It’s been a little while since I put together the last Community Q&A but I am very pleased to release this next one. This Q&A is with SYN_Haashashin from the IL-2 and Rise of Flight communities. Haashashin and The Syndicate squadron have long been into multiplayer flying but also involved with the single player mission and campaign development as well.
Haashashin’s recently released Achtung Spitfire! campaign is a 20-mission campaign inspired by the historical events of 57th GIAP. The elite guards unit flew the Spitfire Vb during the Kuban campaign in 1943 and the campaign helps illuminate the story of the Russian Spitfire.
Let’s get to the interview!
Questions and answers!
How long have you been into flight sims and what was your first sim?
Let’s get some background, I grew up at a little town where the commercial and military planes do the final approach to the island airport so from early age I was interested in flying. About the first sim I ever used, or, more like a game related to flying, was Wings. This was on my bothers Amiga 2000 way back into 1992 or so. I was only 11 or 12 I think.
Since then I played lots of different flying games including some space games such as Wing Commander and WWI ones. The ones that I spent more time with were World War II games like Microprose B-17 Flying Fortress, EAW, MFS 2, 3 as I played them during my teen years but weird enough, I never played old IL2.
During my college years I basically didn’t use flight sims until 2006 when I bumped into what was called back then “Knights of the Sky” promo video by Neoqb.
Showing off the physics behind the game engine that will later be known as Rise of Flight by 777 Studios. Since then I have been spending my free time doing mostly things involved with flying.
When did you first start mission building?
Well, I didn’t even touch a mission editor until 2011, so I have been building missions for “only” 8 years. All of them with this series ME, and previously with the Rise of Flight editor.
Not having played IL-2, I missed it’s FMB but I remember seeing the early ARMA editor but never used it. It wasn’t until I joined The Syndicate Squadron in 2011, they accepted and welcome me even knowing I didn’t have 1 month of experience in RoF MP scene. Thanks to the camaraderie feeling and how great they welcome me, I wanted to do something to give some back to the guys that welcome me the way they did.
Thankfully by that time, SYN_Vander was making his Vintage Missions and had his YouTube video series about the editor. I also had a lot of free time. I was unemployed back then. So, I work with that and also with his assist via TS, I was able to first make my first SP mission and then my first MP mission for Syndicate Squadron RoF server. I kept practicing until I helped building the SP missions released with Channel Battles Steam release along with SYN_Vander. By the way, if you play a RoF SP or MP mission and there is a horse next to the windsock…you know you are flying one of my missions!
So, in conclusion..I wont be making this missions/campaigns if it wasn’t for The Syndicate Squadron so kudos to them.
After couple years, IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad came up. I helped the team from early BoS with the missions editor and helping spreading the ME use with couple of TS conferences about it, setting MP missions for early BoX and, of course, my free SP campaigns!
Tell us a bit about the group effort behind campaigns by The Syndicate. Who is involved and how do you organize the work?
How to organize it… Well, I use my limited project management to assign work after agreeing with the person about what and when to do it. Such as with the skins, the translations and all media needed. I collect it all and implement it into the campaign. I use a sheet that only me and only two more people have access to keep everything in course but in next questions I will extend about that.
About who is involved..there is lot of people involved, this time around for Achtung Spitfire! campaign if I recall correctly I had a total of 19 people helping out.
The Syndicate Squadron members are more of a consulting team for me. I discuss with them from the missions possibilities to the campaign names. Some also help me with Beta testing, story writing, proof reading, art and media needed for the missions.
Its important to emphasize that there are more people that help me in all my campaign so far, and those are not SYN members. They help me with translations, Beta testing and bug fixing consulting. From one of them I even learn how to make the music clips for my campaign using an app. And they do it with no compromise nor asking for a compensation in return and for that I take the opportunity to sincerely thanks them. Also I never forget to list everyone that help me at the credits.
I decided to give full credit (for the store,etc) to the SYN squadron for the reasons I explained in the previous question.
How much research do you do before you start building? Could you tell us a bit about the process you go through to build missions?
Well, I do not do historically accurate missions nor campaigns but like to do it semi historical. Meaning that the army positions, squadrons and planes involved at that time of the war, etc. will be accurate. Thanks to that, I save lot of time on research and thanks to the development team I have all info I need at easy grab at the career part of the series. All info I need is there.
