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 F-14A/B DEVELOPMENT UPDATE #2
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Dear All,


It's been another busy period for the team entire team at Leatherneck. Not only in terms of development and progressing on our current stable of projects – but also with unfolding personal events. 

Family deaths, day-job commitments and more have yielded a rather muted visible public presence. 

Progress has not been impaired in any way; and we're very excited to move into the latter half of 2015.


A considerable amount of the teams' focus has been on projects other than the F-14, including the MiG-21bis.

While that may sound disappointing; it must be noted that several technologies developed for one of our other aircraft can directly be drawn upon to shorten the development time of the F-14. 

Elements include e.g. HUD elements or Navigational implementations. 

We've also spent an additional chunk of time on refinement of our internal tools, in particular a Flight Modeling Visualizer. 


We will go into deeper depth on our other projects in an upcoming all- Leatherneck-encompassing newsletter, so for now; lets focus on the F-14.

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The Art team's primary focus has been on assuring proper integration with the F-14 codebase and DCS engine. 
This is a particularly boring aspect of art asset development; albeit very necessary so as to allow the programming team to boundlessly progress. 
Examples include defining clickable areas, animations and creating 2D bitmaps that will be drawn on various indicators and screens. 
We've almost completely finished this process and thus the main focus will again shift to traditional artistry. 

The biggest task ahead is texturing both the interior and exterior elements of the aircraft. 
We're currently evaluating a few new sculpting-based techniques that we hope will yield incredible fidelity and texture depth.

ClosedCat_03_Thumb.png ClosedCat_04_Thumb.png

Our working version of the aircraft is still currently based around a -B model exterior and -A model interior. 
However, work progresses on the -A exterior, starting with completion of the TF-30 engines and exhausts for the -A model tomcat. 

More notable adjustments of the shape and equipment to fall in line with an -A are forthcoming.

TF30_Thumb1.png TF30_Thumb3.png

Some of our sharp-eyed community members (you know who you are!) noticed various flaws in the initial renders we posted. 
Sincere gratitude for your sharp eyes, and we've already rolled in some of these corrections. 
Examples include widening the main engine intakes and canting the main gear. 

As with all of our development, we adhere to a very iterative process and you should always consider anything shown to be Work in Progress.

Additionally, we've gone ahead and continued on sculpting our pilot and RIO models. 
We're certainly paying very close attention to ensure a high level of detailing and accuracy. 

We have plans for these models beyond the standard in-cockpit / external pilots you are currently used to; features that will hopefully significantly improve immersion. 
You should expect this particular model to look practically identical in-game, as most of the detail will be baked down into normal and diffuse maps. 

PilotThumb.png


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After completion of the Hydraulic and some Electrical systems, the programming team has shifted focus to the development of the TF-30 and F-110 engines. 
This particular task will require a significant amount of time to develop, as both engines have unique properties and a lot of interconnected dependencies that need to be recreated and tested.

Thus, elements of the AICS, Fuel System, Pilot Controls must all be in place before all elements of our new engine simulation can be recreated. 
We are of course fully committed to ensuring that we model as many of the various characteristics and quirks of both engines. 

Some of these quirks have massive impact on how you fly and fight in the aircraft, thus we must be certain that we get it completely right. 
We hope that both reliance on documentation and SMEs will allow us to achieve this level of fidelity. 

ClosedCat_02_Thumb.png ClosedCat_01_Thumb.png 

Our FM simulation is highly dependent on all of the Engine and Flight Controls being completely in place, so as to ensure that all base parameters are correct before attempting to simulate the movement of the aircraft. 
Of course, it goes without saying that every facet of the F-14's flight envelope will be modeled to the fullest extent possible. 
Unlike what some of you fear, we are not limited in any way in what we can model or simulate, including more complex factors, such as variable geometry wing surfaces.

Once the engine and flight controls are in place, the team will move on to creating all auxiliary control system functionality. 
This includes elements such as brakes, hooks, refueling probes, canopy jettison, and much more.

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The F-14 Product Page is about to go live and is undergoing final tweaks.
It will contain a considerable amount of depth on various subjects, most of it however has already been covered in the forums.

The F-14 page is part of a wider website update which includes a new News section that will host our more frequent, unscheduled updates.


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During and after our initial announcement, many of you had questions about various aspects of development and the planned module roadmap in general. 
I've tried to gather as many of these as possible, but feel free to write more below and I will add as many as I possibly can.

Q: Which particular Airframe era will you be simulating?

We're still ironing out some specifics here; but we're aiming for a mid-to late 80s' airframe for the -A, and mid 90s' for the -B. Thus, some features such as the glove vanes will be disabled, while some advancements and improvements in the aircraft will be included.


Q: Are you sure about those Glove Vanes?

A: We'll be, at the very least, adding a visual option. It is possible that we will simulate the aerodynamic impact of the glove vanes further down the line.


Q: Will you be separating the -A and -B model Tomcats in the sim?

A: Indeed! It is also possible that one model will be released some time before the other.


Q: How much will it cost, and will both versions be sold together?

A: Details to be disclosed at a later time; but do not expect any kind of exorbitant or non-standard pricing.


Q: Where can I pre-order?

A: There is currently no pre-order or pledge package available. 

It is likely that we'll be running a pre-order program at some point prior to release, however.


Q: Will Air-to-Ground Capability be included?

A: Yes; however the specific A2G and sensor capability that will be modeled is yet to be decided. You can note in the renders posted, that the BRU-32 bomb rack is mounted to the Phoenix pylons on the underside of the fuselage.


Q: Which Chin Sensor Pod will the Aircraft utilize?

A: TCS & ALQ-100 Antenna. The bullet fairing visual option will be included.


Q: Will Carrier Operations be included at Release?

A: We are networking together with our partners to ensure a complete package upon release, however the complex nature of the task at hand lends itself to a cautious approach in saying anything definitive.


Q: Will Multiplayer Multi-Crew be available at Release?

A: We hope to include this feature on release. We consider it an essential selling point of this module, and a personal dream of our own.


Q: What do you mean by the AIM-54 being based on a 'CFD' Simulation?

A: We will be using Computer Fluid Dynamics simulations to the fullest extent possible in order to ensure proper accuracy and fidelity of the AIM-54 Phoenix missile flight dynamics. While this particular missile is very difficult to sufficient documentation on; we are investing heavily into ensuring that our recreation of it is true to life.


Q: Will Night Vision be available?

A: Yes.


Q: What is JESTER AI, exactly?

A: It is a proprietary system that primarily simulates the RIO crew member. It will allow you to quickly and efficiently fly and fight in the F-14, while minimizing your workload. JESTER AI will be fully voiced and highly streamlined. The system will be designed to be moduler, and can thus be quickly adapted to other multi-seat aircraft in development. 


Q: Will Multi-Seat licensing be a thing? (RIO Only License, etc.)

A: Possibly. We do like some of the ideas brought forward; but nothing definitive as of yet. It's more likely we'll stick to just a single license.


Q: Will Iranian Tomcats be included?

A: Yes! We have several Iranian liveries planned. We also plan to model the older MBU-5/P mask in use by the Iranian Air Force.


Q: Will you include a HGU-55 helmet option?

A: Not planned at this time.


Q: That looks like it has way too many polygons!

A: We learned our lesson with the rocky performance of the MiG-21 on release, and are taking care to keep performance at a significantly better level. Much of the detail you see is simply normal maps baked down from high-poly sculpts; thus, they already perform very well!


Q: Which theatre will be included with the F-14?

A: Very oceany. Very cold. 

The F-14 Campaign will take place in this theatre.


Q: Why not GOOSE AI?

A: Goose is dead, man.


Q: Any possibility of an MP / COOP Campaign?

A: Not planned at this time; however, we do intend to support the F-14 with significant after-market content, especially taking into consideration the Straights of Hormuz theatre. It can be noted that the SP campaign can likely be easily edited to allow for more players.


Q: What should I do during my inevitable divorce?

A: More Fleet BARCAP.


Q: Will random failures and issues be modeled?

A: Yes! We have a slew of unique and new features planned here that should introduce some RPG-esque elements into your gameplay experience, should you wish it.


Q: Will JESTER AI be able to handle Piloting duties as well?

A: Likely to some very limited extent.


TF30_Thumb2.png 


That is all for F-14 development at this point. 
During the next month you should expect to see some strong visual progress on both exterior and interior textures. 

We're very excited to move forward and to start seeing our vision come to life.

Sincerely,

Leatherneck Simulations

__________________
/Nicholas Dackard
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MigBuster, you are making me sweat in lust. Those renders look sick! I've been waiting to get DCS until I can have a Tomcat to use in it. I'm sold already.

 

As a side note, the HGU-33 flight helmet had almost been phased out by 1988, replaced with the HGU-55 and later -68 (which cannot be easily distinguished with common modifications in the paraloft). Keep it though. It's a popular model.

Edited by Swordsman422

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Q: Why not GOOSE AI?
A: Goose is dead, man.

 

 

Q: What should I do during my inevitable divorce?
A: More Fleet BARCAP.

 

Best answers ever.

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Q: Why not GOOSE AI?

A: Goose is dead, man.

 

 

What about a TOP GUN prequel ?

:beta:

Edited by jeanba
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