A Q&A with Jason Williams on IL-2: Battle of Bodenplatte and so much more

Earlier today the community had a Q&A session with IL-2 Lead Producer Jason Williams. Jason spent three hours answering questions with the community and I have a recording of the whole thing!

Straight to the chase

Cutting straight to it, I have a full recording of the entire system ready for you to listen to. There are a couple of audio glitches that occurred during the session but otherwise its a fairly clear recording of the entire thing.

My notes

I also wrote notes on a lot of questions. I’m going to add to this as I listen to the session (I haven’t transcribed or noted everything just yet so check back soon for the rest). Here is my note summary.

What of the original Rise of Flight content will make its way into Flying Circus?

  • We will be ‘sort of’ moving content into the new Digital Warfare Engine (or the Sturmovik engine), we needed to find a way to do that without breaking the bank
  • Also, don’t want to disrupt the team from working on Bodenplatte
  • Primarily what is coming over are the airplanes
  • Picked some of our best ones for this first product, essentially a planeset from the spring/summer of 1918
  • Is using a development partner, agreed to be an outfit to refurb and improve the airplanes
    • Improve mesh, textures, look for problems on doing the import
    • Redo skins and templates
    • Some looks familiar, some improved
  • We’ve already done a Dr.I import into the Sturmovik engine (flying with a WWII flight model for testing), it looked good
  • We hope to move things over quickly
  • Development partner is going to work on the map too, 100×100 kilometer map based on the Western front
  • Going to bring in objects from Rise of Flight but hope to make these objects look better
  • Small map will allow the team to get reacquainted with the map technology (previously did work with Rise of Flight)
  • Purpose: Take one big step back into WWI, give our WWI customers something to play and have fun with, check out the new tech
  • Follow up products, could have full map of France, another planeset, etc.
  • We know that the 1918 planes were the most used, can in future products bring in interesting airplanes and take the time to build a career for it
  • It’s going to be a process but hopefully faster because the original models and assets are already available and research is already done
  • Only thing not fully fleshed out will be the career and the map itself (just the small map)

Bodenplatte development

  • Will take about 20 months, similar to Kuban
  • Being much more open on the start of the process, had already started on Kuban for a few months before official announcement
  • Flying Circus may come out more quickly than Bodenplatte

We know Pacific is delayed, will the Pacific be delayed to 2019?

  • Jason is going to be doing the research to try and find the materials required
  • It’s a lot of work to do for the product
  • Team was struggling to find the way to make the ships (or acquire from third party), update the damage models, and build the career physics system
  • Japanese aircraft and the cockpit systems are unfamiliar in the west
  • Found all of the materials but they are all in Japanese
  • Looked for help with the translations, have to pay them and some folks wanted lots of money, some reasonable
  • Going to need to find everything they can about Japanese cockpits before they can start
  • Jason is still fully committed to doing the Pacific, Midway as well as other battles, the Pacific is the reason he got into the business
  • Really excited about the three products they have announced: Unique products to help expand the revenue base, become more of a powerful brand for entertainment in the flight sim and combat sim market

What kind of vehicles or infantry will be added for Bodenplatte

  • Infantry not the forte for the team
  • Doubt there will be a lot of soldiers on the ground, definitely new vehicles
  • Wish that they could find someone, or explain a way to have someone make infantry personnel on the ground
  • New ground units for Allies and Germans for Bodenplatte
  • Would love to have 3D modellers in the community to help build new ground units, doesn’t ever seem to come together where Jason can find people to do that work

How are career and Air Marshal coming along? What features do you have in mind to facilitate multiplayer?

  • A lot of work done by the lead GUI engineer, takes up a lot of effort and time
  • Task is coming to completion, finished the career implementation
  • On co-op right now, Air Marshal after
  • Needs to be some interface to interact with for the marshal
  • We’ve studied and told engineer what to do, do not have a working prototype yet
  • The goal of Air Marshal – simply give someone to see what’s happening on the battlefield in a realistic manner
  • If person is good at it, using combat terminology, military jargon, multiplayer would be a lot more interesting for hardcore players
  • Some kind of graphical representation for people on the team, place a marker on your map or add a waypoint
  • Info coming to the Air Marshal will be info that other players can’t see, duty to disseminate info to your team to help win the battle

What about the demo?

  • Demo for IL-2 will probably be with one plane, certain features available and others not

What made you change your mind on not doing any more AI aircraft with the B-25 AI aircraft?

