The IL-2: Great Battles multiplayer scene has grown considerably over the last few years and there are plenty of servers out in the community that now cater to different tastes in multiplayer experience. One of the servers that has started to get a boost in player numbers recently is the Finnish Virtual Pilots – Dynamic War server. For good reason! The server has a combination of varying aircraft sets spawning the entire catalogue of aircraft in IL-2: Great Battles combined with a slightly more casual take on a moving frontline reminiscent of the extremely challenging Tactical Air War server. This server exists in a kind of sweet spot that I think can appeal to the newer pilot as well as the more seasoned veteran.
To help get a better idea of what the server is all about and the personalities behind it, I reached out to LLv34_Temuri and LLv34_Untamo to find out all about their server and their plans for the future. Pay attention Cliffs of Dover fans because you may want to read to the end here as well.
On with the interview!
Introduce yourselves and tell us how long you’ve been interested in flight simming?
Untamo: 38 year old software designer. Been interested in simming since seeing the first sims on 386 PC as a 7 year old. Started to fly more intensely in 2009 after meeting a similarly minded friend, with whom we got into flying IL-2 1946. This got us into contact with the Finnish VirtualPilots Association and squad flying.
Temuri: 41 year old UX Designer/Technical Writer/Localization Manager. I dabbled a bit on old Il-2 since around 2005, but started regular online flying around 2014. Stumbled upon the Finnish VirtualPilots’ Finnish Gulf server and got in the Finnish sim scene via that.
How long has the Finnish Virtual Pilots server been in operation? What’s the essential idea behind the server?
Untamo: Made the first forum post on March 16th, 2016, at which point the server was now operating 24/7. The basic idea is to have a dynamic war sandbox in which everyone can participate freely whenever they want, in what way they want, on what side they want.
Temuri: We made the first iteration of the server system in 2016, and back then we wanted to have a server similar to the old Il-2 WarBirds server which I liked a lot. One main idea behind the server is to put into use all the planes that the devs have made, and the WarBirds type of rotating planeset allows that.
Currently, this is the third iteration of the server. First iteration was purely WB type, i.e. attack airfields to close them and land a para plane there to capture it before enough objects respawns on the field and the field opens again. On the second, we added more complex logic; you needed to destroy enemy tank bases to advance the battle to the airfield in order for the airfield to be eligible for capture. Also the respawn times of the objects on the airfield depended on the condition/health of the nearest depot or factory and the distance to that depot/factory. This seemed to be difficult for most of the players to understand, so in the current third iteration we’ve streamlined things: the more enemy objects you destroy, the more the frontline moves, and ground objects you kill stay dead for the rest of the mission.
What can players expect when they join the server and what kind of scenarios do you run? (i.e. East front, west front, objectives, etc.)
Untamo: Currently running maps are Kuban and Stalingrad. They are a bit labour intensive to add, so it’ll take some time before we can add Moscow and Bodenplatte. In this iteration player is presented with 1-n conflict zones (aka “sectors”) on the border, frontline troops near the border, artillery a bit behind, depots further back. Airfields are positioned some distance away from the conflicts.
Temuri: I’ve also been preparing the Prokhorovka map with LLv34_Flanker, but word on the forum is that it’s heavy on multiplayer. Progress has been slow lately, due to having a newborn in the family, but there’s not much left on the Prokhorovka map. Two weeks…
Like I stated earlier, what you destroy stays dead for the rest of the mission and affects frontline move. This means any ground objects, player planes (we don’t run AI planes), and tanks that are destroyed affect the frontline move. More details can be seen on the stats and server status website.
In the mix of multiplayer servers that are available to fly on for IL-2: Great Battles, where do you see Finnish Virtual pilots and why might individuals or groups join your server?
Untamo: We offer a dynamic frontline in which the players have direct influence over. The damage done on each sector determines in which direction the frontline progresses on each sector.
Temuri: We’ve tried to provide a somewhat laid-back dynamically moving frontline campaign server. As the server is online 24/7, I see it more like a sandbox than a serious “let’s win the war” type of server.
When are some of the busiest times to fly?
Untamo: The server seems to be most populated around 20:00 – 00:00 EET. On weekends even more so.
Temuri: Recently, I’ve noticed there’s sometimes a nice amount of players on the server when I’m sipping my morning coffee (6:00-7:00 EET).
How have the introduction of tanks and the prospect of combined arms changed the scenarios that you generate? Have you run into any problems with them and how have you solved them?
Untamo: We added them into the mix, and have made some changes into the composition of frontline and artillery units to accommodate them. The free tanks are not available because of their broken DMs.
Temuri: When looking from the gaming side of things, the tanks that come with the TC are quite in favor of playing on German side. Because of this, we’ve limited the tanks on our server to have only the PzIII, PzIV, Sherman, and T-34. We have the rotating tanksets implemented, so if in future there is a more balanced selection of tanks available, we can add them easily.
Are you encouraging voice communications using Discord, SRS, etc.?
Untamo: We have a Discord available and enabled SRS on our server. We also have a TS3 server, but it is currently reserved to finnish pilots only, because the server is operating on the free license, with a client limit of 32, which can get quite close even with us finns in some occasions.
Temuri: For SRS, we haven’t yet established any rules/instructions, but they will be based on input from players.
How do you recommend new players get into IL-2 multiplayer and do you recommend Finnish Virtual Pilots to newer pilots?
Untamo: Well players should learn the basics (takeoff, landing, navigation with map and compass etc.) and the operation of the aircraft they want to use before heading to our server, as it is full real, so no GPS and the aircraft supply on each airfield is limited, so wasting them for takeoff training would be frowned upon.
Temuri: Pretty much what Untamo said, also any plane you crash will also harm your side’s advance.
What are you excited about that is coming soon to IL-2: Great Battles and how do you think the future of the series might affect what you’re currently doing on Finnish Virtual Pilots?
Untamo: Well, not exactly Great Battles, but the Tobruk is going to be an interesting one to see. We’ve been playing around with an idea to make a server implementation to the Cliffs of Dover also.
Temuri: I can’t talk about the thing I’m currently most excited about regarding what’s coming “soon” to Il-2: GB and the Finnish VirtualPilots’ server, but I’m quite eager to see what the Air Marshal feature will be. And yeah, Tobruk is very interesting. Cliffs’ engine would enable us to do things we can’t do currently.
More details on Finnish Virtual Pilots server
If all of this has you excited to check out the server you can get more information on how the server works, what the basic mechanics are of their moving frontline (tl;dr: you destroy things or prevent things from being destroyed), and how you can connect to the server community. Speaking of connections, the server has a thriving Discord community which you can reach here and a stats website if you want to see how you’re doing.
I’ve already written about a few of my flights on the server back during Sturmovikfest 2020 and Wolfpack345 posted some great screenshots from a sortie we flew recently on the server.
Every time I’ve been on the server I’ve had fun and thanks to its serious yet accessible atmosphere combined with a very cool persistent frontline experience. I think this is a server that people should check out!
I hope you enjoyed the interview and I want to thank LLv34_Temuri and LLv34_Untamo for taking part in this community Q&A as well as for the brilliant server that they run.