Posts Tagged ‘flight-simulation’

Virtual Planes, Virtual Airports And Absolutely No Rogering: Inside The Fascinating World Of VATSIM

The last time I tried my hand at flying a plane on my PC was while exploring multiplayer Grand Theft Auto V. I couldn’t master the craft at all and crashed and burned my way through a wind farm as friends expressed horror and mirth. I suspect that my own utter incompetence in the face of flight versus the skill of others is part of what fascinates me about VATSIM.

VATSIM is short for Virtual Air Traffic Simulation Network. It’s a system which populates a flight sim by connecting enthusiasts who each take on piloting or air traffic controller roles. I found out about it through Graham who had spent time on one of the VATSIM forums picking through people’s stories and relaying them to me over Gchat (as in Google Chat – Graham doesn’t have his own chat client yet).

Obviously I was concerned about gaining access myself (the ruined wind farm still loomed large as a relatively recent trauma despite GTA V not being in any way a flight sim). That’s why I got in touch with Justin Friedland. He’s the Vice President of Communications and Marketing at VATSIM and has been flying simulated aircraft since Microsoft Flight Simulator, which was released in 1982.

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Impressions – IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad

Ever since witnessing an unfortunate accident involving a home-built Fieseler Storch and a cement works chimney, I’ve made it a rule never to go aloft in incomplete flying machines. When it comes to incomplete flying machine simulations however, I’m a little less Beardmore Inflexible. 777 Studios and 1C Game Studios claim IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad is now 70% finished. In an effort to find out what ‘70% finished’ means, I’ve spent the last few days yoyoing Yaks, pranging Peshki, and sending He 111s to He ll. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Cumulonimble

Dear Mr Ardmaann Animation. I Notice you have not sent ananswer to my message yet. If you dont answer soon I will send my idea to Pixar and they will make “Charlie Chirp: The Story Of A Sparrow Who Wants To Join The famous Silver Swifts Aerobatic Display Team.” DO YOU WANT THIS TO HAPPEN? If its because you think the bit where Charlie gets bullied by the blackbirds is raceist I will change that. It would be just as good if he was bullied by magpies or special moths. If its because you do not like the end when Charlie gets sucked into the Airbus A320 engine NO PROBLEM!! He could get sucked into a Boeing 787 Dreamliner engine. Actually this could be better! Your good fiend Tim Stone.

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Aerofly FS Lands On Steam. Lands! Get it?!

Gosh.

After the disappointing flop of Microsoft Flight, you may well be asking how you should be taking to the skies. Well, if you follow the advice of our Senior Flying Things correspondent, Tim Stone, you’ll know Aerofly FS is a good option. Tim wrote about it back in February, where he was gosh-darned surprised by how good it was. And now it’s out on Steam.

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The Flare Path: Don’t Buy VirtualPilot3D

Hello potential VirtualPilot3D, ProFlightSimulator, Flight Simulator Plus or FlightProSim purchaser! My name is Tim Stone. I’ve been a flight simmer for thirty years, and a flight sim critic for 4369 days, 9 hours, and 37 minutes. In all that time I don’t think I’ve ever loathed a piece of software as passionately as I loathe the game you are currently thinking about buying. If you can spare a moment I’ll explain why. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Bear With A Soar Head

You can keep your Easters and your St George’s Days; the only festival I observe is Swallowtide. This year it fell on May 8. We were shenning in Wide Acre when Aldwyn suddenly threw down his hook, and, pointing southward, bellowed the traditional “HOME SAFE! HOME ALL?”. Dancing above our heads like leaves in a mill plunge, the swallows seemed as happy to see us as we were to see them. As usual, not everyone had made it back. Later we learnt that 4600136 had been snatched by a hobby over Gibraltar, and 4651011 had fallen to a sandstorm near Timbuktu. Perhaps the saddest story was that of 4690870. Crossing the Cornwall coast, a mere 50 miles left to travel, she was downed by a stoat-launched SAM missile. Read the rest of this entry »

Microsoft Flight: Incessnant Questions

Pressing the ‘SUBMIT’ button on the Microsoft Flight beta application page does one of two things. if you’re lucky it propels your application down PTT tube ‘A’ – a trans-global conduit that terminates just above the desk of Merlin Packard, the MS Flight beta manager. If you’re unlucky it sends your missive down PTT tube ‘B’ – a trans-global conduit that terminates just above the maw of Kīlauea, Hawaii’s most energetic lava vent. Unfortunately, my application seems to have ended-up in the volcano. Deprived of first-hand Flight experience I’ve been forced to fact-gather by quizzing the developer. Descend ten thousand micrometers to see the result of that quizzing.

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Wot I Think: DCS A-10C Warthog

Eagle Dynamics, I doff my hat-switch to you. DCS: A-10C is remarkable. My hard drive has never hangared a more thoroughly modelled facsimile of a modern fixed-wing combat aircraft. I’ve never clambered into a virtual cockpit and seen fewer places in which a pilot might safely prop a beverage container or stick a satsuma sticker. I’ve certainly never encountered a sim that pleased so many of my peers yet left me so ratty and conflicted. Read the rest of this entry »

IL-2 Sturmovik: Cliffs Of Dover Announced

License to IL-2.

