If someone told me that the basic programming behind the way clouds work in DCS World dates back to Flanker 2.0, I would believe them. The puffy white clouds have been a feature of Eagle Dynamics and their legacy titles for a long time now and while advancements have undoubtedly been made, it’s also clear that other sim titles have passed them by. Now they are teasing the new system again and it looks promising. Plus, we’re learning about some F-14 and F-16 updates that are already in for the F-14 and coming soon for the F-16.
The puffy white clouds
While DCS World is generally visually spectacular with some of the best lighting effects and texture work in the industry, in 2020 it’s clear that the antiquated cloud system leaves a lot to be desired. Microsoft’s new Flight Simulator is easily on top with the variety and visual quality of their volumetric cloud system. IL-2: Great Battles has been doing volumetric clouds and multi-layer cloud systems, albeit basic ones, for years as well. DCS World has puffy bitmapped clouds and overcast cloud layers and that’s about it.
Worse, the current system isn’t shared on the network so cloud locations for me would be different than the cloud positions for someone else. It matters less in the world of jet fighter combat where missiles are often slung at beyond visual range but it matters a whole lot for WWII pilots – something the series has gotten into.
So with all of that in mind…. New clouds! Today we get two new glimpses and they look a lot like the clouds we see in Flight Simulator and IL-2: Great Battles albeit with their own spin on them. And they look good so far!
There was no written text to accompany them and the only response from Eagle Dynamics we’ve seen on their inclusion in this week’s update is that these are a teaser for more that’s to come. The last time we saw anything was last October with their first teaser image showing a MiG-29 alongside the new clouds. Obviously work has gone into them and we’re seeing some impressive features here with structures, layers and shadowing between clouds – nice!
There’s one more image that shows the clouds on what appears to be the Caucasus map. It’s on the Facebook and e-mail versions of the newsletter.
Progress on HARM and Maverick for F-16
To say progress has been slow on the DCS: F-16C would be something of an understatement although it’s still a very fun module for me to fly. Two of the most requested weapon systems for the jet are the AGM-65 Maverick and the AGM-88 HARM. The Maverick would give the jet a decent stand-off anti-vehicle capacity while the HARM would do the same against SAM sites and begin to unleash the F-16’s multi-role capability.
Two new images and some commentary from Matt Wagner on the two systems was released today.
The primary development items for the Viper remain the AGM-65 Maverick and the AGM-88C HARM in HARM As Sensor (HAS) mode. These were introduced into our internal builds today, and they will be subject to testing over the next several days. Initial tests are good, but there are several items to still resolve.Matt Wagner
That is good news. The wait has been long but we’re getting there for these systems. Matt makes no promises but hopes to include both of them in the September open beta update. These two images show in pictures what Matt wrote in words – the initial functionality of these systems in DCS.
Of course getting the AGM-88 on the Viper is just the first step. The Block 50 has the ability to mount the HTS pod which provides a much clearer picture of the SAM site threats and should make the jet the premier SEAD platform in the sim when complete. Until then, even basic functionality is going to be useful.
New F-14 updates
This week’s Open Beta brought with it some enhancements to the DSC: F-14 and many of them are worth noting. Here’s the list of changes and updates:
- New fire and smoke animations for engine fires and compressor stalls (WIP)
- Fixes have been made to Cage the Bear Campaign – thank you Kaba!
- Several fixes to Quickstart missions
- Fixed ARC-159 mode keybindings (guard,manual,preset,inc,dec)
- Jester will set AN/ARC-182 to AM now when starting cold
- Fixed AOA Indexer Brightness step up/down keybindings
We’re still waiting on news of the DCS: F-14A and some of the other features that Heatblur has been working on. Cobra, from the Heatblur team, has been active in the community recently and we’ve heard that they are still working away on these features. Hopefully more to come soon!