One of the best known modifications for DCS World that’s out there is the DCS: A-4 Community Mod project. They have released several updates to their initial release and version 2.0 has just arrived on the scene. Let’s have a look!
A mod but not just any mod
I don’t do a lot of coverage on mod projects. They are hard to follow, many of them start and stop and never really move beyond a basic level. But some projects are special and the A-4 Community Mod for DCS World has really proven itself to be one of those projects.
This version 2.0 release brings with it a long list of notable features. Among them are EFM support which improves the handling of the aircraft and brings it up to third party developer standards. It also has a clickable cockpit, inflight refueling, Supercarrier support, unique weapons (including M66, M81, M88, MK4 HIPEG 20mm gunpod, Mk-77 napalm canister and SUU-7 bomblet dispenser), detailed Pratt & Whitney J52-P-8A engine simulation and more.
One of the authors of the project, callmepartario posted on the r/Hoggit group with the following message and update.
Happy new year! We’re thrilled to share our most comprehensive DCS World module to date in this 2.0 “Forever Free” update, featuring a realistic flight model, improved systems simulations, increased functionality across all DCS World’s available maps, full carrier compatibility, radios, air refueling, and improvements to the ground radar, sound feedback, textures, controls and inputs. This update also adds a user manual in PDF format as well as in the DCS kneeboard, packed with useful checklists and procedures that cover everything from start-up to weapons deployment.callmepartario on r/Hoggit
The release also comes with its own ‘Launch Trailer.’ Have a look!
Interested? You can download the module, the manual, and more via the group’s GitHub community site here. Be sure to follow the install instructions carefully and doubly so if you have the old 1.4 version or earlier installed
Mods and multiplayer compatibility
If you’re as impressed as I am by this project, you may be wondering when you’ll be able to fly it next on your favourite multiplayer server. It seems like a shoe-in for the Cold War servers out there for example. Unfortunately, there are some problems.
First, if you don’t have the mod then you won’t be able to see the aircraft correctly in a server that’s running it. It will show up as an Su-27 which of course creates some weird problems. Second, it would make integrity checking a problem opening the door to cheating and even modifications of the A-4 to make it something that it’s not (i.e. suddenly its a Mach 5 flying 100x AMRAAM slinging monster). Third, some mods are not compatible with other mods (apparently a DCS bug) so if you have the A-4E-C then you can’t also have the AH-6J Little Bird, CH-47 Chinook, and CH-53E Super Stallion mods installed at the same time. Suddenly this is getting very complicated.
There are many hurdles that need to be jumped over here to solve this problem and make this available. For one, I’d love to see Eagle Dynamics find a business and software model that would better integrate mods into their project. There is a value add to all of DCS through some of these cohesive community mod projects (and I have no further to look than ZiboMod for X-Plane 11 or FBW’s A32nx mod for MSFS as other examples) that could add to the sim as a whole. Some sort of verification process for free mod projects making them semi-official in a software sense would be tremendous.
The other issue of course is that many of the mod teams don’t have the desire to go from indie mod developer to indie software developer. There is a difference of responsibility to be sure. Contracts need to be drawn up, business plans put together, and of course a price charged for the project. The theme for A-4E-C v2.0 is “Forever Free” and it’s clear that the team wants to keep this as a free project.
Other mod teams are making the leap and I’m told that the Anubis DCS Super Hercules mod is making the jump from mod to full featured DCS World module. The same is true for IndiaFoxtEcho who went from MB-339 mod to full DCS World project.
Despite these hurdles, and entirely for selfish motives, I’d love to see this aircraft in the Cold War servers and I’d love for Eagle Dynamics and the community to come together to find a good way forward to make that happen while keeping the ideals, the legal, and business issues at bay. Not an easy hill to climb but one that I’d love to see climbed!