The Flare Path: Demonstrably Narcissistic

Five and a half of the following seven questions will be answered in today’s column:

* What happens when you pass a red signal in World of Subways 4?
* Do wargame demos work?
* Whatever happened to Command Ops?
* Just how dreamy is the Assetto Corsa Dream Pack?
* How much does my neighbour’s ex-wife make an hour?
* Was Glenn Miller’s Norseman brought down by Nazi geese?
* Daffodils?

 

Might as well pluck the low-hanging fruit first.

* How much does my neighbour’s ex-wife make an hour?

$61 (Last month her paycheck was $14754 just working on the computer for a few hours!)

* Was Glenn Miller’s Norseman brought down by Nazi geese?

Based on interview material I gathered while backpacking round Chile in 1997, yes, almost certainly.

* Just how dreamy is the Assetto Corsa Dream Pack?

Jon Denton’s scintillating soliloquy over at ravsim.com suggests the groundbreaking laser-scanned recreation of the Nürburgring-Nordschleife circuit that sits at the centre of the first AC expansion pack, is a bona fide masterpiece. Where the Green Hells in other titles inadvertently spotlight physics flaws, Simone Trevisiol’s version consistently underlines engine sophistication, according to Jon.

If Dream Pack 1 contained an FSX airport or a TS2015 branch line rather than a 21km loop of AC asphalt, would it be priced at £11 and come with ten additional steeds? I doubt it. Race simmers are lucky swines – it’s official.

* Do wargame demos work?

When they’re as generous and well-constructed as the Combat Mission: Black Sea trial released last Friday, they have to, surely.

‘Rolling Thunder’, one of the two scenarios provided in addition to a tutorial, allows tentative tacticians to experiment with many of the full game’s most modern and unfamiliar weapon systems on a top-notch George MC-crafted battlefield. Tasked with neutralising a formidable Russian ‘Forward Security Element’ composed of various beady-eyed AFVs and missile-toting infantry, WW2 tactics are not recommended. Fail to utilize UAVs, exploit Apaches, and heed the marrow-chilling “LASER WARNING” reports issued by friendly tanks, and there’ll be burning Bradleys and Abrams all over the shop.

In ‘Gauntlets Crossed’, an hour-long infantry-only FIBUA fest, an old-fashioned approach is more practical. Russian troops are defending a multi-storey structure in the heart of the Ukrainian city of Myrhorod. Using a couple of platoons of US paratroopers together with sundry support and breach teams, it’s up to you to dislodge them. Expect lots of long-range lead and grenade swapping, and some extremely hairy dashes across roads and parks. Like all CMx3 scenarios, the skirmishing can be orchestrated in real time or via order phases sandwiched between sixty second bursts of hands-off action.

* Whatever happened to Command Ops?

Panther Games’ exceptionally fluid and naturalistic operational warfare series left dowdy long-time partner Matrix/Slitherine last year for too-cool-for-conjunctions bad boy Lock ‘n Load Publishing. After a short absence, the games are now back on sale in a new DCS World-style format.

The modular Command Ops 2 boasts a reworked GUI and sharper AI, and can be trialled via a base engine/demo that comes with three substantial (‘Greyhound Dash’ spans almost seven days of fighting!) and uncommonly evocative Battle of the Bulge scenarios.

Issues with overlapping text, unscalable windows, and a shy order modifier panel, mean I’m not entirely convinced by the new customisable interface yet. I do, however, love the new overlay options and the extra icon info. The ability to see at a glance the anti-personnel and anti-tank implications of enemy and friendly unit dispositions, is a particular boon.

Thanks to better weapon selection routines, overhauled arty behaviour, and more subtle order delays (units now have a comms rating representing the extent of their wireless connectivity) Panther’s famously strong AI should be more human than ever. I can’t say I’ve noticed any improvement so far, but dabbling with the demo scens reminds me why I’ve lavished so many warm words on the Commands Ops games and their forerunners in the past.

Those three selected units in the image above? They’re mine – part of a German force advancing towards a village in the North. After encountering a sizeable contingent of Shermans on the main road, they’ve decided, without any intervention from me, to double back and try an alternative route. You don’t see that level of nous and flexibility in many other strategy games.

As Panther are still penning a manual and building tutorials, novices will probably find CO2 rather intimidating at present. Until facilities improve, the Command Ops: Battles from the Bulge manual (included in this old demo) and tutorial movies can be pressed into service as interim instructors.

* What happens when you pass a red signal in World of Subways 4 – New York Line 7?

Jason McKenzie, one of WoS4‘s sizeable cast of perambulating waxworks, gives you a gentle tongue lashing in his office and TML’s latest semi-successful rail sim erases itself from your HD.

