The Flare Path: Asparagus Tips

By Tim Stone on February 24th, 2012 at 1:01 pm.

The Flare Path thought he knew almost everything about Operation Overlord, but this week he read something in a book by Max Hastings, that left him flabbergasted. Apparently, in the weeks leading up to D-Day, instead of training, the Axis troops manning the Atlantic Wall spent most of their time planting Rommel’s asparagus. Max didn’t go into detail, but obviously the famous Generalfeldmarschall was either extremely partial to the speary vegetable, or – and this seems more likely – he was using Heer manpower in some sort of massive market-gardening scam. Was it Berlin’s discovery of this illicit project that caused the Desert Fox to take his own life in October ’44? The official histories say ‘no’, but FP was sorely tempted to postpone coverage of Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear (a new Matrix wargame) and Accu-Feel (a gizmo from A2A that looks set to revolutionise FSX) and use this week’s column to thoroughly examine the matter.

 

Fizzier physics, sounder sounds

If my 73 years as a semi-professional sim scrutineer have convinced me of anything, it’s that most sim studios need talented sound and physics personnel more than they need adept artists. While our brains are brilliant at transforming green screen pyramids into hills, and blue polygons into lakes, they are utterly hopeless at turning stony silences into the groans of overstressed airframes, or perfect stillness into the judders of discombobulated aerofoils.

One of the few outfits that seems to have its priorities right is A2A. Flying one of their Accu-Sim MSFS adjuncts has always been a treat for both outer and inner lughole. Now it seems they’ve found a way of adding their invisible magic to every aircraft in an FSX hangar.

The imminent Accu-Feel pack, as the following vid delights in explaining, will sit behind Flight Simulator, quietly kicking it up the arse every time it attempts to get away with a bit of a shoddy audio or sub-standard physics. Open a window, or increase drag by showing a bit of flap or landing gear, and an Accu-Felt aeroplane will change its tune appropriately. Switch from cosy but plush Learjet cockpit – to spacious but superannuated DC3 cabin and the number of squeeks and rattles will increase exponentially.

At the 7.50 mark there’s a lovely demonstration of the difference the gizmo makes to landing. Dynamic tire screech, like the rest of the aural enhancements, isn’t just an immersion booster, it should make us better fliers.

I’m not sure I’m entirely convinced by the tarmac-induced vibrations on show from 2.40 onward, (hopefully, they can be endowed with a little more bounce and fuzz via the module’s control panel) but the pre-stall shaking (5.30) looks fabulous. Can Accu-Feel really automatically create plausible profiles for every fixed-wing flying machine in a typical freeware-festooned FSX install? That’s something I’m looking forward to finding-out over the coming week. Look out for some hands-on impressions in next Friday’s Flare Path.

 

Bears repeating

FP’s inner purist thinks PC wargaming should turn its back on its board and tabletop origins. “What’s the point in sticking with dice and steps when CPUs are capable of tracking individual bullet trajectories, blood groups, and bully beef tins?” it drunkenly bawls at FP’s inner nostalgic who, staring into his pint, decides to nod indulgently, rather than point out again the splendid economy that often comes with a good board game-indebted design, or the peculiar pleasure that comes from handling delicately digitized miniatures and counters.

Matrix Games’ latest unencoded transmission describes Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear, a simulation of a simulation. Uwe Eikert’s award-winning tactical board-game is in the process of being painstakingly computerised. Yet more turnbased WW2 Ost Front skirmishing? My heart did sink a few inches on learning of the setting, but the sight of cute counters arranged on a hex-draped 3D board, and talk of ten-minute initiations and faction-specific tactics, caused it to regain some of that lost altitude.

It looks like the game will come with ten scenarios cribbed from its inspiration, plus 16 entirely new 1941-42 situations and a ‘point-buy’ firefight. It’s not immediately clear why all the included scenarios can’t be played with custom purchased forces, but grumbling about perceived replayability weakness at this stage would be a tad unfair, especially as a scenario editor is on the cards.

