The Flare Path: Continuum

What a con! So far ‘2015’ feels a lot like a re-badged ‘2014’. I know you shouldn’t look a free update in the mouth, but gosh, a few improvements would have been nice. How much longer must we wait for that Ebola fix… that promised ‘Peace in South Sudan’ scenario? Surely ISIL-seeking killer bees and colourblind-friendly rainbows don’t take that long to code. I’m beginning to think the devs behind this cruel-yet-compelling massively-multiplayer Homo sapiens sim don’t care a jot for us end users.

A few stories that almost slipped past Flare Path in the dying days of 2014…

Somnolent for most of the past year, Rise of Flight was roused mid-December by the arrival of a Russian mastodon. Dragging themselves away from WW2 Stalingrad for a spell, developers 777 added the contents of spin-off project ILYA Muromets to their splendid-but-somewhat-neglected Great War dogfight sim. All versions of RoF, including the free demo, now feature a snow-dusted Eastern Front map, a flyable Russian Nieuport 17, and a downable four-engined Sikorsky S-22.

The latter will admit player pilots and gunners if purchased as DLC ($20, includes bespoke campaign and all field and weapon mods) but currently you’ll need to buy it through www.riseofflight.com as the Steam ‘Muromets’ module is still en route.

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Incorrigible loafers Kunos Simulazioni took an entire weekend off following Assetto Corsa’s laurel-wreathed launch on December 19. Suitably ashamed of themselves, they returned the following week bearing a Porsche 911-shaped gift. Lightened, stiffened, smoothed and re-engined, the RUF ‘Yellowbird’ was the fastest sports car in the world at the time of its 1987 release.

Displaying a level of generosity that sadly seems to have vanished from other regions of the sim genre, the Yellowbird release was quickly followed by news of another gratis expansion. Kunos have successfully wooed automotive artists Lamborghini, meaning the V12/V10 roars of beasts like the Aventador, Countach, Gallardo and Huracán will soon be shivering AC armcos and aficionados.

 

Of course, thanks to a fecund mod scene, ludicrously handsome Lambos are already loose inside 2014’s most exciting race sim.

 

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Hopefully, “Keep Pavel Zagrebelnyj happy” was on Oovee Game Studios ‘new year’s resolutions’ list. Relations between Spintires‘ British overseers and its lone Russian coder, appeared close to collapse in the run-up to Christmas with Pavel publicly complaining that the game had been abandoned by rapacious project bosses.

“Sad news … just seemed like the development process started, I almost finished my map and tools to develop mods (free upgrade) … as our Englishmen from oovee together with the loot disappeared. What infuriates even more is the fact that my posts are removed from the official English-language forum.

I don’t have permissions to upload the update to Steam. So now I’ll complete and release map editor, in the version it is now, and this will be end of Spintires.”

Oovee’s Christmas message hints at reconciliation…

“As 2014 comes to a close – we would like to thank all of our fans for supporting us and would like to look back over the year. We have experienced good days and we have experienced hard days – while we can only wish for a walk in the park, we must face the truth that there will always challenges to contend with.

With the success of Spintires and further expansion of the game planned – we see that we couldn’t have come this far without the support of all of you. Every day is a learning curve and every day is different – it is now that we should learn from the past so we can move successfully into the future.

Going forward into 2015, we look to see the release of mod support… a feature that has been patiently awaited by you all. Furthermore, both paid and free downloadable content will be makings it’s way to you all, where new maps, trucks and game modes will be creating a longer playable life span to the game.”

… and future treats, but considering Spintire’s painfully slow growth in 2014, and the ramshackle state of the latest map (The Pit) it’s hard to be optimistic.

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On Christmas Eve at roughly the same time I was feeding my Bulge Wargames Survey into the ravening maw of the RPS Publishomatic 4000 (DANGER. Moving machinery. Risk of trapped appendages) Combat Mission engineers Battlefront were quietly announcing that their well-travelled WW2 tactics series will be heading to the Ardennes next.

The plan is to deal with the Battle of the Bulge and the subsequent push into Germany via another ‘base game’ and two optional modules. With Normandy, Italy and the Eastern Front action already represented by distinct module-spawning CMx2 titles, and a near-future offering – ‘Black Sea’ – due in mid-January, second-gen CM’s TOE is becoming increasingly atomised and confusing (On reflection, perhaps a DCS World-style business model – free engine, payware modules – would have made more sense). That said, the prospect of probing Panther-infested fog and paratrooper-picketed plantations in the company of a wargame as subtle and fraught as CMx2 is bally attractive.

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Likely to beat Battlefront’s Bulge title to Bastogne by several months is Hunted Cow’s conversion of Decision Games NUTS!

Going by BGG reviews of the 1998 prototype, it looks like this $15 digital card game will be as idiosyncratic as it is flavoursome. The two 150-card decks attempt to represent everything from weather and logistics to morale collapses and false flag operations. Bizarrely, terrain appears on the blank ‘map’ as the game progresses, meaning obstacles like rivers may appear in squares already painlessly traversed by advancing units. It all sounds rather odd, but assuming the abstractions aren’t too heavy-handed and Hunted Cow succeed in fashioning an AI capable of using all those cards intelligently, then NUTS! might just turn out to be perfect grognard finger food.

