Combat…


I have gotten a lot of e-mail speculating that my time spent at the RAF base recently was for a pending CFS title. I wish I could say you are right, but you are not. However, I am very confident that the CFS franchise will come back sometime and many of the "platform building" enhancements we have made and are continuing to make on the FS engine are all steps that will make that possible. Here are a few things for you to think about.


First of all, I would love to hear what you would like to see in a combat flight sim. If the first words out of your mouth are "nukes" or "mushroom cloud," then save your breath. I don't ever see that happening, it's just too politically charged and in my opinion is in bad taste. What I am interested in are things like:


What era is most interesting to you and why? I break the eras up as WWI, Between the Wars (i.e. 1919-1937), WWII, Korea, Cold War, Vietnam, and Modern. Of course there is the answer of
"all of the above" which might also carry with it severe compromises in systems development for the "FS Platform" (in other words too much stuff for one development cycle).


I have my personal favorites, but I won't tell you what they are. If we decide to do CFS again, we will look at the popularity of an era and type of flying/fighting, what competitive products are out or on the horizon, whether it has mass market appeal (i.e. can non-experts play and enjoy the game/sim?), whether the aircraft and scenarios are exciting and engaging (or are their extended periods of boredom?), etc. In addition, are there fictional scenarios that can be leveraged to create new experiences? If you really think about these factors, some of the eras make more sense than others.


What is most important, the accuracy and fidelity of the simulation, or the fun and excitement of the game? I think I know what your answer would be if you're reading this blog, but it's worth asking anyway. As a general rule of thumb in game design (and even in sim design), you don't force the user/player to do boring, repetitive, or painful tasks, otherwise it turns into work instead of play. Of course many of you find fun and challenge in an exactly re-created simulation of what a real combat pilot does even it it means flying CAP for four hours without a single engagement. Most people don't fall into this category and want to be engaged and entertained (even within a sim). WIth the missions in FSX, we wanted to average the mission flight time at 20-30 minutes and not exceed 60 minutes (which we broke a couple of times). This was an attempt to keep the pilot engaged throughout the mission, but it meant picking locations and creating scenarios that facilitated short flights. Other than using quick combat scenarios and "warping," this can be difficult to acheive in combat scenarios (and warping or time compression isn't possible in multi-player).


How important is it to have user-piloted non-combat aircraft in multi-player sessions? Compared to flying a fighter, a fuel tanker or AWACS is pretty boring, but their role is critical in a wartime scenario. Airships are painfully slow too, and easy prey for a fighter. Of course AI can always be employed to fly these roles, but AI will never be as smart and interesting as real people. Mixing AI and real users on-line can be troublesome, especially when the AI does something stupid (like crash into a user or not come to the rescue when needed...).


What about non-flying duties? Should a user be able to command an aircraft carrier or destroyer in the sim, drive a tank or operate anti-aircraft guns? What about spot lights during a night bombing attack? Or for that matter, be able to walk around outside of the aircraft and operate anything they want? This is probably a leading question and frankly in a high fidelity simulation this would be hard to pull off as we would need to simulate so many different things to do it well. It's easier to do in something like Battlefield 1942 where non-sim game mechanics are acceptable.


What about the big picture aspect of combat where manufacturing factories, aircraft/vehicle maintenance, troup strengths, supply routes, shipping, fuel, ammo, parts, medicine, and food supplies are critical aspects of the experience and disruption of these factors play into the progress of the experience? What about these factors in the context of multi-player sessions? 


What if we just concentrated on the platform and built realistic and fun missions using high fidelity aircraft and such with great multiplayer support, but didn't build a detailed campaign or era specific scenery for the entire world like you might expect from a traditional game? Would third party developers and end users building the additional content to fill out the world work for us? I'm not sure if such a product would sell well enough to build it that way. In other words would a user pick a product like that up off the shelf and buy it over the latest game that has all of that stuff right out of the box? Such a strategy might allow us to build more infrastructure and support higher fidelity as we wouldn't have the costs associated with the rest of the presentation... Maybe if third parties could do simultaneous add-on releases... of course that hasn't ever happened before.


We've noticed how popular military aircraft from multiple eras are within FS and you can't even shoot or drop bombs. If we were to build a new CFS using the FSX platform (or some future version fo FS) then we would likely do something similar to how CFS2 aircraft could be used in FS (and the other way around too). How do you think the community would deal with functional combat aircraft operating in FS (if we allowed them to be functional unlike CFS2/FS)? For those concerned about that possibility, do you think a UI option which disallowed it in your experience or on a given multiplayer server would address the concern?


Now I must remind you that we aren't working on CFS and there are no plans to do so right now. I have obviously been thinking about it a lot and will continue to do so, but it doesn't matter if we never get the go ahead form those that pay the bills :). I'm not dropping a teaser or implying anything and everything here should be taken casually. I am putting this out to the community because I am interested in what you think. Feel free to send me e-mail just don't expect a direct response. If you respond via comments to this blog post I'll try to stay on top of it and respond where I can.


Comments (43)
  1. Anonymous says:

     I’ve always had a strong affinity for the Korean War-era aircraft, like the F-86 and MiG-15.  I have been watching "Dogfights" on the History Channel, and they have been covering some really great air-to-air combat.

     Speaking of, if you were looking for some ideas on "missions," that program would be a great resource.  Recreating significant dogfights of past wars would be excellent, IMHO.  

