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.
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.
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.