  • Fewer people are taken up by building an AI aircraft, but it takes about the same amount of time in the schedule
  • Jason wanted to build B-26, important to Western Front
  • But the B-25 was not just present in the theatre (in the Battle of Bodenplatte) but also a great airplane in the Eastern Front and they are a good plane for the future Pacific scenario
  • Focus on the B-25 for now, is a plane that is buildable for the team in terms of cockpits
  • First going to be AI, going to be a nice model, and will have everything it needs to be a flyable in the future

Is there going to be a decal system in the future?

  • Was in the schedule for Kuban, but things didn’t go to plan
  • Other more pressing matters so dropped from Kuban schedule
  • Hope to get to it during Bodenplatte
  • Work with lead modeller to build a texture system to implement these

Will there be more complex fuel management, particularly when it affects the handling of the plane?

  • Hope to improve fuel tank modelling in the next development cycle
  • Hope to model multi-tank systems better
  • On cooling systems:

Any VR enhancements or updates?

  • Would love to find ways to optimize the VR rendering, likely not too many options right now
  • Doesn’t want to dumb down flight model, AI, or graphics to get faster VR
  • Would like to see the VR companies find more enhancements on their side

Will there be a dedicated multiplayer server in Linux so people don’t have to buy a Windows Server license?

  • Right now, not on the list of things for the dedicated server

Will the team go to the Med any time soon?

  • We have an agreement with Team Fusion to update Cliffs of Dover and go to North Africa
  • Team is doing a great job, working hard, Jason has no problem with that
  • Doesn’t feel that its good for 1CGS to compete directly with them, cannibalize the market, people wouldn’t necessarily buy both products
  • Goal is to let them make what they want to make and not mirror what they are doing
  • IL-2 series

View distance improvements for airplanes?

  • Would love to see improvements here
  • Wants to see how things pan out with the new sky and horizon, Jason’s experience is that its easier to spot aircraft
  • Wants feedback on that first before having the team work on solutions to draw the airplanes further out

Dedicated server enhancements?

  • Problems with 70 player servers
  • Not sure what the solution is, probably trying to synchronize too many things
  • Wants to see if co-op improves multiplayer, see if there’s problems with the netcode there on lower powered hardware
  • Han concerned about netcode, would like to see it perform better
  • IL-2’s physics and flight model are more complex than most sims (WT, Cliffs, etc.), pushing the code quite a lot for network
  • Only have the one programmer, has to pick and choose what to work on

Any plans to have a Twitch IL-2 box art for streams?

  • Need to get more involved with Twitch
  • Will be working on that

How will the Me262 jet engines perform?

  • Jason is confident that Petrovich will be able to work on this
  • Has booked time to improve the flight model to handle higher speed aerodynamics
  • Will build an engine that will operate in a proper manner
  • Petrovich: Will simulate jet engine different from prop engine. Will have different mechanics model, temperature model. It’s another separate system.

Will there be different engine modifications in Battle of Bodenplatte?

  • First, we’ll have to drill down to the specific versions of the aircraft
  • There will be some that they may be able to identify a model to build and then maybe build an obvious engine or other modification
  • Can’t make any guarantees until their further along

Are there any plans to have flare bombs to light up the battlefield?

  • Could create one to light up the battlefield
  • Would it be useful in the game itself?
  • ‘Star shell effect’ is possible, no clear answer right now

Would it be possible to improve current radio beacon system? Let pilot switch between different radio beacons?

  • Seen it requested before
  • Currently tuned to the nearest one
  • Might be something they can work on

How were the tanks selected?

  • Make sure that there were enough vehicles to make for interesting gameplay
  • Also wanted to make sure there were tanks that were useful for a variety of scenarios
  • The M4 may not have been at Prokhorovka, but also want to make sure that we have a product that people would be interested to buy in – Can be used in other scenarios
  • The list may change

Seasons for Bodenplatte?

  • Winter map is a must, probably with patchy snow
  • Wants to make sure there’s a green map too, for entertainment sake
  • Probably going to be autumn or spring
  • Kuban we were able to do three seasons, might be able to do that here too

What are the plans for mods on?

  • Similar to Rise of Flight
  • Want to be able to change sounds, but to do that you have to hack the FMOD system
  • Don’t know what the entails, sound system is much different from IL-2: 1946
  • The only thing we definitely don’t want you to change is the flight models

Final notes

  • Another Q&A session will be coming soon
  • Looking forward to Bodenplatte, Flying Circus, and Tank Crew and working with their development partners
  • Keep the faith, things are going well, 2018 should be an interesting year for the series

Does the Meredith effect of the P-51D’s radiator work in the IL-2 flight model?

  • Petrovich: No, its not modelled. Yet.

Are there any plans to fix the weird outlines of the planes in front of the clouds?

