Dr Stone To The OR: DCS A-10C Warthog

By Alec Meer on February 24th, 2011 at 2:21 pm.

That's a plane, right?

It is with some nervousness that I attempt to share news of the release of hardcore flight sim DCS: A-10C Warthog. It sounds and looks like a pretty remarkable achievement, but as I tend to start weeping uncontrollably if you put me on anything more complex than Crimson Skies or Stunt Island I may not be best placed to successfully identify the major lures of this beast. That said, it does include a ‘game’ mode as an alternative to exacting simmery, so perhaps I’d not be completely out of my depth.

Like its predecessor Black Shark, this focuses primarily on a single sky-car – the titular wild pig, a US close air support attack aircraft. Devs Eagle Dynamics tout it as “The most realistic flight dynamics ever done for a PC simulation”, and if there’s anyone who knows about dynamics clearly it’s them.

It’s on sale for $60 now, as a digital exclusive. A high price for sure, but I get the sense they’ve crammed an awful lot into this. Buy it or read an eyewatering amount of Warthog detail here.

Here’s a fan-made trailer, based on clips from the long-running beta. Very much demostrates that this is SERIOUS BUSINESS.

Here too is in-game footage from the initial training missions. This is purely how to start the Warthog up – a process so impressively in-depth that it requires no less than two videos. Hold me. I’m scared.


And, yes, Mr Stone will be penning a Wot I Think in good time.

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56 Comments »

  1. crozon says:

    Man do I buy this or not. Going to buy Il2 Cliffs Of Dover but this looks so good. And more importantly will I have time to play it with Crysis 2, Homefront, Shogun 2 and Portal 2 all already pre-ordered.

    • Novotny says:

      If you can afford to, buy both. It’s a bit of a niche genre these days, and those of us with a love for pretending to drive flying machines should try to support the little industry as much as possible.

    • crozon says:

      Yeah might have to buy just to support them. Did buy Black Shark as soon as it came out. If it comes out on Steam I will buy it now right now.

      In fact do a deal on Black Shark and this on Steam and I’ll buy em both even though I already have Black Shark.

    • Bishop says:

      This year I have to make a 3D game as part of a uni assignment. I decided with a futuristic flight sim game where you play as a drop shop pilot. What I cannot gauge is whether any flight sim enthusiasts would enjoy flying a made up aircraft. What do you guys think?

    • Novotny says:

      Some might, but the problem with a lot of simmers is that they get very precious about their titles being ‘sims’ and not ‘games’. Thus anything that’s not ultra-realistic gets screamed down as a ‘game’. Not all of them, by a long chalk, are like this, but those who are are probably the most vociferous, skewing any appreciation as to their actual proportion of simmers.
      I posted this recently at SimHQ: I always suspect this comes down to grown men feeling a bit silly about the concept of playing video games. Much more ‘manly’ to claim we are piloting simulations! Except we’re not; we are playing games, you daft sods.

    • TimA says:

      I’d play it, I have no problem with flying fictional aircraft as long as the physics doesn’t go completely crazy.

      I remember I had a game on PS2 called Dropship, where you piloted a VTOL… dropship. It was pretty fun for a while.

  2. PureUncut says:

    The work that Eagle Dynamics are doing is phenominal.

    I’m going to have to mentally prepare myself for this purchase, and probably upgrade a few cogs in my machine.

    Hopefully it will follow in the footsteps of Black Shark and get released on Steam sans the starforce with limited activation sillyness.

    • bartleby says:

      The activation thing isn’t so bad. I think you get seven or something, but they recharge. I haven’t seen any reports about it being a problem.

  3. Brumisator says:

    I bought this, and as a casual flight game player, HO BOY! I’m completely overwhelmed.

    It’s a great sim, but really not for the faint of heart (although there are options to reduce the realism in many different ways)

    • Novotny says:

      Indeed. I have Flying Shark, but really haven’t got to grips with it because the learning curve is mental. Still, I want games like these to be made, and will be buying Warthog as a result.

  4. DiamondDog says:

    “The most realistic flight dynamics ever done for a PC simulation”

    But we can’t do legs.

    EDIT: Or even a body!

