Q: Regarding the training videos. That voice sounds familiar! Is that you doing the voice-over in the English version?
A: Yes, I’m afraid I got roped into doing the voice-over for the training missions. Hopefully it will not result in too many bleeding ears.
Q: It seems people are either playing Black Shark in the simplest game mode or the most complex simulation mode, but not realizing the scalability in between the two. In our opinion, Black Shark is much more scalable than it first appears. On full simulation mode, there is a lot to learn and study and utilize to get the most out of flying a Ka-50. That’s as it should be — it’s certainly a complex piece of machinery. There is quite a discussion going-on if it’s better for serious simmers to start out in Game mode then move to Simulation mode, or just start directly with the Simulation mode and forgo Game mode. What does the team suggest?
A: I personally think it comes down to the gamer and one answer does not fit all. For those that want a more casual gaming experience akin to a console game or feel that operating the Ka-50 in a realistic manner is more work than fun, then by all means they should take advantage of the various game mode assists. However, if the gamer really wants to experience what it is like to fly one of these aircraft then I would suggest starting in simulation mode and gradually learn the systems and take advantages of such features as the automatic aircraft start up sequence. When flying in simulation mode though, I think players should bear in mind that just as they should not expect to go to their local airfield and jump into a Jet Ranger and fly around without killing themselves, they should not expect to jump into the Ka-50 in full simulation mode and become quickly proficient. Because we modeled this aircraft in the level of detail we did, it takes, time, study and practice to learn to fly the Ka-50 well. To me though, that is one of the most rewarding things.
Q: How would you rank the importance of the multiplayer capability to the development of DCS: Black Shark?
A: Although roughly only 5% of DCS customers ever play online, we still feel it a very import aspect of the simulation and we’ve spent a lot of time re-writing the network code for Black Shark to improve it. Additionally, we added an integrated online game browser to automatically list DCS Internet servers is detects. In later DCS iterations we are committed to add additional multiplayer features. Like DCS in general, the multiplayer aspect is a work in progress that will grow and improve over time according to our needs and user feedback. In fact, we are already working on integrated VOIP communications.
Q: A follow-up to the previous question. Presumably someday DCS will decide to develop an air-to-air combat sim. Do you anticipate any more emphasis in an air-to-air product than an air-to-ground flight sim?
A: Currently, the emphasis is on air-to-ground combat with the Ka-50 and the A-10C to follow. However, we already have several air-to-air fighters like the Su-27 and F-16 in development to be introduced into the DCS environment at a later date. As we get closer to releasing these modules, more resources will be allocated to air-to-air combat and all the related issues like air-to-air missile performance, air-to-air radar, AI tactics, etc. For now though, most of our efforts are focused on such things as ground unit AI, forward air controller interactions, and even better close air support AI. One step at a time.
Q: With all respects to Lock On, arguably, there was the comment that it seemed very “clinical” at times and more of a technology achievement than an immersive flight sim. DCS: Black Shark seems to have captured that missing element that some players had as a complaint. Judging by the first page of the Flight Manual that says, “A large focus of DCS: Black Shark, compared to our earlier products, has been on providing good mission gameplay.” What triggered this realization?
A: I think the realization has always been there; what has been lacking has been the time and resources to do something about it. Due to obligations of our military contracts like the A-10C Desk Top Simulator for the Air National Guard, we had to put the aircraft simulation aspects of the Ka-50 on hold for over a year. The benefit was that this gave us the time to re-write the Mission Editor with the inclusion of a Trigger system. One big thing I took away from my time at EA/Jane’s was that a good Trigger system can be used to create very engaging missions with a very “alive” feel. The big variable though is the skill of the mission designer. In the hands of a talented mission designer, our new Mission Editor with the Trigger system can be used to create a combat environment that feels very interactive with good game play. Like other elements of DCS though, the Trigger system will continue to evolve with new functions.
Q: In the Russian release, there is one campaign included. We see there is a four-part campaign in the reviewer’s English version. What other differences are there between the two versions (besides the obvious languages)?
A: The primary difference between the Russian and English versions is the complete localization to English for the English version and the inclusion of many more missions in the English version. As you pointed out, the English version includes a staged campaign that includes over a 100 missions. Additionally, several new single missions and replay track files have been included. One big benefit to releasing the Russian version first has been the ability to monitor user feedback and make changes to the English version before release. As such, the English version will also be more refined.