A letter from Eagle Dynamics - 28 November 2017
Dear valued DCS World customers,
Over the past several months, we have read your concerns and frustrations regarding aspects of the growth of DCS World. In particular, the length of time that it has taken to create the unified DCS World version (DCS World 2.5) and our DCS World War II developments. We’d like to talk to you about both of these to help foster a clear picture of where we were, where we are now, and where we plan to be.
First of all, thank you all for your support and being with us for the past 27 years and sharing our vision of what we believe the flight simulation genre can ultimately achieve. From the very beginning, when Eagle Dynamics was established in 1991, our main priority was the creation of highly realistic flight simulations. At that time, there were just seven of us when we released our first project: Su-27 Flanker 1.0 in 1995. Over the past 27(!) years, we’ve come a long way from a simple computer game, to a professional-level combat environment simulator. Today, we have about 80 internal programmers, artists, managers, testers and producers. Additionally, we have 18 partners and 3rd party developers that are participating in our internal projects, as well as developing their own modules for DCS World. During our entire history, we have remained loyal to our initial dream of making the most realistic combat aviation simulations. Starting from one simple, Standard Flight Model (SFM) Su-27, we took our next step in 2003 with seven aircraft for Lock On: Modern Air Combat (LOMAC). Following LOMAC, we created our first Advance Flight Model (AFM) for the Su-25T in 2005. Next came our first Professional Flight Model (PFM) for the Ka-50 Black Shark and the A-10C Warthog in 2008 and 2009. For an aircraft like the A-10C, it usually takes about three years of hard work to develop a PFM.
In parallel to development of the software for these aircraft, getting the required permissions/license agreements (aircraft manufactures and government) can often be a big obstacle and time-consuming process. For both the Ka-50 Black Shark and A-10C Warthog, we spent two years of great effort to get such permissions! More recently, and with great difficulties, we finally signed the necessary agreements to allow the sale of our upcoming DCS: F/A-18C Hornet. The team has been working very hard on this project and we are at the point now where we are talking much more about it with regular updates. After a long period of developing needed technologies (flight model and radar), research, design (data on late-LOT F/A-18C), and legal matters, we are nearing the point in which we will be able to provide the Early Access version of the Hornet. Right behind the Hornet, we have other modern, combat fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft ready for development within the Eagle Dynamics internal studio. Our talented 3rd parties are also working hard on other great aircraft like the AV-8B Night Attack S/VTOL, F-14 Tomcat, FC-17, F-4E Phantom II, Mi-24P Hind, Bo-105, and others. Naturally, all 3rd party projects are only made possible with very active, hands-on, technical support and creation of APIs from Eagle Dynamics. So, please be assured that we have not given up our initial dream! Modern, combat aviation is alive and well in DCS World and will continue to be. This is our bread and butter.
One of the biggest factors in creating a great flight simulation is the graphics engine. This is also probably the most technically complicated. During our 27 years history, we have internally developed five generations of graphics engines. This is a massive effort for such a small company, whereas many other companies use “off the shelf” graphic engine solutions. We have evaluated other engines (MSFS, OSG, etc.), but we always returned to our own internal solutions because only they provided the capability and quality we demand for a modern, combat aviation simulation. The biggest needs has been the ability to render an environment that looks and performs great from 1 meter to 50,000 meters. This is where we believe our graphics engine is quite unique and powerful.
Graphics cards are developing so rapidly that many companies are not capable of keeping their technology current with new hardware. After eight years of intense work, we recently developed a very stable version of our graphics engine that is based on DX11, Deferred Shading technology, and Physical Based Rendering (PBR). We are also developing our engine to take advantage of the Vulcan API to further improve game performance. Having a great looking game is moot if it does not perform well. It’s important to understand that a graphics engine is not only a Scene Renderer, but the terrain creation tool technology is equally important. This is the main reason why we could not merge DCS 1.5 Caucasus and 2.1 Terrains for such a long and regretful time. To do this, we first need to convert all the terrains, missions, training, and campaigns that were developed over many years for Caucasus map to an absolutely new terrain data structure and adjust all applied programs. We’ve put a massive amount of work into this effort and it is almost complete. We plan to release DCS World 2.5 in the coming weeks!
Now, let’s talk a little about DCS World War II and why it does not delay our modern day combat aircraft and why it’s a valuable aspect of DCS World for us and you.
• The Fighter Collection (TFC), Eagle Dynamic’s principle partner, has one of the largest, private collections of World War II aircraft. TFC has been requesting World War II aircraft for a long time, so we cannot ignore our partner. We and TFC agree that WWII combat aviation is a very interesting flight simulation genre, especially for customers that enjoy history and massive dogfights. TFC has supported this direction from the very beginning.
• World War II aircraft attract new customers that may have not otherwise been familiar with DCS World. Many DCS World War II pilots move to our jet aircraft that are within the integral DCS World. So, our World War II aircraft provide a good advertising environment for the DCS World concept as a whole.
• Many of our new programmers and artists are responsible DCS World War II. They are separate from our main project (like the F/A-18C) developers, and they are not involved with the modern aircraft development efforts. Otherwise, it would not be practical/efficient to develop aircraft like the F/A-18C with staff split between projects. Also, DCS World War II is a great “school” for new programmers before they take on extremely complicated Modern Air Combat projects.
• We could deliver modern, complicated aircraft faster than we and our 3rd parties are already doing, but growing a business needs more and more revenue to grow the team and make better products. We were very surprised to find that the investment vs. generated revenue has been excellent for the World War II aircraft. In fact, the P-51D Mustang has twice the cost effectiveness of the A-10C Warthog.
As you can see, DCS’s World War II series doesn’t compete with modern aircraft projects for development resources. In fact, it supports it! The same is true with the L-39 and Yak-52 projects. These two projects were also sought by government institutions, but we were also able to negotiate their release to you.
We very much hope this all makes sense for you and sheds some light on these matters.
We are reaching an important milestone of DCS World with the release of DCS World 2.5. This combined with an exciting list of new aircraft, new maps, and great new mission content, is furthering our dream from 1991. Thank you for being part of the journey with us!
Eagle Dynamics Development Team