Tate and were in turn bounced by 3 RNAS Tripes. A 15 minute adrenalin dripping battle occurred. Finally, alone and out of ammo, I made it home with a smoking engine and left the tripes, minus one, to make their way to their base. It was a fantastic time-I would still be playing it if the upgrade to xp had not been so tramatic on RB3d. I cant believe an ai can't be programmed economically to use its crate to its best performance without exceeding it- ala IL2FB. I would not consider a sim/game/way of life without an ai. A non-thinking boob is not a consideration; I already have that base covered.
Posted By: Polovski

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/29/04 06:46 PM

Tailgunner I think Wall-dog is leading to another path were maybe a newbie doesn't need to know that the artificial world around him is actually real people online. With real seasoned vets, real novices etc.

Imagine in a few years when most people have an always-on internet connection, they fire up the game, start a campaign and find a real world battle like WW2OL there.

However if they are real people or AI the newbie woulnd't necessarily know? If things like "chat" etc are excluded from the novice pilot who chooses an offline campaign?

Maybe you put all the newly registered players in their own zone? Who knows.

The troops movements, the squads flying past maybe they are real people in an online battle?
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/29/04 06:55 PM

S! TailGunner!

I don't think the average consumer really cares whether they are 'online' or 'offline' when they play. There are certainly charactersitics we think of when we think of 'online' play, and there are different characteristics we think of when we think of 'offline' play. Whether a particular plane is being piloted by another person or by the computer isn't really important though. What is important is that we understand the difference between the elements of play generally considered as either 'offline' or 'online' and that we create those same seperate experiences based on the preferences of each consumer.

There would be some challanges with such an approach. Some players might for example go out and try to shoot-down the other planes in their flight. I think there are ways to deal with issues like this though.

I don't believe it is necessary to draw concrete lines between being 'offline' and being 'online.' Current technology makes it possible to start blurring those lines.

If you can draw enough new players into the genre, that will give you a steady stream of rookies. If you can't draw them in quickly enough, then you throw lower-skilled AI planes into the mix. Ideally you would have a mix of skill levels that accurately represents the mix of people playing the game. Yeah - that means new pilots will sometimes get their heads handed to them on a platter by an experienced pro. That is how most kills were achieved in real life too! But if you have a large quantity of new players they will have a tremendous amount of fun playing each other. And not knowing the skill of a plane you are approaching adds a whole new level of anticipation to newbies and veterans alike.

Having some purely offline training aids would also help. You could offer training similar in quality to what real pilots had during the war.

You are correct that there are some purists out there who have pre-conceived notions of how a flight simulation should work and who will make blanket statements like 'I won't play anything unless it has a real online/offline mode' or 'I won't play anything that has setting X'. I don't think there are that many people out there though that would not be willing to try something new if it works. I think some of the 'purists' would complain, but I think most of them would buy the game anyway.

I look at it this way.. Is it possible to create an environment that pilots today would consider 'offline' but to create that environment using elements from an online war? Can I link someone into an online dynamic campaign environment but still create the appearance of an offline campaign for those players who do not want to fully embrace the perpetual online war? Yes I can. Not only that, but by blurring the lines between what is 'offline' and what is 'online' play, I can start to offer some intersting crosses that use elements from both styles of play. How about an offline campaign with real chat? How about being able to see how your offline squadron compares to online squadrons in the same war? Traditional techniques that completely seperate offline and online play can't do that.

Imagine it this way - player 1 wants to fly an online campaign as a member of an online squadron. He meets on Friday nights with his squadron buddies and they form up into a formation. They fly. They have registered their squadron as a part of the online war, and their progress is tracked as a part of the online war. They get all the bells and whistles of pure online play as a part of a big multiplayer re-enactment of WWI.

Player 2 wants to fly in an 'offline' campaign without joining an online squadron or doing any of the things generally considered a part of 'online' play. A virtual squadron is created on their hard drive and the progress of this squadron is tracked on their hard drive independantly of the online war. They run a mission and take off with the same virtual pilots they always fly with and fly a mission that in every way would feel to them like an offline campaign. The fact that each plane they see has a human behind the scenes would be completely transparent to them.

Player 3 just wants to hop in and fly. They don't want anything resembling a campaign at all. So they hop in and fly. They don't have a virtual persona at all. Again - the fact that all the planes around them are controlled by real people who DO have personas would be transparent to them.

The only difficulty to this would be balancing the right mix of skill levels. If you have to throw in some AI such that you have enough 'rookie' planes you could do that. You would however never have to worry about not having any pilots who were very good!

I'd like to ask the purists to step back from any preconceived notions of 'realism' and I'd like to ask them to do the same thing with regards to what is 'offline' and what is 'online' play. Consider for a moment of those notions really are all that important. If you could fly something that Chuck Yeager says feels just like the real thing, would you be willing to look at it with an open mind?
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/29/04 07:03 PM

S! FlyXwire!

You are correct that some elements of the war would have to be AI. I don't mean to propose that there would be no AI at all. I just mean that you would minimize the need for AI, using real people as much as practical.
Posted By: Osram

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/29/04 07:33 PM

Quote:

You need no difficulty settings in a flight sim.
People want to get into something wquickly and have a success quickly. OTOH, I want to operate every switch and pump that had to be operated in RL to get the engine working. These two requirements can not be met without settings.

You might say you have air start for the newbies to get around it, but that is a setting as well and unrealistic as well.

Just a few days ago, on the newsgroup, someone asked for a sim with not too many keypresses. I can understand him, when I see the keycard of a new sim, and if I did not have a programmable stick I would ask myself how much time it will need to learn it. Many people do not even have a joystick at all.

Most hardcore (including professional) gamers I know do not fly flight sims at all, although they have a big pile of different games from different genres.

Quote:

You need historical era flight sim training planes and a deep manual and game interface that leads the flight sim Newbie through basic flight training and into combat training. This requires programming effort, not watering down realism as suggested here.
For many people, a deep manual is a turn off in itself. *I* would like such a thing and have already started gathering literature on the Tiger Moth and the SG38 so one day I can create right that. But this is no substitude for settings. I read "first light" about WWII, when planes were still easier to handle than today. On one evening, frustrated, the author went to a pub. He was later chewed out - not for being off base, but simply that he had lost a few hours to learn. This was at a time when training took months. IOW, they used probably 12+hours probably 6+days a week for months. Almost noone has that time. If you make it shorter, it will not be realistic training. Most things they learned are boring to the average gamer out there.

Quote:

A wider zoom cockpit view, at least 120 degrees maximum like LOMAC, and with zoom in view possible.
I agree with that one. I programmed it into BoB and enjoy it a lot. However, you have to realise many people will think it is a bug and think it shows that testing was super shoddy.

Quote:

And I don't mean the Sloppy LOMAC zoom controls that are slow but instant zoom in view like FB provides
Yes, that's how it is now in BoB.

Quote:


Pilot Lean. I agree with Wall Dog that we need pilot leaning control, but then Wall Dog states we can't have it yet (we can).
BoB has leaning. It is nioce during landing. I would not use it during a fight though.

Quote:

I could go on with more, but the pattern so far shows that everything here all depends on programming code to make it happen,
True. However this is a matter of man power, both for freeware where most projects have less than 3 people and for commercial games where simple the money misses. To do a AAA title costs about 70% more than 5 years ago. Flightsim budgets have not risen that much, if at all. I recently heard on a game dev forum about a buggy new fps "They had no chance to make it good quality - they only had 30 devs for 3 years".

Quote:

bizzare debates about flight sims being too realistic or too hard. There can never be such a thing.
There can. I once heard of a British bomber pilot that flew a lot of night missions. He was asked in an interview how many German planes he saw. He said he might have seen one - he once saw a twin on a divergent course that might have been a 110. I do not think it is fun for most people to "just" fly through FLAK and bomb and maybe hear their tailgunner shooting at someone and almost never see an enemy plane. Sure, you can have it as option, but do not force this onto the user. The people who flew in the bomber offensive at the time, who had all the sensations of flight and who knew it was a matter of life and death to look out, said it was "hours of boredom and minutes of sheer terror". Teut Weidemann recently said that games often do not compete for the money of the customer, but for the time. I simply have no time for a game where I spent hours each session.

About AI - most people fly offline, even in sims biased towards online game like Il2:FB. Also, I am sure many beginners want to start off offline.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/29/04 07:54 PM

S! Osram!

Regarding your last statement..

Do you believe it would be possible to blur-the-line between what is 'offline' and what is 'online' play? Or do you believe that everything must be 100% one or the other?
Posted By: Osram

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/29/04 08:27 PM

Interesting question, I will have to think about it.

My stomach feeling is, yes you can blur it somewhat, but not completely. It is important to people whether they fly against humans or "robots". For example, if you are a newbie and do not want to "embarras" yourself, you might want to fly offline.

OTOH, progressing internet technology helps and it blurs a bit by itself. For example, many people now have a flat rate and do not need to be careful how long they are online.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/30/04 03:03 AM

Quote:
Why doesn't anyone buy flight sims anymore? Because they are no longer fun.
SPOCK! Wall Dog

I don't follow the discussion about "mechanics" vs "feel" in flight simming. For one thing, we are opposite type of flight simmers as I think flight sims are still Fun (at least Forgotten Battles and original MSDOS Flanker 1.0) -- the only 2 flight sims I play until Oleg releaces BoB+ with Battle of Poland and France addon packs...

~~> http://www.france-simulation.com/

Mentoring the Newbies would be cool, as testified by many internet squads. Alot of merit to online war simming if internet gamers actually behaved like real life wartime air crew in history. But then real life aircrew had to follow orders and if they didn't they got server kicked FOREVER--I mean court martialed (or executed).

Wall Dog::
Quote:
Do you believe it would be possible to blur-the-line between what is 'offline' and what is 'online' play? Or do you believe that everything must be 100% one or the other?
Pay very close attention here. Wall Dog has stated [last page] he/she wishes all flight simming to move 100% pure online and abolish all AI.

\:D \:D ...just poking hard here...I am really into your more recent idea [this page] of mixing humanoid and AI in an online war server...Offline simming needs AI, Online simming gets a huge immersion boost with AI available to fill out the ranks and with that comes the gut wrenching Question "is my target AI or humanoid?" I wonder if flight sim AI is programmed just enough to let the game be put on sale without more serious programming efforts. I agree with Wall Dog that AI is not as good as it could be.

Then make it better! That is the solution for the Re~Birth of the Flight Sim Genre. We have succeeded [this page] in getting Wall Dog to claim that Online flying needs AI programming, so lets make Online flying even better with better AI programming. What ya say Wall Dog? \:\) \:\)

To answer the Question, I think flight simming should target both offline and online, but can't give percentages because both share at least 90% (pure guess) of flight sim coding and modelling.


