What we now know about the future of the IL-2 series

The team from 1C Game Studios hosted a live stream earlier today answering some questions and talking about the future of the IL-2 series. We’ve learned some things about how the future is going to play out but not quite everything. Let’s dig into it!

An announcement but not the announcement

Going into the stream this morning I was expecting to get some announcements on what the plan was going to be in the future of the series. We did get some indications of it but we didn’t get an out and out announcement either.

The stream started off with Albert Zhiltsov telling us not to worry about the future of the IL-2 series because it is definitely continuing. So, that’s good news to be sure.

We’ve learned that the team is expanding and is going from 36 to 50 people. The expansion is enabling the team to work on what they are calling “new project tech.” New graphics, flight model, new GUI, updated damage visuals and modeling, and so forth.

It sounds like a new product although I don’t think they explicitly said that it was. Still, with so many core changes I suspect that we’re now going to reach an end to Great Battles and a new platform will spring up.

We’ve also learned that the first airplane for the new sim is being worked on right now utilizing the new technologies that they are developing.

Some Great Battles content still on the way

We did get quite a few updates about Great Battles despite the apparent news that the series might now be in its twilight era. The C-47 is first up and is almost finished. It is expected to come by the end of November.

Flying Circus Vol 2 is almost finished with the western front map coming “very soon” and the career mode for Flying Circus coming in February. The Sopwith Snipe and Siemens Shuckert is having its flight model created now.

There are also more vehicles and ships for Normandy still coming and the StuG III, IAR-80/81 (the focus of the next dev diary), and Spitfire XIVe bubble canopy are all on the way.

We’ve also learned that two, early war, Collector Planes are also being developed right now. We don’t know what they are but I expect that they will enhance one of the current scenarios. If I were to guess these will probably be aimed at the Battle of Moscow/Stalingrad period but I don’t know for sure of course. Feel free to speculate away!

Tank Crew and Flying Circus?

We don’t know what the future of Tank Crew or Flying Circus is beyond the next few months. We’ve got the already announced content on the way but it sounded to me like the team is starting to focus on the new technology and that there may or may not be follow ups to these.

Flying Circus Vol 3 seemed to me to be almost a certainty when Vol 2 was announced with the map and different sectors being setup for the future. I think that’s doubtful now as we’ve certainly had no confirmation.

I do think Vol 2, once completed, will be a good place at least with a roster of good aircraft that cover much of the 1917-18 period. But it’s a bit of a shame if it doesn’t complete the roster or at least pick up a few additional fan favourites along the way. Nieuport fans, I feel your pain.

Tank Crew has a bit more of a chance with news that the 1CGS team are heading to St. Petersburg soon to talk with Digital Forms. Tank Crew could continue with the current sim or if they may be discussing content plans for a future title.

Other thoughts

I was expecting a bit more out of today with a more complete discussion of what the series would be doing. Yes, we know that new technology is being worked on and that the team is expanding. So that’s good! But I was also hoping that we’d know a bit more certainty about the current slate. I think the answers around that were a bit ambiguous which leads me to conclude that IL-2 Sturmovik: Great Battles, aside from the content that is already promised, is ending.

Community questions seemed to be focused on more specific pieces such as issues with time dilation (the sim slowing down when there are many AI at once) and problems with wing durability on WWI aircraft. Interesting to some but in light of what was discussed seemingly less relevant to the bigger picture. What I really wanted out of today is to know where we are at with the whole series – and for that it sounds like we’ll be waiting until they are ready to reveal more of their new project.

One other thing jumped out at me. 1CGS seem more interested now than ever to find or encourage third party developers with art skills to create content. One example is the IAR project which is being done by a third party artist. Many of their answers for if we’ll see aircraft like the B-25 and B-26 seem rooted in the same desire to have artists do these and for them to then do the technical integration.

So, the long and short of it is that Great Battles has some new content coming but it looks like we’re nearing the end of an era and the beginning of another with new technology. That’ll take some time to digest.

If you want to watch the live stream it’s available on YouTube.

There is also a developer diary summary here that you should definitely read.

26 Comments Add yours

  1. Al-Azraq says:

    Thanks a again for being the hub of all things flight sims and this great write-up.

    I completely agree with you. From the stream I feel like the IL-2: Great Battles series has come to an end maybe because the engine has become too much of a limit given the future plans for the franchise. I understand this, but I also think that we could still live more great battles with the current tech.

    I appreciate studios taking leaps forward and tackle on new products and engines, even if that means not having new content for a good while, but on the other hand I feel sad to leave all the amazing content we have already behind and back to square one when it comes to content.

    I would be hyped if the first render we saw with the new tech was a Zero, or an F4F, but we once again have a FW 190D-9 which pretty much confirms the first module of the new engine will not be The Pacific.

