Small But Wiry: The Rise Of Flight Beta

By Tim Stone on April 26th, 2009 at 5:03 pm.

WWI boffins came up with various solutions to the Western Front mud problem – floating roadways, artillery shells that spread sawdust, boots in the shape of boats, snorkels… By far the cleverest though was a device called the Aero Plane. Essentially a winged car made of kindling, piano-wire and old big-top canvas (hence Richthofen’s Flying Circus) these machines allowed soldiers to fight and stay clean. Rise of Flight, the beta of which I’ve been dabbling with for the last couple of days, celebrates this momentous military breakthrough in an uncommonly realistic manner.

‘Uncommonly realistic’ is my way of saying ‘I crashed on my first three take-off attempts’. The prangs were partly a consequence of me arrogantly skipping the five tutorials (a mix of classroom cutscene, chalkboard animations, and practical tests) and turning down the pre-mission offers of a ‘simplified flight model’ and ‘no wind and turbulence’ (there’s numerous ways to soften the challenge). Mainly though they were the Russian developer’s fault. I hadn’t expected Neoqb to be quite so fastidious with its physics. With realism sliders maxed-out this is definitely not one of those sims where you just open the throttle and wait for your warbird to lope lazily into the sky. Getting aloft is a delicate balancing act requiring deft rudder input and timely lifting of the tail. Sloppy control means a splintered prop, a buried wingtip, or endlessly trundling around the aerodrome like a runaway lawnmower. Now I’m more aware of the demands, taking-off is actually a dashed satisfying business. Very Rowan’s Battle of Britain.

In the air the physics are no less impressive. The two flyables – the SPAD and the Fokker D.VII – wander and crab, and shake and spin in a most convincing fashion. I’ve obviously never flown a Great War biplane for real, but there’s a greasy pivot-less manoeuvrability in RoF, a sense of exploitable buoyancy, that feels spot-on. Early brushes with bandits suggest a rather well-wrought AI too. Promisingly, I’ve yet to find myself in one of those interminable turning dogfights that sometimes blight WWI air fare. Sensibly, most foes seem reluctant to take the fight to the deck, preferring instead to boom and zoom (or zoom and boom) or run off to a safe distance before scampering back to bushwhack you when you’re absorbed with another target. Devious fokkers.

The cunning isn’t universal however. A couple of times I’ve watched enemy machines buy the farm after misjudging low manoeuvres. Last night I witnessed a particularly gratifying incident where an Albatross tried to follow me down as I spun out of a dogfight. In its eagerness it overstressed its wings and ended up plummeting into a forest in a shower of debris. Although there isn’t the flapping canvas and individual bullet holes some may have hoped for, the damage modelling is quite the thing. Impacts are extremely well simulated with heavy landings and in-flight collisions producing beautifully naturalistic devastation. Clipping a tree or a passing wing can spin your machine right round. The ground beneath a big dogfight ends-up strewn with planes broken in all kinds of fascinating ways.

Sadly, it doesn’t look like the beta will be able to answer my questions about single-player substance. I’d hoped to have a good nose around the campaign, but post-sortie crashes (of both kinds) have so far prevented this. At first glance the set-up seems relatively promising. You begin by choosing a historical squadron (and therefore a sector of the vast Front map) from a long list. If the breadth of that choice translates into mission variety, lively battlespaces, and strong squadron identities then all will be well. A solid campaign would certainly help counter apparent shortcomings like the lack of a skirmish generator, and the shortage of steeds. It seems RoF will ship with just two (admittedly highly detailled) flyables. Additional craft like the Albatross and Nieuport 17 will be made available later as payware extras.

And I’m still uneasy about the sim’s non-negotiable Net connection requirement. Whether it’s for stat collecting, rank updating, or piracy prevention, insisting on a connection for solo play is a silly idea and one that may scare off many potential pilots. Going by the beta, Neoqb have something quite special on their hands here, and it would be an awful shame if folk stayed away.

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53 Comments »

  1. Erlam says:

    God, I hope this is like the old Red Baron. I’ve wanted a game like that for years.