     Perhaps a package that included the most significant dogfighters of each "era," be that of WWI, inter WWI & WWII, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and maybe some other regional conflicts would be of interest.  I’ve always thought a recreation of the Falkland conflict would be great: Harrier versus Super Etendard. 🙂

    Best regards,

    Owen

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for being couragous in posting this Paul. This post and comments so far, are tremendously interesting. Indeed this is a topic that is dear to my heart and is difficult reply to in a simple one off response.

    Firstly I would like to say that the open architecture/sandbox approach of CFS/FS should be built upon. This is where MS sims win over their competitors…. in a big way. Aces are definitely on the correct approach in working with add-on developers with FSX.  Hopefully if MS do revisit the CFS series or any similar product this approach will be maintained and expanded on.

    As a developer/modeler the ultimate fantasy would be ‘CFS Construction kit’. I would agree from the marketing perspective this would be difficult to sell. However please take a look to see what developers have achieved with the CFS3 sdk….. Over Flander’s Fields (OFF) …. and soon to be OFF phase 2.    http://www.sim-outhouse.com/sohforums/forumdisplay.php?f=8  

    and http://off.oldbrowndog.net/index.htm and also Mediteranean  Air War War  (MAW…. http://www.medairwar.com/ …… soon to be released) I would suggest you have a look at these add-ons and their associated forums to gain insight as to what users enjoy in these addons.

    My own particular interests lie in the 1916-1938 periods and also the Korea and Vietnam periods and of course will be reflected in the aircraft/models I produce fot both FSX/CFS3.

    I greatly enjoy the freedom and flexibility that the FSK sdk allows me…. one can create almost anything (except RL spacecraft). Hopefully this freedom can be replicated in the next cfs. (CFS3 SDK does not allow new gauges or animations 🙁 and the CFS3 SDK was never completed.)

    Anyway please keep on doing what you’re doing with FSX and please build and improve upon it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Good comments "FelixFFDS." I also like the interwar period (better name and description than I had), especially considering the replica aircraft being built in my hangar is from this era (the P-12C, if that wasn’t obvious). I think most users will agree with your sentiments.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Owen, nice to hear from you. I also love the F-86 and Mig 15, but maybe even more the F-82 and other transition aircraft. But IMHO Korea is a very limited palette to work with.

  5. Anonymous says:

    YIKES !!!

    I typed a LONG reply here… and it disappeared !!?? 🙁

  6. Anonymous says:

    We know how badly multi-core support is needed. We’ll see how far we get on that when SP1 is ready for Beta testing.

  7. Anonymous says:

    TSmooth, I agree infrastructure and SDK is key. Fighter Ace died awhile ago (I think). That product was definately more of a game and less of a sim BTW.

    Multi-player only is a tough sell unless it’s massively multi-player. Even then, the older user that is interested in sims isn’t necessarily comfortable in an MMO…

  8. Anonymous says:

    Well I knew this would generate some great comments and you haven’t let me down! I have been unable to spend any time at the computer all day, so I obviously couldn’t address comments as they came in (that was an unrealistic goal anyway).

    I’ve had several comments via e-mail with similar thoughts as those expressed here. I only received one comment that was generally negative, but some of that is expected, especially after the issues CFS3 had.

    I do think the key is to leverage the platform (which is what CFS2 did using FS at the time) of FSX along with whatever improvements happen along the way and build something that can truly be built out by the community. Obviously we can’t build all eras much less all of the aircraft and ships and scenery for those eras, but I believe we could find the right balance of features to make that a reality whenever we might possibly travel down this road again.

    I’ll head over to sim-outhouse and check out the commentary there.

    Keep the comments coming if you’re up for it…

    BTW robruce, I’m impressed with the screens you’ve posted of your latest creation and I’m pleased that the updated SDK is working out for you 🙂

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hey Gramps, I would think that depending on the era chosen and the systems associated with that era that third parties could then go to town on whatever era they want. One of the biggest costs with era specific stuff is the period scenery… Of course once it’s built then it can easily expand from there with planes, ships, missions, etc.

    Sorry to hear you can’t get FSX working to your satisfaction, hopefully our pending SP1 will help you.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Would love cfs4 (if there is ever such an animal) to be more like cfs1!! Simple to create missions and add ons, yet with the great aircraft, effects, and weather of Fs2004. But please please please make it Tailgunner compatible for us bomber pilots!!!!!!!

     The 379th "Virtual" Bomb Group uses the Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator 1 (Europe Series), to re-live the skies over Western Europe during the years of WWII (1943-1945).

    We primarily fly the B-17 Heavy Bomber and we create some real, as well as fictional campaign missions. We fly as an ALLIED bomber team using the mission “Multiswapper”, against "AI" (computer generated) enemy German planes and ground targets with plenty of flak!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Hi, often read the blog but first post.  Rather than go for specific eras why not a series of campaigns based on real world historical events and possible future events.  The campaigns would cover the gamut from WWI through to current day and potential future events.  

    Using the FSX engine selecting a specific campaign would load the relevant aircraft, ground locations (airfields, cities etc) and associated sea and ground forces. Being campaign based you would not have to load world-wide scenery so loading times ought to be reasonable.

    My definition of campaign is a series of missions designed to meet a specific objective or objectives, e.g. Battle of Britain, Midway, Falklands, Gulf War 1 etc (I know GW1 might be classed as a war but was too short to be classed in the same league as Korea, WWII, Vietnam etc).

