OpFlash: Dragon Rising Preview On EG

Man shoot gun at other man. Game is born.

I had a look at Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising the other day, and then happened upon the notion of writing down what I saw and publishing it on an international gaming website. And so it came to be that Eurogamer has a couple of thousand words of details as well as interviewy gobbets with lead AI man, Clive Lindop. It goes,

“First and foremost, the scale of the game needs to be expressed. Dragon Rising presents a 135 square mile island, with an engine offering a draw distance of up to 35km. This isn’t an exaggeration – we’ve seen it with our own eyes as a Cobra helicopter rises above the hills to reveal the extraordinary vista. The new engine is designed to allow a great deal of stuff on screen at any one time, which is essential for one of the game’s most distinctive features: shooting people from miles away.”

And carries on over here.

45 Comments

  1. Gap Gen says:

    I’d absolutely love for there to be two excellent soldier sims this summer. Looks promising so far.

  2. Xercies says:

    Hmm I like the sound of it but I’m really really confused of which game i should get argh..

  3. Heliocentric says:

    Massive draw distances and meaningful terrain could make for an awesome game. But will the ai be able to spot you? What about xray vision through trees? But even if the ai is crap/cheats will the multiplayer and mod support hold up? These are not things a preview can tell me. But i’m excited about this i desperately need to replace battlefield 2 (pr mod) for my war gaming. But no game is up to it yet.

  4. Babs says:

    That actually sounds very promising. After loving OPF but being completely turned off by ARMA I’m going to be watching this.

  5. Ging says:

    Bit of a shame it’s apparently been pushed back to September time, rather than hitting in June – but at the same time the extra development can’t hurt.

  6. Dude says:

    I have to say this sound to good to be true, fantastic IA, superb engine that run those draw distance without requiering a monster to do it, different sound for different bullet caliber?, it’s not like we haven’t heard that before… Here come the hype wagon…

  7. Gap Gen says:

    Well, gun sounds have always been different, surely?

  8. Slippery Jim says:

    To elaborate on the article the article: It was actually Clive Lindop, the person they are interviewing that falsely claimed on his LinkedIn profile that he worked (quite specifically) on the vegetation for Flashpoint 1 and was a part of the development team. So think twice before you believe his PR bollocks.

    /rant

    I do hope DR will be a good game, but I await the demo. As it stands, even after the troubled ARMA1 release, ARMA2 is set to be the game that is a true sequel to OFP1, whilst being more accessible as well as more intricate and low on bugs. But we’ll see.

  9. Zarniwoop says:

    Sorry to nitpick, but either you mean ‘a draw distance of up to 35 square kilometres’ (about 6 kilometres in all directions- about as much as you can see in real life from ground-level), or the game’s engine is capable of rendering far more at any one time than is actually in it.

    I wouldn’t bother commenting, but the very next thing you say after that is ‘This isn’t an exaggeration’. :P

  10. Gap Gen says:

    Yes, the success of ArmAII will probably hinge on how buggy it is on release. Hopefully Bohemia can have taken time to iron out the bugs before release this time. Oh, and the campaign will hopefully be much better.

  11. Fat says:

    Oh man, i can’t wait for this. I was such an OFP nut back in the day, ArmA was disappointing.

    I’m looking forward to some (hopefully) excellent sniping stuff, i hate how the drive of FPS seems to always be about close quarters action these days. Was nothing like play Delta Force: Landwarrior or OFP and sniping at 1000+ metres. Having to adjust your scope, etc.

  12. Slippery Jim says:

    Yeah, although DR is getting a lot of coverage and advertisement due to its financial prowess, and ARMA2 is getting very little coverage in comparison, not even a preview in months. Maybe it’s their decision, but the most recent videos are showing some beautiful graphics and interesting campaign and story elements.

    BIS are currently in an extended beta stage in order to iron out all the bugs which they found out is very important from the flak ARMA1 got before it was patched. As it stands, look what’s possible in ARMA1: link to youtube.com

  13. jonfitt says:

    OpF:DR sounds like it’s going to be just the ticket.
    I like the idea of the difficulty settings not affecting the enemy AI or your ‘health’ but just removing on screen aids.
    Personally, that makes the highest difficulty setting really appealing, whereas I never normally bother to play on high difficulty.

  14. Larington says:

    “If you hit the spacebar you’ll dive to the floor, because what’s the most important thing you can do? It’s not jump, it’s get your face in the dirt as rapidly as possible. When you’re carrying 170lb of gear several miles, the last thing you’ll fancy doing is star jumps while somebody’s shooting at you.”

    Very yes.