I’ve spent a fair few hours peering through the windscreens of virtual Redbirds this week, and the experience has been far from unpleasant. Though WoS4 lacks the kinetic authority of an OpenBVE, OMSI, or even a TS2105 (train behaviour on slopes feels particularly synthetic) and insists on modelling (badly) the bustling HQ of New York’s Line 7 in addition to the line itself, there are compensations.

Even without cab sway, driving the 15km, 21-station (mostly) elevated route from Flushing, Queens to Times Square, Manhattan can be bally atmospheric. At night when the city is twinkling, and your dingy nook is periodically illuminated by passing trains and stations, it’s extremely easy to accept the illusion. Have TML captured the feel of Seventies/Eighties NYC? Having never been there but watched almost every episode of Cagney & Lacey, I can say with confidence that the game needs at least 300% more knitwear.

More on the weird/wonderful/weak WoS4 next Friday.

 

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The Flare Path Foxer

For helping Roman complete a colossal D-Day crossword, Shiloh, AFKAMC, Gusdownup, Matchstick, Stugle, Spinoza, phlebas, Don More, and Rorschach617 win Flare Path flair points made from…

80. Crucial element of D-Day plan (11)

 

ACROSS
7. Overlord’s underlord (tedder)
56. Sea grunge plays havoc with crude SMG (grease gun)
80. It harbours silkworms (mulberry)
109. Sound of leather on willow reassures lost paratrooper (cricket)
170. Allied AFV notoriously hard on the rump (cromwell)
214. Company knot known for its bombers or fighters (airspeed)
244. The timer is mangled! How can we disable the guns? (thermite)
307. Tasmanian joker unwinds on golden sands (bobbin)
433. TD goes back to front on February 14 (archer)
667. These wiry Poles fought for the Germans (rommelspargel)
699. Treeline visible from Canadian beach (yew)

DOWN
13. He digs graves with HE (sexton)
212. Assault on Caen confuses Romanian cowhand (charnwood)
283. Cat killers relied on this dog for motivation (pluto)
285. Flower leapt in one bound by mythical nag (caen canal)
321. Terrain the invaders hadn’t banked on (bocage)
324. Normandy veteran spends retirement relaxing in pool (hms belfast)
465. She waves at pathfinders (rebecca)
468. To build one, simply encase materiel in concrete (casemate)
503. Rhino stampede (operation cobra)
511. Anne Bonny slays Panzers without help from Royal Engineers (piat)
514. Fuel bill shocks Carentan defenders (cole’s charge)
592. Most windmills conceal a German vehicle (ostwind)
600. Beef and venison are excellent in bridge rolls too (ham and jam)
614. Highest Allied rank (cab)

*****************************************

 

Apologies, the ‘Activities Incompatible With Defoxing’ list included in the last Flare Path, was incomplete:

15378. Shoeing horses
15379. Wooing milkmaids
15380. Storming blockhouses
15381. Cocking PIATs
15382. Refuelling Me 163s
15383. Parking Starlifters
15384. Untangling brittle stars
15385. Filleting red herrings

All answers in one thread, please.

64 Comments

  1. Beowulf says:

    Some of the issues regarding Command Ops 2 have been supposedly fixed in latest update, but I have not yet tried it myself. Most notably the game slowing drawing method, which is reported by users on the LnL forums as fixed (and also scrambled text, messages not showing bug, and perhaps some minor issues as well).

    If the auto-center on unit after selecting bombard order will be disabled I must say – it’s in a very playable state (mind you – it’s officially in public beta)

  2. Shiloh says:

    I loved Highway to the Reich, I still play it occasionally when I want a wargaming challenge. It’s a really fluid game where one bad decision can lead to disaster, and I can’t think of many (or indeed, any) others that capture the time-pressured, hemmed in feeling of Market Garden quite so well.

    PS Tim, I’m really getting into Vietnam ’65 now. Logistics has never been my strong suit, so being forced to focus on that aspect of warfare has made for some enjoyable gaming. Thanks for highlighting it.

  3. Stugle says:

    The pixelated map top-right represents the Cape Cod/Nantucket Sound area. No idea what the game is, though.

    • Shiloh says:

      Is that the anchor of the Titanic?

      • Shiloh says:

        Actually no, I don’t think it is. The bottom is wrong I think.

      • Shiloh says:

        It’s actually a “stockless” anchor though – happy Google image searching everyone.

      • mrpier says:

        Might be a Byers anchor based on the design, but I haven’t found an exact match.

        • Shiloh says:

          Now obviously I’m no expert but I think it’s specifically a “Japan stockless anchor”.

    • Stuart Walton says:

      The aircraft is very similar to the Spirit of St Louis.

