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fantomfour

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About fantomfour

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    Wales, U.K.
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    Mil. Aviation

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  1. The State of Flight Sims today?

    Before I get stuck in to this topic maybe a little about myself would be in order. I'm in my mid 50's and live smack in the middle of an RAF low level flying area in mid Wales in the U.K. (plenty of opportunities for photography). I've been interested in military aviation since my first encounter with the first Airfix Spitfire kit back in the early 1950's. Since then throw in lots of model making, loads of airshows, thousands of photographs, a veritable library of aviation reference materials and, as you will by now realise, an abiding interest in aviation stretching over 40 odd years. My first encounter with a flight sim was during a visit to MFG2 of the German Navy in 1987 when I had the pleasure of a 'flight' in the then new Tornado simulator (MFG2 had,at that time, recently transitioned from the F-104G to the Tornado). First impression was 'I want one of these'. Fat chance! Then in 1990 I bought an Amiga 1200 complete with the early Falcon sim and I've been messing about with jet combat sims (EF2000, F22ADF and Total Air War although I couldn't get on with Janes F-15 or Israeli Air Force and I don't much like Rage Typhoon) ever since via a P166 then a P2.350 and now an Athlon 1900xp with GF4. I will add at this point that I have no interest in aircraft with the air conditioning fan on the front. When I recently moved up to the Athlon machine I also switched to Windows XP pro but on loading up my favourite F22 Total Air War the machinery didn't want anything to do with it (I think it's probably to do with the GF4) so I started to look round the net to see what else was available and came across three candidates i.e. Falcon4 SP3, Strike Fighters P1, and Lomac. I then wandered about the various forums to see what was happening. I found that the Falcon community seemed to lean somewhat towards having a totally authentic flight model which meant (to me) that you had to be a bona fida F16 pilot to get the thing off the ground and when you'd managed that the array of radar modes was totally bewildering. Too steep a learning curve for me I'm afraid. Lomac looks really interesting but not yet available though I'll probably buy it when it is. This left SFP1. The instant that I saw that it featured my all-time favourite the F 104 I knew that this was the one for me especially as it allowed skinning and texturing. What did strike me when cruising round the various forums was that there seemed to be quite a lot of niggles about 'missing' features, whether it was the flight model, campaigns, comms, multiplayer, mission editors etc. What do we expect considering the low retail price of these programs? After all, look at the price of Photoshop, Windows XP pro, 3DMax. These programs are definitely not cheap but we expect the same level of features in our flight sims at a fraction of the price. Even Microsoft Flight Sim 2002Pro costs twice what we pay for SFP1. So, now to the question. What features do we really want in our Jet Combat Flight Sims? My own preferences, in no particular order, would be:- Era:- 1950 - present day (or up to 10 years in the future). Editable campaigns and missions. Third party addons as has happened with MS Flight Sim (scenary, aircraft etc.). Simple, mid-level and realistic flight models to cater for beginners up to advanced users incorporating training modules. The ability to build realistic or fictional campaigns. (I always thought that Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising would make a great basis for a sim campaign). Multi-terrain (maybe four terrain sets, A. as seen from 20,000ft upwards, B. as seen from 5,000ft - 20,000ft, C. as seen from 1,000ft - 5,000ft, and D. from ground level to 1,000ft to work so that as you transit from e.g. 30.000ft to 15,000ft the terrain would switch from A. to B. as you passed 20,000ft. Each terrain would feature different levels of detail for a given area i.e. from 20,000ft you can't see an awful lot of detail but you can see a long way therefore an A. terrain tile would cover a large area but with little detail whereas a D. tile would cover a relatively small area as you can't see far at 500ft but there is quite a lot of detail. This would possibly make the various terrain tiles roughly equal in file sizes. Additional mission types, e.g.photo recon - pre and post strike Hi-res maps for mission planning (updateable using recon results) I know that this is perhaps of no relevance but the sims we 'play' with now on our desktops and which we take very much for granted are light years ahead of the Tornado sim that I 'flew' a mere 15 years ago and they are also a tiny fraction of the cost. No doubt if I were a hard core player I could think of much more but I'll leave it at that for the moment apart from saying that we all really should expect to pay more if we want more. After all, the guys that produce these programs for us do need to put bread on the table just as we do. Are FlightSims dying? No, I don't think so but we should be prepared to pay more if we want more. fantomfour
  2. Whilst it is really good that there are so many people producing different skins for the a/c in Strike fighters I feel that sometimes attention to external detail is sometimes lacking a little. The F104 in SFP1 is a G model. The F104A (and C) had a different tailfin, much shorter in chord. Pakistan never operated the G model as illustrated in this skin. You'll be O.K. modelling a Taiwanese a/c as they did operate the G model. If the SFP1 people could be persuaded to unlock the original 3d models then it would be a fairly simple task to make the necessary mods to the airframes. We would then be able to model more accurately the F104A©, with the smaller fin, the F104S with the two additional rear fuselage strakes & extra underwing hardpoints, the Phantom FGR2 with RR Spey engines and fin top RWR, etc (How about RF4-C(E) Slightly OT The Spanish Air Force had the best operating record with the F104 with not a single loss throughout the whole period of service. Fantomfour
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