Let’s talk DCS maps and other complaints

Eagle Dynamics has been on a bit of an announcement spree recently and I thought after last week things might begin to settle down. I was wrong! We’ve seen both aircraft and scenery announcements and it’s been an interesting time to contemplate the future of the series. I want to take stock of what’s been announced recently, compare it to some past experiences, and talk about some expectations for both the new content and core updates for the sim.

The announcements

Three third party developers have been revealed by Eagle Dynamics over just the last few weeks as having map/scenery projects in development for DCS World. This is a significant increase in third party developers working on this as we’ve seen in the past that just Ugra Media and then later RAZBAM appeared to be interested in tackling the technology.

This suggests to me that something, in recent times, has changed. Perhaps Eagle Dynamics business development group have succeeded in luring new developers in. Perhaps DCS as a platform has grown to the point where more third parties are interested in getting in on it. Perhaps the internal development tools that Eagle Dynamics has been working on are now in a state that more third parties can tackle such projects without needing the rest of the internal team to provide support. These are all speculations on my part but it is clear that there’s a shift.

For a long time, DCS World and its predecessors have existed on almost entirely just one map. The Caucasus region map has gone through a few iterations over the years starting as a mostly Crimea based map with a small section to the east. Then it shifted to a mostly Georgia and Russia map deeper into the Caucasus mountains for Black Shark and Flaming Cliffs 2 and there it stayed for a long time including with the DCS World 2.5 update that revamped the map significantly.

Then we began to see a slow trickle of new maps. DCS: Nevada and DCS: Normandy were both originally third party efforts. Normandy stayed third party with Ugra Media releasing a substantial re-work just a few years ago and are now working on another rework expanding the scale and scope that was teased in the 2022 and beyond video. DCS: Persian Gulf was Eagle Dynamics next big map project and that appeared to help uncork the bottle with subsequent DCS: Syria, DCS: The Channel, and DCS: North Atlantic all appearing after. There’s also the free DCS: Marianas Islands in both the released modern version and the still in progress WWII version.

We went from essentially one map for the series to a half dozen and most of that has happened over the last 5 years.

Now we have DCS: Kola, DCS: Sinai and DCS: Top End of Australia all announced within just weeks of each other. It’s a lot to take in.

The possibilities

All of these maps bring with them some unique possibilities. First, from a business perspective, Eagle Dynamics is now working with more third parties than they ever have before. The bringing in of Orbx, a very well known scenery development development team, really helps show DCS’ growth. Orbx is known for enhancing the visuals for a wide range of mostly civil aviation sims. FSX, P3D, X-Plane and MSFS all benefit from their work both from their internal team and their own collection of curated third parties that they sell to on their marketplace.

Orbx is working on DCS: Kola which is the map that I admit I’m most excited about. Past combat sims, such as EF2000 and Fleet Defender immediately spring to my mind as sims that have used the Kola region for their scenarios.

While a modern conflict has never been fought here, it’s been written about in fiction as a potential though never realized flashpoint for several Cold War scenarios. With Reflected and Baltic Dragon both working on connected campaign projects for this map, I can see it being an instant hit.

DCS: Sinai is pretty interesting too. Although it is admittedly “yet another desert map,” it exists in a region that we haven’t seen done before in DCS World.

Sinai will have a lot of desert to it but it will also include places like the Nile river delta which is a very green agricultural region in stark contrast with the sandy terrain around it. Sinai has been the site of numerous Cold War era clashes and although this is a modern version, much of the terrain is similar enough to make it more than appropriate for those.

DCS: Top End of Australia is also very interesting to me. This one requires some more imagination than some have employed so far, however, I think it’s purposes are very clear. Eagle Dynamics has been recently doing more of a thematic push with their modules towards the Asia-Pacific region. Deka Ironwork’s China Asset pack, the Marianas Islands map, and additional marketing materials for this area are setting up hypothetical scenarios that appear to be matching growing real world tensions.

Just like DCS: Persian Gulf represented a more hypothetical scenario that has very nearly erupted into a more serious conflict, DCS: Top End of Australia sits in a somewhat similar although less well known space.

The real world area here includes some key RAAF bases like Tindal and Darwin. Tindal in particular has become a major center for RAAF operations and is part of the Australian military’s defense-in-depth strategy should the area ever be invaded.

It’s also where Australia hosts their multi-national Exercise Pitch Black which includes a diverse range of nations from Singapore to Thailand, UAE, United States and others. This is also an exercise that see’s Hornets, Flankers, Gripens and Mirages all operating together so its definitely a cornucopia of fast jet aircraft. During the exercise, Blueair has traditionally operated from Darwin with Redair operating from Tindal.

So, with all of that as a backdrop, there’s plenty of possibility with this map.

Where is Vietnam and Korea?

With all of these announcements, there has been the usual “but where is <insert map here>.” Everyone has a wishlist and a favourite area that they want to see simulated and the recent spate of Cold War era jet announcements, particularly the F-4, F-100, A-7 and F-8 have all prompted calls for a Vietnam era map.

