Back a few years ago, Jason Williams, newly minted as Lead Producer for the IL-2 series, made it public knowledge that the series was heading to the Kuban river area as a precursor to taking the series to the Pacific and the Battle of Midway. Then, plans changed and the series went to the Western Front instead. It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Jason on his thoughts about the Pacific. Now, we have a new update that helps cover the current state of efforts.
References remains an issue
When it was announced that IL-2: Battle of Bodenplatte was next and that the Pacific themed content would be delayed, many were disappointed that the series was not able to make the jump to the Pacific. Going to the Western Front at least changed the script but I know quite a few regular readers were really hoping to see the series go to the Pacific – it was a winning formula for Pacific Fighters before it.
The issue then as it is now remains the dire need to have resources and information not just on the basics like how fast a given aircraft can fly but also how it’s systems work. IL-2 aircraft have relatively deep system modeling that helps gives them their realism and I can see it being awfully hard to make some of this stuff up.
In this most recent update on the issue, Jason Williams goes into detail on the efforts to amass the information needed:
Since I last spoke about this issue, I have had three different Japanese speaking people do research for me in Japan to help me find needed and known references that will help the team build some Japanese planes to our usual standards and no one came back with anything super useful. I have personally spent quite a bit of my own money and amassed quite a large library of books on Japanese planes and they come close to what we need, but not quite enough.Jason Williams
Jason goes on to explain that it isn’t just the A6M Zero that makes the product. His team needs information on other less well known types. If we consider the Japanese aircraft set for Battle of Midway, the D3A ‘Val’ and B5N ‘Kate’ are both essential counterparts to the TBD Devastator and SDB Dauntless.
Building a A6M “Zeke” is not really the issue, there are enough references to build one for Sturmovik, but some of the other main-line but less-famous Japanese planes are more difficult. Committing my team to a product that only has a flyable Zero and a host of flyable American planes is not really a marketable option for our business model. We prefer to continue to build a full plane-set for each of our products. That’s what sells best for us.Jason Williams
Jason perhaps knows the business model behind IL-2: Great Battles better than anyone and I have to agree that the success (and occasional failure) for the original Pacific Fighters was not just in the American and British aircraft but also the Japanese types that were included in the series.
The Battle of Midway wasn’t just Zero’s and Wildcat’s dogfighting and frankly the aircraft I was most excited about in the lineup were the Dauntless, Devastator, Val, and Kate and the Avenger. IL-2 series is always at it’s best when multiple aircraft with multiple roles are available to fly
The quest is not yet over
The end of the update from Jason essentially maintains what he has said for some time now – that the support he has received has been helpful, that the efforts to dig up new information continue, and that he hopes to be able to return the series to the Pacific yet.
I can imagine that the process to get to this point is long and troublesome and that the research information needed needs to build to a boiling point where suddenly the series becomes viable.
I still hold out hope that we can sail the Pacific at some point in the future.Jason Williams
As always, I remain hopeful as well and I think it’s great that Jason can share as candidly as he can about the trials and troubles of trying to make this happen.
With IL-2: Battle of Normandy underway now and the future prospect of the series being able to market to newer virtual pilots with complete sets of content featuring the Eastern Front (Moscow, Stalingrad and Kuban) and Western Front (Normandy and Bodenplatte) with over 30 and 20 aircraft respectively, I still hold out hope for not one but several Pacific themed titles. The theatre is ripe for great new simulator experiences including carrier operations and I hope we’ll be able to do that. My fingers are crossed!