  • Jason: I haven’t seen this.

Will there be any changes to the effects with the vehicles for Tank Crew?

  • Jason: I always want to improve the effects but I don’t have someone dedicated to working on that.

Will there be any changes to the P-40 or the A-20 to for the Western Europe scenario?

  • We went with the option to build some new planes
  • I would love to give it to a third-party providers, make small adjustments to add a turret (ED note: Presumably to make an A-20G).
  • Decided with Bodenplatte to make as many new planes as possible

How will takes work?

  • It will work as it does now
  • Multi-crew will work the same as airplanes. You’ll have a driver and a gunner. Someone can also be a tank commander.
  • Already have the technology so we’re just applying it to tanks
  • I don’t think we’ll model the loader, but other roles yes

Updates to tank damage models?

  • It’s not a health model right now, its just not as complex as some may like
  • What we don’t model is each individual compartment
  • The player tanks in the future will be more detailed

Question about Chinese localization?

  • Would like to have the game localized in Chinese
  • Have talked to partners at 1C, but have run into some resistance
  • Some issue with how games are sold in China

Do you think AI gunners are a problem?

  • AI gunners are difficult to program, have to program randomness to mimic human skill
  • Sniper AI gunner issue has been around for a long time
  • Try to address it: Sometimes they never hit, sometimes they hit all the time
  • Don’t have a dedicated AI programmer
  • Currently is probably the best compromise can make

Any news on the SDK?

  • The person responsible for writing the SDK’s for models had some medical issues this year, really screwed up his schedule
  • Did write a document on tanks in Russian, can probably be translated to English
  • For other things like buildings, scenery objects, we don’t have that yet

How do you select the different marks of aircraft?

  • Pick specific types based on the type of Battle
  • Don’t put a whole lot of thought into how it might be used in different scenarios, some but not the whole thought
  • For Bodenplatte we haven’t picked the specific types
  • General consensus on the P-51 and P-47? We’re going to D models for both with bubble top.
  • Further research being done for nailing down the exact model
  • I chose to do the Tempest over the Typhoon, it’s a hotter plane I think more of our customers would like to fly it
  • Once I build the Tempest, we’ll have a lot of information that we could use to go back and build the Typhoon later if we had time to
  • The reason to not do the Spitfire XIV is because its too much of a different airplane from the Mark V, won’t be as difficult to make the IX out of the V

 

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12 Comments Add yours

  1. 57.GIAP_MADOV says:

    This was the second of these Q&A sessions that I have sat in on and it’s really encouraging to see Jason getting involved and engaging with the community like this. He lives this just as we do, his dreams are ours. With so much development on the road map we are in for some busy times with lots of choices in front of us. Serious flight simmers have never been so well endowed with quality immersion like this. It’s interesting to see how DCS WWII will be affected by potential user migration, or maybe they will both complement each other.
    It’s a great decision to develop Bodenplatte for simmers who love intensity of air action. Pacific on the back-burner but we will get there I am sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Well said! Jason’s very much one of our own and even started out that way from the sounds of it.

      I’m one of those people who is happy flying just about any WWII era airplane no matter the type or the scenery. I’m particularly excited by Bodenplatte but if Midway was the next one I would have been happy there too. Easy to please that way 🙂

      They will get there!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. gflinch says:

    The ONLY thing missing from all of these updates are clickable cockpits. Now that I have VR, DCS has made a wonderful way to use this (look then click with joystick button). Its just not and immersion thing, I find it hard to remember all my hotas assignments in game. It would be great to keep combat essentials to HOTAS and the rest to a clickable cockpit.

    Was there something ever mentioned that they cannot do this with their game engine?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 57.GIAP_MADOV says:

      Yes, it was always the case that the Digital Nature, now known as Digital Warfare, engine wasn’t going to go as far as clickable cockpits. I still enjoy VR in both IL-2 and DCS but for tactical reasons VR isn’t a great option in either when you want to fly into combat. For formation flying it’s the dog’s proverbials. CloD is clickable though so it could have been a possiblity for IC/777 to go down that route but they made a design decision and there it is.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. ShamrockOneFive says:

      I’ve got to experience clickable cockpits in DCS and I get the appeal. I guess the decision was made early on not to do them and that’s made things apparently very difficult to pull off. I’m guessing we won’t see those any time soon.

      TBH, while I love DCS’ attention to detail, I like the fact that IL-2 does an automated startup and is a little focused on the flying and combat and a little less on the systems modeling. To each is own of course! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Toxin 1 says:

    Great summary of the Q&A. It’s been an interesting journey so far….this is how I see it.

