The Flare Path: Is A Little Partisan

By Tim Stone on April 5th, 2013 at 1:00 pm.

I realise this could cause resentment, but it has to be said. Readers #52, #298, and #611, of all the people that regularly peruse this column, you are definitely my favourites. #298, that thing you do with your bottom lip when you’re reading pieces about unexpected OMSI add-ons. Adorable! #611, the way you turn down the radio and shush Minter, your foul-mouthed minah bird, before watching vids on monumental Outerra architecture. Have you any idea how charming that is? And #52… wise, loyal, long-suffering 52, you’re my Blackburn Roc. No-one but you reads every word of these idiotic intros week in, week out. No-one else nods enthusiastically when I brazenly claim Perfect Distance was last year’s most interesting wargame.

 

Last Year’s Most Interesting Wargame

Perfect Distance

 

FP’s Alarmingly Arbitrary Add-On Anticipation Top 11

1. Eastern European Expansion (Euro Truck Simulator 2) ^
2. Stadtbus O305 (OMSI) *
3. Wings Over Flanders Fields (CFS3) v
4. Gustav Line (Combat Mission Fortress Italy) ^
5. MiG-21Bis (DCS World) -
6. Whatever Graviteam decide to tack onto Graviteam Tactics’ next. *

7. UH-1H Huey (DCS World) ^
8. Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2b (Rise of Flight) *
9. Three Country Corner Route (Train Simulator 2013) v
10. Boeing 777-200 (FSX) ^
11. F-104 Starfighter (FSX) v

^ Curtiss-Wright Ascender, v Curtiss Helldiver, * New Entry, – Static Exhibit

A koala bear falling out of a tree onto a dragonfly in New South Wales on Tuesday prompted some dramatic changes in the Add-on Anticipation Chart. We now have a new number 1 in the shape of SCS’s ost-looking Polish/Czech/Slovak/Hungarian map extension for ETS2, and a new number 2 in the form of a single-deck Seventies legend for Deutsch omnibus opus OMSI.

M-R-Software’s achingly atmospheric public transport sim isn’t short of supplements, but until now all of the extra vehicles and maps have been fan-made and unapproved. The upcoming Stadtbus O305 and the fictional Neuendorf venue that will accompany it (full integration with the default Berlin map is also promised) has the blessing of two of simulation’s most reluctant monetizers, Marcel & Rüdiger. In my book, that all-but guarantees satisfaction.

If you’ve spent as many hours as I have, contentedly cruising Spandau streets in a burbling beige doubledecker, the sight…

and sound…

…of a scrupulously-modelled companion conveyance is sure to excite. More melancholy door sighs! More squeaky red vinyl! More dawdling through drizzle-jewelled dusks in a machine that never stops talking to you.

 

Small But Wiry

The makers of post-WW2 air combat sims can be counted on the fingers of one Twix. Third Wire’s Tsuyoshi Kawahito gave an insight into why that might be in a recent forum exchange. Those doubting the studio’s commitment to PC development and wondering where the long-awaited Strike Fighters 2 Expansion Pack 3 (EXP3) had got to, were told, rather chillingly…

“We had to take out loans, max out credit cards, sell our cars, empty our retirement accounts, and we are still falling behind in rents and payments. If it wasn’t for the mobile games, we would’ve been out of business last year and be homeless by now.

Cost of developing games are constantly going up. SF2 aircraft, for example, cost more than 4x the SF1 aircraft. And our market size is not expanding at a similar rate. It’s not rocket science to figure out that at some point, the cost to develop gets higher than they sell. Looking back, EXP1 was about where it crossed that line for us. So not only we don’t have the money to finish EXP3, but we already know for sure that EXP3 will lose money. It has to be paid for by something else.

Luckily, mobile games are doing very well so far – we are just getting started there and we already have over 1.2 million downloads combined. A single one day download of one mobile game often exceed the total, life-long downloads of all our PC games combined. And the cost to develop there still very low. So we are still planning to finish EXP3, but it’ll be done if and when our mobile games make enough money to pay for it (well, after paying back all our debts first).

To answer to the original topic, of course we’re still working on PC development, especially with Windows 8. But keep in mind that the direction we’re going may not be what many of you want. We’re working to make our game more accessible and easier to play to appeal to a bigger market, and rely more on in-app purchases for monetizing, which means less realistic features and less support for mods in the future. Again, it’s nothing personal, its just what we can afford.”

