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One area where the progress of sims have failed me.

Posted By: MarkG

One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/21/19 07:44 PM

Quoting a Mr_Blastman post on the Microprose thead...

"What I loved about the early Microprose sims that were pre-1991 is they were quick and easy to get into. Missions were relatively short at about 15 minutes to half an hour, and the action picked up quickly and was quite intense. Plus they had charm and character. I didn't mind the lowered realism, and knew even then as a kid some of the stuff the planes sensors were doing such as perfect positional missile track, easy lock ons, hell--even the targeting button were impossible with 1980s technology, but I still didn't mind, because the total package of the sims made up for that."

++++++++++

After reading Red Storm Rising and Dangerous Ground (Larry Bond) back-to-back, and then starting again on The Hunt for Red October (having read them all numerous times already), I desperately wanted to play a sub sim. So once again I pulled out Dangerous Waters with a Manual that I'm sure cost me an entire printer cartridge (each platform has its own 3-ring binder). DW is quite an achievement of a game, graphics are great (as a DOS retro-simmer, they really are to me) and there's no complaining that the details are lacking or that the manual is boring. I appreciate it for what it is, I really do. And one day I'll actually learn how to play it properly (plotting my own firing solutions).

The problem is, overall the game is kind of stale, with none of the old magic sprinkled in with detailed realism. So after a while I put it aside and went digging through my games archives. What I found was 688 Attack Sub (1989) by John Ratcliff and EA Games (also with Paul Grace, a name I remember from Fighters Anthology and WWII Fighters, I think)...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/688_Attack_Sub

I'm having a blast with this game, even if the periscope view uses 2D sprites! eek Nothing like getting your orders from a dot-matrix printer and then getting your butt chewed for screwing up! biggrin

The follow-up (which I also have in waiting) is SSN-21 Seawolf (1994)...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SSN-21_Seawolf

...with updated graphics, although I've noticed there's no graphical display of the control room (see pic on first Wiki link). That's a disappointment, a small but nice touch in the first game, being able to mouse select a station. Also, I don't believe the second game has a damage screen with a sectional cutaway view of a 688 (although I could be wrong about that).

But the main thing to me (in a good way) is that some realism was sacrificed for better gameplay. From the 688 Attack Sub Manual...

================
Designer's Notes
By Paul Grace

When John, Randy, and I started 688 Attack Sub, we wanted to design a game where the strategic and tactical decisions that confront the player occur at a reasonably exciting pace. An attack sub isn't a jet fighter, of course, but we felt that a submarine game's potential for excitement and serious challenge was at least equal to that of an air combat simulator -- and given the things that today's billion-dollar subs can do, the potential might even be greater. However, creating a submarine game that's both reasonably accurate as a simulation yet exciting enough to play as a game presents certain problems. For example, a long-range (two-speed) torpedo can travel up to 40 miles, at speeds between 20 and 50 knots. Its run time could easily end up being more than 30 minutes long. If we changed the game scale so that this is compressed to a reasonable time frame for a game (say one or two minutes "real time"), then the speed of a helicopter (or worse, a missile) is so great that it can't even be represented!

To overcome this difficulty, we had to throw out "conventional" game design theories (as might be published in trade journals) and invent something truly radical. By selecting a "combat range" on the order of 15 miles, we've brought real excitement to an otherwise slow process. The game scale is such that ships move at a reasonable rate, torpedo run times are short enough to provide a fast feedback loop without the need for too much time compression. (In fact, by using this technique, time compression runs the entire game, not a simplified statistical model.) The bad news is: many weapons have incorrect maximum ranges.

Furthermore, (or, as we say at Electronic Arts, Farthermore,) we had to simplify several features present in modern submarine warfare. Some of these modifications were trivial (modern SONAR sounds more like a "warble" than a "ping"). Other modifications had real game impact -- for example, we decided to place the appropriate weapons on board your vessel at the start of each mission, which improved the play balance of the missions greatly. The US enjoys some strong advantages in weapons, and we wanted to focus on specific problems facing hunter-killer commanders, not the intricacies of weapons selection. For similar reasons, we left out nuclear "superweapons" that would rob you of long-term satisfaction. You'll have to pretend you've used them all up, you're stuck with what you have....

Please, NO telephone calls regarding the top speeds of the various submarines modelled in the game. The published data in Jane's Defense Weekly seems ludicrously low, while other sources would have us towing water-skiers behind our beloved Los Angeles. We picked what WE felt were reasonable speeds, and then balanced the game around those speeds.

Good hunting,
Paul Grace
==========

In this case, the shorter mission times really are more fun to me, while making it seem like I'm actually accomplishing something. F-19/F-117 solves this by making geographic distances shorter than real-life while having a faster than real-life game clock (as indicated on Waypoints MFD screen, updates every couple of real-time seconds while skipping some game-time seconds).

But the *real* disappointment to me is that the developer of Dangerous Waters (Sonalysts) apparently knows how to sprinkle in some of that extra immersive magic that you see in older titles (like their own Jane's 688(I) Hunter/Killer) but chose not to with their newer Dangerous Waters (couldn't find many Jane's 688 screens in English)...

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Posted By: PanzerMeyer

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/21/19 08:10 PM

It sounds like Blastman never played the Strike Fighters games because that series had exactly what he says he misses about flight sims.

And even current day sims like DCS and IL-2 Stalingrad have “quick missions” that you can generate and you can turn off most of the realism options to make the game simpler.

Sorry but I think this complaint isn’t really valid.
Posted By: Ssnake

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/21/19 08:12 PM

I think there's multiple factors at work.