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The Flare Path Foxer

The solution to October 3’s foxer was staring you in the face fingertips.

a. Trim tab
b. F-11 Tiger
c. Anita Page
d. Macchi C.200 ‘Saetta’ (Arrow) variants
e. End of war in Europe
f. Frederick Handley Page
g. Silk escape map
h. Pistol lock
i. Home Office

 

The solution to Oct 17’s foxer was barely concealed.

a. Buff Orpington
b. Toronto Blue Jays logo
c. Strip mine
d. General Buck Turgidson
e. Coventry armoured car
f. Tu-95 ‘Bear’
g. Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom
h. De Havilland Firestreak

 

The solution to Oct 31’s foxer was hiding in a secret annexe in Amsterdam.

a. An-225
b. Money from Het Beursspel board game
c. Ki-84 ‘Frank’
d. Conker
e. 8th Reconnaissance Regiment, 14th Canadian Hussars (the liberators of Kamp Westerbork)
f. Pectin
g. Wright Brothers Memorial, Kitty Hawk

 

The solution to December 12’s foxer was, according to Winston Churchill, the worst disaster in British military history.

a. CH-113 Labrador
b. Ford logo
c. Alexandra Feodorovna
d. Tank from ‘Z
e. Percival Pinkerton
f. Armin Faber’s Fw 190
g. James Clavell
h. Gibraltar 5p

 

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Roman’s New Year Resolutions:

*Stroke more bumble bees
*Drink more birdsong
*Pillow more books
*Shoulder more sunsets
*Knot more contrails
*Produce more produce
*Pine less
*Dart moor
*Slog on

All answers in one thread, please.

34 Comments

  1. phlebas says:

    Is that a tiger shrimp near the top?
    And I think the airline tail logo is Aigle Azur – that’d be blue eagle in English.
    And the fruit looks like bitter melon(aka bitter gourd, bitter squash or balsam-pear).

    • Don More says:

      The aircraft at the top is a Fokker Friendship.

    • foop says:

      Could the bee badge be here as a Napoleonic emblem? I know he used them as a personal emblem and an emblem of empire.

      • phlebas says:

        It looks to be an embroidered emblem from his coronation mantle, so yes.

    • Don More says:

      The motorcycle looks like a Russian Dnepr 16 motorcycle

    • Llewyn says:

      Sigh. The over-aggressive FP spamfilter is back in action.

      The three-wheeler is a Mumford Musketeer.

    • AbyssUK says:

      I give up cannot find the postage stamp anywhere.. who knew there are so many damn triangular postage stamps…

  2. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Dear Uncle Tim. Thankyou for your new year post, the entire family sat around reading it and it was welcomed with the same quiet and deference of the queens speech. Even Auntie Florence held off on looking for spelling mistakes but to be fair she was having a hot flush at the time. Overall though the question on everyones lips was “when will Mr Stone have his own sim website or blog or YouTube channel so that those of us with virtual pilot or warmongering leanings might have a more regular dose of pixellated pilatuses and vertex shaded vulcans”? Though sim sites exist, none of them compare with the flair of flare path. I would bung cash in your ww2 themed canvas wallet if necessary

    • Tim Stone says:

      Dear Favourite Nephew. Thank you for the kind note and the generous offer. FP and RPS go together like cheese and pickle, Raffles and Bunny, Blohm and Voss etc. Assuming we don’t have a major fall out over my overuse of the word ‘pretty’, or my failure to provide a Gary Grigsby’s War in the West review (so many hexes), then a separate Flare Path website is pretty unlikely. Hope you all had a good Christmas and Auntie Florence’s bunions are no better. Regrads, Tim

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        Both a shame and good news at the same time. Simming seems to be growing of late so perhaps it will see a little more coverage in the coming year. Maybe we can convince Graham to review some PMDG’s or Aerosoft airports :)

        Though disappointed, there will always be a jar of your favourite pickled onions in the cupboard above the hob with your name on it. We keep Auntie Flo away from them as having the windows open in January is just not cricket.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Grizzly says:

    As someone who will never own or even fit inside a supercar the prospect of Lamborghinis in a racing sim makes me more excited then a bull in a Ferrari dealer.

    I do hope that this will mean that Lamborghini will be more open to letting it’s license be used by the other upcoming racing sims. I yearn to drive the Gallardo GT3 in RaceRoom, for example, which did really well in Blancpain GT this year (Well, Except during Baku)

    • sicemma says:

      You should give the Miura a try anyhow, even if you prefer the GT stuff. The Miura + Lake Louise Loop Road is pretty sublime – it works both as something to stroll around seeing the sights and as something that’ll take full on flooring it around when you feel the need. So good.

