A is for Alphabetised wargame, sim, and site news. Once a month, assuming I can persuade Austerity’s Blackburn Cirrus Bombardier engine to perform the miracle of internal combustion, I spend a day or two scouring Simulatia and Grognardia for stories with the potential to fascinate, startle, cheer, dismay or amuse. Those stories are then dehydrated, alphabetised and delivered, via articles like this one, to people who’ve got better things to do than plough through puff and platitudes.
B is for Battered boots
The Das Football Boot sea wolves have had a tough week. Close encounters with brine-amplified boom barrels seriously damaged current leaderboard topper U-50 (Liverpool) and relative newcomer U-65 (Crystal Palace) forcing them to abort their patrols. Worse – a fuel miscalculation stranded U-49 (Bristol City) in the Bay of Biscay. Despite the best efforts of the Luftwaffe, Oberleutnant Beikul’s pride and joy (Three ships sunk. 22k tons total) was sent to the bottom by Coastal Command flying porcupines before assistance could reach it.
C is for Cryptic crime
Mussolini banned them. Agatha Christie and Mahatma Gandhi loved them. Confectioner J. S. Fry & Sons produced chocolate bars wrapped in them… Whodunnit Foxers were once hugely popular but have now vanished from the foxing scene. Roman thinks it’s high time for a revival, hence the intriguing typewriter keyboard currently creasing foreheads over in the Defoxing Annexe.
D is for Dangerously distracting
Thank goodness, the mesmerising Slow Roads, a browser-based rural driving sim with procedurally generated scenery, doesn’t allow mouse steering. If it did the chances of me hitting today’s deadline would be zero.
E is for Excellent advice
Struggling to penetrate the brilliant Graviteam Tactics: Mius Front or looking to get back into it after a long separation? Some advice I received from a helpful Cornerite last month, may prove useful. Toni recommends Furtive Spring (played from the Soviet side first) as a good beginner’s/returner’s DLC and pointed me in the direction of this tutorial video which, amongst other things, persuasively advocates for a ‘light touch’ leadership style. This weekend is a particularly good time to befriend GTMF as the game and its adjuncts are 30% cheaper than usual.
F is for Five Flying Fortress games on the way
Gamers barmy about the B-17 have lots to look forward to. MicroProse recently revealed that they have no less than four Flying Fort titles in the works. Two of these – The Mighty Eighth VR (ETA Q4 2023) and B-17 Flying Fortress 3: The Bloody 100th (ETA TBA) – are entirely new sims. Another – B-17 Flying Fortress: The Mighty 8th Redux (ETA TBA) – is, as the name suggests, a modernised (updated engine, widescreen and mod support…) version of an old friend. Project #4 – a “faithful remake” of the ancient Bomber III – seems aimed at the time poor, the easily intimidated, and those who’d like to Memphis Belle on mobile devices. With so much competition incoming, Big Cheese Studio, the makers of B-17 Squadron, better bring their A-game.
G is for General Staff gen
The latest post at www.general-staff.com contains some encouraging news about entry #5 in Tim’s Tipped Ten. An unexpected switch from Unity to the MonoGame engine has slowed General Staff’s development somewhat, but Ezra Sidran is still hopeful Steam backers will be playing a beta version of his brainy 19th Century battle simulator by the end of the year.
H is for Hispaniola, ho!
One of the many benefits of living in the Czech Republic is that you can legitimately greet acquaintances by bawling the name of Capstan Games’ “immersive first-person multiplayer action-adventure game”. Set in the late 18th Century Caribbean, Ahoy aims to allow up to 32 human players to share a vessel. Phrases in the Steam blurb such as “complex sailing experience” and “direct control over each sail” imply sophisticated A Painted Ocean-style ship handling, but until Capstan start releasing videos or say more on the subject, the dev’s aerodynamic and hydrodynamic aspirations and abilities will remain a bit of mystery.
I is for Incompetent/inhuman imperialists?
Currently getting to know Victoria 3? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the game’s approach to war and, more specifically, whether the characters you appoint to oversee colonies and manage foreign flare-ups occasionally turn out to be duffers or monsters – men like Dyer, Colley, and Frere.
J is for Jason Williams leaves 1CGS…
…for undisclosed reasons.
