Funded! This project was successfully funded on October 5, 2013.

Update #34

Friday April 11, 2014 Development Update – The Two Messerschmitts

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Hello folks,

Ooh, how the time flies, another Friday already? My job is the least predictable of all in the project it seems. I tend to have a huge variety of tasks in my lap, all with five alarm bells ringing, and with no one to give them to. I’ve spent all week doing emergency translations and documents. Doing that while also trying to be a single father to two young kids means that there’s literally no time for anything, especially sleep. 

When Friday comes around, Friday morning my time, Friday evening Moscow time, that means a very sudden silence. The kids go to their mother, and there’s no urgent work that has to be completed by tonight – Moscow’s off until Sunday night my time. 

Then it’s time for me to relax, sit back, and write a Friday update – and after that, most incredible of all, I can finally go and catch up on some z’s. 

Work-wise, we’re moving ahead full speed getting the 109 to a stable alpha stage. Tasks are getting smaller, while the results are becoming a lot more noticeable. We’ve spent all week on the cockpit, on animating the gauges (about a third of all objects now move properly), recording new sounds for Dora and Kurfurst, completing an authentic electrical system, writing out the entire set of keybord shortcuts for the K-4 mostly based on the Mustang. Runway take-offs are finally nice and straight. 

The new render is still a bit wacky, and that’s completely outside our control, ED guys are putting crazy hours into it as well. 

So, the best we can show on screenshots is a couple of interior shots with needles properly pointing at things other than zeroes. 

Also, here’s where we are with the Me.262 external. Hope you guys have a great weekend!


Update #33

Friday April 4, 2014 Development Update - The 109 is Fun!

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Evening folks, The 109 is a lot more mature.

Game development is always a funny process. For the longest time, everything is in pieces, really moving slowly, and you have no game, just the ingredients. Then you get to the stage where you put things together, and that’s where you begin to encounter various annoying and unexpected obstacles, and nothing seems to move forwards, and sometimes it even seems like you’re moving backwards, like the light at the end of the tunnel only seems to get dimmer.

And then, suddenly, wham! Things just begin to work, and all of a sudden, in a very short time, you have something tangible, something that actually feels solid.

You’re nowhere near the finished product yet, but at least you have a product and not a bunch of disjointed parts.

With the 109, we still have ways to go. Most animations are not working yet, especially cockpit animations. If it seems trivial, here’s a few brief excerpts from our cockpit animation spec.  

This all takes time to spec out, to code, and especially to test.

And there’s also some screenshots in our closed Backers Forum.

If you’re one of the very few remaining people affected by access issues to the beta version of our Backer Section, please bear with us! We did uncover some unexpected bugs in the system which do unfortunately affect a few backers, and we’re working on them as fast as we can. Some just ended up needed more work than we hoped.

Hope you have a great weekend!


Update #32

The Backer Rewards Section is Finally Here – in Beta

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Well, it took way, way more blood and guts than anyone could ever imagine, but we finally have it.

If you’re a project backer, you can manage your rewards here: 

http://www.digitalcombatsimulator.com/en/personal/backer/ 

We also have a closed Backers forum here: 

http://forums.eagle.ru/forumdisplay.php?f=326 

This is currently in beta – feel free to play around with this as much as you like. 

Please note that this only shows the rewards from the rewards matrix. 

Anticipated problems

  • Log-in and email mix-ups;
  • Wrong reward selection;
  • Wrong tier selection;
  • Bad logic when selecting eclectic reward combinations.

Missing features: 

  • Not currently showing Completed Rewards for those of you who have already received your product keys;
  • Not showing non-matrix rewards for higher tier backers, such as custom aircraft paintschemes. 

Here’s how this works. 

Whether you backed on kickstarter or via paypal, you should be able to use this system. 

Please note that the DCS site requires two separate logins, one for the site, and the other for the forums. 

The Backer section is linked to the email address you used for your pledge. 

  • If you already have a digitalcombatsimulator.com account linked to that email, you should be able to log in and immediately use the Backer Rewards page. 
  • If you do not have a digitalcombatsimulator.com account linked to that email, please create one. It will give you access to all features on the site, including the Backer Rewards page. 
  • If you already have a digitalcombatsimulator.com account linked to a different email address, unfortunately we do not have an automated way to deal with that. Please email dcswwii@eagle.ru from the email address currently on your DCS profile (not the kickstarter backer email address) and let us know which email address you used to back the project. We’ll be changing the backer email address to your DCS account email address (not the other way around). 

Same goes for the forums. 

  • If you already have a forums.eagle.ru account, and it uses the same email you used to back the project, you should be able to log in and get access to the backer forum automatically. 
  • If you do not have a forums.eagle.ru account, create one with the same email you used to back the project, and you should get access to the backer forum. 
  • If you already have a forums.eagle.ru account, but it uses a different email address than the one you used to back the project, unfortunately we do not have an automated way to deal with that. Please email dcswwii@eagle.ru from the email address currently on your forum profile (not the kickstarter backer email address) and let us know which email address you used to back the project. We’ll be changing the backer email address to your forum account email address (not the other way around). 

Now, if you are using one email for the digitalcombatsimulator.com account and a different email for forums.eagle.ru, then unfortunately we won’t be able to link them. You’ll have to create a new account with a matching email address in one place or the other. 

We'll be adding the missing features in the next couple of days. Hopefully no serious issues will be found in beta, in which case we'll be going live ASAP.

For any issues, please post in the Backer Forum, or email dcswwii@eagle.ru.


