The Flare Path: Allday Breakfast

Flare Path War Hero #31. Major Leonard Allday. A trained watchmaker and keen amateur ornithologist, Allday joined SOE in August 1940, and spent much of the war working on a series of top-secret bird and bat-based schemes. While his carrier pigeon munitions and ‘Pocket Pipistrelle’ personal sonar never progressed beyond the testing stage, Project Pantheon – a plan to disrupt the Axis war effort using thousands of specially trained magpies – was implemented. Trained to steal keys, nuts, bolts, and small machine parts, Allday’s corvids were delivered in batches of 24 by lone low-flying Blenheims (later, Mosquitos). By April 1945, over 4000 birds had been dropped behind enemy lines. While the overall impact of Project Pantheon is difficult to assess, evidence gathered after the war by SOE historian G. M. Birkin indicates that magpie mischief seriously damaged production in several key industries and may have delayed the introduction of the formidable Me 262 fighter by up to six months.

 

This week’s column is a bit of a magpie’s nest. During the last seven days my busy beak has closed round a new motocross sim demo, an unusually thorough Train Simulator adjunct, a deeply depressing OMSI announcement, and a pair of rather unusual sub sim screenshots. Let’s start with those screenshots.

Remember Sub Commander, the FTL-style Cold War sub sim that beaded the brows and irradiated the everythings of Graham and me earlier this year? During the past month, its creator has been working like a navy navvy. Two new vessel types (The Typhoon and November) have appeared in pens, torps have been joined by SLBMs, and – thanks to a new AI diplomacy system – thoughtless weapon launches can now trigger devastating ICBM exchanges.

Remarkably, on top of all this top-down toiling TheGeoff has also been hard at work on a 3D Unity-engined prototype.

“The idea is to make a multiplayer cold war era submarine simulator like nothing else out there. Each player controls an individual crewman on a submarine, and every system aboard the sub is modelled to a Sub Commander level of detail (possibly even more complex). The players must cooperate to control the sub, engage targets, deal with disasters etc. The ‘targets’ can be either AI controlled surface ships or other player controlled submarines. AI crewman can be added for single player mode.”

Though the Steam-destined project is currently “very, very early” in development (the interiors in the shots above are plaiceholders) rudimentary multiplayer code capable of supporting up to 10 sentient submariners is up and running. It’s already possible to trot about inside a Foxtrot, waggle a few levers and – in the event of a hull breach – bawl Russian expletives as brine spreads and rises.

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My favourite Hendrix track? Crosstown traffic. My favourite finch? The crossbill. My favourite bun? The hot cross. My favourite motorcycle discipline? Speedway. But that hasn’t stopped me enjoying the MX Bikes beta demo released on Tuesday.

One-man motorsport factory Piboso’s latest undertaking is a motocross sim aimed at modders. multiplayers, physics connoisseurs, and folk that get a fizz in their stomach when they see a muddy mound approaching at speed. I consider myself one of the latter, and have been fizzing fairly furiously for the last couple of days.

At this stage MX Bikes lacks the physics polish of the hard-to-master-but-easy-to-love MX Simulator, but tearing around the single demo track is still great fun. Once jumps start feeling a bit more controllable and handlebars a little less hostile at low speed, the sim should truly blossom.

Track deformation is on the cards, but, sadly, it looks like MX Bikes, like other Piboso titles, will never echo to the sound of AI riders wringing their throttles and wrapping themselves round trees.

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Bleak news from Berlin. It seems Marcel and Rüdiger, the pair responsible for the improbably wunderbar bus simulator OMSI, have had a major falling out. M-R-Software is no more.

If Rüdiger’s Google-translated account of events is to be trusted, the two old friends had a business disagreement in Spring which led to Marcel dissolving the partnership. OMSI 2 patching will continue but there’s no telling what will happen to the franchise once that process is complete.

Very, very sad. If Marcel and Rüdiger happen to read this… Thanks for everything, chaps. The hours I’ve spent beetling around Spandau in my beloved SD77 have been some of the happiest and most evocative of my gaming life.

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My weekend plans involve lots of heather, a sprinkling of snow, and a step-fronted British diesel locomotive with a purr that could sunder slate.

Yesterday morning Thomson Interactive released the West Highland Line Extension – a Train Simulator 2015 add-on that looks, from a distance (full report next week) utterly marvellous.

The feature list and pre-release screenshots shout ‘labour of love’ rather than ‘economic exercise’. Alan Thomson has crafted over 50 unique bridges and viaducts for the 50-mile 12-station Scottish route; he’s constructed 60 new buildings; he’s bolstered TS’s painfully familiar flora and terrain texture selection. The bundled loco boasts a fully-functioning RETB device, miniature snow ploughs that actually plough snow, and a purr purloined from a real Class 37.

