Part 3: An interview with Jason Williams on Tank Crew and Flying Circus

It’s here! Part three of my interview series with Jason Williams (and Daniel Tuseev) focuses on the two newest entrants to the 1C Game Studios IL-2: Great Battles Series. I am, of course, talking about Flying Circus Vol 1 and Tank Crew – Clash at Prokhorovka.

Sharing the big news of 2017 was the announcement that the 1CGS team would be working on not just one new title but three. Battle of Bodenplatte followed the natural succession of the Il-2 series while the other two would be unique entrants into the series. Flying Circus Vol 1 brings 10-aircraft from Rise of Flight into the much more advanced Digital Warfare engine and integrates those aircraft alongside their WWII brethren. Meanwhile, Tank Crew – Clash at Prokhorovka is a first for the series with a focus on armored warfare at the Kursk battle in the summer of 1943. Representing one of the biggest clashes between armor of all time in a flight sim engine is no small feat.

Part three features questions that dive into some of the details behind both of these new entrants to the series. Daniel, who we featured in the first two installments of this series, has been busy (two major patch releases in 3 weeks is pretty impressive) but Jason was kind enough to take some time to give us this next part.

Tank Crew

Tank Crew is a different direction for the 1C Game Studios team with its focus on tank warfare on the ground – in a series that has, until now, been almost entirely oriented towards the air war.

Adding Tank Crew – Clash at Prokhorovka is something new for the series (expanding to more detailed, player controllable ground warfare). What are some of the big picture goals with Tank Crew and how it interacts with the rest of the IL-2: Great Battles series?

Jason: “The big picture goal is fun and entertainment for players. Tank Crew is a bit of an experiment, but one that should prove interesting. We wanted to try something a little different and work with another development team on a collaborative project. We’ve been making flight-sims for over a decade and it can get a bit tedious. As Executive Producer I wanted to shake thigs up a bit. Our engine is capable of doing some cool things and flexible enough to simulate armor combat, so it was a area I wanted to explore and add a new dimension to our product line. Also, we have a maximum amount of aircraft we can produce in a given time due to the complex nature of our flight-modeling, but building tanks does not require such complex programming outside of the original infrastructure support. With a qualified modeling partner such as Digital Forms, tank combat is possible in a reasonable amount of time and with negligible impact on our flight-sim development. “

Are you hoping to see new players join in that are primarily tank and ground warfare sim fans?

Jason: “Of course, we welcome them with open arms. Would be cool to have dedicated Tank squads coordinating with dedicated Flight squads in an online war!”

Recent patches have improved the damage modeling for tanks and worked on ballistics. How important is getting this area of the simulation right?

Jason: “It’s akin to flight-modeling for aircraft. It’s an important feature and we’re making good progress at making it realistic and squashing bugs associated with this work. The modeling we’ve don in this department is quite a lot.”

There’s been a lot of talk in the community about infantry interactions with tanks. Are there any plans to incorporate infantry (or say more types of fixed gunner positions with recoilless rifles or other anti-tank weapons) as part of this release or perhaps something for the future?

Jason: “I want infantry for TC at some point, I just don’t have the resources to get it done before final build. We have some ideas and hope to do it, but it’s kind of contingent on the success of Tank Crew: Clash at Prokhorovka itself. There is a lot more I want to do in this department, but we have to get the tanks themselves right first.”

Flight sim pilots have throttles and joysticks, is there an ideal hardware configuration for tank simmers?

Jason: “Primary control is mouse and keyboard for the time being. Adopting input devices such as joysticks and throttles for tanks has proven more difficult than we hoped for and we had to postpone such work due to time constraints. Instead of postponing the entire project or our flight-based products we decided to go with our existing input support for our already included tanks. The good news is with some Joy-to-Key software you can drive your Panzer with a joystick and throttle. Turret can also be had with a joystick with Joy-to-Key, but I have yet to try it. This is a difficult question in general because we wanted to make TC accessible to players of other tank games who may be accustomed to mouse and keyboard controls, but also cater to our stick and rudder players who fly our flight products. However, building two separate input systems for the same ground vehicles (like we did for planes) take a good bit of time and it’s a bridge too far at this point in time. Driving and fighting in armored vehicles is a whole new world for us. We are learning.”

How much are you hoping to see aircraft and tanks combine as part of a multiplayer experience?

Jason: “As mentioned above that is the biggest point of building TC for us. This should add some real flavor to the MP experience and coupled with our Marshal feature it could be pretty damn cool. But it’s going to take some pioneers to master this new combined operations gameplay. We see it already on some servers with the couple tanks we have now, but its still early.”

Can you tell us a little more about what the tank commander role will be like? How different is commanding a group of tanks versus a group of aircraft?

Jason: “I can’t say anything on this topic yet. It’s still in development, but you’ll likely hear more about it in a future Dev. Diary.”

Fun question: How cool (and unique) is driving a tank in VR? Are you the first to offer that experience?

Jason: “Mmm… not sure we’re the first, but maybe? Someone would have to research it. I will say that I have never seen such awesome tank interiors before or such cool looking crew members in a tank sim. It really adds to the atmosphere. But yes, operating our tanks in VR is pretty damn awesome if you ask me. I was totally impressed on how it looks and feels. Yes, I’m biased, but I think it’s even more impressive than VR in our airplane cockpits.

Flying Circus

Flying Circus brings back the nostalgia of World War I air combat and the famous duels between aces. Vol 1 brings back aircraft from the Rise of Flight series and reintroduces them into the IL-2: Great Battles Series.

Flying Circus Vol 1 is a return to some old favourite aircraft from the Rise of Flight days. How much effort goes into bringing one of the Rise of Flight aircraft models up to the latest standards?