Recall the basic goal of Artificial Intelligence is to make the computer indistinguishable from a humanoid. I make the [apparently] wild claim here that offline World War 2 AI--or any given era AI--can be made far more realistic than any online simming involving humanoid internet players (look at teh dogfight servers). The catch here is that flight sim developers either don't have the desire or don't have the resources to do such extensive AI programming. It can be done. It will be done if we push for it. It will never be done if we just give up and say AI is not needed because it does not work well. Many have said the same thing about new aircraft design ideas not working well so just give up. \:\(


---------------------


Thanks Osram, you are correct about some parts of flight simming being "too hard" but I was thinking only of Flying The Plane part. The faulty visual aspects of flight sims of course result from lack of programming effort--or resources given the low budgets. Better programming can be found, but not always by higher budgets--Microsoft for example lol.

Making flight sim visuals and view system easy to use is NOT the same kind of programming goal as programming a Sopwith Camel or MiG~3 to be "easy to fly."
Quote:
mig what?
MiG~3 in Forgotten Battles proves that flying a flight sim plane is far easier than real life flying. Don't anybody here be fooled by this assertion that flight simming is "too hard." What is too hard is the simulation of the pilot him/her self...view system, aircraft grafix system especially at long ranges (thinking FB again here), all the 1st person pilot stuff is what makes flight simming seem very hard. Indeed, one may think of cockpit view as a 1st person narrative which is always harder to write than a 3rd person narrative, where the 3rd person narrative corresponds with our "easy" External View. Lets try a little harder to get that 1st person view done well.


This is an interesting point I would like to bring up again for potential discussion...I could be wrong...

The claim that we have become too "nitpicky" about FM is false. Only a loud vocal minority of simmers post on flight sim internet webboards that Whine about FM so loud. Did anybody here at the sinhq stop to think that in the quiet "old flight sim days" there were no flight sim webboards for these dozen or so FM Whiners to advertise themselves as the total community? Indeed it is possible that we at teh sinhq let ourselves become confused by the Whining of a very few and the silent majority of flight simmers out there.


oh, and Wall_Dog, just what online wars really need now is checking six with External View. ;\) Lets start thinking about more programming for our cockpit view system that benefits both the silent 95% offline simmers we so easily ignore and the 5% online simmers--from who's meager ranks are drawn the FM Whiners we just talked about.

And Wall Dog, don't s! or SPOCK! me like a trekkie at a convention \:D
Posted By: fearlesslds

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/30/04 05:02 AM

AI is good to practice against learn to fly just like shooting at a pulled behind target and to fly bombers in a online game . But online is the only reason people I know get into these games .5 of them newbies that wanted to fly againtst myself and my brothers . Guess it helps if you can talk to the people in person you fought against or with the night before.

But in the long run offline is just for practice . None of these people would of spent the money to buy the game and a joystick just to play with themselves. I bought B-17 ME but none of us ever played it cause it didn't have the online aspect.

To me shooting down a comp plane just isn't the same . The comp ai can't ever have all the personalities ,moods etc that you find in a real opp.

One of the reasons they have Red Flag etc. in addition to real hands on you fly against real people . If that wasn't diff they could just use the simulations more often.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/30/04 07:43 AM

Agreed. Everybody and their brother wants to play dogfight and score internet brownie points on teh dogfight servers.


Actually, only about 5% of simmers fly online primarily. More do both online and offline. The majority do offline only. Mixing AI and humanoid players may help to increase that number cos if you need a number of planes but can't find the play dogfighters than you have to set up some AI to mix with them. I like the comment earlier about the bombers being "boring."

This is why AI are the more realistic opponents than amatuer internet gamers, but the AI needs much more programming effort.
Posted By: Osram

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/30/04 08:35 AM

Lexx_Luthor's main point is that more money/time should be spent on programming than it is now.

Then he writes

Quote:

the only 2 flight sims I play until Oleg releaces BoB+ with Battle of Poland and France addon packs...
That's exactly the reason there is not more money available, especially for hardcore features:
Too few buyers.
Posted By: Osram

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/30/04 08:43 AM

Quote:
Originally posted by fearlesslds:

But in the long run offline is just for practice . None of these people would of spent the money to buy the game and a joystick just to play with themselves.
You are thinking all people are like you, but they are not. I fly 95% of my time offline and if I buy a sim, it is to fly offline. So, together with Tailgunner, we are two in this thread alone. And a forum of course is THE place to find onliners.
Posted By: Tailgunner

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/30/04 09:26 AM

Let us assume, for a moment, that you can 'blur' the barriers between online and offline, and that I don't know who I am flying against.

You still need good AI. If there are not enough people online, in the same timezone as me, with free time when I want to fly, then the AI will have to do a good job of pretending to be a human... Thats the purpose of AI!

As Osram pointed out...those who fly online, with friends who do it too, are risking a blinkered approach to say that EVERYONE wants what they want. That is going back to the old 'death of flightsims because' problem. To sell, a sim must appeal to ALL potential buyers, not just a hardcore, online flying simmer. There are not enough of them to justify the work and money of developing. For those who want an online only experience, there are already several options.

Personally, I don't enjoy flying online much. I don't have the time.

Why? Simple. First, find a server...then find one flying the sort of mission/ planes/gametype I want....then go find one that has enough people in it...then go find one without misbehaved children in it...then find one with pilots who are at my level of skill...then

You see the problem \:\)

To sell to as many people as possible, a flightsim needs to cater for as many people as possible.

This means:

LOTS of scalable options for difficulty
Good AI that flys planes like they should be flown, with varying levels of skill
Offers stable online play for those who want it
Offers scalable detail to allow average PC owners to play
Lastly..Gives the player the chance to ENJOY THE GAME THE WAY THEY WANT TO ENJOY IT.

Cutting back to the title topic....

I think the main reason for the 'Death' of flightsims is the steady move away from that list, capitalised statement.

The IL2 series got closest, but sims like LOMAC show how wrong you can get it. Only those with super PC's and real flight experience need apply...
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/30/04 09:30 AM

Not exactly Osram, BoB does not interfere with better programming for AI, unless you are talking about purely for the IL~2 series of flight sims. I am thinking flight sims in general. Before there was any IL~2 sim, Maddox Games had no flight sim, so using your logic implies creating IL~2 would interfere with creating AI for IL~2. Not good thinking. I see what you are trying to say though, but its the same mistake that we see made by the internet dogfighters who claim adding more planes means less "accurate" FM--for their own favorite airplane of course lol.

Rather, BoB may be the engine that Oleg uses to create more in depth AI programming--mmm we shall see mmm. IL~2 was his first sim. Not a bad start, and he seems comitted to eventually covering all of WW2 theaters, while Microsoft retreated from that market and abandoned 4FSC.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/30/04 09:48 AM

Tailwind::
Quote:
There are not enough of them to justify the work and money of developing.
TargetWare charges money to fly online, and I dunno but that could work if the product is popular. More important for hardocre flight simmers right now is that charging money may keep out the brotherhood of brat dogfighters--the brownie point gathering tribe, as TargetWare seems to be leaning more to online WAR over many missions rather than internet dogfighting. That is my theory anyway, but have never tried TargetWare for example to find out. Basically the cost of an ATI 9200 video card each year, not bad given that many of us upgrade to the latest most expensive Public Beta Test video cards each year. \:D

Quote:
I think the main reason for the 'Death' of flightsims is the steady move away from that list, capitalised statement.
Tailwind you missed a point for offline play that is missing at least in Forgotten Battles. This is a deeply immersive frontline battlefield environment, or at least the ability to use the sim as a basic tool to easily create in your home an air warfare environment of choice. Right now 3rd Party FB campaign makers have to bend over forwards to create something useful, as the methods of talking to the game and talking to the maps is totally lacking. The only saving grace of FB for me is text mission files, but that is useful to the hard core simmer only such as myself.

The average simmer should not have to go out and buy 3rd Party campaigns that cost as much as the sim itself. Indeed, if Oleg were to invest in programming the ability to make your own immersive gameplay at home word would spread and all Profit would goto Oleg and not the 3rd Party campaign makers (bless their souls though, they do have a very diffiuclt job getting FB to do what they want).
Posted By: Cas141

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/30/04 10:44 AM

Quote:
Originally posted by Osram:
Quote:
Originally posted by fearlesslds:

But in the long run offline is just for practice . None of these people would of spent the money to buy the game and a joystick just to play with themselves.
You are thinking all people are like you, but they are not. I fly 95% of my time offline and if I buy a sim, it is to fly offline. So, together with Tailgunner, we are two in this thread alone. And a forum of course is THE place to find onliners.
This is exactly right. Most people fly offline, and a lot of them try it online, but not as many as you might think, for the reasons as given by tailgunner.
I used to fly EAW on the Zone some years back. I enjoyed it when flying with particular online friends, but not furball things with strangers.
I just had a go with WoW and into a server with planes going every which way, not smoothly all the time, and the sky full of icons and names.
( I know that is part of online by definition ).
To me it was not as satisfying, or as immersive as offline. So I am not keen to repeat the experience, however good the AI is \:\)
I would like to do online with two or three mates only- that would be good.
There are many like me, I should think, just as there are some like Fearless - but not all are like any one of us.
Just to finish on this, and not meaning to troll at all - It is my personal opinion that the dogfighting AI in IL-2 was changed for the worse, from the original, because of the online-fliers influence on Oleg. Oleg's decision and entitlement I know, but a major cause for my deflection to BOB, where the offline AI is good.

cheers
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/30/04 01:57 PM

S! All!

My point must not be clear enough. I think we are getting too caught-up in the terminology. Let us try to be more specific - 'online' and 'offline' are too generalized.

What is 'offline' play? What specific elements define it? The ONLY one I'm talking about doing away with is the reliance on AI. And even then, I'm not talking about eliminating AI, but just delegating it to a supporting role. You use human players where they are available, and you use AI to fill in where human players are not. You could also use AI to add more less-skilled players if you find that the environment isn't friendly to newbies. I would do that both with 'online' AND 'offline' play.

The reason I would do this goes to the heart of Lexx Luther's argument regarding better programming for AI. Just what would it take Lexx? When you consider that chess is exponentially simpler for AI to handle and then consider that to simulate a single 'grand master' level chess player you need the single most powerful computer in the world using every single processor cycle on that one task - without any graphics or sound or anything else - what do you think modern computers can do for flight sim AI? If the most powerful computer in the world can't simulate a single AI plane that can compete with a really good pilot, how exactly do you expect to fill the skies with them on $400 computers?

