Luke Hughes on war, wargaming, and the Burden of Command
Because Luke Hughes has a master’s degree in neurophysiology and psychology from Oxford, and uses terms like “emotional authenticity” when talking about his upcoming “leadership RPG” Burden of Command, I reached for my little tin of Big Questions when preparing today’s interview. Amongst the sensitive subjects discussed below: the glorification of war through video games, swearing on virtual battlefields, and why players of XCOM resemble seagulls. Read the rest of this entry »
Galleys, greasers, and gammon bombs
Judging by the empty packet of Ennuiz on the table and the way you keep sighing into your Guinness I’m guessing you haven’t heard about Deadstick yet. You’re not aware that a small team based in England’s coding capital is busy crafting a realism-rich gun-free flight sim with something extremely unusual at its core. Logistics. Read the rest of this entry »
What did you do in the war, Děda?
Real-life boss fights rarely resemble video game ones.
At 10.30 on the morning of May 27, 1942, Reinhard Heydrich, one of Hitler’s most trusted and ardently anti-Semitic lieutenants, was being chauffeured to work through the streets of Prague when a man armed with a Sten submachine gun stepped out in front of his Mercedes convertible as it slowed to negotiate a sharp bend. The cheap SMG refused to fire but shrapnel from an anti-tank grenade thrown by the Sten wielder’s companion pierced the Acting Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia in several places causing wounds that led to his death a week later. Read the rest of this entry »
My Iranian playcation
When is a bad game not a bad game? When it inadvertently nudges you towards a good game. I began this week playing a very weak HAWXlike coded in Tehran and, via some connected Wikipedia delving and Steam sifting, ended it playing a powerful adventure game set during the Iranian Revolution.
Squadron: Sky Guardians’ flight model resembles actual flight in the same way a vaulting horse resembles an actual horse. Read the rest of this entry »
A Field of Glory II tussle tale
Subtle slope textures and a lack of unit bases and battle replays make Field of Glory II a tricky wargame to After Action Report. I can’t promise that today’s aggro account will be easy to follow, but I’ll be mortified if it baffles and bores. The fabulous FoGII is to tedium what Domestos, the Greek god of sanitaryware, is to all known germs. Any wargame correspondent that suggests otherwise deserves to be thrown to the lions. Read the rest of this entry »
Permadeath at Poelcappelle
No simulated war this week. In memory of my great-grandfather who died a hundred years ago last Monday, this is a Flare Path free of faux conflict.
Private Thomas Bourlet was one of around 500 men of 2nd Battalion, the Lancashire Fusiliers, tasked with taking three objectives north of the Belgian village of Poelcappelle on the morning of October 9th, 1917. The attack began in pre-dawn gloom. At 05.20, to a deafening accompaniment of Allied artillery, 2nd Battalion left the relative safety of their trenches near Imbros House and began picking their way north-eastward through a cratered hellscape glutinous after days of heavy rain. Read the rest of this entry »
Phalanxious about FoGII? Don't be.
If ever a game demanded a ‘II’ rather than a ‘2’ at the end of its name it’s the fast-approaching Field of Glory sequel. Packed with legionaries, triarii, hastati, and velites, FoGII takes the engine last seen in Sengoku Jidai and Pike and Shot – an engine Flare Path rates highly – rethinks campaigns, removes gunpowder, and adds a sprinkling of chariots, jumbos, camels and ballistae. What could possibly go wrong?
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Momentum, resistance, lift
There are various ways to make a war game realistic. Battlefront do it with blue-chip ballistics and subtle spotting mechanics, Panther Games with plausible AI and plenty of command friction, Eagle Dynamics with sophisticated flight models and painstakingly reproduced avionics. We Are Muesli built Venti Mesi with the help of real Milanese memories and the free WW2 ‘narrative docu-game’ is incredibly powerful as a result. Read the rest of this entry »
Paddington to Reading reading
Happily the unfortunate incident in Nevada early last year that led to the winding up of Flare Path Sky Tours Ltd had no effect on the activities of Flare Path Rail Tours Ltd. I may be banned from owning, leasing, or operating passenger-carrying sim aircraft in perpetuity but sim trains are another matter. Today, if you’ve nothing better to do, you’re welcome to join me and my driver, Roman, for a journey along a 36-mile stretch of British main line with an uncommonly rich and tragic history.