Jason: “Our Flying Circus planes are indeed our original ROF airplanes re-born. Each plane is re-furbished with more polygons and smoother looking parts and the textures are brought up to a higher standard. It takes our partner Yugra a couple months to refurbish each plane. We realize that the difference to the eyes is not extremely dramatic because the original ROF planes were pretty damn good, but they now match well with the current standard we have for our WWII planes. “

For single player pilots what kind of content is planned to be available in Vol 1? Are there Scripted Campaigns planned?

Jason: “We of course eventually want to make some for FC1, but we don’t have time in the current schedule to make them ourselves internally. I’m discussing this with some mission makers. We really need the map to be ready before this can be worked on in earnest.”

Are you hoping to see additional Scripted Campaigns from the community or sold through the store in the future?

Jason: “Yes of course. The Great War is not forgotten!”

Are you hoping to include IL-2’s improved Career mode in the future (or as part of a hypothetical Vol 2)?

Jason: “Assuming we can get a Volume 2 going, that is indeed my hope, but it’s a big job. “

We have yet to see the Arras map. Is the Ugra Media team that is building it doing that on their own or is it a collaboration with the 1CGS team?

Jason: “They are doing it for the most part on their own, with our supervision and guidance. We haven’t seen it either yet, but it’s being worked on as we speak.”

One thing that Rise of Flight fans have been asking about for years is the inclusion of Zeppelins. Any chance we might see one in a future iteration?

Jason: “I would love a Zeppelin in FC, but I don’t have any resources to make one right now. It’s a huge project to do it right and we have to make Zeppelin physics! We’ve never done big floaty things. If Flying Circus continues to grow, it will be something I look at more seriously. “

Thanks to some organized multiplayer events and the Rise of Flight community, Flying Circus is already seeing some good multiplayer numbers on the servers. Have you or the team had a chance to see any of these events in action?

Jason: “Dogfighting in WWI birds is a lot of fun. It’s slower with more twists and turns. I always enjoyed this style of aerial combat. ROF gave me many years of enjoyment. Doing so in MP is a ton of fun! We certainly hope there will be lots of MP events for FC pilots to partake in and we are pleased to see them already starting. We of course always check on what is happening in MP and jump on servers to test things out. We are there, just with aliases.”

One final segment to come

If you missed out, you can read part one and part two of this series where we focused on the big picture in part one and on IL-2: Battle of Bodenplatte in part two. One more is planned in this series with part four more focused on the future. I also managed to incorporate a few extra questions asked by the community in that last part.

Stay tuned for part four!

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12 Comments Add yours

  1. Rico says:

    Many thanks first of all for your effort and work for the interview! In the case of Tank Crew it actually sounds good. Also the part with the (possible) infantry would contribute a lot to immersion. That makes me very happy.
    I have all the products myself and am very happy with the current development (the Sherman is just great).
    Flying Circus also lets me hope for things like Zeppelins. But i am sad to hear that at the current state a single player or ,to be more specific career mode, is open. It would be a shame to have als this birds, more or less, only in MP scenarios.

    I can´t wait for the next Part!

    Like

  2. Fernando says:

    +1 for the question about infantry. Hope they add some basic, we have to use our machine guns! 🙂

    Like

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      As usual, I’m not surprised that the 1CGS team has not at least considered most or all of the features that we’re asking for as players. It’s usually just a matter of time and resources to getting these things done.

      Like

  3. Habsburger says:

    Before people give up on the idea of purchasing Flying Circus because of the lack of proper single player, it is worth mentioning that Pat Wilson is planning to extend his (free, third-party) Campaign Generator to cover FC as well, so there will in fact be an option to play a single player career apart from whatever the devs will decide to do.

    I am a bit worried that we might not see further FC volumes anytime soon if the sales won’t be high enough to justify them. I see two problems that might lead to this:

    1) The “Why should I buy Rise of Flight again?”- crowd (I’ve seen this sentiment a lot), and people who don’t want to spend money on a game that doesn’t have a proper single player experience (since the option of PWCG probably won’t be advertised much outside the forums) and might not get a sequel.

    2) The almost complete lack of advertisement. No trailers, barely any gaming news articles, only the newsletter for previous customers… It’s a wonder IL-2 GB in general can stay profitable when it relies almost completely on word of mouth to spread awareness, and community members like yourself making fan-made trailers and YouTube videos. People talk about how flight sims just aren’t that popular anymore, but I think they could be if a potential customer wouldn’t have to stumble on them almost by accident, like I did via War Thunder.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Novice-Flyer says:

    Something that I’d think would be very cool is a WW1 Tank Crew.

    Like

  5. Raptorattacker says:

    Great stuff Shamrock. Thanks for this and for all your content!

    Like

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Thank you for the kind words!

      Like

  6. Hauggy says:

    Well unfortunately the Tank Crew map is not exceptional and the “detailed” part of the map lacks details and has glitches like trees and textures popping in and out of render constatntly at low altitude in planes.
    My belief is that the team should get better beta testers and forget a bit about singleplayer to deliver a proper mp experience, I mean last time it took 3 months to get netcode issues fixed and finally have a playable game.

    Like

    1. Det says:

      Agreed. For a game that focuses upon ground combat the ‘ground’ details are abysmal. It’s ugly to look at with low-res textures and copy/pasted low-res flora textures and sprites. When you hop into a tank mission you should be met quality terrain assets as opposed to what’s being offered here.

      It’s one thing to abstract graphical fidelity with regards to a flight sim, where the action takes places in the clouds. It’s something else entirely to do it when your game takes and exists solely on the ground.

      The map needs a complete overhaul.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Blue 5 says:

    Thanks for the interview, always great to read.

    Liked by 1 person

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