The Flare Path: Whatever Happened To…

Remember that flight sim that was going to do for the WW2 Regia Aeronautica what IL-2 Sturmovik did for the Voyenno Vozdushnye Sily? Recall that imminent Napoleonic roguelike – the one that was going to let you desert, rustle chickens, and scavenge on corpse-littered battlefields? The Dorset outfit that was looking to raise £250,000 to fund an Eighteenth Century smuggling sim? In today’s column I point the Flare Path PBY at patches of ocean where promising work-in-progress sims and wargames were last seen. I find out why titles like Lifeboat Simulator 1875, La Decima, and General Winter are years late.

Whatever happened to…

Aerofly 2

The sequel to the disarmingly pretty but disappointingly parochial (Switzerland only) Aerofly FS missed another ETA in late 2015. The good news is IPACS’ long-awaited GA follow-up should be with us in Early Access form within the next 2-3 months, according to a statement issued today. Major draws include bigger skies… “Our flight simulator is no longer limited to a small region. You can, in theory, fly around the whole earth. However, upon the initial release we will only have a small region with airports, but this will increase as we try to implement automatic airport generation and also allow user added content”, multiplayer, day-night transitions, and more realistic navigation. Fingers-crossed the engine changes haven’t compromised Aerofly FS’s distinctive fluency.

Titanic: Honour & Glory

A $190,000 Indiegogo shortfall back in April doesn’t seem to have weakened the resolve or pruned the plans of Thomas Lynskey, Matthew DeWinkeleer, and Kyle Hudak. The Americans behind alarmingly ambitious liner sim/sleuth-em-up Titanic: Honour & Glory, spent the week before Christmas touring British Titanic sites like the White Swan Hotel, Alnwick and Albion House, Liverpool. If anything the team’s enthusiasm and passion for detail seems to have intensified during the past year. I just hope character dialogues and plot structures are being crafted with as much care as the interior décor.

Jet Thunder

Things looked irrevocably bleak for this Aerosoft-backed Falklands War combat flight sim last summer. In July Anglo-Argentinian Thunder Works announced that key coder Steve ‘Scary Pigeon’ Dobbs had lost his battle with cancer, and the project was, for the time being, on hold. The bereft devs were resolute – “Steve instructed us to move forward regardless of his ultimate fate, and we will do so, to keep his memory and to fulfil his wish” – but until a statement appeared in late November announcing that the studio was “in talks with an experienced flight sim programmer” it seemed highly likely Jet Thunder’s long and difficult developmental journey would end prematurely.

Fall of Rome

For the past five years, fans of the small but perfectly formed Hannibal: Rome and Carthage in the Second Punic Wars have been hoping Forced March Games would live up to their name and get a wiggle on. The fact that the bigger, battle-layer and multiplayer equipped Fall of Rome hasn’t arrived yet owes more to unavoidable distractions than unconquerable coding obstacles. Lone toiler James Warshawsky has been too busy subcontracting (and updating Hannibal) to complete his tempting but sadly-stitch-free sequel. At the close of 2015 he still had “a decent amount” left to do, so it looks like we won’t be biffing Boudica any time soon.

Combat Helo

Every time I look up and see the robber fly reminiscent silhouette of an Army Air Corps Apache overhead, I think of Combat Helo, a WIP AH-64 sim that, for a year or two, promised to breathe new life into a genre comatose since the glory days of the Jane’s, Razorworks and MicroProse games. Sadly, the prospect of Richard ‘Flexman’ Hawley’s longbow title ever leaving the ground look slimmer than ever. Stymied by problems with the Leadwerks engine, flight modelling headaches, and licensing worries (Surely a DCS-style “The manufacturers and intellectual property right owners of the vehicles and weapons represented, in no way endorse, sponsor, or are otherwise involved in the development of Combat Helo” title screen disclaimer would have been sufficient?) the team’s most recent public communications are now over a year old.

What a crying shame.

Seven-G

At least taking-forever Hornet sim Seven-G still shows life-signs now and again via its YouTube channel. Impressively demoed around a decade ago, expected in 2009, and apparently ‘92% complete’ three years ago (“Just going through the latest build (2.20). Pretty decent mission editor…You can set up an entire air war in about ten minutes, Caps, strike, targets, red air, SAMs.”), the devs really seem to be struggling with the final furlongs. Will Seven-G arrive before DCS steals a portion of its thunder? It’s going to be nip and tuck.