      • Chaz says:

        I would love to see more “regular” type road tracks/routes in these racing games. For me these games would be all about zooming around in flash Italian cars like Lambo’s round mountain roads in the Alps, or burning around in a Lotus down some winding English country lanes. Unfortunately I’m not really into the whole track racing thing, I find it a bit boring. Couple a game like this with some Colin McRae style tarmac road courses and I’d be all over it. That in my opinion is where cars like that belong, out on the road, not on the circuit. Unfortunately that’s all you get, the same old circuits that you’ve seen in dozens of other driving games, and no, I don’t care if they have been laser scanned.

        • sicemma says:

          I get what you mean completely. I’ve been into ‘serious’ racing games since Crammond’s F1GP on the amiga and I realised some time ago I was so completely over the usual silverstone, spa, monaco tracks it wasn’t funny. Things that saved racing games for me:

          RBR/RBRSR – so much content you could play for hours a day for weeks/months and never have to see the same track twice, beautiful set of tools for track creation

          Shift 1 / 2 – say what you want about handling, which was brought up to “mostly OK” with some of the later mods, but damn if EA didn’t pay to license some interesting less common tracks in there

          Game Stock Car – proper professional standard tracks (as in pretty much better than 99% of anything else that exists) which nobody outside of south america probably ever heard of

          And AC. While the default track list is the same old shite for the most part, they really seemed to have raised the bar by making it easy to make good to great tracks (and cars) quickly, similar to RBR. rFactor and some others could be convinced into doing this (you only need see some of the top 1% mod work or GSC) but the variety was always so variable in terms of quality in terms of modelling FFB, etc. AC throws in a pretty decent lighting engine that saves even a lot of the most offensively plain geometry and textures, and it seems like a lot of people learned to make good ‘feeling’ tracks in it fast. A 22km road course track with continuous elevation changes is the kind of thing which took teams of people, well, literally years to put together til now.

      • Premium User Badge

        Grizzly says:

        That Louise Road Loop is excellent stuff. Merci!

  4. LionsPhil says:

    Well, that’s a shame. Sounds like Spintires will never be the game that first tech demo showed it could be.

    • P.Funk says:

      Mod support at least would give it a fighting chance.

    • AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

      It’s pretty sad when bad business calls get in the way of (potentially) good games. Is it still worth buying?

      • Pantalaimon says:

        I’ve been holding off as well, but people still rave about the cooperative play, I think.

  5. Llewyn says:

    Sigh. The over-aggressive FP spamfilter is back in action.

    The three-wheeler is a Mumford Musketeer.

  6. sicemma says:

    Oh and, might as well ask here too – anyone know what’s up with DCS 2.0 / EDGE / NTTR? They’ve clearly blown 2014 at this point, are they still on for early 2015?

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      Float around the Eagle Dynamics forums for the most up to date info, but at the moment I believe they are saying Q1 2015

  7. fish99 says:

    Assetto Corsa is awesome, and after years in iRacing, I love being able to race against AI again with zero stress……. but……. I just can’t be bothered to have my wheel setup anymore. The damn thing (G27) just takes over the whole desk and takes far too long to setup and remove regularly. I’d love to have a chassis/pod with the wheel permanently setup and a racing seat, but I don’t have the room (or money for that matter).

    For people looking for a realistic sim though, Assetto Corsa is hard to beat IMO. Great tyre and chassis physics (the first sim where an F1 car will do burnouts without instantly swapping ends), and it looks nice too.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Assetto Corsa is my favorite racing sim ever because the “feel” is so good and the laser-scanned tracks are amazing; those are #1 and #2 on my list of things that are important in a racing sim. I just wish the AI, multiplayer, and content matched up better with other titles. They’re working on the AI, and I think over time they’ll improve the multiplayer (it will never be to iRacing’s standard, but I wish they’d at least get it to the level of N2003), but the content is just frustrating for me. A game that’s all about track racing should have a higher ratio of racecars to street cars, but I guess if you want to make money you need to please the “virtual car museum” crowd.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      What i’m going to suggest you right now is obviously not the perfect solution, but AC has enough linearity/filtering/gamma etc etc options for the analog axis that you can realistically set up a 360 controller without loosing too much finesse.

      Depending on how precise you are with the sticks, you can afford with the right tinkering to have a great response for the odd counter steer while retaining a lot of smoothness at the same time.

      I have a wheel aswell but sometimes i can’t just be bothered, and AC personally still feels pretty good i’d say.

    • dmitriman says:

      For years I had the same trouble with my G27. The setup took too long so it just collected dust. I bought a wheel stand recently (Gt Omega) that fits snuggly under my desk. I leave the G27 setup on that. Each time I want to play I just slide the wheel stand over underneath the part of my desk where my keyboard/monitor sit. Way cheaper and more practical than a full racing pod.

  8. Pantalaimon says:

    NUTS! is exciting to me in every aspect except its name..

  9. Zetetick says:

    I still feel that GRAVITEAMS ‘Operation Star’ engine ( tweaked and massaged into its leanest, meanest and visually lustrous potential self ) could do wonders for a Combat Mission game.

    Really, I can imagine a Heap of great Sim / Game possibilities on that engine.

  10. TrenchFoot says:

    Thanks for the heads up on Assetto Corsa. It’s a beautiful thing for a gamer who enjoys, but is not too serious about, car racing games.