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The Flare Path: Tales Of The Unexpected

Simulation & wargame blather

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Blimey! What a week! Not only did Harris, the Flare Path quartermaster, pick up twenty thousand exclamation marks dirt cheap at a local fire sale, the world of flight simulation was rocked by a trio of 2000lb news Paveways!!! We literally can’t move for !s in the office at present! I’m actually thinking of taking a saw to some of them! Extra full stops and ‘i’ dots are always useful, and the uprights could be resold as war clubs! For ants!! Or other tiny invertebrates!!! With a fondness for melee!!!!

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Remember Jet Thunder, the standalone Falklands War flight sim described by this column as “imminent” in June 1923 and “probably dead” in August, 2013?

It has Lazarused!!!!! Again!!!! Aerosoft, the publisher/mentor, and Thunderworks, the British/Argentinian/Brazilian dev, surprised cynics last week by releasing super shots of super Super Étendards preparing to sup from a C-130 tanker, and super shots of super Super Étendards soaring over supine South American airbases.

Since we last eyed it, JT has transitioned to a new engine that is, according to Aerosoft boss Mathijs Kok “modern and far more capable than FSX”. It has also acquired an extra coating of gravitas. Mathijs again: “For sure this is a serious simulation, you’ll be using checklists (for the Harrier you seem to be reading checklists all the time).”

That mention of FSX is interesting. Mathijs has talked about developing an MSFS replacement before. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jet Thunder was a stealthy stage in this grand scheme, a test-bed for technology that will, one day, prove as useful to high-altitude globe-trotters as low-altitude ship savagers.

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Flight, Microsoft’s own attempt at an MSFS follow-up, had only been aloft for a few months when the money men came along and rolled up the runways and felled the wind socks. For those of us excited by the project, the hasty abandonment felt deeply unfair. With the right add-ons and feature tweaks, Flight’s future could have been bright.

Happily, it seems there were others that felt the fledgeling wasn’t given a fighting chance. Last week, news emerged that the franchise had been sold by MS. According to Avsim.com the new as-yet-unidentified licensee is “not one that we would have thought to have been a logical candidate” . And according to SimFlight.com they’re “no stranger to the simulation market”. Feeding these two clues into Flare Path’s ancient-but-indespensible Speculatomat 400 produced the following results…

LIKELY PURCHASERS OF THE MICROSOFT FLIGHT FRANCHISE

  • (31.43% probability) World of Tanks/Warplanes/Warships powerhouse Wargaming.net
  • (24.35% probability) Train Sim railway barons Dovetail Games
  • (21.50% probability) War Thunder wunderkinder Gaijin Entertainment
  • (11% probability) Energetic euro-sim entrepreneurs Excalibur Publishing
  • (5.72% probability) Tata Group
  • (3.91% probability) John Travolta
  • (2.03% probability) Carol Vorderman
  • (0.06% probability) Microsoft (clerical mix-up)

Flare Path is in the process of contacting these organisations and individuals (So far Excalibur and Dovetail have both issued denials) and hopes to clarify the situation in next week’s column.

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The last of the week’s flight sim bombshells fell slap-bang in the centre of DCS: WW2’s worryingly quiet work-in-progress runway. Out-of-the-blue Matt Wagner of Eagle Dynamics announced that project initiator/chief designer Ilya Shevchenko was no longer involved in the Kickstarter-funded sim. From now on DCS:WW2 will be developed internally alongside ED’s various DCS:World undertakings.

We may never know what prompted Luthier’s exit (many of his RRG colleagues have stayed on as direct employees of ED) but the explanation of where future funding will come from now the $159k of Kickstarter cash has been spent included some startling financial revelations.

“The vast majority of funds needed to finance this project have and will continue to come from Eagle Dynamics (not Kickstarter). To give you a feel… just the Eagle Dynamics developed and funded flight model for the Bf-109K has already cost us about 120k USD (that does not include external model, cockpit model, cockpit systems, etc.)..”

Excuse me while I scoop a handful of exclamation marks out of this sack by my desk and repeat that last bit…

“The Eagle Dynamics developed and funded flight model for the Bf-109K has already cost us about 120k USD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

120k USD for a single flight model? A tiny part of this sim correspondent’s heavily-callused headlump is impressed by this level of realism respect. A significantly larger part is, frankly, appalled. Unless ED’s overheads are astronomical, their largely Russian staff incredibly well paid, then, presumably, somewhere in Moscow right now is at least one developer who has spent the last year toiling exclusively on a solitary Messerschmitt FM. When the construction of your aerodynamic look-up table ends up consuming more man-hours than the construction of the real plane that inspired it, then it’s possible, just possible, you’re working too hard for your public.

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The Flare Path Foxer

Roman has been sent to Coventry by two of his closest Ouija board chums! Amy Johnson and Amelia Earhart won’t forgive him for leaving their deathplaces out of last week’s foxer. The aviatrices don’t seem to understand just how difficult it is to Street View-snap the middle of the Thames Estuary/Pacific Ocean.

Of the eight personal heroes Roman did include in the puzzle, six were superbly surmised by demon demise demystifiers AbyssUK, Mark Judd, SpiceTheCat, Panzerschwein, Runty McTall, skink74, El Mariachi, and Shiloh.

a. Guy Fawkes (Old Palace Yard, Westminster)
b. T. E. Lawrence (Clouds Hill, Dorset)
c. Henri Toivonen (Castirla, Corsica)
d. Frederick Banting (Musgrave Harbour, Newfoundland)
e. George S. Patton (Mannheim, Germany)
f. Winfried Freudenberg (Zehlendorf, Berlin)
g. John Lennon (Manhattan, NYC)
h. Vincent van Gogh (Auvers-sur-Oise, France)

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According to an article in yesterday’s Daily Mail, the world’s reserves of foxer themes will be exhausted by 2023. It’s all down to the Chinese and Indians, apparently. In Delhi, Mumbai, Beijing and Shanghai there are cryptic collages just like the one below on every fag packet, bus flank, and oil-filmed puddle.

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Tim Stone

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