We ask a lot from the developers of the various flight simulator series that are out there. We want realistic aircraft with deep systems modeling, flight modeling that makes aircraft fly and feel like the real thing and match up to the numbers, and we want to do it in a graphics engine that makes us feel like we’re there with the best and most impressive visuals possible given today’s current rendering technologies. We now have the first hints in 2020 about what comes next for the IL-2: Great Battles Series when it comes to visuals and performance so let’s talk visual updates.
Graphics technologies are changing
It’s a constant in technology that things are changing and in the years since IL-2: Battle of Stalingrad released, the industry has pushed forward. The IL-2: Great Battles Series has seen some significant engine updates over that time but one area that the engine hasn’t changed significantly in is lighting.
New lighting techniques such as one known in the industry as ‘deferred shading’ are becoming or are already popular. It’s part of what makes DCS World 2.5 look significantly better than the old 1.5 version of that series and it looks like it’s coming to IL-2 as well.
A question was asked on the forums about another new technology called VRSS. Variable Rate Supersampling (or VRSS) is a recent announcement from nVidia and it’s meant to boost image quality in VR games. While it doesn’t sound like IL-2 will be using that soon, Jason Williams did respond to a couple of posts in a thread talking a little about their challenges but also what they are working on – deferred shading included.
We are switching to deferred so doubtful it will work with what we are planning. Still early days.Jason Williams on the IL-2 forums
Further discussion prompted a follow up as well which gives just a little more information:
We have been planning DS for a while as a way to increase performance and possibly allow for more graphical improvements, but the work is preliminary at this point so we shall see. The VRSS feature was dropped without much warning and we have no idea if it will have much of an effect on IL-2. Maintaining two different render techniques is likely not possible. I have only one guy and he’s always swamped and it will likely cause other problems. We hope DS will increase overall performance and also VR performance. But again, we have no big data yet on the preliminary work. The industry moves too fast for our small team to keep up and I don’t have nearly enough programmers to stay on top of it all. If we had an off the shelf engine maybe we could, but sims like ours require a custom solution. Never easy. Our competition has 4x as many employees as we do.Jason Williams on the IL-2 forums
As Jason says, the industry does march forward and so it’s harder for a small developer studio with a custom engine to keep up. That said, IL-2 has always punched above its weight and even right at the moment looks extremely good but of course the competition is always pushing forward as well.
Deferred shading and other engine updates will hopefully provide additional performance levels while also offering up graphical improvements to make the series look better than ever.
I do want to remind everyone as well that this is, as Jason says, early days so don’t expect this to be in the next patch or even necessarily this year though I do look forward to the first developer diary of 2020 and see what their plans are.