A Great Year
This 2005 year has been a great one for the community. Even at a time when other sims have put EAW into the shadows for popularity, new developments took place. Among the most useful besides “Gurney’s” new 3D studio has been “Mr. Jelly’s” Online Air Wars, (renamed OAW because of off-line usefulness). With the help of others like “RAF_Roy”, “Knegel”, and “RAF_Dumoulin” this new game manager keeps track of the vast number of “mods” for aircraft, skies, sounds, and scenarios. A few mouseclicks, and an entirely new “game” can be brought up or aircraft switched around. The latest version of OAW Unified makes it possible for online players to coordinate their games with a key number so all are using the same scenario — and it can check to be sure everyone is on a level playing field with the same settings. AI aircraft can be eliminated entirely, an undocumented feature from the 1.2 Patch.
This past week, “RAF_Dumoulin” (Dumo) got tired of talk about the need for new information updates to “Charles'” notes and putting other materials like “Von Beerhofen’s” in one place. He set up a “wiki”, a site where modders can post materials and correct the mistakes of others. Dumo is a tireless helper on the forums, with many solutions to problems. His counterpart is the technically knowledgeable “Huntress” (Kay Hammil ), whose solutions to the endless oddities of different computers and video cards has saved many an EAW player’s enthusiasm.
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” is an old saying, but it applies here. Without an enthusiastic community like those members who pestered Atari and the original game developers, European Air War would sit gathering dust on many shelves. Or fill garbage dumps.
As developed by the community, this flight sim is still far from having the “eye candy” of near-real-looking aircraft offered by other sims. But its “HR” high resolution looks good if you don’t look closely. If you are dog fighting you won’t be lollygagging around enjoying the scenery and counting the rivets on the plane near you. With the new flight models, you know you are getting a fair shake in the air.
The ground or sea may only be clutter to fighter pilots. But “Von Beerhofen”, “Shreck”, myself and others have recently produced some surprisingly lovely country or ocean to fly over in 256 colors and lure the player from battle in appreciation. Among the most impressive terrain ever done is Desert Air War covering the North African campaign.
The player can now fly bombers and many other types of aircraft beyond fighter planes. The limit is still 20 plane types in one “scenario,” but the ever-growing number of scenarios has led to a long list of very different aircraft available.
EAW still does not have movable control surfaces — except for flaps, which have been added by tying their deployment to the landing gear (“undercarriage” in Britain). Its “damage model” doesn’t show your aircraft full of bullet holes or gaping gaps — except for Jan Tuma’s amazing biplanes. Its campaigns are not sparkling, but there is hope for new developments and new blood. You cannot have your own “favorite” aircraft design fly separately unless you are willing to give up some other aircraft types in the air (one online EAW squadron has personalized all their aircraft). Normally, all aircraft of one type have the same numbers, the same “skin” paint, except in cases like the nose art on bombers.
But this sim plays on almost all machines available today and it seems to play best on old ones with Win98 installed. It wants you to have a good time.
It will take time for new changes to come from rights granted by Atari to use the “eaw.exe” source code. But they will come, as little birdies have whispered about the exe’s existence. “RAF_Roy” let the cat out of the bag again by saying flatly the old programmers have “99 percent” of it. A team is already forming to attack the new “target of opportunity”. Whether Atari will take notice and take advantage of the EAW community’s eagerness to share their pleasure and have more people join in the fun is something to be determined by time. But the signs are bright.
After six years of loving attention, EAW does sparkle. It still has that “certain something” that makes flying it a joy and an exciting experience. It’s also full of surprise “Easter Eggs” put in by programmers, such as a flock of geese that occasionally pop in. They were only UFO rumors until someone took screenshots.
“Easter Egg” appearance of a flock of pheasants in EAW posted by “Knegel”.
Another EAW secret. Is this “thumbs up” pilot really “Sweet Sue” Pacquin,
lead company artist, flying an aircraft of the same name?