    Combat ought to be via whatever means a user wishes to take part, e.g. SAR, CAP, Ground Strike etc for a/c and ground defence, sea defence, attacking ground forces for ground and sea borne elements.  If anyone remembers Warcraft it was possible there to play as an individual soldier but remembering that experience combat should be vehicle based (a/c, tank, helo, ship etc).

    I suspect that, with strong user support, what starts out as a range of campaigns becomes almost entire wars just by having various people fill in the gaps.

    My personal preference is to get into any action pretty quickly rather than have protracted periods of waiting for events.  Getting the balance right between fidelity and game play is difficult but my gut feel is to go for high fidelity vehicles, weapons and environments with abreviated force engagement times.

    Regards,

    Chris

  12. Anonymous says:

    I also loved Aces of the Pacific. I doubt if many realize that the lead designer for that title was also the lead designer for CFS3.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Well, if ya go with WWII, not much changed in the world in 5 years, so you could get a Korea era without to much, if any changes.

    If all the scenery could be imported from FSX, then you already have some the capibilities for a modern era sim.

    I don’t know what it would take to have weapons starting from WWI all the way to modern weapons programmed in the game engine, so to be honest, not sure it’d even be possible. But if it could…. the possibilities would be endless

    If we could get dual core support(sorry Paul, I know your prolly gettin tired of hearin that) and the sandbox to play in, I think it could be one helleva sim for folks to play in for a long time.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I have to go with modern combat aircraft, but them I’m a bit biased (http://www.vrsimulations.com). I’ve been working on this one for a long time now, and I often have to stop and ask myself why I let it get as complex as it has when you still can’t shoot anything. It always comes back to the same thing that draws people into flying complex ‘liners with FMCs and what not; it’s fun to push buttons:)

    I guess I don’t really understand why we need to think in terms of a specific era. Why can’t the same engine be used to cross time as well as geography. Certainly the FS underlying structure is sufficient to cover almost any aircraft imaginable.

    The only real limitation would be the object database since it obviously means different civil and industrial infrastructures throughout the time-line. The terrain isn’t really going to be changing, at least not geologically. Landclass and textures wouldn’t really need to cover the entire world as in FS anyway would they? Have several sets, perhaps with some kind of procedurally modified attributes to cover interpolated changes based on population.

    Anyway, it just seems to me as though you’ve got the infrastructure in place already for almost any era you want to cover, so why limit the possibilities. Open her up so the modders can take over and create entire battlefields.

    Have a great holiday everyone!

    –Jon

  15. Anonymous says:

    Era:

    I’d like to see WWII and Korea. There is a good mix of aircraft that I enjoy to fly, including the early jets.

    Both Era’s also give ample opportunity for Carrier ops, which is something I think is a must in the next CFS.

    I’d like to see a CFS2 setup. Have the scenery for the area of operations up to scratch and except for a mesh and land class leave the rest of the world alone. People have and will improve on it. I think I’ve seen scenery for CFS 2 that ads every military base in northern Europe.

    On the other hand I won’t complain if you give us every airfield in FSX in the new sim. It would make the yearly "aRound The World" race a lot more interesting.

    I don’t want any compromise in the flight models. The plains have to fly as real as possible. It’s my biggest complaint with CFS3. The aircraft fly and feel differently then in FS2004 and even the older CFS2. If that means that a P-51 with a full fuselage tank is a bitch to fly or a Corsair has a vicious post take off stall behaviour then so be it. If that means there you have to put an easy mose in the UI for the non simmers, then go ahead. As long as we can make them fly like they are suposed to.

    An FSX/CFS crossabread is apealing to me. All the modern nav equipment and airports for our normal flying with the possibility to have a nice relaxing dogfight sounds cool. Just put a UI checkbox somewhere so the GA and buss drivers don’t complain.

    Add options for guided weapons and radar. The stock stuff doesn’t have to be advanced, but put the stuff in there for devellopers.

    I don’t see the need to controll a carrier or tanks. I want a combat flight sim. At most I’s want to control the squadron or Carrier air wing. Picking what groups go on what raid, but I doesn’t have to be a major thing.

    Stations in the aircraft don’t have to be done beyond the gunner and bombadeer stations on bombers and the odd fighter.

    In short I want a fully updated and upgraded CFS2.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Hey P-12,

    Want you to know that wasn’t a gripe against FSX. From what I’ve got to see of it, it simply looks amazing!! And I too hope the SP1 helps on my system.

    I didn’t even think about the scenery part of it( can ya tell I make planes only,lol), can deffently see the problem with the time periods.

    I’d have to go with WWII then, but still have the capability to modern weapons added to the game engine. That way if a group of 3rd party folks wanted to "modernize" it, the programming would be there.

    Greoryp hit on some major points there, allof them good ones, but I think the 2 most important ones are working carriersships, and have the entire world in it.

    That was my main turn off on CFS3. I really liked the way the planes were made for it, but I’m a pacific theater nut and corsairs and zeros just really didn’t fit in,lol.

    And, it was mentioned earlier, but for sure have itsupport dual core systems.

    And I just want to say thanks for even thinking about a new CFS. I hope it gets to happen

  17. Anonymous says:

    After being involved with some aspects CFS’s 2-4  and still developing for CFS3 (shameless plug http://www.AvHistory.org) I don’t think MS has what it takes to do a combat sim. I’m not talking a technical point of view, but the internal politics.

    But, let’s assume someone stirs the pot and it becomes a possibility so we can keep this positive and I can pass on my observations.

