Thoughts on the future of Flying Circus in the IL-2: Great Battles Series

Now that we’ve put a few days between the full announcement for Flying Circus Vol 2 I wanted to offer up a few more thoughts on the franchise and address some of the different opinions in the community. Let’s talk the future of Flying Circus!

Renewing the excitement levels

Flying Circus Vol 1 was a risk that the team at 1CGS took together with Ugra Media to try and bring Rise of Flight back to life in the newer Digital Warfare engine that powers the latest versions of the IL-2 series. It seems that the risk paid off well enough to justify signing an agreement between 1CGS, Ugra Media and 1C to bring Vol 2 and Vol 3 to life which is really very good news.

Jason Williams, Lead Producer for the series, alluded to the fact that it took a little longer to get sales to the point where they wanted them to be, but that they did get there. I’m going to read into that a little bit and suggest that initial pre-order sales were slow for Flying Circus and that post-launch sales were a bit slow too but that the title has managed to pick up enough new people buying in over the last year to make Vol 2 and 3 a worthwhile possibility.

Vol 1 was a risk too because it had so little to go on. The ten aircraft were great, the multiplayer fun, but the map was small and single player offerings at launch were extremely limited although some community tools such as Pat Wilson’s Campaign Generator were ways around that limited content. I covered all of this in my full review of Flying Circus Vol 1.

Since then, the series has gained two official single player Scripted Campaigns which has helped narrow the gap a bit. More needs to be done there but the good news is that more is being done.

This announcement has renewed my enthusiasm for Flying Circus in general and I don’t think I’m alone as the multiplayer servers have been busy again and more people are talking about it. More people have inquired about “if its good” and the notion that this all has a future has helped relight the flame.

Challenges and strengths

Most of you who have read my editorials and editorializing in news posts know that I’m a ‘glass half full’ kind of person. I’ve made that my editorial mission on Stormbirds to bring out the positive in flight simulation and encourage the hobby wherever I can. At the same time, I aim to be factual in my optimism but I feel vindication from time to time as problems in simulations are often sorted out and issues are resolved.

Flying Circus has a bunch of different issues to tackle and I start with single player. While a great many of us enjoy multiplayer, many more like to just have fun in single player and more single player content in both Scripted Campaigns and a Career mode are a must. I was worried that the series would not progress beyond a Vol 1 and eliminate some of the possibilities there. My worries were unfounded. Having a future means these can be addressed and indeed they seem to be on Jason Williams radar in a big way. Starting with Career mode, he said,

Yes, we plan on implementing the Pilot Career mode in FC2/3 as part of the final package, but this is a long-term feature that can only be completed once we finish the Normandy career. What initial mission types will be included will be known at a later date. 

Jason Williams on the IL-2 forums

In the next paragraph, Jason also addressed Scripted Campaign missions which can be just as entertaining and fun and offer that hand crafted experience that can really make the difference for people in single player.

I do plan to include some quality Scripted Campaigns as part of FC2 and future volumes. And I plane other custom single player missions as well. This includes additional mission content for FC1.  

Jason Williams on the IL-2 forums

Not only will Vol 2 benefit from this development but clearly Vol 1 owners will too. We don’t yet know if Career mode will be for both Vol 1 and 2 owners but if we lean on precedent for a moment, the folks at 1CGS were very good at bringing Stalingrad and Moscow into the Career fold and I think we’ll see that here too.

The series’ strength for both its WWII content and now its WWI content is in the interconnections between it all. Being able to fly a scenario with any aircraft over any map that you own generally leads to wanting more scenarios and more maps and with three volumes coming, the ability to enjoy all three products together offers that much more value and I think that’s exactly what will happen here too.

That’s no more apparent than with the news of what is planned for the maps for the series. Phase II development will include a new Arras sector map that is much larger than that in Vol 1 right this moment and it will come with four seasons too. It links in with the planned maps for Vol 2 in the Verdun sector and then the Reims Sector for Phase III (almost assuredly in Volume 3).

Dealing with the damage model

I’ve had this conversation on a couple of formats recently about Flying Circus’ damage model. While 1CGS has historically been strong at this, recent changes to the damage model that made some overall improvements to the series seem to have a negative effect on Flying Circus.

While adding things like control cables to Flying Circus was a nice addition, wing strength seemed to be more of an issue and one that caused quite a few problems. The worst was where just a few machine gun hits would cause aircraft such as the Halberstadt CL.II to shed its wings in dramatic fashion. Although that issue has been improved on, its not been fully resolved at least as far as the community is concerned.