1) It's easier to add switchology and better graphics to improve a title/over past titles from other developers that you might pick as your internal benchmark.
This is a consequence of manifest buying habits of the vast majority of customers in the target demographic. Few people are willing to look closer at a title if it looks terrible. Even if you consider good looks as a mere hygiene factor (=people may not go after the best possible looks (they do), but at least it shouldn't look terrible compared to market leaders) you can't uncouple from the trend towards flashier graphics. Theoretically all women on the 1-10 scale should be given a chance in the looks/personality matrix; in practice men are often discarding any girl that isn't at least a five (=by definition, above average). One can complain about it, or accept this reality.

2) Great gameplay is abstract, until after the purchase
When marketing is all about the art to motivate purchasing decisions, good gameplay is a highly indirect factor at best. It's more relevant for subscription models, actually. Whenever the business model is focused on one-time sales rather than recurring payments, the rational business strategy is to focus on features that are marketable, and treat engaging gameplay as a hygiene factor (see above). The saving grace for you and other game enthusiasts is that a lot of game developers aren't strictly rational in their product development strategy because they are largely enthusiasts too. The more the market drifts towards a game industry however, rational game development strategies will be rewarded better, on average.



There's more to it, but it's a Friday evening, so I'll leave it at that.
Posted By: MarkG

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/21/19 08:36 PM

PM, I'm not referring to Quick Missions, I'm referring to more accessible full campaign-style gameplay, but also the added graphical touches like you see in my pics.

For example, in Dangerous Waters, I want graphics to show me what the inside of the control room looks like, and with clickable stations [from the control room] like Jane's 688. And like Jane's, I want to see my sub docked and ready for loading of supplies, with voice dialogue to the Captain and background sounds of seagulls and the roaring ocean, again like Jane's. And I want to be able to occasionally retire to my quarters, like Janes.

Another example...

Ever did the multi-level Carrier walk-though in JetFighter III (Mission Studios)? Holy Moly!

Posted By: Mr_Blastman

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/21/19 08:56 PM

@ Panzer - haven't played Strike Fighters, but I probably should.

That said, I still love me some Falcon BMS here or there, because it still captures the dynamic, unpredictable battlefield like no other that those early Microprose sims "seemed" to have.

What's not to love in 1986's Gunship, flying around the map in a hulking death metal bird that churns the air into cloudy, smokey chum as your rain hot death and hellfire onto melting armored corpses as soldiers scurry for cover while clutching their prayer beads? Gunship 2000 was pretty badass, too.

And then the 'ole homestead strafing run in F-19 Stealth fighter, just for good measure to keep your adversary's peasants in check after a recon run gone bad. #%&*$# those Mig-29s. Got 'em all. And now they'll pay for spilling my coffee from my camelback.

Posted By: MarkG

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/21/19 09:18 PM

Another example where the DOS-era sims had an advantage...

You could make the front-page of a newspaper or have a news reporter "say" anything you wanted. A person was just a still graphic with moving lips, and text scrolling across the screen. With some creative coding, you could even have news briefs to reflect a dynamically changing situation...

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By making it real, while impressive looking, limited what could be said as it's just a video playback. No dynamic possibilities and over time you tire of hearing the same exact reports...

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I know we can never go back to those cool front-ends and walk-through (TFX's pre-mission screens are far more immersive than EF2000, even if EF2000 is a much better sim). It's just a shame we can only look back at those features with warm nostalgia (like 80's Rock videos), knowing that we'll never have those uncomfortable meetings with our superiors again...

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Posted By: PanzerMeyer

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/21/19 09:30 PM

What you guys are really talking about is “immersion” and I do agree that current day flight sims are lacking in that area. The simplest explanation I can give is that Eastern European developers don’t think the same way as Western developers so different aspects will be emphasized while others are ignored.
Posted By: MarkG

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/21/19 09:31 PM

Originally Posted by Mr_Blastman
And then the 'ole homestead strafing run in F-19 Stealth fighter, just for good measure to keep your adversary's peasants in check after a recon run gone bad. #%&*$# those Mig-29s. Got 'em all. And now they'll pay for spilling my coffee from my camelback.


Lol. See you at the bar after your debriefing (can't find an F-19 bar scene screenshot).

Lol (from F-117A)...

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Posted By: No105_Archie

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/21/19 11:52 PM

I agree with PMs comments on the elusive immersion factor. I played EAW off line for hundreds of hours and on-line with friends for hundreds more. Whne IL-2 came out the on-line experience was better but the offline game IMO was horrible. I actually had EAW installed long after I had stopped playing IL-2 .
Posted By: Coot

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/22/19 07:46 AM

I think my very first experience with any sim was with a demo of 688 Attack Sub. My grandfather made my sister and I some 5" floppies of some small games like Frogger, Mummy and some sort of side scrolling WW1 biplane game as well as some demos. One of those was 688 Attack Sub. It fascinated me and I loved the graphic style and I remember well that dot matrix printer typing out orders and the sound of it. This was on an old Tandy computer and I have a memory of the sound not always working so when it would decide to work, I was thrilled because then I could hear the sound of the torpedoes hitting.

Immersion is what I miss most out of sims. Most sims are missing that special element of yesteryear. The old games can't do a fraction of what modern sims do technically but they always managed to do what modern sims today consistently fail to do. It doesn't seem to take that much either to breath some character into them because for the most part it was simply the way they used art and music and in game screen menus and being clever. They did a lot with a little. I even miss the full motion video stuff like in Navy Fighters, Top Gun Fire at Will and Jedi Knight Dark Forces 2.

I've always wished someone could develop a solid engine base with good flight modeling, physics, damage modeling, weather, dynamic campaign generation with plenty of design tools to create in-game, non-flight immersion fluff to flesh things out that was moddable so that we could get unique eras of aviation and military aviation. That way someone could make a Test Pilot sim out of it and let us fly over the desert Southwest in all the X planes and interesting lifting body and misc. experimental aircraft but with the visual presentation and soul of the old sims. Then maybe someone could make a Korea War Naval sim out of it.