Anybody who’s been feeling the recent drought of serious flight sims, anybody who’s been eagerly anticipating the next project from Russian aviation engineer / game designer / genius Oleg Maddox, anybody who’s been thinking fondly of the days when flight sims came with thick manuals, take a deep breath. Your troubles are over. IL-2 Sturmovik: Cliffs of Dover will be released on the 25th of March, and the press release has even got me excited, and I’ve never been into a flight sim in my life. Tell you what, though- I reckon I’ll be playing this.
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Fly Papers: An Ode To Sim Manuals


Thanks to an image leaked last week we now know three new things about upcoming Spitfire-serenade Storm of War: Battle of Britain. 1) It’s no longer called Storm of War: Battle of Britain. 2) Ubisoft are publishing. 3) The luscious-looking Collector’s Edition with its cloth maps and plump manuals may be about to give today’s teenagers a taste of what it was like to be a simmer in the Nineties. Read the rest of this entry »

John Nation: A Yank In The (Virtual) RAF

I can pepper my flight sim reviews with as much talk of retreating blade stalls, snap rolls and skip bombing as I like, but until I get round to building a simpit and joining a virtual combat squadron, my hardcore flight simmer credentials will always look a tad suspect. John Nation, a chap I’ve been swapping emails with for a while, is the real deal. In the Q&A that follows, he waxes lyrical on a range of subjects including his splendid Spitfire-shaped sim throne, long career with the Tangmere Pilots and ambitious Ultimate Goal. Read the rest of this entry »

Goose Greenlight: Jet Thunder Gets Publisher

Six of the war-torn wonders I tipped at the start of the year are now available, and a recent announcement on the Aerosoft forum suggests that total will soon be seven. Or 6.333333333 if you want to be pedantic. The German publisher that back in July 09 declared an interest in developing a successor to Microsoft Flight Simulator, has just signed-up Falklands/Malvinas War flight sim Jet Thunder, and plans to release a good third of it before the year is out. Splendid news!/Geniales noticias! Read the rest of this entry »

Stale Air And Stolen Thunder

I was up at Farnborough International Airshow yesterday, and, while having a crafty fag round the back of the Fuel-Air Weapons Marquee, was lucky enough to run into one of gaming’s most elusive genres. Dishevelled and smelling slightly of wet ferrets, Flight Simulation was in a surprisingly talkative mood. During the course of an hour-long chat we covered numerous topics, none more fascinating than the changing fortunes of the gent himself. Read the rest of this entry »

Streamin’ Eagles: VFAT 2009

http://www.ukrfalcons.com/

While one wing of the flight sim community strives to keep aircraft as far apart as possible, another delights in putting them dangerously close. The Virtual Festival of Aerobatic Teams, now in its 5th year, is currently midway through a weekend of extraordinarily skilful formation flying displays. Catch the live Lock On-powered action here from 14.30 GMT. Read the rest of this entry »

Mount C C:\Airpower

FASA Corp tentatively blowing the dust off their Crimson Skies licence? Splendid news. I can’t think of another interwar-inspired, zeppelin-crammed, fantasy flight-sim that deserves a rebirth more than Zipper’s classic. Well, apart from Rowan Software’s Air Power, obviously.

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Freefall Free-For-All: BASE Goes Gratis

The nice chaps and chapettes at Moscow studio Digital Dimension Development have chosen to bow-out with a magnanimous flourish rather than a bitter “It was pirates and publishers what killed us!’ rant. BASE, their scandalously under-marketed Jumping Off High Things simulation, has been handed over to fans in a final act of goodwill. You can grab the full version here or a lite build (missing the hefty El Capitan venue) here. Read the rest of this entry »

All your BASE are belong to CIS

base01

While I wish AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! every success, I can’t let the “there’s nothing like it” claim in the feature list go unchallenged. For the last two years Russian outfit Digital Dimension Development have been quietly peddling their own flying squirrel sim. BASE doesn’t have surreal skyscrapers, smashable panes or hand signalling, but it does have aerodynamic realism, a scary sense of altitude, and a demo that lets you hurl yourself off the top of Moscow’s loftiest landmark.

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A Bolt From The Blue: ACES Gone

Some staggering news from Redmond via Gamasutra. Microsoft have just euthanised the most successful sim studio of all time. ACES, the team behind the Flight Simulator and Combat Flight Simulator franchises, are effectively no more. A skeleton staff of six will be kept on to service existing ESP contracts but it’s curtains for everyone else. Blimey.

 

Read on for ill-informed speculation.

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Interview: Matt Wagner On Black Shark

Most of the people that made high-fidelity flight sims in the Nineties are now making low-fidelity games about snowboarding, car theft, and pony care. Moscow-based Eagle Dynamics is one of very few studios that has survived and kept the faith. They’ve just released Black Shark, a helo hymn that doesn’t so much simulate the Ka-50 ground attack chopper as steal its soul. Sadly, I can’t say too much about the sim at present (because I’m scrutinising it for the lovely PC Gamer UK) but I did catch-up with project lead Matt Wagner recently and ply him with questions.

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Flying Lessons

 

I spent most of Friday playing an aerial combat game that’s currently pre-beta, and chatting to some of the people behind it. It was a pleasant enough day, but a few of the things the Project Lead said caused me to shake my wizened noggin in a ‘Will they ever learn?’ manner. Now, I’m not one of those simmers that believes every flight game has to be as brutally realistic as Falcon 4.0 or DCS: Black Shark, but I do feel certain elements of aviation-based entertainment are non-negotiable. After the cut, my list of Eight Things Every Air Combat Game Should Sport.  Read the rest of this entry »