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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cliffs of Dover release issues

Cliffs of Dover release issues
Looking back:
Players angry
Developers apologised
Multiple technical issues plagued release

The long awaited release of Cliffs of Dover, the Battle of Britain sim from the developers of the IL2 series, hit turbulence from day one of the launch in Russia.

Teething problems with new sim titles are nothing new - witness the trouble plagued launches of the original IL2, or Lock-On, or Battle of Britain II. Sim developers have a dangerous combination of high ambitions and low resources, PC based sims have to function on a myriad of systems with untold variations of processor, memory and peripherals and it is usually the paying sim public which does the real beta-testing.
But hopes were high for CoD and disappointment was huge when players across Russia who were the first to download the sim started posting their experiences. Among the issues immediately reported were:
  • Games crashing and freezing
  • Disappearing props
  • Bullet strikes appearing in the wake of the aircraft, instead of on the airframe
  • Aircraft with missing wings flying onward unaffected
  • Very low frame rates leading to stuttering and game pauses, even when only one or two aircraft were featured on screen, over water
  • Landscape objects popping up rather than appearing smoothly on the horizon
  • Sound effects which appear synthesised rather than sampled
Misinformation was rife, but among the most balanced and objective reviewers posting on the web was SimHQ member (appropriately named) 'Sim'. He started posting beautiful screen shots as soon as he downloaded the game. 

But his first gameplay reports were disheartening, "At the moment, this game is unplayable without a patch. It doesn't matter if you have super-computer because it will lag even on lowest settings. The game runs in 32 bit mode only, runs only on single core CPU and uses about 1gig of ram in quick mission over sea with one other plane...There are bugs - easily visible that should not have been at this stage of a game. Frame rate oddly enough shows 30-40 fps using in game counter. But my eyes sees 10 fps, if that. Patch is needed. And fast."

After some time fine tuning the game settings he reported, "In QMG (Ed: quick mission generator), there is an option with clear, cloudy and between those two. After flying through cloud while chasing Ju87, I picked up some light rime ice on cockpit. Kind of neat.

Right now I turned down some settings (tres/roads/houses) and playing over water. There is still some jerkiness going on, but it's relatively playable

So what type of PC is Sim using? If you were hoping he is using a low end system, you are about to be disappointed. He reported his specs as:
Intel Core i7 920
Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD3R
6GB DDR3 1333
GeForce GTX470
WD Caviar 1TB SATA
Samsung UN55C8000 55-Inch 1080p LCD/LED HD/3DTV
Win7 64 Ult. 

Questioning on the forum moved to dogfighting. Developers had reported that the largest number of planes possible in the air at one time at the moment was 50. How did the game respond when multiple aircraft were dogfighting?

Sim generated a quick mission with 30 Blenheim IV, 12 Spit vs 8 109 and 8 110. FPS in external views varied from 5 fps to 29 fps. But the in cockpit fps was 1.

Yes folks, ONE frame per second.

What is driving these abysmal frame rates?

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