The Flare Path: Alphabetti SPAAGhetti

The amateurs over at Wings, Wheels and Weaponry dot com arrange their sim and wargame news snippets chronologically. The weirdos at Khaki Gaming order theirs according to size. Here at Rock and Paper and Shotgun we do things as God and Samuel Johnson intended. Below the break (spoiler warning!) A reconnoitres for B, C is relieved by D, and F arrives to find all the best billets bagsied by E, D, C, B, A and J*

*J got lost in the fog, took the wrong road, and arrived three hours ahead of schedule.

A is for Atlantic Fleet sea trials

In its mobile incarnation turn-based WW2 naval wargame Atlantic Fleet charmed reviewers at both SimHQ and Subsim.com. Comprehensively spruced-up and re-interfaced for PC, its now steaming towards a late Feb Steam release . Everything I’ve read about its dynamic long game, sizeable ship selection (62 types) and unscripted sinkings leads me to believe we’re in for a treat.

B is for BoB2 bolstered

The Eighth Best Simulation Ever Made continues to be lovingly enriched and maintained by the loyal band of erks known as BDG. The latest BoB2 update tints textures, sprinkles structures, tweaks AI, fixes battle reports, streamlines squadron management, and improves the way infrastructure repairs are simulated in those amazing dynamic campaigns.

C is for Cor blimey! Carrier modules!

At present Eagle Dynamics have more irons in the fire than a blacksmith with an unusually large number of irons in the fire. This year, amongst other things, the busy bees behind DCS World are planning to…

1) Complete the transition to the new DCS World 2 engine
2) Enhance their new Nevada map
3) Forge ahead with their Strait of Hormuz and 1944 Northern France terrains.
4) Oversee the launch of a plethora of new flyables (L-39 Albatross, Gazelle, Viggen, F-5E Tiger, Spitfire IX, P-47….)
5) Release additional campaign modules
6) And upgrade Flaming Cliffs 3 with new flight and airframe models

However, without doubt the most intriguing entry on their 2016 To Do list is this one:

“we plan to release both Nimitz-class aircraft carrier and Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier modules. Both of these modules will be incredibly detailed models with working elevators, interior hanger bays, animated ship systems, and the ability to walk around inside the ships. These will be optional modules that would replace the existing ships currently in DCS World.”

Discount 1942: The Pacific Air War briefings and I’m not sure I’ve ever spent time below decks in a virtual CV before. Colour me curious.

D is for DiRT Rally rival

Milestone and Mr Loeb can’t be over the moon with the response to the recently released Sébastien Loeb Rally EVO. Amongst the race sim faithful, the poor performance, patchy controller support, bugs, cursory damage modelling and weak sound, seem to be getting as much attention as the well-built campaigns, generous car selection, and host of long, challenging tracks. The only really divisive element of the sim appears to be the physics. Depending on who you read, SLRE’s recreations of rubber-hooved gravel gallopers are either markedly inferior to DiRT Rally’s, or significantly better.

E is for early glimpses of LOTUS-Simulator’s trams and maps

Dangerous place, the LOTUS-Sim facebook page, you go there to check out the latest images of Marcel and Janine’s still-in-its-infancy combination bus/tram/train/metro sim and end up, via this link, purchasing an adorable model of an OMSI stalwart.

F is for foxer

All answers in one thread, please.

G is for GEFS-Online is now Google-free

Things looked grim for Google Earth Flight Simulator in the run up to Christmas. The retirement of the Google Earth API threatened to permanently ground this globe-girdling, fuss-free flight gem. The fact we can still soar and explore, hotdog and hedge-hop via our browsers is a testament to Xavier Tassin’s determination and a marvellous open-source image library called Cesium.

H is for Hurtgen hurt

Watching Battlefront insider ChrisND grapple with one of the Hurtgen Forest scenarios in imminent Combat Mission instalment Final Blitzkrieg is reassuring. It seems even the experts use the advance-until-all-hell-breaks-loose approach on occasion. Faeces and fan begin interfacing at the one-hour mark. Tank riders and a new-to-CMx2 type of infantry gun show up moments later.

I is for inexcusable lack of Naval Action action at the Jigsaw Club

Got any breathtaking briny battle scenes you’d care to share?

J is for jump jets by June?

Sim155s push to DX11-ify Combat Air Patrol 2 is over and the team are reporting a noticeable framerate payoff. All that remains to be done now is Steam integration, TrackIR work, gameplay polishing and the creation of a Ralph Hooper-referencing easter egg.