I suppose if someone out there really wants to make it happen with regards to bringing back old school sim charm they'll do it they want and have the money. I know it seems that there is not the same interest or customer base as back in those days for this kind of product but I suspect many people out there would really take to it including people who are a generation of people who just don't know anything about it so they don't know that they may like it. Even today I see that many people still desire the old school adventure games including newer generations who seem to be just discovering it for themselves and they genre and seem to appreciate the aesthetic, charm and even totally different kind of game play that they are used to. I tend to think that if its done right, it could very well be one of those situations where, "If you build it, they will come".
Posted By: VF9_Longbow

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/22/19 08:51 AM

You know the sad thing is, making these kinds of cutscenes and storylines possible is not a difficult thing at all.

In fact a lot of games can already do this but the mission designers just choose not to because it's too much work to make the press videos, the news stories etc.

In games that don't have the ability to do it yet, the developers would need to add a few small changes to the code to read the results of the mission i.e. units destroyed, ownship state, etc. then fire off a trigger the mission designer has set when the mission ends. The triggers would dictate which debrief message is played, which video is played, which graphic is displayed, etc. Same thing at the start of a mission. Not something hard to do as long as the game already has a briefing / debriefing screen. Most games would only require the addition of an inline video player, code that can be copy pasted in about 10 seconds.

I'm always disappointed when I browse around looking for simulator missions and find the briefings rife with spelling errors, lacking important information or being completely unrealistic in general. I recall a Dangerous Waters mission I downloaded that had a briefing that went something like this - "Shote yuor tomahokws and KCIK THAT RUSIAN AS#$". Placed the sub a few miles away from the target with a billion enemies nearby and that was that. Hmm.

I played through the Arma 3 campaign recently and quite enjoyed most of it. Unfortunately it doesn't seem like it was dynamic, I don't think my actions really affected the flow of the game much..it's just a branching campaign. But still, most of the story was decent, the voice acting was good and so were the cutscenes made within the game itself. I disliked how the game ended, it felt like the team ran out of money or time to continue developing the campaign, but at the same time I felt slightly attached to some of the characters I came across, something that hasn't happened in a while for me with a game.
Posted By: Docjonel

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/22/19 03:05 PM

Sonalyst Studios is just down the road from me on I-95 in Waterford, Connecticut.
I used to know one of the guys who worked on Dangerous Waters. They also did software for the navy. One of their big issues was dumbing down Dangerous Waters enough so they did not divulge any of the classified data they used for their naval software.
I remember they were disappointed at the low sales of Dangerous Waters.
Posted By: PanzerMeyer

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/22/19 03:15 PM

Dangerous Waters would have sold better had it had more multiplayer options. Not being able to save a mission in multiplayer was quite absurd when you realize some of those missions could easily take 4-5 hours to complete.
Posted By: MarkG

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/22/19 03:34 PM

Cool story, Docjonel.

To Sonalysts' credit, they still provide patches for their games...

Dangerous Waters
Sub Command
[Jane's] Fleet Command
[Jane's] 688(I) Hunter Killer

http://www.sonalystscombatsimulations.com/dangerous_waters/index.html

And it looks like they may still be doing something...
http://sonalysts.com/products/combat-simulations/

++++++++++

Yeah, PM said it correctly, it's overall immersion that I'm missing.

Problem is that those cool front-ends, news reports and other immersive touches (sounds of seagulls, roaring ocean and dot-matrix printer) would likely come off as cheesy nowadays (like an 80's Mötley Crüe video). We had no choice back in the day but to accept pixelated 320x200 or 640x480 artwork, some of it being very good and imaginative. Today it would have to be photographic quality and that's never going to happen in the same way as with the old titles.

But then I guess everything I've mentioned is far more important with the single-player experience which has mostly been forgotten.
Posted By: Coot

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/23/19 03:28 AM

I remember installing Sub Command some years ago and being pleasantly surprised how well graphically it looked. Its been a long time but it obviously was a big step up from Janes 688i and if memory serves, even though its an older game, I think I liked its sea rendering and shader more than Dangerous Water's. I could be wrong but I remember Sub Command's water looking pretty nice when you enable the graphic option for optimal appearance. I loved Janes 688i though much of it was over my head. I loved the sounds and immersion and I liked dropping off or picking up Navy SEALs. Remeber the great intro? I think that sloshing coffee cup is imprinted in my mind forever. Man I miss those days. I wish I had all my boxes but that just wasn't something I though about. I kept them for awhile but eventually I had to get rid of them. I still have all my manuals though. I used to read them in school.

Here's Janes 688i intro with "making of" video



Here's 688 Attack Sub dot matrix printer!

Posted By: DM

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/23/19 08:44 AM

Originally Posted by VF9_Longbow
You know the sad thing is, making these kinds of cutscenes and storylines possible is not a difficult thing at all.

In fact a lot of games can already do this but the mission designers just choose not to because it's too much work to make the press videos, the news stories etc.

In games that don't have the ability to do it yet, the developers would need to add a few small changes to the code to read the results of the mission i.e. units destroyed, ownship state, etc. then fire off a trigger the mission designer has set when the mission ends. The triggers would dictate which debrief message is played, which video is played, which graphic is displayed, etc. Same thing at the start of a mission. Not something hard to do as long as the game already has a briefing / debriefing screen. Most games would only require the addition of an inline video player, code that can be copy pasted in about 10 seconds.

I'm always disappointed when I browse around looking for simulator missions and find the briefings rife with spelling errors, lacking important information or being completely unrealistic in general. I recall a Dangerous Waters mission I downloaded that had a briefing that went something like this - "Shote yuor tomahokws and KCIK THAT RUSIAN AS#$". Placed the sub a few miles away from the target with a billion enemies nearby and that was that. Hmm.