About the process of building a campaign let me tell you one thing: it is really long.
First of all is to decide where, when, how many missions and which plane. After that I make up a first draft of a story line. I need to write an story about the pilot before I start thinking about missions because if not when building them the changes would make things way too chaotic. Once I have a story line long enough to accommodate the number of missions I want, I assign: names, localization, mission objectives and weather to all missions, those might change along the way.
When I am done with that its when I start using the ME to start building missions.
How long does it take you to build a mission once the planning is complete? How many times do you need to test it before things start to feel polished?
How long I never measure it but here is the process I follow:
Once the planning is complete I prepare templates. As learned with SYN_Vander its the easiest way, let me tell you that not the faster, to build this campaigns. For example for the latest Achtung Spitfire! campaign I built three templates, named: Starting, S-SE and S-SW. Depending of the geographical positions of the missions to be flown. This templates include all AAA, trains, trucks, tanks, artillery, ground battles, special scenery needed as smoke columns and destroyed cities and airfields and a early draft of the random logic used to activate planes from both sides.
With this templates I can then concentrate into building mission which I divide in 3 phases: Alpha, Beta and Release Candidate (RC).
Alpha is simply having the player flight which include its objective in the mission and working as intended. With this done and tested that it works I called it “ok” and move on into the next mission. This can take maybe three hours a day for two days per mission. When I have all missions in Alpha I start the Beta phase which include private testing by other SYN members first and collaborator later on.
Beta is the time for me to move (and sometime add more) all AI. With this done its when people other than me start testing. This is a different monster so sometime missions can take up to three hours per day for five days to be happy send it out.
Release Candidate is when I add all media, translation and skins needed.
I never counted the hours nor the times, but one mission can be tested 50-60 times by me alone before it even hit RC. What I know its that Acthung Spitfire! took me three months to build, using up to six hour per day, five days a week and add four months more to that before I even called it a RC.
As you can see there is a huge amount of time use into building something like this and that’s only me, you have to add the hours others use of their free time to help me out.
What drew you and the team to the story of the lend lease Spitfires in the Kuban?
That was my decision and only mine.
I knew what others were planning and I knew the team can not afford the risk of making a collector plane campaign and I understand it so when Jason asked for people to help out I contacted him and after a long time, my bad!!, I decided that such a iconic plane needed some love. After all, I flew a lot of time the Spitfires at EAW!
Its also help that they were present in such a beautiful map such as Kuban is, there was not much to discus about it.
When it comes to mission diversity, did you struggle to find different things for the player to do in the Spitfire V?
At first, yes. I have to take into account that the plane have a very limited fire power. It has not that much ammo compared to other planes present at the time and have no possibilities of ground pounding since it can’t carry bombs. I remember thinking about WWI missions that can be adapted and some came up that way.
I got stuck at 15 missions I think it was, and with the help of SYN members and consulting the Kuban campaign I came up with some new missions. I have to repeat couple of types of missions but trying to change the atmosphere of the mission so it isn’t that repetitive.
Also because of this diversity “problem” its why the campaign has a duration of only 6 days since more days would mean to repeat same things done before…as in real life.
Prior to Achtung Spitfire!, you have released several other campaigns for the IL-2 series. Which is most memorable for you and why?
Yeah, this will be the 3rd proper campaign I think. Most memorable? Well, I have to say that this last one. It was a personal thing for me to pull this off so I put a lot of love and time into making it, knowing that it was going to be an official release simply encourage me to do my best to try to keep up the standard. Also its the first time that I do such a big protect, I hope everyone enjoy it as much as I did building it.
Are you hoping to release more missions or campaigns for the IL-2 series in the future?
Yeah, but with a difference. I will concentrate on Flying Circus mission building, for MP and SP since I think that WWII have enough mission builders around it already.
Will start building some SP mission showing off the FC planes and map and hopefully will be ready for its release.
Can also expect that we at The Syndicate Squadron build up some MP sessions or similar too.
More details about the campaign
Achtung Spitfire! is available in the IL-2 Store for $12.99 and features a 20-mission single player campaign that is, as described above, historically based and fictionally exciting. There’s a diverse range of missions all while flying the Spitfire Vb over the beautiful Kuban map.