The problem with Artificial Intelligence is that the 'Intelligence' part is artificial. Computer's can't think. Without the ability to think they can't easily recognize even basic maneuvers. If you program a computer to recognize a basic half-loop for example, it will look for the specific things you program it to recognize as a half-loop. If I vary my half-loop just a tiny bit such that it doesn't fall into your parameters, it will not recognize my maneuver. Plus a good human pilot thinks several moves ahead. How are you going to program a computer to recognize complex maneuvers like 'Walking the Dog?'

'Better Programming' is a cop-out answer. No matter how good the programming is or how strong the AI is, you can always say that if it was 'better' then things would be 'better.' That's a circular logic that just can't stand on its own. Current technology doesn't support 'better' as you envision it, Lexx.

'Online' simply means that your computer is plugged-in to the Internet. That's it. I've got cable. I'm always 'online' even when I'm doing 'offline' things. Some programs have been using that to their advantage for years. Real Player for example will give me album and artist information whenever I play a song. It does that by looking the information up on the Internet. Does that detract from my 'offline' listening experience?

What if I had a really strong campaign engine that ran on a server across the Internet, but when you actually flew a mission it was AI only and tailored completely to your 'offline' campaign? Would the fact that your computer had to connect across the Internet to get the mission make it an 'online' experience? Would you boycott the game because it used your Internet connection to enhance your 'offline' experience?

The idea that programs must define themselves as either being 'online' or 'offline' is outdated. Programs shouldn't think in such disparate terms. Programs - including flight simulatons - need to think in more specific terms. What elements are going to be 'offline' and what elements are going to utilize the Internet? If we think more grainularly about when to use the Internet we can make a more involving environment both 'online' and 'offline.'

If the ONLY thing that my computer used the Internet for was to use human pilots rather than AI in an otherwise fully offline campaign, I'd call that 'offline.' In fact, based on what everyone except Lexx Luther is saying as long as I could match the people you are playing against to the skill level you were looking for you would have to agree with me.

One of the things that makes great games special is 'vision.' A game developer who takes modern technology and re-hashes the same old concept is never going to 'get it right.' All of the really great games had 'vision.' When you tie the hands of developers by saying that they can't try to use technology to blur traditional lines and try to enhance experiences, what you do is tell them they can't use 'vision' to make new games, and thus you prevent them from making anything new or unique.

We need to encourage flight sim developers to innovate. If that means blurring the lines between 'online' and 'offline' play such that the differences are toggle-able switches where it is really hard to determine where the exact line is, that's great. But the answer CAN NOT be to keep doing what has already been done over and over again without anything new but the graphics.

Why simulate things when you can use the real thing? Why simulate a dynamic environment when you can create an environment that really is dynamic? Why simulate intelligence when you can use something that really is intelligent?

The time has come to take the Internet and see what we can really do with it. Traditional lines defining 'online' and 'offline' need to be discarded and replaced with more specific phrasing that defines the actual experiences players want. As long as a sim gives the experiences that the players want, who cares how it does it?
Posted By: McGonigle

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/30/04 05:29 PM

In some sense, Iím glad Koe got delayed. If it had not, we might never have had these discussions.

Blurring offline and online play: Once I was in a PTA league race, racing in Nascar Racing 2003 Season. One of the guys seemed to be in a bit of a determined mood, because he was driving hard and fast.

He didn't respond to our greetings, never uttered a word. Oh well, perhaps he was having difficulty with the chat and we don't chat much either, when qualifying and racing.

Afterwards it turned out that the computer had fooled three guys into thinking that this driver was human, while in fact it was a bot. It chose a car from the roster that belonged to one of our regular racing mates. Now, if the bot had been capable of uttering a few well-chosen remarks, the Turing test would have been passed with flying colours. Rofl!

Regarding the mix between functionality, or features that are available, either on the userís PC and on one or several servers, itís certainly an idea that boggles the mind, if taken to the extreme.

Iím not sure if I understand RAD74_Wall-dogís ideas, but the way I see it you can have;

-Offline only,
-Online only
-Mix of offline/online

The online part could be;
-IP-IP
-Server-client TCP/IP, involving a server, which could be operated by the company that published the sim/game
-peer2peer

If you discuss the Server-client and peer2peer situations, thereíd be the necessity of a boss server, some CPU to ensure all are playing according to the same clock, same settings etc.

Next to discuss is how much of the game/sim information should be transferred over the internet and it could range anywhere in between just the basic coordinates and manouvers of the remote a/c to just about everything that would be available in a sim: Individual skins, Terrain, a/c, AI etc.

If you choose to transfer information about relatively few objects, say the flight manouvers of the a/c and the AI, well couldnít you just offer updated AI in a patch?

Iím probably going to be proven wrong by the development of the relationship between PC and internet in the next few years, but I donít think weíll see the extreme case, where a lot of the content is downloaded as we play, in the foreseeable future.

I just donít think the philosophy of a ďsemi-dumbĒ terminal downloading gamecontent, live, and as the game progresses, is a very good idea in terms of fast and constant frame rates. You have to have at least decent physics- and AI- modelling, and lag free-environment to please simmers. Imagine the equipment needed: 20 GHZ CPU and 10 GB/s internet connections.

Did you know that GTR, the latest racing simulation, to be released shortly I hope, is supposed to support 20 Ė 25 cars during online racing, but it requires a server bandwidth of at least 1 Gig?!

OK, we know that thereís something called Massive Multiplayer games, but how many of these could deliver a lag-free, credible 50 a/c furball? And is 150 better than 50??

Transferring bits and bytes over the internet in order to ensure a lagfree experience is hard enough, how many flightsims have absolutelty perfect IP play? How many simultaneous a/c do they support, and how many bytes do they transfer?

Besides Iím not so sure if weíre not just projecting our aspirations for future sims on to a new technology. Wasnít the consoles supposed to give the user better products? Here we are with at least two major consoles and we havenít really seen anything new yet.

Did 3GHz CPUís and internet really give us better sim experiences than 500 MHz?

Who will pay for server cost? The company providing the server, of course, but will they put a server up if theyíre not willing to shell out another 150.000 to finish KoE?

Like I said, I may be totally wrong, but I think focusing on technology could be sidestepping the real issue, and I think that it has got a lot to do with ďprogrammingĒ, and delivering satisfying gameplay for newbie as well as seasoned campaigner.

Personally, I do like a fully reserved offline environment to train in, as well as "kicking some bot". Sorry about that joke :-/

Anyways, I'm not always up to multi, sometimes it's nice to just play around with the AI for 10 minutes and then go and do something else. It's not always I can spare the time and energy for longer duration multiplay. Yeah, thereís flat-rate, but who earns the money? Telcoís and Ciscoís.

Despite some UFO-like stunts at times, the AI in BoB is behaving rather intelligent too. Those ME-109's do gang up on you and put you in their cross-fire.

Have you seen the trailers for Silent Hunter III? The sub is now manned with moving people and it can be played (or simmed) at different levels of "difficulty" and it will be possible to give commands directly to the boat, or through the correct crewmember. So if it turns out well it should be a Sub-Commander sim, as well as a Sub-sim.

In a previous post I hinted at something clever that could be done with a post-op debriefing, in terms of enhancing gameplay, and in this thread we're currently discussing the merits of a training-part of a sim as opposed to throwing newbie pilots into the lion's den against AI or human pilots.

Now, here's my idea for something which to my knowledge has not really been done before in the history of flight-sims; You become the pilot.

For this to work you will control a person, much like the way you control a person in a FPS WW sim/game.

Start off by reporting to OTU or basic flight school. We'll do away with some of the more boring subjects like endless hours of written tests, drills and developing mathematical skills, and concentrate on the flying part. But basically you are being collected by the Staff Sergeant or whoever was sent by the CO to get you off the bus or railway station and to the training facility.

You have to get to learn the training facility, where do you bunk, where's the mess, the officers' readiness-room, the CO's office etc.

You have to report to the instructor at the right time and place, First time round the Training instructor might tell you to report the day after at crack of dawn, but for future reference, he will tell you where such announcements can be found, and he tells you to check that out for yourself in the future.

Once you've reported for the first flight lesson, you start learning how to fly; dual instruction, later, if you've shown enough aptitude, you'll fly solo, and when the time is right you'll be posted to your first squadron.

This training part of the sim should be optional, i.e. you can jump into a Camel or SE5a, Dreidecker or whatever suits you and enter the Great War within 2 seconds of installing and configuring the sim (yes, you can choose between several options of "difficulty", even one that will let you survice your first dogfight).

The really kewl part of my idea, at least I think so, is that once you are in a squadron, you will experience a helluvalot more than just flying missions. You'll be a part of squadron-life.

Go talk with the mechanics, go meet the met man, go the the mess and chat to your fellow aviators, go just about everywhere you like as long as you keep reporting for the missions that are assigned to you.

You'll start out as Flt. Sergeant or some comparable low rank. If you survive long enough, you may be chosen to lead a flight, and this will mean you have to take on new responsibilities (at least by now you know you should have taken the navigator's course in the training-part of the sim).

If you get lost during and op, you might have to chance it and land near some friendly trenches and aske where the heck you are.

If you get called to HQ youíll comandeer a vehicle from the pool.

And it will really shine during online play.

New postings to the squadron would be taken up by an experiecend pilot, "Stick to me like glue", and be given the tips that no training facility could ever give, because at the front and in daily battle, things change from day to day. New, improved aircraft have been deployed by the enemy, so your squadron has had to change tactics.

Imagine us meeting up; FlyXWire, Cas141, Wall-dog or Polovski, on the virtual arodrome, each of us being represented on screen by moving characters or Avatars. The day's flying is done and we head for post-op debriefing. The sim will have saved the latest battle and we can replay it (or rather the guy who's got the Intel job can do so). We can all chat and comment about the battle, how did it go, was the objective met etc. After briefing, we head for the mess and a few tankards of brew!

Note that replaying the battle is not strictly historical correct. To be historically correct all you'd have would probably be a photgraph, perhaps not even that, and it would be several hours later, brought home by a scout plane, but this is where I think we ought to have more and better than the real pilots had available at the time (Or do we have anyone volounteering for a photographic mission?).

The next day, Someone might ask; "Where's McG?", and the answer might be; "He hade some leave coming, he's off to Paris, lucky s*d", or "Didn't you know? Never came back from dawn patrol, bought the farm, saw him auger in myself".

In reality this could be, all rolled into one, forum, flight sim, tactical sim, strategic sim, adventure game-ish. In the online environment, the Intelligence as well as the tactical and strategic elements comes from human interacting with human, not from or with the AI.

