I’m going to steal @Fridge’s thunder and beat him to a news post for once.
It’s been a very eventful year for Leatherneck Simulations-- even though, despite our best efforts, we did not manage to launch any new products this year.
Not only has it been eventful year, it has undoubtedly been probably one of the most challenging times that we’ve experienced as a developer.
Not only have we been developing three DCS modules with associated theaters and period units concurrently; but we’ve also significantly expanded, developed new technology
and tools, restructured our teams and even begun preparatory planning for products beyond the ‘sequel trilogy’.
Perhaps the biggest change for us has been in transitioning from a small, tight-knit and concise 4-man unit, into a ‘real’ business-- one that currently comprises of 9 full time individuals and many more on temporary or outsourced basis.
This kind of growth would not have been possible without the success of the MiG-21; and for that you all have our sincere gratitude.
We’d also like to apologize for not adhering to our previous statements in that we expect a new LN module to appear this year.
Unfortunately, delays in developing some of our critical new technologies as well as a larger than expected workload with the MiG-21 precluded this from being achievable.
Likewise, these delays have led us to postpone our planned product reveals.
Website News Section
A long overdue update to our website in the form of a new News section is now available.
If you find it difficult or time consuming to follow the forums or hunt down updates from us; we’ll be cross posting anything relevant to this page.
This includes smaller announcements such as notices and warnings.
We’ve been fairly quiet over the course of 2015; with a mere half a dozen major updates scattered across the year, but this is of course has only been a temporary period that is soon coming to a close.
Thus, heavy use and far denser updates on this page are to be expected.
EDIT: Will go live on the 1st. I broke it.
New Public Bugtracker
As you may have noticed by the stickied posts; in order to better
accommodate both current and future project update needs; we have decided to open a public bugtracker.
This will allow us to more effectively receive bugreports from you, convey what is received and already fixed, as well as offer an insight into our post release support process.
We also hope that the added transparency will better indicate how many changes are made that previously were not noted in changelogs.
We’d like to urge all of you to cease reporting bugs on the Bugs sub forums (unless significant discussion is indicated) and instead help us out
by registering a new account and reporting a bug on the bugtracker.
New Team Members
One of the most important developments within LN this year has been the continued expansion of the team with some of the most talented individuals we can possibly find.
We pride ourselves on being a team built upon steadfast pillars of professionalism and excellence in our chosen profession; be it in the field of programming or art.
Thus, it’s with great joy and pride that we welcome Stirling Rank and Daniel Malmquist to the Leatherneck team. You’re already familiar with parts of Stirling’s work; in the form of the F-14 Pilot we presented earlier this year.
We’ve actually already introduced Stirling in the previous mini-update, but it was fairly unceremonious.
Daniel has also been with us for a while now; as he takes charge on the creation of the F-14’s flight and physical models.
Hailing from Ystad, in the south of Sweden, Daniel now lives in Stockholm.
Complementing his huge interests in engineering and aviation is a Ph.D. in the fields of modeling and optimization of electromechanical systems, from the Royal Institute of Technology, arguably the leading engineering university in Sweden.
Daniels’ keen interest in aviation has expressed itself in many ways; including being a licensed private pilot and the designing and developing several small unmanned
drones during his extensive research experience. Daniel’s strong theoretical background, combined with his programming experience makes him an excellent addition to the LNS team, and for spearheading the creation of the F-14 Flight and physical models.
Besides, look at those dreamy eyes and perfect complexion. How could we have said no?
Hailing from Melbourne, Australia-- Stirling has skillfully avoided Scorpions, Exploding Cacti, Sharks, Crocodiles, Snakes, Arachnids, Jellyfish and other Australians to go on and become a brilliant young character and hard surface artist.
Despite his relatively young age, Stirling has built an impressive portfolio of hard and soft surface modeling, deeply rooted in strong sculpting talents.
While Character modeling may not be the first thing you think of when compiling your flight simulation wishlist; we couldn’t be happier with the human element that Stirling brings to the table.
I think we’ve all seen the impressive results that well crafted, animated and engaging characters can do for immersion in titles such as Star Citizen.
We look forward to applying Stirlings’ artwork in new and innovative ways, especially with the widespread adoption of VR just around the corner!