    Loft – I want best hardcore dogfighting simulator – Starts Neoqb and creates ROF
    Jason – I want best WW2 combat flight simulator – Starts 777 Studio and buys Neoqb based on potential of ROF dev team.
    Loft/Jason – Partner with IC to develop new IL-2 Sturmovik – creation of joint IL-2/ROF dev team.
    IC – We want to mimic success of WT with game mechanics and accessibility features for financial success.
    Loft/Jason – We want hardcore WW2 combat simulator, but will build-in WT like features to satisfy IC.
    Loft/Jason – Need to get WT customers to buy into new IL-2 even though the target customers are hardcore. The goal is to capture or transition % of WT customers into hardcore simulator fans of IL-2.
    BOS – Launched with IC features – results in backlash from hardcore backers. Not enough IC features to capture WT customer interests.
    Loft – Need to build in mouse control to satisfy WT crowd, will use BOM to satisfy both WT and hardcore dogfighters – BOM pre-orders low compared to BOS – new IL-2 in slow death spiral.
    Jason – Need to focus on hardcore simmers and use BOM to improve game engine with DX11 for performance and VR compatibility.
    Jason – Need to use BOK to advance engine for Pacific theater and get back original IL-2 hardcore sim customer base. Give up on getting WT crowd on board.
    Jason – BOK successful in stopping the death spiral, but Pacific theater bigger project than IL-2/ROF team can tackle based on its size and skills.
    Jason – To grow dev team to size and skills needed for Pacific will take at least another 2 yrs time then Pacific development (1-2 expansions) will take another 2-3 years (total ~5 yrs)
    IC – Will fund only 2yr project post BOK, need to see financial success of IL-2 with hardcore focus.
    Jason – What can current dev team build in 2 yrs while adding and training new members of expanded dev team needed for Pacific and beyond (placeholder for hardcore simmer fantasies)?
    Jason – BOPB, FC, and TC (capture %WT customers too) will provide IC with financial success to allow expanded dev team and still satisfy hardcore sim customers – also move to Western Europe will strike at heart of completion from DCS WW2.
    Hardcore sim customers – have been supporting IL-2 even though some of the dev decisions have been against their interests or unpopular with significant segments of their base (game mechanics or theaters and plane sets) – IL-2 now set on hardcore path to preserve the small but profitable hardcore WW2 combat sim base just like original IL-2.
    ~S

    Liked by 2 people

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Seems like approximately how things went down! I think IL-2 has found a good spot now having shed some of the unlock unpleasantness and making a few more moves towards the hardcore. I feel its still a lot less daunting to get into as a flight sim than DCS is but it still maintains that hardcore appeal. It’s a step up from War Thunder but you don’t have to memorize each startup sequence and can really jump in and have a lot of fun with a lot of different aircraft.

      Things are going in a very good direction.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 57.GIAP_MADOV says:

        TOXIN 1 provides a pretty good resume there. I remember Loft’s get togethers at the beginning too. I am so very pleased that the ethos of this sim has moved away from cozying up to the WT crowd and has refocussed on the community’s more hardcore kernel. That is where the repeat business always comes from and I am getting the impression that the aim is to draw off disaffected users from DCS. I was on the fence for a while between BoS and DCS as the latter doesn’t seem really committed to WWII, and that’s understandable as it is only involved now because Luthier left his baby in their lap.

        For me personally, I would be as happy as Larry to have the choice of starting up properly aka DCS but I know that is a lot of extra programming work. I love the cockpit flow involved that you get with a study level sim. DCS though just doesn’t have the combat environment sorted yet, it’s like a sterile atmosphere inhabited by individual aircraft, the pilots of which are wrapped up in their own little world of switches and dials every one of which works as it should.

        With Jason at the helm now, the course should run true, I think it knows what it wants to be and is at last showing signs of maturity. I hope the rest of the community can make similar strides and support the developers.

        Like

      2. ShamrockOneFive says:

        DCS’ World War II combat environment does seem to lack cohesion. That’s what IL-2 does so well is bring together a solid aircraft set and gives you a great sandbox to play in that is fairly well populated.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. detcord12b says:

    Combined arms maneuver warfare, late war aerial combat, lots of varied terrain, assets, models, a weather system, great visuals, etc etc. They’re really going to give DCS a huge run for its money on the WWII side of the house. Honestly, I think they’re going to blow it out of the water. Already are. Really excited, gents!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Please let the team contact me regarding Japanese cockpit specifics. I may be able to help.

    Like

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      I’m not part of the dev team. I’m sure you can go on their forums and get in touch with someone that way.

      Like

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