Matrix aren’t known for their demo diligence, so the closest we may get to examining the bear before rousing him is the board game itself or the unofficial online version of it. Those in the possession of the rulebook, are already able to enjoy cat-proof/saveable Awakening the Bear play-sessions via free board game emulation software ZunTzu.

 

The peace dividend

Though Euro Truck Simulator 2 is still at least four months away, a recent SCS blogpost suggests Prague’s premier artic artisans are about to serve-up a fascinating hors d’oeuvre. Interestingly, the Trucks and Trailers-style side project which, from the screenshots appears to revolve around construction-related haulage and Scania rigs, was prompted by unplanned studio growth rather than cold, commercial logic:

“Back in 2010, an unfortunate sequence of events caused another small Prague-based independent game development studio to shut down. Suddenly we had the opportunity to hire several senior people in one swoop, basically a nucleus of a very talented development team..”

Stories like this, together with the vacancies pages at sites like www.railsimulator.com (RailWorks) and www.giants-software.com (Farming Simulator) hint at a quiet renaissance within the non-flight section of the sim industry. While the majority of combat flight sim fabricators continue to scratch a precarious living, peddling impressive realism and emaciated campaigns, their canny peers in the truck, train, and tractor business are busy making hay while the sun shines.

I will be disappointed if no-one points out that it's straw rather than hay that is being made in this screenshot.

 

The Flare Path Foxer

Because FP is always forgetting his four-digit debit card PIN, he’s had the following aide-mémoire tattooed on his inner thigh. One Flare Path flair point to the first reader to crack the cartouche.

 

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38 Comments »

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  1. WhatKateDoes says:

    The sound of the airframe under pressure and appropriately labored breathing of the pilot, + the alarming audible stress of the propeller blades in fast dives and the like in Battlefield 3 are to be highly commended and appreciated. \o/

  2. tgoat says:

    14 + 35 + 71 * 1 – 3 / 2 + 2(?)
    = 117 / 4
    = 29.25

    Took a guess on the last one after spending 20 minutes looking at delta planes on wikipedia. Of course I could be way off since I assumed that this was a fraction, and did the division last…

  3. Arglebarf says:

    111+35+71*16-130/2+707

    • faelnor says:

      I’d say

      111+35+71*16-130/2+221 = 1438

      General Dynamics F-111
      Saab 35
      Lockheed SR-71
      Tupolev Tu-16
      Lockheed C-130
      Lockheed U-2
      BAC 221

    • Arglebarf says:

      I stand corrected!

    • Tim Stone says:

      Flare Path steps gingerly away from an arithmetical can of worms having awarded faelnor this week’s FP point (I was calculating doggedly from left to right, hence 1892)

    • faelnor says:

      How many FP points would it set me back for the aforementioned debit card?

    • fuf says:

      Why 1892?

    • Saldek says:

      @fuf:

      “I was calculating doggedly from left to right, hence 1892″, meaning ((111+35+71)*16-130)/2+221=1892, or, most doggedly, ((((((111+35)+71)*16)-130)/2)+221)=1892.

    • fuf says:

      @Saldek

      Yeah I get that, I meant what is the significance of 1892 as an answer? A Wright brothers reference? A Richthofen reference?

  4. Spakkenkhrist says:

    Isn’t that a C-130 between the B1 and U2?

  5. Arglebarf says:

    =2378. I’m guessing the mysterious gent on the right is an Avro 707?

  6. Premium User Badge

    Man Raised by Puffins says:

    (F-)111 + (Saab) 35 (Draken) + (SR-)71 * (Tu-)16 – (C-)130 / (U-)2 + (Fairey Delta) 2 = 111 + 35 + (71*16) – (130/2) + 2 = 1673 1219

    Edit: Although I suspect the chaps suggesting BAC 221 are on the right track, which would give 1438.

  7. Arglebarf says:

    1924 if you are following the correct order of operations instead of wacking it in verbatim into a calculator.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lambchops says:

      I’d be pretty disappointed in the Flare Path if he wasn’t falling the correct order of operations!