Changes between 1.2.16 and 1.5/2.0
The MiG-21 saw many overt and covert changes in the 1.5 and 2.0 updates.
Some of these changes, coupled with the large changes in the DCS engine have resulted in a high number of new bugs and issues.
We’re working very hard to fix all of these, and you can see most of them in the public bugtracker linked above.
We’ve also been very sloppy with maintaining a public change log.
Most of the items changed or fixed are listed below, but I’d estimate that there are at least a dozen or two more items not listed.
Here is a more comprehensive list, including the previously listed changes. Keep an eye on the bugtracker in the future for a better understanding on open or resolved issues.
- Replaced multiple existing inputs with toggle inputs.
- Re-Added several requested replaced inputs.
- Added 9 New Keyboard Inputs: ASP Target Size, KPP Pitch Set,
RSBN/PRGM Channel Select, Radio On/Off, Radio Volume & Channel
- Fixed various instances of the Radio not working.
- Fixed the Radar operating without electrical power
- Increased missile smoke visibility
- Fixed the “SPRD Appears on F6 View after use” bug
- Introduced special option for ASP pipper gameplay features.
- Improved drag chute physics, including chute use in stall/spin
recovery (Animation is however still limited)
- Corrected Rudder Authority (“Rudder overpowering ailerons”)
- Added UUA Sensor animation
- Improved Over-G weapon jettison (Dynamic Weight Calculation,
- Improved regulated Afterburner throttle control
- Partially fixed visible weapons remaining on destroyed/missing wings
- Fixed A-A missile lock tone bug
- Corrected wing thickness & angle
- Various corrections on all weapon pylons
- Rebuilt frontal canopy for smooth fuselage transition
- Re-Drew rivet and panel lines on rear fuselage
- Dozens of minor 3D/2D issues
- Fixed various Cockpit graphics issues
- Corrected various ASP calculation issues (Incorrect lead, “CCIP”)
- Added 8-10 new default liveries
- New specular maps
- Sculpted rear fuselage into a new normal map
- Added new SPRD Rocket booster model and texture
- Corrected placement of SPRD Rocket booster on aircraft
- Further optimized external model and textures
- Revised gear door textures
- Corrected AoA vane animation
- Temporarily removed ‘Canopy Icing’ checkbox pending visual
- LOD models optimized.
- Incorrect ASO texture replaced.
- Radome axis of movement fixed.
- Double cockpit in low graphic settings fixed.
- Tactical number slot holes fixed.
- Added more variations of Russian tactical numbers.
- Added Arabic tactical numbers.
- Changed material setting from mirror to aluminum.
- Landing gear’s external lights now come on only at full extension.
- Remodeled external pilot’s visor and is now transparent with
- Navigation lights during the day are now bigger in “Bright” mode.
- Missing panel lines and sealant on external canopy/windscreen added.
- Missing rivets on right-side drag chute tube added.
- Missing screws on top-side wing fuel tank panels added.
- UVs for middle fuselage flipped 180 degrees to fix NMp errors.
- Liveries adjusted for UV flip.
- New normal and specular textures.
- Fixed Radar crashing in 2.0
- Corrected broken Normalmaps due to UV Flip
- Corrected broken Specular maps due to UV Flip
- Added support for NTTR map in RSBN Navigation System
- Added additional Kneeboard panels
- Fixed Kneeboard not showing map
- Increased tracer visibility
- Changed UPK pod CLSID to avoid CLSID conflict*
- Fixed crashing when selecting RSBN Channel above 18
- Joystick double throttle input bug fixed
- Changed MiG-21Bis → MiG-21bis
- Fixed Training missions appearing in list
- Updated StarForce protection system to avoid future issues
- Fixed Aircraft shaking erroneously after broken tires
- Fixed wheelbrake axis causing unstoppable air leak
- Fixed booster aileron inconsistencies.
- MiG-21bis Backer Rewards
As mentioned in the previous update; we’ve now made this issue a priority, especially considering how long it’s now been since release. After considering several options; we’d like to propose the following changes to the backer tiers. While we are incredibly grateful for the support shown to the MiG-21bis project in its’ infancy; we’re unfortunately producing these items at a complete loss.