Eagle Dynamics response to Tricker on Twitter helps tell the story of what’s happening there.

Additional comments from both NineLine and BIGNEWY have filled me with hope that this is an area that is still being planned for and indeed may even be in some sort of active development. I continue to maintain that the bigger picture often requires viewing and that there may be several stops along the road to be made before we get there.

The release of the free DCS: Marianas Islands helps dip the toe into these waters. Vietnam, being a lush and sometimes densely packed jungle nation, requires new technologies and may even require some additional engine upgrades to make convincing. I suspect many would be disappointed if Eagle Dynamics or a third party were to go and do a project and then not be able to represent some of the key aspects of that area. Vietnam without jungles would be like Marianas without water.

Faster tree rendering, denser tree canopies, and large area modeling are all required to make a Vietnam map really come together. I have faith that we’ll see that and that its on the internal Eagle Dynamics roadmap but I suspect we need to take several steps to get there. This may take a few years.

Korea too has been mentioned and it comes with many of the same challenges although in many ways its closer to what we already see in the Caucasus map area. The mountains and valley areas would be of great interest to fly in and I can see an offering that potentially is a historical map but also potentially a modern one too. This is also not without precedent as several sims including Falcon 4 and F-15 Strike Eagle III have featured hypothetical modern Korea war scenarios.

The issue of fragmentation

The recent announcements have also caused some to become concerned about fragmention of the multiplayer community with all of these maps becoming available and not everyone necessarily having them.

This is a legitimate concern. Unlike other sims, DCS does require you do have essential assets in place before you can fly together in multiplayer and that can mean lower server populations for less popular assets. It’s possible that one or more of these maps will not sell like the others and that multiplayer servers will cater exclusively to the popular one and not to the others.

I wouldn’t say that this is unfounded, however, it was also expressed as a major concern when DCS: Persian Gulf Was announced and to date I don’t think we’ve seen the multiplayer community fracturing just yet. I do see players picking and choosing, often very carefully, the maps that they buy with the intent of joining a specific server community.

I myself, having thoroughly enjoyed the DCS: Persian Gulf map when it arrived, have spent countless hours on the Hoggit Persian Gulf at War (PGAW) map. DCS: Syria too has carved out a significant part of the multiplayer community and has become very popular especially with helicopter focused pilots but also with the fast mover crowd.

These maps, when thrown into the mix, could cause fragmentation or they may continue to cause specialization as we’ve seen so far. The biggest problem is often when you have friends who have one map but not another map and that determines what ultimately gets chosen. Still, over the long term it seems likely that map buying decisions will be influenced by those social circles.

Would I like to see an easier method? Yeah I would. 1CGS’ policy of enabling all maps for the IL-2 Great Battles Series has been a boon to its multiplayer scene. Would the same method work for DCS? Not with the current arrangement and business plan but that doesn’t mean that I can’t imagine another scheme where anyone could install and fly over these maps in multiplayer but only fly over them in single player when owned. Would that cut into sales? It might. It might also boost them. I don’t get to see those numbers nor those forecasts so my suggestions remain hypothetical.

Core engine stuff

The other item I want to touch on before I step down off my soapbox is core engine updates for DCS.

A long standing desire within the community is for core updates to the sim. I share that desire. DCS World can be tricky to get running smoothly even on high end hardware. Throw VR into the mix and it becomes a very difficult proposition. Further to that, any time a new module or piece of content is announced, there are inevitable calls for DCS’ core functionality to be updated. It needs it and badly in some places.

Eagle Dynamics for their part have not been entirely resting on their laurels either. We’ve seen some optimization and changes to the sim’s lighting systems, weather, and more. More multi-core support, Vulkan API, rendergraph technology and other elements have all been mentioned more than once in developer diaries and other updates.

DCS World also needs to become a better game. Its simulator credentials are clear, however, we need more ways to interact with both old and new content. Here, the core of DCS World is also underdeveloped. Better mission generators are desperately needed. Better track recording to replay those scenarios is desperately needed. The dynamic campaign system, long in development, also a desperate need to enhance the DCS experience.

None of these are simple snap of the fingers solutions and Eagle Dynamics has, much to their credit, mentioned work progressing on all of them. At some point we of course want to see that work come to fruition.

This is all a side rant but let me now bring it back to the map announcements. Be it northern Australia, Sinai, or the Kola region, none of these announcements take away from the need for those updates but they also aren’t going to slow them down. These are third party’s entering into an agreement with the business developers at Eagle Dynamics to make these happen. The team working on those core engine updates continues to do so no matter what happens with these maps.

So, while I share the desire for greater urgency on faster rendering and better gameplay, nothing that has been announced recently affects the speed of those projects either way. It’s a tall mountain they have to climb there but new maps from third parties won’t make it steeper. We just want them to climb it a little faster. Its a bigger ask than I think some think it might be but the desire and some need for urgency is still well understood by everyone.