Graviteam Tactics: Mius Front

The game in this list I’m most eager to play. As I understand it the sequel to Operation Star was as good as ready a year ago. Has the launch been delayed by feature creep, real-life conflict, other Graviteam undertakings, or a desire to teach blazing tank crewmen better fire extinguishing techniques (going by the following vid they still prefer to run than roll)? It’s impossible to tell. The closest thing to a commitment/ETA to issue from the lips of the taciturn Ukrainian devs recently is a “hope” that their dual -layer, realism-rammed wargame will release in 2016.

All American: The 82nd Airborne in Normandy

Four years ago I urged Shrapnel Games to remove the stupendously late and clearly vaporous sequel to 101: the Airborne Invasion of Normandy from their store, and refund pre-orders. The fact that the game remains on sale and the polite “What’s happening?” enquiries of forumites continue to go unanswered, clearly indicates that Shrapnel are money-grubbing scoundrels who don’t give a fig for their customers don’t read Flare Path.

* * * * *

 

The Foxer

Roman’s going through one of his morbid phases. His bedtime reading at the moment consists of Times obituaries and AAIB accident reports. At the weekend he’s usually to be found either painting corpses for his 15mm Battle of Isandlwana diorama, or doing gravestone rubbings down at St Jude’s. Last week’s ‘dead astronauts’ foxer would have been followed by a Quintinshill Rail Disaster collage if I hadn’t insisted on something less depressing.

theme: astronauts killed in space program accidents (defoxed by phlebas)

a. Beagle Bassett (Matchstick, AFKAMC)
b. Clark Gable (AFKAMC)
c. Gordon Freeman (mrpier)
d. Jarvis Cocker (Stugle)
e. Anderson Greenwood AG-14 (Matchstick)
f. Anthony “Nuts” McAuliffe (FurryLippedSquid)
g. 1912 Lawrence textile strike (Stugle)
h. M24 Chaffee (Stugle)
i. White armoured car (unacom)
j. Adams revolver (Matchstick)

* * * * *

Foxer Fact #1770

The Star in Cheapside has been a favourite haunt of London’s defoxers since the early Seventeenth Century. Pepys, a keen collageer, mentions the inn several times in his diaries.

June 18th, 1662. “Spent all the evening at the Star with Mr Williamson and Mr Evelyn. I made much use of my Italian in the solving of a fox on Punchinello.”

May 23rd, 1664. “To the Star, in Cheap-side, and there met Mr Brampton, my old chamber-fellow. After watering together, he and I skinned an uncommon tricksome Stonehenge foxer.”

March 8th, 1665. “The play being done, we abroad to Cheap-side and the Star tavern. There got a breast of mutton off the spit, a fair custard, and a fox that made our heads ake. I was defeated, but Beck Butler, who is as sharp as flint in vulpinous matters, came upon ‘Hanna-Barbera characters’, a solution which all liked very well.”

All answers in one thread, please.

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58 Comments

  1. AFKAMC says:

    FOXER: Is the armoured vehicle a Fox NBC Reconnaissance System?

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      Matchstick says:

      Whoops too slow so I’ll repost in here

      Bomber on right looks like a North American B-45 Tornado

    • unacom says:

      Taht airship thingy might be either USS Macon or USS Akron.

    • Rorschach617 says:

      Top Right, Looking at a photo of the Rheinmetall Fuchs, which is the Fox in other countries

      • Beowulf says:

        Ahh, again, mere seconds away. This is correct, it’s Fuchs TpZ 1

    • unacom says:

      It´s an SPZ Fuchs all right. I can not discern if its the NBC-variant or just your regular off the shelf APC, command and control vehicle or ABRA-artillery spotter…

    • unacom says:

      The car has a Trabant-feeling to it. Can´t place it though.

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        Llewyn says:

        For me it has more of a MkI Cortina feel, although that’s mostly because my subconscious brain screamed ‘Lotus’ at me before I actually looked at the Foxer properly…

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          Llewyn says:

          Ah subconscious brain, pretty sure I should trust you more. I think it is a pre-facelift (’62-’63) MkI Cortina Lotus, whereas my conscious brain only had the post-facelift model to, er, hand.

          Will try to dig out the specific picture since it looks to be track-prepared, in case Roman’s doing something with the driver’s name instead of the car.

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      Matchstick says:

      I may be going off completely at a tangent here but does the Black(?) logo middle left look quite a bit like a stylized F-117 Nighthawk ?

