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33LIMA

Battle of Britain 2 Wings of Victory...and Windows 10

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I suppose A2A Simulations' forums are the place to ask this, but the question appears to be hanging in the air, there and elsewhere on the net, so I'll pose it here...

Has anyone got BoB2 working fully in Windows 10?

I've been spurred to try for myself for two reasons:

1. My Vista 64 box's mobo gave up the ghost so I now have a newer replacement which has Win 10 Pro. With which I've got the vast majority of my sims working fine, mostly from the old HDD which is now installed in the new box to complement the fast-but-just-120GB-capacity SSD that came with it; and 

2. The arrival of Wings over the Reich prompted me to renew my acquaintance with sims of the classic Battle, in which I have always been very interested.

As I posted 'in another place', I was keen to see WoTR's arrival, but deterred from jumping in when it arrived by a number of issues, including: very small German formations ('Minor Skirmish of Britain', anyone?); bombers way too widely spaced; UFO Bf110s; few flyables; very limited variety in aircraft skins (only slightly better now); and quite seriously for the defender, very little radio traffic and little or no representation of Ground Controllers. It seems the most recent patch has endeavoured to fix some of these issues, but others remain (a post-patch video showing what was described as 'a big bank [sic] of bombers' looked to me to comprise about six Dorniers). 

I also tried a CFS3 ETO freeware mod which covers the Battle, based on the ETO expansion...but it just reminds me why I always reckoned CFS3 was ok at what it was designed to do (tactical air ops)...but not much else.

So back I came to A2A's makeover of Rowan's classic.

Despite making my own map-based BoB wargame back in the '70s, I never really appreciated BoB/BoB2's 'flight sim within a wargame' approach. But while WoTR provides the conventional squadron-based SP campaign I prefer (available to an extent in BoB2, if you follow the available guidance on workarounds), BoB2 scores in about every other respect - except that the graphics are not quite so modern as (or more dated than)  WoTR's.  Even just playing BoB2's included set of historical missions, though all seem to be air starts, provides a good recreation of the Battle via many of its highlights, complete with the ability to fly in several of the participating squadrons or Gruppen (including as air gunners in the German bombers), Ground Controllers are on the air, the R/T chatter is great, the AI likewise, and the formations often positively scary. As is taking the role of one of the air gunners in a Do 17 of 9/KG76 in the famous low-level raid on RAF Kenley, one of the historical missions.

Anyhow, back on topic. After a re-install, I have BoB2 mostly working in Win 10, complete with the latest 2.13 update from the BoB Development Group and Multiskins  - which gives every plane in every unit accurate squadron/gruppe and individual aircraft markings.

The problem I was left with was that the game CTD'ed when I quit a mission. Alt+X being the default keys; remapping them didn't help. Likewise, no joy quitting from the 2d map, paused or not, instead of the 3d world. The consensus online seems to be that differences in the way DirectX handled some things in Win 10 was the likely culprit. Win 8 is likewise problematic, and while 7 is apparently fine with BoB2,  I'm not going there, having got most all else going on an OS which will be in support a fair bit longer.

Today, I seem to have reduced the Alt+X CTDs from 'very common' to 'rare', by applying the settings  posted by Buzz3 on Steam, here... https://steamcommunity.com/app/63950/discussions/0/1471968797464997938/

...except that I have just begun to increase the recommended low-to-medium in-game graphics settings, to see how far up I can push them, while isolating the item or items I can't. 'Quite a way' seems to be the answer. But I fear that over the days ahead I will have the same experience reported by others on A2A who thought and posted that they had found an answer,  only to discover they were just having a good patch and that the law of Alt+X averages caught up with them -  and the regular CTDs were back. Some seem to have spent ages trying to find the BoB2 Win 10 Holy Grail, in vain, and I've tried anything I can think of that they haven't reported trying.

I can live with the dated but serviceable graphics for the sake of BoB2's very considerable superiority over all other comers as a simulation of the Battle. At a push, I will be happy being able to play the many historical missions, interleaved with the numerous training sorties, and accept a rude, debrief-free ending and an inability to play campaigns, if I must. But if anyone has discovered settings which reliably eliminate the Alt+X CTD in Windows 10, I (and likely others!) would be very glad to hear of it!

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I don't have any Windows 10 gaming PCs, both of my mine are still Windows 7, so I can't really help you. But I hope you get BoB2 working as it is still a great sim. Excellent flight models, excellent AI fighter pilots, and the largest, most historically accurate bomber formations I have ever seen in a sim. Despite all the updated textures, the terrain may look a little dated, but the air-to-air combat against AI is unmatched by any other sim. I am not much of a campaign person. My favorite things to do were to either fly a historical single mission as a Hurricane trying to stop the bombers or 1v1 duels as either a Spitfire or 109 vs various levels of AI to see how they fought given different aircraft and skill levels.