The thing that I remain optimistic about (my glass remains half full) is that 1CGS has never left these things hanging forever. We’ve had issues with the sim over the years that they have consistently and constantly addressed. It’s a difficult moving target for 1CGS to try and hit and one that most people will never be fully satisfied with but one that they usually do to most people’s appreciation if not full satisfaction. After all, nobody will ever be happy all the time.

Jason did again address this in his post, saying,

I see this as a long-term project to somehow change only WWI damage modeling. Even so, there are mixed opinions on this issue. Just because there are some vocal critics out there, does not make the loudest voice correct. As usual, we would need to study the issue further before any more changes are made.

Jason Williams on the IL-2 forums

To me, I read this as it being an issue that 1CGS has is not going to ignore, is not going to dismiss, and will continue to look at and re-evaluate as necessary. A few have suggested otherwise but that is not my takeaway.

There is always more that can be done but as it is, the current issues can be mitigated and my recent flights in Flying Circus haven’t been overly affected by them. Maybe I’m just lucky or I have more tolerance for this sort of thing. Your mileage may vary.

Much to be excited about

To summarize my thoughts, Flying Circus Vol 1 was a bold step for 1CGS to take. It was a risk, but it was one that had the potential for long term pay off and I think we’re on the cusp of that pay off. Not only are they making Vol 2 but also Vol 3 and they have what appears to be a cohesive plan for offer new WWI content for fans of the series over the next several years. With the likelihood of new Collector Planes being introduced to the series that aren’t solely rejuvenated from Rise of Flight and I think there’s some tantalizing possibilities for long time fans of both Rise of Flight and Flying Circus.

When I put together the new much more varied aircraft set, the expanded maps and seasons, new single player content, and the linkage of Flying Circus together with the rest of 1CGS efforts to improve the overall look and capabilities of the Digital Warfare engine, and there’s just so much for me to be excited about here. It’ll never be perfect but this is already a very good experience that is growing into something more and, for me at least, years of WWI flight sim entertainment in one of my favourite simulators.

19 Comments Add yours

  1. Raptorattacker says:

    It sounds fantastic and, while the new planes are drafted in, they can be used on the Arras map without too much of a problem so… me? I’m all for it!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. CanadaOne says:

    Good article, and I’m glad you mentioned the challenges faced by people looking for a better SP experience in IL2, though I would like to see improvements in the QMB to make for a better and faster access to player designed content.

    That said, FC1 has a very good looking set of planes. And though I don’t fly them often, I do get an “Oh yeah, this is pretty cool!” feeling when I do.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Novice-Flyer says:

    Although Jason stated that finding WW1 aircraft info is very scarce, save for the planes that are in RoF, they could try going to another place like Eastern Europe or Italy after FC3, and then come back to the Western Front for the Channel map.
    With Collectors, I really hope that the BE.2 is the first (or one of the first) as it’s probably was the most requested plane for RoF other than Zeppelins.

    Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nick J says:

      Only masochists would want to fly the B.E.2, it was a disaster in almost every way and resulted in the death of so many pilots. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be in the game, just expect to be cannon fodder!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Blue 5 says:

        ‘Machine-gun fodder’. I would buy a Be-2 in any case. And 504K.

        Re: damage model, the wings are one of the strongest parts of an aircraft. Their detachment should be extremely rare. We had that one excellent DM about a year ago but it was binned for lacking ‘drama’. I hope – but am not optimistic – that the wheel turns back in that direction.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Nick J says:

    I was very happy to hear that there will be a Volume 2 and jumped on the pre-order straight away. IMO Flying Circus is one of the best sim experiences that you can have in VR.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Doctor Drago says:

    WWI collector planes make my heart go pitter-pat. And if they’re drawing from subjects not explored in RoF…I logged most of my RoF hours in the W12, maybe it’s finally time for my W29? #dreams

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      In some ways this might be the most exciting news. We have no idea what they are going to build that’s new, that we’ve not seen before in Rise of Flight, but it should be an interesting moment! Perhaps one that throws off the perception that Flying Circus is just Rise of Flight slightly warmed over (I don’t think it is but some do).