Final thoughts

I’ve been up on my soapbox for a long time here and I’m about to step down off of it but I wanted to sum up my thoughts first.

I think its fantastic that we’re seeing these third party developers put the effort in and give us some new and sometimes unique places to fly in DCS World. New experiences, new areas to explore, new challenges to overcome are part of the reason why a sim like DCS is so compelling to me. So if its flying over Kola, over northern Australia, or over the Sinai, all of these new maps should provide for some interesting terrain to cover.

Despite the concern in some quarters, I think these will sell and I suspect their releases will be staggered over the next couple of years so that hit to the pocket book won’t be felt in the same way as if they all came at once. They will also cause the community to specialize on specific experiences just as they have with the current slate of maps. Some of them may prove to not be a success which is a risk that any developer with a business plan has to face, however, I’m not willing to immediately write-off any of them as I think they all have some exciting possibilities.

At the same time, in parallel to these announcements, I do also want to suggest that Eagle Dynamics needs to talk about some core updates and do so with more frequency and detail. The folks asking for them, although a bit off topic from these announcements, are not entirely out of place either. We want to enjoy this new content but we need to see some longstanding issues sorted out too.

New content is what helps keep sim’s like this going and it provides us with new experiences. I see those as great things that are happening for DCS World. A lot of fun can be had right now and new experiences ensure that the fun will continue. A little imagination can help open the doors to new scenarios and for that I am genuinely interested to see how this all plays out.

One thing is for sure, none of this will happen next week or next month. This is the reveal of a content gameplan that will play out over the next several years. As always, it should prove to be interesting.

40 Comments Add yours

  1. Baltic Dude says:

    I hope we get more Korean war theatre modules and assets soon. F9F would be very fun for carrier opertations.

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  2. Mike Smith says:

    DCS Vietnam is at least 5 years away. They still have Marianas WW2, then Channel Map update, then Afghanistan. And don’t forget they have issues at the moment, as the core Eagle Dynamics development studio is based in Moscow, with all the complications that must bring.

    PS: I like your typo: “DCS: North Atlantic”… some wishful thinking?

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    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      I agree that Vietnam is 5-years away. As it is, these maps are probably a couple of years away too.

      Yeah that’s a typo 😊

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  3. JLAbraxis says:

    Compleatly agree with your comments. I play sims mostly in single player mode and enjoy WW2 aircraft so while I own some DCS aircraft and maps it never really holds my interest for long. They really need to focus in on fleshing out thearters more fully with aircraft and have some sort of career mode like IL2 to keep my interest. Single missions just don’t cut it. DCS just seems like a sim to learn an aircraft and play a few SP missions then your done. I understand it is much more apealing for MP but there is a huge market for SP they are missing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Apoll says:

      Very thoughtful review and frankly, good to see the issues about DCS core vis module spamming being intelligently aired. As a business decision to make money, I see the imperative of pumping out module after module, whether terrain or platform. As an Australian, I love the idea of a bit of the vast Northern Territory being able to be flown over.

      As a mainly solo player, interested always in immersion, I wish they’d put the same focus they do on technical accuracy, numbers of different platforms and theatres on critical ingredients to gameplay like making sure there is enough to do with the latest and greatest module in whatever theatre they care to nominate, dynamic experiences, fully fleshed out worlds, etc. Flying a superbly modeled aircraft over the prettiest terrain in canned, disconnected missions gets very sterile, very fast, no matter the technical achievement. I quote the superb Mosquito module as a case in point.

      Thankfully talented 3rd party coders and mission developers have stepped in to fill the void, but that does not mitigate DCS’s lack in this regard.

      So yea: new terrains and stuff noted, but wish a modicum of effort directed to the above. They are lucky there is not a serious competitor out there in modern air combat simulation to make these shortcomings financially punitive!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. CanadaOne says:

    I’m fine with all of what DCS is doing, but I find it a bit annoying that they may be making announcements for things that are perhaps years(?) away from completion.

    I’d like them to discuss timeframes. And as they seem to stagger releases so as not to have more than one new item for sale at a time, how far into the future will all this happen when you have multiple planes, choppers and maps all announced at once?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Yeah I share that we sometimes learn about things so early that we then sort of forget about them and wonder “Oh, I wonder where that project is off to these days.” On the other hand, announcing now may free up developers to take more freely with the community which enables more eyes on subject matters and sometimes helps those developers (especially these smaller third parties) get hands on references. There’s definitely a community element there.

