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#3751994 - 03/16/13 12:38 PM Re: Special Feature: Real Stories of Simulation Development [Re: citizen guod]  
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Great article! It is interesting to read the development background on some of the most iconic simulations ever created.
That was truly a golden age to be a gamer interested in combat sims.

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#3752028 - 03/16/13 02:14 PM Re: Special Feature: Real Stories of Simulation Development [Re: CJ Martin]  
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Originally Posted By: CJ Martin
Originally Posted By: MarkG
Thanks, Scott.

So is it no coincidence that two of F-19's three major theaters (North Cape and Persian Gulf) were chosen for Jane's F-15 and F/A-18 for their familiarity? Not counting Libya, what's missing in Jane's is Central Europe, was this to be the A-10's theater (although a different team of developers)?



It's pure coincidence. Setting F-15 in the Persian Gulf was a no-brainer, as that was the combat debut of the F-15E. Also, a LOT of data / stories / etc. was available which allowed us to "do it right". Scott will remember the giant map (at least 10'x7', maybe bigger? Wish I had a picture of it) that I had of that area, and the hundreds of map pins locating targets, SAM sites, and other points of interest.

The North Capes for F/A-18 was my idea after we got the continental US location shot down by Jane's. I've been in that area of the world and knew it was spectacular, plus it was easy to imagine a Russian civil war storyline due to then-current events. After failing with the Defender of Freedom concept (thank god), Marketing got behind a Europe-centric location.

FWIW, had F-15 2.0 happened, it probably would have been set in the southwest Pacific (i.e. Taiwan) area.

-CJ


Thanks for that info, CJ. I guess there's only so many theaters/scenarios to choose from, and those made the most sense at the time. Still, it had to be fun for Max and others to revisit those areas with much more realism and detail.

Ever since Disney's EPCOT and EF2000 I've been fascinated with the country of Norway, probably because it's so different than what I'm used to in the US Deep South (warm and flat). I'm feeling it again now with JF/A-18, the music really sets the mood in that sim (have two tunes [F18MENU2 and ENDCRED] on my iPod Shuffle "Flight Sim" play-list, unfortunately I can't seem to get to the more rocking tunes of JF-15).

We'll be visiting the North Cape in about 5 years (our next vacation, needing time to save) on one of the popular cruises from Bergen to Kirkenes, even plan to visit Murmansk if possible. I have the main part of Alesund (western coast) almost memorized from walking the streets in Google Earth, and I'll become really familiar with the northern areas over time.

The North Cape makes for the perfect Cold/post-Cold War flight sim theater, IMO. Good choice you made.

Last edited by MarkG; 03/16/13 02:17 PM. Reason: Added Alesund pic link
#3754551 - 03/21/13 12:21 AM Re: Special Feature: Real Stories of Simulation Development [Re: citizen guod]  
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Just reread this article and it makes me a little nostalgic.

Those old sims may be ugly by today's standards, but they worked.


"A little luck & a little government is necessary to get by, but only a fool places his complete trust in either one." - PJ O'Rourke

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#3754561 - 03/21/13 12:31 AM Re: Special Feature: Real Stories of Simulation Development [Re: citizen guod]  
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MarkG,
Since I'm slow at replying this will cover all the posts I hadn't gotten to yet. As CJ has mentioned the choices of locations were based on what made the most sense. Most of us hadn't worked on F-19 and even so, all things being equal, it probably would have made more sense to pick some place new. First it might have seemed more interesting than places you've already been and also people could have thought we were just being unoriginal going with the popular choices. That might have been what was going through the Marketing Department's minds when they suggested the US, but that's just a guess. Still, having a fun, viable and challenging campaign trumped other considerations. If you think about it, with those constraints the options are rather limited.

I'm not sure who came up with having the different radars being a factor. I'll try to remember to check with Andy. There were a lot of sharp people at MPS and a lot of them were really into this stuff so it could have been one of a number of people. I could even see someone pointing out that it could be a factor and someone else figuring out how to make it fun.

This is probably one of the things that I already covered but Falcon was done out in California by the Spectrum HoloByte guys. The "merger" was more them acquiring MicroProse. Spectrum was still a private company at the time so this made them public. They even spent the money to legally change the company's name to theirs but after a while they went through the process to change it back. I think it was discovered that MicroProse had better brand recognition but I don't remember if I heard anything "official" so there could be some bias in that. Still, the name was changed back and that's why Falcon 4.0 is under the MicroProse brand. I was always used to hearing about it as a Spectrum product and so always think of it that way.