    • stahlwerk says:

      Exactly. Maybe there’s a corporeal mode that could be activated. Surely the pilot’s weight has to factor into the simulation, but unless he is made of dark matter MY IMMERSION SHE IS RUINED.

    • kirkbjerk says:

      They in fact do have the body modeled and animated, they removed it from the training tutorial as to not obscure any of the switches.

  5. WMain00 says:

    That’s alot of buttons.

  6. dwpenney says:

    This sim gives me the cold shivers … in a good way, if that is even possible. I have been playing the beta on and off for a few months and all I’ve managed to accomplish is take off and land. That’s not to scare anyone else away, but the sim is so damn deep that I am afraid to take my little piggy anywhere near the enemy for fear of having her shot out from under me before I get the chance to land this complex beast. The manual is heavy (size and complexity) but there are a number of checklists, YouTube videos and in-game tutorials to get past a lot of this learning curve. You have to invest time in it and you _have_ to have flight hardware (joystick, throttle, pedals).

    I look forward to IL-2: Cliffs of Dover as well. This genre is vastly under represented and is close to being a vanishing breed (hardcore sims). It’s is too easy (?) for companies to make a quicker buck hitting the easier targets instead of investing the time and effort to produce something this big.

  7. Stitched says:

    Please tell me there are hot-keys? I seriously don’t want to have to duck down my head to flick some switch my mouse. They managed to “Men of War” a flight-sim. Impressive.

    • Novotny says:

      Should be, everything (or practically everything) is keyboard mapped in Black Shark.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Games/simulations like this are intended to have your most critical controls mapped to your HOTAS system — your joystick and throttle controller buttons and switches. You don’t want to take your hands off the primary flight controls. Less critical controls are usually mapped to the keyboard, although some things like setting radio frequencies might require mouse interaction, I dunno.

      Maintaining situational awareness is done via head-tracker like TrackIR, so you can glance down briefly at the instruments, and keep your visual lock on ground targets and threats. I haven’t played the beta or anything, that’s just how sims like this are usually “meant” to be played.

  8. stahlwerk says:

    Is there in any way, shape or form a sensible mapping for the xbox 360 controller for this? Just for flightstick/rudder and camera control, I mean.

    • Novotny says:

      I’m not sure if it can be done, but if it helps, I can tell you that when temporarily stickless I mapped a 360 controller for IL2. It was nearly impossible to fly well and quite frustrating. So bear this in mind if you want to give it a go with Warthog – if you get frustrated, it might well be the controller’s fault.

    • dwpenney says:

      Mapping: yes, maybe, as long as it shows up as a typical DirectX set of Axi (Axises?). Sensible: not a chance.

  9. Hodag says:

    I worked on Falcon 4 eons and a day ago, so I have been addicted to high quality flying combat simmage for a very ™ long time now. Todays news makes me weep with joy.

    • Turin Turambar says:

      You were a Falcon 4.0 dev, on Microprose?
      Nice to have people like you in this site!

    • Novotny says:

      *Prostrates himself* we are not worthy.

  10. utharda says:

    Buying to support the genre, will play when I get a new hotas setup -)

    looks very sexy. and come on the learning curve can’t be worse than eve. -)

    • Zenicetus says:

      The learning curve can’t be worse than Rise of Flight either (WW1 sim), where you have just a very small number of controls to worry about, but everything is always close to the edge of failure in those fragile kites: “I’m in a dive… but wait… is my radiator at the right setting? Watch those RPMs! Crap, there goes the engine!”.

  11. utharda says:

    After watching the video, I’ll say I may have been wrong on the curve, holy mackeral. or warthog.