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  5. Indo Flyer says:

    I’ve been perusing through many of the comments on hoggit, the ED forums, twitter, steam, facebook, etc on all these new developments and I think it’s unfortunate that there seems to be a great lack of ‘appreciation’ for all we have already (even though ‘lack of appreciation’ in itself is a very cliché human behavior). I for one am suuuper grateful that now in this day and age we have VR-capable almost 1-to-1 representations of iconic historical combat aircraft, and that these past 5-years ish in DCS alone we’ve had the F-18, F-14, JF-17,. F-16, Hind, Apache to name much, not to mention warbirds like the P-47, mosquito as well as ‘experiences’ such as the Raven One campaigns. These are many, many things we couldn’t even dream of having 20-30 years ago. As a VR user myself, yes, I’m also very much hoping for improvements to the base game, but I do think that as people we need to appreciate the magnanimous gains we’ve already had in the span of less than 5 years instead of assuming the ‘gimme more’ mentality, which unfortunately is rife and not very wise imho.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. CanadaOne says:

      With due respect, it’s not “gimme more” – it’s “sell me more”. There’s a difference. At $60+ for a map and new planes at $80+, we are definitely paying for our toys.

      I paid big bucks for my right to bitch and moan. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Urgent Siesta says:

        Yes, but it’s kinda like bitching and moaning about riding around in a luxury car… 😉

        Liked by 1 person

    2. JLAbraxis says:

      You are correct as respects the amazing simulations we have today and I really appreciate each for it’s unique features. But the reality is that regardless of how much we may appricate these sims they are in competition with each other for paying customers. None can survive for long without revenue. Therefor however much I appricate DCS most of my simulation budget goes to IL2 since I prefer the paticular features it ofers over DCS. So the people running these businesses need to think long and hard about which features will be appreciated most by the target audience they are after. Sometimes I think they fail to do this consistently. Particulary being the case with DCS.

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  6. Urgent Siesta says:

    Well said, and thank you for being a voice of reason!

    I came into DCS from the civilian flight simulators (X-Plane with a side of P3D). And the civ simulators are an excellent contrast to the alleged “problems” of DCS World.

    The civ sims give players literally the entire world to fly over, with (relatively) accurate scenery.

    Most importantly, the civ sims offer a completely open, unfettered market. The simulator developers do NOT control the introduction of products. So anyone can make any enhanced product and offer it to the entire player base of millions (even before MSFS).

    And yet out of an exponentially greater player base than DCS & IL2, that’s been around far longer than either, et al., we still have…

    Scenery equivalent in quality to DCS World is largely a set of expensive addons in a hodgepodge of Euro-/US-centric locations.

    Combat and it’s related technologies are vestigial at best. It IS possible, as demonstrated by several addons. (Not to mention that’s how P3D makes Lockheed Martin truckloads of taxpayer cash…).

    Flight models are generally second rate compared to DCS modules.

    Multiplayer? Mostly a dream until the very recent advent of FS 2020.
    (And isn’t it interesting that even with the mighty technology and deep pockets of Microsoft’s networking and cloud technology behind FS 2020 that we still see many of the multiplayer “issues” so bitterly complained about in DCS?
    Maybe it’s actually a tough problem to solve…?)

    Damage models? Don’t get me started.

    AI, ATC, helicopters, integrated ground vehicles, naval operations, etc., etc.? ROTFLMAO…

    Mission Generators / Missions / Campaigns / “Stuff to do”? Another ad hoc hodge podge of 3rd party systems / addons.

    And the only simulator to ever deliver a Dynamic Campaign like we’re crying for went bankrupt 20-something years ago… (again, perhaps it’s actually a Herculean task?)

    So even with all the potential, literally decades of time, an unrestricted market, and open-world simulations, there’s still no simulator grade combat experience, nor any “maps” covering notable areas of historical conflicts, etc.

    So, sorry, fellas, DCS World, despite our legitimate desires, is actually a GREAT sim that’s measures up well against the substantially limited civ sims, is already better than any other combat sim available, and is still continually improving.

    I’d say keep asking for what we want, but stop complaining in the meantime.

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  7. Blue 5 says:

    Northern Australia? Crikey, or possibly Flaming Galah.

    I know it’s 3rd Party (though that is still DCS energy and hence opportunity cost), but to paraphrase Luke Skywalker: if there were a bright center of DCS fan scenario wish-list, this is probably the map that is farthest from.

    Oh well, I suppose it’s not Craggy Island.

    Totally agree with Jlabraxis. If DCS have a plan then clearly I am too stupid to get it. 2 years, be sure!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. harryvoyager says:

    On performance, I expect that will solve itself. I suspect it would be more to DCS’s benefit to focus on stability and things like netcode.

    Vulkan will be nice, but we are expecting massive performance gains out of the Intel Raptor Lake and AMD Zen 4 generation CPUs, with Vcache 2.0 probably Q1 next year, and Lovelace and RDNA3 are both expected to bring at least a 70% performance uplift in raster performance, I suspect performance is not going to be as big a problem as it has been in the past.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      So long as the engine is able to take advantage of the increased power, yeah that in-part will be solved. There’s still some areas where performance needs to be improved within the sim itself that will lead to greater potential too. Both are true!

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    2. ppipkorn says:

      As already mentioned, only if the entire engine gets multithreaded (not just the graphics engine, which the purpose of Vulkan (and other low level APIs)).