    Both FSX and CFS should be separate and stay that way. What you had was perfect, with alternate releases each year. The main reason you want separate FSX and CFS products is FSX must stay at the “Everyone” rating (no guns or destruction). Conversely, CFS needs to be at the “Mature” rating, it’s a war sim and you can’t limit it or you’ll get a turkey.

    Both must be completely interchangeable, 3rd party products (scenery, aircraft, ect) must work in both. After a period of cooperation between FS/CFS, CFS3 drove a wedge between the two groups.

    I’d like to point out that both sims complement each other. What’s important in one may be minor to the other, but because it’s been developed it improves the quality. For example, in FS engine management and navigation are important. In CFS it’s a minor role, but the ability to lean the engine for a long mission and follow a beacon back to the carrier add immensely. Like wise in CFS Flight modeling and damage are extremely important. This carries over to FS with better aerobatics with the Extra 300 and modeling wing scrapes and belly landing effects. It goes on and on.

    The main CFS5 have to haves are:

    – Entire World

    – Carriers and ship operations

    – Massive/Major updates to the flight equations (sorry Z)

    – All stations on the aircraft modeled with the AI manning them when you’re not there.

    These are what the users want. At least that is what they complain to me about continuously.

    The era is easy. WW2. Simply because it is dead center of 2 very different eras and contains the elements needed by both. This would be the only way to make sure the 3rd party developers could model all eras. WW1 is limited because of low quality data and the large variation of quality of the aircraft themselves. Korea and beyond you have to talk transonics and that is a tough nut to crack, especially with limited budgets and resources.

    I hope this helps.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Cfs3 was pretty good for my very first game.

    ————

    Area1

    From Island to the canarias, to egypt and Finland back to Finland.

    ——————

    Area2

    Pacific, the Big Scene

    ——————

    Time

    1938 to 1945

    ————-

    Countries

    All involved

    ————-

    Technology

    Guns and Bombs rockets. Mistel, Aircraft Carriers

    Radar

    Fighters can kill gunners on bombers

    once bailed out, bombers stop firing guns

    ———–

    AI

    have accurate blind spots where the AI pilots cannot see you (no window, no sight)

    can loose sight of you in heavy turning and clouds

    can land and take off properly

    can use the planes they get from the Plane designers, for example use arrestor hook and dive brakes to Divebomb SKIPBOMBING at less than 50 feet.

    Can respond to a WIDE variety of commands including break off combat, form up on me, RTB, cover me, stay high above me, loiter here, drop your bombs because your engine is on  fire…

    in general, teach the AI everything a real Combat Pilot is supposed to do, from ditching a plane to landing it at night during a storm.

    ————-

    Planes

    a good 3 dozen of planes, variants *not* included

    ————-

    A proper Mission Builder a la Cfs 2 or Il2FB series

    ————-

    Scenery

    A la FS 2004 or Fsx

    ————-

    Hardware

    no problem, i am ready to upgrade

    ————-

    MODDABILITY

    total

    BF 110G for life

  19. Anonymous says:

    I’d be very happy to see the CFS engine get leveraged across more than one franchise. There’s no reason that much of the work that would go into a CFSX couldn’t form the base for a new PC Crimson Skies title with suitably dumbed-down flight dynamics. There’s also the possibility of using the engine in the BattleTech franchise, which MS has the rights to, to form the basis of an AeroTech sim. Just make sure that the ground vehicles can be driven cuz the BT guys are going to be driving the ‘Mechs within a few hours of release. 🙂

    It would be a real blast to be able to fly an F4U-1 Corsair in WWII, an F4U-5 Corsair in Korea, an A-7 Corsair II in Viet Nam and a CSR-V12 Corsair in BattleTech.

    The bean counters are more likely to give you a go-ahead if the return is maximized. The "core" chouls certainly be CFS X… but there is no reason not to get other use out of the basic engine.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Personally, while I love modern fighter jets, I think old school dog fighting with machine guns on the wings is the most fun from a piloting stand point. I would love to see something more of a suped up Fighter Ace (Is that even still around?) game.

    Large multiplayer functionality, support for community teams that could be called air wings or something like that. I think that if there’s a good SDK the single player campaigns could be developed by the community as there are many other similar games for which campaigns are developed freeware. It’d be fantastic if you guys spent the time and money of developing a lot of single player campaign content and instead focused on building a massive community/multiplayer infrastructure. I have some more thoughts on these aspects but I don’t have the time to put type them all out in words.

    As far as AI, it might be cool to have some AI controlled bombers or things in the air or on the ground that you were to protect in some different online gameplay modes but I don’t think you need to devote too much time to creating dog fighting AI.

    Too many developers take for granted the abilities of the gamer community to work with good SDK’s to fill in content where people want it. I think what is needed is one hell of a good SDK and community/multiplayer infrastructure with some great built in planes, the engine, and multiplayer game modes. Microsoft has always been pretty good at designing well documented SDK’s and development tools.

    I don’t know if you could sell a multiplayer only (although it’d have so much more if you build the infrastucture and community support well) for the same price point as a game that has full campaigns and the like but if it was anywhere near what I am envisioning then I would definitely pay for it. Even a lower price point with perhaps a LOW ($5/mo.?) fee for the multiplayer infrastructure support (think xbox live as a starting point although not quite the same. The Tribes game that had built in "tribe" email and support could also be some good inspiration for the community infrastructure. I can’t remember if that was Tribes 1 or Tribes 2) might not be so bad, again if done well.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I would vote for an add-on to FSX. Since the mission system is already in place, it seems a natural. It seems it would also be a smaller program since it would share resources FSX already has available. Just add damage, weapons, more scenery objects and maybe a REALLY good combat missions tool.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I would like to see the Korean War Era and Viet Nam..

