Leatherneck update on the DCS forums

Cobra posted this in the DCS forums: DCS Forum Link

Dear All,

We’ve been very quiet over the past few months, which has simply been a result of working hard over the summer months and focusing on making strong progress on our upcoming product line.

This update will be fairly small as it will mainly focus on the improvements and changes coming to the MiG-21, and auxiliary components of that product.
We are almost ready to reveal the aircraft we’ve been working so hard on over the summer, especially as we begin to hit milestones that were set for the end of summer/beginning of fall period.

Before we move into our first subtopic, I’d like to take the time to welcome Stirling Rank to the Leatherneck roster.
Hailing from the land down under, he 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.
We also look forward to expanding the team by another two members towards the tail end of the year.

With DCS 1.5 (and 2.0) just around the corner; we have focused on rolling in all of our improvements of the MiG-21 module into this particular version.
This will likely be the first version we do not consider to be a “Beta” – but development of the product does not end here.
It is also possible that we will retroactively implement features present in our new aircraft.

Here is a general overview of what is changed and fixed in the MiG-21 for the next patch. Some fixes are not listed.

  • Implemented RU Game Localization
  • Replaced multiple existing inputs with toggle inputs.
  • Added 9 New Keyboard Inputs: ASP Target Size, KPP Pitch Set, RSBN/PRGM Channel Select, Radio On/Off, RadioVolume & Chl Selection
  • 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, per-pylon/weapon limit)
  • 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
  • Added red floodlights in cockpit
  • 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 implementation

It is possible that some fixes are not listed at all, or listed only partially.
It is also very likely that some fixes may be in progress and not listed here to avoid disappointment, but may be included in the release.

Backer Rewards is an item we’ve been silent on for a while simply because we’re struggling with the logistics involved, and also the amount of work to design, order and ship any items.
That said, we’re ready with our Boxed copies, and hopefully will be completely ready with the replacement rewards very soon.
I promise to make this a priority in the upcoming few weeks, so expect to hear from us if you’re eligible for one of these rewards.

We are making strong progress on the F-14, even though our other upcoming products are prioritized in terms of manpower.
Much work has recently been done to reverse engineer required parts of aircraft flight performance, so as to ensure the PFM is accurate.

Most of the work being done on the Tomcat is still (just like in the last update) the deep systems and their modeling.
We are done with the Electrical, Engine and AICS components, and have moved on to Advanced Flight controls, Navigation and Instrumentation.
Interestingly, many of the F-14s’ systems are possibly simpler than one of our unannounced aircraft, but there is simply more – and that takes time.

Art development is progressing as well, with all exterior and interior components being animated and various model flaws have been corrected.
We’re currently working on rigging and animating the pilot, texturing, rebuilding the internal gearbays as well as a large amount of UVW Mapping.

I know it’s a fairly boring F-14 update; but that is generally how development goes.
Long stretches of deep technical programming work, while the graphical component is not much more than the pretty layer on the very top of the stack.

It is not long until the majority of our now large development team turn our entire attention to the F-14, and in that period of time we will likely see
unprecedented (for us) speed of development.

On a more visual and fun note; our dedicated F-14 site went up recently, you can find it at: http://www.leatherneck-sim.com/f14/

Terrain & Theatre Development
We’ve recently began ramping up the amount of time we spend on developing our new theatres and terrains for DCS World. Currently we have three separate theaters in development, one of which we have previously announced and will be released together with the F-14. The other two are slated for release either with, or directly after the release of our other two aircraft. All three are very unique and don’t really have a lot in common. This is both a blessing and a curse, as it makes it easier to create more theaters in these particular environments later on, but also dramatically increases current workload.

Our goal with theaters is to not only build a great environment to immerse the player in the game world, but to also try and provide an appropriate framework for the aircraft we create.
To achieve this framework, we have to spend a lot of time creating AI Aircraft, Ground and Naval units, all of which represent a huge investment of time and effort.
Thus, we hope to avoid aircraft that are ‘misplaced’ in the wrong theater and environment. Naturally, the main campaign for each module will take place in their respective theater.

Current Art team focus on the front of Theatre development is the creation of everything from terrain textures (many based on Photogrammetry), environmental models, props & buildings, airfield objects, and ‘unique’ terrain features (Some terrain features require extra detail, an unrelated example would be Mt. Rushmore).
We’re also creating custom models and artwork for e.g. trenchlines, defensive installations and unique coastlines.

The construction of the overall terrain components such as the coastline, roads, towns, airfields, fields, forests and more takes an incredible amount of time.
I’m sure you can imagine how time consuming it can be to mark out each and every field in an e.g. 250x250 km area.
Then add in all the forests and towns, and you certainly have your work cut out for you.
Thankfully, resources exist to more easily automate some terrain features, such as roads.

One of the most time intensive tasks is the creation of airports and airbases.
These can be very complex, with many unique buildings and large amounts of interconnected taxiways and runways.
Proper integration of AI pathing and other components such as beacons and radio frequencies, together with the documentation for these (charts and other reference) significantly add to the workload.

Theatre development has been a learning process for us. We’ve already grown proficient with working with terrain in DCS world and we look forward to applying our new knowledge to continuously expand the world of DCS, whether it is to complement our own aircraft modules or those in development by other DCS developers.

Most of the team’s focus has currently been on our two upcoming aircraft that are not the F-14.
We hope to announce one of these, which is part of a larger project during the month of September, and the other in October.

We fully understand that it is frustrating to sit around and wait for an announcement of modules that are already so far into development; but I believe that you will all be very happy and very satisfied with the reveals coming up.
We have been extremely busy for a good reason, so prepare to have your jaws collectively drop. (Hopefully, anyways )

As mentioned in a previous update, both of these aircraft (just like the F-14) have required us to develop new in-house technologies and components.
We have also continued our work over the past few months to mature our in-house tools for easier analysis and creation of FM and system components.
Most of these new technologies do however refer to in-game cockpit systems and avionics. Some have simply been time consuming, while others have been difficult in design, replication and implementation.

They include, but are not limited to for example;

  • Ground Mapping and Targeting Radar
  • Complex missiles with Advanced Targeting Parameters
  • Custom shaders for enhanced visual fidelity (e.g. CRT Screen representation)
  • Unique visual features (In-pilot customization, etc.)
  • New audio cues and enhanced fidelity
  • Far more complex avionic and computer systems than in the MiG-21
  • New and unique PFM features and aerodynamic configurations
  • New or unique methods of propulsion or force distribution

We’re also investing a lot of time into auxiliary components that require a lot of care and attention to detail. These include Audio, UI Artwork, Documentation, Mission & Campaign building, Training packages, music and Web/PR. Usually these are done in the final stages of development; where the aircraft approaches a feature complete status.

The manual for one of our upcoming aircraft currently weighs in at around 350-400 pages; making it one of the thickest DCS manuals to date.
Lots of fun, detailed reading for you all – but also nicely illustrates the complexity of our roadmap.

That more or less concludes this mini-update.

As we announce our new and upcoming products, you’ll be bombarded with screenshots, videos, written previews, livestreams, and much more. Stay tuned!

We very much look forward to you all enjoying another Leatherneck product soon ™!

Best Regards,
Leatherneck Simulations

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I moved 4 posts to an existing topic: Leatherneck Simulations Mini-Update - SEPTEMBER 2015