New DCS: Flaming Cliffs 4 info and an editorial

It’s only been 4 days since I speculated on what Flaming Cliffs 4 might end up being and my wishful thinking probably got carried away a little bit with the potential for this release to open the door to some new aircraft options. A much more realistic reality has been presented by DCS Community Manager NineLine.

Releasing DCS level modules in FC level fidelity

The plan at Eagle Dynamics is to release some additional Flaming Cliffs level aircraft based on modules already completed and that four aircraft have been selected for this release.

This is what DCS Community Manager NineLine revealed today:

Hey guys, just to clarify as I got some new info on this, the additional aircraft will be FC3 level version of existing modules. Existing FC3 customers will get a discount towards this update. Which aircraft will be announced later.

This of course spawned a raft of responses from the DCS community of which very few I actually agree with.

While I was speculating that FC4 might be an opportunity to release aircraft not otherwise possible to release due to classified systems or inability to gather data that still does take quite a lot of work for the team to do. Instead, they seem to be focusing on doing something that they do well and pairing it with something else that they do well.

The case for this

DCS World modules like the F-5E, F/A-18C, M2000C and closing in on nearly a dozen others offer up some of the most realistic and authentic aircraft experiences that you can have in a combat flight simulator. For the people who want extreme levels of system modeling and real implementation of mechanical and digital systems – DCS World caters to. And quite successfully so.

M2000C-vapours
The Mirage 2000 is currently modeled at DCS World levels of fidelity. Some players would benefit from a simpler FC3 style of flying this aircraft as well.

But DCS World also successfully integrates some other aircraft that have high fidelity flight and systems modeling but without the extreme levels of system detail required to operate the aircraft.

Although some are purists and demand only high-fidelity types, these aircraft are difficult for a new player to get into. Difficult is understating the level of background knowledge and occasionally rote systems management that need to be poured into understanding a module. I’ve had the Mirage 2000 for over a year now and I’m still getting to grips with a few of the systems still and it may be a while yet before I really feel comfortable in all situations.

I love diving deep here but I already have a fair bit of background knowledge (yet, not nearly enough). There are plenty of other players who either aren’t there yet and find that kind of detail daunting. The case can be easily made for letting these players in on some new aircraft types both for Eagle Dynamics financial reasons as well as for community building (which is also ultimately a financial consideration).

Accepting the new player

There is, in many communities, a reflex to never “dumb down” or make it easy for new players to get involved. I think this comes from the “Well I did it” crowd who insist that everyone go through the same level of difficulty as they did.

If you’ve been an aviation fan for a few decades, know as much as there is to know about aircraft, and have been flying since the Lock On or Flanker 2.0 days, then you’ve grown with the levels of detail.

Su27-in-sunny-combat
The Su-27 Flanker is slightly simplified yet I find it no less challenging or satisfying to fly.

I think this whole line of thinking is misguided because it excludes and shrinks the numbers of people who might be interested if the product was more accessible. I don’t think its a bad thing for trying to bring interested players into something that don’t have that full experience or the benefit of having played the earlier (and simpler) titles.

I want to go back to the “dumb down” comment because I don’t think FC3 aircraft are really “dumbed down”. They are simpler manage but their systems are still modeled in a realistic way and flight modeling is at the PFM level (meaning highly realistic). Systems and sensors behave in fairly realistic ways while having fewer buttons to press.

Conclusion and wrap-up

So the bottom line here is that Eagle Dynamics is going to add a new FC4 module containing four previously released DCS World aircraft. We don’t know which aircraft yet but they are types that have already been released (or would have been already released by the time FC4 comes out).

This doesn’t take away from the DCS World level aircraft but it opens new aircraft up to players who might otherwise give them a pass. It boosts player numbers, pads the bottom line, and helps improve the health of the community. It doesn’t open the door to new types of aircraft (which I agree is disappointing) but it is still an important step for DCS World and hopefully is a gateway to the more advanced products.

Quoting NineLine one more time on this:

FC product line is a gateway product, and popular. You guys are already in the gate, for a lot of you, its not intended for you, the Hornet, that Hind, the F-4, the Viper, etc… those are intended for you.

We already knew this but its clear that Eagle Dynamics and third party makers are still busy updating, improving, and adding new DCS World level modules. Nothing there has changed.

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19 Comments Add yours

  1. superetendard3 says:

    If I understood correctly I think NineLine mentioned in the forum thread that initally 3rd parties wouldn’t be part of FC4, unless they want to make FC4 planes of their own in the future. This would mean the FC4 planes are going to be the World War 2 planes.

