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W.W.I Flight Simulations - Articles

Column - Why The Future Is Bright

by Gremlin, Wings Of Honor Staff
on 25-Jul-2009

There is a lot of interest in the W.W.I flight sim genre lately. More and more people getting the hang of it and more and more people returning back from their self-chosen time-out. In the following I will explain why I think that the future for us W.W.I flight simmers is bright:

During the last decade we did not have a variety of options to live our hobby. There was the all time classic Red Baron II/3D which to date still lives thanks to a great modding community but all enterprises to invent the genre newly have gone down the drain. Promising private efforts like 17 Hours and Birds Of Prey as well as corporate ones like Knights Over Europe - to name a few - did not finish. Others as Wings Of War did not live up to our expectations as they turned into arcade titles.

Being a niche within the flight sim genre which in turn also is a niche in today's gaming industry W.W.I flight simulations were totally neglected by the big development studios and publishers. It took the efforts of small teams as OBD Software or small companies as ThirdWire or neoqb to produce quality products the W.W.I flight sim community would consider an addition to and worthwhile for their hobby.

Astonishingly the approach of each development team was very different. OBD Software for example - being a group of people scattered literally about the whole world - managed to produce a historical accurate and immersive Total Conversion of Microsoft's Combat Flight Simulator 3. It took them countless hours of work and three iterations to overcome the weaknesses and shortcomings of a meanwhile seven year old game engine and even improve on it without having the code. Looking at the result you would never think the game was based on CFS3 (see my review of OFF Phase 3.

Over Flanders Fields (Phase 3) - The Kaiser's Tree is Kaput ;o) - Screenshot by Jim Miller (22-Jul-2009)

First Eagles on the other hand is more or less a sim that lives by the careful project management of a one-person-company having to cope with very slim budget and human resources and hiring people only for very special jobs to be done for this sim. Also First Eagles is sort of a spin-off of a whole series of flight simulations mainly focused on military jet sims. See also an article about ThirdWire's business philosphy. Because First Eagles offers enough possibilites for third party mods and add ons due to its open architecture it has a strong group of followers.

With a brand new W.W.I flight simulation just released by a small start-up company called neoqb another opportunity for us W.W.I flight simmers arose. But not only the game engine with spectacualr visuals and physics was made from scratch also Rise Of Flight's business model is different. While starting with a very basic content - similar to First Eagles - additional planes have to be bought by the player to expand his sim experience further. Also an expansion of the sim environment step-by-step has been announced.

Rise Of Flight - Fokker D.VII and SPAD XIII - Screenshot by neoqb (25-Jul-2009)

And also there are other efforts though still to prove successful: Canvas Knights is a modding project to set up W.W.I on Maddox Games' highly appreciated W.W.II flight simulation Il-2. See also the my interview with the developers. A first release may be published this year. Another project is EAW W.W.I built on the somewhat older engine of Microprose's W.W.II flight simulation European Air War. But a third private effort Richthofen's Skies experienced a slow-down as the underlying Targetware game engine in its newest version has been delayed for release.

Finally there is FS W.W.I in its latest incarnation of Plane Pack 5. A lot of fun can be had with this Total Conversion of Parsoft's W.W.II flight simulation Fighter Squadron: Screamin' Demons Over Europe.

Of course older titles like all-time classic Red Baron II/3D have gotten into the suction of the newer W.W.I sims. A once very strong community like the Red Baron gamers which had a love/hate relationship to 'their' game, its shortcomings as well as its self-discovered modding possibilities and which were always waiting on the 'second coming' if W.W.I flight sims is slowly draining off through the new possibilites now offered.

If you followed me that far you will see why the future for us W.W.I flight sim 'nerds' is bright, brighter than we could have hoped during the last decade. It is only the second time in history of W.W.I flight simming we have such manifold possibilities to pursue our hobby and we should not miss the chance to do so by supporting the efforts of the various developers by buying their products.

But beware: may flight sim 'X' have these disadvantages and shortcomings and flight sim 'Y' others we should never forget that there will be no perfect product, no 'one sim to rule them all'. We should not attack each others in flaming wars about W.W.I flight sim 'X' or W.W.I flight sim 'Y' as recently seen on the various message boards. We should never go that far to insult each other. With an average age of our community members far higher than in any other computer gaming genre we should have more mature levels of ethics and discipline than other gaming communities. We should cultivate tolerance and constructive communication from gamer to gamer and from gamer to developer and vice versa and take this opportunity we currently have as we may never have another.

I am confident that this can happen and with all those possibilities described above the future for us is bright …


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