  2. teo says:

    DRM doesn’t make people buy games. Maybe less people pirate them initially but they sure as hell won’t buy the game either

    How many people stayed away from Riddick because of the DRM? I know I did

  3. Richard J says:

    Any idea of release date as of yet?

  4. MrBejeebus says:

    looks good but im not much into flight sims, seeing as i have a laptop for all my computer use i never have enough keys :(

  5. psyk says:

    They going to open the beta to more people at any time?

  6. HidesHisEyes says:

    System requirements are pretty heavy!

    Recommended system requirements

    Platform: PC
    Operating system: Windows® XP (SP2)/Vista (SP1)
    Processor: Intel® Core™2 Quad 2.6 GHz
    RAM: 3 Gb
    Hard disk: 8 Gb
    Videocard: 768 Mb, compatible with DirectX 9.0c, with support of Pixel Shaders v3
    Audio: compatible with DirectX 9.0c
    Access to the Internet: 256 Kb/s
    Joystick: compatible with Direct X 9.0

  7. Tim Stone says:

    It’s hitting shelves in CIS countries on May 7th. Not sure about release dates elsewhere.

  8. VTgamer says:

    That picture of the plane that went upside down reminded me of the two rules of flying:
    1. Number of takeoffs should equal the number of controlled landings.
    2. When landing the plane, sticky side down!

  9. pepper says:

    Its not really that your takeoffs need to equal your landings, as you might know some cunningly smart people once decided to jump out of a vehicle that was flying through the skies with a parachute, this turned out to be quite a life saver,

  10. DMJ says:

    Then in that case one might venture to ensure that the number of any sort of landings should not exceed the number of take-offs under any circumstances?

  11. pepper says:

    Well, i suppose so, I personally have more take-off’s then landings if we’d only look at it from the flying-in-aircraft perspective, i usually leave the plane about somewhere between 6 and 12 thousand feet. Which i reckon is also flying and landing, although some more sane people argue otherwise.

  12. WotDaFu... says:

    Platform: PC
    Operating system: Windows® XP (SP2)/Vista (SP1)
    Processor: Intel® Core™2 Quad 2.6 GHz
    RAM: 3 Gb
    Hard disk: 8 Gb
    Videocard: 768 Mb, compatible with DirectX 9.0c, with support of Pixel Shaders v3
    Audio: compatible with DirectX 9.0c
    Access to the Internet: 256 Kb/s
    Joystick: compatible with Direct X 9.0

    I’ll stick with Il-2 Sturmovik, thanks.

  13. psyk says:

    they need to make games that need more resources and better hardware to run.

  14. Ben C says:

    Hrm, when will they talk about the single player campaign? This will make it or break it for me. Also I’m not too keen on having to continue to pay for aircraft just to get a marginally realistic number of types … 2 is … not much.

  15. Alikchi says:

    I am seriously looking forward to this. It’s been faaaaar too long since we’ve had a good WWI flight sim.

  16. Heliocentric says:

    Demanding, but pretty…

    http://mission4today.com/index.php?name=ForumsPro&file=viewtopic&p=46819

    IL2 has WW1 mods, I wonder if this title by its exclusivity is better at planes made or sticks and rubber bands.

  17. Persus-9 says:

    Bloody hell! Those specs are high! I mean seriously, making everyone who runs 2Gb ram, a vanilla 4870 or a core 2 duo below the recommended can’t be good a good idea. I’ve got a 4870 so these are the first spec I don’t meet. I just checked the Steam hardware survery and currently less than 15% of Steam users have that much VRAM and also less than 15% have four cores.

  18. DigitalSignalX says:

    Oddly enough, the specs don’t seem be the rub with those who reply to the site’s blog section, but the online-always seems to be a huge thorn.

    My guess is this title will fall into obscurity quickly as a result of both.

  19. psyk says:

    Platform: PC – check
    Operating system: Windows® XP (SP2)/Vista (SP1) – check
    Processor: Intel® Core™2 Quad 2.6 GHz – check
    RAM: 3 Gb – check
    Hard disk: 8 Gb – check
    Videocard: 768 Mb, compatible with DirectX 9.0c, with support of Pixel Shaders v3 – check
    Audio: compatible with DirectX 9.0c – check
    Access to the Internet: 256 Kb/s – check
    Joystick: compatible with Direct X 9.0 – damn

    Bring it on is all I can say

  20. pepper says:

    psyk, stick drivers can be updated, otherwise use a emulator.

