Last week was an important one for the project - it was the first week of the new beta version test that includes all the major optimizations tied to the DirectX 11 transition. Our expectations turned out to be true: while FPS in simple scenes (i.e. you're flying alone and there are no other objects around) hasn't changed much, FPS in complex scenes, which were the most problematic from the performance point of view, increased by 2 - 2.5 times. Such complex scenes include dogfights with many planes, taxiing and taking off from crowded airfields with many aircraft and other objects in the scene. This news is really good for us, because now we're confident that the huge resources and effort spent for implementing the newer version of DirectX has paid off in full and brought good results. As Jason said in the TeamSpeak event, we are hopeful the increased performance can allow us to also further improve the visuals over time without a large impact on performance.
Now we are finishing the implementation with the help of our beta testers who confirm the results we're seeing. Next, we plan to spend 1-2 months creating new technologies required for the Kuban map - 3D sea, mountain slopes and other features tied to its landscape. After this, but before the end of winter, we plan to release the update with better VR support for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
This week we also opened pre-orders for our first scripted historical campaign called Ten Days of Autumn. This campaign brings the classic gameplay valued by genre veterans – a historical campaign made of scripted scenarios. The significant improvement from a similar mode presented in our earlier Rise of Flight is that anyone familiar with Mission Editor can create and distribute Campaigns and it will include the ability to use media such as images and videos to tell the story. If anyone wants to create a Campaign and distribute it freely, he or she can do this without our assistance. However, if you have the talent to create a really good, complex and engaging campaign then you can earn money from selling it using the same protection system we use for official campaigns.
Our first official scripted campaign Ten Days of Autumn is made by the famous Alexander =BlackSix= Timoshkov, who made similar campaigns that were distributed via discs for IL-2: 1946. Ten Days of Autumn tells the story of a German pilot from 3./JG 52 squadron during the Battle of Moscow and consists of 15 historical scenarios flown with the Bf-109 F-2.
The first new plane from Battle of Kuban, the Bf-109 G-4, is almost ready for release. It is also in beta-testing at the moment. We're also finishing the Ju-52 3mg4e as well. The special technologies required for it are being finalized. The air-dropped supply containers are ready. We're creating three additional mission types for the current Campaign mode that will be available to Ju-52 owners - special squad parachute drop behind enemy lines, cargo container air-drop and cargo delivery to an airfield. There is a popular question in the community about whether it would be possible to remove the defense turret from the plane or not? The answer is yes, it is possible to get a civilian Ju-52 by removing the turret modification.
Developing Ju-52 required us to improve the special mission object Translator Complex Trigger. It is now fully functional and opens up new possibilities for mission designers. It can track new events like cargo unloading at an airfield and squad or cargo air-drops. This allows for more interesting multiplayer missions. For example, capture of an airfield may be scripted when enough paratroopers are dropped near it. Or a mission designer can unlock new loadouts for aircraft at an airfield after successful cargo delivery by Ju-52’s or activate AAA batteries or mechanized columns after successful cargo drops in their areas (like vital supplies were delivered). Because of these additions, old track recordings will stop working and to load user made missions you need to delete their binary files (*.msnbin) and re-save them in the new Mission Editor. If you used the Complex Trigger in your missions, you'll also need to replace all CheckEntities entries with CheckPlanes in the .mission file.
The Ju-52 3mg4e turned out to be an interesting plane. Its design represents the transitional period between the wars (1920-1930’s) where new designs and increasing technology led to experimentation with some odd results. For instance, the main landing gear wheel brakes are engaged by moving left or right engine throttles back behind low throttle limiters. So, to brake the left wheel you'll need to move the left engine throttle all the way back. Moving the central engine throttle all the way back will engage brakes for both wheels. The plane is also equipped with a tail wheel parking brake.
The second interesting feature of this aircraft is that the flaps are operated using the same handle as the adjustable stabilizer. However, it is possible to unlink these controls and adjust the stabilizer without touching the flaps. There is a stabilizer control flywheel in the pilot’s cabin that is always linked mechanically to the stabilizer and the additional flaps link handle that connects the flaps to the same flywheel. Therefore, pilot can either use this flywheel to control only the stabilizer or the stabilizer and the flaps simultaneously.
Before taking off, the pilot sets the stabilizer to flight position, engages the link and then moves the flaps to take-off position, simultaneously setting the stabilizer to take-off position as well. When airborne, pilot retracts the flaps, unlinks these controls and adjusts the stabilizer only, finding a balanced position to minimize the control column force. Before landing, the pilot engages the link again and sets both the flaps and the stabilizer to the landing position. It is important to note that it is possible to render the system inoperable by deviating from this order so it won't be able to control either the stabilizer or the flaps. For example, if pilot the pitches the stabilizer all the way up with flaps retracted and then engages the link, the flywheel will be blocked because the fully turned down stabilizer and fully retracted flaps won't allow it to turn either way.
The third interesting feature is an unusual manual oil temperature control that works differently than in later aircraft, where the pilot controls the oil radiator shutters hence adjusting the cooling effect of the rushing air. On the Ju-52, the airflow in the oil radiator can't be controlled. The oil temperature is controlled by turning a valve that regulates the ratio between oil going through the radiator and oil that goes through a bypass pipe. This is somewhat similar to water heat regulation designs in modern car engines, but the ratio on the Ju-52 is controlled manually, not automatically.
The fourth interesting feature is the cute, but archaic looking design of some of its instruments and controls. Some examples being the engine cowl shutters and oil valves that look like handles for water faucets and the mechanical fuel and oil float level gauges that also look out of place in “high-tech” WWII.
By the way, don't miss out on the 25% Off pre-order special for the Ju-52 which expires upon release! The pre-order offer also includes a special skin. If you are interested in purchasing it don't hold until last minute or you may miss out!
We hope that this unique workhorse of WWII will reward you with hours of fun while you learn its peculiarities flying new and challenging mission types.