    This coupled with the Bf 109 G-6 and Fw 190 A-8 which they are working on as AI for the Normandy map could mean their future inclusion into FC4 as well.

    It’s interesting because this would mean a much more direct competition with IL-2 Battle of Bodenplatte.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Well that is interesting. That’d be three aircraft then that ED has released in the WWII DCS standard. Would they maybe include the P-47 then as well?

      Lots of questions still out there.

      Like

      1. superetendard3 says:

        They have four WW2 planes: Spitfire LF Mk IX, P-51D, Fw 190 D-9 and Bf 109 K-4. Looks like the P-47 still has a long way until it comes.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. ShamrockOneFive says:

        Right you are! I somehow forgot about the P-51D 🙂

        Like

      3. superetendard3 says:

        Rechecked the forums and Nineline confirmed that FC4 wont be the WW2 planes, those would be part of the “Flying Legends” pack.

        Btw when subscribing to receive e-mail notifications of new answers I also get email notifications of all the other comments in this entry, even though they are not answers to my initial post. Looks like a bug?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. ShamrockOneFive says:

        Interesting info! Good to know.

        About the subscribe… I’m not sure. WordPress controls those settings I think. I can investigate.

        Like

  2. Mischiew Rithe says:

    Somehow I missed those earlier posts. There was a bit of info about that during Crash’s Q&A with Matt – hope it’s not a problem to put a link here: https://youtu.be/yFzsxH4-fe8?t=1836. A non-clickable F-16 still seem likely, though their priority remains the Hornet until it’s completed (I would add a cautious and realistic “completed *enough*”).

    The whole show is quite interesting, but the Q&A really begins at that point, about 30 minutes in the video.

    There’s also a mention of dynamic campaigns, whose idea is apparently not impossible, and even more than likely. I had read in the forums that ED were against the very idea but I’m not sure where it was coming from. This is good news, although it won’t be tackled for a while.

    FC is really for another type of users. I’ve never felt comfortable in IL-2 with all the keyboard and buttons, I’d rather have clickable cockpit for items I don’t need in a rush or that I don’t use often, it’s strange they stepped back from the clickable cockpit they had in CoD, there must be a good reason for this. But those are relatively simple airplanes so it’s not a big deal, one get along with this.

    In DCS it’s more difficult for me to accept this feeling of superficiality, I bought the F-15 but never really flew it because of the non-clickable cockpit and also because the systems are simplified (both limitations come from the same ASM vs SSM fidelity levels). Probably because one expects more depth modelling after having tasted the PFM/ASM modules, so perhaps it’s indeed a good introduction for newcomers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mischiew Rithe says:

      I mentioned the dynamic campaign bit as a parallel with IL-2 of course, trying not to get too much out-of-topic 😉 Those two will have some increasing level of comparison it seems.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ShamrockOneFive says:

        A dynamic campaign or at least something approximating IL-2’s Career mode would be a huge boon for DCS. They are seriously behind the curve now.

        Like

    2. ShamrockOneFive says:

      I actually haven’t watched Crash’s Q&A so I’ll check that out for some of the details you’re talking about.

      Although I fully expect a click-pit DCS World implementation of the F-16, a FC level version of that aircraft for other players would be a good move for sure.

      IL-2 didn’t go for the click-pit implementation on the Great Battles Series because early on in development the title was aimed more at capturing the War Thunder crowd with a more realistic game rather than capturing the DCS crowd. The word we’ve heard at this point is that retroactively going back and making clickable cockpits is so much work so as to be extremely impractical.

      IL-2 does have a good niche. It’s realistic but it’s also fairly easy to jump into a new plane and be pretty good in it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mischiew Rithe says:

        Ah, so that’s what happened!

        Yes, they have a very good balance IMHO, it feels great and realistic enough, and it’s indeed a quicker learning curve. There are missing things like the full manual start-up and run-up, detailed failures, it’s not much training-oriented, sadly, but they spent the necessary time on so many other details that produce a plausible world (and which is honestly missing sometimes in DCS). The damage model, for instance, is superb, or the AI animations, I could easily spend time just watching them.