It’s hard to contest the logic, but it’s also tempting to blame a portion of TW’s present difficulties on their painfully passive marketing approach. If you’re in sim or wargame development and still haven’t read Kieron’s ‘How To Use And Abuse the Gaming Press…’ I urge you to do so ASAP.

 

Dreaming Spirals

The Outerra larva still hasn’t metamorphosed into the globe-spanning land-air-sea simago early adopters like Yours Truly visualised. It has, however, sprouted a few eyecatching bristles during the past year.

Handsome Soviet seaplane, anyone?

A 1-to-1 scale Middle Earth you can motor around in a Tatra truck or skim in a Cessna?

How about all the components necessary for building gargantuan greebled cities, then?

With Outerra’s extremely friendly construction tools, erecting your own forest-dwarfing follies is easy. Dragging yourself away from dreamy edifice contemplation afterwards, that’s likely to be much harder.

 

The Flare Path Foxer

The FP PC went down with something extremely nasty yesterday. Chrome was speaking in tongues. Infected files were slithering out of the virus vault like undead slowworms. Shortcuts were shuffling themselves silly before my very eyes. I think I’m on top of things now, but a few errant icons are still missing their original labels. Maybe you can help.

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34 Comments »

  1. amateurviking says:

    Entomology pun! My life is complete.

    • shehzadjaa says:

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  2. distantlurker says:

    I clicked some of the early links and started reading. Now my brain hurts and I’m ashamed for being the kind of gamer who thinks Civ is hardcore and ARMA a realistic war sim.

    Thanks Tim :(

  3. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Obviously Peggle = ETS 2, I literally have no clue to any of the others apart from maybe Train Simulator 2013?

  4. Smion says:

    re: Foxer: Rat Science would be Commandos (though which one, I don’t know); Cutty Sark Simulator= Crimson Skies and Peggle Nights would be Euro Truck Simulator as it’s the only Truck Simulator I know…
    re: Huey: I really need to get Track IR or some equivalent

  5. Matchstick says:

    I think Mig Alley is one of the Flanker games but whether it’s 1, 2 or 2.5 I don’t know

    Bloody Difficult might be Grand Prix Legends

    Nice Ico could be Falcon 3 ?

    Ailerons of Alliteration suggests it’s Battle of Britain (probably the original Rowan version)

  6. Arona Daal says:

    Marvins Marauders = Tacops (4 i think?)
    Despotica = OpenGeneral

  7. LionsPhil says:

    I believe “The Unlawless” is “Desperados”.

  8. mrpier says:

    Despotica I think is Open General.

  9. Llewyn says:

    I could see myself potentially spending many hours contentedly cruising Spandau streets in a burbling beige doubledecker; certainly I’m keen for something a little more hardcore than the ever-so-slightly disappointing ETS2. Unfortunately they’re such reluctant monetizers that they won’t lower themselves to such dirty money-grubbing tactics as releasing a demo. It’s a relatively steep entry fee for something that might perhaps be a little too hardcore for me.

  10. Jomini says:

    Infinite Popeye = Jane’s Fleet Command
    Tatar For Now = Red Orchestra 1

    • DXN says:

      Actually, as of this article Jane’s Fleet Command has been renamed Infinite Popeye. There was just no way they could keep the original title.

    • JB says:

      I’m afraid Tatar for Now is Steel Fury, in fact.

  11. corinoco says:

    Top right – Flight Simulator / BAO Flight Shop for FS5/5.1 I think, certainly very early Win95 product with a 16bit icon. Beneath it I would say the wonderful Silent Service 2 (but it can’t be, it was pre-W95 so can’t have had an icon) one of my favouritest games EVER – I still preciously store my original 5 1/4 discs, box and glorious manual.

    Bring back the manual, I say! The lovely thick info-filled tomes that you could curl up in bed with. Glorious stuff. The Last Great Manual I have is for X3:Terran Conflict, which is a sad one to end on; the manuals for the X-series always seemed to be written by someone who knew a lot about the game, but hadn’t actually seen it. Maybe it was just the translation from German than did that.

    Oh, I think Top Left might be the original icon for Falcon 4.0.

