It started as a small team with the idea of trying to create a WWI sim to fill the void with a full-on detailed WWI simulator — the void created since Red Baron 3D started to age. We felt abandoned by the game and simulator publishers and just had to do something about it — so learning as we went OFF was the product of that dream. We designed it in three phases (thinking it would take a year or so for all three) and here we are 4 or 5 years later — burnt and crispy around the edges but still going, still determined to finish this and produce something that WWI sim fans have dreamed of. We are very close, and we think people will be very pleased with the results.
Jens: I remember “Polovski” from Wings of War and “Winding Man” from previous MS flight sims, and it is good to see some familiar names from the RB3D community. When did you start modding in general, and how did you start?
Mark: I started with helping on “Full Canvas Jacket”, a full conversion for Red Baron 3D by ”Kess”. I was the official but unpaid technical help . Then SWWISA group were asked to help in a Russian WWI flight sim and several members like Ted, James and myself started to provide a lot of information and ideas and I started to learn to model for that. SWWISA parted company with that project a while later and some of that Russian team went on to join the KoTS (Knights of the Sky) team and possibly now Neoqb/RoF (the team working on Rise of Flight) I guess. Around that time I also helped to organize mods and utilities for Wings of War, an arcade WWI game, which many recognized as having some nice hidden sim features — a sim trying to escape — and I wanted to get that sim out. Winding Man I met around that time when he created great scenery mods for WoW, and then eventually around the beginning of 2005, I moved on to work on OFF. At that time Winding Man had already started OFF with one or two other members.
Several team members worked on RB3D mods such as Ted with his brain for research, and James “OvS” Romano produced Hells Angels a fantastic mod for Red Baron 3D so he knows his German aircraft paints.
Jens: You have probably amassed an amazing amount of data relating to WWI during the years you have been modding. What would you say have been the most important resources for historical facts over the years?
Mark: All sorts of places, most important probably the many many books Ted and others have collected some rare, and so many people over at some of the main WWI forums such as The Aerodrome. Also data has been sent in from other experts, other web sites and so on.
Jens: OFF is a complete conversion for CFS3. How much of the original product (CFS3) would be obvious to the player with Phase 3?
Mark: Very very little. On a default setup now we can ask for your CFS3 CD/DVD during install and if this is v3.1 we can install OFF even if you had no CFS3 installed. Now we also launch directly from the hugely improved OFF Manager which handles everything in the world, missions, squads, campaigns etc, and directly launches CFS3 no GUI. So you go straight to sitting on the field or in the air if required. It feels like a different game, many annoyances have been removed, many great features added as per our feature list. Some of these features have never been seen in a simulator. Some minor issues like WWI manuals help to remove some of the last remnants of CFS3.
Jens: I should just like to point out at this stage that all the features and improvements are listed on the Over Flanders Fields web sitewhere you can also see additional fantastic movies.