      Today, making the GPU much faster doesn’t really make any difference, DX11 is really single threaded. (actually, it ends up as dual threaded, as drivers are somewhat smart). But no matter how many cores the CPU has, it doesn’t get faster until multithreading is implemented. Which as discussed is in their todo list, but it doesn’t automatically get solved with beefier HW.

      Also, the GPU scaling (how much faster it gets with a faster/bigger GPU) is also something that could be worked on. The graphics alone doesn’t scale very well with GPU size. ED could fairly easily make it 2x faster (on some settings) on high end GPUs with some (relatively) simple things. I’ve noted that in particular the cascaded shadow maps ends up very serialized on the GPU, and the deferred multisampling scheme is implemented in a quite inefficient way as well. And supersampling is implemented with lower quality (better to use multisampled buffers with per sample shading to get a nice rotated sampling pattern) compared to just 2x scaled window resolution.

      So I really hope the port to Vulkan doesn’t just take care of multithreaded rendering, but that the entire rendering is also receiving a big overhaul to take advantage of faster GPUs. And that the multithreading doesn’t start and end with rendering, but that the entire engine is able to scale across many cores.

      And on top of that, if they would go with the more standard (today) deferred rendering antialiasing scheme by using temporal antialiasing instead of the abandoned scheme of multipass deferred rendering (analyze edges to see which pixels should be shaded multiple times), we could perhaps one day even get DLSS (and/or FSR 2.0). One can dream! 🙂

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      1. harryvoyager says:

        On CPU performance, Raptor Lake and Zen 4 are both going to have significant improvements in single threaded performance. Both are pushing up the clock speeds significantly, with Zen 4 potentially hitting 5.8 Ghz at retail. (They can do it in the lab, but no-one outside AMD really knows if those are golden samples, or common enough that they can mark them that on the box.)

        On the GPU side, even though we are hitting widths of diminishing returns, I’d still expect to see the ability to run considerably higher resolutions than previously, simply because that still scales well with width.

        Also that point of diminishing returns at 4k seems to be around 9,000 shaders, based on the RTX 30 series, and RDN2 only had 5120 shades engines on its top end card. RDNA3 is expected to outright double that, so I would expect we would still see a big lift there.

        And the more total pixels a GPU can push, the less meaningful something like DLSS is.

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      2. marcocom says:

        You seem to know alot about the driver, OS, and hardware side of this. I know about the software side as a developer, and theres a bit of a misconception in threading.
        You are right that a game engine is single-threaded in DX and always has been. But DirectX is different than the older style monolithic game architectures. So like, John Carmack made Quake3 multi-threaded in OpenGL. That means that his entire engine had to have its own custom mouse, audio, network, input logic, all within its own engine crafted in pure C and even machine-level code (thats why it could do 200fps, and this is why Carmack was the one guy to goto when Oculus wanted to make a customized game engine for their unique industry-first needs).
        DirectX is more like a ‘stack’ of platforms. The operating system provides all the audio, input, netcode, and even CPU optimized ‘extensions’ that can do fast math processing unique to the PC. A game engine today (or just more commonly today) and manages a thread for each of these independently. the voice-chat, the in-game text chat, the in-game browser, the server-browser, the UI, Physics calculations, and AI, these can all be threaded out by the operating system.
        ED has broken out these separated systems to different threads as we would want, so the desire for us to take the one large thread, the 3D world-engine thread, to be written in ‘functional programming’ style for threading is a huge undertaking that almost nobody has tried to do and pulled off. This is mostly because game-engine developers today are just not what they once were, true computer scientists, and instead are more specialized now. they operate at a higher level mostly, except for a very select few. (like 500k per year salary, select few)

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    3. CueBall says:

      There is just *no way* that performance is going to “solve itself”. DCS was released in 2012, when the fastest computer was an Ivy Bridge Core i5 and the best monitor available was 1920×1200 resolution. Computers today are dozens of times faster, yet somehow we’re still complaining about performance. Even if tomorrow’s processors and CPUs are 50% faster, that will just barely get us into 90fps in VR territory with today’s headsets. When VR screens inevitably hit 6K and higher resolution (almost certainly next year) then we’re going to be right back to 45fps again!

      Performance is a big issue in DCS, especially for us guys who fly warbirds and aren’t shooting missiles from 25 miles away. It needs to be significantly improved for even top end rigs to get good performance, much less an average computer that doesn’t cost $2K.

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      1. harryvoyager says:

        I’m sorry, but they are *not* dozens of times faster. 2013 was the start of the great stagnation. I used a 4770K for seven years and only noticed it wasn’t keeping up when I started doing VR. And, as great as the Zen 1&2 CPUs were at multi threading, in VR performance they were barely better than that 4770K for nearly a decade ago.

        It has only been in about the last year or so that we have seen meaningful single threaded performance increases. I have tested this extensively, and the results are all over the SYN_Vander benchmarks.

        Saying that we’ve seen anything more than a 50% single thread performance since 2013 is absolutely wrong.