K is for Korean War TBS
French concern Strategy Game Studio might have the dullest dev name imaginable, but the conflicts they choose to ludologise are invariably fascinating. The same engine that powers the released-yesterday SGS Korean War, and previously underpinned titles such as SGS Winter War and SGS Heia Safari, has trips to 1980s Germany, WW2 Okinawa, and the 19th Century Taiping Heavenly Kingdom ahead of it.
L is for Long wait
“It’s impossible to soar above Outerra’s handsome highlands, and play with its gloriously friendly road-building tools, without picturing the possibilities. Every fractally-roughened cliff begs to be wingsuited off. Every freshly blazed mountain trail whispers “Where’s your Subaru Impreza?” Forest clearings ache for stalkable stags, valley bottoms for snaking rail lines and tussling tanks. Wherever you look, there’s a fabulous fledgling sim waiting to peck its way into the light.”
I’ve been waiting for someone to transform Outerra into “gaming’s first great Omni-Sim” for over a decade now. Outerra World Sandbox isn’t quite what I had in mind, but if this MicroProse-backed Steam version triggers a resurgence of interest and a modding boom, you won’t hear me complaining.
M is for Miniature Interview
… with Jason ‘Redhawk’ Thomas, the chap behind FireJumpers Inferno.
THC: When and why did you start coding wildfire simulators?
^ One of FJI’s predecessors
Jason: I started coding wildfire simulators way back in 2012. I have created 4 different versions of the simulator, improving on it with each iteration. The reason why I chose wildfire simulation is that back in the 90s, I used to play the original SimCity and at the end of the game, you could unleash natural disasters including fires then have fun trying to extinguish them. Once I learned how to code, my buddy and I began building a wildland firefighting simulator for mobile devices.
THC: Is FireJumpers Inferno sufficiently sophisticated to accurately predict the spread of real wildfires?
Jason: Yes, FJI uses the Rothermel’s Fire Spread Model, which describes 40 unique ways a fire will spread, it’s Rate of Spread (ROS) and Flame Length based on Wind Speed and Moisture Extinction Level. This document is the backbone of FireJumpers Inferno’s fire spread model calculations.
THC: Has feedback from professional wildland firefighters influenced the game in any way?
Jason: I have received a lot of feedback from professional wildland firefighters over the years. In fact, many agencies are currently using FJI within their actual training courses to help educate new recruits. I have been contacted by many other types of companies, including insurance companies, policy makers, even university professors in forestry. I’d say that about 80% of the features in FJI comes from speaking with wildland firefighters and gamers alike.
THC: Is there any chance FJI will have canned missions, a wargame-style random skirmish generator, and a ‘Use Real Weather’ tickbox one day?
Jason: I have plans to learn how to import live disturbance data of actual live wildfires as well as historical fires to create scenarios already in an advanced progress state. I also plan to connect to other online API requests to retrieve other live data, such as weather, lightning strikes, video feeds, etc
THC: In the interests of realism, shouldn’t FJI assets have fatigue and morale levels?
Jason: That level of realism, to include stamina and strength, and filling up with gasoline, night time resting, etc are all on the roadmap of future features.
THC: To a non-expert like me, wildfire firefighting techniques seem to have changed little in the past 20-30 years. Is this in fact the case?
Jason: The amount of wildfire science has increased a lot, though there are still many gaps in this area. This is one of the main reasons why I built FJI, to facilitate the understanding and complexity of wildfire science in a gameplay environment. The main theme I’ve constantly strived to perfect is transforming something that is complicated into something that is easy and fun to use. I have spent half of my time simply thinking how to make things simple. For every bit of science, I had to find a way to visualize it so that anyone can grasp the concept, and that there’s a way to interact with that science.
THC: Name a game, either upcoming or released, that you feel deserves more attention.
Jason: I’m not a big gamer, but I would like to shout out a developer that is also creating a wildland firefighting game. His game has better graphics and it’s a 1:1 scale. My game is scaled 1:30, which means that 1m in-game is actually 30m in real life. Nonetheless, I find his work interesting!
THC: Thank you for your time.
N is for Navy needs
Good news for British, Greek, Turkish, Portuguese, and South Korean sub simmers. As Modern Naval Warfare’s DLC themes are more likely to be dictated by the sim’s professional customers than us gamers, the Royal Navy’s Astute Class and the German-made Type 214 top the list of potential add-on subjects.
