2004 in Review Page 3

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Wings Over VietnamIn 2004, we saw some sims coming into their own after some rough starts. As’Weasel_Keeper’ says, “Wings Over Vietnam and Strike Fighters: Project 1, Service Pack 3 are doing very well. ‘Cat’ and Andy Bush were on the original beta team and probably wouldn’t recognize SFP1 and WOV since they moved on to other projects.”

Mark ‘Boxer’ Doran saw 2004 like this, “It’s been a dual-focus year for me with regard to sims. Meaning exactly two only: Falcon4 and Harpoon3. Driven mostly by circumstances of time available to throw at sim stuff in general… i.e., not a lot.”

“Harpoon3 makes the cut because this year I ended up doing a lot of travel and it’s the most satisfying game (for me) to play which I need nothing more than my laptop to play (OK, I confess to having a CD soft copy of “Combat Fleets” for reference ).”

“Falcon4 makes the cut because it’s the one flight sim that I still find fascinating and that, for me, is still growing. That of course is based on the fact that I wangled my way onto one of the mod development teams so now I really get to give back something to the F4 community.”

“All of which is a round about way of saying these two games and communities around them are pretty much the only thing I’ve had time to play this year.”

“Perhaps this is the “silo” year: certainly I’ve had no time and little reason (for lack of interesting outside stimulus in the rest of the flight sim community to draw my attention) to look outside the Falcon4 silo at home and Harpoon3 silo on the road.”

“In these communities, the real key to sustained growth and interest is all about the users feeding back into the game materials.”

“With Harpoon3 it’s the database guys over at HarpoonHQ.com. With the Falcon folks it’s the ever fractious but infinitely creative and talented people of the SuperPak and FreeFalcon teams.”

“There’s also one pretty interesting consolidation trend in the game coding universe too. For instance, did you know that the graphics engine for the shortly-to-be-released BoB was actually written by an “amateur” who retained use of the IP for himself? He fully intends to put the DX9 engine and the shiny new weather in a completely separate first-rank sim project. Expect that work to show up shortly. I discovered that the TrackIR support in over 25% of the games that have TrackIR support according to NaturalPoint was also written by a single amateur. Commercial development of games that we like may be dead but maybe a few talented amateurs is more than we in fact need to keep the lights on.”

Andy Bush had an interesting year in simulations… but not the desktop kind. Andy responded to our questions with, “I’ve been so busy with real simulators that I haven’t given much thought to what’s been happening in the hobby. The real thing is much more demanding!” Look for Andy’s extensive article discussing his new job about real life flight simulation training in the first part of 2005.

Ever the comedian, when ‘BeachAV8R’ was asked about one thing that affected or impacted simulations the most in 2004, he quipped, “I’d say the release of Doom 3 and Half-Life 2… those two games took away most of our sim “players” <g>.”Pacific Fighters

Maybe add Far Cry along with those two games, Chris?

He continued, “I agree with all the statements about the user communities out there making these sims so much “better” than they are out-of-the-box. The Falcon4 improvements are a great example of this (also a great example of how WORLD WARS can get started… hehe). The Strike Fighters / Wings Over Vietnam crowd are really turning that sim into a looker. Granted, not a study sim, but it sure is nice to see all those pretty explosions and so many new 3D aircraft flying around in a virtual world.”

Pacific Fighters“LOMAC and Pacific Fighters are incredible. I attempted four carrier landings in PF before I finally managed to NOT crash. Both of these sims (maybe LOMAC more than Pacific Fighters) seem to be examples of sims that are almost driving hardware requirements. I really need a new rig to get the best bang for the buck out of these sims. I’m sooo far behind the times.”

Nearly everyone feels the same way about the hardware changes in 2004 and how fast they’re coming about. Many new system components have changed and will change in the next several months. It’s a major decision to decide when to purchase not just what to purchase. Still, the sim community has a high ratio of builders amongst their populace who do their research before buying.

‘BeachAV8R’ followed, “I do think it is worth mentioning that we are becoming spoiled though. The nit-picking about rivet placements and degrees-per-second of roll rate at X weight is pretty tiresome. Simming, for me, is about fun. Writing about the missions I fly is fun — like a hobby. Picking apart a sim for all it’s deficiencies is NOT fun. Reading legitimate suggestions for improvements or about GROSS errors is fine with me — but nit-picking has really picked up exponentially with the features of new sims. I personally chose fun over criticism.”

It’s been a great year. My goal for this upcoming year is to use my TrackIR2 more. I’ve had it for almost a year now and have only used it a few times.”

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