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The Flare Path: Tempts Fate

Simulation & wargame news

Apologies if this turns out to be a slightly slim Flare Path; I've got a mountain of chores to get done today. By nightfall I was rather hoping to have a) replaced the faulty safety guard on my Cerberus 720 saw bench, b) secured the wobbly weedkiller shelf in the garage, c) cleaned and oiled my collection of vintage man-traps, d) wormed Satan, my elderly neighbour's Bullmastiff, and e) (assuming I can borrow a long enough ladder) retrieved my scratch-built 1:72nd RC Graf Zeppelin from the top of the electricity pylon where it's currently lodged.

But before I get stuck into that little lot, I guess there's time to spare a thought for the following sim and wargame unfortunates. For these chaps, every day is Friday the 13th.


  • Iron Front modders

An Arma-based game without full, unfettered mod support is like a WW2 fighter without forward-firing armaments. Whoever is to blame for the current silliness (at present all IF augmentations must be sent to X1/AWar for official approval and patch integration) only Bohemia Interactive have the legal and technical might to restore sanity. Come on BIS, do what needs to be done and you'll earn a super-rare Flare Path Fair Play Flair Point (made from a fossilized dinosaur tear) and the gratitude of thousands.

  • Falklands war fliers

After getting the backing of German publishing veterans Aerosoft, elusive Falklands war flight sim Jet Thunder finally seemed to be trundling towards the ski-jump. Unfortunately even with assistance, the project has had a sticky year. Ending months of silence and speculation, a recent Facebook message from dev ThunderWorks sought to explain...

“Been in a surprise hell codewise. We felt a need to move to double precision physics and in doing so, much of the code was broken and in disarray. That situation lasted for about two months. But now we have it running again. So sorry about this taking so long.”

  • T-17 Tanky funders

Like Jet Thunder, this stupidly promising/cute armour sim looked terminally bogged for a long while. The glimmer of good news is that PreenDog may return to the project after completing a summer of “asphalt production”:

“The winter off-season will be all for Tanky.  In the meantime I’ll try t make small fixes and additions.”

Though plainly uncertain of where to take the project...

"As a combat sim it doesn’t lend itself easily to an open sandbox game.  The terrain couldn’t be made big enough, and given it’s a war game, there would have to be enemy forces with persistence and strategic AI, unlike a game like Minecraft where monsters spawn randomly as you wander around.

As a defense game it could work.  Protect an asset against pre-determined waves of enemies, or even enemies that adapt to your force disposition.  Survive to the end of the level to win, and to the next stage.  Buying units during the level, maybe even place fortifications.  There’d be some kind of strategy game map where you assign squads and order guys to move around and change their stance.  Cool, but complicated; practically 2 games.

It could be a straight-up squad combat game with vanilla levels.  Tank Starfox or Mechwarrior.  Then the game would rely on content; maps, vehicles, characters, bosses, a story.

Multiplayer could work, like Battlefield with fewer arcade concessions.  But I’ve hardly even begun looking into netcode.

I have to admit that none of these are really practical.  Probably never was, but it was a pleasant idea, to skip making sidescrollers and flash games and go right to a 3D sim. It was a good learning experience, but the code is a horrible mess from that experience."

... and cowed by early overambition...

"I thought I could make a physics simulated airplane with damage model and Il-2 calibre AI in a few weeks. It flies pleasantly, and ground attack sort of works, but it’s clear that dogfighting is out of the question.  Aiming and target selection must be completely different than in tanks.  Plus, the planes keep bumping into the edge of the map, because the terrain and optimization grid weren’t made with them in mind.  The airplane was a mistake that will seriously set back the single player game”

...the dev still hasn't quite relinquished his dreams of bird-versus-dog armour duels. Contact him through the address on his blog if you want to offer suggestions or words of encouragement.

  • Seventies submariners

Thanks to CaptCryBaby's fiendishly faithful recreation of computer wargame trailblazer Code Name Sector, Disco-era sundodgers may run but can no longer hide. A boardgame without a board, the remake like its inspiration, requires players to carefully plot the positions of four destroyers on graph paper, then use range data to track, intercept and destroy a computer-controlled submarine. It's Neanderthal by Silent Hunter standards, but once you've grasped the slightly counter-intuitive plotting system (though played on a grid, the 'point'-based movement and range system means diagonal distances are strangely distorted) it's easy to imagine the well-heeled grogs of yesteryear being blown away by the tension and unpredictability of the pursuits.

  • Red Deer

Watch on YouTube

They may have trotted past the long-running Deer Hunter and Hunting Unlimited series unnoticed and unscathed, but the latest The Hunter update means Britain's bulkiest land beasts are now fair game for sim stalkers. What species is next on Expansive Vorlds' hit list? FP has his fingers crossed for triffids.

  • The Publishers of Farming Simulator 3DS

Astragon probably haven't noticed the unflattering Chrome auto-translation of their Farming Sim advert.

13 years on still waiting for games or refunds.

This prototype WW2 TBS from Mark 'The Spirit Engine' Pay, had the potential to grow into a fabulous little pop wargame. Tragically though, development ceased a couple of years back.

  • Oil Platform Simulator purchasers

The IASA have spoken! OPS is officially The Worst Simulator Ever Made.

  • Wargame trucks

Every year approximately 156 million trucks perish unnecessarily in wargames. Through consultation with devs and scenario designers, and an ambitious program of player education Flare Path is hoping to halve this figure by 2015. (More information on this initiative in future FPs!)

  • Weary RPS contributors temporarily without net connections that settle down for a pleasant evening of RailWorks and find themselves staring, not for the first time, at this infuriating message


  • Foxer Followers

Sorry no Foxer this week. After last week's disappointing display, Fergus, my Senior Foxer Fabricator flounced off in a petulant huff/Schwimmwagen. He couldn't believe only two of his Brighton-linked images were deciphered (Fitzmogwai, Electric Dragon, mrpier... your teeth-rotting, rock-based FP points are in the post)

(From left to right)

  • Curtiss Seagull (As pointed out by Electric Dragon, Brighton's foot-to-ball club are colloquially referred to as 'the seagulls')
  • Crane-fly. An oblique reference to the Daddy Long Legs, a bizarre boat-train hybrid that trundled between Brighton and Rottingdean in the late Nineteenth Century.
  • A portion of the wipeable Waterloo map (Brighton was the scene of Abba's 1974 Eurovision triumph)
  • 'Tangmere', a Battle of Britain classlocomotive built in the Bulleid Works in Brighton.
  • A pair of Open General WWI Bengal Lancers (Many of the Indian soldiers wounded during the Great War were brought to Brighton for treatment)

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