  21. psyk says:

    no joystick it got chucked awhile ago. Will have to invest in one again as I seem to need one these days.

    lol love it “The paranoid delusional are already posting about privacy violations and what not. Slow down, take a deep breathe and CHILLLL!!! ”

    oh dear god how can these people continue surviving
    “My personal opinion:
    I have no access to the internet 7 days a week either, but I don’t have the time to play 24/7 anyway and I wouldn’t play just a single game all the time. “

  22. Persus-9 says:

    @ DigitalSignalX

    I didn’t realise the internet connection had to be always on or at least has to be on at the start and end of each single player mission. That does seem pretty insane and I have to say their justifications for it don’t really add up, they don’t seem to be doing anything TrackMania doesn’t do in their stats tracking and DLC (except they’ll be allowing people to charge for their creations which is an interesting choice) and TrackMania allows offline play, some sort of offline play is just basic for a game that isn’t purely multiplayer.

    I think you’re right, this won’t end well for this game or the company who have obviously poured a lot of money into it’s developement or quite possibly for the people who buy copies of the game and find that six months later the servers they need to connect to are offline because the developers went bust.

    I’ve never really been worried about the whole servers disapearing aspect of internet connection requiring DRM before but in this case I can see it happening. It’s going to be hard enough making money of a realistic WWI flight sim and between this and the specs they’re alienating at least three quaters of their potential customers.

    I really like the look of this game but I’ve got a feeling it’s all going to end in tears.

  23. Cigol says:

    With any luck pirates will find a way of circumventing it. They did the same with iRacing so I don’t see why the same won’t be true of this. It’s an inconvenience to pay for a product and then ‘crack’ (or as some like to call it; ‘fix’) it, but there you go, you can (or in this case, SHOULD be able to) get around it if it is a big deal to you.

  24. Sum0 says:

    I spent most of my time in Il-2 shooting bits off of heavy bombers and seeing how long I could survive clipping wings with the enemy, so I’m looking forward to this.

  25. Terr says:

    But does it have zeppelins?

  26. mejobloggs says:

    Looks awesome. Will need to update my pc a bit though

  27. Aftershock says:

    I didn’t know you were talking about planes until some time after i clicked on the link in my RSS.

    :(

  28. Shadowcat says:

    And I’m still uneasy about the sim’s non-negotiable Net connection requirement [...] insisting on a connection for solo play is a silly idea and one that may scare off many potential pilots [...] it would be an awful shame if folk stayed away.

    WW1 is my favourite flight-sim era, and this is the first commercial offering to cover it in years, so I’ve been really looking forward to this, but requiring an internet connection in single-player is pretty much a deal-breaker for me (unless the price is ridiculously cheap — Steam has convinced me with a few $5 offerings).

    Assuming it’s decently stable and all, I would gladly pay a regular price for RoF otherwise. Sorry Neoqb. I’m sure I’m in a vocal minority, so I don’t expect a policy change, but me and my wallet will be waiting if things change down the track. Good luck in any case.

  29. theleif says:

    This is the first game released that is below my spec. And this very day i noticed that my PCU fan was broken. Well, managed to jury-rig another fan to cool it down, but it must be a sign… Or maybe i should stick with my 8600 gtx and my 2.4 core duo. I could get my ram up to 4 gig though. 2 gig ram is probably my main bottleneck right now.
    But really. 2 planes. And you have to dish out money to get more? And internet connection required for singleplayer? Come on.

  30. Subject 706 says:

    Hm. Even the snotty, super-elitist pc gamer that hides inside my mind, is scared of realistic flight sims. Now, realistic WW1 flightsims are downright vomit-inducing scary.

    Given that this game is going to be (I think) really niche, why in the hells do they think they’ll gain anything by requiring constant internet connection? Likely their target niche isn’t that prone to piracy.

    Any propellerheads out there that disagree?

  31. pepper says:

    Its not as much the internet connection that is the problem, i think the required speed is going to be a much bigger problem, there are enough people out there still stuck on 56k modems whom wouldnt be able to play this game, but can plane sims like IL-2.