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The Flare Path Foxer

There were ten trumpeters secreted in last week’s foxer. Rorschach617, All is Well, JB, Llewyn, Shiloh, skink74 and phlebas found all but three of them. In recognition of this feat, Roman (re-hired yesterday!) will now play Fanfare for the Common Defoxer on the office tuba.

a. Roger Voisin
b. Nat Gonella
c. Miles Davis
d. Louis Armstrong
e. Elephant/Roy Castle
f. Eddie Calvert
g. Fats Navarro
h. Don Cherry
i. Gabriel

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I was hoping to move the foxer to a purpose-built clubhouse today. The impossibly comfy chesterfields, the colossal reference library, the extensive model railway, the (probably illegal) militaria collection, and the pungent taxidermy were all boxed up and ready to go. Unfortunately, a technical issue remains unresolved and it’s now looking like the relocation may have to wait until the next RPS redesign. :(

All foxer answers in one thread, please.

29 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Matchstick says:

    Newspaper bottom right looks to be the VE Day edition of the Stars and Stripes Newspaper from Nice and Marseille

    • Artiforg says:

      The lady in the top right is Salvadorian-American actress Anita Page. link to details

    • Stugle says:

      The map bottom left shows the German-Dutch-Belgian border area. Could be about the Ardennes or the Ruhr area. The plane top right looks a bit like a MiG-3, but that teardrop on the cockpit doesn’t seem to match.

      EDIT: The map seems to show the Eupen-Malmedy area that was contested between Germany and Belgium after WWI, which would date the map circa 1920.

    • Rorschach617 says:

      Top Centre, Mirage F1?

      • Premium User Badge

        Matchstick says:

        I don’t think the cockpit looks quite right for that. The F1 cockpit was a kind of extention of the fuselage over the nose rather than rising up above it.
        link to i2.photobucket.com

        • Rorschach617 says:

          You’re right. Cockpit is wrong, plus it is missing the warning receiver at the base of the tail.

          OK, Right Centre, Fiat G55 Centauro?

          • All is Well says:

            I don’t think it is a G.55 (although I also went down that path for a while), see here:
            link to alieuomini.it

            I think it’s slightly more similar to a Napier-Heston Racer or a Kawasaki Ki-78, but it’s neither of those.

          • Premium User Badge

            Matchstick says:

            I was wondering about it being a races as well as I wonder if the the cockpit cover may be mostly streamlined metal with a door built into it and just a small glass section at front

          • Rorschach617 says:

            How about a G56? It has that teardrop behind the canopy.

            link to ww2photo.se

            or maybe a Regiane Re2001.

            Sorry if I am pushing the Italian aircraft line too hard, but it just looks like an italian designed fighter to me.

        • Premium User Badge

          Matchstick says:

          I think my collegue has identified the jet fighter as the Grumman F11 Tiger

      • Stugle says:

        That’s what I was wondering, too. My only concern is that the canopy in the Foxer doesn’t seem to match any picture I’ve found online.

    • phlebas says:

      The building in the centre is the Home Office. I’m not certain who the chap standing in front of it is.
      In case of relevance: it’s at 2 Marsham Street and was designed by Terry Farrell (the architect, not the one who played Jadzia in DS9).

    • Rorschach617 says:

      Anita Page was in a film called “Navy Blues”, released 1929
      F11 Tiger was used by the US Navy Flight Demonstration team, the “Blue Angels”

      • Artiforg says:

        Which could also explain the blue/sepia stripes. Edit: well the blue ones anyway.

        • billy_bunter says:

          Anita Page was also married to a US Navy pilot

          • JB says:

            Interesting. Not sure about any Cessna/Navy links but the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk was used by the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps. So there’s a Skyhawk/Navy link from the Cessna I guess maybe?

  2. trjp says:

    That does look a LOT more work than the usual “lick of paint – £15” TS expansion!! :)

    As for OMSI – one can only hope there will shortly be TWO amazingly leftfield and Bauhaus-inspired bus simulators to choose from…

    I personally am awaiting someone recreating an old Bristol VRT which will smoke and shuffle it’s way around the North-East of England carrying a variety of youths who are slowly scratching their initials into every square inch of it’s laminate surfaces…

  3. Premium User Badge

    Matchstick says:

    I try not to :)

    Anyone who knows that much about obscure military aircraft is a force to be reckoned with !

  4. Stugle says:

    Taking some time out from the Foxer, I want to say how lovely those screenshots from Train Simulator are. Simply looking at them is a nice diversion from work. :)

  5. damaki says:

    I guess that explains OMSI 2 flaky bug support.

  6. Gap Gen says:

    Ah, the National Rail symbol. The thing that no-one wanted privatised aside from politicians with rich friends.

  7. JB says:

    The multiplayer sub sim sounds VERY interesting. Assuming my PC can run it, and it does end up with bots to fill roles not covered by humans, I think one of my good friends would be very into this too!

  8. Martel says:

    The sub sim sounds like a submarine version of Artemis, which I would say is a very good thing. I’ve only got to play Artemis once, and it is incredibly rough, but still a blast.