      • unacom says:

        The V and the tailfin look different. I can´t be of any assistance, though

    • Stugle says:

      Can’t make any headway today. I’m fixated on the statue in the bottom center. It screams ‘Eastern Bloc politician woman’ at me, but I can’t for the life of me think who it might be. Not Erich Honecker’s wife, nor Nicolae Ceausescu’s… I’m probably dead wrong anyway.

      • mrpier says:

        Yeah same, although I thought Israel.

        Also lady portrait in left corner looks like Emily Blunt but I’m pretty sure it isn’t her.

    • phlebas says:

      Looks like we have a living astronaut this week – top photo is Mike McCulley, space shuttle pilot.

    • AFKAMC says:

      ZORRO?

      • AFKAMC says:

        Creator: Johnston McCulley
        Horse: Tornado
        “Zorro, ‘the Fox’, so cunning and free …”

      • AFKAMC says:

        Lived in Los Angeles during the era of Mexican rule

      • AFKAMC says:

        Wondering if the armoured vehicle top left with the smoke dispensers is a tracked RAPIER

      • AFKAMC says:

        Juan Nepomuceno CORTINA cited as an inspiration for Zorro.

      • unacom says:

        You guys are formidable.
        What about the butterfly? I can just relate to Zoro Gardens..

        • AFKAMC says:

          I was going nowhere until phlebas identified Mike McCulley. Then a quick google of “McCulley” yielded Johnston McCulley, and that was it.

          The fox link seemed a bit tenuous at first, but now I read that “Zorro” is the Spanish word for “fox”.

          We still need the butterfly, the statue, the lady bottom left and the “stealthy” logo.

      • AFKAMC says:

        As a rule, I can’t tell a Red Admiral from a moth, but two unconvincing theories re. the butterfly:

        1) Butterfly effect -> Domino theory -> Zorro wears a “domino” mask.
        2) With those markings, it just generally resembles a mask.

      • eeldvark says:

        Woman in the photo is Suzanne Vega. Zorro is the secret identity of Don Diego de la Vega.

    • Rorschach617 says:

      Thinking of giving up trying to identify the tracked vehicle at the top left corner.

      It’s giving me an up-armoured m114 sort of vibe, but I cannot find anything like it.

      All the while, a little voice in my head asks “who puts the smoke dischargers down there, where they would snag on bushes?”

      • Rorschach617 says:

        And now I know, Britain puts the smoke launchers there. :)

      • Beowulf says:

        Which is built on the M548 basis, which was developed by (according to Wikipedia) Food Machinery Corporation from San Jose, California.

    • phlebas says:

      The statue is the Konrad Zuse Memorial in Hünfeld, Hessen. Zuse was a computing pioneer; I’m not sure of a Zorro connection unless his machines being called Z1, Z2 and so on make enough of a ‘Z’ signature.

      • Stugle says:

        Whoops, so much for my Eastern Bloc female scientist. :)

        • Stugle says:

          …Or politician. Can’t even trust my own memories from more than an hour ago. How can I ever hope to deal with the Foxer?

    • phlebas says:

      The butterfly looks to be Amauris Niavius, the Friar. Friar Felipe was a friend of Zorro’s.

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      Llewyn says:

      Is the woman bottom left possibly Marguerite de la Motte, who played opposite Fairbanks in the original (1920) Zorro movie? I’m certainly not convinced – that photo looks more modern to me, and I can’t find any picture of de la Motte which matches it, but there’s something about the expression which seems to fit with other pictures.

      (That said, it also reminds me a little of a young Louise Redknapp, so I’m probably not to be trusted here.)

  2. Premium User Badge

    Matchstick says:

    Foxer Answers:

    Bomber on right looks like a North American B-45 Tornado

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    DrollRemark says:

    Aerofly 2 is already out… for Android and iOS. Once I got my mind over the idea of a complex flight sim running on a touch screen tablet/phone, the fact that it costs 99p was the next surprise. Considering that the original still costs £30 on PC, will this set a new record for the biggest price discrepancy between mobile and desktop versions?

    • Pulstar says:

      There are actually quite a few flight sims on Android/iOS. Mind-boggling.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Yep, X-Plane has had a mobile iOS/Android version for a while. It’s seems odd, but I guess as long as it sells and contributes to the bottom line, and doesn’t take resources from the main sim’s development, it’s a good thing?

      Maybe the devs think it will hook people into the full sim, but I don’t think it works that way. The markets are too different.

  4. fish99 says:

    You just sent me scurrying off to ebay to find some Toffos.

  5. Cinek says:

    What’s up with this pursuit for having an entire globe in every flight sim?

    I would much rather have just one region, but with far higher detail and accurate simulation than the entire world.

