The New Career System
The big innovation Desastersoft offers is a career system with promotions and medals for Cliffs of Dover. Desastersoft goes to pains to explain up front in the user manual, the principles behind how it awards points and promotions.
The first thing you need to know is that these campaigns are intended to be played on FULL REAL settings. And if you do play on FULL REAL, you get “normal” career progress as you achieve victories. However for every REALISM option that you uncheck, you get a penalty. For example, if you don’t use complex engine management and go with, say, basic realism options like limited ammo, external views, ground damage, air collisions, takeoffs and landings, stalls or spins, and limited fuel, you will get a 500% penalty. This means that to win, for example, an Iron Cross medal, instead of 5 kills, you would need 25. That said, the realism “penalty” only affects medals and promotions, not mission or campaign success.
Above: The Desastersoft campaign selection screen. Here you can also see your “performance coefficient”. If it shows 585%, as above, that means that you need to achieve nearly 6x the number of kills to get the same career reward as on full realism.
To quote from the manual: “Choose your realism factor wisely because it has a considerable influence on the performance needed to win medals and promotions! A 50% surcharge means that you need 30 victories instead of 20 for the Knights Cross. A 150% surcharge then 50 victories and so on… the same for increases in rank.”
Oh well. This effectively means the career system is not as much fun for non-full-real flyers like myself, which was a disappointment.
As you go hunting with your wingmen, your victories will count toward promotions and medals. The more realistic your flight settings, the more points you will earn.
I asked Thomas Voss, of Desastersoft, why they had designed the career system with “realism bonuses” this way. He replied, “Because nobody else does it. The main fun you can get in a simulation is to fly as real as possible. A simulation is not a game. A fantastic engine like Cliffs of Dover deserves a gameplay system such as this. Also the statistics between players should be comparable. If you manage five kills in full real it is very different than five kills using outside views, because you can never see where the enemy is. This must have an influence on promotion and medals. That is our way of gameplay. Many love it, some don´t like it. But this is and will be our way — sales figures are not everything. We pride ourselves on historic add-ons.”
Dead is Dead
Another feature of Desastersoft career system that is worth mentioning is that it follows a “dead is dead” principle. This means that you can start a campaign, and fly your mission(s), but when your pilot is killed, your campaign is over. Finito. No changing to a new pilot. No appeal to a higher court. Personally I am fine with this, as I always do my campaigning on the “dead is dead” principle. But many other flight sim campaigns give the player the ability to decide whether they want to continue as a different pilot, or start over. Desastersoft has decided for you — you WILL start over. And you can’t try any of the old simmer tricks like killing the program as soon as you die so that it doesn’t record your pilot as dead — as soon as you see that black screen, Desastersofts campaign system marks you K-I-A!
So perhaps it is not such a problem that with the Desastersoft campaigns you can’t personalize your pilot with his or her own name and call sign etc. The game takes your user name from Steam as your pilot name. Anyway, there is no point becoming too attached to your pilots, because your hard fought campaign will only last as long as your pilot does!