  12. apa says:

    I consider myself to be a flight sim guy but this is going overboard. The theoretical market for this kind of software is what, a few hundred thousand people worldwide? The flight sims kill themselves :(

    What I want from a flight sim:
    - Shooting. Civilian pilot wannabees can go and fly that Microsoft sim.
    - A flight model that feels realistic. It does not have to be 100% real but it has to feel right. There’s no seat-of-the-pants feeling anyway when you’re sitting at a computer so absolutely 100% correct flight modeling would not feel any more real than something that cuts a few corners. Example: Venus Patrol. It feels quite good and way better than most airplane games released in recent years.
    - Abstraction for aircraft systems. I don’t want to check oxygen level gauge operation. I don’t want to switch battery power on. I want to start the engines, get “go” from radio and push throttle to afterburner. If that would blow up the plane in real life the game can offer some stability control and raise the throttle slower. Also: weapons and radar systems need abstraction. Shooting with those things takes A LOT of studying in real life. I want to fly to the target, find in on radar and shoot a missile.
    - Take-offs and landings! And then I need autopilot and time compression to get to the fun part without sitting as a statue for an hour.
    - Dynamic world, campaign, fun missions: Add Enemy Engaged series and Apache Assault to the blender and mix.
    - Dogfights.
    - Humanly understandable learning curve. If I want to cook my head off I can do that between 8.00-16.00 during weekdays, thank you.

    In short: I want the turn-of-the-millennium flight sims which I played as a kid: F-15 Strike Eagle 2, F-117, Enemy Engaged, Gunship 2000, Chuck Yeager’s Air Combat… All those but with 2011 graphics and all the other stuff they can do nowadays!

    Can I have this?

    • immerc says:

      Exactly my thoughts. I don’t mind all this complexity being in there, if there’s a knob to tune it down, or turn it off. In fact, it’s better that it’s in there than if it isn’t, because that means good things for the overall realism. But while it might be interesting to go through the fully real startup procedure once, I wouldn’t want to have to do that every time.

      Even the old grandfather king of sims, Falcon (3? 4?) had an instant action mode where you could start up in the air with things to shoot at.

      I’m not at all interested in playing a 3rd person, behind-the plane, arcade flyer where you can’t stall, you have unlimited missiles, and if you die you respawn a few seconds later. On the other hand, I don’t want to have to remember to turn off the APU as step 27 of the engine startup procedure every time I go flying.

  13. stahlwerk says:

    Those three levers below the HUD… am I right in assuming they’re to jettison the Engines and APU selectively in case one of them catches fire? If so, that’s incredibly metal. It’s like a salamander shedding it’s tail. A salamander with a 30mm death hose.

    • PureUncut says:

      They don’t jettison but it will cut off fuel supply and activate fire suppression systems. Losing an engine during flight would probably tear off most of the tailplane.

      I don’t know about the A-10 but APU fires in airliners are usually extinguished with an inert gas. The 737 for example uses a canister of Freon with a nitrogen propellant at approx 800psi. Fun stuff.

  14. Blaq says:

    Oh man, that’s one well-made trailer. I’m not even into flight sims and it makes me want to play one. Amazing shots with an amazing soundtrack. The fact that it’s community made just makes it that more impressive.

  15. TimA says:

    I’ll say it again: this is one of the greatest flight simulators for PC ever made. It really is just that good.

    $60 is very reasonable for what you’re getting.

  16. dragonhunter21 says:

    I live out in the middle of Kansas. We’ve got a runway here, close enough to the local bombing range that the A-10s and F/A-18s park here when they’re not practicing. Every other year, we have an open-house with a bunch of aircraft flying over and occasionally strafing targets on the ground. Last year, the A-10s got to fly an entire simulated training exercise, complete with dummy missiles being fired at them, four strafing runs and several dummy bombs dropped on them. Seeing those birds on an attack run is something to behold… and it’ll be nice to get inside the cockpit.

  17. Jambe says:

    Excellent.

    I feel obliged to link to this video of a close call with an A-10 strafing run.
    If he didn’t shit himself during the first pass he sure as hell did on the second one.

    Lord, Almighty.

  18. tyrspawn says:

    This is the next “Falcon 4″ – it’s probably going to be one of the best, if not the best, flight sim made thus far.

    I have been hesitating from buying it, just because i’m poor. One of these days i’m just going to make a snap decision and place my order. All they need to do is offer it on Steam and it makes my decision even easier.