We’re hoping to produce the following items:
MiG-21bis DVD: Jewel case with MiG-21bis installation disc & assorted development Screenshots, high resolution artwork and more.
Your backer key will be printed on the back.
Printed Hardcover Manual: Printed, hardcover A5 manual, black and white print of the flight manual.
MiG-21 T-shirt: Stylish, low-key MiG-21bis shirt.
We’d thus propose the following changes in the backer tier rewards.
Please feel free to share your input on these changes and whether you would feel comfortable with the new replacements.
- Previous Rewards: MiG-21bis DVD
- New Reward: MiG-21bis DVD
- Previous Rewards: MiG-21bis DVD + Bonus DVD
- New Rewards: Printed physical manual
- Previous Rewards: MiG-21bis DVD + Bonus DVD + Shirt
- New Rewards: MiG-21bis DVD + Printed physical manual
- Previous Rewards: MiG-21bis DVD + Bonus DVD + T-Shirt, Stickers,
Poster and autographed manual.
- New Rewards: MiG-21bis DVD + Printed Physical Manual + T-Shirt
- Previous Rewards: 2x MiG-21bis DVD + Bonus DVD + 2x T-shirt,
Stickers, 2x Posters and autographed manual.
- New Rewards: 2x MiG-21bis DVD + Printed Physical Manual + 2x T-Shirts
- 1x Free Leatherneck product.
We’re presently waiting on samples of the listed production items.
Once we have are satisfied with the items, we will order a proper production run and begin sending you your items.
Sincere apologies for the delay on this front.
Delicious Leeks – AJS-37 & F4U-1D
No, it’s not a red herring. (We’re bigger fans of cod and salmon, actually).
Obviously we screwed up a little here, but hopefully you’ll forgive us.
We might as well talk briefly about these two, while we’re at it.
As mentioned previously; difficulties in some of the new technology: in particular components required for an accurate simulation of these modules, unexpectedly high MiG-21 workload, as well as various illnesses have both delayed the aircraft themselves, as well as their respective announcements.
Both of these aircraft have afforded us an opportunity to develop critical technology for the future, and also serve as a stepping stone to a larger theater of war (F4U-1D).
Likewise, they have provided an easier path to unlock other aircraft making use of similar technology (AJS-37). It’s also very important to remember that you may only catch a glimpse of the big picture with just the module names.
We have spent considerable time and resources into making sure that the products we create have an appropriate environment, opponents and other content.
In particular, some of the advancements we have made with these two modules are as follows:
- Various FM improvements and extensions, including e.g. thrust
reversers, carrier trap simulation.
- Ground Mapping and Targeting Radar
- Terrain Avoidance Radar
- Advanced RWR including recording and recon features
- Advanced ASSM sea-skimming missiles (RB-15F & RB-04)
- Moderately advanced HUD
- Moderately advanced aircraft computer and navigation systems
- Displaced VID Display
- New Memory-Screen Radar Shader(s)
- …and quite a lot more
With an average development time of several years; every module we have built or will build will be very special to us.
Thus we want to make sure that your first look, but more importantly- your first impression of our work is exactly as good as you expect of us.
The simple but honest truth is: they’re just not quite there yet. At least visually.
If a cockpit is 95% done and but there is a big white blob instead of a HUD– we’d rather ensure that we get that done before disappointing you.
It will be a few more weeks until we are ready.
Having learned from the mistakes we made with the MiG-21; we are committed to ensuring only the smoothest of launches. This means a feature complete aircraft, all included content (missions, campaigns, documentation) and as much internal QA as we can possibly squeeze in.
We’d prefer to avoid extended and prolonged BETA periods, especially with our planned 2016 & 2017 roadmap; thus it is imperative that we can minimize the intense post-release update period.
F-14 A & B Tomcat Update
Systems & FM
The Tomcat has seen considerable progress in the last few months; and even though we are behind our initial projected schedule (H2 2015) – we have very little regret as to how this flagship module is progressing.
The majority of the year has been spent recreating the entire framework and systems base of the aircraft.
Items such as Hydraulic, electrical, fuel and control systems are complex components of the aircraft and these items being complete, functional and relatively bug-free is a prerequisite before moving on to some of the more overt features and components.