  12. mrmalodor says:

    From left to right, top row:
    2) Commandos 2
    5) SU-27 Flanker
    8) ETS 2
    bottom row:
    4) Microsoft Train Simulator
    8) Steel Fury

  13. Hydrogene says:

    Ailerons of alliteration : Il-2 Sturmovik: Pe-2

    Sad news for TK’s Third Wire PC business. But I agree about his lack of marketing on his great products… At least I learned about Strike Fighters app on Android and will try it out.

    Outerra looks like a really strange thing. I’m getting very curious.

  14. zachforrest says:

    is the cowboy Desperados?!!!

    I’m helping with the foxer! YES!

  15. Zephro says:

    Za Rodinu – Close Combat 3: The Russian Front.
    Fairly Easy – Ms Train Simulator
    Tatar for Now – Combat Mission 2: Barbarossa to Berlin?
    Peggle Nights – Euro Truck simulator 2012?
    The Unlawless – Desperados
    Cutty Sark Simulator – Crimson Skies
    Dread Barnacle or Dark Father is Silent Hunter 2?
    Bloody Difficult – Geoff Crammond’s Grand Prix, one of the numbers, 3?
    I think I can see Hearts of Iron 2 popping out the bottom

  16. Minicow says:

    Tartar for Now = Steel Fury

    I helped, too!

    I never realized people engaged in so much wild mass guessing.

  17. One Pigeon says:

    I have no interest in the type of simulator games involving buses, lorries, trains and such. While only occasionally dabbling in the odd strategy game, yet I read the Flare Path end to end every time it’s posted.
    It’s a good thing.

  18. Brun says:

    Ah yeah, Outterra is a pretty impressive piece of technology. Been (loosely) following its development for a year or so now.

  19. AlexClockwork says:

    So… Watched that video and could only think about how awesome Ludovico Einaudi’s music is. :-D

  20. DrollRemark says:

    I really enjoyed Perfect Distance, and yet I have absolutely no explanation as to why.

    • Ross Angus says:

      I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for pointing us at that, Tim. I was moved.

  21. buzzmong says:

    Interesting choices of modules there Tim.
    Personally I’m waiting on the F-104 Starfighter mod for DCS:World, possibly the BAe Hawk and the Tornado mods for DCS:W as well.

  22. Jed says:

    I’m not sure but I think:
    The one in the bottom middle is Operation Panzer
    The one on bottom right is Aces of the Deep

  23. rod humble says:

    Hey thank you for covering Perfect Distance! In retrospect “releasing” it the same day as XCOM was probably a mistake :) Anyways glad some folks enjoyed it.

    Thanks again!

    Rod

  24. Universal Quitter says:

    Maybe I should just break down and get a joystick. I have fond memories of being a bright-eyed, mop-headed child, gleefully shooting down MiGs in ATF Gold. I’d hate for a genre that brought me so much fun to die out, even if the companies that made the games I played probably don’t even exist anymore.

  25. Megadyptes says:

    Yeah, TK’s lack of advertising really does hurt his sales. I remember reading on some forum somewhere, maybe combatace, that he had a bad experience with the gaming media in the early days of the Strike Fighter 1 project and this is why he pretty much shuns it all now. It’s a great shame as despite having a really dated terrain engine the games are pretty awesome, filling a nice cold war jet fighters niche and also the light flight sim niche as well, it’s not arcade and also not hard-core sperg sim. Great fun to fly around in a Hawker Hunter blowing up MiG-21s.

    Also the mobile games, well the Android version specifically dunno about the iOS one, are pretty meh.

  26. Mr Biffo says:

    Question: Is it just me, but are you, like me, dear reader, desperately missing those key Tim Stone topics such as WWI dogfighting, Stalingrad, the Battle of Britain, Stuka’s, Spitfire’s, Hurricane’s, Lancaster’s, Messerschmitt’s, Heinkel’s and otherwise actual interesting topics from these worrisomely weak articles of late, being similarly disinterested as I am in Deer Hunting, Modern Warfare and Bus/Train Simulators?

    I mean, I think I’d rather be reading about the role of the Fallschirmjäger in the Battle of Monte Cassino, than I would say, the intricacies of riding the number 90 Bus from Northolt or the train to Brighton. Or is it just me?