For offline, the sim does have to be programmend as a tactical or strategic game. Like I said, it will shine online.

Offline and with AI, this sim will require some clever programming to avoid repetition of 3 standard phrases that are played over and over again, and to avoid bugs the lead to you getting an absurdly wrong answer from the met man when you ask about the forecast for the coming op: "It's quarter to noon".

Nevertheless, the CPU is not being tasked with any complex flight models at this stage, so would it be that hard to give each person you can interact with some 20 or 30 individual sentences + 10 or 20 common to all chit-chat style remarks?

Perhaps the sim could be put together in such a way that pilots I fly with and chat with online, can have not only individualized skins that I can download, but also individualized phrases that can be downloaded too? At least in terms of textfiles that can be displayed on the screen?

Voice chat would have to be an online only feature.

Writing this, I've come to realize that the line between what can be done offline and what can be done online is becoming very blurred: If noone wants to be the met man during an online session, that part could be taken by a bot. The mechanics that send you off in an online mission could be bots too. As has been mentioned, some of your fellow pilots could be bots.

All this sound silly?

Let me round off by going back to the example with Nascar Racing 2003. The computer choose the skin of an existing league driver. If there had been a file containing information about that driver's nationality, and some individual and generic phrases as well:

Us: "Hi mate, how are you?"
Bot: "Hi gents, how are ya doin?" (Notice how direct questions are often not answered directly?)
Bot: "Time to do some flying" (heads out to the track or swings legs up on the wing of the Sopwith)
Us: "He-he, let's go" (really intellingent conversation we're having! :-D)

And then the bot will occasionally offer somewhat sensical remarks appropriate to the situation, in a flight sim I'd suspect that with remarks triggered by the combat situation it would be very hard to determine if it was a bot or a human.

I'm not asking for a lot of intelligent conversation from a bot during combat. In that situation, naturally the CPU cycles should be devoted to the flying skill of the bot.

In terms of programming, I know there's real life limitations by hardware, budgets, time-constrainst, but if the programmers put their minds to doing something like this, I think we'd be pretty surprised by the results, even if we would still be able to Spot the bot after some play. Or would we??
Posted By: Tailgunner

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/30/04 05:45 PM

Walldog..I agree with your basic definition of Online and Offline. The assumption, though, is that everyone will WANT to be connected to the net to play. Also, it assumes that everyone has a permanent, always on connection. Goodbye dialup users.

The need to beef up AI still remains. I don't expect more than we have now. At least not to the extent that Lexx ( thanks for the lukewarm insult by the way...I still spell your name right) wants. I recognise the difficulty of making the AI actually intelligent, but would just like to see it have more than one move. The AI generally attempts to get behind you to shoot. Thats fine in a turn-fight kind of ship. What they do, though, is to fight that way ALL the time. Make them maintain a high speed in a boom n zoom plane, and adopt a slightly different position before making a fast run at you.

I would hazard a guess that there is a degree of scripting to the way AI uses the plane, and I would like to see this vary from plane to plane. That OUGHT to be achievable, yet I have never seen it happen.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/30/04 06:29 PM

S! Tailgunner!

Keep in mind that dial-up users DO have enough bandwidth for online play. We had massive online servers in RB3D when MOST users had dial-up. I sat down and figured out exactly what the requirements were once - something around 12 KBPS on the client and 12 KBPS per person on the server. I've done similar tests with FB and the numbers are consistent. That doesn't mean every game will have similar requirements, but certainly it is possible to write a flight sim that plays well over dial-up.

I'd also keep in mind that any new sim built with ideas from this thread would be 2 years away at a bare minimum, so the online environment won't be today's environment but rather the one 2 years down the road. That means a greater percentage of broadband/always on users and a greater percentage of dedicated phone lines for the remaining dial-up users.

And I don't think the assumption is that everyone will want to be connected to play. I think the assumption is that if connecting is a requirement then it will be one that the vast majority can live with. There may be a number of users who would prefer not to connect, but I don't think there would be many who would be unwilling to connect. Heck - there might be users who would prefer to play with their computers turned off. You can't make everyone happy...

Developers need to innovate, and much of the innovation is going to be based on interoperability over the Internet. As more and more users get connections that are always on, there should be a trend toward using these connections to enhance the gaming experience. I don't think that someone should say 'you can't do that because that's not how it is done.' I think there needs to be a better reason not to do something than just that it hasn't been tried before.
Posted By: Polovski

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/30/04 07:12 PM

With regards to some being dial-up as Tailgunner says, yes as I mentioned and as Wall-dog says this game would not be out today but using future Internet connections (i.e. more always-on users).

Also if someone wants to be "offline" and wanted to completely opt out of any online content, they get the dodgy AI and the scripted comments/missions, everyone else who wants the "enhanced" game chooses an online connection. easy \:\)

Quote:
Originally posted by McGonigle:
..OK, we know that thereís something called Massive Multiplayer games, but how many of these could deliver a lag-free, credible 50 a/c furball? And is 150 better than 50?? ...
The new Novalogic game "Joint Operations" hosts 150+ player servers with tanks, helicopters, jeeps etc full of individual people all moving around doing their own thing, bullets flying etc all handled superbly considering!
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/31/04 01:07 AM

*oops*

...goes to blackboard...in front of whole class too...

tailgunner
Tailgunner
tAilgunner
taIlgunner
taiLgunner
tailGunner
tailgUnner
tailguNner
tailgunNer
tailgunnEr
tailgunneR
TAILGUNNER

now, this one mistake won't happen again.

No I never thought of the "tailwind" thing until you mentioned "insult"--if that is what you are thinking. Pure mistake. Sorry. \:\)
Posted By: FlyXwire

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/31/04 01:14 AM

McGonigle, are you aware that the most interesting (IMO) online virtual arena for World War I aerial combat has already been conceptualized:

Birds of Prey virtual arena (Part 1)

Birds of Prey virtual arena (Part 2)

None of us can know if BoP will ever see the light of day, but its design concept is still as valid and captivating today as it was years ago.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/31/04 03:45 AM

Finished reading here. I stopped at Tailgunner's note to learn how to pay attention to names (and I hope its clear I did not just cut~n~paste Tail's [full] name but typed it until I can now have it in long term memory).

For the simhq board, one example of AI programming that would be useful in both offline and online flight simming (dull dull description followed by explanation in next post below)

The tactical space game O-R-B (Orbital Resource Base) allows the player to command hundreds of AI ships either individually or collected into groups. The ships conduct their own very simple combat. The player may select what formation the groups of ships will fly in. For example "X" formation, line formation, Vee formation. The corresponding idea here is to allow flight sim mission builders to define formation that AI planes fly instead of being limited to a single default type (thinking of Forgotten Battles here).

The O-R-B player may take any number of individual ships and order them to group into a single fleet. In O-R-B, if this number exceeds 20 ships then the ships form multiple formations of 20 ships (or whatever number is left over for the remaining formation). These multiple formations are easily controlled and act as a single entity (fleet) but still retain individual ship behavior but confined within its formation.

Even better, the player may define AI behavior for each ship or groups of ships. The available behavior includes total agressive and attack anything within range, shadow or escort another ship or group of ships, total evasive behavior, or "neutral" behavior where the ship/group ignores any targets or threats to itself. Further behaviors include maximum distance before retreating for re~arming weapons. Many other behaviors that I did not explore in my short time playing the space sim.
~ http://www.o-r-b.com/
-----------------------------------------
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/31/04 03:46 AM

Sorry for the long description; the important "flight sim" points for O-R-B AI are...

(1)Flight sim mission builders defining number and formation of aircraft from 1 plane up to hundreds of planes.

(2) Flight sim mission builders defining the behavior of AI aircraft. We give an example of hidden AI behavior not documented in Forgotten Battles manual or readme files. If a single engine AI bomber follows a "normal fly" waypoint, it will drop bombs and attack any enemy aircraft within standard AI engagement range--no matter if the enemy plane is not a threat--even a lowly Fi~153 Storch. However if the AI bomber is following a "ground attack" waypoint then it will ignore any aircraft threats to itself and keep bombs and fly to surface target.

The mission builder should be able to define which of these two types of behavior the AI bomber will follow--with the AI programmers possibly coding a random chance of AI ignoring ordered behavior as in real life ~~> THIS last point is a perfect example of how one may "improve" AI programming.

------------

As Wall Dog points out above, online simming could benefit hugely from this kind of "improved" or "new" AI programming--improved and new for flight sims. But why do we see a contradiction in WallDog who states AI are not needed because offline simming is not needed, but then WallDog posts that AI are needed to "help" online flight simming (which I agree with).

WallDog::
Quote:
My point must not be clear enough.
Understood! In this thread we are not talking the same flight sim language. \:\) You are talking IT Professional language alone. By "improved" AI I mean several things including but also far beyond the "dogfight" AI that captures the entire imagination of some here. walldog? ;\)


WallDog on AI Chess::
Quote:
The reason I would do this goes to the heart of Lexx Luther's argument regarding better programming for AI. Just what would it take Lexx?

When you consider that chess is exponentially simpler for AI to handle and then consider that to simulate a single 'grand master' level chess player you need the single most powerful computer in the world using every single processor cycle on that one task - without any graphics or sound or anything else - what do you think modern computers can do for flight sim AI?

If the most powerful computer in the world can't simulate a single AI plane that can compete with a really good pilot, how exactly do you expect to fill the skies with them on $400 computers?
WallDog you know very well that Chess AI programming checks all possible future moves for as many future game turns possible given a chosen time limit for the computer, and the number of future moves looked at determines the computer horsepower required. I had a Chess game written in Fortran on my old Pentium 133MHz computer and it ran great and was very challenging although it was not the world class champion software of the type developed by IBM for Gary Kasporov that you try to compare with a home computer.

Worse, I don't think flight sim AI is comparable in algorithm to Chess software (simhq Debate?).


McGonigle::
Quote:
Iím not so sure if weíre not just projecting our aspirations for future sims on to a new technology.
Yes. WallDog claims to be an "IT professional" and his/her ideas are related to that area of networked computing, not that there is anything wrong with that, but why the desire of "IT Pro" to eliminate private flight simming in one's home?


Today, Online AI aircraft use the same AI programming as offline AI programming (a point missed by WallDog). Online war missions will be created with the same tools as offline missions are created. For WallDog's IT Network flight siming, we need improved AI such as...

