The future evolution of Flight Simming.

To further illustrate my point with a story…

@fearlessfrog and I tried to do some Harrier’ing on Through the Inferno last night. I load up a gunpod and some Mavericks, we get the jets started, realize simple radio is borked, ignore it, and press onwards, guessing which runway is the active because the ATC can’t be bothered to answer us.

5 minutes after taking off I realize I am FAST- checking the stores page it’s revealed that I actually have nothing on my jet because the ground crew decided to ignore my rearm request. We wheel back around towards Nellis and land, I get refitted, and take-off again.

5 minutes after that I’m ‘heads down’ in the F-10 map trying to decipher where the action is based on server messages that fade out after 5 seconds and where our friends are when fearless gets Buk’d by an SA-11 which inexplicably spawned, activated, and launched miles upon miles behind our lines.

As I circle in attempting to avenge him, I think I get a lock, but I’m unable to select INS/Mavericks with my castle switch due to a double-bind/control conflict flag and I then crash my jet trying to fix that at low altitude.

What I’m getting at here is that in DCS, any mission that’s not meticulously edited and tested before play turns into a giant cluster-you-know-what. If you want a grand-scale mission each player is more or less handed a script to act out, and if they deviate from it the mission turns into this:

So, let’s be realistic though- the generation of a dynamic campaign system that basic is what caused Microprose to die a slow, agonizing death.

It’s not perfect, but it’s a reliable way to create a scenario where there’s a lot of traffic other than you behaving in a fashion that’s believable enough to be immersed. If that’s easy to do why has nobody else done it?

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Falcon 4 was by any measure a outlier and not something that is likely to repeat itself, the Dynamic Campaign more so. It has been tried multiple time since, either by external parties(mission makers/modders) or by companies themself. None reached the popularity of Falcon 4, and I doubt it’s for a lack of want/trying.

https://theairtacticalassaultgroup.com/forum/showthread.php?t=25207

Well, it�s just really hard to do. Looking back on it, I think the only reason we took on what we did is because we were too inexperienced to know better. Knowing what I do now, even given my experience on Falcon, the cost to develop such an engine would be substantial. Since flight sims don�t bring in that kind of revenue companies look at it from a cost to benefit standpoint and Dynamic Campaigns score pretty low in that regard. There is also the argument that scripted missions are more interesting which has some merit. I think if I were to do it over I would do a mix of scripted/generated missions, so that the player still feels like they�re involved in the world, but there is also some variety thrown in to keep things interesting.

Another interesting tidbit on Falcon 4:

Did you ever find out the cost of development of Falcon 4.0 (approximately) ?

I honestly don�t know. I could make a guess given my industry knowledge but it would only be a guess. I suspect that in the end MicroProse did not make money on Falcon 4.0 however. This is not to say that flight simulators are entirely unprofitable, it�s just that this one in particular had a much higher than average development cost.

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Being a software guy myself I agree it is far from simple. I still think now it is probably easier than back then. Perhaps someone should try. A DCS level plane model isn’t exactly cheap or easy either.

And yes I could do without it. With a better scripting engine it would be easier to script missions that don’t fail too easily.
I have stopped making complex DCSW missions in 2013 or so because I was so fed up with that, and requests and suggestions by me and many more qualified people were completely ignored.
I see it improve in the meantime but it is still not satisfactory and missions are a nightmare to debug.

My hat is off to all the guys who make good missions because I know how hard those are to pull off. And even the best ones can often be utterly destroyed with one or two actions at the wrong time or a weird AI glitch.
Frameworks like Moose fix some stuff but to be honest those are still band aids and cumbersome to use.

Sad.

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RE dynamic campaign

It may have been pertinent in the day, but I honestly think today is a different beast.

Its been done before, and for free. Take scorched earth for il2 over a decade ago.

I also fail to see how it can be a certainty for financial bankruptcy.

Hell FSX is still raking in bucket loads of money and many businesses have and are still making their livelihoods off that old and seriously defunct code.

Also take into consideration that things like star citizen can raise over 120 million on nothing more than a website and tech demo.

I beg to you that those old notions that a dynamic campaign can’t be made due to financial reasons are as outdated as the notion of witchunting where submerging a restrained woman decided on whether or not she was guilty.

Its ludicrous.

The money is there in games, hell we even buy with fervour unfinished concepts . The competition is almost non existent. The talent in the community is amazing.

For instance, those that followed KSP, a proportion of what is there in base game has been community mods added because they are so good.

I would put a large sum of money down as a bet, that if dcs released a sdk to a select few, that a community made dynamic campaign would be alive within a relatively short period of time.

I Don’t believe for one instance that a dynamic campaign is economically unviable.

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When someone says Falcon BMS going away:
tenor

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Oh man, there’s another good point- the fact that Falcon BMS and everything in it is a MOD developed FOR FREE by dedicated enthusiasts.

@MBot’s “Desert X” missions, DCS Simple Radio, and Combat Flite are all developed by third parties for free on what, by any measure, is a pretty hostile developer environment. Imagine what would be possible if the architecture opened up.

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Hell yeah.
Hands up everyone who would pay 120 bucks or more for a properly working (and be iy only like the Falcon 4 one) dynamic campaign engine.
My hand is up. Come on devs do a KS campaign and I’ll prove it.

Well, Matt Wagner did say he wants it and it will be done. Eventually- when they can do it right.