K is for king-sized The Hunter update

There’s never been a better time to try gorgeous armed rambling sim The Hunter. Last week’s outsized update curbed unruly hounds and thrust free fowling pieces and pheasant potting permits into the hands of subscription shunners.

L is for last week’s foxer

theme: Paolo Uccello (defoxed by AFKAMC)

a. MiG-17 Fresco (Matchstick)
b. Manetti drawing (Uccello was taught geometry by Manetti) (AbyssUK)
c. Sir John Hawkwood (larpsidekick)
d. Mutsuhiro Watanabe – ‘The Bird’ (Uccello means ‘bird’) (Shiloh)
e. St George and the Dragon (Matchstick, unacom)
f. Romano R-82 (Rorschach617)
g. Perspective (Uccello was obsessed by it) (unsolved)
h. Vanishing Point (AbyssUK)
i. Diagram by Florence Nightingale (Matchstick)
j. Hunt-class RN countermeasures vessel (Stugle)

M is for multi-tiered multiplayer and manual battle resolution

Like the Archer tank destroyer and Boulton Paul Defiant upcoming WW2 title Theater of Operations looks awfully conventional from a distance. Novel features such as hierarchical MP and interoperability with other wargames only become apparent at close quarters. Keen to explain the game’s most unusual traits ahead of a second crowdfunding campaign, project lead Matt McCoppin has started work on a series of introductory vids.

N is for Next Gen Flight Simulator course change

Frail in September, my faith in the worryingly ambitious/intangible Next Gen Flight Sim has been positively wispy since this announcement. For undisclosed reasons, the devs behind NGFS have parted company with the lovely UNIGINE and are now in negotiation with a clutch of new pixel pump providers. Company president Stephen Borick puts an extremely positive spin on events, even claiming the change will hasten development. Until the first screenshots arrive and a sensible feature list appears, excuse me if I remain a tad sceptical.

O is for Order of Battle: Morning Sun

There’s no mention of chemical weapons, plague bombs, and suicide bombers in Morning Sun’s feature list, but it sounds like this just released Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-45) expansion for the sound but backward-looking Order of Battle: Pacific has a good stab at modelling the extraordinary potpourii of European war machines fielded by Chinese forces during the conflict

“The Chinese rely heavily on foreign arms deals, resulting in a diverse arsenal made up from Soviet Polikarpov fighters, Tupolev bombers and T-26 tanks, German Panzer I’s, Sdkfz 221/222 armoured cars and 37mm PaK guns, Italian L3/33 tankettes, British Gloster Gladiators and many more”

What’s somewhat disappointing is the lack of Chinese scenarios. The entire eleven scenario campaign is played from the perspective of the invaders.

P is for priceless plough pullers

Spintires has potato blighted Farming Simulator for me. I’d happily hand back all of GIANTS’ regular free gifts in return for muddier mud and a few proper ruts and tussocks. What’s the point of vintage tractors if they don’t roll and squirm and jiggle a bit?

Q is for quick teabreak

R is for research roadblock

It looks like SAM Simulator won’t be getting any new launch control caravans for a while. Hungarian surface-to-air missile oracle Hpasp tells me that he’s “run out of Cold War SAM systems that are easily accessible to photograph.” There are a couple that he’d like to model – the pioneering-but-surprisingly-capable Soviet SA-1 (“one complex was capable of engaging 20 planes simultaneously”) and the nuclear tipped US Nike Hercules – but without access to high quality panel images, recreations are impossible. Can you help?

S is for Sengoku Jidai: Shadow of the Shogun

Pike and Shot’s most invasive/interesting mod has been talent-spotted by Slitherine scouts. Sengoku Jidai (aka Yari & Teppō) moves Richard Bodley Scott’s rather special 16th/17th Century battle sim six thousand miles eastward, and should be with us by the beginning of the summer. Talk of the Imjin War, and Mongol and Manchu armies suggests the campaign map will include significant chunks of China and Korea in addition to the Japanese archipelago.

T is for Tigers on the Hunt tutorials

I hope Peter Fisla and Matrix Games heed some of the UI-related comments appearing under the Tigers on the Hunt tutorial vids. Dynamic AI, multi-front coverage, ASL-reminiscent intimacy… the game – due this month – has plenty going for it. Sadly, an efficient interface doesn’t appear to be amongst its qualities. Unit selection looks distinctly cumbersome, the means of displaying combat results depressingly inelegant.