    I cant imagine why a company would want to cripple there product as much as they possibly can, because they have a potential new Red Baron 3D in there hands, and many many many simmers do want that.

  32. Dinger says:

    Flight sims are one of the oldest lines of computer games. They’re right up there with MMOFRPGs. Super-elitist, old-school fans appreciate this kinda stuff. Those system specs are pretty impressive though.

    And if you’re really interested in air combat, single-player is an entertaining side show. Let’s face it: once you figure out how the enemy is going to react to your DVII’s spiral climb, all you need to do is perfect that move and you win, even if they throw the Kitchener sink at you.

  33. MonkeyMonster says:

    Jumping Jupiters! Dogfight in 3D! Thats a whole lot of parachuting awesomeness. Shame I have a mere dual core with 2gb memory… Bet it still runs though perhaps not in lovely-o-vision. Still, wtf is with the gripes about permament net connection. *WAIT* don’t flame yet. How about someone (RPS?) makes a forum poll and we find out how many RPS’ers do and don’t have internet:on.

  34. psyk says:

    monkey reading through the blog comments posted above it seems like there worried about privacy.

  35. Chaz says:

    Ouch! At those system specs. Guess I won’t be playing this one which is a shame.

    I can’t understand peoples problem with the internet conectivity thing though. I can’t believe that in this day and age people play games on PC’s that aren’t hooked up to the internet. Alright aside from laptops, but who the hell would sit down to play a flight sim on the train.

  36. Rob Zacny says:

    @Subject 706

    I think you’re spot-on about the anti-piracy measures. This is a bizarre trend among titles aimed at hardcore simmers and wargamers, who are not only unlikely to pirate their games but who are prone to flying off the handle at the faintest whiff of DRM.

    Take heart about the difficulty curve, however. The nice thing about a WWI flyer is that it might be tricky to handle, but it doesn’t have an avionics suite that requires weeks of study and practice. I’d take a skittish, suicidal biplane over an F-22 any day of the week. Especially since WWI air combat is actually fun to play at, as opposed to modern combat’s sterility.

    I really hope this title delivers.

  37. Adam says:

    The DRM problem only penalized legitimate buyers. How many of us have to watch the warning on DVD’s which tells us “Don’t Steal This Movie” and yet pirates rip that out when they steal the movie. So the only people who see it are the ones who legitimately purchased the product. Its the same with DRM in games. The only people it impacts are the people who paid money for the game. It does not deter pirates. What deters pirates is a good quality game. If your game is good then people will buy it!

    The system specs are going to kill almost half of your customers.

    The sim nature and no arcade mode will kill another quarter of your customers.

    The internet connection only to play may have a minimal impact.

    Whats left? One quarter of the people who want to buy this game will buy it. These are bad ideas and should be reconsidered while you still have time to make money on this investment.

    Possible solution: Contract Steam or Impulse to handle DRM for you. The outsource may cost you a little more now but your customers will be much happier with using an established DRM product. So the keys get logged into Steam or Impulse and let them handle how. Also, have an arcade mode to your game – the hardcore sim market is well under 3% of all gamers. Of hardcore sim gamers the flight sim crowd may be the best BUT of that crowd I would estimate 70% of them are modern flight (missiles – radar- guns) gamers.

    I will track this game but my buying decision will be based on the arcade mode. I am the sim gamer who prefers more accessible flight so I’m a sim fan not a hardcore sim fan…. get it!

    Good luck and this is a visually stunning product.

  38. ZeeKat says:

    Looks fantastic. Is it me, or it’s only Eastern Europe that cares about making proper sim games anymore?

  39. Tim Stone says:

    Adam, as I say at the beginning of the piece ‘there’s numerous ways to soften the challenge’

    On the pre-sortie difficulty screen you’ll find tickboxes for:

    *show friendly icons
    *show enemy icons
    *show nav icons
    *simplified gauges
    *aiming helper (indicates necessary lead)
    *flight stabilization
    *autorudder
    *automatic RPM limitation
    *automatic radiator control
    *automatic engine start
    *simplified airplane physics
    *no collisions
    *invulnerability
    *no wind and turbulence
    *unlimited fuel
    *unlimited ammo
    *no MG jams
    *no engine stops during manoeuvres

    Activate a good portion of the above and there’s no reason to be wary.

