The Flare Path: Happy Trafalgar Day

There are the names of four Battle of Trafalgar ships in this pic. One oak FP point for each of them.

Most years I celebrate Trafalgar Day by getting tanked-up on Nelson’s blood then nipping down to Warsash and chucking lit matches through Ian Brennan’s workshop window. This year I thought I’d try something different. I thought I’d stay in and relay news of The Hunter, Unity of Command, rFactor 2, Automation and Kart Racing Pro, with the aid of my trusty Mackenzie Mk. IV electro-semaphore machine.

There's a Battle of Trafalgar ship in this image too. Name it to win an FP point carved from a piece of genuine 19th Century ships biscuit.


“Urine Is No Longer Gender-Specific”

Have you Nature Trekked yet? My one ramble provoked Botany Rage rather than relaxation. Bluebells and poppies flowering together on sunny grassland slopes? What devilry is this?

The game industry’s rural illiteracy probably deserves a Flare Path all to itself. One of the few studios that seems genuinely interested in producing plausible green spaces, has recently unveiled a patch that makes exploring their stunning Washington State slaygrounds that bit easier.

The purchasable dome tents included in the latest update for picturesque online deer/bear/coyote/pig/pheasant/turkey stalking sim The Hunter mean you don’t have to start every session from the same handful of lodges and official camp sites. Exhausted after hours of tiptoeing through bosky copses and peering intently at far-off stag-shaped rocks, you can now bed down almost anywhere.

Also bulging the update rucksack, was a new stealthy slaying tool – the TenPoint Carbon Fusion Crossbow – and a major ballistics overhaul. Projectiles are now nudged off-course by wind and slowed down at different rates by different air densities. As each ammo type has its own weight, drag coefficient, and silhouette area, wise hunters might want to leave their man-portable ballistae at home on particularly blustery days.

Until adjustable weapon zeroing is added, Arma’s ballistic authenticity crown won’t be under threat, but the realism gap is definitely closing. In one grisly respect the countryman is actually ahead of the soldier. Post-update you can now tell from the colour of the blood spots sprinkled by wounded prey, roughly where that prey has been hit. Dark red equals a lung shot and a potentially short pursuit. Light red means you’ve got a hike on your hands, a hike perhaps with nothing at the end of it except disappointment and a gnawing feeling of guilt.


“Za Rodinu! Za Stalina! Zagreb!”

In the couple of weeks since the Unity of Command T-34 broke cover and began racing towards the line of dug-in Pak 40s that is The Games Press, a lot has happened to it. It’s been described as having “a beast of an AI” by a man that keeps his AI hyperbole in a padlocked chest at the bottom of a flooded mineshaft. It’s acquired a release date (November 15). It’s fired-off the following rather nifty trailer, and, most recently, it’s stopped to pick up some tank riders – wily wargaming veterans Matrix Games/Slitherine.

The lads from Zagreb will also be selling their wares directly through their own website, and possibly via Steam too. Fingers-crossed that Steam deal works out. Having seen a lot more of the beta code since sharing those early impressions, I’m more convinced than ever that UoC has the potential to flourish outside of the usual groggy circles.

Thanks to a trim and logical GUI, and scenarios usually petite enough to be fitted into a lunch hour, the Stalingrad-focussed fun is as approachable as a hungry anti-tank dog. What really impresses though, is the way that approachability doesn’t come at the expense of depth or flavour. When you’re sitting there musing on how best to utilize shivering Italian reinforcements, or defend a scarily vulnerable supply line (The AI loves to punch through fronts and perch on logistically critical hexes) the game feels every bit as Ost Fronty as more detailled, less wieldy offerings.

I realised the other day that Nenad Jalsovec, one half of 2×2, is actually no stranger to RPS. Counterclockwise, his mesmerising remake of Spectrum oddity Knot In 3D was recommended by Jim, Kieron & myself many moons ago. Returning to CCW’s claustrophobic, confusing and dangerous spaces today, I realise now it was really just a very clever, very pretty Stalingrad metaphor.


“Any colour as long as it’s Midnight Charcoal”

Yesterday Jim asked ‘Where can racing games go?‘ if they want to stay fresh and alluring. Here’s four suggestions from the simmy end of the genre.


Those that demand brute power and leonine engine notes from their race sims, should probably give Kart Racing Pro a wide berth. I’ve met mosquitoes with deeper voices than the rides in this sim. On the other hand, anyone after nip-and-tuck racing underpinned by authoritative physics, might want to give the free beta (soon to be updated for the last time) some attention.


ISI are yet to respond to my 168-page ‘Why You Guys Should Make A Roman Chariot Simulator’ proposal, but they are moving slowly in the right direction. As this vid illustrates, some of the open-wheel action in the upcoming rFactor 2 will take place at a time when skirts were short, the lives of F1 drivers shorter.


While the first incarnation of Automation will focus purely on the design, production, and marketing sides of the post-WW2 car industry, comments from Camshaft Software’s Caswal and Andrew on the tail end of this introduction/investment appeal, suggest the game may eventually let you drive your homemade hatchbacks and saloons, or at least watch from the pit-lane wall while AI drivers do it for you. The whole idea of sims letting you design your own steeds, is a criminally under-explored one. I’ve had the blueprints of a WW2 boffin game sitting around on my mental drawing-board for years.