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Horstunger says:

    I come back to this blog ever so often because of your ‘glass half full’ attitude. There is so much negativity and ranting in the flight sim community in general, and I find the positivity of your blog refreshing. Players and simmers should of course be critical of big companies doing shameless cash grabs on AAA game titles or third party sim companies selling unfinished addons and modules. However, flight simming is a niche hobby – and until recently I was considering it declining to the point of dying. The two main business in the combat genre, ED and 1C, are very dedicated and have kept believing in their projects in spite of challenges and criticism. I have no reservation in buying a lot of their content as I’m convinced the money spent will be reinvested in making the sim platform more detailed, feature rich and simply better. Your blog is pushing the hobby in the right direction.
    Now, with Microsoft’s major investment in flight simulation bringing literally millions of new players to the hobby I see the dawn of a new golden era for flight sims.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Seapiglet says:

    Might not be popular with the history buffs, but I really loved a feature of Flying Corps, a WW1 sim from the 90s, where you could customise your skin (and that of your flight) to a high degree. Like chequer-board patterns? Go nuts and plaster your plane with them. Red wings and a blue tail? Sure! Made it really easy to I’d your flight. Doubt we’ll ever see it in FC though. I might be the only one who’d want it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Blue 5 says:

      I remember that! Was simple but a lovely little option.

      Lots of WW1 material at the Graham White hanger at IWM Hendon. It’s an amazing place to visit for anyone going to London

      My only reservation is that the aircraft are not terribly different from the standard.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. =CfC=Father Ted says:

      That’s perfectly do-able in FC – the various squads have their skins and a lot of individual players have their own

      Like

      1. Seapiglet says:

        This was an option literally built into the game. No messing about with image files at all. It was lots of fun!

        Like

  8. Mischiew Rithe says:

    I’m late to the party…

    It doesn’t seem they’re bringing the career mode back to FC1? It was really too expensive for the single-player content it had to offer, even if it was fun. I don’t think I’ll buy further products of the series, or I’ll wait a few years until it’s on sales. I know there are SP “solutions”, provided by 3rd parties (community campaigns, and so on), but I was still expecting something more from 1CGS, and I see vol 2 is also quite a high price too, and no upgrade path.

    Like

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Hi Mischiew,

      No confirmation yet on how expansive Career mode will be but there is precedent for bringing it to prior titles and they are doing substantial work to upgrade the map for the Vol 1 title (with a larger map, more seasons, etc.) so I would assume that’s being done for a reason.

      I’m puzzled about the price. It’s set at the same level for all of their titles. It costs a lot to do 10 aircraft and the associated content. We get less gameplay time for more money from AAA games.

      Don’t get me wrong, I fully recognize and understand that some are not able to afford the higher prices or that currency exchange can be a problem and so that’s why I report on every sale that I hear about. It can make a big difference for some. But as base MSRP goes… this is on par. And I wouldn’t expect it for less.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mischiew Rithe says:

        To clarify, I have no issue with the price they’re asking for the other Great Battles titles, I’ve bought them all and spent a lot of time with the SP content. But in comparison, there is much less in FC1, so the offer doesn’t quite meet the demand for me (yes I’ve bought it, but much later when it was on a significant sale).

        I suppose that it doesn’t make such a difference for MP players.

        Perhaps it’s more niche and there are fewer people interested in that series, I understand that. And as you said, it must have cost them about as much to produce as the other titles. Let’s hope they can build on that and increase the SP content, that’s what they seem to do 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. ShamrockOneFive says:

        Agreed that Vol 1 needs more single player content. Jason has said more missions are coming to the title for one and we still don’t yet know if Career mode is coming to it. I am cautiously optimistic that it is and that it will make the Vol1 release that much more valued.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Tom says:

    “While adding things like control cables to Flying Circus was a nice addition” , no it’s worse that weak wings… listen to multiplayer community voices , that’s why many users left competitive multiplayer

    Control surfaces jamming in one fixed position is unrealistic, most ww1 aircrafts didn’t have control rods in first place. Camel is worst it had 4 ailerons, in the game when one aileron is hit and jamm ,in the result all 4 will jamm at once. In realistic modeling you could cut off cable or destroy hinge and that aileron should flutter in the air, rest ailerons should be operational because of separate cables.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Hi Tom, thanks for the comments!

      Although it’s been a little bit since I wrote this article, I’m still happier to see things move forward and gain features even if sometimes things are not quite working as hoped. You’re right that not all controls should jam at once and I think a redo of some damage model features is in order. Jason seems to think so as well supported by the quote in this article.

      A few have left multiplayer but I see and have flown with plenty of others who are still having fun – perhaps inspite of the issues. I have faith that it will get fixed and that having the added layers to the damage model will be worthwhile but it does require some patience on all of our parts.

      Like

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