The Flare Path: Mountainous Wait-And-Seas

By Tim Stone on March 16th, 2012 at 1:39 pm.

Greetings Flare-opaths! By now, all of you that filled-in the form in the bumper Christmas issue, and sent in your (non-refundable) sixpences, should have received your Deluxe Membership Packs and free (while stocks last) mahogany-effect Flare Path flair point display racks. It’s a handsome gift, is it not? And so versatile! Gavin Babbington, a member from Plymouth, has written in to say that though he hasn’t won any flair points yet, he’s currently using the rack to display his collection of SS thimbles. Good work, Gavin! That’s just the kind of lateral thinking Chervell Bathgate, founder of the Flare Path movement and keen amateur cross-stitcher/eugenicist, would have approved of.

 

Terra Incomparablis

The ‘About’ tab on the Outerra menu screen, makes FP forlorn. It describes how the devs behind this remarkable project are busy making…

“a world-building game on a massive, true-to-life scale… Arriving aboard a returning interstellar colonization ship built in the Golden Age of Mankind, and discovering civilization and humanity vanished from our home planet, players must rebuild the civilization – exploring, fighting, and competing for resources, while searching for clues to the disappearance of humanity.”

…when it’s plain to anyone with an ounce of sense, they should be making gaming’s first great Omni-Sim.

It’s impossible to soar above Outerra’s handsome highlands, and play with its gloriously friendly road-building tools, without picturing the possibilities. Every fractally-roughened cliff begs to be wingsuited off. Every freshly blazed mountain trail whispers “Where’s your Subaru Impreza?” Forest clearings ache for stalkable stags, valley bottoms for snaking rail lines and tussling tanks. Wherever you look, there’s a fabulous fledgling sim waiting to peck its way into the light.

The free tech demo lets anyone with an active web connection tour the globe, gazing at, or driving through, topographically-accurate vistas cleansed of Human infestation (At present, environments also lack rivers and lakes, and biome-specific flora). For a true taste of the engine’s potential, however, you really need to cough-up £10 for the Anteworld alpha build. Payment unlocks crude but entertaining recreations of a Cessna and an Apache helo, and access to a few basic scenery editing tools.

The reason this FP is a teeny bit skinnier than normal is very simple: I’ve spent much of the last four hours messing with a feature that would make 88% of flight sims 88% better.

See that fetching forest-capped outcrop down there?

With a couple of mouse-clicks, I can dynamite a runway right through it…

…and then bobsleigh down the still-tacky tarmac in a rapidly accelerating Cessna…

…before taking-off, enjoying twenty minutes of dreamy aero-rambling, and landing on another jerry-built summit strip ten miles away.

Suddenly, Microsoft Flight feels stiflingly conservative.

Road construction is almost as simple and satisfying. Just lay down a squiggle of splines, choose road type, width, camber, etc. and – bingo – you’ve got a new route to negotiate in either of the sim’s two Tatra-esque trucks. A selection of structures and signs can also be erected with ease.

It’s not hard to imagine a globe-spanning, open-architecture transport sim built around these features. Ilan Papini’s Vehicle Simulator lets me jump from jet to jalopy, and from seaplane to speedboat, but it doesn’t give me the chance to combine ride-hopping with bouts of track laying, landscape-gardening, and town planning. It also doesn’t allow me play on and above a topographically-faithful rendition of the hill I can see from my window.

In the right hands, I’m convinced Outerra could be moulded into simming’s Minecraft. Handled sensitively, it has the potential to bring together the hundreds of thousands of simmers currently simming separately via titles like Railworks, MSFS, Rigs of Rods, and Courtesy Car Simulator (coming soon from Excalibur Publishing) and lure in millions more with the promise of intoxicating creative freedom and vast repositories of user-made steeds. Searching for clues to Humanity’s disappearance can wait; I want to hang-glide off a 15,000ft cliff, buzz a narrow-gauge steam train in a Westland Lysander, drive a Stalwart down the Amazon, and land an autogyro in a cavern cut in the side of K2 by my own fair hands,

 

Sea Change

Talking of self-built scenery, I have a rather big announcement to make. Inspired by Jim’s recent disclosure and the news that 777 are working on an English Channel map for Rise of Flight, I’ve decided the time has come for Flare Path to make the move from poacher to gamekeeper.