    Though, it must have DUAL CORE support

  23. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been waiting 13 years for a combat flight sim to match the features of Aces over Europe and Aces of the Pacific, games I grew up with.  By far the best campaign mode I’ve seen with randomly generated missions that were never the same twice, along with historical missions thrown in if you were in the right fighter or bomber group.  It even had intelligent AI gunners on the fighters and dive/torpedo bombers in the game which had them, down to accurate firing cones.  About the only things I think could be improved would be a slider to determine what ratio of missions the user wanted to do (i.e. for a fighter group have a setup of 20% CAP, 20% escort, 50% interdiction, 5% ground attack, and 5% anti-shipping), and more of an effect on the results of battles similar to CFS3.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Hi

    I think what we really want is a FSX that has aerial combat capabilities.

    All we wanted in CFS3 was droppable bombs and something to drop them on, upgraded graphics, as well as an anticheat feature that would take care of online mod cheats.

    With the FSX SDK any era can be made really, couldn’t it?

    Radar would definitely need to be available for modern day jets, as well as modern day armaments and tragets.

    Most important would be both mission designer friendly and "intelligent" AI, as well as a designer compatible mission editor… sort of a cross between what CFS2 had combined with Falcon4

    True that each version of the sim FSX/ FSXCS for the ratings system

    Angled (inclined) runways would be a bonus <hint, hint>

  25. Anonymous says:

    There are a lot of different reasons why I sit down for hours at an end with my flight sims.

    I enjoy FS9 because of the freedom and enjoy CS3 because of the purpose.

    So what I would like to see would be an open world, where you can fly around, land at airports, walk inside and meet people, maybe they want you to do a low level drug run? land at the military base and sign up for escorting Air Force One. How about flying combat runs in the middle east? News helicopter pilot?

    Its important that it doesn’t get too ahead of itself like FSX, it needs to be playable for people with the Mid performance computers.. although I understand that there has to be Longevity.. hence that….

    One could also incorporate this idea into an online world, Kinna like the World of Warcraft thing.. real time action?

    Everyone gets something different out of their Sim.. Many want to live in it, accomidate that and you will have a best seller.

  26. Anonymous says:

    I think that tha main concern is not which theater

    one person could prefer, but which environment could

    spread more interest aroud. This means that the greatest possible number of nations should be

    involved.

    I don’t know how much big cold be the area (if not

    the whole world), but Europe, from Spain to Russia,

    including North Africa, from 1935 to 1945 could

    allow the bigger chance of situations.

    Pacific could also be interesting, but leaves out

    all the European countries (and aircraft…)

    Other wars, like Korea, get involved only a very

    limited number of nations and so less people

    interested.

    Remember, more people mean more new planes, new mods

    and new stuff in general…

  27. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been waiting for news of a Combat Sim based on the FSX engine. There is obviously great interest based on the response. I thought FSX3 was great and I finished it twice and wanted more. The time periods for the standard conflicts of history are all over done.

    After a lot of thought, post-Vietnam (73-83) would be the most exciting with maybe having to save Korea once again(fictional of course). This would introduce new types, capabilities and excitement. (F14+Pheonix, F-111, F-15, F-16, A-4,6,7, F-5E and F-4J)

    The level of detail in CFS3 was good, but the this can be stepped up to the next level(General mode) with mission building where you decide where and what to commit with full naval(carrier) support.  

    The FSX 10.5 engine should be used because it is so capable and visually appealing. I can’t stress enough the addition of multicore and SLI support. But I am sure that is being handled.

    As for realism, afterburners, smokey engines, startup procedures and realistic takeoff landings. As important is configurable stores management that affect landing/takeoff/fuel burn/maneuverability would be great and doable.

  28. Anonymous says:

    My personal preference for a combat period is the interwar 1920-1939 period, for the variety of aircraft involved, from WW1 crates to (most) of the WW2 "standards".  A prime showcase would be the Sino-Japanese conflict and especially, the Spanish Civil War.  In both, many different airplanes from many countries were used – biplanes to monoplanes, and adapted civil aircraft.

    On the other hand, I’ve always believe that the FS/CFS series should be treated as an artist’s canvas, or "toy box".  Give us the basic building blocks, and let us create the models, missions, scenery, etc.

    FS should *not* become a military sim.  There would be useful military components that would enhance Flight SImulator (aerial flight refuelling, etc), but as far as "weapons", I believe that "flour bombing" should be the extent (with effects, etc., this can be extended to practice bombing).

    Third party developers – both freeware and payware – have the patience and enthusiasm to build scenery, models, and missions/campaigns.

    I’d rather see a good base, and, if at all possible, enhanced flight dynamics, mixed engine types (allowing different combinations jet/rocket, piston/jet) as well as an increased limit of the number of engines to at least 12 for both the CFSx/FSn.

    COnsideration should defnitiely be given to allowing aircraft models and scenery to be easily ported between FSn and CFSn.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Hi,

    every aspect of the new solution should follow your strategic vision to "build a platform for aviation simmers". This means every required building block should be considered as an invest in future combat and non-combat experiences…

    I think, you should NOT intend to develop a new product but an add-on to your own flight simulator infrastructure.

