We wanted to drop you a round-up of what’s been happening with CAP2 development over the last few months. As you can see from the summary below, update pace is gaining momentum. This is due to continue as we bring you a run of smaller updates, focused on all aspects of aircraft AI.
We are excited about December as we finally start to bring the missions to life!
Current work is focused on all aspects of aircraft AI. This will improve things such as:
AI aircraft mission integration (taxiing, AI flight member roles)
AI airbase traffic
AI aircraft weapon deployment (AA & AG)
AI awareness of aircraft state (fuel, weapon state, radar, RWR)
This means for example, in a training mission you might see a tanker takeoff while your flight taxis to the runway. You takeoff, form up and hit training area targets line astern, refuel and return to base. Another example, for the Mach Loop you may be in a flight of four aircraft transiting the loop where you may be lead or following the flight leader.
We’ve dropped four patches over the past couple of months and the current version (v810.7) is now live across all branches (including VR).
Here’s Ed’s posts from the Steam community hub detailing what these these four patches included:
Terrain editor - We've completed a lot of background work on the terrain editor which means we can now rapidly improve areas of interest from the base imagery and OSM data. We intend to make the editor available in the future for people to customise and share terrains, together with a mission editor.
Training missions - We've used the improved editor to begin building the Yuma training missions. You may discover the newly populated target ranges.
Mission planner Improvements - We've fixed some of the issues with the mission planner and it also now shows elevation as well as coast line. You will see that the map now includes most of the UK and the Yuma Map extends up to the Grand Canyon. In the future we will also extend the satellite imagery and OSM data - either through DLC or a future update.
Easter Egg - Many players have now found this in the UK map, well done!
Richer environment - As you can see from the screenshot below of the Harrier leaving Khasab we have added thousands more buildings and lots of additional vegetation. You may be aware (and have contributed - thank you!) that this is done by adding more OpenStreetMap data. It's been done as an aside and hasn't impacted general development. Abu Musa and Kaneohe Bay are also now more significantly built up. We've also added a host of custom objects including power lines, lighthouses, water tanks, ATC towers, rigs etc.
Fuel Tanks - As you can also see from the screen above, the Harrier now has external fuel tanks, including associated fuel flow logic and displays, you’ll be able to mod them soon.
Terrain Lighting - We've added lighting to roads, runways, taxiways and buildings, illuminating villages and cities which really adds to immersion. In case you missed it here’s the promo from a few weeks ago showcasing this. You will also see that we’ve improved vegetation, adding different trees and increasing their density.
Cockpit illumination - As you can see from these before and after shots, the Harrier cockpit now has night illumination. It's easy to see dials/gauges around sunset. You can separately adjust the lighting intensity for self illuminated instruments and the cockpit floodlights. The full day/night cycle will come in a subsequent update. We've got a sky shader to complete which bounces a lot of rays through the atmosphere and produces great sunsets and sky throughout the 24hr cycle.
Mostly a bug fix build, notable changes include:
Controls: Control and shift on mapped control keys are now saved.
Controls: OEM keys are labelled correctly.
Controls: Added default mappings for keyboard, gamepad, joystick.
HARM: firing crash fixed.
HARM Mission: mission starts.
Terrain LOD: settings bug fixed. You can select Low, Medium, High, Ultra.
Flight model: fix for a drag calculation.
Time Of Day controls: added to adjust current time and environment lighting.
Added fixes for fullscreen monitor selection. When in fullscreen mode, changing the selected output monitor is immediate. Also the monitor label has an index added to distinguish between identically named monitors (generic pnp display...)
While working on default controls I realised none of the controller manufacturers seem to use the correct USB usage codes for controller buttons or axes/sliders which have a specific function. There are codes defined for controls such as throttle, chaff, flaps, trim etc. It'd be great if they used them where relevant as auto mapping a controller would be pretty simple. Anyway, I'm adding default settings for common controllers which will be included in coming updates. I've also begun work on the axis response curves UI.
The TOD/lighting controls are pretty cool. Give them a try, you'll probably find yourself constantly tweaking the light levels. Once the updated day/night sky shader is complete you'll be able to adjust the full 24hr cycle, plus advancing mission time will be added.
The terrain LOD settings fix/update improves the appearance of distant lights popping into view and fixes an issue where extra scenery was being drawn.
