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Making good use of one of the many features of Pat Wilson's Campaign Generator! One of the many good things that PWGC lets you do in Rise of Flight - apart from create and change RoF campaign settings in about as much detail as most would want - is write detailed combat reports. Some may regard this as tedious paperwork, but to me, it can be highly immersive. And while Wings over Flanders Fields will also let you describe your achievements for later review (as well as giving you the option of making acceptance of your victory claims dependent on your reports thereof), the equivalent PWCG facility lets you type onto a decent sized page, rather than into a single, short window; this encourages a fuller description. As I'm still spending much of my sim time working on scenarios for the upcoming Panzer Elite Britpack '44-x mod, and just dipping into actually playing other sims for a change of scenery, I thought I might relieve the break in mission reports here on CombatAce by reproducing some of my RoF/PWCG combat reports, illustrated by screenshots taken at the time. These are from my Richard Stachel campaign, flying the Albatros D.III with Jasta 2 in the heady days of Spring, 1917. First off, here's one I see dates from a patrol up to the lines on 27 April. We took off at 10:30 and as usual, I had used PWCG to ensure that I was leading the flight (hence the blue streamer that's attached to my left upper mainplane) and had three other flight-mates with me, usually the same fellows each time. To 'get in character', I try to replicate some of the language of the time in these reports, complete with references to 'Englishmen' (or 'Huns' when flying for the British) and incorrect identifications - for example, the Germans tended to describe British 'pusher' aircraft as Vickers types, regardless of the correct manufacturer. Anyway, here's the report, as I recorded it immediately after looking at the handy animated mission 'debriefing' in PWCG. "At about 10:40 I spotted five aircraft heading east over the lines at about 3000m, slightly above us. Although they were not being engaged by our flak, I observed that they were Vickers 2-seaters. One of the Englishmen broke off to the north-west and the others swung around to the south-west, flying in two pairs, one pair below and slightly behind the other. By this time, I had drawn away from the rest of my flight. All the Vickers flew back towards their side of the lines, diving slightly, which made them hard to catch. I finally got in range of the right-hand machine in the lower pair... ...and hit his engine after several bursts, causing white smoke to trail behind. The other enemies did not intervene and I stayed out of the arc of fire of the enemy observer, despite the aircraft weaving from side to side. Finally I appeared to have hit the enemy pilot and the Vickers fell away to the right and dived to the ground, about 3 Km on his side of the lines. I then spotted the second Englishman further west, still diving, and although I dived after him and hit him, my ammunition soon ran out and I had to turn east for friendly territory. As I crossed the lines I was rejoined by Oblt Bohme and Lt Tutschek. I claim one Vickers-type 2 seater shot down and another one damaged." The 'Vickers 2-seaters' are of course F.E.2bs, a type I haven't bought as a 'flyable' yet, but which still appears in-game as AI-flown. Not a bad morning's work, it was. And although only two reappeared initially, I brought all three of my comrades home with me, which is always a priority of mine. The next mission was to be rather more eventful. ...to be continued!
First try-out with the latest version of Pat Wilson's Campaign Generator Fans of classic WW1 sim Red Baron 3d like myself will likely know Pat Wilson from his outstanding 'Western Front Patch' which added shed-loads of good stuff to RB3d - I still have a WFP install on my current PC! More recently, Pat has turned his attentions to Rise of Flight. The latter shipped with simple 'mission set' linear campaigns, later joined by a career mode (which is still nominally in beta!). To this, Pat added a new campaign interface and mission generator, which adds lots of features and for many, transforms the RoF Single Player campaign experience into something reminiscent of RB3d, whose campaign set the bar for these things so many years ago. PWCG has its own forum at RoF, where you can find out more, get the download links, and discuss the mod with others, including the developer: http://riseofflight.com/Forum/viewforum.php?f=394 The PWCG web page is here and includes help and documentation, as well as the downloads themselves; http://www.pwcampaigngenerator.com/WebSite/PWCG.html PWCG simply unzips into your RoF game folder and when you run it, lets you create a campaign pilot, chose his rank and nationality (if you choose 'US' this allows you to transfer from French or British services to the US Air Service after the latter takes to the field) and campaign start date, month by month. You then generate a campaign. After that, you generate one mission at a time. You can review the mission briefing with a map which describes route, waypoints and enemy & friendly air units known to be operating in the area. If you don't like the look of this you can scrub it and try again. This is similar to the option in OFF but doesn't just give you a different target/route. Don't feel like busting balloons today? Scrub that and try again, till you get a mission type that you prefer. You can also vary waypoints, review the squadron roster and select which pilots will accompany you (except the leader, if that's not you). You can then close PWCG and start RoF. Your generated mission will be there, waiting for you to fly, under the 'Missions' menu option. After flying the mission, you can go back into PWCG. You're prompted to give the number of any claims you want to make and can then view a RB3d-style animated mission debrief on the map. This describes results more like the Red Baron original and in a less cryptic way that OFF's equivalent: naming your wingman in entries for losses or kills for example. If you want, you can type free text into a mission report, for future reference or to impress the 'brass hats'. PWCG also lets you adjust many campaign parameters, not just simple ones like air and ground unit density. You can also apply for a transfer to a different squadron and take leave (=advance your campaign's current date). There is an interface mod available at the PWCG web page, that will put PWCG onto the RoF menu, improving integration. I'm not sure if it works ok with the latest versions of both PWCG and RoF. I started using PWCG on the recommendation of Barkhorn over at SimHQ while doing a comparative series of campaign mission reports for OFF, FE2 and RoF. I had been reluctant to do so as I (wrongly!) thought that working back and forth would be more hassle than I cared for, but I'm glad I changed my mind. Main factor here was that PWCG lets you choose a rank high enough to ensure that in most missions, you are the flight leader. This removes the chore of formation-keeping, takes away dependency on potentially-erratic flight-leader AI, and best of all, gives me the important and satisfying extra challenge of leading the patrol: navigating, watching out for activity and enemies and deciding what to do when we have a 'contact'. That's how I like to play all my sims so this is the biggest 'plus' for me. This is not a review of PWCG. I've barely scratched the surface of its capabilities; suffice to say it looks like an amazing piece of kit and I can well understand the general enthusiasm for it in the RoF community. Rather, I'm going to describe a campaign mission in the latest release. The change I was most looking forward to seeing (which came the previous release, IIRC) was more flak. One of the things I didn't like at all, beforehand, was the paltry AA fire. Naturally, I have long ago installed the mod which kills RoF's horrible 'environmental flak'. In a war where the sight of AA fire was perhaps the main indication of potential targets in your area - something well replicated in FE2 and OFF, but not in RoF - the presence of stray flak rounds just to add immersion was, in my view, a classic 'What WERE they thinking?' feature. But with 'environmental flak' laid to rest, I'd found that there was precious little 'real' AA fire. Much too often, planes that looked like obvious (if not priority) flak targets - and which I could see only using the excellent RoF view system - were not fired upon at all and so were not 'legitimately' detectable. This may have been compounded by enemy flights spawning rather close. Bad enough, but much worse if their arrival is not announced by the presence of nearby AA bursts. Getting no warning might be a fun extra challenge to some; but to me it's unrealistic if it happens nearly every time and it severely reduces the opportunity to do the patrol leader thing, where you spot an enemy flight in time to consider your options and make up a quick plan to deal with them. Preferably, with results like this: So having downloaded and installed PWCG 15.2, I was keen to see the difference and to get to the grips with the enemy, at least sometimes on my own terms, rather than just blundering into them. I was not disappointed! ...to be continued!