Jens: Apart from the stunning looking aero planes and the gorgeous terrain, both of which we’ll talk about a bit later, you’ve added quite a bit of functionality to the underlying code. Could you please expand a bit on this area of OFF Phase 3, like what changes have been made to the host software in terms of AI, the underlying calculations for the flight models etc.?
Mark: Well, even the terrain is now total high resolution, more than Phase 2 ever was, however importantly Tom our coding expert has done magic and transformed many irksome “features” of CFS3 too and improved AI to be challenging, surprising (!) and often very deadly in the Veteran or Ace AI.
It’s more satisfying then many simulators I have seen. Jerry Beckwith has improved AirWrench FM tool for us especially and is one of those outstanding contributors. This has helped us improve the flight models as we went along, most have been revised or improved. In previous phases we had to cope with several AI issues trying to fly slow WWI craft, so often we were creating a FM that had to try to balance what the player needed with what the craft historically flew like (where known), and what the AI actually liked — often a very frustrating experience making the FM. Now with more freedom since Tom’s changes, you will be in danger of spinning or stalling more for example.
Jens: What’s new about the graphics? DX9 or DX10?
Mark: Visually the scenery now rivals just about anything out there even some modern sims. Nothing has been changed regarding DX specifically, although we are looking at it as a possibility for future updates or add-ons.
Jens: Could you please tell me a bit about what aircraft/squadrons/pilots are included, what time-frame is supported, I mean is the complete war period from 1914 – 18 involved, what geographical areas are involved?
Mark: Currently it’s from the start of 1915 to Nov 1918. There are now over three thousand historically researched aircraft paint works (textures). They are now better quality as the team has improved over time, and many are more detailed. Many 100’s of these are Aces and it is stunning to see in game flights go past made up of Aces, different colors, different mixed craft even in the same Ace flight.
There are too many squads to list, but I think it’s near 300 squads to choose from, all historically researched. Flying from the fields in the craft and colors they flew in. There are still many more aircraft skins and aircraft needed and details to add but we could go on forever adding so we will stop now and concentrate on the finishing touches which are coming to a close as we speak.
We have most of the famous squads too there from Jasta 11 to US 94th “Hat in the Ring” squadron or RNAS-1, RFC 56, Esc-Laf etc right down to the obscure or little known: Fighter squadrons, 2 seater squadrons, early squadrons, late, etc. So many squads can be chosen, all with their correct Aces in them, most with their correct painted craft at the correct time and the correct place. All in all a monumental task to do this and I think we have pulled it off… sitting on the field waiting to take off with sometimes a dozen aircraft full of Aces all in their historical full colors is quite stunning and immersing experience. A glimpse of this is in some of the preview movies I made available on our web site.
The squadrons’ names and details change through time as you play, historically – from early KEK (Kampf-Einsitzer-Kommandos) to later Jastas, RFC to RAF and so on.