I played through the Arma 3 campaign recently and quite enjoyed most of it. Unfortunately it doesn't seem like it was dynamic, I don't think my actions really affected the flow of the game much..it's just a branching campaign. But still, most of the story was decent, the voice acting was good and so were the cutscenes made within the game itself. I disliked how the game ended, it felt like the team ran out of money or time to continue developing the campaign, but at the same time I felt slightly attached to some of the characters I came across, something that hasn't happened in a while for me with a game.


I never really play any of the Arma campaigns, preferring instead to create scenarios that are randomised within parameters, to give me the same "mission" each time but with different starting conditions and randomised placements, equipment makeups and routings. But as I remember them from when I have tried them, the campaigns are only "dynamic" in that you start the next phase of a campaign with whatever you've managed to gather or retain from the previous phase.
Posted By: rollnloop.

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/23/19 11:14 AM

Stock Arma campaigns are not exactly dynamic, but there are dynamic missions from users. Anyway cut scenes aren't exactly arma's strenght.
Posted By: MarkG

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/23/19 07:05 PM

Coot, that's a wonderful story about your grandfather and thank you for those videos. cheers
Posted By: Evil Flower

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/23/19 09:44 PM

We tried to have that 'immersion' factor in both Atlantic Fleet and Cold Waters.
Posted By: Mad Max

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/24/19 12:06 AM

Actually for immersion, the original PC Harpoon took some beating. I remember once lying doggo in a Soviet submarine for what seemed like ages to sink a US CVN with a wake-following torpedo as the task force passed over me. There were so many scenarios from Patrol Boat right up to a full nuclear exchange. Excellent stuff and this game is still on my PC.
Posted By: PanzerMeyer

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/24/19 11:25 AM

Originally Posted by Evil Flower
We tried to have that 'immersion' factor in both Atlantic Fleet and Cold Waters.



It's my understanding that Cold Waters sold very well on Steam.
Posted By: Raw Kryptonite

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/24/19 02:35 PM

Sims have become higher fidelity, but for some reason lost the fun that should accompany it. Structured campaigns AND dynamic campaigns, stories, characters, various environments...
I guess it bouls down to spending money to do one aspect intensely, but leaving the rest by the wayside.

As for naval gmes, there seem to be several sub sims, but why not battleship/cruiser/destroyer/carrier? I love running them in the Battlestations games, but those aren’t sims. I don’t want to play a sub. Even in a strategy format instead of first person sim would be great. And not just text missions, make it actually fun to play something more on the serious side.
Posted By: PanzerMeyer

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/24/19 02:50 PM

Originally Posted by Raw Kryptonite


As for naval gmes, there seem to be several sub sims, but why not battleship/cruiser/destroyer/carrier? I love running them in the Battlestations games, but those aren’t sims. I don’t want to play a sub. Even in a strategy format instead of first person sim would be great. And not just text missions, make it actually fun to play something more on the serious side.



World of Warships is wildly popular but I don't think that qualifies as a sim for some people.
Posted By: Raw Kryptonite

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/24/19 03:13 PM

It’s fun for sure, but yeah, it’s more MMO style combat. I have no problem with that, like War Thunder tanks/ships too, but I would like a new Battlestations with more detail and possible involvement and management. Ideally, to be able to be ON a ship, even if it means shortcuts to get around.
Posted By: DBond

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/24/19 04:14 PM

I disagree that the classic sims were decidedly more immersive than what we have now. I think it's 'we' that changed.

Think about it. I loved EAW too. But what about it was 'immersive'? There was a screen that had some period doodads, like a pocket watch, some pencils, probably a medal, a scarf, a snapshot of a Mosquito or something, that sort of stuff. That was it! Other than that it featured campaigns that were little more than connected single missions, where the front line moved. Very basic, yet it's remembered as a great campaign system.

Longbow 2. So immersive right? Why? It had that little base you looked at and clicked on the different buildings. It had the cool opening video of the Apache stalking some APCs or something. Even the campaign was quite simplistic and barebones, but at the time, it was all new and better than what came before. So we loved it, and remember how much we loved it. We don't love that stuff as much now.

We ate it up and remember it fondly, but as time has gone on that stuff no longer holds the same sway over us it once did. Like Panzer said, nostalgia is powerful.
Posted By: F4UDash4

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/24/19 04:28 PM

Originally Posted by Raw Kryptonite

As for naval gmes, there seem to be several sub sims, but why not battleship/cruiser/destroyer/carrier? I love running them in the Battlestations games, but those aren’t sims. I don’t want to play a sub. Even in a strategy format instead of first person sim would be great. And not just text missions, make it actually fun to play something more on the serious side.



Amen brother!

I would love to have a destroyer sim covering just the Guadalcanal campaign. Night battles, naval gunfire support missions for the Marines ashore, anti-submarine patrols, anti-aircraft cover for the transports unloading in the daytime. That would be fantastic. It just seems to me that Ubi could accomplish this easily with the SHIV engine.
Posted By: F4UDash4

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/24/19 04:33 PM

Originally Posted by DBond


We ate it up and remember it fondly, but as time has gone on that stuff no longer holds the same sway over us it once did. Like Panzer said, nostalgia is powerful.


Nostalgia plays a big part but there was also something about the old Sims that hasn't been replicated recently. 1942 Pacific Air War for instance had a wide range of missions, wide range of aircraft and the ability to conduct carrier battles at the tactical level. Nothing like that exists today.

Falcon 4 dynamic campaign hasn't been matched since either.
Posted By: Dart

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/24/19 04:45 PM

Not this "immersion" sh*t again.

I guess I was ahead of my time, but in the old sims all the rinky-dink "immersion features" usually wound up making me sigh. I do not want to click on a map in a briefing room to get the next mission, or the typewriter to change settings, in the main menu. I never once cared about an AI squadmate, and never once wanted to manage a squadron. I signed up to fly missions. I'll leave the management and strategy to others; in a historical sim, NOTHING a single pilot does should change the outcome of the war one iota (unless one is playing Let's Nuke Japan).