U is for US Marines under fire

Since The Flare Path last trained its scuffed Carl Zeiss fieldglasses on Desert War 1940-43, Brian Kelly’s free WEGO wargame has acquired an extra theatre and been updated dozens of times. Peleliu is a standalone recreation of an exceptionally bloody chapter in USMC history. I’ve yet to play it, but intend to put that right over the weekend (assuming I can drag myself away from ATS).

V is for VFAT vids

Too busy to attend the 2015 Virtual Festival of Aerobatic Teams last December? Enjoy it retrospectively via the mundane magic of YouTube! Most of the teams that participated in this annual celebration of steady hands, superb timing, and gaudy sky calligraphy have now released vids of their displays. The Virtual Red Arrows and Virtual Blue Angels reels are particularly impressive.

W is for wonderful wind maps

The US

The UK/rest of the world

X is for X-Channel giant under threat

Your signature could help save a SRN4 for posterity.

Y is for yes, I’m as surprised as you are by the size of the American Truck Simulator download

Z is for gotten in the interests of punctuality.

* * * * *

53 Comments

  1. Stugle says:

    FOXER: On the far right is the unmistakable shape of a Flak Tower. I’ll have to see if I can ID the specific one.

    • AFKAMC says:

      Moved to first thread:

      FOXER: The yellow-nosed thing top right is a C-130 Hercules; possibly the Blue Angels’ C-130J support aircraft?

      link to bernardzeephotos.com and scroll down a bit

    • Arglebarf says:

      The Blue Angels C-130 is nicknamed “Fat Albert”.

    • foop says:

      The funnel looks a lot like that of the QE2.

    • Stugle says:

      The Flak tower is the Augarten L-Tower in Vienna.

    • foop says:

      The double-deck train is a Sydney Trains Millennium (or M-) set train.

      link to en.wikipedia.org

      • Premium User Badge

        corinoco says:

        Sniped by goop, dammit! I don’t need wikitronic webupages to identify a Sydney Trains Millennium Class (or M Set) power car, I catch a couple every day! Reason for sniping is how rubbish Safari is on an old ipad2, it took nearly ten freaking minutes to faffing about logging in. As the Phantom once said “If this was a war, you’d be very dead by now.”

        • Rorschach617 says:

          I hate to question your knowledge of trains, specially since I cannot recognise a train if it ran over me, but could it be a 4D Train (similar to the Tangara, which is what the M-set was based on)?
          link to en.wikipedia.org

          I ask since the 4D ran in Melbourne, and Lord Melbourne was Prime Minister during the Queen Victoria’s early years.

          • Premium User Badge

            corinoco says:

            No, it’s not a 4D – very different front end (bow? nose?) shape and different bogies & chassis. I do find it interesting to look at chassis & bogies while waiting for my morning train. My afternoon train I don’t get to do that as there is no line opposite for train porn. I feel much safer in an M-set too – the few Tangaras that have been in accidents have crushed horribly, with the passenger cabins becoming the ‘crumple zones’ resulting in many deaths. I don’t know of any M-set accidents, but they look and feel better built – the Tangaras used to visibly twist on some corners (Wollstonecraft) and creak & groan like a tortured beast.

            Interesting the software bugs described in the wiki article are hilarious – the Milleniums use Windows NT4.0 as the trains embedded OS. I Kid You Not. Yes, not only an aged and pwned OS, but one that specifically says in the EULA not to be used for any mechanical control of real-time systems such as public transport… only in Austfailia.

        • Premium User Badge

          corinoco says:

          Sorry, I meant foop. Typing in bed holding ipad overhead in one hand :-P

    • Premium User Badge

      Matchstick says:

      WW2 RAF Plane middle leftish with the rather distinctive tail designe looks to be a Saunders-Roe (Saro) A.27 London

      link to aviastar.org

      • AFKAMC says:

        You’re right, this does look like it: link to aviastar.org

        However, the Saro London here link to hydroplanes.ru looks different.

        This link to hydroplanes.ru says it’s a Supermarine Stranraer.

        The code BN-L is the same in all three. Confusing!

      • AFKAMC says:

        The BN code was that of No. 240 Squadron RAF, who operated both Londons and Stranraers, so I guess the letter L was re-used on two different aircraft at various times.

        • AFKAMC says:

          My previous comment is awaiting moderation for some reason, and may not be visible, so to explain: Matchstick’s found a Saro London coded BN-L, I’ve found a Saro London also coded BN-L, which has a different tail, plus a Supermarine Stranraer, also coded BN-L, with the right shape tail. So not sure if it’s a London or a Stranraer.