Over the coming year my studio, The Water Shed, will be producing a series of unmissable add-ons for FSX. Having spotted a glaring gap in this competitive market, we will – initially at least – be specialising in oceanic scenery packs. Peruse the following schedule, and prepare to PayPal your way to flight sim ecstasy!

 

Sargasso Sea Xtreme

Price: £25

ETA: April

Pack your eel gun and your seaweed tongs*, Sargasso Sea Xtreme would like to take you on a thrill-soaked journey to the heart of the world’s second-largest oceanic division. Over 3000 seconds of research have already gone into ensuring this bar-raising product both raises the bar and changes the way you think about over-water aviation. Fully compatible with all FSX floatplanes and flying-boats.

*eels and seaweed not modelled

 

Dogger Bank Pro

Price: £20

ETA: July

Those flights from Edinburgh to Hamburg, Middlesbrough to Copenhagen, Newcastle to Kiel, Kiel to Newcastle, Copenhagen to Middlesbrough, and Hamburg to Edinburgh will never ever be the same again! Using high-fidelity hydrological data, we’re digitizing over 7000 square miles of Europe’s most iconic brine. This “framerate-friendly masterpiece”* promises to take your breath away more efficiently than a Force 10 gale.

*www.rockpapershotgun.com, 16 March 2012

 

That Bit Of The South Atlantic Just To The Left Of South Georgia

Price: TBC

ETA: Octember

That Bit Of The South Atlantic Just To The Left Of South Georgia is already shaping-up to be The Water Shed’s pièce de résistance. Covering that bit of the South Atlantic just to the left of South Georgia with a never-before-seen level of detail, it will come with a lavishly illustrated 70-word manual, plus a video documentary documentarying the making of That Bit Of The South Atlantic Just To The Left Of South Georgia. You thought you knew that bit of the South Atlantic just to the left of South Georgia? Think again.

 

The Flare Path Foxer

When FP gets a day-off he likes nothing better than wandering Salisbury Plain with a metal detector. Help him identify his latest batch of finds.

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26 Comments »

  1. blind_boy_grunt says:

    that picture with the bisected moutain scares me somehow

  2. Alex Bakke says:

    Hmm, the top right one is obviously a badge from the Order of the Garter. “Shamed be he who thinks evil of it”.

    Middle-right, the skull and crossbones, is the badge of the Queen’s Royal Lancers.

    Bottom centre-left, Royal Gibraltar Regiment.

    Middle left (Horse) – King’s Regiment, Liverpool.

    • mrpier says:

      There seems to be two order of the garter there, different ranks maybe?

    • Tim Stone says:

      This week’s flair points are made from pace stick ferrules.

      The Queen’s Royal Lancers and the King’s Regiment, Liverpool earn Alex Bakke a brace.

      Royal Gibraltar Regiment and Order of the Garter, however, are high and wide.

      • Alex Bakke says:

        Arghgh – I can’t believe I was so foolish to include an Order in a picture full of regiments. The top right badge isn’t from the Blues and Royals, is it? It’s from one of the royal regiments. Life Guards, etc.

        The bottom right badge may be Blues and Royals, too.

    • wodin says:

      As both my great grandads and great great uncle where in the Kings Liverpool in WW1 i can confirm that that is the cap badge.

  3. lucasdigital says:

    Groovy!

    Now, before pre-ordering “Dogger Bank Pro” I’d like to confirm that additional clouds will be available as reasonably priced DLC.

  4. Faldrath says:

    Start a $500k Kickstarter for the Bermuda Triangle, Tim.

  5. Brun says:

    I’ve had my eye on Outerra for almost a year now. There’s a tech demo now, you say? I must try this.

