The Flare Path: A Stoichiometric Mixture

By Tim Stone on June 28th, 2013 at 1:00 pm.

FP likes his driving games the way he likes his Nineteenth Century literary heroines: lots going on under the bonnet, keen on cross-country rambles, accomplished on the pianoforte. Small wonder then that when he’s not being kind to servants or being cruelly misunderstood at dances, he’s usually to be found enquiring after the health of Spintires and Automation.

RPS: Hello Mr Zane Saxton of Oovee Studios. How long have you been working on muddy marvel Spintires?

Zane: It’s been in development for six years. The majority of that time has been spent creating our own engine. The ‘VeeEngine’ allows us to be very creative when implementing new features. The flip-side of creativity is that we need to experiment and test all of our ideas before we can consider them worthy for a full game release. Needless-to-say though, I think that with each new build the technology has vastly improved and thanks to our recent success with Kickstarter, we can now focus on finalising the technology and shaping it into a real game.

RPS: Is it possible to make a sim like Spintires without first-hand experience of the featured trucks?

Zane: In an ideal world we would prefer to have access to the real-world counterpart so that we can accurately represent the vehicle in-game. We like to collect reference photographs, measurements, capture sounds and just generally get a hold on the handling characteristics. Unfortunately this isn’t always possible. Luckily so far, we have been fortunate enough to gain access to the confirmed vehicles that will be in the full-game. A quick search through our YouTube channel will find you a video that was recorded during a vehicle survey trip for the Kraz 255.

During our Kickstarter campaign we were approached by a gentleman in the UK, who has kindly
donated his time and his truck (currently unannounced *cough Ural*) so that we can perform our normal surveying tasks. I’m mightily excited!

RPS: How large are levels likely to be?

Zane: Difficult question. We haven’t yet decided what scale we’d like to go for but we have discovered that we can increase the view distance to a stupidly high level, without a major performance impact.

RPS: Is randomly generated terrain a possibility?

Zane: We talked at length about this internally, but never came to a solid conclusion. If we decide to have one large map, there wouldn’t be any need for a feature such as this.

RPS: Why won’t cab views feature in the initial release?

Zane: I cannot say at this time whether or not cab views will be in the initial release. Since the VeeEngine was not designed for cab views, it would require a considerable rewrite of our particle effects (since the viewer would be closer to those elements at ground level) and various other camera effects. With that said, keep an eye on our developers blog and you may see something in future.

RPS: Have you experimented with tracked vehicles?

Zane: Yes we have, and we also implemented a turret control/firing system for a tank! I must admit that it was pretty epic and with our physics model, it was represented rather well. The tank had 3D tracks that were fully animated (OTT?) and interacted with the deformable terrain. It rarely became stuck, and trees didn’t stand a chance in hell. The VeeEngine coped very well and it wasn’t any different from a heavily ‘wheeled’ vehicle.

RPS: Can VeeEngine do snow?

Zane: I guess it could, but at the moment we want to focus on perfecting the mud and offer different grip ratios for different ground surfaces.

RPS: Will we be able to add vehicles?

Zane: When the full game is finished, users can add anything they like. We plan to make the process of installing and uninstalling modifications easy and brain ache free.

RPS: Deliberate tyre deflation is in; how about accidental tyre deflation?

Zane: Spintires has a soft-body solution that makes the tires appear visually deflated or inflated. The plan is to implement a manual control for this (as seen in most off-road vehicles) so that the user can adjust his/her tire pressure according to the surroundings. We need to work on a mechanic that will change the actual grip dynamics to make this feature worthy of any usefulness. Accidental tire deflation is something we could implement once we’ve completed the above. In multiplayer imagine having to call a friend on the CB radio to ask him/her to bring you a new tire!

RPS: Will we see cracked glass and buckled bodywork in Spintires?