We’ve also spent considerable time implementing various supporting functionality, such as for instance numerical solvers (e.g. 4th order Range-Kutta) for second and higher order dynamics which can be used for components like e.g. actuators.
We have now also begun making progress on the VSI, HSDI and HUD components, which are some of the most visual features of the systems modeling.
These systems directly tie into most of the other Aircraft systems, so they will not be fully complete until the very end of development.
The Flight Model has seen the most rapid progress over the last couple of months; and we’ve now begun assembling the physical model.
Primary focus is currently on Primary Handling of the aircraft: in essence, we are now working to perfect the overall body and wing aerodynamics, wing sweep dynamics & logic, and primary/secondary control surfaces and their influence.
Wing sweep logic, a core component of the F-14, is also complete and implements the four modes (Auto, Manual, Bomb, and Emergency) - making use of multiple underlying sweep schedules for both primary and secondary control channels.
The current implementation will of course allow us to calculate the effects of asymmetric wing sweep due to damage/malfunction.
In association with that, we have now also begun separating the visual animations into their respective hydraulic systems.
We are looking for a high level of granularity in failure simulation; and wherever there is a possibility of separate failure (e.g. separate hydraulic systems) – this will be simulated on our rendition of the Aircraft.
Electrical fuses, something frequently mentioned by the community, will be simulated to their fullest extent.
The aerodynamic speed brakes are a fairly good example of our targeted fidelity.
Each of the three control surfaces are individually modeled, allowing us to take into account asymmetric effects from damaged/malfunctioning actuators and surfaces.
Just the speed brakes alone use 11 (that’s a lot!) different lookup tables to determine aerodynamic coefficients in the current implementation.
This will give yield very realistic and dynamic feel.
Overall, we feel very confident in our implementation of the F-14 flight model at this stage. We will not stop short of anything but perfection.
The majority of the art teams’ focus still lies with projects other than the F-14.
The reason for this is that the aircraft is (still) at a level where the artwork does not in any way impair the development of systems or functionality.
This is an important distinction to make; because it allows for the art team to focus on areas where they are most needed.
That said; we’ve invested a significant amount of time in the last few months into unwrapping the Cockpit. This sounds boring and terribly unsexy – and that’s because it is. Thousands of objects had to be individually unwrapped and correctly placed; eventually comprising 37 cockpit textures split across the two cockpits.
An artists’ personal hell. We’re glad it’s over!
The next step is to begin sculpting various cockpit parts.
Bulging and peeling paint, metal imperfections, dings, scratches, fresh and old paint blotches, cloth parts, bent glareshields, and much more need to be accurately recreated to fully immerse the player.
Once we unveil the AJS-37 Cockpit; you will have a good indication of the quality level that we aim to achieve with all of our cockpits.
Not much has been done on the exterior in the last few months, apart from some significant accuracy improvements.
Referencing various new drawings caused us to adjust, in particular, the vertical tail planes and the entire front fuselage and canopy areas.
These were both very inaccurate, and required a lot of adjustments. It’s an iterative process; so we expect there to be more changes as we go along.
We’re quite optimistic about an F-14 materializing somewhere in the second half of 2016 – however this is, as usual, subject to change.
We’ll keep you updated, and in particular start producing more material once the more overt visual features become more prominent!
During most of 2015; we’ve focused on the creation of primary map content
for our planned theatres. This includes not only things like actual map objects (hangars, trenches, bunkers, destroyed aircraft, buildings, vegetation, and much more) but
also various vector assets such as roads, coastlines, elevation models, bodies of water and similar items.
Learning the production pipeline for the creation of maps for DCS has taken us close to the entire year; but we are now confident in our ability to create any terrain we set our mind to for the platform.
Perhaps most exciting, is that we’ve already carried out several in-game tests of already produced sections of land. It’s a small, but very exciting step forwards!
In the beginning of 2016; we will be investing additional resources into the expansion of our theatre construction team. This will be in the form of more permanent employees at our offices in Swinoujscie.
We feel that only a large investment package will be enough to maintain our project goals, especially for products slated in 2017 and beyond.
We’d like to take some time to wish you all a Happy New Year!
As always, you have our sincere gratitude for your patience and support – can’t
wait to finally repay you all by delivering what we’ve been promising.
See you in 2016!
Leatherneck Simulations Team