Wings of Honor
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Rise Of Flight - Interview




Rise Of Flight - Interview with neoqb


by Gremlin, Wings Of Honor Staff
on 13-Aug-2009 (questions from 15-May-2009)



Introduction

RoF - Official Website - Screenshot by Gremlin_WoH (20-Aug-2009)

The long anticipated flight simulation Rise Of Flight has been released in Russia and CIS countries on 7th of May 2009 and later all over the world.

We wanted to know some more facts about Rise Of Flight the first simulation produced by the developers neoqb located in Moscow, Russia

Our interview partner was Albert 'Loft' Zhiltsov, the project manager at neoqb. Our questions had been sent in to neoqb on 15-May-2009. Due to unforeseen circumstances the answers did not arrive until 13-Aug-2009. Therefore some of their answers may be already known through different sources on the Internet.

Wings of Honor: Albert, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Please introduce yourself a little bit. How many people are you and what kind of jobs are being done by them?

Albert 'Loft' Zhiltsov: My name is Albert Zhiltsov, I'm a producer of the project Rise Of Flight: The First Great Air War. My height is 183 cm, Capricorn :) We began this project in a group of six, now we have a team of 30 developers. For some participants of our team this project is a first big thing in their life, for others this is another experience over the large project :)

WoH: How did the whole endeavour start in the first place? I heard two teams merged to build Gennadich and then neoqb?

Loft: It is more difficult. Neoqb was, first of all, an idea, which gathered under this idea different people with experience in IT industries (mostly games), and GT has been chosen as the first project and a technological base.

WoH: I heard you wanted to use the Il-2 game engine in the first place. Is that true or a rumour? When did you decide to write your own game engine 'Digital Nature'?

Loft: In 2005 we considered the IL-2 engine, but on April, 15th, 2006 we have made the decision to develop our own engine. Today's result of this choice is the platform called Digital Nature, and our first product on its basis - Rise Of Flight. Now we are very glad, that we have chosen to work in this way, rather than using the IL-2 engine.




Simulation Internals

WoH: During the beta test I experienced the flight and damage model as very different to other flight simulations I have 'flown'. While I am not a real pilot it has a very believable 'feel' to it. Are you using a full fluid dynamics physics system or is it a mixture between a fluid dynamicsbased and a table based system?

Loft: It's kind of a mix. We have pre-calculated aerodynamic characteristics of a glider but the detailed model of propeller created streams which independently function in atmosphere.

WoH: That seems to be suitable model for us normal users who do not own a Cray Supercomputer :) Up to how many CPU cores can be used for the simulation?

Loft: First of all, of course, the number of CPU cores influences quantity of planes modeled in a given scene. Two CPU cores are considered as a minimum which is necessary for smooth and comfortable game-play. Basically this increase in productivity allowed us to make our dream come true. Four CPU Cores can be considered as an optimum choice for today and for the future.

WoH: How many CPU cores will be used exclusively for the physics calculations?

Loft: It depends on number of CPU cores in your system. If you running two CPU Cores, physics will be processed on one core and graphics - on another.

WoH: O.k. so at least one CPU core is dedicated to the physics calculations. But as a matter of fact it is possible to play RoF on single core systems. Do single core users miss out much on the sim?

Loft: Certainly, it is possible to run ROF on such computers, but, unfortunately, the maximum quality means pleasure, which you will not receive. Low productivity will create problems and distract you from many pleasant moments of realness in Rise of Flight.

Rise Of Flight - Dogfight with tracers - Screenshot by neoqb (24-Mar-2009)

WoH: Is there any usage of GPU (graphics processing unit) physics calculation libraries like PhysX or CUDA with the graphics card's GPU taking over complex physics calculation from the CPU?

Loft: We consider such a possibility and at the moment we are negotiating with representatives of Intel and NVidia. When we will reach our goal, flight simulation will make one more step forward.

WoH: That sounds good as GPU processing units offer the multiplicative processing speed over a CPU core, at least for for special tasks. So this will be a feature in a future patch or add on?

Loft: This is a very big work, I can assume not less than 2-3 years. But we will begin much earlier to use GPU for physics, for example land units or graphic effects.

WoH: Oh, o.k., sounds as I should keep my current NVidia graphics card later for this purpose if I should change it against something newer.

Will there be a possibility to integrate third party content officially into the game?

Loft: Yes, certainly. But we give a great value first of all to quality of a game content. Therefore the system of work with such content will be going around neoqb company. But you can independently create missions, skins for planes and you can also freely exchange them with your friends; such content is easy for adding in the project independently.

WoH: How would the submission and approval process work for third party content?

Loft: We are only preparing ourselves for such a service, therefore I will not give you any details on that. I will tell only, that we will use our best efforts, to make it really convenient for those users who want to share self made content with other users.

WoH: We are eagerly awaiting your solution to this. How about any possibility to do some private modding at home and integrating content only in the own game copy without sharing it with others?

Loft: As I wrote above, only missions and skins for planes.

WoH: That will do … for the time being ;o)




Game Play

WoH: Now some questions about RoF's game play. You have some nice features there. For example the complex engine management adds some variety to the sim. Do you plan more features for example pre-flight selection of various 'ammunition mixtures' like many pilots did?

Loft: Yes, and it will happen in the near future. We expect it like all other users :)

WoH: Sounds great. But I noticed little intensity of activity on the ground while flying in the beta. Will you add more content for a living environment in the future?

Loft: It is a question of mission design and depends on a choice of the author. In our missions and our career mode we are very cautious, we as developers are obliged to think about a wide range of users with not powerful enough computers. But with our mission editor you can create your own missions with any quantity of objects and you can also regulate activity of ground units according to capacity of your computer.