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I would presume you have read this thread, but if you haven't, here's the link: http://a2asimulations.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=48817

Apparently the game can run perfectly well under Windows 10 without any compatibility mode with the videos disabled... assuming later video drivers haven't broken things that used to work. Good luck!

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Thanks for the encouragement Strikeagle. That A2A thread I saw, it goes cold after Buzz73 posted his settings as also on Steam. The Buzz73 posted on both forums, several months after his first settings post on A2A, that they were still working for him, implies he had found a stable solution. Last night I got several normal mission endings with his low-medium in game settings, but another Alt+X CTD when I pushed most of them up. The plan now is to stick with medium settings for an extended period, to see if that works consistently, and then try one high setting at a time, starting with the ones that I find most important, like aircraft textures, horizon distance and weather/cloud. Will report back. 

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I have Windows 7, so I'm also not in the best position to advise. All I can say is that I got this game's venerable predecessor, MiG Alley, to work on my pc using a utility called DxWND, which runs games in a window.

Additionally, I would recommend the recent terrain and lighting mods from Boreas and Rogerroger, available on A2A, which greatly improve the visuals.

 

Another possible hint: recently greatly improved frame-rates in some of the big missions by changing the setting in nVidia panel to 'maximum pre-rendered frames' = 1.

 

 

 

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Thanks for the tips guys. I got an Alt+X CTD last night with Buzz73's settings and graphics options at medium again as a baseline, so I figured if I'm going to get crashes, I might as well get them at high settings. I also applied the recommended lines to BDG.txt to get autogen trees, and found that 8x anti-aliasing plus 4x sparse grid supersampling in Nvidia Inspector kills the shimmering on distant terrain. I also killed the compatibility settings on BoB.exe and reverted to 'Run as admin' only, much as per Dustbag's original post...and I have had two takeoff training missions on a row without the Alt+X CTD. So I will stick with that and see how I get on.

I had forgotten how good Battle of Britain/BoB2-WoV was - is - with the BDG patches and Multiskin. The RAF airfields look to be very faithful renditions of the real ones at the time, well furnished with blast pens, emplaced AA guns and all the rest. And the sheer variety of authentic aircraft schemes and markings - including different RAF fin flashes and various undersurface treatments - is very impressive if not unequalled. Heck, I can even fly 11 Group boss Keith Park's Hurricane, complete with the Old Man's personal squadron code and the man himself in his distinctive white flight suit. I can see why established BoB2 players call this one a 'time machine'.

 

 

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Interesting to note your observation with regard to the sparse-grid supersampling and its elimination of distant shimmering. I got exactly the same result in my installation of European Air War. However, 2x was inadequate. Now, I must replicate it in my BoB II install. Thanks for the tip.

Now that you're going all-out with the graphics, have a go with Rogeroger's recent application of 'Martin's textures', originally a mod in Il-2 1946 and there's an accompanying Reshade file, as well. He and Boreas have several recent graphic modifications which considerably improve the visuals.

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Thanks Sky High - have had a quick trawl through the 'Subscriber modifications' thread at A2A/BoB2 looking for mods, seems you have to find the post there with the link to the mod and that there's no 'mods master list'. anyway will look out for the stuff you are recommending.

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Thanks - found them now. 

Another reminder I've just had, as to how good BoB2+BDG is...I was tootling east along the coast after a circuit at Tangmere, when I came to Brighton and saw the famous pier. 'A graphics glitch', I thought, seeing the section of pier missing. Then I remembered, they disconnected the ends of such piers from the coast, to deter the Germans using them during landings. Now, THAT'S attention to historical detail!

 

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Yeah it's all very well playing individual missions - and because there's a good range of them, you can get a good experience of playing the Battle just from them - but I never got into the wargame side. Now, having managed and enjoyed doing just that for Steel Amor - Blaze of War (a 'tanksim inside a wargame') the Win 10 Alt+X CTD is hampering me from finally doing the same for BoB  :( 

Still, CTDs are hitting me well under half the time at time at the moment, and I've had  a good run with none for a while, including the squadron takeoff mission illustrated above. And PieceofCake is having a similar run in the RAF campaign, after letting it fast forward from 20 to 21 July. And I'm waiting for confirmation that Whirlybird's Mega [mission] pack is compatible with BDG 2.13; the former includes scripted mission mini campaigns, so the glass of ale is sort of half full; so onward and upward, chaps!