While we bemoan the "Achievement Awarded" generation, we played simulations that handed out awards as if they were mints in a bowl on the commander's desk.

Cut scenes? How many times did I see that guy running through no-man's land in Red Baron?

Of all the classic sims, from Aces of the Pacific to Red Baron 3D, did I ever think to myself "Hey, let's jump in and see what the engaging campaign has in store for me! Maybe there will be a neat briefing or something!" I was just there for the flying.

For me, the best story or narrative is the one I create for myself. Loads of people knock both the IL-2 series and Rise of Flight for lacking "immersion," but I never had a problem putting myself in the world and filling in the thankfully large blanks. Indeed, forcing a narrative on me seems like they're telling me how to feel about things and events.

[edit]

If there is any failing in modern sims, it's making a living world. We still haven't gotten to the computing power to populate the ground in an interesting way for flight sims. Would I like to see a "persistent" world, where if I damage a bridge in one mission I see repair work going on the next? Yeah, I would. But it's not a show stopper.
Posted By: PanzerMeyer

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/24/19 04:51 PM

Originally Posted by Dart

While we bemoan the "Achievement Awarded" generation, we played simulations that handed out awards as if they were mints in a bowl on the commander's desk.





You mean to tell me that USAAF pilots didn't get the Congressional Medal of Honor after downing 10 German planes???


wink
Posted By: MarkG

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/24/19 05:42 PM

Persistent world, yes please, thumbsup

I'm flying through these DOS submarine sims and will eventually find my way back to Dangerous Waters. Then I'll seek DW mods to see if I can get that illusive old-school single-player immersion I'm looking for.

BTW, kudos to Cold Waters with the 1984 campaign (including President Reagan's resolve). 1984+ is the time-frame I do all of my simming and I will look into this sim one day with a newer PC.
Posted By: DBond

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/24/19 06:09 PM

Originally Posted by MarkG


see if I can get that illusive old-school single-player immersion I'm looking for.




Interesting misspell smile (Illusion/elusive)

What is an example of what you are trying to recapture? Which title most encapsulates the single-player immersion you are looking for?

And I think Falcon is an outlier, and while it's my most-played, most-loved sim of all time, I think you can't really use it as an example, as it was far and away better than anything else, and remains so to this day.

I'd argue that to an extent, immersion is a state of mind, something we 'allow' to happen. What stimulates this for me is the environment. For example, how realistic is the flak? Contrails? Does the furball have sufficient aircraft? Is the radio chatter believable and realistic? Does the damage model believably reflect the cause? People slag Il-2 as lacking immersion, and I get it. But remember the corkscrew smoke trails left by the cannon rounds? So cool. That's an immersive touch, and one that I don't think any prior sim had had.

For me, the GUI screen isn't something that makes, or does not make a sim immersive. It's not the awards screen or the debrief or cutscenes. It's the environment you find yourself in when playing it. Does it feel like you would imagine the real thing to be? Today's sims are in many respects closer to this than the ones we remember so fondly, where the skies were more empty, and graphical and sound touches less than more modern ones that are dismissed.
Posted By: MarkG

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/24/19 06:32 PM

Yeah, that's what I get for bypassing college. smile

Two major Dangerous Waters requests (so far)...

#1 A sub walk-through. Doesn't have to be real-time 3D, just give me an idea of what the inside of the 688 looks likes, not just selected scanners and a periscope view. At least have as much as Jane's 688 with pics of the rooms (real photos or or graphics art). I've never played Jane's 688 so I'm only going by what I see in the screenshots, some on my first post.

#2 A working in-game damage diagram...

[Linked Image]



Attached picture 688_Attack_Damage_Screen.JPG
Posted By: F4UDash4

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/24/19 06:51 PM

Originally Posted by DBond

And I think Falcon is an outlier, and while it's my most-played, most-loved sim of all time, I think you can't really use it as an example, as it was far and away better than anything else, and remains so to this day.




But it is over TWENTY YEARS OLD. Graphics have improved vastly in that time, but no one has surpassed the F4 dynamic campaign in that time. I refuse to give sim makers a pass on this.
Posted By: Mr_Blastman

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/24/19 07:20 PM

+1

Falcon's campaign is the best and has ruined campaign play in any other sim. EECH comes pretty close though, and totally captures that oldschool 1980s Gunship feel. But EECH came out in the late 90s, too...


And wasn't designed by Russians.
Posted By: MarkG

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/24/19 07:30 PM

The best I could find, the first 5 or 6 minutes shows a lot of what I'm looking for...



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STLZMQi5vIo

...so maybe I'll just stop when I get to Jane's 688(I) Hunter/Killer.
Posted By: MarkG

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/24/19 07:44 PM

^ Actually watching the video through, this guy shows a lot of what I'm talking about.
Posted By: Coot

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/24/19 08:26 PM

I enjoyed things like the second CD that came with Janes ATF Gold with all of the real video footage of military planes and all the different Jane's level military information on military platforms it had on them in a condensed format. I also loved Lonbow 2's main screen layout and how different clicks moved you to different areas of the menus that played out like you were moving to and through different locations of the Army base and it incorporated some animations. I liked the pilot's locker room area and clicking on your own locker for some sort of menu with your flight helmet above. I really liked all things like that in the older sims. All these little things added charm and immersion for a player like me. Not only for the reasons mentioned, but I think I'm also drawn to these elements because I was exposed to art graphic and text heavy games/educational games early on like Odell Lake and The Oregon Trail.

Immersion doesn't necessarily mean world or game changing stuff. Immersion can equate to personality at least for me. Many new sims are stale and lack the immersive personality of the older sims in my opinion. I liked that 2D animated fan on the commander's desk with an aircraft in a hanger in the background and the sound of aircraft going overhead and mechanics at work. It doesn't have to be much but these little things add huge flavor to the experience for someone like me. I like flight rosters and briefing/debriefing screens and 2D art drawn pad and pencil in a pilot's hand and that small cut scene of your airplane leaving the hanger and so on.

