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Thursday, December 19, 2013

A glimpse under the hood: DCS WWII

Nice insight into the development process from Ilya Shevchenko of DCS WWII recently, as he talked us through the process of creating a new cockpit for the Me262 bird which will be featured in their upcoming sim title.

Details matter to this crew!

Well, today's update is a little different in tone. As opposed to showing exciting new things, we're going to try for a much more intimate look at the day to day work that goes into the project.

Let's look at the Me.262 cockpit one more time, one week later.

If you just look at the screenshots below and compare them to last week’s, your first impression might be, what? Where’s the beef?

Well, you have to look closer.

Compared to last week’s, the cockpit is a lot more complete. Most importantly, we now have the fully articulated stick. We now have both complete pedals instead of a single placeholder. The entire cockpit tub is there. There are new large objects on both sides, and smaller objects all around.

Still, you might say, an entire week of worth for that? Are you guys putting in the hours?

Oh yes we are.

First of all, there’s the time needed to ensure the accuracy. We’re not just looking at a blurry photo and trying to kind of sort of make a gizmo that looks like that thingamajig by the pilot’s right knee. We’re going off of original manufacturer’s blueprints and measuring and cross-checking every element. That takes time and that takes skill.

For things that are animated, playing around with the range of motion is also time-consuming. For example, the stick can move around in many different ways, has other moving things attached to it, and so on. We need to play around with all of that too and make sure it’s right.

Finally, everything you see gets mapped during the modeling process. Not a DCS requirement, just this modeler’s individual preference. We have strict texture scale and size requirements. Everything is in 1:1 scale, which adds extra work to texture mapping. So, screenshotting, measuring, and arranging all the objects on the textures like a giant free-form jigsaw puzzle from hell, that’s a lot of additional effort that cannot be accurately shown on screenshots.

And so, this is the day-to-day of DCS WWII development. Slow, steady process that requires patience and dedication to make sure all the details remain as accurate as possible, and no corners are ever cut.

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