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  9. Gretsch_Man says:

    As far as I’m concerned, this article pretty much nailed it. So from my side, there really isn’t much to add to the discussion that hasn’t been mentioned there already.

    As regards to maps, one thing that I do like to add is my wish for ED to improve our present Caucasus map. I think the map itself is really good, but compared to newer maps looks rather dated.

    One little (or perhaps not so little) issue with more maps that isn’t mentioned in the article is space requirement. Buying all those new maps in a relatively short time period would probably eat up the space of many SSD drives in use (I just recently updated my own SSD drive from 512GB to 1TB just because of DCS).

    Last but not least, I would also appreciate a little more transparency from ED regarding some of that core engine stuff (engine optimization, dynamic campaign etc.).

    Other than that, yeah, looks like we are heading towards more exciting times with DCS.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Chris says:

    What happend to the DCS Me262?

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    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      You know, I haven’t heard anything about it for years now. It’s completely fallen off the radar….

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  11. Chris says:

    Top End Austraila is that Eagle Dynamics or by ORBX?

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    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      A new developer called Check Six Simulations.

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  12. marcocom says:

    There is less companies making sims than i can count on one hand. There is only one creating an actual platform for third-parties that can actually handle those modules being able to shoot at each other!

    …all i care about , after having played thousands of hours of entertainment on a couple hundred bucks spent on ED software, is that this company does not go bankrupt. i spent 15 years patiently waiting for feature updates to Falcon4 and i always thought ‘if only BMS would please let us pay them so they can staff up and make this come faster’, i certainly gave very little regard for the 60$ to use my 1500$ worth of sim hotas and cockpit!

    I remember how absurd all of this sounded when Wagner announced plans for the LOMAC engine with extensible hi-fidelity modules instead of ‘packs’ like we had (really mimiced from Oleg Maddox’s IL2 business model) and thinking “that would take a decade at least, from a small independant self-published studio, that sounds like a pretty far and unattainable stretch, and THEY DID IT! its real! i have ten different hi-def modules with netcode for dedicated servers that actually works out of the box!

    Take my money and just get more people and keep up the work that has changed my life, and please do what you can to make iterations even faster! im happy to fly the plane while you perfect it! Dont worry… ill find a way to scratch up 75$ or so (the price of a single night’s drinks tab, sometimes) to pay for it. just hurry please!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. toby says:

    Totally agree with DCS being a ‘learn a module’ simulator. I’ve been playing since LOMAC and, since the advent of satellite imagery in civilian flight sims like X-Plane, FSX and, even the stuff that I put into DCS years ago with my ‘low’n’slow’ mod, I still never feel like I am flying somewhere believable in DCS. Vegas comes close but I never fly there because why would I, there’s no content there for me.

    I hate the disconnected maps that cost a fortune and don’t look that good. Syria is nice but give me a reason to fly there please. I bought the Apache with Syria and have flown them both a couple of times. I over-estimated my available time to learn a new module it seems (yet again).

    ED will have their reasons, probably budget and staff, but if they could present the world like Asobo can (license it) and provide an easy-to-use mission generator, like IL-2, they would have the market to themselves for Cold War/ Modern aircraft.

    I find I spend most of my time these days in IL-2 flying WW2 era aircraft. The flight models are good enough for me, the damage model too, and I can fly campaigns, missions, dynamic careers, and I have a huge selection of easy to fly aircraft for a hour or so of fun. I haven’t even tried to get online, I find the idea completely daunting even if I love the idea of a shared mission.

    Years ago, before I had kids, even when they were young, I taught myself to fly the A-10C and the Ka-50 and absolutely loved it, I was completely immersed but the maps were still the weakest point, Caucusus being the only one available then. I loved the Ka-50 Vergeev Campaign, also in Caucusus, and I was able to immerse myself in that too. But, since MSFS has nailed the look and XP11 offered me ‘DIY photo scenery’ for free and with Ortho4XP, DCS terrain has started to look very sterile and old-fashioned by comparison. I want to love it but find it lacking after flying so much in MSFS.

    I’m not sure why IL-2 has such a hold on me, excluding Bodenplatte, the maps aren’t that great either, flat and 2d looking. I think it’s the atmosphere that IL-2 manages to create with the missions, the excellent campaigns from the modders and content creators (not influencers). The great use of sound, the flames and smoke spitting out of the engines on start up. The realtive scalability of the pick up and play aspect of it. Come home tired after work and just want to fly? Switch on auto-engine management and off you go… Dogfighting, ground attack, whatever you fancy.. with a story and a feeling of ownership over the outcome, I love it. It’s simple, it’s quick to satisfy and it’s fun. Sure, it’s not that realistic but it’s realistic enough and it’s fun and I can feel that I have achieved something with my 30 minutes/ hour in the evening and I can feel part of a story of my own making inspired by all those pilots that risked their lives in WW2.