  15. Premium User Badge

    John Walker says:

    Dude – These are things I saw with my eye. While I cannot prove the bullet calibre sounds, the man demoing it for us was naming the gun based on the sounds he heard. He could have been lying, although I’m not sure why he would. We saw it running on a middling-to-decent PC, nothing spectacular, and it ran very smoothly. And we watched the AI behave completely differently each time as the guy demoing was outwitted by it, three times in a row.

    Slippery Jim – Lindop is very open and clear that he ran a fansite for OFP, and that he was nothing to do with the original Bohemia team. He is, however, the lead AI programmer on Dragon Rising, and thus his PR bollocks might be well worth listening to. ArmA 2 is getting plenty of coverage all over the place, and will continue to do so.

  16. Slippery Jim says:

    I understand. I did use ‘/rant’, so it was somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Still, maybe ask him directly if it was him that claimed (in the past) to have worked for BIS (specifically saying he had worked on vegetation and personally named a BIS team member as his colleague) on his LinkedIn profile. Not just a minor mistake, methinks.

    On second thoughts Clive Lindop’s documented lies are immaterial. Both games a pretty far along now and ‘teh internets’ will give us the lowdown if both games are worth getting once they’re released. So thanks for the preview of DR, John.

  17. cyrenic says:

    The co-op sounds fantastic.

  18. Nutkins Victory Otter says:

    Is this the good OpFP2 or the bad OpFP2? The man on the street’s moral compass is swinging wildly. :P

  19. ThatFatChap says:

    @ Zarniwoop

    Why would you build and engine the renders what is behind or to the side of you? You can’t see it (apart from reflections) so it would be a total waste of cycles. The amount drawn on the screen is not the same as the size of the world.

  20. Serondal says:

    ArmA turned my computer into a melting heap of fail no matter how low the settings were, I couldn’t beat a single mission on it even when it ran passable :P From the sounds of it the draw distance on this will make my performance in ArmA look like 100 FPS. I hope I’m wrong but I’ve had a bad history with thes types of games.

  21. Kobbzone2 says:

    Dang, third preview and still no gameplay video in sight. I predict a series of delays and a mild disappointment in the end. IGN has done a hands-on, and it seems at least some simulation features are intact. Dang and dang I just can’t get my mind over the whole Chinese/American/Russian threesome they’ve got in there. At least there’s no alien invaders involved.

    Hope Codemasters pull it out but dang and dang and dang again they should give us moar media.

  22. Serondal says:

    Well China and russia VS USA isn’t that far fetched of an idea really.

  23. Daniel says:

    SP sounds interesting, although the 32 player multiplayer was a big putoff. The most glorious multiplayer I ever experienced was in Joint Ops- by and large a mediocre game, but it came alive upon the big maps. With 75 players on your team [i]alone[/i], the shootouts you would have were really spectacular. This trend towards smaller multiplay maps is fairly depressing, all things considered- especially with the speed of net readily available these days.

  24. Serondal says:

    These companies should go the route of supprting 100 vs 100 servers that they host and players can join then have them supported by ADs to make back the money it costs to run the server and then some. I personally I wouldn’t mind looking at ads if I got to play in a massive battle with no lag.

  25. Zarniwoop says:

    @ThatFatChap

    Well, my understanding was that that’s how game engines work. I could be wrong. But assuming I am, that means that the dev team working on this game have created an engine which can draw several times more in any one direction, at any one time than is actually in the game-world. This seems a little pointless to me.

    (I’d like to point out that I forgot to divide the figure for 35Km^2 in my last message by Pi, fyi.)

  26. Wisq says:

    @ Zarniwoop:

    The choice of “135 square miles” and “35km” in the text is an unfortunate choice of inconsistent distance units, but it’s not unreasonable for a 135-square-mile island to have 35km from one corner to another.

    For comparison: The main island of Grenada is about 120 square miles. The best measurement I can get suggests that it’s about 32km from the northeastern corner to the tip of the southwestern peninsula.

    Choppers and planes can really benefit from that kind of view distance. If the engine is designed such that fair-weather air visibility is high enough to approach real-world values, to the point that you can see the whole island — rather than the obnoxious haze effect and pop-ins many games use instead — then I heartily approve of their non-exaggerated view distance.

    That said, I hope the hardware requirements are a little less extreme than the original OFP. I spent $1.3k to upgrade my rig for OFP, and immediately went from “what the heck is my squad shooting at, I don’t see anything” to “yeah, pretty sure I can hit that soldier, but maybe I should let my AI squad know about him first”.