Original DOS Flanker 1.0 jet sim of 1994 had heat seeking missiles that were often distracted by the sun--imagine an old 1994 flight sim created for the 486 cpu that could model AI missiles blinded by the sun. Similarly, flight sim AI pilots' vision being effected by the sun will allow humanoid players who are plugged into WallDog's IT Network to bounce the AI from out of the sun--a brutally crucial needed AI gameplay element for prop sims and especially for World War 1.

I call this "improved" AI programming because Forgotten Battles does not model AI blinded by the sun. Programming this feature would be an improvement for that sim at least. Do the other recent flight sims model AI blinded by the sun? What I DON'T understand is why the needed improvements for AI that would help create popular demand for ever improving IT Network flight simming is being denied by WallDog.


(*sigh*... more )

WallDog caught practicing Deception @ simhq.com::
Quote:
The idea that programs must define themselves as either being 'online' or 'offline' is outdated.
Most flight sims define themselves as being online and offline. An IT-Pro should know about And/Or.

Also, we are talking about flight sims here not "programs" in general. Be very careful simhq.com. WallDog IT-Pro just betrayed a desire to make ALL computer programs IT Network only.

Why are you trying to confuse people here? This does sound like a Microsoft "IT professional" spokesperson. Very Confusing.


Online play is great
Offline play is great
WallDog IT-Pro will not allow flight simming unless you are plugged into WallDog's IT Network (and presumably paying for the New Privilege of computer flight simming).

Not so confusing after all. :p
Posted By: Tailgunner

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/31/04 09:57 AM

I think it is pretty clear that AI is an essential for any flightsim. So... I ran some tests.

I have a boxfulof different sims to choose from, so I gave them all a spin to test out the way AI reacted.

I gave them a good turn fighter, and they all tried to stick on my tail. Some skill was shown by IL2 AI. Novices tended to fire earlier. Experts tended to hold fire till they were close. Most seem to give 'Ace' pilots a LOT more 'G' tolerance. CGS3 is a real naughty boy here. It's difficulty levelling is a bodge of the worst sort. Give them an energy fighter, like, say a P47, and they don't have a clue!

Not fair..I know. I knew they would do this!

So, I switched to other things! Can the AI find you in thick cloud.... surprising how many AI's can do this without radar....Night flights are worse! All have excellent night vision.

In some cases, AI is clearly ignoring me until reach a certain 'range' before it evades.

The AI never flys the plane to the point of stall

The AI has a predictable set of manouvers to shake off enemy ( IL2 'dive and turn' ) which it uses regardless of situation

Now, I could go on, but I think this pretty much outlines why people are not happy with current levels of AI. They are too scripted in their actions. They are too predictable in their reactions. They never surprise you after you have played for a while.

This is basically impacting on immersion. Immersion is King. I agree that blurring of Online /Offline may be a way to go, but the AI needs to improve in some key ways.

1) It must share the limitations of the pilot in terms of stress and G tolerance.
2) It must share the problems of maintaining visual contact where appropriate.
3) Even with the limits imposed by swcripted AI, the AI pilot should have 3 or 4 options to choose from when reacting e.g. Turn left, dive and extend, split S, turn right with increasing options for 'harder' AI

There should also be AI options for the chaps on the ground! Flak, vehicles evading, that sort of thing. Shoot up a comvoy and they should do more than just stop coz the roads blocked!

Now... I know there are sims that do SOME of this...but none do ALL. Making AI that reacts like a human is still a long way off, but surely the next generation of sims should be looking at improved AI behaviour beforefancier grpahics ?

Oh...yes...and teh Best AI award from my test....


Red Baron 3D. They gave me the best run for the money. 2 seaters evade like anything, and always manouver to get their guns to bear. Progress... oh well \:\(
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/31/04 12:11 PM

Lexx,

You've been making pot shots at everyone on here for two days now. Do you want to debate me or just throw adolescent insults?

You talk about programming better 'AI' and then when pressed about how to do it you say that the mission builders should script it. Now you want it both ways - you want the AI to control aircraft in some posts and you want people to control them in others. And you say I don't have a consistent vision here?

Yes - it is true that IBM's Kasparov Chess computer is good. It is as good as Kasparov. I think they split games the last time they played. But you take that a step further and say it isn't a fair comparision. Come on now! Flight combat is exponentially more complex than a chess game. How can it NOT be a fair comparison. Because Kasparov is good? He's still human. We have people in our community that are awefully good at flight sims. Can you make AI better than it is? Yes, you can. But can you make it truly challenging? It sounds like you've given up that part of your argument though. Now you just want it scripted.

I can find every bad debate tactic in your posts. Have you heard of 'Ad Hominum' techniques? That's when you can't attack your opponent's position so you attack your opponent instead. You say things like 'But why do we see a contradiction in WallDog...' or ' Yes. WallDog claims to be an "IT professional" and his/her ideas are related to that area of networked computing, not that there is anything wrong with that, but why the desire of "IT Pro" to eliminate private flight simming in one's home?' or better yet 'Today, Online AI aircraft use the same AI programming as offline AI programming (a point missed by WallDog).' That's just a handful of them. There are more. And every single one of them intentionally misrepresents my position. You aren't even arguing with me. First you misquote me to make me sound like I'm saying something other than what I am, and then you argue with that misquote.

Come on Lexx. Do you want to debate, or just make childish attacks? The rest of us are trying to have a rational discussion about the future of the flight simulation community. All you are doing is taking pot-shots at people.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/31/04 01:43 PM

Just want to chip to say how much I agree with the this:

"give the player the chance to ENJOY THE GAME THE WAY THEY WANT TO ENJOY IT."

Absolutely. Switchable options, then everyone is happy. (Unless it complicates online but I'm not getting into that...)

McGonigle, your pilot-centred idea is very close to my idea of the ideal flight sim too. I suppose what I want is not so much a flight sim as a pilot sim. I'm more interested in the experience of being a combat pilot than I am in the performance statistics of a bunch of aircraft. And current flight sims always intrude the interface between me and the air combat experience. Sometimes it's a good, immersive interface (EAW, RB), sometimes it's a constant reminder that I'm just sitting at a computer manipulating a program (Il2). But it's always there, in the way.

Finally a question for anyone who knows about such things - how does flight sim AI work? Is the AI programmed with a set of preplanned manoeuvres, or does it make inputs to the controls on the fly, moment to moment? Does it aim to point the nose at a selected enemy, or to place itself in a given point in the sky? How is the AI told about the capabilities and limitations of the aircraft it is flying (eg don't try to climb below certain speed etc).

My own experience of programming AI (if you can call it that) is extremely limited (for a very simple Age of Sail game written for my own enyoyment), but one thing I found is that very simple rules (maintain x range from enemy, keep presenting broadside where possible) can produce suprisingly complex and believable behaviour when set going. But how to do 3D movement and all the complexities of flight would defeat me completely.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/31/04 03:24 PM

S! Von Stalhein!

Flight sim AI has been programmed both ways in different sims, with varying degrees of success. Really it is up to the developer how they do it.

A rules-based AI has several strengths. If you program AI for different aircraft seperately you will see the AI stay within the basic flight dynamics of their aircraft. You can for example program such that AI pilots in a certain plane will stay above a certain airspeed or climb whenever a certain event occurs or whatever. YOu can make pilots basic 'energy fighters' or 'angles fighters' based on aircraft. The problem with this type of programming is that it is very predictable and does not really lead to complex maneuvers.

A sim can also be programmed to use pre-set maneuvers. The obvious strength here is that you can then use more complex maneuvers. The weakness is that those maneuvers may or may not be appropriate when they are used.

Most flight sims today use a mix-and-match of both techniques. They will have pre-set maneuvers that the planes follow, but select those maneuvers based on a rules-based criteria. This leads to both the best and worst of both worlds, where the planes use predictable maneuvers for different situations.

And therin lies the rub.. You have to define rules to make the planes 'smart,' but doing so makes the planes predictable. You can add a level of randomness to the maneuver selection, but then you go right back to having planes use maneuvers that are not necessarily appropriate. The more random the planes are, the less appropriate their maneuvers will be. The more appropriate they act, the less predictable they become.

The best AI can be led-along like a dog on a leash. Good human pilots over time learn how the computer reacts to given stimuli, and then use that stimuli to set the computer up.

There are just too many variables. Altitude is a variable. Speed is a variable. Plane types are variables. Relative speed and altitude are variables. Direction is a variable. Distance is a variable. The number of planes in a fight all present new ranges of variables. Clouds create variables. Visibility is a variable. Ammunition loadouts are variables. How do you program around all of these variables (and I only named a few) to choose the right maneuver at the right time? People do this in a fluid, intuitive way that computers are not capable of. People are not computers. People do not just 'process data.' People actually think.

In chess, do you choose your move in a fluid environment? No - you look at each alternative and at the consequences of each action. There are a finite number of moves, and even when thinking several moves ahead there are a finite number of strategies with a finite number of outcomes. Chess is the perfect environment to show-off the 'capabilities' of AI. Chess is complex enough to make AI impressive, but not complex enough to make it impossible. Think about how really good chess players play - they almost emulate computers! What a great fit for computer AI! Flight simulations are a completely different animal though.

Since the inception of flight simulations we have been asking for better AI. Over time we have gotten better AI, but it still isn't good enough.

Here is a quote from Tailgunner in which he is saying what AI should do:

Quote:
3) Even with the limits imposed by scripted AI, the AI pilot should have 3 or 4 options to choose from when reacting e.g. Turn left, dive and extend, split S, turn right with increasing options for 'harder' AI
Tailgunner wants the AI to choose from alternatives. This overlooks one critical fact - computers are incapable of making a choice. You can 'emulate' choice, but how do you do that? Either you make it random - in which case the 'selection' may not be appropriate, or you make it 'rules based,' in which case it will be predictable.

That is not to say that you should't try to make 'better' AI, but it is to say that we should recognize that no matter how 'good' we make it, AI will never be 'good enough.'

So what can we do? Well, we can keep trying to 'get blood from a rock' and watch our genre shrink while other genres grow, or we can try to program things better, focusing more on experiences and less on pre-concieved notions of what constitutes 'online' or 'offline.' If we can break-down those traditional barriers we can start to experiment with environments that are neither 'online' nor 'offline,' but really a mix between the two. And then we can start to do some really intersting things like use real people when possible for the 'AI' portion of an offline campaign.

Finally - Lexx did make one point I want to address. Lexx said that most simulations today are both 'online' AND 'offline.' Come on Lexx... There is a difference between an environment in which a simulation can do both at different times, and one in which the simulation is using elements from both at ALL times. What bothers me about your argument Lexx is that you knew that difference when you made your post.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/31/04 03:54 PM

WallDog::
Quote:
So what can we do? Well, we can keep trying to 'get blood from a rock' and watch our genre shrink while other genres grow, or we can try to program things better...
Yes, we agree about improved programming.


