Cue - irrational anger (your annual Take On Helicopters rant)

In experimenting with vorpX, I made the mistake of once again installing Take On Helicopters and the Hinds DLC. I always find it interesting that this also somehow integrates with Arma 2 and the maps available in that game.

My recurring rage with Take on Helicopters has been the same ever since its release. And I know everyone is tired of hearing it, but it makes me feel better to vent.

The long and short of it is - and the question that remains ever present in my mind - is why in the HELL did Bohemia Interactive abandon this series and this game engine which is perfectly suited to what Take on Helicopters did?? I’m sure it was a financial decision, as all of these things are, but I would also assume that Bohemia Interactive still has both the rights and the ability to make something more of TOH.

Maybe I’m in the minority here. I don’t need a prettier game. I don’t need better graphics. I don’t need more fidelity - all I need is content in a game/sim that looks great to this day, performs well on modern hardware, allows for a ton of customization and hardware controls, and has compelling reasons to play it.

The heavy lifting (pun intended) was already done by Bohemia. The game engine is complete, indeed - it is exceedingly mature. Why in the world wouldn’t they milk that with a few hired content creators to just make content? It wouldn’t inhibit the development and marketing of A3 or A4 or whatever is next. It would be a revenue stream that only requires the knowledge and capabilities of a good mission editor/designer team.

Now is where @Franze and @TeTeT come in and talk me off the ledge - pointing out all of the things I’ve overlooked and why Take On Helicopters was a dead end. I appreciate their insights, always, and I apologize in advance for making them repeat it to me for the dozen-th time. :rofl: I’m dense that way.

Take on Helicopters strikes me as a massive missed opportunity. That (a helicopter game) wasn’t the way they (BI) ultimately wanted to go. It’s just painful, because I’m flying it on my modern hardware (i9 RTX2020ti) and it is just soooooo good. Throw in the whole first person aspect of it (hey…I got shot down but I still get to continue playing!!) and I’d pay $20 every six months for a new chapter with 10 missions in “Take On: Afghanistan” or “Take On: Crimea”.

rant1

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Its not for everybody. You fall into a category that I hope you don’t mind me lumping myself into. For someone like you, the flying itself is all the player/game interface that you need. With that itch scratched, ToH added this very nicely-told story that allowed you to enjoy the flying while using your piloting skills to flesh out the rest of the content. It was perfect. But the sim hobby is dominated by another sort of player who needs less fluff, less story and more fidelity. These players can sandbox an f-14 for weeks and never get bored. To them, picking up a sexy love interest at a golf course and hearing her story on the flight to the helipad could not BE more distracting and unnecessary. I pity those people. There is very little not to love about ToH in my opinion. But even for me, the Hind add-on was a mugging. If only…

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I think you hit the nail on the head. It might be in that middle ground between a game and a sim that just doesn’t appeal to all that many people. No doubt, the Mi-24, when released for DCS World, will be immensely popular. But you won’t be able to land it, go find a fuel truck, drive it over to the Hind, refuel it, fight off a mad ex-wife with an SMG, and then go continue the mission with it (all things possible with Arma). Purists will point out that those aren’t things a normal pilot would do anyway…but I choose to believe I’m a Russian Hind pilot and I’ve seen a lot of YouTube videos that imply the above scenario is not all that far fetched.

You are right too that I enjoy the ACT of flying. I love taking a helicopter into a tight LZ or sling loading an object into a tough spot. There are times I enjoy the 10 or 15 minute start up sequence, but there are also times when I just want to play a game that is sprinkled with some nice flight physics.

Most definitely, and that was sort of my point. That module I think added a couple quick missions, time trials, and no campaign. It could have set the standard for what a TOH DLC could have been. It was definitely a turn onto a dead end street.

One thing I can say though, after spending some time with it, is that the Hinds DLC does not really look good in VR/vorpX, so that is a relief. The cockpits are flat images and not true 3D cockpits apparently…so they don’t look that great.

