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Target Flanders: Open Beta Scheduled for Friday August 8th!

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That's right folks! This is the info I got from Vlasov earlier today. More details have been posted at WWI Officers Club on the front News page:


"Now that the Targetware engine is in Open Beta (details at http://www.targetware.net/index.php ) we are putting together a guide in preparation for the Target Flanders open beta, scheduled for Friday August 8th. Here is the first installment


Target Flanders: An open beta for the modding community


Target Flanders is first and foremost a team effort. We are all modders who began the project rather late in the Targetware process. We don’t have the resources of Targetware, and we don’t have the resources of the Target Rabaul Team. We do have a few very dedicated individuals with outstanding skill in their own areas who have done some quite incredible work. But our coverage is deep rather than wide. We have done some things very well, and some things not at all.


If upon seeing Target Flanders your first reaction is to say: “such and such is clearly missing”. Let your second reaction be to create it and send it in. Odds are you will see it up on the server in a very short time. There will be no better way to learn how to create your own mod than to participate in the further shaping of a mod which is already well under way.


When you first fire up Target Flanders, you will notice many things missing. No, we don’t really have cockpit instruments yet. No, we don’t have tons of skins for each aircraft. Yes, our ground objects are really markers for ground objects. Yes, we only have control surface animations for a few planes. Well, you get the idea.


But everything you will see is functional, and has been designed with one single purpose in mind: to provide the most atmospheric, realistic, and yes, informative and educational WWI air combat simulation experience. We have tried to create something unique and which many say cannot be done: A gripping, intensely thrilling, accurate, no-compromise simulation. This concern for the accuracy of the simulation extends well beyond the traditional obsession with flight model, damage model, and gunnery. It extends to the air combat environment, the draconian influence of the ground war over action in the air, etc. Bottom line, Target Flanders is highly playable in its present state, if your goal is simulation of early WWI air combat.


Our philosophy is simple. If a given action was unthinkable for a WWI pilot, you better not try it in Target Flanders. If a given course of action was incredibly risky for a WWI pilot, without being unthinkable, keep it for those occasions when you have no choice in the matter, and hope for the best.


The air combat environment


We begin in July 1915, with a 20 km stretch of the northern sector of the western front. Don’t look for it on a map, it isn’t there. The airfields, the layout, everything is inspired by the Arras area, but everything is believable rather than true. That is a crucial concept for the TF design. We are going for verisimilitude rather than the straight jacket of absolute accuracy.


On each side of the front, 2 infantry corps are arrayed. These are made up of 3 divisions of 24 companies each. On the British side, 18 field artillery batteries are distributed among the divisions. The German artillery will be in place soon. It is a momentarily quiet sector of front with an average divisional frontage of just over 3 kilometres. Each side has a supply network composed of divisional and corps level supply dumps. These are important objectives and should be well protected.


The ground units and supply organizations are represented by traditional wargaming counters, each bearing a symbol which indicates its type: a cross in a box for infantry, a circle in a box for artillery, and a half-moon symbol for supply organizations. The level of each unit is indicated by a symbol at the top of the marker: a single I for a company or battery, X for a brigade (only artillery is a brigade level at the moment), XX for a division and XXX for a corps. Artillery also has the type of gun indicated in the lower right corner of the unit marker (for example “18pdr” for British 18 pounder field guns).


The unit markers are all “mud brown”. The colour of the symbols on their face indicates ownership: Olive drab for British and field grey for German (what else!). The size of each marker is proportional to what it should be on a miniatures gaming table top. The entire area of the marker can be attacked and damaged. The odds you will actually completely destroy one, however, are quite remote. It takes more than a couple of 20 pound bombs to really hurt, or even significantly disrupt a well dug in front line infantry company. But any havoc you create will in the end help your side win the scenario.