    I hope the new tech has large bomber formations in mind, lays down what is needed for Pacific, and VR and optimisation is taken care of from the very beginning.

    Anyway, I am happy to find out that we will be getting some final content for IL-2: GB, and that the sim we already have will not change its approach. So in any case, we have a great sim with tons of content to fly in for years to come while we wait.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Al-Azraq says:

      On a final note, and I thinks it says a lot, you mention that the questions from virtual pilots were more focused on minor things. They weren’t in my opinion, just that they selected those ones on `purpose leaving even more of a confusion feeling.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Al-Azraq says:

        Shameless self reply again but it is relevant. Maybe the statement that they want the community more involved and creating assets was not a ‘lost in translation’ situation?:

        https://forum.il2sturmovik.com/topic/81308-developer-diary-322-discussion/?do=findComment&comment=1230347.

        Sneaksie: That’s nice and the fact you did it by trial and error is impressive! By the way, at the moment we’re working on the map making workflow documentation.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. steelcitygator says:

      Was gunna say, if this allows them to go all out for some Pacific content I’ll consider it worth it. WW1, WW2 Pacific, and early Jets are easily my to favorite war aerocraft subjects so I’d kill for that. At least WW1 has RoF (though I’d love a new version in the new engine) and early jets is being filled out really nicely by DCS lately.

      Like

  2. Great summary. I perceived the stream and the post on the board by Han the same way. They need to in invest in technological changes now to be competitive in 3 years when the next project will be ready for release. Until then, we have more than enough toys to play around with.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dennis Nedry says:

    I’m convinced the next installment is going to be CBI. Either Burma 41-42 featuring the Flying Tigers or China 44 Operation Ichi-Go. Both of these would fit perfectly into the no major cities and visually appealing.

    Like

    1. Blue 5 says:

      Nope. For so many reasons.

      Like

  4. JG4_Moltke1871 says:

    Seems the road brings us to a new engine…? However, I hope they don’t miss to work on all the little problems the great battle series still have, small bugs, AI behaviour etc… But a big thing for me is they have to finish the Flying Circus triology!! It was clear announced the plan are 3 phases of development. I will not settle for less, the developers decision what comes after FC2 will have an huge impact of my decision join the new series or not.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Percy Danvers says:

    Overall my feeling for the franchise is somber at the moment.

    I think we should ask why we want a new engine or even a new IP instead of another BoX.

    What capability will this undertaking give us that is outside the reach of BoX?
    How will it overcome the limitations of BoX that prevented it from achieving this?
    Is it worth 1-3 years of getting the new engine or engine version past the inevitably buggy release?
    Is it worth ~5 years before it reaches the level of content we had with BoX?

    I desperately want another BoX and not a new engine or IP. I am reminded of the hell ARMA is in with Reforger, and, talk of ARMA 4 not withstanding, I don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel for that series right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Al-Azraq says:

      5 years to get the same content is really optimistic in my opinion, more like 10. However, I understand the gigantic task that would be iterating on the engine while supporting all the existing content.

      Will the new tech be worth it even if it means leaving behind the amount of content we have now? We will see, I hope it will.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Percy Danvers says:

        Yeah I agree 100%. I actually wanted to say 10 but I thought it might seem too dramatic.

        Like

    2. Blue 5 says:

      It needs a new engine, that is all there is to it. They cannot efficiently do heavy bombers or aircraft carriers, they cannot do clickable cockpits, they are likely reaching the end of internal systems modeling, the FM fidelity may have reached a limit. More ambitious group operations seems to have been abandoned.

      High-end props continued after ‘45 out of short-term ease rather than because they were the future. Same for bi-planes, simple radars and flight sim game engines. You can stretch things, but in a competitive environment you are losing position and delaying the inevitable.

      Their objective is sensible, the question is can they make it work.

      And my $10 is still on Korea.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. steelcitygator says:

        Opening a new engine/series with Korea would be pretty awesome. Hit new area/time period and it lets you backfill theaters already covered later since there’s already a quite good sim of it.

        Like

      2. Percy Danvers says:

        What guarantee is there that a new engine will make heavy bombers more possible? The devs have stated on several occasions that heavy bombers are ruled out not by engine limitations but the amount of development resources they’d take to do. I don’t see a new engine having any bearing on that issue. If you want to talk about improving the FM/DM fidelity even more, that’s going to push complicated aircraft like heavy bombers even *further* out of reach and lengthen the dev cycle for new aircraft even more.

        Right now DCS is on a roll with Cold War aircraft and struggling with WWII. From a business perspective I’m not sure how it makes sense to abandon something you’re better than everyone else at to try to compete in a market that is thoroughly dominated by a competitor.

