The Flare Path: Wants A Welbike

By Tim Stone on July 12th, 2013 at 1:00 pm.

First-time readers of Flare Path, before you go any further, be aware that the following may contain references to obscure 1920s RAF biplanes. The writer will probably assume you find tankettes, midget submarines, and Welbikes inherently charming. At some point in the text he’ll almost certainly use the phrase “almost certainly” and the words ‘tad’ and ‘Panzer’ (Or, if the column is looking a tad short, ‘Panzerkampfwagen’). Alliteration will go unforgivably unchecked. Semi-colons and hyphens may be used; incorrectly.

Sprocket Scientist Needed

Flare Path wants a Welbike almost as much as he wants a military despatch rider game and the resurrection of PanzerUnity. Work on PzU – a free Unity-powered multiplayer WW2 tank sim – appears to have permanently stalled after the disappearance of a key coder. The team had to weather a major setback in 2010 when the first programmer, Monkwarrior, died unexpectedly, and this second blow looks to be the final straw.

Tragic, especially in the light of the just-released you-might-as-well-see-some-of-what-we’ve achieved MP demo. This playable tempter features a generic European-style battlefield rather than the attractive North African map that appeared in early promotional vids, and just one tank type – the Panzerkampfwagen II – but there’s plenty to admire.

View distances – so important in an armour sim – are none-too-shabby. Physics feel spot on. A manual gearbox and working clutch mean tea-drinking, watch repair and tattooing during hill climbs would be challenging. Trees are toppleable, but barging into them in your 9-tonne scurrier will rattle your teeth and mullah your MPH.

Thanks to deserted lobbies, I’ve only fired the 2cm KwK 30 L/55 cannon at friendlies and imaginary triffids thus far. Shells appear to travel in an agreeably shell-like fashion, though a crude temporary hitpoint-based damage model means you never see them ricocheting skyward or dsimantling tracks.

 

Moore Microsoft Flight?

A Republic RC-3 Seabee very like the one that carried Bond to Scaramanga’s island in The Man With The Golden Gun, is set to be the first unofficial flyable to appear in the mod-resistant Microsoft Flight, if two enterprising tinkerers known as stonelance and MVGibbage have their way.

The pair are well on their way to creating a tool that will allow the importing of FSX aircraft into Flight. EULA respect and different approaches to flight modelling mean the day when aerodynes fly freely and easily from one sim to the other is likely to be some way off, but it’s an encouraging step in that direction. If MS can be persuaded to allow other new fan-made additions (they’ve approved this project) then the future for the game that gamely tried and failed to haul flight simulation back into the mainstream, may not be bleak as many thought.

 

John Tiller, Boredom Killer

Matrix Games are still trying to tempt thrifty tacticians via weekly sales. One of this week’s hexy sweetmeats is a game – or, strictly speaking, a trio of games – that is to PC wargaming what the Sherman tank was to the Allied war effort in WW2: dependable, effective, adaptable, cheap to produce, highly inflammable, slightly too tall.

Hmm. That analogy, like the M4, has flaws. A franchise as strong and well-loved as John Tiller’s Campaign Series probably deserves better. I’d like to have seen a more generous reduction (Thanks to dubious conversion calculations and a less-than-upfront approach to VAT, US customers pay $20, British ones £19 for the download version) but it’s impossible to deny that purchasers will be getting a Tortoise-sized helping of high-quality wargaming for their money.

Matrix’s re-release includes three of the five original Talonsoft Campaign titles (The absence of Divided Ground is disappointing. The lack of Eastern Front, inconsequential thanks to the presence of Eastern Front II) together with a swarm of relatively recent fixes, tweaks, and additional scenarios. Still modded, occasionally patched, and relatively popular in MP, the games earn their keep in single-player too. 250m-sized hexes and rules that balance playability and realism nigh perfectly, give battles a pace, plausibility, and gritty intimacy that’s sometimes missing from engagements in recent releases like Panzer Corps and Battle Academy.

The AI won’t gain entry to your house posing as a police officer, then try the old Norwood Builder ruse in an attempt to get you to reveal the location of your piggybank, but it can mount a passable attack and hold a line reasonably efficiently. Two types of campaigns are available. Because the dynamic variety rely on randomly-generated maps, and JTCs’s procedural topography tends towards the bland, I’ve always preferred the handcrafted type.

 

The Flare Path Foxer

The last foxer was hairier than an orangutan’s plughole. Luxuriantly-tressed Phlebas spotted the common strand first and gets a platinum blonde flair point and a year’s supply of Dapper Dan Hair Pomade for his perspicacity. Helpful brushwork from the likes of Zachforrest, Matchstick, Dozer, FhnuZoag, FuryLippedSquid, Shuck, Stranglove and Zephro is recognised with FP flair points made from genuine earwig ear wigs.

