The phrase “better late than never” probably applies to this story. A substantial update from RAZBAM, third party DCS World developers, has appeared today on their Facebook page which goes in depth on what release status for the DCS: AV-8B means to them and what they are still working on for the module both for right now and for future release.
The work continues
The way that the announcement, made quietly on the DCS World forums, that the DCS: AV-8B was coming out of early access and was considered a full release was the piece around which most people were up in arms over. Such an event is worthy of official statements and details of what, if any, future plans are in the works. Now we have a lot of what should have happened over a week ago thanks to a new update from RAZBAM. It’s a lengthy one and I’m going to break down just some of the key highlights.
RAZBAM maintains that even in full release that their products will enjoy constant evolution and point to the work done on the M-2000C as an example of what they intend to do. It is a good counterpoint to the abandoned module narrative to be sure.
The statement notes that the AV-8B’s current code and processes is based on an older way of thinking and doing things in DCS World. Specifically, the MPCD’s or the ‘glass cockpit’ part of the experience is now using older methods that RAZBAM intends to update. The old method uses bitmap textures while Eagle Dynamics has moved to using SVG (a vector based format that is infinitely scalable) for their HUD’s and interfaces on types like the F-16 and F/A-18. RAZBAM will be moving to this format for the AV-8B in the future and notes that it will benefit VR users.
RAZBAM contends that they wanted to do this overhaul first before introducing the last pieces of the puzzle to become feature complete, however, they have changed course and will continue to use the bitmapped texture format for now and will transition to SVG based graphics later.
They are also still working on the new pilot body using laser scanned images to build a more accurate representation that you’ll be able to see in the cockpit when finished.
Features and fixes coming this week and beyond
I’ve already reported on a list that RAZBAM released detailing what was coming to the module and when, however, this list looks to be the most recent and therefore worth repeating.
First, we have things that are expected this week in the patch coming Wednesday:
- Added vertical tail damage parts and fragments
- Added INS course set keybinds
- Added DMT now slaved to AIM-9 seeker
- Fixed erratic control functionality with altimeter adjustments
- Fixed erratic control functionality with CRS knob adjustments
- Fixed Comm channel selector not sequencing correctly
- Fixed TPOD still in power-up mode when starting initial conditions to in-air or engines on
- Fixed HUD reject logic behavior inverted
- Fixed AGM-122 Sidearm seeker not aligning with RWR source signal
- Fixed AIM-9 Sidewinder incorrectly firing when cycling from AG to AA then back to AG
- Fixed damage model issue where parts would not fragment off
- Fixed damage model issue where weapons would sometimes remain on destroyed wings
Following those items, there’s a longer list of items that are pending for the module.
- Added ADI cage toggle keybind
- Added ADI pitch adjust keybinds
- Added GBU-32 JDAM
- Added GBU-54 Laser JDAM
- Fixed removed incorrect HUD limitations for AGM-122 Sidearm ready-for-release
- Fixed rudder trim in-cockpit switch not operating
- Fixed rudder trim indication in cockpit and in controls indicator
- Fixed SSS Left should now sequentially cycle between EHSD centered, EHSD decentered, and ECM pages
- Fixed ECM page not returning to the original MPCD format
- Fixed missing seat height adjustment control. Seat model animation work-in-progress
- Fixed EHSD course over ground incorrect in Mag heading mode
- Fixed EHSD decenter display overlay getting mis-placed
- Fixed default rocket range profile values inverted
- Fixed EHSD moving map on MPCD too bright
- Fixed Left MPCD brightness control not operating correctly
- Fixed Right MPCD brightness control not operating correctly
- Fixed EHSD resulting in symbology misplaced when zoom set to AUTO
- Fixed RWR still partially functioning when turned off
- Fixed RWR minimum volume too loud
- Fixed missing RWR power/volume knob adjustment increments
- Fixed pull-up cue not occurring when selected
- Fixed dual rack bombs not releasing in the correct order
- Fixed top-right rocker switch on left MPCD bleeding into bezel
- Fixed scaling of HUD repeater on MPCD to be correct size
- Fixed font for EHSD to be correct size
- Fixed engine efficiency table error at extremely high altitudes that was resulting in higher than expected thrust loss
- Fixed SAAHS paddle disable incorrectly resetting stick trim position and not resetting rudder trim and will now correctly restore rudder trim when released
- Fixed Speedbrake logic based on SME information to extend as long as OUT is pressed and will fully retract when IN is pressed (Allows for partial extension but will always fully retract)
- Fixed aircraft diverting in some cases prior to maneuvering tone envelope
- Fixed infinite coefficient values in some conditions of large body angular rates (out of control)
- Modified structural load damage to no longer be instantaneous, now require sustained over-tolerance for structural (wing) failure
- Modified TPOD axis dead-zone to be slightly reduced
Of particular note is the addition of the GBU-32 JDAM and GBU-54 Laser JDAM – the later of which is a new weapon that is coming with DCS: A-10C II and, if I understand correctly, would have had to wait for Eagle Dynamics to do the implementation on before RAZBAM could make use of it.
These are all good things to see coming down the pipeline. For more, visit the RAZBAM Facebook page.
Although this statement definitely helps smooth over some of the rough patches of the last week, I can’t help but think this could have been done in reverse order. Announcing the work being done and the effort to move to a release state followed by the implementation of these features and then a celebratory moment when the module emerged from early access.
Instead there is once again a fair bit of mistrust between community and the developers at RAZBAM. Some of its warranted and some of it is clearly not but at the end of the day, those of us on the outside, can only know what we know. It pays to have a communicator on the team (and then listen to that person) and unfortunately RAZBAM is without one right now so clearly some wires were crossed and what could have been a PR victory is something that needs patching over.
At the end of the day, however, it’s the module itself that we’ve got to look at and it looks like AV-8B continues to progress – early access or no early access.