Update #31

No Guts – No Glory

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Well folks,

Frustrating couple of weeks. 

The entire office spent all of last week trying to figure out what was up with the 109. Kind of a standard thing with all DCS planes when they suddenly begin doing something absolutely unexpected.

Our 109 flight model started as a copy of the P-51, and then we began slowly replacing all systems and all data with Messerschmitt stuff. Well, after another round of replacements something somewhere happened with something that made the 109 decide to crabwalk through the sky rather than fly straight like the Mustang. Check each new system. Nothing. Replace each P-51 system with each new 109 system individually. Nothing. Replace all together in conjunction – screech!

This is the kind of stuff we really can’t afford to be spending so much time on at this stage of the project, especially as it really looked to everyone that we really put more than enough time for the unexpected into the project in the first place. Still, the 109 still doesn’t want to fly right, and it’s not the question of our skills or experience. Like I said, the entire office, including all ED veterans, spent this whole time trying to figure it out alongside our programmers. If anything, their experience had a slightly calming effect. We want to pull our hair out, while they chuckle and say “yup, happens every time.”

To give you a better idea of the kind of work that goes into all of this, here’s some details of the P-47.

To make matters worse, the P-47 is documented so much worse than the P-51, and, surprisingly, even worse than the Bf 109. For example, check the tail gear shots above. This was all done from photos. 

The best blueprint we have is this:

Obviously, not nearly enough data to fully model the mechanism. And with all parts that need to move in complex animations, making sure everything fits and doesn’t fall apart or clip through when animating, well, let’s just say that lately the P-47 modeler has had very little joy in his life.


Update #30

Friday March 07, 2014 Development Update – We're Getting THere

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These regular updates are really hard to do when you’re in pre-alpha. If there’s one thing I learned during this project, it’s that there really was a very good reason for the industry standard to announce and market projects after they’re ready and playable.

I yearn for the days of yore when I could just boot up a game, set up a quick scenario, snap a bunch of action screenshots, and be done with a Friday update in an hour. 

Actually, I yearn for the day of even yore-er yore. Seems like it was just yesterday when I could say, hey, I’d like to fly plane X. And a month or so later I’d be flying it. It’s only been, what, 10 years since that was the case. Of course, there’s no going back to that. Even the simplest flying games of today probably can’t do an airplane in a month. I myself can barely stand to look, much less to fly, airplanes from 10 years ago. But I am still a bit sad about all the work that goes into the extra quality. If you were to draw a graph on work hours vs simulation quality, the line grows exponentially. 

And while you’re here, close but not quite at the self-imposed 100%, progress is very hard to show. 

First of all, here’s where we are with the backer rewards section. We really tried to have it operational last Friday, but internal testing showed that once again we had a logical flaw for larger reward tiers with more than one copy of a stock plane selected. Had to drastically redo the flyable selection this week. Lost all the prettiness and ended up with a painfully simple design, but at least it works. 

I guess the page is ready for the world, we just have one final task: to merge the kickstarter and paypal database of backers with the DCS site member list, the hardest part of which is dealing with accounts for backers that do not currently have a digitalcombatsimulator.com user profile. 

On the aircraft front, we finally do have a delay on one aircraft model, the P-47 external. We had a long unpleasant saga with trying to get high-quality original blueprints for it last summer. That took longer than anticipated, and what we got was not as thorough as we needed. Once we finally got into animating all the bits and pieces of the aircraft, we’ve realized that our data was not good enough, and that some parts would go out of alignment when moved. We had to go chasing pixels, and start fitting parts back together, animating, measuring, refitting, and trying again. This, again, goes back to my earlier point about standards. In an older game, we’d never care that an aileron slightly clips through the wing when fully deflected. We wouldn’t care that a gear strut does a physically impossible warp a few inches to the side in order to move to the down and locked position. And so with DCS, we have to go and make sure every movement is absolutely perfect, spending more time on these details than on the entire model in an older project. 

The 109, our flagship, the pinnacle of our hopes and desires, is still a bit shiny everywhere. Not nearly as bad as two weeks ago, but it still fluctuates. Graphics programmers are slowly but surely moving DCS over to DX11, and it’s a process. 

The choice for me is extremely painful - show nothing, or show something that does not look great. 

Shiny!
Shiny!
From switch to shining switch
From switch to shining switch

The cockpit programming is complete. All the gauges and switches and systems are working, except, annoyingly from the point of a Friday update, you cannot see it in the cockpit yet. We can see it all in debug mode. However DCS cockpits are done in a peculiar complex way, different from what we’re used to from before, and a programmer cannot simply tell a certain needle to rotate a certain number of degrees. As it is during most of the process, the cockpit mesh is a monolith. In our previous projects, we would simply make each moving part a separate object with a pivot, and the programmer would move that object about that pivot when needed. In DCS, we have to do a lot more work on cockpit animations, doing them manually, and we’re still waiting for them to be complete. 

In the meantime, all the gauges gauge, and the switches operate all the systems, the radio talks, the AFN2 guides you to airfields (the only objects at the moment you can guide to), everything works, and this would have been a great time to make a cockpit procedures video, except you can only see all of that happening in debug readouts and not in the cockpit 3D model. 

So, since I’ve made too many overly optimistic predictions in the past, I won’t this time. I will only say that it’s very frustrating for me to write these kind of updates, that I really want to have a fully functional plane I can take for a spin and screenshot away, and that we really are tantalizingly close.


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