Eagle Dynamics highlights DCS content, plus LUA controversy

This DCS World Weekend took an opportunity to highlight some of the new content that has been released into DCS World 2.7 as part of the big update released just over a week ago. The focus if this update was to show off some of the new airbases included in The Channel Map as well as some of the new ground vehicles. The update also ignited a controversy in the community with news that weapon parameters were being locked down. Let’s dig into the latest.

The good stuff

I prefer to focus on the positives so lets start there. DCS World 2.7 has been largely a success in its roll out with an update to core systems in DCS World that have made a big impact on the sim and Eagle Dynamics was able to do it while keeping frame rates high for most and in some cases improving the efficiency of the sim. The update clouds are having a dramatic impact on gameplay and on the visuals of the sim.

This week, the newsletter focused in on some of the new content that came with 2.7 which may have been overlooked. That new content includes new vehicles which have been rendered at the usual high level. They include the LAZ-695 and Liaz 677 city buses, SA-6 Gainful (NATO) 2K12 Kub with both TEL (launcher) and STR (radar) units, and the BTR-80 APC.

There was also mention of all of the new airbases included in The Channel map that have been added in the 2.7 update. They include East Church, Biggen Hill, Headcorn and High Halden. Two are pictured below and more are included in the update.

And the ugly stuff

With just over a week since the release of DCS World 2.7 and the community basking in the glow of what was a strong update to the series and messages of appreciation being shared across the community, it’s with some disappointment that I have to report that there is new controversy and it all stems from one sentence in the latest update.

As our online community grows and grows, we recognise that ensuring a level playing field for all has become an important matter and therefore, on popular demand we have locked the LUA files relating to weapon systems. 

DCS World Weekend News Update

This has ignited a firestorm in the community from two key angles. Before we get into it, the simple version of what has happened is that the weapon parameters for DCS World were previously available in a plain text file and it has now been encoded into a LUA file. LUA is a popular programming tool that has a wide variety of uses including the encoding of data.

The arguments

Two arguments have come up in the community as a result of this happening. First, the modding community enjoys a relatively healthy existence building unique aircraft and combinations such as the community A-4 Skyhawk mod which is held up as an example of an excellent mod that rivals some payware types.

Some of those mod teams have made use of custom weapons values and contributed their own weapons to the list to be used with their mod. Encoding the file appears to make it difficult to continue to add custom weapon options to the list.

The second argument, is that encoding the files makes it harder to point out issues and errors to Eagle Dynamics. There have been some valuable community discoveries over the years including the A-10C gun dispersion issue and more recently the revelation that some weapons such as the 88mm flak gun and other explosives were using incorrect assumptions or calculations for explosive power. Eagle Dynamics has been hard nosed on some of these issues in the past and laying bare the raw values has eventually swayed their programmers to realize mistakes or assumptions that weren’t right.

The power of a thousand eyeballs on these issues, some of whom are former military and/or trained experts, has made for a better sim.

This second point does ring a little hollow, however, as data mining of the LUA file has already occurred and Eagle Dynamics appears to have given the blessing to that information being released.

Potential fallout and other thoughts

The glow of 2.7’s release has, for many parts of the community, now dimmed. There is once again an element of antagonism between ED and the DCS community. It’s not my favourite thing to report on but it’s happening and so here we are.

The way that the statement was worded, particularly the “popular demand” line, has not gone over well with many asking who was asking for this. That is a good question.

As someone who works in the public relations space, this is not usually the kind of statement you want to make when its obvious that this change will have negative impacts on the community. It’s best to avoid jokes and the potential for miscommunication when dropping a small bomb like this one. Clear communication is essential.

Other messaging has been more calibrated with NineLine writing the following back on Wednesday:

I know it’s not gonna be the answer you want, but right now this is what we have decided is the best for DCS going forward. I will talk to the team about concerns as far as modding and bug reporting. Sorry guys.

I have asked for:
1. Modding use, another solution to work with this
2. being able to see the values some other way or form for testing

Our intent certainly isn’t to stop modding or hide mistakes, I can understand some jumping to that, but I promise, it’s not about that.

NineLine on the DCS forums

Arguably, what’s still missing is a better explanation of what the benefits of this move are. Are there performance improvements by using a LUA file for these values? If this really does prevent some cheating that goes on, how does it do that (in laymans terms)? So far we haven’t heard that yet and it would be a good thing for Eagle Dynamics to expand on that as soon as they can.

Finally, I’ve seen yet another round of people calling for boycots, saying they won’t pre-order this module or buy that module, and frankly we’ve heard that before and those comments tend to fade away rather quickly. For a large majority of players, this change won’t affect them and this latest bout in community/developer relations will be forgotten. But it all does leave a bad taste in the mouth and I really wish it weren’t so.