    Ideally one would make it like in Truck Sims – eg. having only Europe. And then another game with the US. And so on. Personally in my adventures with Microsoft Flight Simulator I never went beyond Europe anyway – there’s enough variety and challenges on one continent to give you hundreds of flight hours. Sure, you will miss some interesting airports, but it gives asset creators a lot more time to push the detail in individual cities and landmarks.

    • unacom says:

      I´m not opposing you in general, but think Luxemburg and everything faster than an Antonov AN-2 hits the invisible wall after about an hour…

      • Cinek says:

        Well, obviously if you’d go for something that small you’d probably implement only ultralights instead of bothering with a long haul. But if it’d be Luxembourg-only I would expect trees to grow in the exact locations I see on Google Maps. ;)

    • fish99 says:

      I actually agree. Microsoft Flight Sim, the compromise of having the whole world, is you load up your local town to see it’s just a flat texture with no buildings, or it’s just a generic proc gen town with no hand made buildings (because not all of us live in a big city). I’d rather just one high detail country that didn’t look like ass.

    • Baines says:

      Probably:
      1) People don’t like walls
      2) Different people like different areas of the world

      The differences between flight sims and truck sims are scale and view. Planes are faster than trucks, and planes don’t face the physical barriers of trucks. Trucks are ground level. You take winding paths around hills and buildings, seeing new sights around every curve and corner.

      • Cinek says:

        Lisbon to Helsinki at Mach 0.89 is nearly 4 hours flight. I doubt many people make a flights longer than that in one go. In ETS2 time to cross the map is little bit over an hour. I know, I know, different landscapes, different circumstances, etc. But still – there’s more than enough space to fly in Europe alone, IMHO. But yea, walls would suck, I guess they could implement some low-poly, low-detail version of landscapes beyond that, with some warning asking you to turn back, or something like that. I’m ready to pay that price for much more detailed and accurate region.

    • Zenicetus says:

      It’s a combination of several things. Some people like to fly over their home town. Real-world GA pilots like to use sims to practice navigation in their home area and fly patterns at their home airports. And there are many incredibly scenic parts of the world that get left out, if a sim only covers one area.

      The big argument against world coverage in the past, was that you’d only see something interesting enough if it was hand-crafted, which dictates limited coverage. But that’s changing. With modern sims like X-Plane we’re getting high-definition mesh for terrain sightseeing, and automatic generation of buildings using Open Street Map data. In areas with high density of OSM data like Europe, the results can look amazing.

      Even in lower data density areas, you can now do things in X-Plane like navigate by following highways, and they’re in the real locations (most of the time). Not only that, but if anything changes in the road network it will be reflected in the OSM data, and the next update of the sim will show it in the terrain. There are cars moving on those roads, and at night it looks pretty cool with all the little moving headlights.

      Flying over local areas you’re familiar with still isn’t perfect, because more variety is needed in auto-gen building types for regional differences. But it’s getting closer all the time. We no longer need hand-crafted scenery except for the most detailed stuff like individual airports, and there are already a lot of those available in FSX/P3D and X-Plane.

    • Eggman says:

      Try DCS, there’s a Crimea->Georgia map, a 360x360km Nevada map and an upcoming Normandy and Hormuz (Dubai area) map.

  6. Pulstar says:

    War is hell, virtual war is fun.. And can be spooky. Check out Graviteam’s M60/T62 sim. Having crewmen jump out of their tanks while catching fire is disturbing as hell. I hope they make another tank sim someday.

    Shame about those games getting perpetually delayed. And to think *proper* sims were the staple genres of the PC platform.

  7. Zenicetus says:

    My heart skipped a beat when I saw that Corsair in the first image, and thought someone was doing a new WW2 Pacific Air War combat sim. Oh well… maybe one of these days.

  8. BooleanBob says:

    How uncanny to have recognised that screenshot of the Titanic from having played nothing more faithful than the text-heavy sci-fi survive-em-up Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors on the Nintendo DS.

  9. Dances to Podcasts says:

    I like the sound of that Napoleonic roguelike. I hope you can gamble your way into some rich countess’s affections.

  10. wodin says:

    82nd Airborne..such a dman shame. 101st at the time of release was excellent. Maybe a little slow. However if this had been worked on for 82nd it would have been an excellent tactical man vs man wargame..something we have little of these days sadly. Infact if 82nd came out now as an indie title an dplayed like 101st but worke don new hardware\software I’d snap it up.

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      JiminyJickers says:

      I fully agree with you. Would also snap it up instantly.