As far as a newer sim that I think got some of that right is Rise of Flight. It doesn't have the campaign generation like some older sims did better but I love the aesthetic including the animated training segments that are voice acted and how the main screen is a rotating display of whatever your current aircraft selected is and how it hangs earned medals on your main screen which you yourself can manage and move around or hide.
Posted By: Raw Kryptonite

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/24/19 09:06 PM

Anyone familiar with Atlantic Fleet? Window shopping on Steam and it SOUNDS good, but I haven't looked up video yet.
https://store.steampowered.com/app/420440/Atlantic_Fleet/

ABOUT THIS GAME
Turn based tactical and strategic naval combat. Atlantic Fleet puts you in command of the Allies or Kriegsmarine (German Navy) in the longest military campaign of WWII, The Battle of the Atlantic.

Take command of surface ships, submarines as well as carrier and land based aircraft in the deadly struggle for control of Atlantic shipping lanes.
Protect convoys as the Allies or go on the offensive with deadly submarine wolf packs and surface raiders of the German Navy.
Play through 30 historical Single Missions or make your own with the Custom Battle editor.
Take on 50 mission campaigns for each navy and build your own fleet.
Recreate the challenges of the Battle of the Atlantic as you play a Dynamic Campaign with limited resources, historical units, actual convoy routes and real world-based weather.

Features:
No Advertising. No Pay-to-Progress. One Price = full Game
A unique blend of deep strategic planning combined with quick tactical decisions
Play as the Allies or Kriegsmarine (German navy)
Up to 10 versus 10 ships in combat
3 Game Modes:
1) Single Battle Editor along with 30 Historical Missions for standalone combat
2) Campaigns of 50 missions per faction
3) Full Dynamic Campaign from 1939 to 1945
Sink ships with realistic buoyancy physics, not with hit-point bars!
Target specific ship subsystems to sink or cripple the enemy
62 historical ship classes representing over 630 ships and 450 submarines
13 aircraft
Submarine warfare, wolf packs and convoys
Carrier operations and land-based air strikes
Posted By: MarkG

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/24/19 09:08 PM

Coot gets it. cheers Well, probably everyone here gets it, just not everyone wants or cares about it. smile

Once more about the Jane's 688 gameplay video I posted above, the player/commentator (who apparently has played lots of Dangerous Waters) also gets it and makes several references to those nice touches in Jane's 688 that weren't carried forward.
Posted By: Raw Kryptonite

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/24/19 09:18 PM

I see what you mean, and I agree. It doesn't take a lot to put the player in the environment. Just a few visual and auditory cues to set the mood. The recent Battletech game is like that. Static images, but voiced and it has a basic story that play along with doing what you want when you want. After the story, you just keep on playing. On the Xbox360 Over G FIghters was similar. Just enough effort to give you a sense of some surroundings other than your desk in front of you. LOL
Most sims have the character of a spreadsheet.
Even tiny efforts to create the illusion of "living the life" goes a long way. It doesn't take much.
Posted By: F4UDash4

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/24/19 10:15 PM

Originally Posted by Raw Kryptonite
Anyone familiar with Atlantic Fleet?

.........

Turn based....



I've played it a bit but the turn based play is what kills it for me.
Posted By: PanzerMeyer

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/25/19 11:03 AM

I think one of the most accurate things said about current day flight sims is that they are wonderful to play while you are inside the cockpit but they are dull as heck when you are outside the cockpit.
Posted By: Raw Kryptonite

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/25/19 05:21 PM

Originally Posted by F4UDash4
Originally Posted by Raw Kryptonite
Anyone familiar with Atlantic Fleet?

.........

Turn based....



I've played it a bit but the turn based play is what kills it for me.



I’m ok with TBS but it does seem a little too simplified to play for long. Not bad for $10 though.
Posted By: MarkG

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/25/19 05:55 PM

Originally Posted by PanzerMeyer
I think one of the most accurate things said about current day flight sims is that they are wonderful to play while you are inside the cockpit but they are dull as heck when you are outside the cockpit.

Graphically, I'm ok with that. I never cared much about any details that a pilot or captain couldn't realistically see from the cockpit or normal outside station (on a ship or submarine).

But I know you're talking about gameplay, and in some cases it really hasn't improved, has it? Like never having to play the same mission twice (even if campaign auto-generated missions are sometimes similar, the environment is not). We've had this since the days of DOS!...

[Linked Image]

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Always loved in EF2000 that you can add a re-fueling waypoint to a mission (if you have any re-fuelers left) or have AWACS vector you to one on-the-fly (although you may have to wait in line)...

[Linked Image]


You can also watch an entire campaign play out in fast-forward over several game days on the 2D maps without ever flying a mission, as the Russians invade south and conquer Norway.

All in DOS in 1995, almost 25 years ago! eek2

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Posted By: wormfood

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/25/19 08:40 PM

Originally Posted by PanzerMeyer
I think one of the most accurate things said about current day flight sims is that they are wonderful to play while you are inside the cockpit but they are dull as heck when you are outside the cockpit.


The one I rally noticed this on was when Rise of Flight first released. The planes and flying were awesome. Most single missions were also well done.
But, outside of your mission there was nothing. The whole beautiful map looked good for just flying but was so empty and clinical. Only your flight and the enemy flight would spawn. Maybe bombers if it was an intercept or escort, and then the ground targets for it.

The WWI flight sim I played before that was Red Baron 3, there were loads of aircraft all around. If you went off the mission and hung around an enemy airfield, they scrambled against you and it seemed there was an actual world war going on.