15 Comments Add yours

  1. CanadaOne says:

    I admit to not knowing enough about it, so I’ll take your points as being correct. For me, 2.7 has been nothing but a big win. But then I am not someone who takes a deep dive into the file structures.

    All I see are clouds. And they make me happy. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      That’s mostly where I am too! The latest update has been good and for the most part k this change doesn’t have a huge impact directly on me. But it does have community implications so… I’m reporting on it.

      I’d rather talk more about the cool new features. And I will be!

      Like

  2. CanadaOne says:

    You are painfully positive. 🙂

    But that’s a chunk of what makes this such a good site.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Well I try 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Blue 5 says:

        You could try making a bridge out of 2.7 and see whether it floats?

        Like

      2. ShamrockOneFive says:

        I’m good with that idea 😀

        Like

      3. Doctor Drago says:

        It’s true, the constant negativity and entitlement of hoggit (and reddit in general) and the various forums is why I pretty much only get my sim news here these days.

        I’m having my own issues with 2.7, the “Second Mission Start” crash that seems to be affecting a fair group of people, but it’s not the end of the world and I’m confident it will get fixed. Until then I’ve no shortage of other things to do.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Urgent Siesta says:

    As with most things DCS, this seems to have been blown entirely out of proportion.

    For e.g., it takes YEARS for ED to acknowledge and change inaccuracies that are plainly demonstrable (A-10 thrust/drag, Hornet ground effect, etc.), let alone esoteric ones buried in code.

    It also tracks with ED’s fairly recent decision to 100% control A2A missiles & weps in the game.

    So, it would seem this has more to do with people’s pet toys no longer working. Which IS annoying if you’re one of those people, but IMHO, there’s just too much fun to have in this sim (let alone all the others) to get wrapped around the crankshaft over it.

    Like one guy who posted on Hoggit: 99% of players won’t even notice, let alone care.

    Like

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      It does seem like the average person, myself included, is going to be unaffected by this. ED could have handled it better in their messaging and I think this would have passed most of us by. As it is… I think it will pass most of us by anyways.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Urgent Siesta says:

        Indeed, sir, you are correct!

        One “upgrade” that DCS definitely needs is a modern PR Department.
        Though i’ll give credit that their forum community relations have improved greatly in the last year or two, so there’s hope yet!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Gretsch_Man says:

    Yes, many (if not most) people have a tendency to focus on the negative side of things. Sad but true.

    While there are many things in DCS that could/should be improved, I am very thankful for the overall experience it offers, especially in VR.

    And with all the many goodies still in the pipeline, I believe it will be a very exciting year for DCS players.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      It will definitely be a good year given the changes we’ve already seen to the sim and the exciting new content yet to come.

      I much prefer to talk about those things as the big picture of all of this is that we’ve got a bunch of great sims available these days. They all have their challenges but I think they are all incredible.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. butcher75 says:

    So for Me that doesn’t mod or use Mods and is not computer savvy (Are downloaded missions and campaigns mods?), the lau thing just makes Online play Fairer by cheaters not being able to make super Missiles?. But for mod makers they now can’t make weapons for their Mods? Is this the gist of it? Am I missing anything here? If so how can we fix the issue for Modder’s ? I feel for the mod folks it must suck to put in so much time and effort for this to happen.

    Like

    1. TK1 says:

      The Integrity Check (IC) takes care of the cheaters. It will check that you have the unmodified files and matches with the server.

      This encryption was nothing else than a speed bump to real skilled cheaters. They manipulate the data directly in the memory and you can’t avoid that with encryption as you need to decrypt the files to run it. There are many ways how you could make all data randomly jump around the memory space etc but that is just investing more time and effort for a problem that does not exist.

      The online game part has not reported about cheating. If there are reports then it is about ED on coding about missile behaviors and functions. And encryption doesn’t help there.

      For the modders it would be enough that they can just add a own file to correct directory and it gets read as well and it would overwrite the ED encrypted one. It doesn’t pass IC so you can’t use it for the online gaming but you can make mods like before.

      And if ED would keep public file with all the content openly visible, that people can go to look at it and then refer to it or use it as base for modded file, then that works great way to do it.

      I don’t think anyone is against encryption for default install and for runtime, but problem is that usual people don’t get to see what is set how and get to do own mods.
      Like why did the ED encrypt the audio files? So that you can’t do anymore audio mods for improved afterburner or remove the unrealistic rain sound when flying through rain at high speed etc?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. ShamrockOneFive says:

        Thanks for the comments TK1!

        Like

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