WallDog::
Quote:
I can find every bad debate tactic in your posts.
We have have caused you to change your original claims.

Now you agree that better AI programming is needed for flight sims.

In your last few posts you shy away from requiring all flight simming be restricted to IT Network only.

Most important, we now agree that we need to try to program things better in general.


WallDog::
Quote:
Come on Lexx. Do you want to debate, or just make childish attacks? The rest of us are trying to have a rational discussion about the future of the flight simulation community. All you are doing is taking pot-shots at people.
Which people? WallDog if you want rational discussion at the simhq.com I shall post again my observations of the AI in O-R-B and how it would be useful in flight simming both online and offline.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/31/04 03:58 PM

We must not only Debate here about making the flight simmer experience more enjoyable, but we must talk about the mission builder too. Many flight simmers depend upon 3rd Party mission creators for their missions. I like to think that the more flight simmers find mission building to be easy and available, the more power they will have to enjoy flight simming the way they wish to.


For the WallDog, one example of AI programming that would be useful in both offline and online flight simming (dull dull description followed by explanation)

The tactical space game O-R-B (Orbital Resource Base) allows the player to command hundreds of AI ships either individually or collected into groups. The ships conduct their own very simple combat. The player may select what formation the groups of ships will fly in. For example "X" formation, line formation, Vee formation. The corresponding idea here is to allow flight sim mission builders to define formation that AI planes fly instead of being limited to a single default type (thinking of Forgotten Battles here).

The O-R-B player may take any number of individual ships and order them to group into a single fleet. In O-R-B, if this number exceeds 20 ships then the ships form multiple formations of 20 ships (or whatever number is left over for the remaining formation). These multiple formations are easily controlled and act as a single entity (fleet) but still retain individual ship behavior but confined within its formation.

Even better, the player may define AI behavior for each ship or groups of ships. The available behavior includes total agressive and attack anything within range, shadow or escort another ship or group of ships, total evasive behavior, or "neutral" behavior where the ship/group ignores any targets or threats to itself. Further behaviors include maximum distance before retreating for re~arming weapons. Many other behaviors that I did not explore in my short time playing the space sim.
~ http://www.o-r-b.com/
-----------------------------------------

Sorry for the long description; the important "flight sim" points for O-R-B AI are...

(1)Flight sim mission builders defining number and formation of aircraft from 1 plane up to hundreds of planes.

(2) Flight sim mission builders defining the behavior of AI aircraft. We give an example of hidden AI behavior not documented in Forgotten Battles manual or readme files. If a single engine AI bomber follows a "normal fly" waypoint, it will drop bombs and attack any enemy aircraft within standard AI engagement range--no matter if the enemy plane is not a threat--even a lowly Fi~153 Storch. However if the AI bomber is following a "ground attack" waypoint then it will ignore any aircraft threats to itself and keep bombs and fly to surface target.

The mission builder should be able to define which of these two types of behavior the AI bomber will follow--with the AI programmers possibly coding a random chance of AI ignoring ordered behavior as in real life ~~> THIS last point is a perfect example of how one may "improve" AI programming.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/31/04 05:13 PM

Ok Lexx..

I'll tell you what. Maybe we should seperate things out that should be done globally (in all sims) from those things that could be tried in A sim or maybe SOME sims.

One would think it would go without saying that when you use AI you would try to use GOOD AI, and would continiously try to improve AI. Maybe that doesn't go without saying, but I would think it does. Some things are always being improved upon. AI is one of those. Others include graphics, sound, etc.

Within each of the global areas that we are always trying to improve, we sometimes can think of new ways to handle that improvement. In the case of graphics someone at some point thought that using polygon modeling might be worth a try. Luckily for us, someone decided to try that innovation and was consequently able to radically improve flight simulation graphics. That doesn't mean that every simulation from here to eternity needs to use polygons though. If someone comes out with a way they think might be better than polygons, we should look at it.

Within the global area of AI there have been a number of ideas and I think they have been hashed over pretty well in previous posts, so I'll ignore the urge to repeat them here... Suffice it to say that we should be open to new ideas in this area just as we should be open to new ideas regarding graphics.

Sometimes a new idea is radical enough that it might warrant a complete restructuring or reclassification of one of the global areas. I for example am suggesting that we might use real pilots instead of just AI even in what are typically considered 'offline' environments.

**Note: I have been very consistent in that suggestion. You continually say I'm changing my position. I have maintained the same position throughout.

Obviously you wouldn't call human pilots 'AI.' They would be doing what AI typically does, but there would be nothing 'artificial' about them. So maybe if this worked (which it would) you would have to come up with a new name for the global area of 'AI'.

To say that I'm trying to get rid of AI or that I'm trying to get rid of offline gaming per se is just plain inaccurate. Am I talking about changes that don't fit within traditional classifications? Yes. But you are clouding the issue when you say that I am suggesting that these types of gameplay go away. I'm not suggesting that at all. I never have suggested that.

Now, can we please move beyond the bad debate tactics and get back to a real discussion about the future of flight sims?

By the way - the aggrevating part of your posts isn't that you are using bad debate tactics, but that you make it painfully obvious that you KNOW you are using them. How about we just move past that?
Posted By: McGonigle

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/31/04 05:51 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by RAF74_Wall-dog:


Sometimes a new idea is radical enough that it might warrant a complete restructuring or reclassification of one of the global areas. I for example am suggesting that we might use real pilots instead of just AI even in what are typically considered 'offline' environments.

The idea must be so radical I just don't get it. \:\)

How can one use a human pilot instead of AI in an offline environment? And why does it include having to be online?

Would you be kind enough to explain/elaborate on the concept, and it's ok to describe it as if you were describing it to a five year old, I won't take offence \:\)
Posted By: Scott Elson

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/31/04 05:52 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by RAF74_Wall-dog:
Tailgunner wants the AI to choose from alternatives. This overlooks one critical fact - computers are incapable of making a choice. You can 'emulate' choice, but how do you do that? Either you make it random - in which case the 'selection' may not be appropriate, or you make it 'rules based,' in which case it will be predictable.
Actually I usually do a combination of these. You use rules to limit the choices, to make sure the choice is appropriate, and then randomly pick from the remaining options. I'll also weigh the chance of picking an option differently depending on the situation. I had thought about using Genetic Algorithms to modifying these weights as the game progressed but couldn't figure out in a multi aircraft engagement, especially with aircraft of different capabilities, how to determine which AI seemed to be working better.

Elf
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/31/04 05:57 PM

WallDog::
Quote:
So what can we do? Well, we can keep trying to 'get blood from a rock' and watch our genre shrink while other genres grow, or we can try to program things better...
This is a great idea. Thanks. I would like to hear more.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/31/04 06:29 PM

McGonigle::
Quote:
The idea must be so radical I just don't get it. \:\)

How can one use a human pilot instead of AI in an offline environment? And why does it include having to be online?

Would you be kind enough to explain/elaborate on the concept, and it's ok to describe it as if you were describing it to a five year old, I won't take offence
I understand the part about Forcing all flight simmers into internet simming alone, but I too am lost in total confusion in the vague fog posted here.


My lack of understanding makes me think that WallDog's internet requirement for all flight simming will not only eliminate offline simming, but eliminate all local LAN multiplayer flight simming also (fearlesslds can say goodbye to his multiplay brothers \:\) ). No more LAN parties.

There is a saying in Life about if something cannot be said in an understandable manner, it is a Deception.

I ask again, why would IT Professionals come to a webboard and want all flight simming be restricted to interntet only?

Why eliminate offline simming?


Just today, a fun example appears of at least one IT professional In Action... ;\) \:\)

Microsoft Security Chief Uses Firefox
http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=18173
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/31/04 07:49 PM

S! All!

The idea that sprang the line of thought about a game using human players as AI in an otherwise 'offline' game is in the following thread:

http://www.simhq.com/simhq3/sims/boards/bbs/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=100;t=000197

Lexx - this is not a 'sinister' thought. I don't know why you are against doing something like this in a flight simulation. Nobody would force you to buy the sim, and nobody would force other developers to follow a similar model. There is the possibility that if this idea works as well as I think it would then a similar model might be used by others. That is how it works: someone has an idea and they follow it. If the idea works, then others borrow from the idea and improve upon it. Some people call that 'progress.'

If I get to build that sim and I make a little money for a publisher in the process, that doesn't have to be a bad thing. A solvent marketing model for the flight simulation world might be considered a GOOD thing by many of the people here.

I'm not going to re-post that entire thread here - particularly when the specific sim idea expressed in that thread is outside the scope of this conversation - but if someone wants more information on how I envision it working, they are welcome to read that thread.

The general concept I exhibit in that thread - the concept of moving toward using other human pilots rather than AI - is sound. Yes, it would require an Internet connection. But who said it would require some central server? The game I want to build would have a central server, but that doesn't mean someone else couldn't do it differently. Someone else could take a similar concept and release the server software or build the server software into the game. I could see doing this in a peer-to-peer network, or over a LAN, or over any of a number of different models. It doesn't have to be 'scary' like Lexx_Luther is trying to make it sound.

But then that gets back to some of the themes in my original post on THIS thread - we have defined ourselves into a box. Anyone who tries to innovate and get the flight sim genre out of that box gets slammed by negativity. And that's not the fault of the developers, but rather of the community as a whole.
Posted By: FlyXwire

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/31/04 09:02 PM

Gentlemen, many go points have already been made in these discussions, but.............

L'art d'etre ennuyeux, c'est de tout dire.

(The art of being boring is to tell all.) ;\)
Posted By: McGonigle

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/31/04 09:06 PM

Weíre probably having too many different conversations here and that aids confusion.

Walldog, Iíve reread the thread you linked to and I hope you will find partners and realize your idea and vision. Respect.

As far as I can tell, in that thread you state that there will be no need to program AI or dynamic campaigns, because everything is online, behind the scenes.

Itís your choice entirely of course as itís your vision. Follow you vision if it is at all possible.


So in a more general commentary, Iíd like to see some of those hot multiplayer coders from Joint Operations on the development on the next WW1 fligth sim :-D

Letís see what they can do when they have to include information on the connection so that we can make saveable, editable and viewable replays, out of an online dogfight with 125 a/c.

And I still want offline, as in internet connection closed. Itís really no different than that sometimes I like to go out and sometimes I prefer to stay in. Iíd like to have that same distinction in my gaming.

Saying that itís too difficult to program better AI, imo is giving up and admitting defeat before really trying. Isnít it sad, really, that Tailgunner found the best AI in RB3D? A five year old sim?