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Well I played several more training missions with no CTDs, even managed to put in a bit of sight-seeing...

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...but I got another Alt+X crash after flying as an air gunner in an He-111 in the 'Single fighter -v- single bomber' interception training mission. Our tormentor, a Spitfire, chased us all the way back to the French coast and even had a go at us as we were trying to land. But he kept sheering off when I engaged him from the dorsal position. Anyhow we got away with it, so I wasn't too unhappy with the CTD!

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Well, I've tried many things recommended elsewhere, including running the sim in windowed mode (which produces a c.14" screen display in 3d) and I still get Alt+X (quit mission) CTDs about a third of the time. I tried the RAF campaign and got Alt+X about every time ie no way back to the 2d campaign map. Plus a CTD during a couple of the missions. All shown in crashlog.txt as the ntdll.dll exception error. Haven't tried the separate RAF squadron campaign that one of the BFG updates added, but have no reason to believe it would be any different.

I'm quite keen to play at least the RAF campaign. What seems to work tolerably well is if I let the 2d campaign play normally. I can take over a squadron when prompted to 'Fly' and then fly the mission normally in 3d (apart from the odd one which occasionally CTDs mid-flight) and enjoy the variety and the action. Then, when I quit, I get a CTD. Because the sim auto-saves before you take over a flight, I can restart BoB2, reload the saved campaign where I left off, and this time let the wargame fly the mission I flew, instead of taking over. So the wargame determines the results, not my flying the mission. As BoB2 doesn't have a pilot persona-based campaign anyway, I reckon I can live with that, for the sake of flying in Windows 10 what is still much the best BoB sim. Appreciating the radio chatter, the highly-realistic landscapes and unit markings and camouflage schemes (including the infamous variations in RAF Sky Type S), clickable cockpits if you want them, the generally great AI, realistically big and tight formations, and sights like these, which I was never able to enjoy on my previous, lower-powered rigs.

Incidentally the shot of Spits under AA fire is down to a serious map-reading error when I took 610 Squadron (squadron code DW) too close to the French coast, to defend a convoy under attack! In other pics, I'm flying Al Deere's famous 'Kiwi', KL-B, leading 54 Squadron against a raid by Stukas escorted by 109s, against channel convoy 'Jaunty' that thought - mistakenly - that it had reached safety in the Thames Estuary. The hairs stood up on the back of my neck when I heard the raid announced as 'hundred plus' - gives you some idea of what it was like for the real pilots. Of course you can't hear the radio chatter looking at screenies, but as any BoB/BoB2 player will confirm and like many other aspects of this sim, it has never been equalled, let alone bettered, with squadrons and 'Control' using authentic period radio code names, calls from leaders to take safety catches off and so on. This is the one that truly recreates and brings to life the Battle, with unique attention to historical detail.

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Am having mixed results in the RAF campaign, worse that single missions, since campaign missions seem always, not just sometimes, to CTD on quitting, plus they sometimes CTD during the mission. So I'm going to get a second, inexpensive 120GB SSD , a cheap but legit copy of Win 7, and boot into 7 from the BIOS when I want to play BoB2. Using a separate drive seems a step or two simpler than creating a partition on my Win 10 SSD, which in any event I don't want to fill up. Apparently the trick is to disconnect the Win 10 drive before installing Win 7 (from the DVD drive), so that you don't get messed up boot files. Worth the modest trouble and expense to get less interruptions...assuming it all works.

In the meantime, after switching BoB.exe back to XP SP3 compatibility, I have had decent run with fewer CTDs until I choose to quit, including as an air gunner on one of the Ju88s from one of two gruppen of KG54 making a co-ordinated attack on Southampton and Portland docks (one of the included historical missions), and later an RAF campaign mission during the 'convoys' phase, leading 249 Squadron (Hurricanes) chasing after some determined high-flying attackers who were trying to get a convoy which had sailed up the coast, NE of the Thames Estuary.

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Just to wind up this one, I can report that for about £50 - around the cost of a new sim with nicer eye candy but a fraction of the content, I now have a legit (just activated fine) copy of Win 7, a 120 GB SSD, the SATA and molex adapter (power) cables I needed for it. And I now have a new install of BoB2 sharing the new drive, updated of course to 2.13 with multiskin, running apparently flawlessly.

Easy BCD, free version, installed in Win 10, has enabled me to set things up so if I boot into Win 10, I get the Win 10 dual boot menu even though Win 7 is on a separate drive - which is a bit more convenient than using the BIOS/UEFI boot menu when I want to switch. I've now also copied across First Eagles 2's mods folder and Open Rails onto the Win 7 SSD so I can play those from Win 7 too. Still have plenty of spare capacity on the new SSD, so that's a bonus.

Screenshot from my first test in Win 7 shows a Do17Z in which I'm manning the guns, in the instant action 'Interceptions - single fighter -v- single bomber' training mission, as we try to get away after dropping our eggs on a south coast target and waking up the flak people.  

Even though BoB2 was mostly playable in Win 10, eliminating the CTDs and being able to play the campaign missions in particular without the hassle and limitations imposed by the CTDs, makes this a very worthwhile investment.

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First RAF campaign missions are going well, too - this is part of my vic at the head of 79 Squadron, on our way to intercept Hostile seven-oh-one, a hundred-plus raid heading for a channel convoy near the Straits of Dover, 10 July 1940...

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Now, THAT's what I call a raid...

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The escort objected to our interruption, but after a tussle with me which ended amongst the clouds, this one came unstuck...

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One of his mates took exception to that...

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Although I got away, I wrecked my engine by over-running it flat out. Unable to make even the couple of miles to the nearest airfield, I ended that particular sortie belly-flopped in a cornfield, damaging, though not quite wrecking, both aeroplane and crops...

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      However, I have been able to play many training, historical and campaign missions up to the end, and so pleased am I with the experience that I plan a dual boot drive with Win 7. So that I can get proper debriefings and not have to re-start crashed campaign games every time I take to the air in one. And spend more time enjoying the authentic 1940s southern England landscapes and scenery, recreated with extreme attention to detail. For example the first time I saw Brighton Pier on a test flight in a Hurricane, I thought the 3d model had a problem, the pier head being unconnected with the coast. Then I remembered...they disconnected pier head from land during the invasion scare of 1940, so as not to provide the expected visitors with convenient ad hoc jetties.

      The graphics aren't stellar - there are no dynamic shadows for example - but they are still pretty good. What still sets BoB2's visuals apart is more of that attention to detail. For example, aircraft not only carry accurate camouflage patterns, and the proper squadron codes (JX seen above is No.1 Squadron), but Spits and Hurris have realistic variations, including different fin flashes and undersurface treatments. And the weathered Dark Earth and Dark Green 'shadow shading' RAF day fighter camouflage is to my eye more authentic than the efforts of the flashier competitors. I'm not sure how, but the rather blurry aircraft textures I recall from the first time I installed BoB2-WoV are now sharp and satisfying, complete with readable stencils. Notably, the air-to-air AI is the best (most human-like) I have ever encountered, the flight models feel good (including controls becoming heavier at high speeds). The radio traffic is simply best of breed, complete with the use of authentic radio codes and, it seems, also realistic radio voice procedure, for both sides. Planes rattle like they should when near the stall (I have in front of me a Spit Mk1 Pilot's Notes facsimilie and it describes just that '...there is a violent shudder and clattering noise throughout the aeroplane'), there are clickable cockpits if you like to fiddle with knobs, and as well as flying the four major fighters, you can also go dive-bombing in a Stuka or man and switch between nose, dorsal and ventral gun positions on the three types of German twin-engine bombers. 
      Which is what I'm doing in the mission featured in this report - one of the included historical missions, the major Luftwaffe raid on the Filton aircraft factory near Bristol, on 25th September 1940. This caught out Fighter Command's 10 Group, who had deployed their interceptors to defend the Westland works at Yeovil, instead. As the mission intro describes, this let the attackers in unmolested and probably doomed many of the 200-plus victims who died when the raid hit its real target (my parents-to-be were in a city badly bombed by Goering's boys, and I well remember the 'bomb sites' in the streets where I was brought up, where gaps in rows of houses still marked the effects of the raids; so I don't say any of that lightly, lest anyone think otherwise).
      I could have opted to fly on any plane making, escorting or belatedly trying to catch the raid. But I opted to fly as an air gunner on the lead He111 of the second attacking gruppe, I/KG55. We had about fifteen aircraft - by mid September, some bomber gruppen were well below strength: the morning raid on London on Battle of Britain Day, 15th September, consisted of just 25 Dorniers which it took two gruppen to put up, an incredibly small number even allowing they were essentially lockvogel, bait to lure up 'the last fifty Spitfires'.
      Anyhow, here we are approaching Bristol, having just flown through a noisy but for now, ineffective flak barrage. As I was soon to find out, enjoying the ride, taking pics like a good war correspondent and actually defending my aircraft, did not mix terribly well.

      ...to be continued!
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