No worries about the long posts, I'm doing my own. ;-) It just may take me a while to respond though since I don't want to rush my replies. I'm glad the AI stuff is of interest. Let me know if you have any questions. I may have said this in another thread we were chatting in but one of the most important things when dealing with AI is to spread out the workload. Don't have them all think at the same time. Optimization can be useful but unless you're doing something that you iterate through a lot, like pathfinding, radar or movement code, I've found it more efficient to figure out how to call the code less than how to have it run faster. For example with AI radars if there's no one around they don't really need to be called all that often. Once the plane gets close enough that it might get with detection range by the next "sweep" then you will want to ramp it up but even then, until they spot someone, I keep the rate lower. I call it the "getting a cup of coffee" affect. When they spot you though they'll wake up their neighbors, unless someone's taken out the communications relays between them.

Another example would be with pathfinding. If you have guys moving in a group there's no reason to have them all path to the end location. The "leader" figures out the full path and then the followers just use that as a basis, only worrying about the next segment, applying their offsets and figuring out this sub-path.

I really like the Norway Pavilion at EPCOT as well and it was successful in getting me more interested in visiting the country as well. The ride is fun and even though it's rather dated I still enjoy the movie afterwards, though now I don't jump too much when the axe comes down. I also used to really enjoy eating at Akershus but since they've made it a "Princess" character meal I haven't been in a while.

Elf

#3754563 - 03/21/13 12:35 AM Re: Special Feature: Real Stories of Simulation Development [Re: citizen guod]  
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Glad people are still finding the article and enjoying it. Since we stayed up late writing it I think it's only fair that you all stayed up late playing it. wink

CJ,
Heh, I had forgotten about the map until you mentioned it.

Elf

#3754664 - 03/21/13 03:12 AM Re: Special Feature: Real Stories of Simulation Development [Re: PFunk]  
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Originally Posted By: PFunk
Just reread this article and it makes me a little nostalgic.

Those old sims may be ugly by today's standards, but they worked.


"Ugly" is such a strong word. smile I don't have F-14 Fleet Defender and I wanted to use a DOS game for my example.

I've been flying over Norway in a couple of different sims, some many generations apart...




Obviously EF2000 can't compare to MSFS's almost photographic look, being limited to 640x400 res / 256 color / only a hand full of 128x128 textures. But the graphics artists made the most of what they had, maybe not so realistic looking terrain and sky but certainly mood setting.

I once attempted to show this in a video...
http://198.65.10.229/DID/Temp/Test_EF2K.wmv

Unfortunately I don't have the 3Dfx DOS version of EF2000 nor the card to play it, which I assume would take care of a lot of the pixilation.

Anyway, I might call these graphics "dated" by today's standards, but not necessarily ugly. Beef the resolution up one notch to 800x600 and add 3D acceleration and EF2000 would look even a lot better (matching TAW, which carried over the 256 color, 128x128 textures). Those artists back in the day didn't do so bad at all, IMO.

#3754681 - 03/21/13 03:45 AM Re: Special Feature: Real Stories of Simulation Development [Re: Scott Elson]  
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Scott, that's some great information, man I can't wait 'till I get to that part! I'm almost positive now my 3rd-party engine will do everything I need it to, which is really more of a C compiler with a BASIC syntax. Other than not being an OOP language, it has the 3D speed and capabilities, and there's no way I'm pushing the limits of DirectX7 anyway. And VB6 is still more than capable for making any in-house tools.

Oh yeah, the Viking axe will make you jump! I just love that ride and movie, never tried the restaurant though, and that's too bad.

The one thing disappointing about an '80s North Cape theater is no oil platforms. I love that part of the EPCOT ride, that model is scary big! But of course that would be found in the North Sea off the SW coast. So for an F-19 remake you put those in the Persian Gulf, but it won't have the atmosphere of the ride (cold crashing waves).

Even in the initial stages, developing your own game is such a rush! Even the simpler 2D game tutorials are so much fun and satisfying, and my wife is amazed how far I'm getting with the math (been meaning to educate myself for years, just lacked the discipline). This will be a wild ride.