    If I want helicopters, I use DCS but, apart from Reflected’s excellent Paradise Lost and Roman Leroni’s amazing Vergeev Campaigns, nothing has motivated me to finish it. So much of DCS feels unfinished. With so many modules in early access and maps never quite finished, I never know what’s going to happen when I fire up DCS. At least with IL-2, I can start it, start a mission, and know what to expect.

    DCS has, in my opinion, the best helicopter experience and the F/A-18C is second to none, even the stunning VRS FSX Superbug. I own most of the modules and fly hardly any regularly. I wish I flew them more but they require such a huge commitment and investment of my time that, as I grow older (48 now), I simply don’t have to offer a module. I want to learn to fly them but they are so detailed that the barrier to entry is now so high. It’s no wonder that I love the Spitfire so much, jump in, start her up, wobble all over the runway and then up, up and away…

    Thank you Shamrock as always for providing excellent content and a place for discussion where everyone can voice their opinion and share their experience.

    Like

  14. CanadaOne says:

    It’s a bit odd that some developers will forego a hot ticket item and make something more esoteric. And Top End Australia and is not a hot ticket item by any measure.

    Do the devs actually sit there and decide between spending a year making something people will scream for and throw money at, or something they will look at and ask “Uhhh… why?”, and then decide to go with the “Uhhhh…why?”

    Would love to hear the reasoning behind this map.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indo Flyer says:

      It’s very disheartening from (again, looking at hoggit, steam, fb, twitter, etc) that it seems extremely few commenters seem to know about the ‘Exercise Pitch Black’ multinational exercise that’s literally been mentioned in the dev newsletter. It’s quickly becoming more and more of the new ‘Red Flag’ especially in the era of this Indo-Pacific tensions. As an Indonesian, I can understand how many DCS players in the U.S. or Europe may not be too familiar with this exercise, but it’s quickly becoming bigger and bigger with every iteration, including with more countries than ever involved this year. As I understand it, unlike NTTR, Pitch Black barely has any airspace space restrictions and BLUFOR v REDFOR forces assume their positions at RAAF Darwin and RAAF Tindall respectively. Other than Pitch Black, I think it’s safe to assume that this third party developer seems to be wanting to dip their toes into DCS map making and I heard that the developers are from that area so it’s completely reasonable for them to choose this area as their first map. I’ve also heard rumors that it’s also to fulfill australian defense needs with DCS’s professional version but i can’t confirm on this.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Blue 5 says:

        Granted, but apart from Pitch Black ( which is also a great film), what else happens there? I rather doubt China will invade the place nor will most players be inclined to play such a hypothetical. If they wanted an area for exercises, Hawaii, Korea or the Baltic would have been good candidates and have a secondary purpose. Yes, I know it 3rd Party and I appreciate it is relatively simple but it will still cost ED time, effort and money. Not to mention reinforcing a widely-held view that DCS has no guiding hand.

        With timeframes for single
        Modules that can rival a whole
        new complete BoX theatre, I would have thought that DCS management and planning would be far tighter.

        Like

      2. ShamrockOneFive says:

        We have to accept that their model is not tightly planned but rather offering a sandbox approach. That does mean that we have to kind of put up with a bit of a mishmash of content that sometimes integrates well and sometimes doesn’t.

        I think the potential for an invasion of the area is not entirely far fetched (Darwin for example was bombed by the Japanese during WWII over 140 times although they were stretched too thin for invasion). It’s certainly plausible enough to make use of the China asset pack and run some hypothetical scenario out.

        All I’m suggesting is to not dismiss it too quickly. It’s a third party team doing their thing and it will either succeed is fail.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Indo Flyer says:

        With regards to the development timeframes of single full-fidelity modules, I think we should appreciate the fact that they ‘do’ take as long as a single BoX theatres. Remember these are ‘high-fidelity’ modules that try to simulate as much as possible the flight modelling, weapons, avionics, fuel, hydraulics, etc not to mention the 3D modelling for both exterior and interior, and not to mention the research effort that includes having to visit archives, interview SME’s and even do recordings/data collection of remaining functional airframes. I for one was very upset that MSFS 2020 modules weren’t as ‘high-fidelity’ as i thought they would be on release (though the FBW a320 and PMDG 737s are thankfully now here to alleviate this). To ED’s credit i think they improved big time with regards to development timeframes (esp after the ‘release’ of the F-16) when they released the Hind and the Apache, even as far as to delay the Apache several times just for quality.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. ShamrockOneFive says:

        It has been a bit disappointing for me as well. It feels a bit knee jerk whereas I looked at it with a bit of a raised eyebrow and then dug into learning about it and that’s when my interest went up.

        It’s why I say I’m encouraging people to take it in slowly and see.