  6. asshibbitty says:

    These gameless engines get prettier every year. It could also make a fabulous new platform for commercial addons. Someone could transplant a database of airports into it, beacons… It could be a lot of things.

  7. Megadyptes says:

    Strike Fighters 2: North Atlantic was released last week, that is a game series that could do with more media attention thus I mention it here! Although it would help if TK wasn’t so mediashy and refused to give interviews etc.

    Anyway, North Atlantic: F-14 Tomcats and Iceland and plenty of Soviets to blow up, and from what I hear a fair few bugs. I’ve yet to buy it myself but I will in a few weeks. Hopefully the major bugs will be patched out by then.

  8. Reapy says:

    Question, possible to merge Outterra with data from openstreetmap.org… yes?

    • asshibbitty says:

      It uses Share Alike meaning, if I understand correctly, that to use its data the game will have to be released under the same license. Which is unlikely unless the dev gets bored with it at some point, which is a possibility. Also, someone else may hack it into the game, not sure what the licensing implications of this are.

  9. Commander_Zeus says:

    I think the top centre is the badge of the Black Watch, and top left is the Seaforth Highlanders (corrected by Wikipedia from my original thought of it being the Gordon Highlanders).

    Bottom left and top right I assume must be Royal Regiments, though which…

  10. fleet hassle says:

    Bottom-center is the Northamptonshire Regiment, correct?
    So many regiments use the “Honi soit qui mal y pense” motto, and yet I can’t seem to place either of the examples above.

    • Tim Stone says:

      Correct. Sterling sleuthing.

      The badge in the lower left corner was worn by one of the greatest (and luckiest) of the British WWI war poets.

      • fleet hassle says:

        Well, then, that’d be the Royal Sussex, wouldn’t it? I’ve read Graves’ indispensable memoir but hadn’t heard of Blunden until now.
        As for the others – realizing that the Sussex badge is sideways, now, I imagine that the top badge is that of the Royal Scots, but upside down, and perhaps that eagle belongs to the Royal Scots Greys, but reversed?
        The one at the top right looks to be another Royal regiment, and based on your previous clue should be one of the Household Guards, but having been led to water this poor horse finds himself staring dumbly into the pool. The wreathed badge at lower right, by comparison, I am more confident in thinking it simply beyond me.

        • Tim Stone says:

          The indefatigable fleet hassle covers himself in yet more glory by correctly IDing the Royal Sussex, the Royal Scots, and the Royal Scots Greys.

          While I hold my hand up to mischievously tilting the Royal Sussex badge and inverting the Royal Scots one, the left-looking eagle was untouched:

          http://www.northeastmedals.co.uk/british_cavalry_regiment/2nd_dragoons_royal_scots_greys.htm

          Of the two remaining regiments one’s most famous warrior was probably a certain M. Micklewhite (if you get my drift) and the other took its name from the 19th Century equivalent of Gretna Green.

          • Rodafowa says:

            Aaaah, the bottom right is the South Wales Borderers, nee the 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment Of Foot, rotated 90 degrees. I’d never have got that if it wasn’t for the Zulu clue-age.

    • Tim Stone says:

      Rodafowa solves the riddle of the (just out of shot) Sphinx

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Wales_Borderers

      earning a little something for his flair point rack in the process.

  11. wodin says:

    Rise fo Flight is a great sim, but boy they know how to get money after money for what is in effect the same sim from those who love the game.

    Planes are superb, fligh model great, immersion and atmosphere…poor. It’s more like flying WW 1 aricraft in what could be any old war. It lacks the feeling of mass destruction and shear hell that was happening on the ground. OFF P3 and hopefully P4 recreate the immersion tenf old over RoF.

    Though it is great we have two WW1 sims that cater for everyone. I know which I prefer though, I also know what offers far more value for money.

  12. mendel says:

    Is Outerra going to be a descendant of Asobo’s FUEL then? You know, the game that Jim Rossignol wrote about for half of 2009? With an editor and airplanes, and presumably a storyline?

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