So we went from 133MHz CPUís to 3 GHz CPUís. And today we have better graphics, but worse AI.What Iíd like to know is this:

Who stole all those cycles????

We had GPUís then as we have now, now theyíre even bigger, better and terrifyingly faster. Where did it all go wrong then?

Surely it canít be that difficult to mix the rulebased and random elements in such a way that the random events are within some appropriate parameters in terms of a/c and combat situation?

Itís just that in general I get the impression that developers dropped PCís because they claimed consoles were easier to develop for, some want to drop the programming of better AI because itís too hard. Whatís the next thing theyíll drop, just because itís too hard to program?

Since I'm just an old fart who can't resist playing with words, I'd say that we have not designed ourselves into a box, the box has been taken away from us, salami-style, one slice at a time. ;\)
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 08/31/04 10:57 PM

WallDog::
Quote:
nobody would force other developers to follow a similar model.
oh :p

well, okay then!!

Although I am now a pure offline simmer, I enjoy the potential shown by the TargetWare online war sim. In fact when I upgrade I may join the WAR, and the cost for a year is much less than a medium grade video card. I just hope the pay~for~play will serve to discourage the internet dogfighter brownie point hunters from joining to kill steal or team kill. Which brings up another point...

WallDog::
Quote:
Sometimes a new idea is radical enough that it might warrant a complete restructuring or reclassification of one of the global areas. I for example am suggesting that we might use real pilots instead of just AI even in what are typically considered 'offline' environments.
WallDog, what are you talking about?


-------------

McGonigle::
Quote:
Who stole all those cycles????
Windows?

Java?

With a new Athalon 2000+ booting pure DOS 6.22 my old Flanker 1.0 jet sim can handle about 500 AI aircraft in combat at one time, along with several hundred SAM sites and large ships. The limit on my old Pentium 133MHz was about 100 aircraft and 40 SAM sites and ships.

Granted, the AI in Forgotten Battles is actually far more detailed than Flanker 1.0, but I believe alot of FB code is written in Java and the max my 2000+ can handle is about 30 aircraft in combat at one time and no surface units. Sadly, the newer AI does not give any more overall battlefield gameplay immersion than the old AI from 1994. I believe this is mostly because you can make more "realistic" dogfighter AI but you get diminishing returns of immersion if you don't also program the AI for larger concepts of behavior such as multiple ways of defining aircraft formations as described above about the O-R-B um_er spaceship AI, or programming AI for environmental awareness such as blinding by the sun, not seeing through clouds, and loss of visibility at night or in missions where the weather is set to poor.

Has any flight sim ever programmed AI to be aware of clouds?
Posted By: Osram

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 09/01/04 09:02 AM

Quote:

Has any flight sim ever programmed AI to be aware of clouds?
Yes, Miro "Jamm0r" Torrielli.
It is not 100% yet (what is in flight sims?) but in some circumstances the clouds block the view of the AI to you.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 09/01/04 09:50 AM

What is Miro "Jamm0r" Torrielli?
Posted By: Hentzau

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 09/01/04 10:03 AM

Quote:
Originally posted by Lexx_Luthor:
Who is Miro "Jamm0r" Torrielli?
A programmer who works on improving Falcon 4 and Rowan's BoB.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 09/01/04 10:24 AM

Ah, I sorely wish I had picked up Rowan's BoB.

Flight sim developers can "get away" with AI seeing through clouds if the clouds are very small. That may be one reason for the tiny established "standard" size of white flak puff flight sim clouds.

Thanks

Good towering cumulus would be essential for the next generation of Pacific flight sim--probably Maddox after the new BoB. For clouds this size you have to program AI to not see through them.



~ http://www.chitambo.com/clouds/cloudshtml/calvus.html#Anchorcal1
Posted By: Kat

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 09/01/04 05:54 PM

Both McGonigle, and Fly-x-Wire mention the "Living Aerodrome" concept. Fly-x provides a link describing one version of it. I first heard this concept brought up years ago by Kessler, of Full Canvas Jacket/Promised Land fame, in a discussion of what he would like to see in the next flight sim. Kessler did envision this as an online theme only, and applied it to online squads in a dynamic online war.

WallDog has a concept out there. Concepts are very hard to defend with specifics, especially when in their formative phase. Whether his will come to fruition only time will tell.

Lexx, I personally feel that your attacking what WallDog does for a living as a means of shooting down his concept is a bit off base. IMO it only weakens your argument by making it seem you are paranoid about IT professionals.

Both sides have very good arguments and a well reasoned discussion is what a good forum is about. The concept of computer gaming has undergone many changes since RB1 and TNN online play. I doubt that anyone believes there won't be more and larger changes.
Posted By: McGonigle

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 09/01/04 07:22 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by von Stalhein:


McGonigle, your pilot-centred idea is very close to my idea of the ideal flight sim too. I suppose what I want is not so much a flight sim as a pilot sim. I'm more interested in the experience of being a combat pilot than I am in the performance statistics of a bunch of aircraft. And current flight sims always intrude the interface between me and the air combat experience. Sometimes it's a good, immersive interface (EAW, RB), sometimes it's a constant reminder that I'm just sitting at a computer manipulating a program (Il2). But it's always there, in the way.
Let do away with the user interface then!

You hit the nail on the head Von S. That interface is really a great example of the stagnation in creativity. Every game and sim has it. Why haven't anyone found a way to be much less dependant on it?

The hardware can be calibrated and tested automatically, either at the time of install or right after the user starts the game.

The user can specify what difficulty level should be set before even starting the sim.

So why should the user do any of these things through an interface, unless the user specifically tells the software to reveal that user interface for further finetuning, - by pushing alt+U or whatever.

So, the first thing that happens, when you think you are starting the sim to play for the first time is that you're greeted by a recruiting officer, telling you to put down your name on the enlistment form, and then off you go, on your merry adventures.

No interface at all! \:D
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 09/01/04 07:36 PM

mmm, yes. Its possible if WallDog is hoping to create a new sim, and has some new ideas, he/she may not want to reveal them on an internet webboard: Totally understandable, indeed admirable! If so, he/she could have stated this for not wishing to reveal specifics for us.

I am confused here because online flight simming is not a new idea. TargetWare seems a potentially great online-war flight sim, with no programming for offline play except for solo flight training. There is a market here, and one that could grow. What could help it grow is new ideas to program into sims, such as this Miro "Jamm0r" Torrielli programmer did for AI and clouds in BoB. Such work would improve both online and offline simming interest, immersion...and "fun."

Kat....

WallDog [page 2]::
Quote:
'Better Programming' is a cop-out answer. No matter how good the programming is or how strong the AI is, you can always say that if it was 'better' then things would be 'better.' That's a circular logic that just can't stand on its own. Current technology doesn't support 'better' as you envision it, Lexx.
WallDog [page 3]::
Quote:
So what can we do? Well, we can keep trying to 'get blood from a rock' and watch our genre shrink while other genres grow, or we can try to program things better...
-----------


The reason I posted the article about Microsoft's IT security chief using FireFox is because Kat can go to Microsoft's Stephen Toulouse and talk about the weather, Tailgunner can talk to Toulouse about the Beef Market, but nobody here can *talk* to Toulouse about web~browsers. I cannot talk to WallDog about flight simming. ;\) Sorry folks, but its weird to visit flight sim webboards and find a computer industry press release claiming offline simming has no future....like Intel's press claims about nobody needing 64bit desktop until 2008 while Unreal Tournament developers cry now for more than 4GB of memory.

Quote:
Current technology doesn't support 'better' as you envision it, Lexx.
Miro "Jamm0r" Torrielli does support 'better.' \:\)


WallDog [page 2]::
Quote:
Why doesn't anyone buy flight sims anymore? Because they are no longer fun.
Flight simmers, are flight sims no longer fun?
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 09/02/04 07:50 AM

McGonigle::
Quote:
No interface at all! \:D
A sloppy design of interface intrudes between game and gamer. A well crafted interface gives gaming Power to the gamer. It all falls back on the programming.

I'd love to see a flight sim interface that when you start the game every time, the basic interface shows click pictures of historical era trainers that the flight sim Newbie can fly. These should be rather large, and placed where they are in your face. Clicking these would start you in the air flying an easy to fly trainer. The trainer flying environment should be near an airfield for landing and touch~n~go practice perhaps. Other click buttons can start the Newbie on the airfield . Best of all, even old timers who have had the game for a while would be tempted to hop into these sweet flying trainers, so the interface is not for Newbies alone but would be useful to crusty old timers.

Experienced flight simmers installing their new sim may not like having to sit through recruiting officer video sequences or inputting their name into a text forms. Everybody here does already in their computing, and we most likely just filled in our names in the product registration form before starting the game. Be careful about asking for video sequences often seen in past sims. You may get what you ask for along with rocket armed Triplanes. The programming resources that has gone into the Cornball video sequences would have been better spent on programming the sim to be Newbie friendly without turning off the experienced flight simmer.

Word is that the new 1C:Maddox BoB will include flyable Bf~108 Taifun and Westland Lysander. A serious attempt at useful interface will place these easy aircraft where the Newbie cannot miss them at game startup. Just thinking of this alone makes me think that Maddox Games may bring the Re~Birth of the Flight Sim Genre...especially that Microsoft has retreated from the World War 2 flight sim market by cancelling 4FSC--Microsoft reatreating in the face of competition (Maddox) is a very rare event. :p If its flyable, I will be flying the Bf~108 all the time just for flying and so as experienced encrusted old timer would not mind Bf~108 being in my face at the game startup interface.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 09/02/04 03:05 PM

S! All!

I guess I'll start this thread by continuing to point out that Lexx_Luther refuses to debate rationally, preferring to create his own version of 'the other side' by misquoting, and then by making personal attacks. What is the motivation behind that Lexx? The best way to deal with thest kinds of tactics is to point out that they are being used - I'm going to continue accusing Lexx of using these tactics until he stops using them.

To Lexx's credit, he shows the skill of a politician in creating misquotes and clouding issues!

Here are his latest jabs:

WallDog [page 2]::
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
'Better Programming' is a cop-out answer. No matter how good the programming is or how strong the AI is, you can always say that if it was 'better' then things would be 'better.' That's a circular logic that just can't stand on its own. Current technology doesn't support 'better' as you envision it, Lexx.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

WallDog [page 3]::
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
So what can we do? Well, we can keep trying to 'get blood from a rock' and watch our genre shrink while other genres grow, or we can try to program things better...
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Lexx calls that a contradiction. It's easy to find contradictions like this in long posts, particularly when you are creative in taking quotes out-of-context! In the first quote I said that continiously calling for 'better programming' for AI a cop-out. In the second quote I call for programming things 'better.' It sure does sound like I want things both ways...