BI lost their way almost at the beginning: ArmA 1 was a “we gotta get something out there before our funds run dry” type of game due to a falling out between BI and Codemasters; ArmA 2’s campaign fell apart halfway through, likely because the team ran out of steam; and ArmA 3’s campaign was poorly executed (it was going to be an alien invasion plot, but was hastily turned into a near-future setting).

Their engine was never very well optimized either, though that’s not to say good things have not been done with it – the AH64 addon by Franze and Nod Unit brought a lot to the table and could have been a standalone title in its own right.

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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:

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I’m still waiting for my Take On Mars patch. At least TOH lasted a bit. :rocket:

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Yeah, about that… Take On Mars was a BIS employee’s little fun free-time project. I don’t know if he’s still working there and development has been halted for 3 years. Given that DayZ didn’t go gold until late 2018… :grimacing:

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With that part said though, the default TOH helicopters (the MD-500, UH-1 thingy, and the heavy lift helo) all look fantastic in VR with vorpX…

That is an important point that I often neglect to consider. In its time, during release, the hardware was not really up to the challenge of giving the gameplay experience that I’m able to have with it now. It would make sense that it wasn’t as well received given that fact. I always conveniently forget that.

Spot on.

Again, spot on. I’m probably in the minority in that I love some good ass and trash missions and cargo hauling. An occasional shooting gallery is fun, but I really enjoy the logistics role.

I’ll post more later…thanks for the very thoughtful and lengthy observations. It is valuable insight…

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They are routing it through Voyager…

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Didn’t say that on the Steam store… :wink:

I don’t really mind, I got my fun out of it, and glad it got made. Finishing projects is a lot harder than starting them.

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Yeah, as I mentioned to @Franze - I’m probably looking at the sim now through hardware enabled enthusiasm that makes both Take On Helicopters and Arma 2 much, much better than the hardware they were originally running on. A2 is a ton of fun with all the sliders fully to the right and running in VR or 3440 x 1440 glory…

Yeah…in my case I’d need a harpoon, a crucifix and wooden stake… :scream:

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Ah… Bohemia… These guys have done so much good, and so much bad.
I just love them for what they did with Arma. The demo of Arma 1 blew me away! And I played the game to death! It was such a new feeling to the infantry game genre. So incredibly immersive! Arma 2 came at a time when I didn’t have as much spare time on my hands, so I never got really into that. Not in the same way as the original Arma, anyway. When ToH was announced I thought they really struck gold. What an amazing idea. And I bought it, played it and enjoyed it. The immersion was, again, very good. And while I enjoyed the missions, I never bought into the story…
Anyway, too bad they dropped it. Could have been a great franchise.

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ToH was a wild success!

To me. In my home. I enjoyed every minute of the experience. (I played it on an iMac that was 6 years old at the time.). Under the hood, I’ll accept that it was a giant steaming turd. That’s not for me to know. The target market of infantry nerds might have scorned it. Don’t care. BI gave me something great. That’s a rare treat in the sim universe so for that I am grateful.

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All good points in the thread. It is a bit of a surprise to me that TOH did not do better with the ‘life’ crowd, those that don’t mind paying bucks for a reskin and pretend to be robber or gendarm… Probably the lack of ground details ruined the big maps for flying for the life crowd.

On the other hand I guess BI saw the back then most popular a2 mod: dayz. From what I remember this drove a2 sales up through the roof. TOH in comparison was really a niche product and could not attract such an audience.

Would have been nice if TOH would have been given a 2nd chance outside of the Helo DLC. Maybe we can hope for a revival on the enfusion engine, whenever that is mature enough :slight_smile:

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Pretty much this. DayZ came along and became a smash hit. How, I’m not sure; right time and right place I guess. It’s funny to think that a couple years later, it would go from being a highly-rated development to being one of the most loathed.

…maybe if I had silver bullets for the SMG…sorry, still on the ex-wife thing.

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Call these guys:

That would have been great! :laughing: