The Strike Fighters series is over a decade old this year. The series is renowned among combat flight enthusiasts for it's open modability, gentle learning curve, and (foremost) the scenarios it models. When it comes to The Cold War, no other sim does it like the SF series does. As amazing as something like the DCS series may be, it won't let me shoot down Mig-15's over the Yalu one mission, then without even transitioning to a new program, shoot down a flight of Backfires with AIM-54's the next.
That being said, the sim is not without it's issues. The first being the aforementioned fact of the sim's age. At eleven years old, it's certainly beginning to show some wrinkles. One of the most obvious wrinkles the sim shows is in the terrain engine. When creating SF:P1, TK elected to use the old style TFD/HFD terrain engine rather than the new .lod based terrains of his other contemporaries Lock-On and Il2. I presume this decision was for ease of design as TK is basically a one man show, and he probably had a lot of knowledge of this terrain type from it's usage in European Air War. While this terrain type isn't as detailed as others, it does have one great upside; ease of modding.
The terrain releases over the years from the various modders for both sims has mapped virtually the entire planet as jet sim playground. We have maps for everything from Ethiopia to Cyprus to San Diego. The terrains have been getting more and more detailed with large numbers or new targets and target areas. The recent Desert v4 release being one of the shining examples of this. One area the detail has always been lacking though, is in the detail of the airfields themselves. When designing the original Desert terrain, because it was fictional, TK chose to create a number of air bases that use the general look of 60's-70's USAF bases. They look fine in a place like Dhimar, but once you port them to a place like Germany, they begin to stick out like a sore thumb.
For forums member Rends, the look was too jarring. After learning the Strike Fighters modding basics, he got right to work. Gathering other members of the renowned German Modders Group they set out to turn the most important map in the SF series into the Real Deal™.
I reached out to Rends to ask him some questions about this most massive undertakings.
Your main project right now is your total reworking of the GermanyCE terrain. What was it that sparked you to take on such a large and complicated task?
Well it was the watertower that disturbed me. I got SF2 because of the A-10 and found it a nice feature that it has a Germany Terrain. Once ingame i noticed the watertower and it looked so out of place. I felt like being on a US airbase in the States rather than on a German airfield. I realy wanted to change the waterower only but by then I was looking at the terrain no longer as a gamer but a modder. That's not good if you ask me ;-)
An A-10 over the new GermanyCE, with targets moved into towns
The screen shots you've shown off so far in the forums have been truly incredible. The level fidelity in the airbases is something we've rarely seen outside of say, Yakee Air Pirate. Buechel Air Base in particular. Do you plan on maintaining that level of detail throughout the whole map, or do you have a few "set peice" bases and then a number of "generic bases" to supplement them?
You mentioned Büchel Air base. Once here at Combatace i found Images of Gepards german airfield mod and i asked at the german Forum where to get it. It took only a few days and Florian Ravenclaw007 and 76.IAP-Blackbird jumped on the bandwagon of what is now the Germany rework. Sure it's a Project started by me but a lot of stuff is done by other guys. Büchel and Pferdsfeld is Florians work and Ravenclaw and Blackbird made some stuff i couldn't found in the download section. Not to mention the help i got from the community here. It's fantastic. And yes the plan is to recreate most of the airfields. But as you mentioned this is a large Project and not be done in a few months. But don't worry i plan to upload an open beta soon*. I just want to know how it works on different computers. And there will be a release a short time after. From there on there will be regular updates until we have either finished the project or lost interest (i hope not,lol)
The main gate at Büchel. Pretty fantastic!
I metioned earlier about the scale of a task this large. But beyond just being a large task, it seems it would be quite tedious as well. Has the process of inserting objects via the notepad driven you to madness yet?
I wish there was a real Terrain Editor out there with no need to place objects using notepad. Yes it can be boring and it is boring sometimes. But then you fire up the game and if all the stuff is there were it belongs, I'm satisfied. This helps not to become mad (sometimes) ;-)
Continuing along the same lines, object placement and terrain re-working is a pretty complicated task. Did it take you long to pick this up?
Once you understand how the game works [modding] isn't that difficult anymore. There are a few Tools out there and they are very useful. And I have modded other games in the past. Guess that helps too.
A great before and after look at a factory target. The difference is huge.
I noticed you're fairly new to the community, having only been registered since December of last year. Were you playing the SF series before then?
No SF2 europe was the first game of the series I got. And I got it at the end of the last year. I knew some screenshots before but that's all.
Before being a member of the SF/CA community, have you been a memeber of any other simming communities?
I'm a longtime member at simhq to hang around, graviteam.com, a forum for 'Steel Fury 42' WWII tank drivers, and gametoast.com.A community dedicated to mod the StarWars Battlefront series; my second love after flight sims.
Well thanks very much to Rends for allowing me to interview him and providing us with some great insight into this much anticipated mod!
*This interview was conducted about a week or so before the article was posted. The afternoon just before this article was finalized, Rends provided an update about the beta version.
I made a decission not to release this mod as beta but as release version.
Why? Because this mod will be realy big in size.
It's about 1.5 Gb uncompressed right now and even compressed it will be anything between 500Mb up to 1 Gb.
Instead of forcing you to download the complete file again once it reach release status after beta time there will be updates.
The first will be bugfixing if there are any,lol
From there on there will be updates with new content from time to time.
Now i need to write a readme and i'm waiting for a few files from Florian.
Once i get them i will upload the mod.