    On that note — I quite enjoyed the balancing of the OFP AI. Although they were generally fairly accurate at shooting, they couldn’t always see as far as a player, particularly one with binoculars or a scope, unless they really knew something was there. Calling out targets to make your whole squad aware of them, then having them react appropriately, was one of the best aspects of being part of an OFP AI squad. They helped a lot in terms of shooting stuff, but you still had a major role to play in terms of making sure you saw the enemy before they saw you. It also meant you could get the drop on enemies, but you’d better make sure you shoot from cover, because the moment you start firing, they’ll hit the dirt and start trying to find and shoot you in return. I certainly hope they can retain that sort of human-versus-AI balance in OFP2.

    As for the rest of it, I’m glad they’re sticking with the spirit of OFP from the sounds of it, particularly with regards to the notion that “less difficult” just means “more gameplay aids” rather than “reality warp”.

    For the uninitiated: In the easiest mode, you got a crosshair with weapon-bob indicator, tags for friendlies and enemies when you roll the crossover over them, a target box on the HUD (indicating what your leader told you to attack or where to go to), friendlies and spotted enemies on the map screen (plus an exact position-and-direction indicator for your own soldier/vehicle), lock-on guidance for your anti-tank rounds (rather than guiding them in by hand), access to a third person view, automatic call-outs of targets in your view (within a certain reasonable range), and even a directional clock next to the chat when a squaddie calls out a contact (twelve-o-clock pointing where the squad is looking, not where you are).

    The hardest mode takes away all of that. You have to use ironsights to make a shot at any sort of range, you have to figure your orders out for yourself, etc. Your map is just an inanimate piece of paper you can draw on, and it’s up to you (and your compass) to figure out where you are. If you’re lucky (mission designer’s choice), you might get a GPS that just gives you a grid coordinate. If you’re unlucky (e.g. campaign mission where you’re an escaped POW), you don’t even have that, and have to navigate by the stars. Brilliant.

  27. Wisq says:

    I forgot to mention: OFP did have one reality-warping difficulty option (tanks/choppers take more damage to kill), but it affected all sides equally — NATO, Russian, humans, AI.

    There was also a “super AI” option to crank AI up to their max capability. Again, that just stepped things up on both sides, meaning the player had to be much better to make a meaningful contribution. (Never used it, myself.)

    Obviously, neither of these gives you anything near the “super soldier who ducks behind cover to regenerate lost limbs” gameplay (im)balance of today’s shooters.

  28. LionsPhil says:

    In general, yes, a graphics engine will have to do graphical calculations on things you can’t see—this is what visibility culling is for. You can cull to the viewport before you get into texturing, but you still want to avoid as much transform as possible. The Z-buffer will keep obscured objects hidden, but you’d still rather not rasterise them in the first place. For corridor shooters, solutions such as BSP and portals (not necessarily in the disconnected, original-Prey sense [and modern Prey/Portal’s “portals” aren’t even the same thing]) have existed for years. I’m not sure what modern engines do for first-person outdoors—UnrealEngine 2 can use a combination of zone portals and anti-portals (“if it’s behind this big polygon embedded in a hill, don’t draw it”), but I think UE3 might do something different. But the very nature of visibility culling is that it is a fast approximation, so in general a 3D engine will actually end up “drawing”, in some sense that does burn a few cycles, stuff to the side of or behind you. And of course, visibility culling itself is cheap, not free.

    Absolute distance isn’t a problem, other than making the Z-buffer less accurate. Detail is; although the more you can see, the more stuff there is to cause detail, of course. I would hazard a guess that they’ve either gone LOD-mad, or been hard at work on clever approaches to getting the visible set as close to the things which will actually project onto the viewport as possible.

    Disclaimer: not a professional, even “indie”, game developer. Current techniques may vary significantly in this crazy shader-mad future we live in. (But I doubt it; they seem too late in the pipeline.)

  29. lumpi says:

    “As for those controls, Lindop claims they’re pretty similar, even opting to play the PC version with a 360 controller. “I like the 360 controller when I’m playing because my skills at flying a helicopter are better. It’s one of those classic balances between a high-fidelity simulation model and one that doesn’t necessarily require every button to operate.””

    …. Ewww… just… ewww…. D:

  30. KP says:

    Serondal: yeah. and the ArmA 2 story was written up before the Georgian conflict. Kindof eerie. :)

  31. Zarniwoop says:

    @Wisq

    Well, so what we’re talking about is drawing the entire island, the entire time. And then some. And then some more. Sure, that’s great for choppers, but I highly doubt they’ve pulled that off. I mean, why would they have? 35 kilometres is over 3000 square kilometres, just so we know what that means. And that’s just the /drawable/ distance. Try and imagine just how many polygons that is. Unless they’re planning some serious expansion packs, I think it’s infinitely more likely that what was meant was 35 square kilometres.