And another note: What I hate most about scripted campaigns are the stupid and unrealistic goals they make you meet. Like, shoot down 20 bombers, well, that's just impossible with realistic ammo loadouts. Even with unlimited ammo it's still outrageous. I think Microsoft Combat Flight simulator had a few of those.
Posted By: Coot

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/26/19 09:21 PM

Its been a long time since I played it, but I also enjoyed Combat Flight Simulator 2 and its simplistic comic book style art design and very little animation it used for the personality or world building. Super simple but beautiful to look at and adds that little bit of immersion needed to ground the player into the little world its creating.

I think the presentation and art style of CFS2 married to Pacific Fighters would be a great combination. That'd make me a happy camper and all it is are 2D drawings with minimum animation used to bring life and atmosphere to an otherwise plain simulation. Speaking of CFS2, I remember loving that Pacific theater and all that blue water and little island strips. I saw it being demoed at our local CompUSA back when and later bought it at Walmart I think.


This is the intro, but poking around other game play videos to remind myself of the game's layout, you can see little comic book style art inserts for debriefings throughout the game.
Posted By: Dart

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/27/19 03:08 PM

Quote

The WWI flight sim I played before that was Red Baron 3, there were loads of aircraft all around. If you went off the mission and hung around an enemy airfield, they scrambled against you and it seemed there was an actual world war going on.



The lack of triggers for events in the RoF world is a valid observation.* Even if it was very predictable, having scouts scramble from aerodromes in RB3D was nice. And lost between Red Baron II and Red Baron 3D were the little green men sprites that could be seen rushing across the front, which was a huge loss. They looked cheesy and cartoonish, but everyone forgave that because they were there in the first place.

And that's part of the problem.

We're all chasing "realism" to the point where we're throwing the baby out with the bath water. If there's a vehicle moving along the ground, well, it better have moving wheels and simulate a suspension!

We also want "realistic" realism, which is usually completely unrealistic. If we come across the enemy and they act clueless, it's just poor AI - but in fact most pilots who were shot down never saw their attacker until it was too late. If they run away when the odds are against them, it's frustrating. If there's not a lot of movement on the ground, the world is empty.

One of the things that have struck me in my Real Life flying around at 1,500 feet above the ground is how little is really going on beneath me (that I can see). Apart from the Interstate, vehicles are pretty sparse, and in the country the cows really don't do anything at all. One would think they could move around a little to improve my sense of activity down there. I give the devs a solid C- on the whole modelling of the landscape. Some of the land formation stuff looks hokey and made up, too, with ridges just placed almost haphazardly in some cases.

* While RoF at least has a trigger system in the program, it's not hard baked into the world map like it was in the Red Baron series. At least it has one; the IL-2 series lacks them entirely!
Posted By: rwatson

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/27/19 05:42 PM

Coot some where along the line I picked up a mod that has actual colorized photos for all the selection screens .i found two sets one was black and white the other set was color..I still fly CFS2 every few days It's a lot easier than flying the Pacific than IL-2 Although IL-2 has better looking carriers
Posted By: PanzerMeyer

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/27/19 05:46 PM

My biggest problem with flying in the Pacific in IL-2 is that the missions were so lifeless because you would see fleets of like 3 ships maximum and like 5 planes attacking them. The scale was simply too small.
Posted By: semmern

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/27/19 06:49 PM

Jane’s F-18 was very atmospheric and immersive even without a dynamic campaign. It is difficult to put one’s finger on what makes a sim great vs another one that is percieved as sterile, but I guess several little components, bits of realistic radio chatter here, a nice cockpit there, some menu music, a dab of well thought-out mission briefings and, most importantly of all IMO, a sense that you’re taking part in a world rather than just flying a detailed 3D model painted on a background, all help to set an immersive sim apart from a sterile one.

Maybe I’m a simple man, but some of my favourite sim moments have been dogfights in Wings over Vietnam and WOE, and Jane’s USAF, as well as WWII Fighters and JF18.

I give you..the greatest sim intro of all time. After watching that, and I hardly ever skipped it when starting USAF, I was always ready to kick some serious butt!

Posted By: Coot

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/27/19 08:10 PM

Thanks rwatson for that info. I'm really interested in trying out B.A.T. mod after watching Sgt. Fresh's videos in the screenshot/video section. I'm not to savvy on modding IL-2 but I may give it a go. If its easy to mod, maybe those screens would be enough to spruce up Pacific Fighters a bit.

That is a great video semmern. I probably haven't heard it in years but that music came right back to me.
Posted By: rwatson

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/27/19 09:47 PM

Coot there's BAT and also this https://www.sas1946.com/main/index.php?topic=50919.0 WW II only and is easier to setup..And M4T has lots of careers..I have a USMC that runs from
1943 through 1968 ..Very good as long as I'm not killed..Actually I have 5 separate installs of modded IL-2 and prefer the Pacific
Posted By: Scott Elson

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/27/19 10:36 PM

Originally Posted by semmern
Jane’s F-18 was very atmospheric and immersive even without a dynamic campaign.


I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Story time, hopefully you haven't heard too much of this before. I remember playing MicroProse's F-19 and there were times when I'd be RTB'ing with some MiGs on my tail. Often I'd buzz some of our cruisers hoping they'd somehow engage the bandits making my life a lot easier but no joy. I got so frustrated that I created a new pilot who went rogue and blew up a bunch of friendly assets and landed at an enemy airfield. I discovered you couldn't keep a negative score and you couldn't defect. I vowed that if I ever had a chance to make flight sims that if possible stuff like this wouldn't happen to anyone else.

