Monday, 25 November 2013

November update - blocking scenes and adding some wow to a firing range

*update 27-11-13*

Fixed some start-up logic. Systems should now operate when the correct bus voltage and power src is switched in. This is mostly all automatic in the Apache. Once the APU is up, everything should be available (except FCR which I'm guessing is a huge draw), once main engine power is above 84% the generators take over and APU can be switched off.

There's no logic for tripping the generators (currently) so no need for manual intervention. There are two switches above the radio knobs in case that changes.

The cockpit view now responds to g-forces which greatly adds to the feeling of flight. Rising and descending is met with a small amount of corresponding head movement. Subtle yet feels totally natural.

* end *

First a shout out to followers in Hungary I have no idea what you're writing about us since I don't speak the language but I'm going to assume it's all nice things (or grumbles about release dates). Either way, don't tell me.

It's been a week of relatively good progress. I fixed some nagging MFD issues I spotted during the live Twitch.TV feed (all relating to a single method that gets the AirState). The game loading is much more slick and professional (it feels faster). Currently I'm expanding the audio functions to accommodate ATC and Range Officer speech chains.

On the whole Gunnery isn't quite the game we set out to make, it's a mere hint of what we wanted to do. Having eaten my fair share of humble pie and admitted the Afghan campaign is a bridge too far, Gunnery seems like a natural milestone. The vision in my head of a working live-fire range frequented by gunships from nearby airbases seemed reasonable. Trying to make it entertaining and leave everyone wanting more is going to be a tricky one. Just how much "wow" can you add to a training field? The simple narrative has you preparing for what is to come using lightweight story telling and names that will carry through to later games. No direct to camera speeches or lip synced models here.

I've been blocking out some set pieces to create a sense of constant activity on the range. New dialog will be required to handle it, audio goes a long way to create a sense of a living world. Additionally everyone will be able to edit and load XML based mission files that will spawn objects to shoot at (and some can shoot back).

A blog feels naked without a pic, some of these I posted on Facebook recently. Two of these show attempts to create interesting looking events around the airfield. The idea is to have training flights from off-map bases arriving, then lining-up for the days exercises. You are encouraged to hover taxi around without hitting anything. (horrible run-on sentence corrected)

There will be the live-fire component, flight school grading and score sheets. Exercises will use cannon, rockets and Hellfire missiles (both laser and radar guided). Still working on those, no video yet.

Guess what engine we're using?
Winter wonderland - real-time changes to vegetation
Ultimately what we set out to do back in 2009 was create Longbow 2 with Trees. When Gunnery is released we will be close to realizing that goal. In some ways that seems an easier destination than the real-time dynamics of the campaign we wanted to stage around Herat. However we have the Herat theater Dave built awaiting me to do something with it.

That's it until next week (but I expect o lot of you are playing with new XBOX's and Playstations anyway).


  1. PS4 release is Friday I think for the UK, keep up the good work it looking good, what flight stick would you recommend?

    1. I'll defer on the new consoles till next year, maybe.

      For flight sticks, something with a lot of buttons and easy travel (lots of movement). With rudder pedals or twist-grip.

      Of all the hardware I have the one that stays on my desk is a Saitek X65. Seems a good baseline, lightweight, lots of buttons and Combat-Helo recognizes it out of the box.

      A close second is the Logitech G940 with force feedback. I kind of like it but the force-trim effect is something I haven't quite got right yet (on the to-do list). Can't speak for the TM Warthog, was never sent one but I've got force sensing sticks and they don't work to well for helicopters.

      Of course the BEST stick is probably going to be Komodo Simulations Apache grip replicas based on their existing Bell hardware. Still in development but they are 1:1 copies of the real thing.

  2. Nice update! The pics looking realy good and I can`t wait to see moving pictures. The idea about other training flights sounds great!
    I will pass on the new consoles, as ever, so no factor for me. :-)

  3. Can I apologize for the first draft of this update. The perils of writing a draft last thing at night then hitting the "publish" button. I've edited the above text to contain fewer run-on sentences and grammatical atrocities.

  4. Hi Richard, your work is very imperssive, I cant wait to put my hands on it! Please, can you write something about the flight modeling? That interests me the most of all...

    1. That's a tricky one. When it comes to HTR I'm not sure how much to discuss since Fred never publicly released the source. But I guess in general it's worth discussing. There's also the basic flight model for casuals which is a constant battle to tweak to keep it both accessible and stable. I guess both make for good copy and two very different technical challenges, technical vs gameplay.

  5. Regarding campaigns, I would be more than happy to have a LB2 style of campaign in Combat-Helo (instead of a "real time" campaign).
    LB2 campaign is nevertheless and still a dynamic campaign and in the end that's the only thing that matters (to me at least)!
    To be honest and with the exception of Falcon4, the LB2 was by far the best campaign that I ever played in my life - Albeit not "real time" (more like some sort of "turn based" -> 1 mission/sortie equals 1 day) I preferred LB2 "not real time" campaign much more than the EECH "real time" campaign specially because and despite not being "real time" the LB2 campaign felt much more realistic than the EECH campaigns.

    1. I agree totally, I think the term used for those turn-based campaigns was "snapshot". You can have a snapshot campaign in a real-time game, we can just call the campaign snapshot when you visit the como-tent. I'm just struggling to find excuses to work this into the Gunnery Range map post release, that's not a huge map. Only solution I can think of is update the Afghan map and just use that with some armor.

    2. Well, your idea of having a conventional-war campaign, where Iran would invade Afghanistan and the player's role would be to stop that invasion would be a way to realistically have armour (including enemy) on the campaign.
      Besides that, I may be wrong but I believe that you could still have a counter-insurgency in a "snapshot" campaign - This style of campaign could IMO be even more appropriate in order to model a counter-insurgency war since with the "snapshot" you can spawn the enemy units/insurgents everywhere you want while in a completely real time campaign (such as EECH or Falcon4) this could look a bit awkward - imagine flying your Apache and than suddenly seeing enemy insurgents spawning in some very weird places.