...until you read the ENTIRE second quote - including the parts Lexx chooses to omit! Here is the whole thing:

Quote:
That is not to say that you should't try to make 'better' AI, but it is to say that we should recognize that no matter how 'good' we make it, AI will never be 'good enough.'

So what can we do? Well, we can keep trying to 'get blood from a rock' and watch our genre shrink while other genres grow, or we can try to program things better, focusing more on experiences and less on pre-concieved notions of what constitutes 'online' or 'offline.' If we can break-down those traditional barriers we can start to experiment with environments that are neither 'online' nor 'offline,' but really a mix between the two. And then we can start to do some really intersting things like use real people when possible for the 'AI' portion of an offline campaign.
Not much of a contradiction when you read the whole thing. Both quotes carry the exact same theme - that 'better' computer AI is not by itself the answer.

In fact, I've been VERY consistent throughout. If you read all of my posts and do not read any of Lexx's, you'll see that. Lexx is very talented as a 'spin doctor' but at the end of the day it is still 'spin.'

Jeez Lexx - your misquotes are intentional. You can't win with a legitimate debate, so you resort to tricks and wordgames. Those tactics are only effective until someone points out that you are using them. Move past it.

OK.. Now that I've gotten that out of the way..

I'm really not all that concerned about 'giving away' the idea. I would like the opportunity to build this myself, but I'm a realist. The idea of taking an IT Manager out of the manafacturing world and giving him millions of dollars to build a flight sim will be a VERY hard pill to swallow for the publishing houses. It is very likely that I will not be able to get enough funding to start this project. I'll finish my full business plan and present it to venture capitalists and publishing houses, but it is likely I will not get any serious investment. It costs a lot of money to build a flight sim and I'm not willing to start this venture unless I get enough funding to make a legitimate attempt. I have a family to feed. I can't afford to take the kinds of risks associated shoe-string development budgets.

So what am I after then if I probably won't be able to build it? There are two other possibilities - one is that some existing development company will like the idea and decide that I am the right person to do it. I'd then be doing it as an employee in someone else's company.

The other possibility is that a development company (like the one that made WoW) might read this thread and say 'I can do that.' They will then steal my idea and run with it. That isn't really that big a deal to me. I'd prefer to do it myself (and think I would do a wonderful job!) but really my priority is in seeing a game like this come about. I'm much less concerned with who builds it than I am with seeing it happen.

What do I forsee for the future of simming? I forsee further development along the lines of 'Joint Operations' style games. I think the 'Massive Multiplayer Online War' concept represents the future of combat sims in general. It's tough to do a 'war' with a first-person shooter though. Even games like Joint Operations don't really have the feel of a real war. For that you need a real front line with missions that are created to impact the front and thus the war. Nobody has done that yet, but that is the direction I think things are heading.

Flight simulations are the perfect environment for such an endeavor. What do you do in a flight sim? You take off, fly a mission, and land. Even on dogfight servers you have some semblance of this. Take that and apply the 'massive multiplayer online war' to it, but spread it out over a wider front and make REAL missions that have a REAL impact on the war. Don't just have 'objective points' that change hands back and forth! Make a real strategic environment and let the cyber pilots have an impact on what happens. Think of it like 'Joint Operations meets Panzer General meets Red Baron 3D'.

I'm not going to re-hash the whole concept again here though. There is a seperate thread dedicated to that idea. Suffice it to say that I forsee options that will allow pilots to fly what will be essentially 'offline' campaigns using elements from the 'Massive Multiplayer Online War,' but doing so in such a way that it would still represent what is traditionally looked at as an 'offline' experience.

To me, it is all about the experiences you provide for the players. We are rapidly reaching the point where the average player won't care whether they are 'online' or 'offline' anymore. We should focus more on the actual experiences provided and less on how we provide those experiences. Once we take that perceptual step and focus on generating an experience rather than being 'offline' or 'online', we can do some very cool things.

More than that - the concept of taking online and offline elements and mixing them together is one that can be looked at globally. Any sim could do this. We have in the past always thought of simming as either an offline or an online experience. Sure - games usually support both - but no flight sim has ever been developed that allowed you to use elements of both AT THE SAME TIME.

Why do gaming environments have to be purely 'online' or purely 'offline'? Why can't we use different elements from both at the same time?

As for being an IT professonal, I think that is a strength. It allows me to bridge the gap between what would be 'cool' (which as a flight sim enthusiast I think I have a feel for) and what can actually be done! Lexx_Luther would like people to forget that I am a flight sim enthusiast AS WELL AS an IT professional. Lexx is also guilty of painting his view of 'IT Professionals' with a wide brush, applying negativity to ALL of us when really his comments probably only apply to a few...

Lexx - your turn... What are you going to misquote this time?
Posted By: FlyXwire

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 09/02/04 04:23 PM

Well pardon my French, but I must again assert:

L'art d'etre ennuyeux, c'est de tout dire.

(The art of being boring is to tell all.)

There can come a point in any lengthy conversation when it no longer resembles true discussion, and that point was reached in this thread days ago.

There have been many interesting points presented in this thread, and this will hopefully be the lessons learned from the endeavor.

Presenting your original ideas has been much appreciated Wall-dog!
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 09/02/04 05:39 PM

S! FlyXwire!

You are correct. We are at this point arguing for the sake of argumentation.

'Nuff said!
Posted By: Tailgunner

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 09/02/04 08:40 PM

Would that be just the 3 minute argument, or the full half hour ;\)
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 09/03/04 12:55 AM

We are at this point arguing for the sake of argumentation.

Agreed.


Okay WallDog, how does one play offline without internet connection with real human opponents?
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 09/03/04 04:13 AM

S! Walldog!

WallDog::
Quote:
I think the 'Massive Multiplayer Online War' concept represents the future of combat sims in general. It's tough to do a 'war' with a first-person shooter though. Even games like Joint Operations don't really have the feel of a real war. For that you need a real front line with missions that are created to impact the front and thus the war. Nobody has done that yet, but that is the direction I think things are heading.
Okay! now this is worthy of investing in.

Is this similar to TargetWare online war simming? Don't know much about TargetWare, but I may sign up when (and if) I upgrade this autumn. Just found this...and I thought it was to be played *only* on their servers--I was wrong and it reminds me of WallDog's posting that his/her idea of a sim can be played on a LAN...

Quote:
Introduction to the Targetware Flight Sim Environment
An Engine for Community-Developed Flight Sims

The Targetware Engine has been created with the goal of allowing the community of players to modify and change most things in the game including 3D Plane models, flight models, weapons, scenarios, campaigns, terrain, and buildings.

The engine itself is the base program (Targetware) and associated files. It is independent of the data modules (or 'mods'), such as Target Korea and Target Rabaul. To operate, the Targetware engine must have a data module installed. Without data installed, the sim won't operate.

Targetware is both a client and a server, enabling each player to host his own game with as many as 250 players. Server hosts can choose what options they wish to enable for their game, including what planes and scenarios are available.

Player-created material can be submitted for quality validation and official certification by Targetware staff. These officially sanctioned (and digitally signed) planes can then be used on Targetware official corporate servers, or on players' servers worldwide. Players are also able to certify (and digitally sign) their own personally designed aircraft, 3-D models and terrains for use on their servers and to share with others. At the same time, other players have the power to accept or reject these modifications, and maintain control over the environment they are providing.

The Targetware staff will continue to provide function and feature enhancements to the core engine, as well as new aircraft, terrains and other resources. However, we believe that the majority of new planes, flight models, cockpits, terrains, ground objects, personalized skins, etc., will be designed by the community at large.

With an open approach to graphics, flight models, terrains and even servers, Targetware combines extensibility and customization with a high-fidelity simulator that insures that everyone is playing by the same rules.

Scenarios and Campaigns
Targetware scenarios are an easy way to create exciting combat situations. With a simple text editor, they can be created or modified. These scenarios enable much of the tedium of flight to be avoided because players can begin in-flight. As soon as the scenario is won by either side, the next scenario begins, much like popular multiplayer first-person shooters, such as Counter-Strike.

Scenarios can be arranged into a branching tree that creates a small campaign, in which the outcome of one scenario determines which scenario will begin next. "Furball" style scenarios can also be developed, of course. Targetware gives you the tools, but you decide what to do with them.

For more information, please refer to the Targetware Developer's Guide.

~ http://www.targetware.net/documentation/tw_about.html

This is clearly written language that I understand. And it is very attractive.


WallDog [page 2]::
Quote:
Why doesn't anyone buy flight sims anymore? Because they are no longer fun.
Apologies for making so much fun WallDog, but its that type of webboard claim I find very false, and also the claims that offline simming has no future. Granted offline simming may not provide profit for your online war sim. That I also understand--and am wondering if that is why you make such claims. If you program and market well, you may attract offline simmers like TargetWare is attracting me now. Telling offline simmers they don't have fun is not the best marketing strategy.

Now, does anybody know how much a package of TargetWare will cost when it is finished, a package that, if I read TargetWare's statement correctly, can be set up on one's own server? Is this what WallDog means by massively ramping the price of flight sims? I was earlier thinking that I would accept higher flight sim prices if the developers put more programming into offline AI and battlefield environments that offer "a real front line with missions that are created to impact the front and thus the war." (not just dogfighter AI) This online server would also be worth the extra cost if it offers...

WallDog::
Quote:
...a real front line with missions that are created to impact the front and thus the war.
Sold! WallDog! \:\)

(S! means Sold!)


The most interesting thing is that both online and offline share about 95% (guess) of the game code and 100% of the modelling. There will be markets for both online and offline simming. Perhaps the best products will offer both. This begins to make sense.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre - 09/03/04 04:34 AM

Now....not trying to say TargetWare is "as good" or "better" than WallDog's idea. It may be, or may not. For one thing, TargeWare has no AI aircraft and apparently never will, but WallDog will allow the option of AI in his/her online war to flesh out the ranks if needed or desired, as he/she stated earlier. Thus WallDog's idea is the more advanced at least in this one area. And its an area very important to me.

WallDog for this to succeed with human opponents you need to make AI see clouds, lose at least some vision at dusk/dawn and even more loss at night. AI must be blinded by the sun. WallDog you can be the *first* to do all these together in one sim if you want. More programming efforts are needed than we have seen in many flight sims past.

And if we don't make fun, WallDog may allow Mods to create pure offline simming with the best AI ever made (at a profitable price of course).

Sold!
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