TKOH’s failure is what I like to think of as “classic Bohemia.” To go into all the things that led up to it, you have to know the people, the time, the audience, the engine… Basically, a lot of stuff.
Firstly, the engine: TKOH was running off of a branch of ArmA2’s engine (which version of the RV engine I’d have to look up). That engine, at that point, was already showing its age, coupled with poor optimization at the time. The engine was made for infantry action, not for vehicles, and most definitely not for any form of aircraft. They worked, but it was a tacked-on, shoehorn setup. TKOH, being primarily about helicopters, had an uphill battle on this front. Most people were lucky they could push the view distance out to 2000m, and TKOH was having to push that out to 8000m or more. That meant things slowed down and didn’t run well, to say nothing of trying to implement helicopter physics in a more meaningful way. ArmA3 is an evolution of this engine so it isn’t so much they abandoned it as they determined TKOH wasn’t the right direction for their resources. Note that the “complex” flight model for helis in ArmA3 gets complaints of being too hard.
The audience: FP and its successors, ArmA, were used to a gritty, realistic infantry simulator with some secondary vehicle stuff. Since FP’s inception, vehicles were teetering on the fulcrum of “good enough.” It never did shed this, even with all the vehicle enhancements done with ArmA3. Could they change this? Sure! Without a doubt! However, they will not because the average player is in it not for the vehicular action, but for the on-foot action. When they hop into a helicopter, it must be accessible to them, and at most they might have a mouse and keyboard. Imagine trying to control the DCS Mi-8 or UH-1 with a mouse and keyboard alone. Now, take you average DCS player with their custom HOTAS, pedals, VR/TrackIR/headtracking, and tell them to play the ArmA3 helicopters. “Too EZ,” they’d say. “Unrealistic. No procedures,” another might say. They won’t play a game like ArmA for the vehicles. TKOH had the unfortunate implication of alienating both of these audiences: not complex enough for the sim crowd, not as easy for the shooter crowd. To make matters worse, very little actual shooting involved – TKOH was a civilian helicopter sim, not a military one.
The time: TKOH was released when the ArmA2 engine was already starting to show its age. A mere two years after its release, ArmA3 would be out. So it was running behind already, trying to run on systems that had so much trouble with it, unoptimized and really not taking advantage of the potential. By that I mean they introduced picture in picture for the first time, but it had so many limitations. To put this in perspective, our AH-64 mod was already doing digital displays like the IHADSS, fuel page, and TSD, with associated functionality in ArmA2. And we had only been in development for a year by that point. That isn’t to slight the development of TKOH, but just to call into question how BIS had approached the subject of a helicopter sim. At the time I had heard of it, my hope was that it would be like SimCopter II. It fell very short of that goal. I have no idea what they were aiming for at the time, because my feeling was that they got as far as “lets put RotorLib in here and see what happens” then gave up. There were many issues with RotorLib as well, since it didn’t get the physics fully correct either, though I believe it got them “good enough.”
The people: There were a couple guys high up in BIS’ team that were very interested in doing helicopters ever since the FP days. TKOH was a way for them to try and scratch that itch; problem is, passion alone doesn’t keep a project going, especially if you’re a commercial studio. ArmA2 brought in some cash, but most of that was being used to fund ArmA3. TKOH just didn’t have the people backing along with the funding to break through the barriers. There was a grand total of 3 helicopter models included with the game, and the Hinds DLC was just a reboxing of the Mi-24 from ArmA2. I know of a guy who was working on another gunship who had come up to BIS and offered to make it a DLC for TKOH – they turned him down and told him he could make it a mod, but they didn’t have the resources to expend on TKOH anymore. This was a very unwise decision as said fellow was a very, very, very skilled artist.
My personal take is that when TKOH tried to be a civilian helicopter sim, it fell apart. BIS had always done mil sim titles, and TKOH alienated most of their core audience while failing to attract others who could find better experiences elsewhere. The flip side of that is if they tried to be a mil helicopter sim, they wouldn’t be able to have the proper systems depth for modern attack helicopters, not to mention all the assets needed for such. There’s so many complexities that go into these systems that you just can’t really get away with how simplified TKOH made them if you want to attract a simulation audience. The same is true of civilian helicopters, especially modern ones.
In the end, TKOH is rapidly approaching 10 years old and ArmA3 is closing in on 7. As ArmA3 has RotorLib along with more modernity in the engine, one is out ahead to simply find the right experience for ArmA3 instead of TKOH. This takes the mod song and dance in a big way, but the same would be true of TKOH.
In closing, I’ll repost the short video of the AH-64 from TKOH: