Dear Pilots and Drivers!
We start this Dev Blog with a somber reminder that 77 years ago, on June 22, 1941, German troops, under the control of the Nazi regime in Berlin, launched the largest invasion in the history of warfare. They crossed the Soviet Union border in a surprise blitzkrieg attack obliterating the non-aggression pact signed between Germany and the USSR. This escalation of WWII would forever change the history of the USSR and the rest of the world. Modern history still to this day is divided into 'before' and 'after' the war. The German war machine was powerful, effective, modern and technologically advanced. Its soldiers were highly motivated and exceptionally trained. Operation Barbarossa was planned by the best minds of the German general staff. The plan was for three army groups, 'North', 'Center' and 'South' to smash the USSR in just 5 months with the help of the cavalry of the new age - the air force.
This outcome may have seemed inevitable if not for the tenacity of the Soviet people and military. Surprisingly for the German High Command, as Barbarossa rolled on and early victories showed Soviet unpreparedness, the Soviet resistance began to stiffen and harden with each passing day. The Soviets withstood the initial, most powerful impact of the enemy with grim determination. This determination and composure turned into a shield and spear that would eventually stop and kill the enemy. We all know the price of this victory - there was no family untouched by the war, countries were destroyed, cities turned to rubble, tens of millions of people killed and millions of children became orphans. The price was hideous and we can't forget it because our ancestors live in our memory. We hope such an event never happens again.
This price wasn't paid in vain - the modern world as we know it comes from the great joint victory over Nazis. The victory which wasn't possible without the blood of the Soviet people, which begun on this day, June 22, 1941.
This new project of ours - Tank Crew: Clash at Prokhorovka is our tribute to this memory. We tell about the machines of WWII and the fighting in the skies above its battlefields. And starting this year, we'll also tell you about the fighting on the ground. We'll begin with one of the most famous and critical battles of the war - the battle of Kursk. In 1943, the Wehrmacht gathered all available forces, which in 1943 were still considerable and far from defeated and attempted to turn the tide of the war after the setbacks in 1941 and 1942 in one coordinated all-out assault. It can't be said that this attempt was entirely hopeless, the German forces nearly broke through the last lines of defense, but the Red Army held and counterattacked. And with that, the final outcome of the war became clear. The symbol of that battle, of course, is the armored combat machines that defined the battlefield – TANKS! Tanks alone are little more than expensive metal heaps without their human crews. This project is dedicated to the crews who bravely went to battle in them.
The action in Tank Crew: Clash at Prokhorovka will take place in 100x100 km area around Belgorod, including the place where the greatest tank battle of all time was waged, near Prokhorovka village. You can see that the map size is smaller than in our other projects, but we made it smaller on purpose to use our recently developed landscape detail scaling technology. This tech will make the landscape wireframe 16 times more detailed than our usual maps that are designed for aircraft engagements. While being smaller than our other maps, this map size is still unequal among tank sims. We don't do this just to boast about it either - the size of our map makes joint multiplayer with tanks and aircraft possible on the same multiplayer server.
In addition to 16 times more detailed landscape, we also implemented the knock-over-trees tech which in some aspects is more advanced than in competing titles. The terrain texturing has also been improved to make creating believable settlements and villages possible.
The settlements also required new tech advances because this project is focused on tanks, so we have implemented more detailed building damage modeling. Of course, we can’t get carried away, because populating all settlements and big towns with detailed damage model buildings won't be feasible from both development resources and sim performance standpoints. The bulk of the map will be populated like on the regular maps while the historically important areas where the major tank engagements happened will have the new detailed buildings. This will make ramming the buildings possible by the way. As you can imagine, the area of the Prokhorovka battle will be one of these highly detailed areas. The size of just this area is comparable to the full size of the map in some tank games.
Now let's list the tanks that will be made for the project, it is called Tank Crew after all. There will be 10 armored vehicles and two Anti-Aircraft vehicles:
1. T-34-76 model 1943
6. GAZ-MM + 72K
7. PzKpfw III Ausf.M
8. PzKpfw IV Ausf.G
9. PzKpfw V Ausf.D "Panther"
10. PzKpfw VI Ausf.H1 "Tiger"
11. Sd. Kfz. 184 "Ferdinand"
12. Sd. Kfz. 10 + Flak38
For this project, we performed historical research on the construction of these tanks and their equipment and weapons for exterior and interior 3D modeling and texturing. Part of our team is working on improving the engine, making the physical tank models and their damage modeling, creating the map and improving the user interface for the tank crews. We've managed to set up the joint workflow with our development partners so Tank Crew development doesn't affect the progress we're making on our other big project – Battle of Bodenplatte.
We can tell you a bit about the gameplay already. The player will be able to occupy one of the four stations:
- Tank commander
- Radioman/MG gunner
The required support for drivable tanks and vehicles has been created in advance. All our customers should try the existing two tanks, T-34 and Pz. III. Now we're improving and expanding this support, and one of the most important directions of this improvement is making the damage model of the tank and its systems more detailed.
We'll also improve the ground vehicle AI so it will be capable of controlling detailed tanks, the ones that human players control. This is required for single player - you'll be acting as part of tank squads or companies.
For each side we plan to create a Scripted Campaign consisting of several missions connected with a single story, telling about the historical events of this battle.
As we see things now, the Tank Commander role is shaping up to be the most interesting one - you'll be able to command your crew, give orders to your unit as a whole or any particular tank under your command. On Expert difficulty level, you'll do all this from your seat inside the tank relying only on the visual information which has been possible to obtain in real life.
Players assuming the role of a driver will notice the realistic tank movement physics that includes the complex interaction of the tank tracks (or wheels for a car) with the ground, engine and transmission, resulting in realistic dynamic characteristics of a given tank or vehicle. Since we are not only a simulator, but also a game, it will be possible to control this complex dynamical model with simple input devices.
The gunner will operate the realistic optical gun sight. We have performed significant research to model the ballistics of all the rounds used in these tanks. At the moment we plan that it will be possible to use 5 round types: AP, APHE, APCR, HEAT and HE (it's likely you know what these mean if you're interested in tank warfare). The types available will be historically accurate, for instance, the 76mm HEAT round was forbidden to use in 1943 because of the many cases of its premature bursting in the barrel, or there were no solid AP rounds for German guns, they used APHE. All MGs installed on the tanks will be accurately modeled as well.
The Radioman/MG gunner will operate his MG most of the time but losing a radioman will prevent you from talking with other tanks of your unit. The loader will be also modeled, but he will be controlled by AI.
We plan to start the Early Access program for Tank Crew: Clash at Prokhorovka as early as this July. Of course, we'll have only a small bit of the final product available at the start. The official release date is more than one year ahead in the future, but early adopters of Tank Crew will have something to play with:
- Highly detailed (exterior and interior) KV-1s and PzKpfw VI Ausf.H1 "Tiger" tanks;
- Nearly complete physics model of these tanks;
- Detailed ballistics model for 50mm, 76mm and 88mm rounds;
- Ability to occupy any tank station (tank commander functionality won't be ready, but you'll be able to take the commander seat);
- Numerous improvements to other game functionality which will improve a ground vehicle gameplay.
Well, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, but here is a bunch for several thousand words!
You can discuss the news in this thread
The time has come to tell you more about the historical timeframe of Battle of Bodenplatte.
As we said in our previous Dev Blog #192, we're making all four different seasons for this map. Some might think that we'll model only 1-2 days of the actual Bodenplatte operation when the Luftwaffe made the all-out attack on the Allied airfields near Brussels and Antwerp. However, our “Battle of” series is much more than that! The Career mode for this new theatre of war will last from September 17th, 1944 to March 28th, 1945 – 188 days of war in total.
Historically, 11 significant engagements took place in this area during the given timeframe. In the Career mode, you'll see your area of operations, mission types, acting air force units, their home airfields and other details that correspond to the historical data. You'll be flying in and around many famous operations and battles. Of course, we can’t model every skirmish or battle on the ground, but we will have an exciting Career spanning this later stage of the war when the Allies were fighting their way into Germany.
Operation Market Garden (September 17 – 26, 1944)
Battle of Aachen (October 2 – 21, 1944)
Battle of the Scheldt (October 2 – November 8, 1944)
Operation Queen (November 16 – December 15, 1944)
Operation Watch on the Rhine (December 16 – 25, 1944)
Allied Counter-Offensive (December 26, 1944 – January 25, 1945)
Operation Bodenplatte (January 1, 1945)
Operation Veritable (February 8 – March 10, 1945)
Operation Clarion (February 22 – 23, 1945)
Operation Grenade (February 23 – March 10, 1945)
Operation Plunder (March 23 – 28, 1945)
As said above, we won't be able to recreate these ground operations in super detail, but the overall situation, mission tasks, home airfields and mission targets will change as they should historically just as you experience with Stalingrad, Moscow and Kuban. This, along with the corresponding features of the Career mode like pilot biographies, squadron histories, newspaper articles, videos, squadron rosters, medals and rank progression will create an authentic experience of flying on the Western Front during the late war period. The whole timeframe will be divided into 5 chapters:
Chapter 1: Fighting in Holland (September 17 – October 1, 1944)
Chapter 2: Autumn Offensive (October 2 – December 15, 1944)
Chapter 3: Battle of the Bulge (December 16 – 25, 1944)
Chapter 4: Allied Counter-Offensive (December 26, 1944 – February 7, 1945)
Chapter 5: Battle of the Rhine (February 8 – March 28, 1945)
To create this new theatre of war, a thorough research will be done on where the units of both sides were based, their tasks and what aircraft they used day by day. Two new award systems for the US and Great Britain are to be created from scratch, as well as the late war pilot models for Luftwaffe, RAF and USAAF along with their chutes. The Newspaper articles is a huge task on their own and takes several months to complete. If you’d like to help with this contact Jason. We also plan on making additional mission types for this unique location and timeframe. All in all, this will be a lot of work for us, but progress is already being made. For example, we have finalized the map boundaries and the airfield locations. This map is bigger than we initially planned (flyable area is 401 x 324 km - it is 129.900 sq.km) and several compromises will have to be made to make it a reality. It will stretch us to the limit of what is possible in our development schedule, but as with our other maps it will be really cool when it’s done.
You can discuss the news in this thread
There are holidays at the beginning of May in Russia, but to this day we have managed to release the important 3.002 update and its hotfixes. Moreover, we have found a temporary solution for our Russian customers who were affected by the recent mass blocking of the Amazon IP addresses (we use its web services). While one part of the team has been working on the update, others have continued the development of our next big project - Bodenplatte. For instance, we have reached an important milestone in the development of the new map. Evgeny Isaev, our lead landscape and game world artist, has this to say:
It's important to note that the new map will be special and different (once again!). The set development time limits force us to find the ways to optimize our work, simultaneously increasing the quality of the landscape. This means we ought to implement new design methods, namely using digital geodata (with required historical corrections) instead of drawing by hand. This way we can save time, but increase the accuracy of the resulting map.
At the moment, we already have the map with height data, rivers and forests. The result is not final, but it required a lot of work already.
Now we're working on the settlements. It is possible that we'll increase their number in the course of development, but we'll make the decision when we have the major towns and smaller settlements ready. The airfields list is ready and we have collected enough information to make them. In addition, we have a general concept of how we'll texture the landscape for different seasons, but we'll give it a bit more thought.
It is said than one picture is worth a thousand words, how about fourteen:
You can find it here
after the release of 3.001 of Il2 Series, there is a good in depth review at Stormbirds. For all who is interested in an up to date and very detailed WW2 sim, should read it and maybe, try it out.
I hope you guys enjoy the reading and if you have any comments or questions, just post them below. I will read them all.
Have fun and have a nice weekend