Knights Over Europe
John Reynolds asked Knights
Over Europe Producer Mathew 'JP4' Herman and the Aspect
Simulations development team questions about the highly
anticipated WWI flight sim now in progress. The team sent
along five exclusive new screenshots that show the development
progress. This is the first in a series of updates we will
be featuring as KOE progresses. Click on the images below
to see full screen versions.
Q: What's the nature of the main
campaign? Is it dynamic or are the missions linear? And will
there be a career builder or storyline in the campaign? And
which years will be covered by the campaign?
A: One of our fundamental goals is to offer a game thats
historically authentic with outstanding re-playability. The
campaign will be fully dynamic with a focus on the players
career as an aviator (i.e., kills, medals, promotions, transfers
to hot squadrons, fame and glory, etc.) Just as in the real
war, the ground battles will be a canvass upon which the missions
will unfold. In other words, the ground war will create the
impetus for squadron movements and the rationale for mission
objectives. It will also serve as a reflection of how well
you, your squadron and your side are doing, depending on the
mode of play. There will be two modes of campaign play:
In Historic Mode, the campaign will
depict the major events of WWI as they unfolded. Battles will
occur when and where they did and the Germans are destined
to loose, with the war ending on November 11, 1918. Despite
strict adherence to the major historical events, the missions
will still be dynamically generated and the localized success
or failure of you and your squadron will still be dynamically
represented. Remember, too, that the focus of campaign play
is on you and your career, so your goal will be score kills,
win medals, get promotions and transfers to hot squadrons,
and gain international fame and glory. The outcome of the
war is secondary. The most famous ace of WWI was Manfred Von
Richthofen, and people dont care that his side lost
Authentic Mode, however, the campaign will deviate from strict
historical events, but still in a plausible and authentic
manner. Major battles may occur at other times and locations,
and the outcome of the war will be unknown. The most important
aspect is that your activities will influence the outcome
of the war. No, you, as a single pilot, cant directly
or overtly determine the outcome of the war that would
be stupid and certainly not historically plausible
but your successes and failures will set a general tone for
your side. In other words, a good player can fly for the Germans
and actually have a chance to see the Central Powers defeat
the Triple Entente. Were even toying with the idea of
allowing the Americans, on occasion, to enter the war on the
side of Germany (Mexican intrigue notwithstanding). Just remember,
Authentic Mode will be an option, so those who prefer strict
history will be happy, but those who like what if
scenarios will also be thrilled.
Q: Will Knights Over Europe
ship with a mission editor? Will there be an option for players
to create their own squadron logos and skins? Will there be
a recorder for mission playback?
A: KOE will definitely ship
with a mission editor, with all the features youd expect,
like flight plan editing, asset assignment, etc. There wont
be built-in support for creating your own squadrons (that
would conflict with historical accuracy) but skins are another
matter. Regardless, the user community always finds a way,
so Im sure people will be creating their own squadrons,
if they want.
As for a mission recorder, Im
glad you referred to it that way. Older pilots may recall
that the original Red Baron had a VCR that recorded
everything and let you play it back, even jumping
in at any point. That was a nice feature, but only practical
in a game that had a handful of planes, flying around in a
small area, with little else going on. RBII did not have a
VCR because the scope and complexity of its world
was too complex. KOE will be even more complex, but were
still planning on having ways to review missions
and, more important, to tie missions together in the campaign.
This will be done in ways that are historically accurate.
doesnt mean were opposed to adding features
that people expect, but dont really add to the authenticity
of the experience. However, the campaign and missions will
be extremely dynamic in KOE and have that one more time
quality about them. Thus, we expect people to spend far less
time reviewing old glories in favor of getting up there and
creating new ones.
Q: Will there be multiplayer
options for Internet and LAN? If so, will there be a co-op
option? What's the maximum # of players supported in multiplayer?
A: KOE will ship with multiplayer
support for both LAN and Internet play. We arent ready
to reveal the specifics yet, however we can confirm one key
feature that many fans have already picked up on from our
screen shots the ability to hot seat into
crew positions during a flight. This feature will be operable
in both single and multiplayer games.
Q: How large will the dogfights
be (i.e., number of planes in the air)? Will there be any
historic battles on the ground? If so, will players be able
to bomb targets or strafe infantry in trenches?
A: The size of dogfights will largely be a factor of how many
planes are operating in a given area. Since the Western Front
was a densely packed area, we expect some dogfights to become
quite large, especially later in the war, just as they really
As mentioned earlier the game will
be historically authentic, this will be reflected in both
the action on the ground war and aircraft ordinance. As a
result, there will be plenty of action for players who prefer
the air-to-ground role.
Q: Have the number of planes
being modeled fixed yet? If so, how many different aircraft
can players fly in the game? How much work/research is being
done to model individual flight characteristics of the different
A: We cant divulge all
the specific airplanes, just yet, but players can expect to
fly planes in KOE, which heretofore have only been seen as
computer controlled targets in other WWI simulations.
Faithfully recreating the flight characteristics
of each plane has been one of our fundamental goals for the
project. We take our hats off to the way our flight model
accomplishes this. It starts with fundamental data that has
little ambiguity like: weight, physical dimensions, airfoil,
etc. That data is then processed by the flight model using
very sophisticated aerodynamic and physics formulae. This
allows each aircrafts characteristics to fall
out naturally without forcing each to conform to sometimes-contradictory
performance plots. This also means that aerodynamic fidelity
extends beyond the normal flight envelope and into departure
The net result is that each aircraft
ends up with its own authentic personality, very accurately
modeled. The Camel is a nimble, borderline unstable fighter
while the Albatros is a steady weapons platform. To make sure
we have everything correct we compare our results to actual
pilot accounts whenever possible. Obviously, the approach
is far more complicated than we can describe in a paragraph,
but the effect is truly amazing.
Q: How advanced does Aspect
Simulations feel the graphics engine will be compared to other
modern sims? Does it support any advanced features? What APIs
does the game support? How much detail will be present on
the terrain for low flyers?
A: Our graphics engine is based
on the recently released DirectX9 API and we feel it is quite
competitive with other current sims. We have implemented
many advanced features and take full advantage of current
technologies such as vertex shaders, pixel shaders and more. The
aircraft of "Knights Over Europe" spent much of
their time at relatively low altitudes and we have designed our
terrain engine with this in mind.
Q: Has Aspect secured a publisher
for Knights Over Europe? And, last, when is the game currently
expected to ship?
A: We are pleased to announce that we have secured a publisher
for Knights Over Europe. A press release announcing
the relationship will be made in the near future. We originally
projected a late Q2 release but our publisher has already
scheduled KOE for a Q4 2004 release. Very nice! Aside from
the seasonal advantage, the extra time will allow us to include
additional features and polish KOE to a much more glossy finish.
Thanks again team for taking the
time for these questions. We definitely look forward to learning
more about Knights Over Europe as the group progesses with
the sim's development.
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