  19. sinelnic says:

    Also, also! This guys have been doing sims since forever, and their roster includes actual former US and Russian military personnel, and Russian mathematicians who can levitate on thought. Also, parts of the sim are shared with an actual USAF training sim this same guys developed for, well, the USAF.
    Also, you can use multiple monitors with it, I’m using a second touchscreen monitor so I CAN TOUCH THE BUTTONS ON THE SCREEN AND THEY WORK.
    Also the community is awesome.
    Also it looks incredibly good, it has HDR for instance so looking into the sun HURTS YOUR EYES.

    It’s so incredible that it’s not really believable. Please BUY!!

  20. Headspace says:

    I’ve been enamored of this game since it went into public beta. In my not-so-humble opinion it is the A-10 sim that can finally take the crown of “greatest A-10 game ever” from Parsoft’s venerable A-10: Attack! and A-10: Cuba.

    All of the cockpit elements are clickable, and I wrote a piece of software that lets you integrate the radios in the game to Teamspeak 3, so it emulates the real VHF/UHF radios of the A-10. Check it out at http://www.excessiveheadspace.com/tars and let me know what you think. A-10 is made of win. No lie.

  21. bartleby says:

    Yeah. Been playing this one during the beta. It’s great. The startup is actually a lot easier for the warthog than the Ka-50, from what I’ve found. That one took a while.

    The community has made some really neat tools, too. You can use an ipad as a separate controller. Works pretty well:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zKTVFfN2Y0

    And seriously, just look at this setup: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIFCESs4glM

    I guess the pit builders haven’t finished yet, but that’ll be fun to see when they’re done.

    Many kudos accrue to headspace for the useful and excellent TARS, as well.

    • TimA says:

      Oh god that is amazing! I didn’t want an ipad until now…. bah.

      Some of the setups and simpits you see on the likes of the DCS forums are simply incredible. I don’t know how people have the time or money, but I would so have one.

      And agreed, thanks to headspace for his excellent videos also.

  22. EthZee says:

    Man. When I learned how to pilot the A-10 in Lock On I thought it was a simple plane to fly. This would kick my arse, wouldn’t it.

    I only wish I had a system that could run it.

    • sinelnic says:

      It’s still “very easy” to fly, but now it’s much more acuratelly modelled, so you get the feeling of easily flying a very complex machine.

      It sounds nonsense but it’s not… you have to try it.

    • EthZee says:

      I’m more talking about the frightening amount of buttons and switches I’m going to need to memorise. I’m going to need more keys on my keyboard or something.

  23. Hydrogene says:

    Very impressive trailer ! Now I want to buy the game even if I perfectly know I don’t have the time nor the patience to learn such a complex sim.
    At least it’s nice to know some people are really pushing the enveloppe in realism and graphics on the PC!
    A-10C Warthog looks like the new benchmark of performance on a PC, what else come close?

    • Martha Stuart says:

      every heard of a game called “Crysis”? it is still the bench mark that GFX cards are measured at.

  24. GreatUncleBaal says:

    The first question in one of the stickied threads on the DCS forum for this is about the bezel dimensions of the MFDs – I may be out of my depth on this one, but I’m still fascinated. Looks like I’ll need a decent joystick to do it justice, so I’ll probably buy it when I upgrade to something a little better than my Xbox controller.

  25. Alehkhs says:

    Oh man… I used to play Sierra’s “A10 Tank Killer 2 Silent Thunder” when I was young, along with Digital Integration’s “HIND.”

    This is awesome, and I’ll definitely be checking it out as soon as I secure my new computer. Now if only someone would do another Mi-24 Hind simulation…

  26. Tetragrammaton says:

    My god, It looks like work wil have to wait. Now if I could only afford the HOTAS…….

  27. xcession says:

    Is this properly released now? I tried the open beta about 2 months ago and it was completely unplayable. The software barely loaded.

    • bartleby says:

      The first time you run it, it compiled shaders. That took a few minutes. After that it loaded normally. Is that what was happening?

  28. Surgo says:

    Hopefully Flaming Cliffs 2 will finally come to Steam, followed shortly by this. Black Shark is already there, so how about getting the compatible Flaming Cliffs 2?

  29. Guhndahb says:

    If they could just marry this engine with the Falcon 4 dynamic campaign, well, I’d spend many, many, many monetary units to get my hands on that!

    Many!