The Flare Path: Bedtime Games

Bedtime games are the games you reach for when the cocoa is steaming and the duvet is beckoning. They make allowances for weary hands and tired minds They don’t punish you for over-indulging in the pub. They don’t lead you on and on by leaving long breadcrumb trails in the forest. The perfect bedtime game isn’t loud, gory, or coldhearted; it’s a softly spoken sandman, a ludological lullaby, a sweet dreams seeder. Right now, my bedtime game of choice is Volo Airsport.

Since Flare Path last rustled treetops and caressed crags, Martijn Zandvliet’s work-in-progress wingsuit game has gained new scenery, flight modelling equations, sounds, and control options. (It’s also acquired a price – $13). The plethora of code changes have transformed something fresh and promising into something really rather remarkable.

At one point last night, while chasing contours on the new Alpine map, I actually found myself wiping a tear from my eye. The combination of handsome vistas, exhilarating physics and affecting audio had brought forth the bead of brine. Volo had reminded a veteran flight simmer that sometimes you don’t need fastidiously modelled virtual aircraft to vicariously experience the thrill – the ecstasy – of flight – indeed, sometimes the presence of an aircraft may be a hindrance rather than a help.

The game’s power is rooted in an unusual and evocative flight model. Buzzing crests and threading ravines like a love-drunk falcon, there’s never a moment when you forget you’re relying on flexible muscle and fabric for lift and control rather than rigid wood and metal. At first using the WASD keys and mouse to direct your avatar (A gamepad is recommended but I reckon thumbsticks don’t compliment Volo’s feel and theme particularly well) is tricky; crunching collisions with scenery are frequent. Slowly though, you find your feet (and legs and arms); manoeuvres become more instinctive, the turbulence-related buffeting less alarming. Put in the practice and the mountains eventually morph from enemies into playmates.

It’s fortunate the game’s central activity is so bally mesmerising because right now Volo does feel feather-light in other areas. With only one venue (barren apart from one tree type and some placeholder AI entities), no structured challenges, mountain top launches, or parachutes (all descents end with a bump) there’s nothing to do at present except pick a spawn point in the sky then savour the sights, sounds, and sensations of a death-defying descent. The FAQ indicates Martijn has exciting plans. For the sake of bedtime birdmen everywhere, Flare Path hopes those plans hatch and fledge.

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Fancy earning the eternal gratitude of a respected Russian flight sim studio? All you’ve got to do is jump on the next plane to Tehran, take a bus south, then surreptitiously snap a few airbases! What could possibly go wrong!

Eagle Dynamics have just announced a Strait of Hormuz map for DCS World and would appreciate some assistance with airport detailing. The map is big news in DCS circles because the series has been stuck in the Caucasus for nigh-on twenty years.

At 390km by 390km it may not be as large as some punters would like, but few are criticizing the choice of location. Incorporating parts of Iran, the UAE and Oman and a waterway of unrivalled strategic significance, the add-on due this Winter will be an ideal playground for DCS World’s increasingly large aviary of contemporary warbirds. Future flyables like the upcoming F/A-18 should also enjoy its oil well-dotted deserts and tanker-thronged sea lanes.

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Scourge of War will be exchanging blue and grey for blue and red soon. With the Battle of Waterloo-themed title on the horizon, no-one was expecting a free hunk of Virginian violence. Work undertaken for a local university, has allowed NorbSoftDev to release a gratis Battle of Lynchburg add-on for Scourge of War: Gettysburg.

Though, in reality, the titular tussle ‘only’ claimed around 80 lives, it could easily have developed into something bloodier (The Union force attempting to capture the town arrived understrength and under supplied and withdrew after some unpromising probing). The pack explores some of these potential scenarios in addition to exploring actual events.

The full battle scenario commences with forces in historical positions but is totally unscripted and playable from dozens of different perspectives (In SoW you can play as almost any link in the command chain). There’s weeks of surprise-sprinkled slaughter here for ACW aficionados.

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I enjoyed my dalliance with the Battle Academy 2 preview code back in July and suspect I’m also going to have a good time with the just-released finished article.

The Brothers of the Hexagon (an organisation I parted company with in 2012 after a bitter disagreement over river representation) have requested I boycott the tile-utilizing ‘hexetic’, but pop wargames as elegant, easily grasped, and rammed with novel units as BA2 don’t come along very often, so they can take a running jump.

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The Flare Path Foxer

Last Friday’s overstaffed Magnificent Seven were phlebas, Syt, Beowulf, Stugle, Useful Dave, Shiloh, FurryLippedSquid, SpiceTheCat and AbyssUK. Armed with Sharps rifles and sharp minds they shot to pieces the ‘TV Westerns’ foxer designed by evil rancher Rorschach617.

A. Virginian Railway logo
B. Rifleman on NZ banknote
C. Fairey Firefly
D. The L-class blimp ‘Ranger
E. MIM-72 Chaparral
F. Sky King logo
G. AH-56 Cheyenne
H. Leroy ‘Sugarfoot‘ Bonner of the Ohio Players
I. Beechcraft Bonanza

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If defoxers had a patron saint it would probably be Julian of Basingstoke. In 1992 Reverend Julian Bagnold installed five stained-glass picture puzzles in his 18th Century Hampshire church, quadrupling his congregation overnight. For the record, the themes were…

  • Florence Nightingale (Porch)
  • Types of knot (Nave North)
  • The Battle of the River Plate (Nave South)
  • Philatelic terms (Chapel)
  • Scooby Doo (Chancel)

The puzzle below was installed in the vestry in 2011 by Julian’s successor, Reverend Babs.