        • Premium User Badge

          Matchstick says:

          After discussing this with AFKAMC I think we’ve now decided it is the London and the image is probably the Mk II from here
          link to wardrawings.be

    • unacom says:

      I think it´s not the Flak-, but the Leitturm Augarten, Vienna.
      That´s it from me. Work to do.

    • Stugle says:

      The ship plan on the left seems to be for the Victoria class battleship. This isn’t the exact image, but it’s pretty close:

      link to en.wikipedia.org

      • phlebas says:

        So we have a Victoria and an Albert?

        • AFKAMC says:

          If the flying boat really is a Supermarine Stranraer, the type was operated by Queen Charlotte Airlines in Canada.

          Princess Charlotte of Prussia was the eldest granddaughter of Queen Victoria and Albert. However, I don’t think she was ever a Queen?

    • foop says:

      As for the ship schematic, the text “Turret for 2(?) 110 ton gun” suggests that it might be a ship with the British BL 16.25in Naval gun (link to en.wikipedia.org). Only two ships are mentioned in that article as having twin 110 ton guns: HMS Victoria and HMS Sans Pareil.

      It looks like it’s a Victoria Class battleship: link to en.wikipedia.org

    • Premium User Badge

      Matchstick says:

      Am I right in thinking we still need to identify the warship on it’s side bottom middle, the staff car and/or officers above it and the wargame (?) control panel bottom right ?

      • unacom says:

        Staff Car looks like a GAZ-A.

      • AFKAMC says:

        I wondered if the warship on its side was the Datu Kalantiaw (formerly USS Booth)… but I’m not convinced.

        • unacom says:

          I´d think the guns are wrong. Twin Bofors 40 mm on the Datu.
          Those look like 4,7 in to me. So i´d (wildly) guess a WW1 destroyer.

      • Premium User Badge

        Matchstick says:

        Oh we’re also missing the (copper/verdigris ?) relief on the far right

      • phlebas says:

        The wargame UI looks a lot like Wargame Construction Set III: Age of Rifles but I don’t think it’s quite right.

    • phlebas says:

      The picture in the middle shows George V visiting Vimy Ridge. The car is a Vauxhall D-type “Prince Henry”.

    • mrpier says:

      The destroyer on its side is HMS Kingston.

    • AFKAMC says:

      Bridges in London

      (flak) Tower Bridge
      (saro) London Bridge
      Millenium Bridge
      Vauxhall Bridge
      (fat) Albert Bridge
      Kingston Bridge and Kingston Railway Bridge

      • AFKAMC says:

        Royal Victoria Dock Bridge?

      • AFKAMC says:

        I’m guessing the PC game is Waterloo-themed: Waterloo Bridge

        Maybe Scourge of War: Waterloo?

      • Aphrion says:

        Goddammit AFKAMC you’re too good at this.

      • Stugle says:

        I left on Friday with the Foxer still up in the air, but I knew I could safely return on Monday and find it thoroughly defoxed. Probably by AFKAMC. And lo! My trust was not misplaced. :)

  2. AFKAMC says:

    FOXER: The yellow-nosed thing top right is a C-130 Hercules; possibly the Blue Angels’ C-130J support aircraft?

    link to bernardzeephotos.com and scroll down a bit

  3. Jon Denton says:

    The true sadness concerning SebLoebRally AND DIRT:Rally (lest we forget WRC5) are that they both fail to dial much accuracy into their physics implementations, and as such do nothing to arrest the stagnation of Rally sims. They look pretty though. More on that from RAVSim.com in due course. :)

  4. Premium User Badge

    corinoco says:

    I know what SPAAGs are, but you got me all excited about a potential late Cold War SPAAG sim that lets you drive around in Gepard FlakPanzers or Shilkas. Think Eurotruck crossed with DCS World and the wonderfully grey wet foggy word of EF2000 from about 1997 I think.

    Anyone else like the bit at the start of the odd Japanese/Czeck film ‘Avalon’ with the Shilkas opening up of pair of Hinds? Anyone else turn the amplifier waaaay up and scare the pants off the neighbours?

    • unacom says:

      Didn´t know about Avalon. That has to be rectified. Thanks.

      • Premium User Badge

        corinoco says:

        You havent seen Avalon? Without giving too much away, it’s a real-life film about on online wargame, and directed by wossisname who directed Ghost In The Shell.

  5. Cinek says:

    That SAM simulator… wow… they weren’t kidding with calling it a “simulator”. I wasn’t expecting an interface based on an actual photographs of the thing.

  6. beikul says:

    windyty is brilliant! For anyone who scrolled passed the wind map picture without clicking the second link, it’s well worth a look.