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Sunday, August 26, 2012

War Thunder: first impressions

I have signed up for the open beta version of 'War Thunder' which is accompanied by a Non Disclosure Agreement supposedly preventing me from talking about the features of the game, or posting any screenshots or videos.

So I won't.


Instead I will tell you what the game reminds me of, and you can draw your own conclusions.

The Secret World: 'Closed Betas' and MMOs

The concept of using a 'closed beta' in which literally hundreds of thousands are 'invited' to beta test, and also invited to pay for the privelege, is nothing new. The MMO Secret World (TSW) was a good example. Invite the gamers in, let them play with limited content for free, and get them to pay small amounts to open the 'beta' content up so they can get a sneak preview.

But maybe not the greatest business model to follow (are you listening, Gaijin?) because although TSW  over 1.3 million beta-testers, only 200 thousand copies were eventually sold, there have been staff layoffs and the next major content update has been delayed.

'Closed beta testing' in MMOs is apparently here to stay though. Why launch straight to market when you can get thousands of punters to pay to play a game that still has last minute bugs to iron out? In the meanwhile you can get valuable information about what players like and don't, what they are willing to pay for, or not, and then when you go Gold, you can crank up the price and start raking in the cash...

Or, not.

Wings of Prey

This should come as no surprise, because it is the same devs.

What I liked about Wings of Prey: lush graphics, no drop in FPS no matter how many aircraft or explosions or special effects were on the screen, beautiful maps. Sound of engines, guns and flak is great.

What I didn't like about Wings of Prey: the game is made to be played in arcade mode, using a HUD, or in external 'over the shoulder' shooting mode with aiming assist. It has a 'realism' mode but the cockpits are not historically accurate, nor clickable, and the flight models are very basic. It feels like the flight models for fighters are more or less just variations on the same (except for the P51 which spins uncontrollably) and the bombers are ridiculously over modelled, such that you can dogfight in a Stuka. I also didn't like the damage effects, which are pure arcade, or the damage model, where the slightest hit causes wings and tails to fall off or aircraft to explode.

Crimson Skies

This is an older title, but one of the first to get online dogfighting right, make it easy to join and play, and with good frame rates, and limited cheating.

What I liked about Crimson skies was that it was pure fun. No real attempt to be too purist about the flight sim genre, just get in a plane and shoot shit down or blow shit up! There were campaigns, of the 'go here, do that, in the right order, and if you don't get it right, do it again until you do' variety. You could upgrade your aircraft by scoring points in the campaign, and buying new aircraft.

What I didn't like was that it was pure fun. Which meant it had a limited life, and attracted only those to the servers who were interested in a quick time, not a good time. Kind of like fast food for plane junkies. And it had essentially only two flight models (overpowered and underpowered) and two weapons packages (pea shooters or MOFO laser cannons).

Finally, World of Tanks

I spent nearly 300USD on this game before I was done. I learned very quickly that the 'free to play' concept for starter players was useless, and that if I wanted to move up through the tiers, and get the better tanks, and gold ammo, I would just have to buy them. So I did. I ended climbing up the Russian Heavy Tanks tech tree, and found my ultimate killing machine, the IS-4. Faster, agile and heavier than an armoured fortress, I was nearly invincible. I teamed up with other like minded, nearly invincible buddies. Then I realised, it was no fun being nearly invincible, because I had done all there was to do in World of Tanks, and so had most other players. The number of players on servers steadily dropped away, and I lost interest. My bank balance has thanked me ever since.

So there you have it. Absolutely nothing in this article about War Thunder. But if you have read this far, then as far as I am concerned, you know everything you need to know about War Thunder!

Update: apparently someone isn't concerned about the non disclosure agreement. See another preview here:

Follow the beta testing for BOBII version 2.12

You can join in the fun and help beta testing of a Luftwaffe campaign for version 2.12 of the BoB sim with the greatest AI, FMs and attention to historical detail.

Join in here:

Sturmovik: Battle for Stalingrad

I was sent this link by a site member in mid 2012. It appeared to be pre-conference press release about a new game supposedly from 1C

Originally I thought it was a hoax, especially after it was denounced by 1C spokesperson BlackSix. But now, with the the December 2012 announcement of almost exactly the same project  (IL2 Battle of Stalingrad), with 777 Studios instead of BUKA, I believe the announcement was pulled at the last minute, and the deal with 777 was made later.

So, remember you read it first here on BoB Gamehub!

BUKA announces Sturmovik: Battle for Stalingrad

Moscow, Russia - At the Igromir 2012 conference this week, the multimedia publisher BUKA announced its plans to release Sturmovik, Battle for Stalingrad, in Russia and the EU.

Sturmovik: Battle for Stalingrad takes place from 1941 to 1943 during the pivotal aerial battle for the skies over the beseiged city of Stalingrad.