    * Enrich the current mission builder to a powerfull and end user compatible tool. (The FSX implementation is rather a disappointment)

    * Create a fleet & logistics management utility to be able to manage & operate a squadron, complete air force or international airline.

    * Create a campaign & career manager to be able to build longlasting experiences as fighter veteran, general, senior captain or airline CEO.

    Afterwards, build your add-on with some motivating missions, storyline and two or three 30h+ campaigns…

    This will attract new simmers, will have a huge benefit to FS Serie (Wow, look at the new flight planner, now we can really schedule a flight!) and give a boost to the community. In the end, every gaming studio with intensions has to say, well we better use that infrastructure and build on top, no way to compete against it.

    Regards,

    Heiko

  30. Anonymous says:

    Silver Fox, you’ve got a lot of great points regarding the cold war period. We’ve talked about many of them as well. That whole nuclear thing is a tough one though. There are a lot of fantasitc aircraft that were operational specifically to deliver nukes and nothing else (such as the B-58 and the Mirage IV). Of course if we were to shy away from such aircraft and missions for that reason, that wouldn’t preclude a third party from doing it…

    Hypothetically speaking, it wouldn’t really be possible for us to go backward to a "9.5" and build from there. Mindshare and technology are in FSX right now.

  31. Anonymous says:

    You have a point there Te Vigo!!

  32. Anonymous says:

    I would like to see the Vietnam Era.

    Flying the F4’s and the F105’s into Hanoi, with sam’s all over the place.

    Also there would be a variation because you can still dogfight the mig’s with guns, and in a later stage of the campaign, AIM 9’s would be available.

    Capaigns like A-A or A-G, starting from land or carriers.

    Also the cold war, like stated above is an interesting peroid for a combat sim.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I’d like to see the Cold War period myself… it has a very large advantage, but it has problems.

    The Cold War period gives us the base to explore almost any period we want as designers and gamers. Pure "gunfighters" like the F-8 Crusader still exist, but they are mixed with primitive guided weapons employed by types such as the F-4 Phantom. Because of the primitive nature of the "advanced" technologies there is room to use a rather simplified model for them. Their very existence means that we can expand the experience with some degree of success to almost any era we want.

    The "Problem" comes in with certain types and the armament load. No air defence mission flown by the F-101 or F-106 would be very accurate without the AIR-2 Genie rocket… the nuclear tipped AIR-2 Genie. Uncorking the nuclear genie (pun intended) in a "game" is somewhat unpalatable… but can be worked around. Design the game so that some areas are inhibited from nuclear release, employment of any weapon above a certain damage threshold in those areas causes a mission/campaign failure. Make it a hard, unforgiving failure… the campaign is wiped clean, no graphics "splash screen" and the game exits to desktop unceremoniously. You failed…period. That still allows for tactical use against a CBG or bomber stream in the high arctic, but strategic use is a no go.

    I fully agree with Felix that we mostly want the "toybox". Limit what campaign/missions go into it to make it saleable, but give us the tools to build it further.

    I would go so far as to say that instead of building on the next version of FS, build it on the last. What I mean is… If we were to see a CFS4 right now we would normally see it fit in as F10.5. Don’t do that, make it FS9.5 instead. That opens the complete vista of FS9 planes and scenery with only minor mods required. If not that then make it fully complementary, it’s just a "Combat Patch" to the base FS version.

  34. Anonymous says:

    I would dare say that the "Mission Building Post" applies just as well to CFSn…  There will always be a hardcore simmer, the gamer and the "I don’t have too much time to spend" player.

    AoP was a game, (for me), as is CFS3.  CFS2 is still my offline combat sim of choice – I can fly a few fights, and still have a lot of models/scenery from which to choose.  CFS3, well, there’s a limited choice (from what I’ve ben able to see).

    I favor the Mission + toolbox approach – Give CFSn a good dose of missions/campaigns for the gamer/casual user, while providing the templates for the hardcore simmer…

  35. Anonymous says:

    Well, my favorite is still WWII in the pacific theater, but I also know that has been kinda over done too.

    I wouldn’t mind a Korea era sim.

    But let me ask this, would it be feasible to pick an era( any era )but make the sim modible for 3rd party folks to make it any era they wanted??

    Put working carriers in, be able to use guided missles, jets, helicopters,etc………

    If the game engine can support it, the folks will build for it, I could almost promise that.

    If you wanted to put the "command" part of it in there, I’m sure folks would like that to.

    Like was said in the move "If you build it, they will come" and I bet the addons would start pouring out of the wood work for it.

    It’s been a big fantasy of mine to see the best of CFS2, CFS3 and FS9 ( sorry, can’t get FSX to run very good on my system yet ) combined to make a new combat sim.

    Can only hope it happens on day!

  36. Anonymous says:

    I think a world based sim would be

    the way to go the Scenery hasnt changed that much

    over the years and im sure there are a few scenery people who could change them later.

    or even scenery with different dates

    Korea 1950,s the pacific  WW2 etc.

    I agree with Gregory P also

    A good Mossie would be a must,

    H

  37. Anonymous says:

    "Hey Gramps, I would think that depending on the era chosen and the systems associated with that era that third parties could then go to town on whatever era they want. One of the biggest costs with era specific stuff is the period scenery… Of course once it’s built then it can easily expand from there with planes, ships, missions, etc." -PC12

    Modularising each era sounds to be a good thought.