      • Beowulf says:

        It looks closer to Focke Wulf A33

      • Stugle says:

        Am I mistaken or is that an open cockpit in front?

        • Premium User Badge

          Grizzly says:

          No you are not. It looks like it is one of the early fokker F types, like the Fokker FIII

        • Beowulf says:

          That is bugging me as well, and makes me rethink – perhaps it’s some Fokker F.VII variant?

      • Beowulf says:

        OK, Fokker Super Universal

        • Beowulf says:

          From the period, when it was used by Pacific Air Transport at least. Why can’t I edit my posts?
          I come out as a dirty spammer :)

          • Premium User Badge

            Grizzly says:

            AFAIK you can’t edit comments as the comment section and the website itself didn’t do that well under heavy load.

        • Premium User Badge

          Grizzly says:

          I think it is just the standard Fokker Universal (without the super) as the Fokker Super has an enclosed canopy.
          Here’s a beautifull picture: link to baaa-acro.com

          • Beowulf says:

            Correct. I noticed my mistake as well, but didn’t want to spam anymore – same thing with this Lynx blueprint – it’s not it :)

    • Premium User Badge

      Joshua says:

      The diagram on the bottom left is the track layout of Watkins Glen, the “Boot” layout

    • Zogg says:

      I think the map top right is from Harpoon Classic.

    • Premium User Badge

      Joshua says:

      SPecifically, the island that is indicated int he picture is called “Martha’s Vineyard”

    • Shiloh says:

      Might the link be Moby Dick? Or is that too obvious?

      • Shiloh says:

        Actually, I think the link is “Jaws” (the shark film). Martha’s Vineyard, Dreyfus (Richard), “Bruce” the pneumatic shark…

        • iainl says:

          That’s my thinking, too – Watkins Glen is a reference to Chrissie Watkins, who’s the first victim.

        • Stugle says:

          The survivors of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis were beset by sharks.

          • iainl says:

            More specifically, it’s that Quint tells the story of that attack.

        • Shiloh says:

          The mayor’s “white anchor” jacket…

        • Stugle says:

          Can’t read musical notes worth a damn, but I wonder if they are of the Jaws Theme?

          • richard says:

            The tune is a sea shanty called “Spanish Ladies”. Apparently a version was played in the film Jaws.
            (and finally, after 2 years of trying, I can make a contribution)

        • Rorschach617 says:

          Looks right. Well done.

          *Writing off the last 15 minutes going thru Pink Panther storylines since Herbert Lom’s character is the only Dreyfus I could think of :)

        • Stugle says:

          In this vein of thinking, the helicopter is probably the Kamov KA-60, Orca.

          • Rorschach617 says:

            Agreed, the wiki page for the Ka-60 has that same plan drawing (flipped) in it.

      • Rorschach617 says:

        The anchor is the Svenner Memorial at Hermanville-sur-mer, Normandy.

        The Svenner was renamed upon being handed over to the exiled Royal Norwegian Navy. Previous name was HMS Shark

    • Stugle says:

      The best match I’ve found so far for the flag underneath the Harpoon screenshot (blue, with apparent white cross and red star) is the Kingdom of Sedang, a dubious 19th century entity in modern-day Vietnam…

    • Rorschach617 says:

      The little art inserts are from a board game, based on the Dreyfus scandal.

      link to giochidelloca.it

      • Spinoza says:

        “Regle du Jeu de L’Affaire Dreyfus et de la Verite” (“Rules of Play for the Dreyfus Affair and for Truth”) – damn you , ninjaed ,-)

    • Longdan says:

      The original Harpoon by 360

    • GT5Canuck says:

      Game is one of the Harpoon variants.

  4. Spinoza says:

    Low right stone head – Robert the Bruce, King of Scots

  5. Beowulf says:

    Also, this helicopter looks like a Lynx, but I’m not certain.

  6. spamsac says:

    Race track is Watkins Glen

  7. spacedyemeerkat says:

    Loved the first answer!

  8. Llewyn says:

    Tim, I think your answer to “Daffodils?” might have leeked. Either that or you were never intending to answer it in this column and plan to make it dragon to the next one.

  9. iainl says:

    Thanks for the Assetto Corsa link. I think. I’ve been trying to decide whether to buy it since it launched, and had just about persuaded me I had plenty of fun to be had from the base game still. But I’m really curious to see if this is the first time the ‘Ring feels right; I’ve only ever driven it in the likes of Forza and Gran Turismo, where it’s an exercise in frustratingly demonstrating everything that’s wrong with grip models and elevation changes.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      The perception of driving “feel” is subjective, but I’ve never driven a sim (and I’ve driven them all) that comes close to the way Assetto Corsa conveys weight transfer and traction. It has it’s own set of issues, as they all do, but the way the cars feel to drive is certainly not one of them.

