When it comes to IL-2 Sturmovik: Great Battles mission generators, Pat Wilson’s PWCG isn’t the only game in town. There’s another mission generator that fills a different niche that you should also look at. I’m talking about SYN_Vander’s Easy Mission Generator (EMG) which is intended to put together missions quickly. It has some unique features that fans of conventional IL-2 Great Battles as well as Flying Circus and Tank Crew might want to have a look at. So, let’s talk to SYN_Vander about his creation and what you can do with it.
Tell us a bit about how you got into flight sims? What was your first sim?
As a child I grew up in the Netherlands, in a rural area. This happened to be a low flying zone for fighter jets flying from and to Germany. This was in the 1980’s, think F-15’s, Phantoms, F-5’s, Starfighters etc. So from very early on I was interested in flying. I have done a little flying in sailplanes and later I studied Aeronautics.
I feel like an oldtimer saying this, but I started with flight sims on the Commodore 64 and there was this game called ‘Fighter Pilot’ I think, simulating an F-15 followed by the renowned F-15 Strike Eagle from Microprose. Later, for the PC I vividly remember ‘Red Baron’ as one of my favorites.
Where did the idea for your Easy Mission Generator come from? How long did it take for you to go from initial concept to something that you were able to release to the community?
I have been creating missions since the beginning of Rise of Flight. I have created an official campaign (St Mihiel). My squadron ‘Syndicate’ was one of the first to host a dedicated server and I have created dozens of missions for our Vintage Mission event every Sunday. Later I started to make cooperative missions again for my squad for the IL2 Great Battles series.
As you may know the Full Mission Editor is quite powerful, but was never designed as an end user product. It is quite hard to quickly make a simple -bug free- mission. Maintaining missions ( if new features are added) can also be difficult. So most people had to rely on missions created by others or the built-in campaigns, but were not able to quickly create a fun ‘what if’ scenario with a mission.
For my day job I had been learning Python ( programming language) and I thought it a good idea to generate most of the mission using templates to reduce development and test time. This then became the EMG.
From initial concept to first release was quite fast, a couple of months. I used the Agile way of working, so start with a minimal viable product and add more features later. Of course at one time I had to rewrite some core components which also took a month or two, but then for me it was also a learning experience.
Your Easy Mission Generator has been out for a while now. What are some of the biggest changes you’ve made between launch and today?
It started as a generator for cooperative missions since my primary focus is always to fly together with friends. But pretty quickly I made the option for single player since the internal structure is exactly the same. Later I added dogfight mode as well. It follows the same cooperative format, but now you can quickly respawn. New features were added gradually and usually from users requests. Getting good feedback from the users was very important to be able to fix bugs quickly and to add useful new features.
After I had created the Tank Crew mission generator I had completely changed the internal data structure and I decided to retrofit that to EMG. That took a lot of time although users never noticed it, but it did help in adding new features more quickly. Another big change was a new GUI with a map where you can select different maps and specific airfields. I’m now on version 50 after almost 2 years and the total release notes list is huge!
How does your mission generator differentiate itself from the QMB and new AQM in IL-2?
The QMB is very limited, but the AQMB does basically the same as EMG for single player missions, but of course it’s in-game and with a better GUI. However, currently not all maps are supported and there are some things lacking such as the ability to use custom plane sets, maximum number of planes, some objective types, flying at night, extra ambient AI and such. For instance the current Arras map is fully supported in EMG, but not yet in AQMB. These will be added later though and I hope we’ll have all the EMG functionality inside the game soon. Another big difference is that AQMB doesn’t have any support for cooperative or dogfight missions. I’m not sure if cooperative and dogfight missions will be supported, but let’s hope so. For me the primary use case has always been to quickly generate a fun mission when flying with a friend.
I will look closely at the AQMB progress but for now I will keep supporting EMG as I also actively make use of my own tool 😊. I fly weekly coop missions with a buddy of mine and perhaps we’ll be hosting a Syndicate server again and then I’ll definitely need it as well!
There’s a lot of content coming over the next several months for IL-2. Is there something that you’re especially excited to see? Is there a feature that you’d love to see that your mission generator could make use of?
I’m a big fan of WW1/Flying Circus. Especially online it fits my player style best: You can take your time setting up a patrol or intercept since the planes are quite slow. Yet when it comes to a fight it’s absolute mayhem! And you can actually see the other guy sitting in his kite and all the markings on the fuselage, particularly in VR. So I’m really looking forward to FC2 and the new map and aircraft.
I’m also exited about Battle of Normandy for two reasons: The Mosquito is one of my favorite planes and the proposed map can be used not just for D-Day, but for a lot of Channel scenarios from 1942 onwards. I prefer the more early war types over the late war ‘hot rods’.
Are there any questions that I should have asked you but haven’t yet?
Well I am glad I was able to help to ‘plug the gap’ between QMB and the Full Mission Builder. Let’s hope the AQMB can fully replace my EMG. So I am already looking forward to perhaps another fun project for the future. I see several options: As the FMB is still too much of a steep learning curve for many I could look into a ‘simple mission editor’ that is still very powerful but with a much simplified UI. Another idea is to work on some lobby system for cooperative missions (in combination with a mission generator), but this
requires an extra set of skills and probably money for hosting. Or perhaps I can create some more tools to assist in mission making as I have done with the ‘set destruction and toughness’ tool for a whole group of objects. I’d be interested in feedback from our community!
Big thanks to SYN_Vander for agreeing to answer some questions about the Easy Mission Generator.
EMG is a really useful tool for throwing together quick yet complex mission scenarios. With its wide array of flexibility across the entire Great Battles line-up and the ability to generate single and co-op scenarios, I can see more people using this to create fun situations to fly in. You just need to give it a try!
Get started with the Easy Mission Generator
SYN_Vander’s Easy Mission Generator supports Single Player, Cooperative and Dogfight modes for World War II and World War II aircraft. Mission types include Intercept, Bombing, Attack and Transport. There’s also a separate version of the utility that supports the tanks from Tank Crew.