  32. Dude says:

    Ok John, I believe you if you say that you saw it. I just wonder how tuned down it will be (graphically) compared to the very beautiful screen shot we are getting. Hopefully when you still get some physic effect in low-mid setting, not like crysis when below high you lose quite a lot.
    The gun sound, I have to say it is not very very important to me, gameplay will be what make it buy or not.
    On the AI, hopefully it will be up to what they say, it just that I am very careful now when developer says that their AI is outstanding, I have been really disappointed lately… Empire no naval invasion and passive AI for example. Creative assembly did claim that their AI will be awesome, turn out to be false so far. Hopefully this will be the exception…

  33. Bananaphone says:

    @John Walker
    Are the controls similar to ArmA in that there’s a floating zone where you can move the gun without changing the view, or are they like a ‘normal’ FPS?

  34. Gap Gen says:

    KP: Ghost Recon’s storyline is pretty much exactly the Georgian crisis, down to actually using the region South Ossetia itself.

  35. HidesHisEyes says:

    What i’m looking for from OFP2 is to have a game that’s really atmospheric and scary, BECAUSE bullets whizz past you and you know they’re deadly, BECAUSE i don’t have an antitank… Not because i’m fumbling for which combination of F keys will order my squad to run and fucking hide.

    The one thing i’m looking for from at least one of these sims is missions where i’m not in command (offline preferably), where i just feel like a grunt, where i’m given orders and follow them… And with AI improving, so that that doesn’t need to be scripted, i think that’s where i’ll find my sim. The fact that this will run on consoles is a bonus to me because my computer isn’t that great, but i know it’ll run anything that runs on a 360 from experience (FC2 was totally playable). Not the best reason, but worth noting.

    I shall be royally pissed if it ends up with the games4windows “X360 controllers only” bullshit but i can’t see that happening… Let me fly helis with my joystick! :)

  36. Slippery Jim says:

    For you information: An official statement on the Codemasters forums has now said that the viewdistance will NOT be up to 35km. It might have been a target before, but that was ages ago. I don’t know when this interview with Clive was done, but it was quite a while ago they said this. Clive may not have found out about it yet.

  37. Mang says:

    @Slippery Jim: got a link?

  38. Slippery Jim says:

    I’ve had a look but I can’t find it. You’ll just have to ignore what I said since I can’t back it up, unless I do come across it.

  39. Serondal says:

    Do we have any idea what the specs on this game are going to be like?

  40. dsmart says:

    First and foremost, the scale of the game needs to be expressed. Dragon Rising presents a 135 square mile island, with an engine offering a draw distance of up to 35km. This isn’t an exaggeration – we’ve seen it with our own eyes as a Cobra helicopter rises above the hills to reveal the extraordinary vista. The new engine is designed to allow a great deal of stuff on screen at any one time, which is essential for one of the game’s most distinctive features: shooting people from miles away.”

    It would have been particularly impressive if not for the fact that our game has a 400 sq. km world and a draw distance of 40km. Completed with real-time day/night transition, weather conditions etc. heh

    /shameless plug

    New dev blog and shots just released today

    Speaking of which, those of you who were asking about getting a Beta key, they were sent to RPS today. More over here.

  41. Serondal says:

    Not to meniton your game will probably run better under any situation than OpFlash. Never had a problem running any BC or UC games other than random crashs but that happens with any and all games. At least when it is running it runs smoothly.

    I’m guessing there is still birds flying around and stuff on AAW as well I hope ?

  42. dsmart says:

    Well the reason for that is we tend to focus on gameplay elements rather than hiding shoddy gameplay with flash.

    For AAW – given its massive scope – we still made some compromises in trying to balance between gameplay and graphics.

    We struck a good balance, but sadly we had to drop SpeedTree vegetation simply because we ran out of time. We’re going to still do it as a free patch depending on how the game is received. Since most of the fps combat takes place at bases – not in the great outdoors like OpF and such – we don’t view it as a terrible loss.

    One thing is 100% certain (hence the reason for the IGN focus testing), you won’t need to pull your hair out trying to play the game. We made it as accessible as possible and not like someone else’s game.

    If you can get in on the BETA – and you’re fan of our games – you’ll immediately see how far we’ve come since the BC/UC days.

    If this is your type of game, send me email to (betaprogram – at – 3000ad.com) and request a key. Make sure u identify yourself though because that email is getting hammered, now that the IGN test is live.

  43. Serondal says:

    I’ll have to do that when I get home and get access to my personal E-mail ^_^ Still I don’t see how this can compare to flying a warmonger over a base from such a high altitude that nothing can fire back, zooming out and just watching the PTA tear the base apart .I guess we will see.

  44. dsmart says:

    Sadly, it doesn’t. :(

  45. Serondal says:

    Does anything? My whole life is shallow compared to the one my AE has in UC :( Now you’ve made me depressed LOL