Zane: This is another topic we have been discussing internally and it’s a possibility that you will see a ‘lite’ damage model in Spintires. However, that depends on how difficult it is for us to synchronise this across a multiplayer environment and how much it will affect performance. I think more importantly though and even more probable, is a dynamic vehicle dirt build up feature.

RPS: What are the toughest challenges facing the development team at present?

Zane: The biggest challenge we face as a team is providing a gameplay mechanic that will satisfy the majority of our fans. We can’t please everyone, but we are very keen on trying to find a happy medium. We have been collecting feedback for many years and we are now armed with a truck full of ideas and suggestions.

RPS: Do you have a release date in mind?

Zane: Well providing we don’t crash into many trees, get swamped in a river somewhere or end up spinning our tires in the mud – we hope to have Spintires finished by Q3 2014.

RPS: Thank you for your time.

 

NOx Operative

If you call yourself a simulationist and still haven’t tried the generous Automation demo, blush slightly and begin searching for excuses under your fingernails. Though Camshaft Software describe their début design as a car company tycoon game, the trial proves the capitalism is built on a foundation of engineering science so solid and detailed, it makes other devs seem positively Vauxhall Cavalier in their attitudes towards the internal combustion engine.

Backed by excellent embedded tutorial videos, the free version of the engine editor manages to be both incredibly educational and improbably diverting. Adapt an existing motor to run on low-quality petrol for a planned Kazakh taxi… build a new small, light, rugged engine to power field generators for the US Army in Afghanistan… all of the seventeen included scenarios present technical challenges as plausible real-world problems. With the help of handy graphs, occasional you-seem-to-be-struggling design suggestions, and convenient component explanation texts, progress towards a solution might be slow but it seldom stalls completely. A cam profile change here, an ignition timing tweak there, a minute or two at the test bench, and suddenly the ‘SUCCESS’ screen looms and you wipe the oil from your hands feeling like a mechanical genius.

Just how accurate is the chemistry and physics behind Camshaft’s engine editor? The fact that you can already use the software to create believable versions of historical engines, suggests the devs know their AFRs from their elbows.

The car bodies that will eventually casket your gaskets, blocks, pushrods etc will be sculpted using a designer interface due to be demoed soon. If it lets me build a passable Tatra 603 I’ll be impressed.

 

The Flare Path Foxer

Last Friday, discerning Mosquito pilots skink74, mrpier, corinoco, bungalowjoe, zachforrest, Gaytard Fondue and Dana shot fist-sized holes in a…

and waggled their wingtips at a..

Flare Path flair points carved from Operation Jericho brick rubble are their reward. For spotting an unintended beverage theme, PhilR also receives a piece of pulverized prison wall.

A recent University of Buckingham study suggests it takes 7-9 years to become “consistently good” at cryptic crosswords. True Foxer mastery takes twice as long but being three times as satisfying is statistically a more profitable way to invest your time. Experience that satisfaction by identifying the hidden theme* linking the eight elements in the collage above.

*Previous themes have included illnesses, golf, Amazonian wildlife and Sherlock Holmes.

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38 Comments »

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  1. FurryLippedSquid says:

    I was taking the waters in France last week, so I’m fully refreshed and ready for some serious defoxing.

    It’s…

    Eh…

    Hmmm.

    Edit: The B2 train is (or was) a service from Broad Street to Watford via Primrose Hill.

    • zachforrest says:

      class 501 unit?

      err types of Levis?

    • Premium User Badge

      Matchstick says:

      Looks like the locomotive is Class 47 but considering how many of those were made (over 500 between ’62 & ’68) and the fact that 31 remain operational that probably means nothing.

      Is also knows as the Brush Sulzer Type 4

    • Dozer says:

      That’s not the Class 47 / Brush Type 4. It’s “Falcon”, aka Class 53, D0280. A dead end in locomotive technology; the design which became Class 47 replaced it.

      (The ‘class xx’ numbers were assigned retrospectively, shortly before Falcon was scrapped.)