      And so as to not clutter the comments with AC posts, the Dreampack 1 is an astonishing amount of content for the price. I was honestly expecting it to cost more simply because of the excellent Nordschleife renditions, and the 10 new cars have the same attention to detail as all of the content Kunos has released so far.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        They could have abused as it’s not only the ring, but it’s the first laser scan in a “game” of it.

        This is also probably the reason why they didn’t give it free for ultra early access folks, i can imagine the work and the budget required for it is something extreme. If you include the cars aswell and the fact that there’s a 4WD car in it i’d say is good value.

        The reason why a 4WD car is special in a “proper” sim is that there are a lot of extra things to simulate, especially in those with electronic management of the various differentials.

        • Hydrogene says:

          The only issue with the Ring in Assetto Corsa seems to be how smooth Karusel is, which is a silly mistake, as it’s bumpy as hell if I can trust the videos. Otherwise it looks fantastic. I’ll try it this weekend.

          As Jason Moyer said earlier, AC is the only sim where I feel like driving a real, weighty car. Fantastic feeling!

          • Hydrogene says:

            To put the record straight, I must say I was wrong. I’ve driven around the Ring, and I can tell you the Karussel is bumpy enough for me. I could hear the bottom of my Ferrari 312T scrap the surface and I had trouble keeping control of the car. Also the long straight at the end is VERY bumpy at high speed.

      • iainl says:

        Thanks – that’s exactly how I feel about the base game; I just seem to have far better understanding of what the car’s doing under me than I usually have in games. The only negative part of the expansion I can see is that I’m not really a good enough driver to handle the full-on GT cars and would much rather potter around in either the road cars or the surprisingly forgiving open-wheel examples.

        Somehow I find it easier to get the Lotus T125 around Imola than Codemasters’ F1 can be, just because there’s less chance of it suddenly doing something unpredictable to me without letting me feel the limits first.

    • P.Funk says:

      For driving its a fantastic sim. For racing its bloody miserable still.

      • ikehaiku says:

        Just like Mister P-Funk said. AI is still bloody miserable, netcode for multiplayer is serviceable but not much more. And there’s still lots of small (and not so small) details missing to have a truly complete game.
        Still, the game and the DLC are still worth the asking price.

        • iainl says:

          All I’m doing on AC is driving round and round enjoying the way it feels so much more natural than any other driving game, from the arcadey Codemasters stuff and Gran Turismo to more “sim” claiming stuff from Simbin. The force feedback, even on my dead-cheap wheel, coupled with the sound and general movement just work together to give me a far better idea of what the car’s doing; it’s a thing of beauty.

          I’m nowhere near good enough to get into the Multiplayer, and it’s so rare for AI worth a damn in a game that the actual racing bit doesn’t really bother me.

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            Also, the more authentic the physics model, the harder it becomes to program the AI, unless they’re cheaply rendered in a cut down, simplified model. If that’s the latter, i’d say they’re really good at hiding it. Watching replays, their suspensions reactions and what not they seem pretty much the real deal to me.

            Then again i guess making them less aggressive wouldn’t be as hard, but they’re getting increasingly better i must admit. Still not there, but i think i can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

  10. handyman24602 says:

    DCS world steam sale started today for those interested.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      Hello, thank you for that :) Do you know if any of the fighters include dogfighting training missions? I cannot even begin to figure out how to dogfight and I really don’t learn well from youtube videos

      • handyman24602 says:

        I don’t think so, I only have mig21, sabre and fc3 fighters, they don’t have dog fighting tutorials. Do you have trackIR (essential in a dogfight)? I would try some aerobatic manoeuvres (in manual or tutorial) get a feel for the aircraft and then jump into instant action dogfights. Really depends are aircraft, are you going for a ir missile kill in mig21 or gun kill in p51.

  11. Spacewalk says:

    From observations I have made travelling the lines those WOS shots are visually accurate depictions of railfolk.

  12. Hypocee says:

    Hahaha, no we can’t put a couple of regexes into the system, what do you think this is, hahaha it’s funny that we’re incapable of that.

  13. Shadowcat says:

    And in breaking news, New York police have released the name of the man arrested last week in connection with the “railway ripper” killings. Railway shift supervisor Stephen Flynt may be responsible for the deaths of dozens of victims. Little is known about the suspect at this stage, however one report claims that Flynt was “enraged by knitwear”, with woollen garments adorning every one of the bodies recovered to date.

  14. SuicideKing says:

    Hey Tim, any update on the next Close Combat?