    MS creating the basic sandpit and in working with 3rd party developers putting the toys in the pit for a "simultaneaous" release of each era module. ie sharing the costs, R+D plus debugging along the way, with Quality Control being at the forefront.

  38. Anonymous says:

    I’m still waiting for the mother of all Flight Sims…

    A sim where I could fly over realistic landcapes FS2004 like (with UTlike accuracy…and a good mesh) with the extra shooting…

    A sim where I could fly either in the WWI, WWII, Indochina, Korea or Nam.

    (with different set of textures for villages, towns, air bases depending on the time frame… We will soon have enough disk space… do not worry!)

    Not very interested in sophisticated radar combat a la Falcon 4, well I have Falcon 4 and I like it but one sim of this kind is enough for me… (I never found the TIME to get really into Lock-On).

    As far as radar combat is concerned I think it should not be more complex than that provided by Strike Fighters and to me it is already good and thrilling enough…

    The possibility to plan and carry out missions with the navigationnal tools available depending on the time frame FS taught me how to navigate and I like it… 😉

    The possibility to flight helicopters (SAR missions for example), to carry out Bombing raids (let me find my way to Ploesti…) and the possibility to man the Bombers’guns…Oh I forgot to say that i would like to hunt submarines and sink boats… Carrier operations a must… what else???

    Lots of different ordnance then…

    Open to developpers (unlike the IL2 series…) and an easy intuitive mission builder…

    Flight models should be good too, at least in a "difficult" mode!

    A big thing with lots of possibilities I’m not asking too much I know we already have almost everything within easy reach…

    Sounds like a letter to Father Christmas I know…!

  39. Anonymous says:

    (Now, to address YOUR issues…)

    I have gotten a lot of e-mail speculating that my time spent at the RAF base recently was for a pending CFS title. I wish I could say you are right, but you are not. However, I am very confident that the CFS franchise will come back sometime

    (In MY lifetime?)

    and many of the "platform building" enhancements we have made and are continuing to make on the FS engine (are all steps that will make that possible. Here are a few things for you to think about.

    First of all, I would love to hear what you would like to see in a combat flight sim. If the first words out of your mouth are "nukes" or "mushroom cloud," then save your breath. I don’t ever see that happening, it’s just too politically charged and in my opinion is in bad taste. What I am interested in are things like:

    What era is most interesting to you and why? I break the eras up as WWI, Between the Wars (i.e. 1919-1937), WWII (WWII/PTO), Korea, Cold War, Vietnam, and Modern.

    (KOREA/Carrier Ops)

    Of course there is the answer of

    "all of the above" which might also carry with it severe compromises in systems development for the "FS Platform" (in other words too much stuff for one development cycle).

    I have my personal favorites, but I won’t tell you what they are. If we decide to do CFS again, we will look at the popularity of an era and type of flying/fighting, what competitive products are out or on the horizon, whether it has mass market appeal (i.e. can non-experts play and enjoy the game/sim)?

    (It is a SIMULATION, …Let’em fly FX or trainers until they ARE expert enough)

    whether the aircraft and scenarios are exciting and engaging (or are their extended periods of boredom?),etc.

    (It’s a Simulation, …Pilot workload is never boring, …if your life depends on it)

    In addition, are there fictional scenarios that can be leveraged to create new experiences?

    (It’s a SIMULATION, …Real, thank you)

    If you really think about these factors, some of the eras make more sense than others.

    What is most important, the accuracy and fidelity of the simulation, or the fun and excitement of the game?

    (It’s a SIMULATION, …Real, thank you)

    I think I know what your answer would be if you’re reading this blog, but it’s worth asking anyway. As a general rule of thumb in game design (and even in sim design)

    (It’s a SIMULATION, …Real, thank you)

    , you don’t force the user/player to do boring, repetitive, or painful tasks, otherwise it turns into work instead of play

    (It’s a Simulation, …Pilot workload is never boring, …if your life depends on it)

    ,. Of course many of you find fun and challenge in an exactly re-created simulation of what a real combat pilot does even it it means flying CAP for four hours without a single engagement.

    (It’s a SIMULATION, …Real, thank you)

    Most people don’t fall into this category and want to be engaged and entertained (even within a sim)

    (Then make a crappy, X-Box “game” for’em, …don’t screw-up the SIMULATION w/ training wheels and cheap theatrics)

    WIth the missions in FSX, we wanted to average the mission flight time at 20-30 minutes and not exceed 60 minutes (which we broke a couple of times). This was an attempt to keep the pilot engaged throughout the mission, but it meant picking locations and creating scenarios that facilitated short flights. Other than using quick combat scenarios and "warping," this can be difficult to acheive in combat scenarios (and warping or time compression isn’t possible in multi-player).

    (Perfect.  Throw in a MB like CFS2, …and we’ll do the rest.)

    How important is it to have user-piloted non-combat aircraft in multi-player sessions? Compared to flying a fighter, a fuel tanker or AWACS is pretty boring, but their role is critical in a wartime scenario.

    (How much trouble is it to put it in?  It’s a SIMULATION, …and pilots come in all shapes/sizes/aircraft.  Look at the array of add-on AC for CFS2.)

    Airships are painfully slow too, and easy prey for a fighter. Of course AI can always be employed to fly these roles, but AI will never be as smart and interesting as real people. Mixing AI and real users on-line can be troublesome, especially when the AI does something stupid (like crash into a user or not come to the rescue when needed…).