So a few years later I got into game development and after a few projects I had the chance to work on the AI for Fleet Defender. This was a dream opportunity for me. FD was based off of the code for F-15 III but the AI code had been around a lot longer than that and they figured it was a good time for an upgrade, especially with the change in focus of the game. In the previous games the enemy planes would be spawned when the Player was detected and there would only be one group at a time. Of course when that AI was initially created they had to get around some pretty limited hardware so I don't fault them at all for this. I set it up so that so that any planes in the world would be there from the start unless they were something like replacements for the Ready 5 aircraft and so would be "spawned" below decks or on an airfield. I also really didn't like the idea of encounters feeling canned so instead of telling them specifically what to do I gave them behaviors/jobs. AIs had waypoints to follow at the beginning and upon reaching a waypoint that might change the behavior for the flight, like "start attack run" (with details on what the targets were, profile for the run and such), but there was a Command AI that could change the tasking for a group or just interactions with other elements would mean they'd have to adapt. This meant that the designers could just layout the basic mission but they didn't have to worry about the minutiae. It also helped with the problem of if you assume a Player will do things one way you can be sure they won't. The comms just came out from the AIs doing their jobs. People quickly realized in FD that it was no longer "You Against the World" but with the extra audio we could had for JF-15 and then expanded upon for JF/A-18 it was even more evident about how much other activity was going on in the world.

If we had done another game after JF/A-18 I probably would have been doing a dynamic campaign. We already had persistent damage in the game and my guys could already adapt to a changing situation so most of the work would have been developing an AI to generate the missions, probably between the Player's missions and in a mission format similar to what we already had, taking into account how the conflict was going, the priorities for the different sides and the resources that were available. With doing what I felt was a pretty good job with the full co-op multiplayer in JF/A-18 that would have been the last big bucket list thing I would have wanted to accomplish in a flight sim. Part of me was bummed that I didn't get the opportunity but we were so fried from the past few games that when EA decided it was time to move us to something else we were mostly OK with it. A few years later I was queried about my interest in doing a dynamic campaign for another sim but this would have been a contract position and once that was done I'd be having to find another job so I figured it was better to stick with a full time position.

Elf
Posted By: wheelsup_cavu

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/28/19 03:02 AM

Originally Posted by PanzerMeyer
My biggest problem with flying in the Pacific in IL-2 is that the missions were so lifeless because you would see fleets of like 3 ships maximum and like 5 planes attacking them. The scale was simply too small.

You never flew any of my revamped Coral Sea QMB missions that were included in v4.13 then. I tried to liven the templates up quite a bit.
Left most of the images as links on purpose.

http://www.mission4today.com/index.php?name=ForumsPro&file=viewtopic&p=167955#167955

http://www.mission4today.com/modules/coppermine/albums/userpics/14700/cs01.jpg

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http://www.mission4today.com/modules/coppermine/albums/userpics/14700/cs03.jpg

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Wheels
Posted By: rwatson

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/28/19 10:31 AM

Good show there wheels It's the excellent modders that have breathed life into IL-2
Posted By: Coot

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 06/28/19 06:27 PM

Thanks Scott Elson for that story and for the little window into sim development and sim history.

Thanks rwatson for the link and suggestion. That mod looks very good! I'm using something called HSFX or something like that but the mod you posted looks pretty fantastic. I love the Pacific theater and I've always liked those big Grumman naval aircraft.
Posted By: usnraptor

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 07/21/19 07:19 PM

Even though I enjoy the eye candy of games since the 90s, I have been unable to immerse myself into the new stuff that it appears to take in order to enjoy them. I liked the graphics of Janes USAF, but left it shortly when the F-15 wouldn't go nearly as high and/or fast as it should. I tried F/A-18 for a bit, but felt it would take a huge commitment to the game before I understood how to receive enjoyment from it. IAF was fun and challenging at first, but it wore off once I got good at it (same goes with Longbow 1 & 2).

Every time, I returned to Fighters Anthology; a love affair that started in 1995 with US Navy Fighters.

For those interested, Fighters Anthology is still being played and improved by a group of us dedicated players. Over the last few years, I have built several new campaigns, including historical Vietnam campaigns, and made improvements to the existing campaigns (except Kuril campaign), as well as improvements to aircraft, weapons, etc...

You can read more on my website, and download the updates.

http://myplace.frontier.com/~usnraptor
Posted By: Scott Elson

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 07/22/19 10:08 PM

Originally Posted by Coot
Thanks Scott Elson for that story and for the little window into sim development and sim history.


You're very welcome Coot. I don't know if you saw but I did an article years ago for here that had a bunch of this sort of stuff. Here's a link to it if you missed it then:

https://www.simhq.com/_commentary/all_047a.html

Elf
Posted By: Spidey

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 07/22/19 10:59 PM

You know Elf what really added to the immersion for JF15 JF18 was also the squadron management aspect. Its not just surviving the mission yourseld but also bringing your squad mates home with names and pictures.

I would have loved to play those games with some kind of dynamic campaign. Even if not full blown Falcon 4 dynamkc, something like EEAH/CH level would have added so much to the longevity.
Posted By: Scott Elson

Re: One area where the progress of sims have failed me. - 07/23/19 04:05 PM

Spidey,

In Fleet Defender the rank of your wingmen gave an indication of how good they were. This worked in with the existing difficulty level code and would affect things like how good were they at spotting bogeys, how quickly they could lock up a target and influence their decision making process. While I had a similar setup in the Jane's stuff I recall that they had me set set all of your wingmen, and I believe all of your allies, to the max level. I liked what I did in FD and thought it made you care for your squadron more but there was some reason they had me disable it. I think for enemies the difficulty setting was the max skill level they could randomly have but it's been a while (ow, approaching 20 years for JF/A-18) so the details have faded and sometimes get mixed with things I did on other projects. It also could have been the minimum level. With the first at low level everyone would be at low level and at max you'd get a full spectrum while with the second you'd get the mix at low level and at max everyone would be max. I'm leaning towards the former since when you're learning things the consistency would be preferred.

If we had done one more after JF-18 some sort of dynamic campaign was likely. After all I would have needed something to keep me busy and out of trouble. ;-) With the first two I was definitely way more than busy. To this day I have a Pavlovian response to the term "aggressive schedule".

<Edit>Of course with "Top Gun 2" coming out maybe someone with a whole lotta money will try to get the band back together. ;-) <Edit/>

Elf
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