A) Egyptian goddess, Nit
B) Antonov An-26 ‘Curl’
C) Ontos (In its anti-infantry role in Vietnam, it used beehive flechette rounds to devastating effect)
D) Curtiss SOC Seagull
E) Mullet
F) Prototype locomotive ‘Falcon’ (Like its sibling, the Class 47, built by Brush Traction)
G) Grumman OV-1 Mohawk
H) WW1 ‘pigtails’ (Though the Siegfried/Vidal Sassoon link supplied by Phlebas is infinitely better)

What’s the Foxer theme this week? Fruit? Nobel Prize winners? Slang words for the male member? There’s only two ways to find out, and one of those would lead to instant expulsion from the Fédération Internationale de Defoxing.

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30 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    Matchstick says:

    I’ll start with the easy one- bottom right: English Electric Lightning

    • Premium User Badge

      JB says:

      I believe the knuckle-duster/revolver combo top left is an Apache pistol. Hmm.

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      The crest belongs to the city of Winchester.

    • Premium User Badge

      Matchstick says:

      I’m still wondering what the Lightning has to do with the theme.

      From the looks of it it’s probably a Lightning F3 of 56 Squadron
      http://www.aviation-picture-hangar.co.uk/F3_56sqd_firebird.jpg
      but I’m not finding anything there that helps.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No._56_Squadron_RAF

      • Premium User Badge

        JB says:

        I’ve been wondering about that and the biplane since you named the Lightning. My brain hurts.

        (I wondered if the biplane was an Avro Bison. It’s not, but MAN that’s an ugly plane!)

      • zachforrest says:

        squadron’s nickname was The Firebirds?

        Probably there’s a Firebird/Phoenix in native american mythos. probably

      • Premium User Badge

        Matchstick says:

        56 Squadron is known as the Firebirds and their Symbol is a Phoenix.

        Phoenix and Phoenix Arizona is definitely more than enough of a link for Mr Stone (the man has no shame) :)

        Edit – BAH Too slow AGAIN! :)

        • FurryLippedSquid says:

          Heh, probably. I was stumbling around on IMDb looking at an obscure western called Lightning Jack starring Paul Hogan!

  2. Premium User Badge

    Matchstick says:

    The plane in the centre photo being looked down on from above looks alot like a Convair B-36 Peacemaker

  3. DiscorderlyChaos says:

    so sad there is no good tank sims lately on this

    • Premium User Badge

      Matchstick says:

      Hopefully the upcoming Steel Beasts 3.0 update will get some coverage :)

  4. Premium User Badge

    Matchstick says:

    The ambulance at the centre top could be a Dodge WC54 Ambulance and Dodge would fit the theme

    Dammit my nemesis FurryLippedSquid beat me to it :)

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      Heh, stamp is a Scott 619 Five Cent Stamp issued 1925. Featuring the Lexington Concord Minute Man.

  5. pupsikaso says:

    The Ambulance truck at the top is the Dodge WC54.

    Edit: Oh darn, didn’t refresh comments before posting :(

  6. Premium User Badge

    corinoco says:

    Aircraft bottom right corner – English Electric Lightning F.6. Someone might correct me, but I don’t think F3s had the refueling probe? I do love the tales of RAF Lightning pilots scaring the knickers off SR71 pilots who thought they were invincible!

  7. Jason Lefkowitz says:

    That sale on the Campaign Series games has me torn. On the one hand, Tiller’s a good designer, and since Matrix has historically been opposed to sales of any kind it would be nice to encourage them to soften that stance. On the other, USD$20 still seems like a lot for what are, let’s face it, fifteen-year-old games whose looks and UI were nothing to write home about even by late-1990s standards.

    Maybe the sheer number of included scenarios makes up for that, I dunno. (This person seems to think so.) Anyone played these games recently? Do they seem worth $20 to you?

  8. Commander_Zeus says:

    Someone mentioned top right possibly being an Avro Bison. Might it be the Buffalo instead?

    he wants a military despatch rider game

    I want a game where you play a WW2 WREN or WAAF working as a telephone operator and have to connect calls via a massive switchboard; the game getting more and more difficult as more calls and more complicated connections come in. Also with intriguing and enlightening calls that you can listen in to and humourous wrong connections between generals and admirals etc.

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      Sure looks like a Buffalo, good spot.

    • Premium User Badge

      JB says:

      I believe you’re right about the Buffalo, good spot. Wish I’d thought of that. =\

  9. Dozer says:

    “Semi-colons and hyphens may be used; incorrectly.”

    There’s a brilliant song about this; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M94ii6MVilw

  10. SuicideKing says:

    Best intro ever.

    • BooleanBob says:

      It’s getting less praise than it deserves. But that’s Flare Path all over.

  11. Katsiki92 says:

    The plan view plane blueprint is for a CAC Wirraway Australian light bomber from WWII, note that “Wirraway” is Aborigine for “challenge”, so I’d say it fits the proposed Indian/indigenous/tribal/native theme.