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The Flare Path: Whatever Happened To...

Simulation & wargame blather

Remember that flight sim that was going to do for the WW2 Regia Aeronautica what IL-2 Sturmovik did for the Voyenno Vozdushnye Sily? Recall that imminent Napoleonic roguelike – the one that was going to let you desert, rustle chickens, and scavenge on corpse-littered battlefields? The Dorset outfit that was looking to raise £250,000 to fund an Eighteenth Century smuggling sim? In today's column I point the Flare Path PBY at patches of ocean where promising work-in-progress sims and wargames were last seen. I find out why titles like Lifeboat Simulator 1875, La Decima, and General Winter are years late.

Whatever happened to...

Aerofly 2

The sequel to the disarmingly pretty but disappointingly parochial (Switzerland only) Aerofly FS missed another ETA in late 2015. The good news is IPACS' long-awaited GA follow-up should be with us in Early Access form within the next 2-3 months, according to a statement issued today. Major draws include bigger skies... “Our flight simulator is no longer limited to a small region. You can, in theory, fly around the whole earth. However, upon the initial release we will only have a small region with airports, but this will increase as we try to implement automatic airport generation and also allow user added content”, multiplayer, day-night transitions, and more realistic navigation. Fingers-crossed the engine changes haven't compromised Aerofly FS's distinctive fluency.

Titanic: Honour & Glory

A $190,000 Indiegogo shortfall back in April doesn't seem to have weakened the resolve or pruned the plans of Thomas Lynskey, Matthew DeWinkeleer, and Kyle Hudak. The Americans behind alarmingly ambitious liner sim/sleuth-em-up Titanic: Honour & Glory, spent the week before Christmas touring British Titanic sites like the White Swan Hotel, Alnwick and Albion House, Liverpool. If anything the team's enthusiasm and passion for detail seems to have intensified during the past year. I just hope character dialogues and plot structures are being crafted with as much care as the interior décor.

Cover image for YouTube video

Cover image for YouTube video

Jet Thunder

Things looked irrevocably bleak for this Aerosoft-backed Falklands War combat flight sim last summer. In July Anglo-Argentinian Thunder Works announced that key coder Steve 'Scary Pigeon' Dobbs had lost his battle with cancer, and the project was, for the time being, on hold. The bereft devs were resolute - “Steve instructed us to move forward regardless of his ultimate fate, and we will do so, to keep his memory and to fulfil his wish” - but until a statement appeared in late November announcing that the studio was “in talks with an experienced flight sim programmer” it seemed highly likely Jet Thunder's long and difficult developmental journey would end prematurely.

Fall of Rome

For the past five years, fans of the small but perfectly formed Hannibal: Rome and Carthage in the Second Punic Wars have been hoping Forced March Games would live up to their name and get a wiggle on. The fact that the bigger, battle-layer and multiplayer equipped Fall of Rome hasn't arrived yet owes more to unavoidable distractions than unconquerable coding obstacles. Lone toiler James Warshawsky has been too busy subcontracting (and updating Hannibal) to complete his tempting but sadly-stitch-free sequel. At the close of 2015 he still had “a decent amount” left to do, so it looks like we won't be biffing Boudica any time soon.

Combat Helo

Every time I look up and see the robber fly reminiscent silhouette of an Army Air Corps Apache overhead, I think of Combat Helo, a WIP AH-64 sim that, for a year or two, promised to breathe new life into a genre comatose since the glory days of the Jane's, Razorworks and MicroProse games. Sadly, the prospect of Richard 'Flexman' Hawley's longbow title ever leaving the ground look slimmer than ever. Stymied by problems with the Leadwerks engine, flight modelling headaches, and licensing worries (Surely a DCS-style “The manufacturers and intellectual property right owners of the vehicles and weapons represented, in no way endorse, sponsor, or are otherwise involved in the development of Combat Helo” title screen disclaimer would have been sufficient?) the team's most recent public communications are now over a year old.

What a crying shame.

Cover image for YouTube video


At least taking-forever Hornet sim Seven-G still shows life-signs now and again via its YouTube channel. Impressively demoed around a decade ago, expected in 2009, and apparently '92% complete' three years ago (“Just going through the latest build (2.20). Pretty decent mission editor...You can set up an entire air war in about ten minutes, Caps, strike, targets, red air, SAMs."), the devs really seem to be struggling with the final furlongs. Will Seven-G arrive before DCS steals a portion of its thunder? It's going to be nip and tuck.

Cover image for YouTube video

Graviteam Tactics: Mius Front

The game in this list I'm most eager to play. As I understand it the sequel to Operation Star was as good as ready a year ago. Has the launch been delayed by feature creep, real-life conflict, other Graviteam undertakings, or a desire to teach blazing tank crewmen better fire extinguishing techniques (going by the following vid they still prefer to run than roll)? It's impossible to tell. The closest thing to a commitment/ETA to issue from the lips of the taciturn Ukrainian devs recently is a "hope" that their dual -layer, realism-rammed wargame will release in 2016.

Cover image for YouTube video

All American: The 82nd Airborne in Normandy

Four years ago I urged Shrapnel Games to remove the stupendously late and clearly vaporous sequel to 101: the Airborne Invasion of Normandy from their store, and refund pre-orders. The fact that the game remains on sale and the polite “What's happening?” enquiries of forumites continue to go unanswered, clearly indicates that Shrapnel are money-grubbing scoundrels who don't give a fig for their customers don't read Flare Path.

* * * * *


The Foxer

Roman's going through one of his morbid phases. His bedtime reading at the moment consists of Times obituaries and AAIB accident reports. At the weekend he's usually to be found either painting corpses for his 15mm Battle of Isandlwana diorama, or doing gravestone rubbings down at St Jude's. Last week's 'dead astronauts' foxer would have been followed by a Quintinshill Rail Disaster collage if I hadn't insisted on something less depressing.

theme: astronauts killed in space program accidents (defoxed by phlebas)

a. Beagle Bassett (Matchstick, AFKAMC)
b. Clark Gable (AFKAMC)
c. Gordon Freeman (mrpier)
d. Jarvis Cocker (Stugle)
e. Anderson Greenwood AG-14 (Matchstick)
f. Anthony “Nuts” McAuliffe (FurryLippedSquid)
g. 1912 Lawrence textile strike (Stugle)
h. M24 Chaffee (Stugle)
i. White armoured car (unacom)
j. Adams revolver (Matchstick)

* * * * *

Foxer Fact #1770

The Star in Cheapside has been a favourite haunt of London's defoxers since the early Seventeenth Century. Pepys, a keen collageer, mentions the inn several times in his diaries.

June 18th, 1662. “Spent all the evening at the Star with Mr Williamson and Mr Evelyn. I made much use of my Italian in the solving of a fox on Punchinello.”

May 23rd, 1664. “To the Star, in Cheap-side, and there met Mr Brampton, my old chamber-fellow. After watering together, he and I skinned an uncommon tricksome Stonehenge foxer.”

March 8th, 1665. “The play being done, we abroad to Cheap-side and the Star tavern. There got a breast of mutton off the spit, a fair custard, and a fox that made our heads ake. I was defeated, but Beck Butler, who is as sharp as flint in vulpinous matters, came upon 'Hanna-Barbera characters', a solution which all liked very well.”

All answers in one thread, please.

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Tim Stone