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Northolt to West Ealing stopper
Everyone in my street marks Battle of Britain Day in their own way. At some point today Old Mrs Walley at no.11 will set light to a garden bonfire topped by a life-size Herman Goering effigy, Mr Moulden at no. 27 will victory-roll his radio-controlled Spitfire over the village war memorial, I’ll fly a BoB2 sortie or two, and Miss Hughes at Steepcott Farm will go into town and find and hug a random Pole. Read the rest of this entry »
& Bomber Crew impressions
Bomber Crew is warming its engines and waggling its flight control surfaces. On Oct 19th, if all goes to plan, a green Very light will fizz heavenward and anyone with £TBA to spare will get the chance to find out whether Runner Duck’s 3D-FTL-with-Lancasters is W for Wizard or S for Shite. The evening I’ve just spent with the single-mission sliver of preview code suggests the game will generate far more compliments than complaints, but won’t fully satisfy fans of No Moon Tonight and B-17: Queen of the Skies. Read the rest of this entry »
Use brain! Win prizes!
Like a sentry on a bitter night or the Isle of Man in a strong sou’westerly, Flare Path’s birthday has a tendency to move about. Last year the champagne corks ricocheted and the streamers tangled on August 12. This year the big day is September 1. Today Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s most Panzeriferous and Spitfiery column becomes a hexager. Celebrations will take the usual form – a litter of wet-nosed, bushy-tailed, berry-eyed foxers all far more approachable and, potentially, much more rewarding, than the standard co-op type. (COMPETITIONS NOW CLOSED) Read the rest of this entry »
Roundheads and bobbleheads
Greying temples? Check. Mortgage? Check. Fond of Werther’s Originals and New Tricks? Check.
Gosh, according to recently issued Home Office guidelines I’m now qualified to grumble about things like soft prison sentences, the inexorable decline in the quality of pop music, and scandalous gaps in the National Curriculum. If I wanted to I could begin a review of the latest Athena-engined wargame by wagging a finger at a state education system that allows subjects of Good Queen Bess II to leave school knowing next to nothing about one of the most traumatic episodes in British history. Read the rest of this entry »
Ultimate General: Civil War has travelled a fair-old distance since I Early Accessed it late last year. Game-Labs’ spectacular sprite slaughterhouse is now bigger, better, and even more approachable. I like it a lot, but not quite enough to pin a prestigious RPS Recommended rosette on its breast. Read the rest of this entry »
Wargame and sim blather
Not bad. Not bad at all. The third communal Combat Mission clash has almost reached the halfway point (assuming it goes the distance, it will run for another sixteen days), three of seven victory locations are in Soviet hands, and the commenter-controlled Ivans still have two largely intact infantry platoons and three AFVs with which to secure the remainder. If you haven’t been following the “gripping”* daily updates during the past fortnight here are a few high- and lowlights.
*Pravda Read the rest of this entry »
Meet Richard Taylor
When Penny, Flare Path’s globetrotting PBY pilot, spots an amateur coder quietly crafting a computer wargame or sim on some remote desert island, she always executes a few low passes in order to check out the project in question. When she spots an amateur coder quietly crafting three titles simultaneously she simply has to alight and talk to the industrious individual concerned.
In today’s column, Penny’s Q&A with Richard Taylor, a man whose trio of “hopelessly amateurish” (his words not mine) naval games teem with exciting ideas. Oh, and some half-formed thoughts on Gettysburg: The Tide Turns.
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Communal Combat Mission
I was tempted to explore Nineteenth Century warfare or try something operational for this year’s play-by-comment wargaming marathon, but after surveying my game collection and conducting experiments, found myself gravitating towards Battlefront’s oeuvre and WW2 once again. When it comes to generating gripping unscripted dramas I reckon first-generation Combat Mission is peerless, and that clever WEGO turn structure (the orders of both sides are executed simultaneously) might have been designed with communal combat choreography and episodic AAR writing in mind.
If The Battle of the Perfectly Rectangular Olive Grove is any guide, the coming scrap will play out at approximately 1TPD. Every 24 hours, the Red Army troops and armoured vehicles under your control will experience 60 in-game seconds of Eastern Front hell. Read the rest of this entry »
WWI history with a dash of WOFF
…London was reeling. For the second time in a month a skein of bone-white, Iron Cross-emblazoned bombers had overflown the British capital leaving death and destruction in its wake. For the second time in a month the throbbing heart of the most powerful empire on Earth had been scourged in broad daylight by a band of leisurely marauders apparently impervious to flak and fighters. In today’s Flare Path, the story of a raid that woke up Whitehall, persuaded King George V to change his name, and almost killed one of England’s most famous air aces. Read the rest of this entry »