  2. Premium User Badge

    FhnuZoag says:

    The tank thing is a M50 Ontos. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M50_Ontos

  3. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Seaplane is a Curtiss SOC Seagull. I think.

    Background pic is the Somme..?

  4. Premium User Badge

    Matchstick says:

    For the Egyption God I’m thinking Isis – only thing that brings to mind is the Oxford Cambridge Boat Race

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      phlebas says:

      Is that Isis? I’m having trouble identifying the head thingy.

      • Shuck says:

        That’s Neith, patron goddess of the city of Zau (Sais). She was sometimes conflated with Isis, though.

  5. guus says:

    I think that twin engined plane on its back is an OV-1 Bronco, im not exactly sure though.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Matchstick says:

    Oops I’m wrong and it looks like the Egyptian Goddess is more likely to be Neith

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

    So clearly the link must be (misspelt) areas in Wales ;)

  7. Stranglove says:

    The twin engine aircraft on its back is an OV-1 Mohawk, possibly the ugliest military aircraft ever envisaged.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Matchstick says:

    Anyone have any thoughts on the fish or the aircraft in side-projection at the centre top ?

  9. Premium User Badge

    phlebas says:

    The fish is a mullet – are we looking at hairstyles here?

  10. zachforrest says:

    Fish is a mullet?

    Some sort of hair thang? Mohawk…mullet?

    edit: pipped to the post!

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      phlebas says:

      I guess (a flock of) seagull(s) would link to the 80s hair theme. I’m not sure about the rest though.

      • zachforrest says:

        train’s a 501 i think.

        Levis 501s particularly 80s jeans?

        edit: from levi’s website

        ‘1981 501 jeans for women are introduced, with the airing of the famous
        “Travis” television commercial.
        1983 Cone Mills begins to introduce XXX denim through the use of 60” wide
        looms.
        1984 The renowned “501 Blues” television advertising campaign is launched at
        the summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
        1985 LS&CO. wins the Governor’s Committee Media/Advertising Award
        from the New York State Office of Advocates for the Disabled, for
        its positive portrayals of disabled people in the “501 Blues” television
        ads.
        1986 The first in a series of innovative television commercials for the 501
        jeans airs in Europe. These commercials feature classic American rock
        music mixed with nostalgia and romance.’

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          Zephro says:

          I think it’s actually a British Rail 47 diesel. Which seems to have been called a Brush Type 4…. so also hair?

          Actually could be a 57 but that’s still made by Brush Traction.

      • FurryLippedSquid says:

        And there’s hair all over the picture, a small clue.

        And I suppose rather than the Somme, the background pic might just be a plume. Hair related.

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      Zephro says:

      Neith is sometimes spelt Nit. Also a hair thing.

  11. Premium User Badge

    Matchstick says:

    Any thoughts on the M-50 Ontos (from the Greek for “in fact” or “really”) or the mystery aircraft

  12. FurryLippedSquid says:

    The mystery aircraft, I think, is an Antonov An-26 Curl.

    And ontos, according to Wiki, means “the thing”, which doesn’t help much, other than Kurt Russell had lots of hair. Or the superhero who had none…

  13. Soldancer says:

    I often read FP in spite of not really being much of a sim player myself. I just find the articles fascinating. However, both Spintires and Automation have very much piqued my interest. I’ve always wanted to learn more about the inner workings of cars, so I’m going to have to check out Automation from an educational standpoint. And Spintires just looks fun!

  14. Wolfie13 says:

    Locomotive in the picture is D0280, “Kestrel”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Rail_Class_53

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    Gap Gen says:

    It’s a shame Elizabeth Bennet was killed by Al Quaeda.

  16. Branthog says:

    I liked the look of this game when it was on Kickstarter, but $30 or $40 or whatever they were asking just for the tier that gets a copy of the game was a bit much to ask for a studio I’ve never heard of before, for a type of driving game I’ve never really seen before, when most other games are going around $15 (even for well known franchises and developers). Just seemed like too big of a pitch.