The debug keys for time shifting and cloud regeneration are available in Controls->Misc
You can accelerate time from 4x to /32 (decelerating 32x was useful for testing things like gear animations)
A crash on starting Hawaii free flight is fixed.
You can now add your own cockpit photo. There's a directory 'Mods - Examples' in the game folder which details how to add your photo.
Should you buy CAP2 now?
If you don’t yet own CAP2 obviously we’d love for you to join the crew. We encourage you to read the store page details carefully first, particularly with reference to what features are currently enabled so that you have the correct expectation from the current build.
If you are enjoying CAP2 we would appreciate a quick Steam review as it greatly increases visibility within the store.
Mudspike have published a preview of CAP2 which it seems is the follow on to the early 90s sim CAP on the Commodore Amiga which was really good for the time.
Ok, let’s do a quick experiment. We’ll need a measuring rule, a bucket and (optionally) a towel. I’m going to list some things from a new PC flight sim coming out in 2015 (yes you read that right, this is like ‘Bigfoot Found In Walmart’ breaking news) so let’s set up the experiment:
Place the towel on the floor. Position the bucket beneath your lower lip.
Here’s the features of this new flight sim:
AV-8B Harrier II with 3D clickable cockpit using TrackIR and HOTAS support. Single Player emphasis, with Multiplayer Co-op available, including drop-in play. Dynamic Campaign engine. Flight and Naval Strategic fleet battles. Carrier Ops. Wingmen, Helos, Civilian traffic in shipping lanes. Realistic campaign map set in the Straits of Hormuz using 250,000 sq km satellite imagery and modern graphics. Dynamic Campaign engine. Yes, I just said it again. Ok, now let’s use the ruler and see how much drool just entered that bucket. I’m betting a good couple of inches, so feel free to use the towel now and go rehydrate.
We haven’t had the chance to get our hands on this title as yet, but Sim155 reached out to Mudspike and we set up this short Q&A to see what’s up:
Q1. What’s the balance between single and multiplayer content in CAP2? Is this primarily a Multiplayer game?
I’d say it is 50-50. For single player there’s a collection of training missions, single missions then an open ended dynamic campaign. For multiplayer there’s quick start dogfight, fleet defense/attack and fleet vs fleet. In addition any player in a campaign can invite players to join in a mission and take the place of AI controlled wingmen.
Q2. What’s a good comparative title for CAP2, it seems similar to Gaijin’s Apache Air Assault – is that a fair comparison in terms of sim fidelity and gameplay? Fun and action more than hardcore simulation?
I’d say we lean more towards a simulation than AAS. CAP2 has a strategic element in campaign mode which I don’t think you’ll find in many titles.
Q3. I’m old enough to have played Combat Air Patrol on the Amiga 500 (great game btw), what would be the main advances Ed and the team have been able to feature in CAP2 on today’s more powerful hardware?
Glad you liked it! With CAP I developed a 3D engine in 68k assembler as we didn’t have GPU’s. With a CPU running just over 7Mhz you could see the impact of just a few extra polygons. Now we’re pushing millions of polygons per frame we can draw pretty much anything we want. Terrain in CAP was limited to a few blue water polygons, CAP2 has over 250,000sq km of geo accurate terrain. Shaders allow us to render complex atmospheric lighting, water, shadows and post process effects.
Reference material is one of the biggest differences between developing CAP2 vs CAP. Back in the 90’s I wrote to the DoD asking for material on CVN-71 and actually received info & pictures a few weeks later. Today you’ve got a thousand images/movies/schematics available in seconds so things have changed massively.
Thanks to Ed and the Sim155 team for taking the time to answer our questions. We can’t wait to find out more, especially on the dynamic campaign side. For those that loved the gameplay fun of Strike Fighters and IL-2, this looks like a really nice ‘fidelity middle ground’ with a mix of tactical fleets mixed in. Awesome.
More here http://www.mudspike.com/combat-air-patrol-2-preview-interview/
Brought to you by Sim155 Ltd, Combat Air Patrol 2 (CAP2) is a flight and naval combat simulator game for PC (Steam/Windows) where you pilot the AV-8B Harrier II. The trailer above is in-game footage.
The AV-8B Harrier II is a battle proven powerhouse of the US air force. With its history, iconic look and it’s ability to hover and land vertically it requires no explanation as to why it has become a widely used military aircraft and trusted by scores of highly trained pilots. Here is your chance to become one of those pilots!
Might be worth getting some more info on this before deciding to back.