Key Features:

  • New aircraft - Incredibly detailed true-to-life modeling of aircraft systems based on thousands of hours of dedicated research. Every single aircraft component can be damaged for realistic and immensely satisfying results.
    -Flyable aircraft – Over twenty famous and highly detailed Russian, German, British and US 'lend-lease' aircraft available, with all crew positions open to players. All flyable aircraft have been painstakingly researched, resulting in incredibly accurate cockpit interiors;

  • -Non-flyable aircraft – 15 additional AI-controlled aircraft are also available, created with the same attention to historical accuracy, for an even more varied and immersive combat environment.

    Aircraft may include:


    Yak 1


  • Immersive game modes:
    -Two exciting historically correct campaigns – The campaigns thrust the player into the middle of the battle. On one side, is the German Luftflotte 4 hitting ground targets with Ju87s, fighting for air superiority over the city, and trying to keep the airbridge open to its beseiged troops. On the other side the Russian Air Force or VVS, initially limited to small daylight or night operations, but increasingly throughout late 1942 and 1943 able to take the offensive in daylight as well.
    - Massively Only Multiplayer: Up to 128 players at a time able to engage in cooperative, head to head, deathmatch, or dynamic campaign contests in which players can fly or crew aircraft, man anti aircraft weapons, drive and crew ground vehicles including tanks, artillery and anti-tank weapons.
    -Interactive training – Comprehensive interactive training for new players – fly a real Luftwaffe trainer plane with a computer controlled instructor through a series of training missions. 
  • Brand new map – The battle will take place on a large area covering Southwest Russia. The huge map will contain thousands of historical cities, towns, roads, airfields, radar stations, ports, and industrial areas – all located exactly where they were in 1942-3.Includes a painstaking recreation of Stalingrad in 1942, with all buildings and locations accurate and destructable.
  • New 3D engine – Latest-gen graphics engine with DX10 and DX11 API support. Huge variety of photorealistic German and Russian ground vehicles, buildings and other environmental elements recreate minute details of the defence of Russia.
  • Customizable difficulty – Dozens of realism options allow newcomers to the franchise to reduce the difficulty and focus on the fun while learning the ropes of being a pilot.
    About BUKA

    In 2011 leading Eastern and Central European publisher 1C Company announced an agreement in which it acquired one of the largest Russian publishing and distribution companies, BUKA. 1C and BUKA are two of the most well known brands in the Russian games and multimedia market. Future cooperation opens new horizons for the strategic development of both companies.

    "BUKA is one of the oldest players on the Russian game market. I always admired the company, its corporate culture, staff, management and operational efficiency," said Boris Nuraliev, Director of 1C Company. "The mutual potential of 1C and BUKA opens new unique opportunities and will help us to achieve success on this challenging and rapidly growing market. It will be an honor for us to develop such a well-known and popular brand."

    "1C is our long-term partner. We have experienced firsthand what 1C’s basic principles are – to be honest to partners, customers and employees," comments Igor Ustinov, Chairman of Board of Directors of BUKA.
    About 1C Company 
    1C Company specializes in distribution, publishing and development of business, entertainment and educational software. Founded in 1991, 1C has become the largest publisher and distributor of computer and video games in Eastern and Central Europe. 1C Company is widely acknowledged as a game developer and has several internal studios. Internal development of 1C includes IL-2 Sturmovik series and Theatre of War series. 1C Company works as a publisher and producer with over 30 independent development studios and has produced over 100 projects for PC and consoles including titles like Rig'n'Roll, Space Rangers, Soldiers: Heroes of World War II, Faces of War, Men of War series, Perimeter, Fantasy Wars, Death to Spies, King's Bounty: The Legend, King's Bounty: Armored Princess and King's Bounty: Crossworlds.

    Q&A with Sturmovik: Battle for Stalingrad project leader, Ilya Yevchenko.

    How is this project related to your earlier work such as IL2 Sturmovik and Cliffs of Dover?
    This is a new project.

    We have heard earlier about another sequel to IL2 Sturmovik, Cliffs of Dover, called Battle for Moscow, is this the same project?
    No, that is a different project which we are also announcing at the expo. With Battle for Stalingrad we are focusing on one of the most famous Battle of the Eastern Front, and which the air war story has never been told.

    What can players look forward to?
    We’re looking at some major improvements to the terrain and water. Also players will be able to join massive online games with a dynamic war flavor.  Also players in this game will be able to drive vehicles such as tanks, aim searchlights, and man the anti aircraft weapons.
    Is the latest in SLI support included?
    We haven’t made changes to our usual SLI and Quad SLI support
    What operating systems are supported? For example Windows 8 
    Windows 8 is not supported at this time, perhaps in future.

  • For more information on 1C please go to the website at