Thanks for all the advice already, and I haven't even started picking your brain yet. smile


EDIT: Forgot to mention, I'll be going to Disney's "Norway" next month (been 8 years), heading to Orlando for a concert. I'll take pics.

Last edited by MarkG; 03/21/13 04:04 AM.
#3754757 - 03/21/13 10:54 AM Re: Special Feature: Real Stories of Simulation Development [Re: citizen guod]  
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Scott,
Excellent article!.....and a great follow up in this thread. smile

I'm looking forward to playing Fleet defender, which was obtained a few months ago. I need to make sure that the only floppy drive I have left is in full working order before risking the 4 game disks.
I'm trying to buy up all the 'big box' sims that I missed first time round, and Jane's F/A-18 is on its way. I haven't been able to source Jane's F-15 yet, but it's only a matter of time.

MarkG,
You have EF2000 V2.0 which contains the 3dfx version, and a build of DosBox which contains 3dfx emulation can be found here:
http://ykhwong.x-y.net/

#3754892 - 03/21/13 02:57 PM Re: Special Feature: Real Stories of Simulation Development [Re: citizen guod]  
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Thanks, mikew. Took a quick stab at it and got a message like "Couldn't allocate 3000000 bytes" or something like that. Of course nothing works right the first time, gonna try again this evening with some tweaking. Also want to try JetFighter III (DOS/Glide), this one has a very neat Carrier walkthrough GUI.

I'm on the verge of buying a PC to run these games without emulation (i.e. Tornado gives me ~5 FPS in DOSBOX), although it seems this version of DOSBOX runs F-117A smoother for me than the regular version.

More testing to come...



The rusty wire that holds the cork that keeps the anger in
Gives way and suddenly it’s day again
The sun is in the east
Even though the day is done
Two suns in the sunset, hmph
Could be the human race is run
#3754942 - 03/21/13 04:14 PM Re: Special Feature: Real Stories of Simulation Development [Re: citizen guod]  
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Ah, you'll need to set memsize=48 in dosbox.conf

Found a copy of Janes's F-15 on Amazon, so will snap that up later.
I read somewhere (maybe in this thread) that F-15 may have problems running on modern hardware....but we'll worry about that later. smile

#3755310 - 03/22/13 03:59 AM Re: Special Feature: Real Stories of Simulation Development [Re: citizen guod]  
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MarkG,
I'm glad the information is of interest and possible use. I think with the limits we were under and were the focus of the action was going to be it may not have been felt like oil rigs were worth it at the time. I'll see if Max remembers there being any discussion about them. We actually had them in the F-15 arcade game. If you flew under them without crashing, which wasn't too hard, you got bonus points. I remember one reviewer talking about how we even had all the pipes and stuff underneath the rigs. I don't think there were any pipes since those would have been a lot of polygons but who were we to correct him. wink

Yes, it is definitely cool seeing the pieces coming together and you'll keep learning new things along the way.

I'm sure you'll have a great time at Disney. I was initially supposed to be down there this month but it fell through. Currently planning on going towards the end of the year.

#3755318 - 03/22/13 04:11 AM Re: Special Feature: Real Stories of Simulation Development [Re: citizen guod]  
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Scott Elson Offline
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mikew,
Glad you liked the article. I picked up a USB 3 1/2" drive just in case since they seemed to be getting phased out. Still, the last computer I built has one as part of the multi-card reader that I installed. I should see if I can get a 5 1/4" one as well since I have a bunch of those disks too. I still have a couple of computers with those but I'm not 100% they still work. You probably know that if you can find a copy of Fleet Defender Gold it comes on a CD Rom and has the scenario disk as part of it. It was set up with Windows 3.1 but I think when it went to run the game it eventually would call the regular exe.

I've been surprised that a number of people have had some decent luck with JF-15, though darkarrow in this thread mentioned that he's blocked by problems with the menus. I think there were some fairly recent discussions about it in the Jane's F-15 & F/A-18 part of the forums. Have fun.