        I keep fingers crossed for a full F-16 in DCS! But I have to admit the Hornet will probably make up for its absence in the mean time 😉 This one goes even beyond the Warthog’s depth, obviously. Which justifies the FC series as you said, let’s lure more DCS fans and not scare them directly with daunting complexity!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. arkhamuk says:

    As a sim lite player this pleases me greatly. I find FC3 hard but not insurmountable and that brings me in more and more. This game has great programming and the FC module “gateway” is perfect for keeping a healthy community and franchise.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Glad to hear that this is of interest to people out there. I think some of the players such as yourself have maybe been shouted down or at least drowned out by some of the veterans.

      If some more FC level aircraft would be of interest to you (and I suspect many others) then ED will be on to a good thing and more people can enjoy some seriously cool aircraft.

      Maybe helicopters will come at some point too!

      Like

  4. arkhamuk says:

    Now if they can include helicopters….. oh my yes instant sale here.

    Like

    1. Mischiew Rithe says:

      It’s funny, the helicopters are the reason I came to DCS in the first place, my first module was the Huey. I opted for DCS because of the apparent complexity, and at the time it was possible to download the manual directly, which was huge in comparison of other sims. That was utterly convincing and I dived right in.

      I have to admit that it was a difficult path at first, it could easily put someone off, and I can understand many people (sane people?) would rather take another approach 😀

      And to think the Huey is probably the easiest of the lot…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ShamrockOneFive says:

        Interesting way to come into this sim. I’ve not yet tried a DCS helicopter. I’m waiting for one that I really want to fly before I jump into that but the Huey does look fun.

        I’m of the mindset that you need to approach something like DCS by training in small areas and becoming more proficient over time. Eventually you can be really good at it without thinking.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Mischiew Rithe says:

        Ah, can’t reply to the post below 😉

        Helicopters are entirely different beasts. Their first purpose in life is trying to kill the pilot, and possibly the passengers in the process 😀 There’s real joy in learning to master how to fly them, because there’s a lot more to grasp at first and they’re fun to fly once this stage is passed. A plane is interesting when you know the physics of flying and apply them to improve your airmanship, but this is greatly amplified on an helo, which makes it so much more interesting to discover.

        Even if they are complex modules compared to FC or WWII planes, you can learn one area at a time too. First the start-up procedure, even simplified without all the checks. Then hovering and little movements in the main directions, getting back on the ground. Taxiing, getting in translational flight, and so on. But it takes more time to see the real progress and achieve a campaign, so indeed it requires more patience.

        The Huey is the easiest as I said, in my opinion at least, and the two available campaigns, starting with the free one, help the user get more familiar with it. The very few so-called training missions are terrible, though, I’d rely on a good manual – and why not, if you’re interested, what is provided free by the FAA, “Helicopter Flying Handbook”. Or on videos made by DCS users. This UH-1H, as the Mi-8, is exceptionally good and those two are probably the best you can get across any sim for the general public. So I confirm, it is fun, and the one I’d recommend without any hesitation.

        The Mi-8 is as “easy” to fly as the Huey but has more complex procedures in general, not that it’s a big problem because you don’t need to know them all at the beginning. The training missions are slightly better but a bit on the short side. Then again, existing campaigns help. It is heavier but also has more feature and a serious power of destruction if you like to blow things up to vent after a hard day.

        The Gazelle is much more difficult because it’s very light and agile, I can’t say about the campaign as I haven’t tried it, I’m not even sure the flight model is stable yet, perhaps it finally is. Lastly, the manual is the worst I’ve ever seen in DCS, so definitely not a place to start.

        Otherwise, the next and only one I see in the near future is Belsimtek’s Mi-24, perhaps this will be more tempting for you 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. 79vRAF says:

    I think it is only a good thing. Bringing more people on board can only help with multiplayer. It’s a bit odd that some aircraft would be outwardly the same but one will be simpler than the other, but it enables people to fly at a level that is appropriate to them. Not only that the ‘purists’ can always exclude the FC level aircraft from their servers if they so wish. You don’t see the F-15 banned from servers now though. I don’t think they’d be moaning if they were all new aircraft. (Though you would get the usual complaints about this being a distraction from such and such project!)

    They can’t win whatever they do!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ddo53 says:

    I think the other thing to consider is time. Like all of us, I am very time constrained and really only ever have time to sim when my family and work responsibilities are completed (ie not much). Therefore I have purchased the study sim version of the planes I am interested in and most importantly will allocate my precious time to. The others are of interest but will never be given the time they deserve. The option of an FC3 version of these planes is a great compromise and I will add them to my collection. Great blog by the way I love how you cover this genre so well!

    Like

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