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The Flare Path: Is A Little Partisan

Simulation & wargame blather

I realise this could cause resentment, but it has to be said. Readers #52, #298, and #611, of all the people that regularly peruse this column, you are definitely my favourites. #298, that thing you do with your bottom lip when you're reading pieces about unexpected OMSI add-ons. Adorable! #611, the way you turn down the radio and shush Minter, your foul-mouthed minah bird, before watching vids on monumental Outerra architecture. Have you any idea how charming that is? And #52... wise, loyal, long-suffering 52, you're my Blackburn Roc. No-one but you reads every word of these idiotic intros week in, week out. No-one else nods enthusiastically when I brazenly claim Perfect Distance was last year's most interesting wargame.


Last Year's Most Interesting Wargame

Perfect Distance


FP's Alarmingly Arbitrary Add-On Anticipation Top 11

1. Eastern European Expansion (Euro Truck Simulator 2) ^
2. Stadtbus O305 (OMSI) *
3. Wings Over Flanders Fields (CFS3) v
4. Gustav Line (Combat Mission Fortress Italy) ^
5. MiG-21Bis (DCS World) -
6. Whatever Graviteam decide to tack onto Graviteam Tactics' next. *

7. UH-1H Huey (DCS World) ^
8. Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2b (Rise of Flight) *
9. Three Country Corner Route (Train Simulator 2013) v
10. Boeing 777-200 (FSX) ^
11. F-104 Starfighter (FSX) v

^ Curtiss-Wright Ascender, v Curtiss Helldiver, * New Entry, - Static Exhibit

A koala bear falling out of a tree onto a dragonfly in New South Wales on Tuesday prompted some dramatic changes in the Add-on Anticipation Chart. We now have a new number 1 in the shape of SCS's ost-looking Polish/Czech/Slovak/Hungarian map extension for ETS2, and a new number 2 in the form of a single-deck Seventies legend for Deutsch omnibus opus OMSI.

M-R-Software's achingly atmospheric public transport sim isn't short of supplements, but until now all of the extra vehicles and maps have been fan-made and unapproved. The upcoming Stadtbus O305 and the fictional Neuendorf venue that will accompany it (full integration with the default Berlin map is also promised) has the blessing of two of simulation's most reluctant monetizers, Marcel & Rüdiger. In my book, that all-but guarantees satisfaction.

If you've spent as many hours as I have, contentedly cruising Spandau streets in a burbling beige doubledecker, the sight...

and sound...

...of a scrupulously-modelled companion conveyance is sure to excite. More melancholy door sighs! More squeaky red vinyl! More dawdling through drizzle-jewelled dusks in a machine that never stops talking to you.


Small But Wiry

The makers of post-WW2 air combat sims can be counted on the fingers of one Twix. Third Wire's Tsuyoshi Kawahito gave an insight into why that might be in a recent forum exchange. Those doubting the studio's commitment to PC development and wondering where the long-awaited Strike Fighters 2 Expansion Pack 3 (EXP3) had got to, were told, rather chillingly...

“We had to take out loans, max out credit cards, sell our cars, empty our retirement accounts, and we are still falling behind in rents and payments. If it wasn't for the mobile games, we would've been out of business last year and be homeless by now.

Cost of developing games are constantly going up. SF2 aircraft, for example, cost more than 4x the SF1 aircraft. And our market size is not expanding at a similar rate. It's not rocket science to figure out that at some point, the cost to develop gets higher than they sell. Looking back, EXP1 was about where it crossed that line for us. So not only we don't have the money to finish EXP3, but we already know for sure that EXP3 will lose money. It has to be paid for by something else.

Luckily, mobile games are doing very well so far - we are just getting started there and we already have over 1.2 million downloads combined. A single one day download of one mobile game often exceed the total, life-long downloads of all our PC games combined. And the cost to develop there still very low. So we are still planning to finish EXP3, but it'll be done if and when our mobile games make enough money to pay for it (well, after paying back all our debts first).

To answer to the original topic, of course we're still working on PC development, especially with Windows 8. But keep in mind that the direction we're going may not be what many of you want. We're working to make our game more accessible and easier to play to appeal to a bigger market, and rely more on in-app purchases for monetizing, which means less realistic features and less support for mods in the future. Again, it's nothing personal, its just what we can afford.”

It's hard to contest the logic, but it's also tempting to blame a portion of TW's present difficulties on their painfully passive marketing approach. If you're in sim or wargame development and still haven't read Kieron's 'How To Use And Abuse the Gaming Press...' I urge you to do so ASAP.


Dreaming Spirals

The Outerra larva still hasn't metamorphosed into the globe-spanning land-air-sea simago early adopters like Yours Truly visualised. It has, however, sprouted a few eyecatching bristles during the past year.

Handsome Soviet seaplane, anyone?

A 1-to-1 scale Middle Earth you can motor around in a Tatra truck or skim in a Cessna?

How about all the components necessary for building gargantuan greebled cities, then?

With Outerra's extremely friendly construction tools, erecting your own forest-dwarfing follies is easy. Dragging yourself away from dreamy edifice contemplation afterwards, that's likely to be much harder.


The Flare Path Foxer

The FP PC went down with something extremely nasty yesterday. Chrome was speaking in tongues. Infected files were slithering out of the virus vault like undead slowworms. Shortcuts were shuffling themselves silly before my very eyes. I think I'm on top of things now, but a few errant icons are still missing their original labels. Maybe you can help.

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Tim Stone