WoH: What about battles raging while flying over the front, troop movements, AI units assigned to do certain tasks and so on? Will we see the great battles of W.W.I while flying over the front? What about the mission builder and thr dedicated server provided with the release? As W.W.I flight sims are a niche within a niche do you expect a lot of people building missions and hosting servers all around the world?

Loft: All these questions are related to missions design. It is possible but it will reflect on the productivity of your PC. We have completed our task to release the project platform, and now we will fill this world with many things with the help of our users.

Rise Of Flight - SPAD XIII - Screenshot by neoqb (20-Dec-2008)

WoH: I see, you have planned the sim with the addiction of your customers in mind ;o)

WoH: There are four flyables and two non-flyables (two-seaters) in the sim. When will the first couple of two-seaters be flyable?

Loft: We are working in this direction. But at first we wish to create some more fighters, for example: Pfalz DIIIa, DXII, SE5a, Sopwith Dolphin, Albatros DIII. These planes should appear in your "garage" till the end of this year.

WoH: Speaking of two-seaters: will two players be able to man a two-seater in RoF or will it only be possible to man a two-seater with one human pilot or observer and one AI observer or pilot only?

Loft: If there is one player, he can take any place, thus AI will take the second (other) place. In network game both places can be selected by players.

WoH: That sounds great and I am sure our readers will like that feature when it is implemented in the sim




Sales and Distribution

WoH: I want to talk a little bit about the commercial side of your venture. The simulation was released in Russia already. After the first week are you satisfied with the sales numbers so far?

Loft: We are a little bit superstitious, therefore we do not want to disclose figures of sales beforehand :) But we can tell you that some numbers within these weeks are very pleasant for us. Rise of Flight collection box, start of sales this version was sold in great numbers. We have shown the example of good and interesting filling of the collection box that can be demanded by users and they are ready to pay hardly a big price, than it is accepted in Russia and the CIS countries.

RoF - SPAD XIII above the clouds - Screenshot by neoqb (2009)

WoH: A success in this niche market is vital for the consistency of your company. You have already a publisher for Russia and the CIS countries called ND Games. Is there any publisher for the European, American and Asian markets?

Loft: Our publisher in North America - 777 Studios. In Europe - Aerosoft. The European edition still demands some localisation. Also the digital copy of the game is available at Direct2Drive.

WoH: When will you announce the publisher for other countries?

Loft: Already announced. In the USA Rise of Flight: The First Great Air War was presented at E3 exhibition (on June, 2nd to 4th). After E3 we announced our European publisher Aerosoft and on July, 30th, game had taken off.

WoH: In Russia and CIS countries the simulation is distributed on a DVD. What ways of distribution will you offer for the other markets?

Loft: The box version is available in the USA and in Europe too. Also the digital copy of the game is available at Direct2Drive.

WoH: On the ND Games website there is an announcement for a Collector's Edition. Do you plan to release such a Collector's Edition also in Western countries?

Loft: It's something that will not depend on us, but on the position of the publisher in this or that territory. But we actively participate (design, content filling, quality of contractors work) not only in preparation of the box, but also in its content filling. We hope, that the western users will not be disappointed with that content filling which we have thought up for them together with our publishers.

RoF - German Pfalz D.III - Screenshot by neoqb (28-Jul-2009)

WoH: RoF has been released with four flyables aircrafts - Fokker D.VII and SPAD 13.C1, Albatros D.Va and Nieuport 28.C1. And S.E.5a, Pfalz D.IIIa and Nieuport 17.C1 can be bought Additionally. The Nieuport 17.C1 is exclusive content for the Russian release of the simulation. Will there be more planes ready for release when Rise Of Flight is released for the European, American and Asian markets?

Loft: Only 4 planes will be accessible but it does not exclude, that somewhere the version with an exclusive content will be available, that is the number of flyable planes can increase. All new planes will be available from our store and you don't have to search for them because your account becomes attached to our store during your registration.

WoH: O.k., that simplifies the whole process of buying planes. What will be the costs for additional content like planes, objects, terrains and such?

Loft: While establishing our price for the additional content (i.e. new plane) we are guided with experience of other Internet shops, which are selling additional content for Microsoft Flight Simulator. And now the exact price of each aircraft is 7.62 US-$.

WoH: Will the planes always be released in matching couples like the first two couples or will they be released as single planes?

Loft: Planes will be on sale separately and we work actively towards presenting for our users each plane in great details.




Plans for the Future

WoH: A very imminent question for our readers is the question about your future plans. We do not need exact dates but is there a rough road map for the near future you could tell us about?

Loft: We are assured that interest of our users and the market as a whole will allow us to develop our project further. We wish to work with other history periods, to add other units, and, probably, to create a separate mode for modern planes.

WoH: What additional features for Rise Of Flight could we expect, say, in a year or so?

Loft: Except new planes which I mentioned earlier, of course, improvement and updating of those modes and features which we already have in Rise of Flight. We constantly update our project on the basis of users impression and our online connection requirement allows us to quickly add and correct game bugs, thus we are able to deliver these game corrections to all users, that is - to react to wishes of users quickly. In our plan for 2009 - completion of co-operative game mode and creation of a new "Dogfight" mode, also development of web services for the project.

WoH: Do you plan other products besides Rise Of Flight?

Loft: Certainly. But while we are concentrated on ROF, we have to fight for a place on your computers. We are also assured, that with help of users and participation of the third parties we can make something new and interesting much faster, than we would make with our own forces.

WoH: Thank you very much for this interview. Wings Of Honor wishes you all the best.