All foxer answers in one thread, please.

37 Comments

  1. All is Well says:

    The gold leaf is an American Major’s insignia, isn’t it?

    • buzzmong says:

      Top right is an ME 163 Komet

    • All is Well says:

      And the torpedo bomber is a Vickers Vildebeest, I think.

      Edit: Beaten to it by Matchstick, it seems!

    • Stugle says:

      The satellite picture is of the Flak Tower in Hamburg – Heiligengeistfeld (which, if my rusty German is any good, translates into Holy Spirit Field).

    • Arglebarf says:

      Could be major, or in the Navy or Coast Guard, the same device is for the rank of Lt. Commander

    • AbyssUK says:

      I think (i am not sure) but i think the train station pic is from TS2014: The Riviera line addon and is torquay station (where fawlty towers is set)

    • Rorschach617 says:

      Are the replies working now? OK, they are. For some reason, they were getting posted at the bottom of the page.

      I’m certain Matchstick has got this one. The answer looks like “Fawlty Towers”.

      Barcelona
      M4 Sherman – Polly’s surname was Sherman.
      Badge Bottom Centre – Army Catering Corps, where Basil was posted during Korea.
      ME163 – The windmill on the nose is a Ram Air Turbine, or RAT.
      And you already know about the Vildebeest, Torquay Station and the Major.

      Oh God, does anyone know if the Flak towers were “faulty” in any way?

      • Beowulf says:

        That was strange – perhaps because my first comment was deleted?
        Anyway, and this is a long shot – the brontosaurus may refer to a Monty Python sketch, in which John Cleese interviewed a women who proposed a new theory about brontosaurus.

        • phlebas says:

          The dinosaur is the logo for Sinclair petrol. Donald Sinclair was the Torquay hotelier who (according to Wikipedia) inspired Basil Fawlty.

      • GT5Canuck says:

        So the Barcelona Metro map would be for Manuel, who hails from there. Que?

  2. Premium User Badge

    Henke says:

    Oh nice. I see Volo’s price has dropped from the $20 it was earlier this week. At $13 I’m VERY tempted to pick it up. Had a lot of fun playing the old free version with the Oculus Rift.

  3. buzzmong says:

    Exciting times for DCS with the new maps and glut of aircraft hitting the game over the next few months.
    On even more DCS news, the Mig 21 has been annouced for the 18th of this month, and is available for Pre purchase: link to forums.eagle.ru

  4. Premium User Badge

    Matchstick says:

    Plane top left looks to be Vickers Vildebeest so my bet is Fawlty Towers (which also works with the Major)

  5. Premium User Badge

    Matchstick says:

    I was just being slightly facetious when I suggested Fawlty towers but Barcelona makes me wonder … :)

    I guess we shouldn’t mention the war.

  6. Beowulf says:

    Strange, my comments seem to vanish :/

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      You’re probably using an inexplicably banned word, like P00P

      • Beowulf says:

        Well, Barcelona’s metro didn’t look that dirty last time I checked, but who knows.

      • Thurgret says:

        I just tried to post using the word in question, and you are quite right. How odd. Were there bots posting about it once upon a time?

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          I like to think that Jim thought it would be funny to ban only-your-gran-would-think-they-are-rude words

  7. Cinek says:

    What’s up with the camera in that wingsuit game?

    It looks broken. Can’t focus on a flight path properly opting instead for some crazy wiggling and floating in completely random directions.

  8. DrollRemark says:

    One thread, please folks?

    Does Volo have a first-person view? I imagine it would be something else in the Rift.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      Now DK2 compatible apparently. Only thing stopping me buying is lightness of content vs price, though the dev was asking what people thought about the cost!

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      Why is it that most of the games supporting the rift so far are simulators?
      (I’m thinking of this, Euro Truck Simulator 2, DCS World, and Elite is sort of a sim)

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        I’ve also got a nasty feeling that the bulk of VR dev-ing is going to flood towards GearVR for some time as they try and ride the wave of that platform. I HOPE Samsung won’t pull exclusivity deals with things just to sell their unit, but then I am not sure how port-able Android based VR games will be to windows anyway.

        That said, those sims you mention are already quite stunning even in just the DK2. I loved ETS2 and DCS already, and being IN them is just beyond breathtaking. Learning to fly a Huey in VR is magical.

  9. Thurgret says:

    I own Scourge of War: Gettysburg, and have enjoyed my time with it, somewhat. Perhaps ten hours invested to date. I do get awfully frustrated by my inability to work out just where my artillery can see to, and often relative elevations, and sometimes also baffled at why my troops are running a full two miles or so and I can’t seem to stop them even though their morale didn’t even seem too bad. So at its core, I suppose the game is really rather good. I’m simply frustrated at how hard it is to get at some information. I also wager that I’d enjoy the Waterloo setting more. European and all, and I’m far more familiar with the subject matter.

    Unrelated to this week, but since I had asked others about AGEOD games last week — after picking up and thoroughly enjoying To End All Wars — I have also been playing Civil War 2. Splendid. I just wish they would upgrade the darn engine and do away with some of the clunky bits

  10. cockpisspartridge says:

    Bedtime games? Pah. These aren’t bedtime games. Although the body positions in Volo look a little familiar.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      What on earth will Tony Hayes think of your unedited graffiti?