Scenarios and Missions


No one in Target Flanders takes off without a mission, and without selecting a unit within that mission. All flying and fighting takes place in scenarios. The sequence of scenarios is meant to represent a typical day on the northern sector of the Western Front in July 1915. Each scenario lasts 3 hours. They are labeled 6 AM, 9 AM, Noon, and so on. All the scenarios have the same selection of missions for now, but this will change over time. The weather, however, changes slightly between scenarios. At the moment, there is one airfield per side (to be increased ASAP) and three missions available at the German airfield and four at the British airfield. At both the German and British fields, one can select a basic combat air patrol mission. The German airfield has an observation mission while the British field has a close air support mission. Both fields have a training mission. The British field also has a “deep strike” bombing mission on the enemy supply net, which is only active if 4 or more flyers have selected it.


The distribution of missions is meant to portray the doctrinal differences between German and British airstaffs in the summer of 1915. While the British were concerned with agressively using air power tactically and operationally, the Germans reserved their air attack potential for more strategic targets, using large bombers and Airships. These types of very deep penetration flights are outside the scope of TF for the moment. The German missions therefore represent the German tendency to use tactical and operational airpower in a defensive and observation role.


There are a maximum of 4 Fokker EIII’s and 6 Vickers FB5 Gunbus aircraft available on our sector of front. The other aircraft are not limited in number. However, the number of lives for each individual pilot is limited to two per scenario for the early part of the open beta. This will be reduced to one at a later date.


A word on flying the fighters. While the EIII has a pilot controlled, synchronized forward firing machine gun (with muzzle flash even!) the Vickers Gunbus has no such equipement. Its offensive armament consists of a gunner controlled, nacelle mounted, flexible Lewis gun. Gunner positions are not yet mannable in the Targetware engine. It is therefore advisable for FB5 pilots to map their gunner toggle key to a joystick button. Set you gunner to “safe” until you have achieved a good firing position, then set your gunner to “clear to fire”. Set it back to “safe” when the opportunity has passed, so that the gunner doesn’t waste all that precious and very limited ammunition. This is an entirely new, and quite thrilling way to fight!


As you begin, I really urge you to select the training mission available at each airfield. Not only is it a good way to learn how to handle TF’s airplanes, it is also a way of experiencing, at some level, a significant piece of aeronautic history. The training mission puts you in a Bleriot XI aircraft. Practice take-offs and landings, but stay well away from the front. The training mission can be selected any number of times during a given scenario. The other missions cannot be selected if you have had 2 deaths already during the current scenario. Lives are reset at the end of each scenario.


Scenarios are won by inflicting damage on the enemy while preventing the enemy from damaging your side’s assets. The disruption and destruction of ground assets and observation and bombing aircraft is highly rewarded. The highest rewards come from successfully attacking elements of the enemy supply network. The destruction of fighter aircraft is not as highly rewarded in terms of scenario points, but may be necessary in order to achieve other, more rewarding objectives. In any case, the loss of large numbers of bombing and observation aircraft will spell disaster for any one side.


Note that flying outside the populated 20 km sector of front will result in a “disengage” and bring you back to your airfield without further ado or ceremony. If you are in trouble, dive for your lines. The ground fire is withering down low and should keep pursuers at bay.


You can practice offline with unlimited lives in all missions by selecting the 9 AM Offline scenario. When you are online, keep in mind that lives are limited and act accordingly!! If you expend all your lives before the end of a scenario, report of training on the Bleriot XI.


I am sure that any new flyer will have tons of questions. We will be there whenever possible to answer them. You can reach me at costo@videotron.ca, or post your questions on the Target X message board at http://www.targetware.net/modules.php?op=m...mdisplay&fid=16


We are trying very hard to be live with the open beta by Friday August 8th.


If anyone is interested in hosting our datapack for download, or hosting the server, please contact me at the above email or on the Target X board."


I can't wait! I've been playing and testing Target Rabul and Target Korea since it went Open Beta late last night and I'm impressed with what I've seen thus far. There is HUGE potential here for both the modding communities and the company. I can only dream what the Targetware simulations will look like next year at this time. Best of luck to all parties involved! Here's to happing hunting and happy testing! :D

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