    • Arglebarf says:

      1438 with the 221 as suggested above.

  8. wodin says:

    Love the 3D map and the Boardgames counter look in CoH. This is my most anticipated release in a long time.

    Infact it’s the first new Matrix game I’ve really wanted for years now.

    How one earth can your heart sink at the news it’s on the East Front (the most interesting and varied conflict you can have!!) Thankgod it’s not the West front thats all I can say.

    It also comes with a Scenario editor and a Map maker!!

    Stalingrad here I come.

  9. GraveyardJimmy says:

    The friday update for Cliffs of Dover (on the 1c forums) was posted today. It showed the last instalment in a 3 part series of videos that showed upcoming drivable ground units and controllable flak to go alongside the graphics rework.

    Might be worth a quick glance on flare path when it is clear what it is like after its release:

    • theleif says:

      Now I’m impressed. How is the game these days? I more or less bought a Logitech G940 just to play that game, and I’ve hardly even used it so far.

  10. Pugiron says:

    111 + 35 + 71 x 1 – 130 / 2 + 221 = 264.5

  11. MataDor says:

    boardgame Conflict of Heroes on PC?!?! this is sweet news, I played this game so many many times, one of the best board war games I know, nice I’ll be able to play online with my boardgame mates :) SOLD!

  12. Zeewolf says:

    I like SCS Software. I’m not a huge fan of their games, but I like them. And I’m definitely interested in Euro Truck Sim 2.

  13. Jorum says:

    Watching that video makes me think of getting FSX (haven’t played a flight sim since Amiga days) – what kind of spec do you need to make it look pretty?
    I have decent vid card (GTX 560Ti) and 8gb ram. But CPU is Q6600 2.4ghz and i’ve heard it’s likes fast CPUs and is bad at using multicore well.

    • psyk says:

      my bad

    • The Tupper says:

      My machine is ancient – a 2.4Ghz Core 2 Duo with a Radeon 4770HD, 2Gb RAM (Windows XP) and it works just fine. I’m running a relatively small screen though – a square19 inch 1280 x 1024.

  14. Megadyptes says:

    Wasn’t A2A going to be giving B-17 The Mighty Eighth sim a going over many years ago like they did with Battle of Britain? I wonder what happened to that? Quite a shame as a modern version of that game would be pretty awesome.

    • GraveyardJimmy says:

      I think they decided to focus on FSX work, like the P51 they recently made. A great shame as B17 is one of my favourite PC games and an updated version could be incredible.

      I wonder how viable the market for FSX addons is versus developing a standalone flight sim (which would be focussed on one area).

  15. egg651 says:

    I think you’ll find that it’s straw, not hay, being made in that final screenshot.

    In other news, I like reading image alt text.

  16. Wooly Wugga Wugga says:

    That Saab Draken is an awesome aircraft. Are there any flight sims that simulate it?

    Either that or could someone loan me $175,000 for this : http://saabworld.net/f16/sale-saab-j35-draken-fighter-jet-stockton-california-363/

    • Network Crayon says:

      Somehow that seems like an absolute bargin. $175.000 for a fighter jet.

    • Zenicetus says:

      There is a free Draken model for X-Plane, but it’s exterior and flight model only, no 3D cockpit (it uses the generic panels). It’s also from version 8.0 so the flight model might not be 100%, but it should be flyable in versions 9 and 10. There’s a nice 8.0 model of a Viggen too. Don’t know what’s available for FSX.

      The best “vintage” fighter model I’ve seen for X-Plane is the payware F-104 Starfighter. Very fun to fly, terrifying to land.

  17. KDR_11k says:

    It’s clear that the Flare Path hasn’t met many Germans if he thinks that asparagus farming isn’t important enough to warrant using the military.

  18. Pugiron says:

    Rommel’s Asparagus were the poles the used to wreck landing gliders and killed quite a few American and British paratroopers in the war.

  19. psyk says:

    Can you get a hamilcar glider in FSX?

  20. Legionary says:

    Vegetable phallus.