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Sunday, February 10, 2013

An hour in War Thunder

I had an hour to spare so I thought I would fire up War Thunder and see what the latest experience in the closed beta was like. It had been several weeks since I'd visited.

Tick tock goes the clock

30 minutes of my hour disappeared while the game did an update. That's the price of only visiting the beta every couple of weeks.

FRB for me

I haven't spent any time grinding to earn myself a decent aircraft, nor do I plan to buy one or more until it leaves beta, so I'm stuck with crap-planes. For number of players, the arcade arena is the place to be, because it can be played with mouse and keyboard, and it is the best place to go if you want to grind your way to a decent aircraft.

Historical battles aren't (aircraft carriers in the British Channel anyone?) so I went to the Full Real Battles arena where controls and views are limited and FMs should be more realistic.

Unfortunately, the only map open was USA vs Germany in the Ardennes, and the only aircraft on the US side was the Boeing P26 'Peashooter'. Which, by the way, was never seen at the Ardennes, serving mainly in Asia. That sort of thing irritates me, but I kept going and logged in.

Tick tock goes the clock

 The loading screen shows the average waiting time for you to join a battle. It showed 2 mins 40, I ended up waiting nearly 5 minutes. It showed 8 players in the queue, but that was also a disappointment - when I got in there, there was only one other player on the US side (and he promply quit) and two players on the German side, all the other aircraft were AI.

Combat! Or, not....

Getting airborne in the Boeing is a breeze. Just slam the throttle full forward, apply a little right rudder, and you lift off the runway after about 100 feet. Fixed gear, no retracting, no need to trim, I set about looking for action, and dodging the AAA.

I sent out a call to my squadmates (there was one still playing at that point) by radio, but got no answer and he quit soon after. I sent a call to 'all' to see if and where any enemy pilots were lurking, but again, no answer. It was just me, and the bots, apparently.

In two sorties, I never found any aircraft. The AAA is so amazingly accurate and dense that it shoots down any AI or allied aircraft in no time at all, and both battles were over within about ten minutes after all allied and enemy aircraft had been shot down by AAA, including myself. I verified this by going into spectator mode for a third sortie.

Death by flak...what fun.

The last AI aircraft goes down to flak, and the battle is over.

By this time, my hour was up. I'd actually flown for about 20 minutes, had no enemy contact whether human or AI and been shot down by flak twice.

I guess I'll visit War Thunder again in another month...but I'm not entirely sure why I would!

'Team Fusion': a new Cliffs of Dover mod team

A group of collaborators formed through the ATAG online community has been pulled together to work on updating the abandoned Cliffs of Dover game.

The group comprises "many people from different groups, squads, and individual talents to make up a community of modders. A very small percentage of the team is from the ATAG squad."

They are modding the game without access to the source code, and with no help from 1C, but seem to be making significant progress, with a focus on flight modelling and some smaller graphical tweaks:

- high altitude flight, enabling historically accurate max altitudes and performance for key aircraft.

Britain from +20,000 feet! Something you can't do in the current Cliffs of Dover.

- new aircraft variants, such as the Bf109E4n

- enhanced graphical effects,  such as contrails, autumn landscape textures and improved framerates for special effects such as clouds and smoke

Examples of contrails in the mod. Personally I think they are totally overdone at the moment, but better than nothing... see more on Vimeo here: 

Autumn and winter landscape tiles.

The team's ability to mod the landscape opens the game up for mission builders to build new battlefronts using the same planesets, such as the push into Europe by the RAF in 1941, Operation Barbarossa 1941, and even the Afrika front.


Currently release is scheduled for late Feb, early March.