Elf

#3755530 - 03/22/13 02:41 PM Re: Special Feature: Real Stories of Simulation Development [Re: citizen guod]  
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The Bayou


Brilliant use of color, also w/nighttime...

http://www.mobygames.com/game/fleet-defender/screenshots

North Cape, Cold War... I don't know how this one slipped under my radar, I must not have been paying attention.


mikew, "ERROR: grSstQueryHardware() failed." But at least it's progress, 2D UI and music work fine, just no 3D. I'll work with it this weekend. Also, I think I once tried F14FD from Underdogs but it ran like Tornado in DOSBOX (meaning that it didn't, ~5 FPS). I really need to think about getting a "new" PC, I'd kill to have my 486 back.



The rusty wire that holds the cork that keeps the anger in
Gives way and suddenly it’s day again
The sun is in the east
Even though the day is done
Two suns in the sunset, hmph
Could be the human race is run
#3755553 - 03/22/13 03:14 PM Re: Special Feature: Real Stories of Simulation Development [Re: citizen guod]  
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Scott, thanks for the info. Luckily enough, someone was selling only the CD and scenario manual through Amazon. That'll complement what I've already got nicely. smile

MarkG, setting 'glide=emu' in dosbox.conf should take you to the next level.

#3756120 - 03/23/13 12:54 PM Re: Special Feature: Real Stories of Simulation Development [Re: citizen guod]  
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The Bayou
mikew, you got me to the next level, thanks. Taking a beating on FPS but it works! JetFighter III also works.

I wonder if a super performing PC solves all DOSBOX FPS issues?. I've tried the config tweaks with different games but I just don't have horsepower to make DOSBOX smooth.



The rusty wire that holds the cork that keeps the anger in
Gives way and suddenly it’s day again
The sun is in the east
Even though the day is done
Two suns in the sunset, hmph
Could be the human race is run
#3781908 - 05/14/13 01:37 AM Re: Special Feature: Real Stories of Simulation Development [Re: citizen guod]  
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Had to do some straightening around my apartment and found a couple more photos from the beginning of the Jane's/Origin studio when it was just starting. Here's the front door:



And here's the logo behind the reception desk at the front:


Elf

#3781915 - 05/14/13 02:12 AM Re: Special Feature: Real Stories of Simulation Development [Re: citizen guod]  
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I also discovered that TrakDah had posted a video of the Jane's F-15 demo in action. I won't be surprised if I find a link to it in another thread, I just hadn't seen it yet. I appreciate the effort he went through, especially since we randomized things a bit to keep it interesting so he did 10 runs and picked the best one. It was cool seeing it again and it brought back some memories.



He's also right in the original version that you could land upside down, which we corrected in the first patch. I seem to remember we took some heat for this bug, which a quick Google Groups search confirmed. It was definitely cool that people pointed it out so we could fix it but it was a bit disappointing that some were trying to use a bug that would only show up if you weren't flying the plane in realistic manner to try and show how our game sucked. Not a good memory.

Again though, the video is and thanks again to TrakDah for providing it.

Elf

#3782061 - 05/14/13 02:27 PM Re: Special Feature: Real Stories of Simulation Development [Re: citizen guod]  
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Scott: Great video - fantastic atmosphere showcasing how immersive JF-15E really was. Especially the AI and RIO were fantastic. In some areas I think that AI from JF-15 is still unsurpassed today. AI was fantastic in commencing attacks and communicating what it was doing, while today I have a hard time to get AI wingmen to do something sensible in DCS or BMSF4.

#3783190 - 05/16/13 05:59 PM Re: Special Feature: Real Stories of Simulation Development [Re: citizen guod]  
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I'm glad you liked it. Thanks again to TrakDah for going through all the effort. I'm also glad you like the AI in the game. I tried to make them as useful/realistic as I could and hearing that I had some success in that regards is always a cool thing. It's something I really enjoy doing though currently I'm not getting a lot of chance to work on that sort of stuff.

Elf

#4601034 - 06/04/22 01:27 PM Re: Special Feature: Real Stories of Simulation Development [Re: citizen guod]  
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Hiding in the bushes
Bit of a necro, but here's the SMUT (flying pig) as seen in Jane's F-15.



https://youtu.be/nLlCfruTdxs

I loved the Easter Eggs in F-15 SE3 (Godzilla), F-14 FD (dragons, UFOs, Flight 19) and will look for more in Jane's F15 (Elf mentioned drive-in movie theater, Noah's Ark and giant pail and shovel). Any hints where to look for them?

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