        Like

  6. Firdimigdi says:

    Sneaksie also said this in the DD discussion thread: “By the way, at the moment we’re working on the map making workflow documentation. ”

    That hints to the possibility that they are cutting loose from the platform and giving tools to the community for any future maps.

    Like

    1. Firdimigdi says:

      Oh just saw someone posted this above. Well sorry the repetition; the other comments weren’t visible on my smartphone initially.

      Like

  7. Skycat says:

    I admit I’ve only watched the first quarter of the stream. There was too much circumventing of definitive statements to keep my interest, and I knew the community would transcribe, summarize, dissect and theorize the information in granular detail anyhow. That said — and taking a broad view of statements made and the personnel change-over — this is reminiscent of the early ‘Storm of War’ development days when Oleg Maddox began to promise the great benefits the revised IL-2 Sturmovik code would bring to Cliffs of Dover and future titles. I think the current team, now having the old guard back at the helm, will borrow from the playbook written by the previous iterations of IL-2 and they will encourage partnerships with content developers to build more BoX expansions (marketed like Desert Wings Tobruk was for Cliffs of Dover) while the core team focuses on a new line of titles built on an enhanced, very closely guarded version of their engine. Team Fusion might already be on the inside track for future BoX development now that Cliffs is published by Fulqrum. I doubt however that 1C Games will offer an end-of-life anthology for BoX and free updates like what was done with IL-2 1946 and the collaboration with Team Daidalos.

    We’ll all just have to wait and see how this shakes out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Al-Azraq says:

      I think that 1C will open the SDK and development tools to the community for Great Battles. At least that is what I understood from it and Han’s reply to the DD thread in the forums.

      Like

      1. Blue 5 says:

        Ans what does that tell you about the future? As a rule of thumb (these days), the greater access to the code, the more likely the company is moving to something new.

        You give away what is not needed. You sell what is valuable. You keep quiet – initially – about what is under development. And the cycle continues.

        Like

      2. Al-Azraq says:

        Oh definitely, that means they are dropping Great Battles as soon as they finished with the already compromised content.

        Nevertheless, I find it positive that they give the community tools to keep the product alive, and financially is a good way to keep selling it even though there isn’t more official content coming out.

        Like

  8. Blue 5 says:

    Heavy bombers are one example, and I meant more the larger fleets as I do not expect flyable versions. Their inclusion does not necessarily have to be an opportunity cost for other elements or vice-versa.

    Fact is that there are shortcomings in the current core and I can understand the need to start again so that future aspects can be included Otherwise we would all still be playing the original IL-2.

    Like

  9. NickM says:

    I think they face more serious constraints than just the technical development of the software to do heavy bombers etc. Their big challenge is that new generations of PC hardware are going to be largely unavailable in Russia for – at least – several years because of sanctions. So do they cater for their home market and build an undemanding sim largely for 10-series GPUs and quad-core CPUs in a slowly dwindling home market, or do they tie their future to trying to sell into western markets with the risk that their access may get shut off at any moment?

    Like

    1. Blue 5 says:

      I agree, this is part and parcel of the same issue. I still love the first RTW with the Roma Surrectum mod, but it cannot use a modern system and so the computer advances of the last decade are wasted. You cannot wed yourself to something that stays incompatible with developments. DCS would bury them.

      Your second point I find rather circular: if they are making a new sim for a Russian market that is unable to afford better hardware then said focus for new sim purchases is limited and hence the company is likely going out of business. If the company is making a new sim for the global computer market then they need to improve in line with global trends. I see do not see sanctions as precluding their development entirely.

      I suspect they are aiming for the latter but keeping an eye on the less capable end of the PC spectrum. Making a Tetris 2023 ro focus on the miserable hole that is Russian PC sales would be an odd business plan.

      Like

  10. Simfan says:

    “if they are making a new sim for a Russian market that is unable to afford better hardware … ” if so then bankrupcy here we come ! Why would they even consider such a move. People could stick to … 1946.
    I am not sure what to think of any of this. Increasing the team to 50 … where does the money come from in the mean time ? Those collector planes ?
    10 years from now (when all this may become a reality) who knows what systems people will -still- use, maybe everyone will have a standalone headset with a very fast CPU in it !???
    I too was hoping the team was going to furter enhance the existing series.
    This sure may have been one of the reasons Jason had to go.

    Like

    1. Blue 5 says:

      That is exactly what I said: “…then said focus for new sim purchases is limited and hence the company is likely going out of business”

      The investment vs revenue model is the issue that has yet to be explained. Which, frankly, was the elephant in the room for the livestream, and the BoX forums have not missed that.

      Like

    2. Blue 5 says:

      “ maybe everyone will have a standalone headset with a very fast CPU in it !???”

      That would be awesomes!

      Like

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