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With the actual skills of some Mission makers together with MOOSE, if they implement a way to save missions status, ( as ED was able to do at Flanker 1.5 times) i think i could easily forget about any other combat sim. :+1::dizzy_face:

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VR is the game changer for me. There is simply no other sim out there that literally puts me into the cockpits of these aircraft. Sure, I would LOVE a proper dynamic campaign engine. That would of course be the icing on the cake. I would even give up the F111 module if it meant getting a dynamic campaign :wink: .

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VR is awesome for simming, aint it? It’s what i dreamed of back in the 90s when my box utterly failed to run falcon 4.0. We are living in sci-fi days my friend. Il-2 BoX VR is pretty darn good as well. They also have interesting SP campaign plans.

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So, the novelty’s never going to wear off?

You’ll be satisfied with a never ending string of $60 releases of a new cockpit to jump into and running through the same 8 scenarios ad nauseum? (here’s how to cold start. Here’s how to land. Here’s how to execute an interesting thing this plane can do. Here’s a scenario vaguely close to what the plane might actually do.)

Because that’s already gotten old for me- @Bogusheadbox is right, I find myself hopping into the next new module, learning everything, and then quitting after 2 to 4 weeks because that’s the extent of meaningful experience a DCS module has when you know the fundamentals of tactical flying and how a modern fighter’s interface (read: HOTAS and UFC-equivalent) work.

My ultimate (and probably irrational) fear is that DCS and flight sims are marching down the same road AAA gaming did. It’s a lot easier to make a visceral experience and a visual spectacle than a system of meaningful choice. Unfortunately, only one of those holds up after the first 30 minutes… and by then the producer already has your money.

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mzq6m

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The novelty already has worn off. You are right. For long term satisfaction, one needs to be able to do interesting things with the planes within a context that makes sense. Learning to fly and fight the thing itself is one such thing, applying those skills meaningfully is something DCS is somewhat lacking in perhaps.

I am not nearly done learning all of my planes and for that foresee at least a year of full-fat flying fun for me in that. And that’s not counting future releases.

Even if learning to fly is all one could ever do in DCS, I’d get my dollars’ worth. But you are right, it’d be like a throwaway AAA game that you are ‘done’ with after a number of hours. Will it always stay like this? I like to think it won’t.

But it is what it is, and it aint what it aint. I rather see the glass as half-full and see things like MBot’s dynamic scripting, the new Il-2 SP campaigns and think the future is bright. Of course things aren’t going to stay like they are. The only constant in the universe (besides a the planck one and C and perhaps some more :nerd: ) is change.

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I can never say never, but so far, VR has rejuvenated my interest in simming. So, given the choice of a 2D sim with a dynamic campaign, or a VR enabled sim that is missing the dynamic campaign, I’ll go with the latter.

It really comes down to what you want to get out of your sim experience.

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Yeah but that’s a false dichotomy. VR’s here, it’s happening, it’s going to stick around.

The question is whether developers are going to try to build the basis of their revenue stream on “Wow factor” and novelty rather than meaningful choice and depth. Heck, even if they do go that route it’d be fine if they at least gave the community the tools needed to create said choice and depth.

The combat flight sim community in particular has some fairly high barriers to entry. Ignoring the cost of peripherals, software, and the hardware required to run it all, you’re still looking at one of the nastiest learning curves you can find in the sphere of what can be considered “gaming”.

We need the means to give simmers a reason to come back for more.

Eventually one day between IL-BoS and DCS we may have every major/popular combat aircraft simulated. It’s not impossible to imagine now even if it will take a while, and then becomes more a case of being interested in terms of airframes if they are ‘funnies’, in that they are not usually used but still interesting because they are rare (no offence @Bogusheadbox :slightly_smiling_face:).

If we then have all the Gen 4.5’s that secrecy allows, and we have great graphics and great performance then I imagine the only direction future sims go would be either ‘Down’ or ‘Out’:

(a) Down. As in, give more individual aircraft depth. I think there is a market for this, as in FC3 futures and the Russian birds etc. Is there a lot more to do here though that doesn’t get increasingly niche and cost per unit / dev effort though?

(b) Out. As in give a wider simulation of things not just in the aircraft. While we have aircraft switch fidelity (kinda) then will we get more depth in terms of Agency stuff, like ATC, like JTAC, like real world navigation etc. Carriers, ships, fleets. Tanks, infantry and combined arms. Weather, environment persistent damage. There is a lot still to scale a sim out with. Simulating these ‘systems’ doesn’t require a dynamic campaign engine but still a lot of work and tech that doesn’t exist.

As odd as it sounds we might have to one day rebuy our existing modules for a ‘new platform upgrade’, as a way for the sim market to make money and exist not on individual aircraft purchases but on ‘scaling out’ the sim aspect of it. DCS World 2025 might be like getting a new OS, in that you should buy it and upgrade. I mean, once we have the major F-, F/As, A- and some B- types then wouldn’t that be the way to go?

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I think this is overestimated statement. The whole development of F4, and other MP titles at that time I would say, caused MP death.

Imo it is easy to say it was the DC because that explains why nobody did it again. But ask your self, would you do exactly the same again if you are a dev? Is there no other way? Like the semi-dynamic approach etc.?

Isnt there any other company doing prety good campaign and being still profitable? There is one sim which comes to mind, WoFF. The devs are developing next sim atm from WWII - Wings over Third Reich.

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Until they start doing some serious improvements to the way things look and work on the deck, DCS isn’t going to supplant any heli sims in the near future.

I also don’t see DCS competing with the survey sim market.