O is for Op Oryx outro
Operation Oryx concludes next week. On Monday we’ll discover whether Major Trajanov’s battle-weary band of tank trashers can add the Podrabian Army’s sole T-80 to their tally (two T-55s, a PT-76 and various depleted infantry units are also still at large) before heading for the hills, and on Friday I’ll conduct a post-bellum battlefield tour, hand out medals to deserving combatants, and decide what word to put in front of ‘victory’ on the op’s handmade results screen.
P is for Pway poetry
“Slack action, brake lines, gladhands, anglecocks…” Not a line from Roman’s latest love sonnet, but text from the Steam page of an in-development train sim with an unusually specific focus. Railroader (ETA: Early 2023) will recreate activity on an Appalachian branch line during the ‘Transition Era’ – the period in the mid-Twentieth Century when diesel was beginning to supplant steam on US metals.
Q is for Quick tea card
No. 45 in Brooke Bond’s 1968 set ‘History of the Motor Car’ features a machine that transformed GP racing in the late Fifties. Although the Cooper T45 and its predecessor, the T43, had insufficient power to dominate the sport, they sparked a rear-engine revolution that proved unstoppable.
R is for Ridiculously bloody
One of the games most likely to warm the THC PC this weekend, is Prodeus, a gory FPS with a strong Doom vibe. An hour in, I’m not entirely sure I like the anachronistic combination of pixelated sprite foes and fancy modern lighting, but the satisfying weaponry and over-the-top gibs are doing a pretty good job of sidelining my misgivings at present.
S is for Season o’ soup
In Europe at least, the soup season is almost upon us. If you’d like to slurp your oxtail, minestrone, carrot and coriander, broccoli and stilton, or cock-a-leekie out of an extremely stylish Foxer mug, have £15 (UK price, including p&p) or £20 (rest-of-the-world price, including p&p) to spare, and don’t mind braving a somewhat Heath-Robinson purchase process, this is what you need to do.
1) Use the donation form at the bottom of this page to pay your £15 or £20.
2) Email me (tim at tallyhocorner.com) your address.
3) Wait patiently for your vulpine broth beaker to arrive (I plan to dispatch orders on Mondays).
As I’ve not designed one in a while, everyone who purchases a mug* also earns the right to a black and white logo tile. Send me your theme suggestions (ideally two or more) using the email address above.
* And all those who’ve purchased one in the past.
T is for Three weeks away
Digital wargamers who insist on purchasing through Steam probably won’t get their hands on Flashpoint Campaigns’ highly anticipated sequel until next Spring. Matrix Games’ customers, on the other hand, will be able to start Southern Storm-ing on November 17th.
U is for Ukraine War Stories is big in Japan
Almost a third of the people who downloaded free, hard-hitting interactive narrative game Ukraine War Stories during its first week on Steam were residents of Japan. The somewhat odd phenomenon was down to a flurry of UWS mentions on Japanese Twitter, apparently.
V is for Viking verisimilitude
When Triassic provided a rare glimpse of Sea Power in motion late last month, they probably weren’t expecting constructive feedback from a retired Viking technician. Helpful ‘Dr Tankenstein’ pointed out several problems with the studio’s sub-scuppering S-3.
W is for War and Peace taster
Unless you’re tempted to tackle the tutorials, or have a pal or family member willing to participate in a spot of hotseat MP, there’s little point in downloading the demo for War and Peace, an upcoming port of a 22-year-old Avalon Hill board wargame. Thankfully the full version will offer a silicon opponent. Whether it will also provide Fog of War will depend on what happens during the final twelve days of this Kickstarter campaign.
X is for Xcuse for a bit of Kasabian
What I know about skateboarding could be written on one side of a fingerboard. However I reckon I’ve got a fairly good nose for Realism – something Skater XL rival, Session: Skate Sim looks to have in abundance.
Y is for Yankee Air Pirate revamp
Thanks to the talent and toil of a team of modders, and the generosity of John Shelton’s widow, Yankee Air Pirate, a renowned Wings Over Vietnam add-on created by a USAF Thud pilot who flew more than 200 sorties over Vietnam, lives on in a new free, updated form. Phase one of the ‘YAP – Revamp Works’ is compatible with SF2 Vietnam, SF2 North Atlantic, and SF2 Complete Edition, and includes over 100 historically based missions. Amongst the flyables utilised are the Skyhawk, Skyraider, Phantom, Thunderchief, MiG-17, UH-1B and B-52D.