        Like

  15. Blue 5 says:

    Fantastic quality is great, but in the case of DCS’ approach to this and the actual output (that, at the end. determines their revenue and hence future) I would argue they have a terrible approach:
    – Normandy map? When released it revelled in nothing to do there and aircraft from the wrong time-frame. Oh, and the Channel. Sorry, which helped….how?
    – Mig-15 and Sabre, the classic duo, relevant to frankly maps until Syria appeared countless years later and even then nothing else to work with.
    – Chinese aircraft, to be flown, err, where?
    – A6M2, y’all! to be flown, ummm, against, ummm….hang on…
    – Northern Australia, the place no bloody Australian wants to visit, to be flown by, ummm, an exercise that happen there (of which most people are unaware)…and…ummm
    – Vietnam-er aircraft, baby! For, ummm, Syria. Maybe. Don’t ask about CVs, please!
    – Falklands, for….ummm….

    Input, output, revenue. I don’t know what sugar-daddy ED have but I hope the pockets are deep and the fans keep shelling-out $50-80 for something that may or may not have any relevance to anything else in the environment.

    But still, if you wait long enough there may be other $80 goodies.

    You can excuse it all you want, but as a business approach it is terrible.

    Like

  16. Blue 5 says:

    OK, people seem to be defending the reasons and ignoring the fact that these are not excuses for a splintered product. This company needs to make money and encourage customers for a premium of premium products. You fail that, you fail everything. Northern Australia is not an answer. Isolated content, people. For all BoX’s shortcomings, the BoN aircraft had a BoN map and BoN assets. No drop tanks (yet)? Well, I think I’ll be OK for now. After all, the promised updates have mostly materialised in a decent time-frame and the whole thing works pretty well.

    But, in DCS:
    – Japanese bombed Darwin? Well, yes…..and where else did they bomb that might generate more interest?
    – Northern Australia has an exercise? Well, yes…and so do half a dozen other coalitions in more interesting places (that correspond to requested terrain ideas). Oh, and Pitch Black is not essentially that different from Black Flag, Blue Flag, Orange Flags and there is also Cold Response, Reforger (for the old timers) and certainly it is no RimPac (Hawaii, another far better choice for a map). Why not Falcon Strike or even Vostok and Zapad? Hell, make a Kiev map ASAP if you want to catch the wave. Japanese bombing of Darwin and a bi-annual exercise of Queensland? Paint me and most people not interested.
    – The modules are higher fidelity? Well, yes….but honestly how much does that really determine sales? If you are an Air Force that is important but for most customers does the last 1% of effort justify the reward? I am not so sure.

    The feeling that I get is that DCS looks on this as: “We do some stuff. Guys and girls, what would you like to do? Honestly, anything you feel is cool is fine by us, irrespective of relevance or time-frame”. Rather than the far more sensible: “We have a path and we need collaborators so who can do this for us before we randomly branch off into the Spanish Civil War. How can you work with us towards a goal?”

    I have a lot of DCS modules and they are certainly pretty good in certain respects but just because you like DCS does not preclude their having an approach that makes no sense from a business perspective and almost none from that of maintenance of client base. But enough from me, I’ll go and fly my Me109K-4 over the Marianas against a MiG-15.

    Like

    1. marcocom says:

      I do think its important to respect that Eagle Dynamics, as well as 1C:Maddox, are companies that are profitable (and buddy, i work in silicon valley and many software companies are not profitable) and they are growing.

      It is also worth note that both 1C and ED have completely overhauled their business-models once in the past, a decade ago. they both started with incorrect models that were not profitable and were not growing like this, and have now proven successful. Orbx is on board!

      Like

    2. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Hi Blue. There’s lots of different points going back and forth. I can’t find fault in any of your logic and I agree that a more cohesive approach would probably make me a bit happier.

      But on the other side of the coin, they seem to be selling alright and expanding their content base so all I can do is report and suggest that some things are worth thinking through for a while longer and sometimes waiting to see how they play out. Sometimes we can all be surprised. I’m wrong all the time of course 🙂

      Like

      1. Blue 5 says:

        Sure, and I hope DCS continues to improve. I am still undecided on buying a few things and will probably not at this stage.

        I am totally for unusual maps and platforms so if DCS went all out for Korea or a complete 6-Day War or Yom Kippur or similar 1960s-80s module I would thoroughly support them (I will buy the Nile
        Map for that reason). But the Northern Territories? Hmm…at best.

        Now I think about it, I am puzzled as to why they are not focussing more for naval operations. It is a USP for them and they have done a terrific job.

        Like

  17. _bringthereign_ says:

    Great discussion as always, very curious to see how these paid maps are going to work given that “The Whole WorldTM” is apparently the long term vision for DCS

    Like

  18. kallem says:

    the defending of this map choice is crazy. really crazy

    the pitch-black exercise? so what? you can run exercises on any map. you don’t need a totally new map to do that. and nttr is hardly popular.

    why is china going to invade? there are a lot more relevant and plausible conflicts before china get anywhere close.

    japanese attacking darwin. come on, dcs ww2 is a total joke. dcs does not have any vals or kates to bomb darwin. they are not even mentioned, let alone planned. and they will fly in from where? anyway, it is a modern map

    but i don’t know why people are bothering to defend the decision. it’s a third party. they can do what they like. all luck to them. if that brings more people to dcs, that is for the better.

    more choice is good

    Like

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