There isn’t a race sim in existence that wouldn’t benefit from a healthy dose of Rigs of Rods’ unhealthy destruction physics. Because this open-source sim features vehicles built from lattices of distortable rods draped with deformable bodywork meshes, no two prangs are ever the same, no plunge from an alpine road an entirely negative experience.


  1. jeffthewonderbadger says:

    Prince, Pickle & Berwick in the flags.
    The silhouette – I’m guessing Royal Sovereign (1915)?

    • Tim Stone says:

      jeff is indeed the wonder badger. Four oaken FP points for four remarkably Swiftsure answers.

    • jeffthewonderbadger says:

      It was a Redoutable quiz. Quite Formidable, in fact – though to be be fair I Naiad-ed the distraction.

      There’s no way I’m going to be able to work Santísima Trinidad into a pun, so I’ll stop there and go put my oaken FP points on the mantlepiece.

  2. fallingmagpie says:

    Not really the right week for gags on the life expectancy of racing drivers (link to but I assume you didn’t know.

    Unity of Command *looks* absolutely fantastic, and I’m certain I will never ever play it. Too hard, make brain hurt.

    • Spooner says:

      Unity Of Command is indeed hard, but not unnecessarily complex or a grind to use. That is a very important differentiation from most other war-games that are cumbersome just because the perception is that war-game people will put up with poor design.

    • Shadowcat says:

      I strongly doubt Tim was saying there was anything funny about either the death of Mr Wheldon or the many deaths of F1 drivers in the time period to which he was referring. F1 was horribly dangerous back in those days, and the mere fact that the death of a modern-day driver causes such a stir is ample evidence of how much safer things are nowadays.

      (According to Wikipedia there were a total of 44 F1 driver deaths in the 30 years between 1952 and 1982, with barely a single year passing without a fatality. Over the next 12 years there were just 3 deaths, and there have been none at all in the 18 years since.)

  3. buzzmong says:

    Unity of Command reminds me of History Lines (a WWI BattleIsle game) from way back in the early 90’s. I swear they’ve pinched the tank sounds from BattleIsle as well.

    As such, I’ll be keeping an eye on it, although it’s up against Skyrim for my monies.

  4. Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

    Replying before reading, just so I don’t get completely gazumped… I had to use Wikipedia to find out that the DC-4s in BOAC service were licence built Canadair North Stars, and that BOAC called ’em ‘Argonauts’. So, albeit with a lot of internet help, HMS Argonaut?

    Edit – Kart Racing looks like a good chuckle, will give it a go over the weekend. rFactor 2 – if it was just rFactor with properly thought out, physics engine driven FFB it’d be worth it for that alone. High hopes for this – rF was never quite a good enough platform for some of the stunning mods it generated. If the rF -> rF2 mod conversion process is as straightforward as has been claimed, it could be an absolute joy to behold.

    It’s also – unlike everything in rF1 – giving the impression that, just maybe, some of the default content may be worth having a fiddle with. Not that it needs to be, of course, but it’d be a laugh until someone releases a proper ’67 F1 for it.

    • Tim Stone says:

      Close enough. The vessel was actually French (Argonaute). Don’t eat your ships biscuit FP point all at once.

    • Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

      Nice. Are those raisins or weevils? Either’s good.

    • BooleanBob says:

      To eat hard tack
      You need the knack
      Or else your pearlies
      You will crack.

      Excellent column as ever.

  5. scottossington says:

    I went directly to the link to see who this Ian Brennan fellow was and all I can say is WOW!! I sometimes wish I had that kind of dedicat….Ooooh a silvery thing

  6. Inigo says:

    The problem with Nature Trek is that you can easily go out and walk through the countryside in real life and enjoy the view. You can’t easily lead thousands of young men to their deaths in real life and enjoy the sight and smell of seared flesh and spent ordnance.

    • Jesse L says:

      Except as I KEEP SAYING in these comment threads, some of us don’t live in or near the countryside! And would like to take even a simulated walk more than once a month.

  7. opelwerk says:

    Some nitpicking just because I can:

    (in regards to The Hunter)
    Light red blood would mean arterial blood, which would presumably lead to a speedy demise of the poor shot animal.

    Dark red, or venous blood would not be as critical.

  8. Vinraith says:

    I’m a bit dubious about Unity of Command’s art style (something about a realistic operational simulation with cartoony graphics strikes me as off, even inappropriate) but the game itself sounds outstanding, and a wargame with strong AI is always a welcome thing.

  9. fartron says:

    I sure hope Automation lets you buy up cheap and efficient public transport networks and close them down to encourage car buying while lobby politicians to subsidize your industry with wasteful highway construction!

  10. propjoe says:

    The Flare Path is quickly becoming my favorite thing on RPS. I’ve never said this about a wargame nor a hunting sim before, but both Unity of Command and The Hunter look incredible. That’s all.

  11. PastyAndUnhealthy says:

    Between the music and the light handling, I’m getting, of all things, a Team Ico vibe from that rFactor 2 video.