The Future of EECH
“With the open source I think that interest is the only limiting factor to improving EECH.”
So far we’ve seen where we were and where we are; but where are we going? The modders most certainly aren’t done with EECH, and with the source code at their disposal, the opportunities to further polish and add to this sim are evident. I’d like to take a second to personally thank Razorworks for taking the unprecedented step of openly inviting people to use their source code (to which they retain all rights). From the licensing agreement that modders must abide by if they are going to use the source code: “We wish to make the Source Code (as defined below) and Executable Code, (as defined below) publicly available to allow you to run, copy, study, distribute, change, modify and improve the Program.” If only Team Super Hornet could have such unfettered access for their project!
There are, of course, things we’d all love to see added to EECH (or made part of EECH 2, pipe dream though it may be). For starters I’d like to see a bit of armor versus armor action on the ground side of the campaign. As it stands now, EECH is pretty much a helicopter and airplane war supplemented by two sides lobbing artillery at each other. It would be nice to see clashes between armor and infantry in which helicopters could provide a supporting role as well as a primary role. A personal favorite of mine is the OH-58 Kiowa so I would like to fly as part of a hunter/killer group where the OH-58 designates and his wingman (the AH-64) engages the targets.
New and different enemy and allied units and orders of battle would be interesting. Again, a personal favorite is the OH-6 and the MV-22 Osprey. It would be fun to be able to fly troop insertions with the Osprey (including a realistic flight model!) much like we were able to do with the Blackhawk in LB2.
Updated graphics rendering and advanced graphics features would also be a nice feature: LOMAC style water, heat blur, etc., Of course much of this is likely beyond the scope of a few modders that have been gracious enough to spend their time making this great sim even better. Already we have seen great improvements to the terrains and textures and there promises to be more improvements as the modders better learn and understand what the EECH graphics engine is capable of rendering. Here are some very cool “Grand Canyon” type terrain and textures that Craigmire is exploring.
Polak has done some very good work with textures and skins and he has some very nice textures that we haven’t seen in-game yet. With so many older sims being revisited, the modding communities have begun to overlap a bit and techniques are being shared among EAW, LB2, Gunship and Strike Fighters. This can only result in more great mods for us end users.
Improvements to the flight models and unique flight characteristics for each flyable helicopter type would also be welcomed. Smoother AI flying with less abrupt movements at turn points and mode changes (i.e. cruise flight transition to combat) would be a plus. Also more aggressive AI defense when under attack would be nice. Armor units remain sitting ducks against attacks when real life units would pop-smoke, maneuver and generally try to keep from getting killed. Adding iron bombs to AI aircraft would also be a realistic additional feature.
“As can be seen, our efforts are mainly graphical in nature. This IMHO is the biggest bang for the buck right now as old fans return to try this sim again thus potentially attracting more modding talent with various backgrounds. The potential of this sim is only limited by talent, time and imagination.”
A bit more variation in the type of missions would be welcomed. Search and rescue and the extraction of downed aircrews (think SAR4 basket and hoist type missions) would be a lot of fun, as would special operations missions such as inserting SEALs or taking out specific building targets or landing boarding parties on ships (of which we could use more models). Although the environmental effects are already pretty darn good, variable winds, turbulence, fog, snow and thunderstorms would be make flying even more interesting. And of course, trees. Realistic trees and forests have long been on the list of most wanted objects in helicopter sims. Unfortunately individual realistically modeled trees appear to still inflict graphics performance issues, so that wish may remain on the distant horizon.
“We are, in my opinion, very close to non-polygon forests; Craigmire is pioneering this push and hopefully his efforts can be incorporated in the code to generate more realistic vegetation. I have a few ideas from a texturing perspective on how to randomize the look of the forests that hopefully fall in to place so we can finally fly over and behind some real forests.”
Gotcha, who has provided much of the talent, resources and dissemination of information via his web site, continues to work on the modification of EECH and his outlook on the future is very exciting indeed.
“I want to see how far I can go with the landscape texturing using the original code as much as possible. I would like to add much more variation to the terrain.”