You might have already heard some buzz about a new simulator out there in the world and it’s true. The NOR Platform was unveiled at an industry trade show and it showcases a series of scenes of modern combat aircraft including several shots from the cockpit of an F-16 and a Eurofighter Typhoon. So what is the NOR Platform and is it a DCS World/Falcon BMS competitor? Let’s have a look!
The NOR Platform was unveiled officially on YouTube today and shown at the I/ITSEC 2021 conference, an industry show that calls itself the “world’s largest modeling, simulation and training event.” The simulator is being created by Meta Immersive Synthetic, a subsidiary of Meta Aerospace. They are, according to their website, an information age defense contractor based in Washington DC.
The simulator appears to be a modern military focused combat simulation and training software. On display in the trailer are highly detailed interiors and exteriors of several modern combat aircraft. The F-16 appears to be the star of the show but we also see the Eurofighter Typhoon, MiG-29 and a KC-135 all make appearances.
In the background there appears to be high resolution satellite imagery and ray marched clouds (just like DCS, MSFS and soon to be IL-2) along with sophisticated light modeling. The cockpit textures look to be on par with DCS World and show off some impressive visual quality.
Here’s more of what they had to say:
Introduced at I/ITSEC 2021, the NOR platform brings the cutting edge technology and accessibility of commercial gaming engines to the high-end military training and simulation market.
Meta Immersive Synthetics combined the stunning visuals of the Unreal Engine with a proprietary physics-based model of the world, creating NOR – an ultimate fidelity simulation platform that can be used to simulate, train, or model anything across air, land, sea, space, and the electromagnetic spectrum.Meta Immersive Synthetics
Sounds all encompassing to be sure.
Although this is a very interesting development and any new simulation like this has my attention, it does appear right now that this is very much a product intended for military training applications and purposes. From the marketing materials to the specific goals of catering to “high-end military training,” it very much sounds like NOR Platform is focused on that audience specifically.
We’ve already seen a few proclaim that “DCS is dead!” or “BMS is finished!” and so forth. Both statements seem highly unlikely and extremely premature.
We have no idea what level of simulation this sim actually offers beyond the trailer and some slick marketing. Does it have clickable cockpits? Or is that even a need in a potential high end simulator where you may have the real F-16 cockpit right there.
DCS World has been evolved for decades and although we all know its shortcomings, it has lots of simulated depth and detail. These kinds of details need prolonged periods of time to be put together and its not something that happens over a short period of time.
This all said, DCS World has an industry specific version of the sim that they use with air forces around the world and its not impossible or even improbable that Meta Immersive Synthetic couldn’t turn around and produce a commercial version.
I also want to reference an excellent video that Jabbers put together. A well known DCS World content creator, Jabbers was able to reveal some extra information and show off a little bit more of the sim in action in his video. Notably, they were using some interesting high resolution VR headsets with the sim that are likely to portent the next generation of VR.
And like Jabbers did in his video, I want to echo the notion that even if this isn’t (yet) a commercial product, having competition out there in the space provides the impetus for new innovations and efforts. And who benefits when that happens? Us consumers as we get more choices and the developers aspire to on-up one another. That’s nearly always a good thing.
Check out his video below and stay tuned for more information on this if we learn any more.
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I agree, this looks very much like a software aimed at militaries. However, that does not mean there will be no consumer focused version later on. MSFS 2020 is basically a testbed for MS to show of their AI and Maps interface that they are selling additionally to private persons thus more marketing for free (Screenshots, Videos etc.).
Another example would be Bohemia Interactive’s ARMA series, which is quite obviously the “smaller” brother of their Virtual Battlespace product aimed at militaries.
In any event I agree that competition, or even the fear of competition might finally push ED to make away with their technical debt and embrace the future. That means: Better VR implementation*, core optimization like threading and multicore, Vulkan and AI** .
DCS has some great system depth but everything else is just “ok”. sadly, but since there is/was no competition there was very little need to improve that.
* bad fps in VR are my little pet peeve. For the graphical quality the frames are far far far too low
**I am dreaming of a streamed AI. Imagine having a basic AI in the game thats offline, like now, but you can enable the streamed, machine-learning AI which is somewhere on amazons cloud. Every sortie you fly with this AI the results are uploaded and determined whether or not that worked out and the next time the AI uses a different tactic (or the same if it worked).
The good thing is that ED is pushing forward on all of these things but the process has felt painfully slow to us on the outside.
Sometime in the next 5-6 weeks, ED will likely do another big roadmap update like they did last year and tell us how some of those big core updates are going. DCS modules are incredible but you need more things to do with them.
Would have loved those shadows in DCS!
I’m not sure if I see much difference between this and DCS World. There are some environmental level lighting being applied that might have a slight edge but… DCS continues to improve on that side of things too.
They are not shown that much, and I have stared way too much for comfort at shadows generally speaking… One can make them better in DCS by modifying some Lua files by increasing the resolution, and change the intervals when the different cascades are used, in particular for in-cockpit shadows. But still…
Shadows (from the sun) are fairly clearly defined, and don’t flicker as much. At 0.52 being an example, across the right panel. 1.48 being another example, but even here, it is not perfect. Flickering knob on lower left corner below leftmost display 😉
Not really talking about the ambient occlusion, or other environmental effects.
BTW, Jabbers did point out the career page, which contains “game AI developer”…
Maybe DCS and FS2020 had a techno love child. Some smart 17 year-old hacker geek sitting in his basement might have figured out how to combine the two.
Fine with me.
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Haha well stranger things have happened? Maybe? 🙂
Will it have a dynamic campaign?
Sorry, I’ll get my coat and leave..
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Yes, in two-weeks.
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an interesting aspect is that Meta is the group that HeatBlur joined up with a year or so ago, and if nothing else, the NOR logo is a classic example of HB influence a la DCS Viggen’s logo.
HB alluded to being involved in non-DCS projects. Indeed, they were so quiet for so long many feared that HB had abandoned DCS…
But in a recent reddit post, HB confirmed that they have NOT been involved with Meta for awhile now, so that obviously didn’t pan out as they had hoped.
But considering the steady progress on Tomcat, and the joint development of Typhoon with True Grit, it seems they’re back and just as good as ever. 🙂
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Not good, no have Apache 😀