  40. psyk says:

    “The system specs are going to kill almost half of your customers.”

    read “Recommended system requirements”
    also
    “Flexible system of customisation of complexity of flights, intelligence of opponents, control of plane systems, navigation”
    all on the first link and easy to find.

    Do the privacy nuts not use credit or debit cards and pay for everything in cash cause if they dont thats a nice paper trail right there.

  41. clovus says:

    I really loved playing Fokker (don’t know if anyone else played this game), Red Baron, and some other Sierra combat flight simulations, so this sounds cool.

    But I just wanted to add my shock at the sys recs. This is also the first time I’ve seen a game with specs so far far above my rig. I thought I was in good shape when I got Crysis to run smoothly.

    Oh, and boo to the internet connection thing.

  42. psyk says:

    Am I the only one who remembers that the recommended system requirements are not what you actually need to play the game a lot of you need to stop moaning until the minimum system requirements are released presuming they havent screwed up there translation of the word recommended.

  43. Pup says:

    Hello,
    nice game IL2 like, very ugly DRM. Online for single play ? On which planet do you live !
    Pup

  44. Serondal says:

    for the most part recommended system requirments are actually the min requirments. I’ve had the “Min requirments” several times and not been able to play the game in question.

    Agree with a previous poster that people need to get over the DRM, you give out far more info whenver you buy something with a debit / credit card or go to see the dr or do anything having to do with car loan or home loan ect. If DRM crashed your system is probably because you’re running something unstable to begin with ;)

  45. psyk says:

    Or you have so much crap on your system using its resources its slowing it down, just saying. What are you all going to do in a few years when most games are going to need these specs or better?

  46. Serondal says:

    I don’t have “crap” running on my system. I don’t even use windows explorer when I play games so . . . I don’t think that is going to make up for the fact that I’m running a P4 instead of a dual core and my motherboard doesn’t have a PCI-express slot . . .

    In a few years when most games are going to need these specs or better I’m probably going to buy an x-box 360 or whatever they got out then ;) It is just to expensive to keep up with computer gaming now a day. Who knows maybe Stardock or other indie devs will keep throwing a bone my way every now and again.

    Besides I can’t say a WWI Flight sim is going to make me run out and upgrade my system any how. There are plenty of WWI flight sims that WILL run on my computer that I’m not playing any how.

  47. psyk says:

    Everyone has crap running on there system just ctr alt del and have a look and WHAT also it looks like that time has already come for you, I will see you on the box ;)

  48. Serondal says:

    I dunno I run everything I want to play right now so I’m not to worried. :P Yah I do ctrl alt del and there is nothing running but the kind of stuff that will crash my computer if I stop it . Like I said I don’t even run windows explorer I run everything from my ctrl alt del window.

  49. psyk says:

    Fair enough but I still reckon there the recommended specs to run the game with all the fancy bells and whistles, if people cant run it on full settings then all they have to do is turn the settings down thats what options are there for and if people are getting to the stages where there machines cant play games even when they turned all the options down then its probably a good idea for them to upgrade if they want to continue playing games cause there only going to need more powerful machines to run as time goes on and thats good it needs to happen.

    (shit grammar)

    and from the arma wiki for 2
    Projected Optimal PC System Requirements

    * Quad Core CPU
    * 2 GB RAM
    * Fast GPU (8800GT level) with Shader Model 3 and 512 or more MB RAM
    * Windows XP or Windows Vista
    shit people are going to actually throw fits of rage leading to heads exploding.

    oh and whats this

    Projected Minimal PC System Requirements

    * Dual Core CPU
    * 1 GB RAM
    * GPU with Shader Model 3 and 256 MB RAM
    * Windows XP or Windows Vista
    * Dual-layer compatible DVD drive, 10 GB free space on the hard drive

    cut in half.

  50. pepper says:

    Minimum doesnt mean playable, minimum means capable of starting the program and reaching a gamestate. Not actually a playable game.

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