    What about non-flying duties? Should a user be able to command an aircraft carrier or destroyer in the sim, drive a tank or operate anti-aircraft guns?  What about spot lights during a night bombing attack? Or for that matter, be able to walk around outside of the aircraft and operate anything they want? This is probably a leading question and frankly in a high fidelity simulation this would be hard to pull off as we would need to simulate so many different things to do it well. It’s easier to do in something like Battlefield 1942 where non-sim game mechanics are acceptable.

    (To put an edge on it, …keep it in the AC.  I would like to command a 40mm gun tub on a destroyer/carrier, …but not at the expense of manning a top turret of a B-25/TBF, …or having AI man it while I’m flying it.)

    What about the big picture aspect of combat where manufacturing factories, aircraft/vehicle maintenance, troup strengths, supply routes, shipping, fuel, ammo, parts, medicine, and food supplies are critical aspects of the experience and disruption of these factors play into the progress of the experience?

    (A “Jane’s WWII” style campaign engine would be fantastic.  Sink a ship, …and it’s not there the next mission.  Same w/ AA batteries at airfields, or AC at a station,…Too much to ask for, …but I will, anyway)

    What about these factors in the context of multi-player sessions?

    (absolutely)

    What if we just concentrated on the platform and built realistic and fun missions using high fidelity aircraft and such with great multiplayer support, but didn’t build a detailed campaign or era specific scenery for the entire world like you might expect from a traditional game? Would third party developers and end users building the additional content to fill out the world work for us? I’m not sure if such a product would sell well enough to build it that way. In other words would a user pick a product like that up off the shelf and buy it over the latest game that has all of that stuff right out of the box? Such a strategy might allow us to build more infrastructure and support higher fidelity as we wouldn’t have the costs associated with the rest of the presentation… Maybe if third parties could do simultaneous add-on releases… of course that hasn’t ever happened before.

    (WWII/PTO, …then ADD the rest of the world)

    We’ve noticed how popular military aircraft from multiple eras are within FS and you can’t even shoot or drop bombs. If we were to build a new CFS using the FSX platform (or some future version fo FS) then we would likely do something similar to how CFS2 aircraft could be used in FS (and the other way around too). How do you think the community would deal with functional combat aircraft operating in FS (if we allowed them to be functional unlike CFS2/FS)? For those concerned about that possibility, do you think a UI option which disallowed it in your experience or on a given multiplayer server would address the concern?

    Now I must remind you that we aren’t working on CFS and there are no plans to do so right now

    (Why not? …M$ too busy making “grand theft auto,” “Scarface,” or some other profitable, socially repugnant, morally reprehensible X-Box crap.  Why can’t M$ make something really good, …and find a way to fund it.  Team w/ Smithsonian, National Aviation Hall of Fame, Boeing/Grumman/Mitsubishi, …make it a historic commemorative, …LOSE money on it and write it off your corporate taxes.  I would pay $500.00 in a heart-beat for a military trainer quality WWII/PTO SIMULATOR that was complete, correct and accurate out of the box)

    I have obviously been thinking about it a lot and will continue to do so, but it doesn’t matter if we never get the go ahead form those that pay the bills :). I’m not dropping a teaser or implying anything and everything here should be taken casually. I am putting this out to the community because I am interested in what you think. Feel free to send me e-mail just don’t expect a direct response. If you respond via comments to this blog post I’ll try to stay on top of it and respond where I can.

    (Thanks (for CFS2) and Regards,

    Blue Devil)

  40. Anonymous says:

    Hey P-12

    While I appreciate the lure, …I am much more interested in flying CFS2.

    For whatever reason, …MS produced, …and then pulled CFS4, …and made, …lets count, …zero(0.0) friends.

    Thanks to the open architecture of CFS2, …and from what I understand CFS3, …and some really talented PFC’s out there, …improvements have been made.

    It is my understanding and contention that MS/ACES already has far more information than that required to produce a fantastic, next generation Pacific WWII combat simulation.

    If not, …gregoryp/gramps do a good job of hitting the high points.

    The fish that hits this lure is:

    You have it…

    We want it…

    You make it…

    We’ll buy it, …from whoever produces it first.

    Thank You.

    Now, excuse me, …I have incoming bogies, …and my carrier is turning into the wind…

    Ps.  A really nice near future F-18/Carrier Ops. Sim off Korea, …(ah, come on now, …ya know it’s going ta happen), …would be very well received as well.

  41. Anonymous says:

    making the eras modular would keep the eras puristic as well, at least on the armament side of things.

    ie there wouldn’t be flyers in WWII/ Korea/ Vietnam, using modern day sparrows.

  42. Anonymous says:

    I’ve thought about this a lot and I really think a re-do of CFS2 with a modern engine, that is, the WWII Pacific Theater with the following capabilities:

    Air Ops: Carrier ops, land based and non-combat support. Flying between islands and taking your chances against the dreaded Zero

    Land Ops: Tanks, AA, jeeps, trucks, artillery, etc. all playable.

    Warship ops: AA, shore and ship to ship bombardment

    That would be the "Base" sim package. With developers being able to addon other conflicts including modern warfare in addon theaters of operation.

    Having the capability to play aircraft, ships, boats, tanks, trucks etc. would create a sim with staying power that would last for years. Just make it playable  for the majority of people at the time of release to lure and maintain the audience base.

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