Developers Roundtable: The Future of Simulations – Part 5 Page 2

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SimHQ: Lets say ol’ Andy Bush was found to be the long lost son of Princess Anastasia (he’d be about the right age). After he receives the crown jewels of Russia he decides to tap you to create the ultimate simulation. Given an unlimited budget and unlimited scope, what would be your personal “ultimate” simulation?

Julian (XSI): Fighter Ops ;-). The ultimate simulation in my mind is one where the entire battlefield is able to interact, an online fighter squadron partners with a clan simulating a tank platoon, helicopter squadron, etc., etc. Imagine flying in your F-15E simulator, receiving a call from a human AWACS controller to switch to xxx frequency, once there you are talking to a human platoon commander who is pinned down by enemy fire, coordinating with a human FAC you take out the opposition with CBU’s. After being shot down by a human player operating a MANPAD or SAM system, you eject and have to link up with special forces before being extracted by a human piloted Helicopter while your wingmen provide cover. This is the long-term vision we have with the Fighter Ops series.

David (Matrix Games): It would be one of those cool virtual reality rides you find in amusement parks, full of things to blast in a totally open environment. You and a few friends could hop in and take a variety of different positions in a variety of different aircraft. There’d be a screen on the floor for the bomber, a front and back screen for front and tail gunners, and of course, a realistic control system for the pilot. Oh… so cool.

Rick (XSI): This is my current Fighter Ops Vision…

The sun beats down relentlessly on the hard, parched expanse of a vast dry lake bed. The horizon blurs as the ground throws off intense heat like ghostly apparitions fleeing their earthly bonds. Dust and tumbleweeds dance across the cracked desert surface where the summer temperature averages well over 100 degrees. We hear the howling winds as they blow a small number of clouds through this expansion of desert leaving a few leftover puddles from an unusual overnight shower. With 310 days of sunshine a year the rains are extremely rare, but on this day it will provide no relief.

It appears that this inhospitable landscape might never end. But then we see a long, well-worn runway stretching well off into the distance. It cuts like a razor through the sandy brown wasteland like a great black wedge. Suddenly, far in the distance, a flash of light catches our eye as it reflects brightly off an object glaring in the radiant white sunlight. We see that a dazzling entity is forthcoming at significant speeds. As the source of the reflection begins to take shape, we see that it is the parallel image of two T-38 Talons inbound. The mighty jets finesse the power of their potent duel General Electric J85-GE-5 engines en route for runway 3L as they cut effortlessly through the thick desert air. Only now do we begin to hear the mighty roar of their powerful turbojet engines. The landing gears and flaps extend in chorus of force as they swoop down toward the end of the runway like great birds bearing down upon unsuspecting prey, as their air brakes are continuously manipulated they set down gracefully on the endless landing strip traveling in harmony towards us. The prevailing Talons grow larger and larger in frame, eventually eclipsing the vast desert landscape behind them. As they howl past us in a blur of desert camouflage and dust, the roar of their powerful engines are shattered by the tremendously overwhelming screech of four F-16C Thunderbirds slicing through the heavens.

The Falcons streak from above the T-38’s in a tight diamond formation darting in and out of the variable shades of clouds, immediately followed by a lone F-16D trailing ever so closely behind. The D executes a series of precision rolls as it blasts across and parallel to the above desert terrain. The dominating F-16D maneuvers to full military afterburners and streaks vertically skyward and through a lone passing cloud. As the main group passes by at 36 inches wing tip to canopy they almost seem like one massive aircraft as luminous shades of subsonic vapors melt through their wings. They race by at gut wrenching speeds, and in due course slow and break formation one by one over the massive desert for their landing approach, only as we follow them in the distance do we finally see an indication that we are at the United States Air Force’s Air Combat Command center at Nellis AFB Nevada, and the home of the 57th Wing, Fighter Ops. My backseat driver and I have just completed our training briefings, and are now on foot walking fervently towards our selected aircraft for ramp start up procedures and departure.

As we loom ever so close to our objective we suddenly feel the lash of the hot brilliant sun glaring off the lineup of numerous aircraft. As we draw near we see the reflection of a pair of F-15E’s chalked above small shallow puddles left over from the overnight storm. Our eyes squint at the magnificent expressions of blue sky mixed with white swollen clouds that mirrors off the canopy glass. As we draw near we are greeted by our astounding ground crews. We start to make our visual inspections of our Eagle, the support team begins to depart, as we climb on board this daunting fighting machine. As the canopy begins to slowly close around us we prepare our aircraft for a ramp startup…

Well then I wake up! But as long as we continue to dream we can continue to believe…

Chris (Lead Pursuit): A simulation which modeled every major aspect of warfare machinery, using top notch visuals, in a MMOG fully dynamic campaign environment with thousands of players online at any one time. All that with depth, realism and fidelity.

Martin (Battlefront): As a developer, operating within limits constantly becomes a second nature. So much so that my brain has simply produced an error message after reading your question. Sorry, please wait while I reboot…

Nils (eSim Games): That’s a question I simply don’t bother with. The challenge is to create what you can do within the given limits of a budget. What counts are results — our customers pay for the outcome, not our plans.

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