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Formerly Known as "WIP Wednesdays".  Now its probably best to think of this as "When we get chance Wednesday".

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Rock

Rock though you lot might like to see these.

Since doing the squadron markings on the international plugins for Rock a few months ago; I've been mucking around with the texture templates on-and-off, to make a few more 'exotic' skins for the Typhoon:

anglofightertyphoon.thumb.jpg.ce89d5a220

They wont be included with the next RKSL release as official plugins like those that Rock listed, but they show the kind of things you'll be able to do yourselves with the skinning template that comes with it; just by using the setobjecttexture command in the editor, or by making your own skins plugin. Those above are but a small sample of a dozen or so skins that I was able put together in next to no time.

Note that a few of the weapons I loaded with 'addweapon/addmagazine' are from Myke's pack, not the RKSL one.

Rock

DISCLAIMER: There is a certain amount of unavoidable 'recycling' going on this week. I've been asked a lot about the progress of our UAV system and the UAVs themselves. This post is intended to pull all the relevant UAV related bits into one coherent article and give you a view of what's happening and where we're going with all of this. And give me the opportunity to avoid doing anything actually like work. ISTAR - The eye in the sky.

Quite literally a peeping Tom.

UAVs have the ability to fly around and peek (or send a missile or bomb) into a window from several kilometers away has some fantastic intelligence opportunities. Not to mention some truly world class perving opportunities if you are that way inclined.

RKSL_Reaper_001.jpg.8ba03b51cc90c3b55a7e

Slight aside for a short story.

An old friend of mine was a Police helicopter observer, one night we were sat at my place having a beer watching TV when Blue Thunder came on. Now if you know the film you'll know there is a scene where the 'heroes' use the helicopter's cameras to watch a lithe young lady doing yoga unencumbered by clothes

So i asked 'I bet you do that on a regular basis dont you? Perving git.''Of course. (Big Grin) there is a place in (Deleted - My friend is still and observer in this area wouldn't want to drop him in the shit) where a girl sun bathes naked on her terrace most days in the summer. And lets not forget the dogging spots, we find them on thermal and then turn on the Nightsun (F'ing powerful spotlight) and watch them scatter. It is a public service after all".

Ok so its not particularly relevant to UAVs, but it does highlight just how easy it is to be observed without being aware of it in today's world. Besides, it just seemed like an amusing story. And if you don't know what "dogging" is, Google it. But it probably won't be safe for work so you might want to wait until you get home.

Anyway, Modern military doctrine is now totally dependent on these Unmanned Aerial Vehicles as ISTAR components. And there are just so many different classes and types out there to choose from. And just about anyone and everyone makes them, Just going off the Wikipedia List of unmanned aerial vehicles nearly every industrial nation makes something that can be classed as a UAV.

The next bit is ripped straight from Wikipedia... hey I'm lazy and they already did a pretty good job describing it all.

"UAVs typically fall into one of six functional categories (although multi-role airframe platforms are becoming more prevalent):

  • Target and decoy – providing ground and aerial gunnery a target that simulates an enemy aircraft or missile
  • Reconnaissance – providing battlefield intelligence
  • Combat – providing attack capability for high-risk missions (see Unmanned combat air vehicle)
  • Logistics – UAVs specifically designed for cargo and logistics operation
  • Research and development – used to further develop UAV technologies to be integrated into field deployed UAV aircraft
  • Civil and Commercial UAVs – UAVs specifically designed for civil and commercial applications

They can also be categorised in terms of range/altitude and the following has been advanced as relevant at such industry events as ParcAberporth Unmanned Systems forum:

  • Handheld 2,000 ft (600 m) altitude, about 2 km range
  • Close 5,000 ft (1,500 m) altitude, up to 10 km range
  • NATO type 10,000 ft (3,000 m) altitude, up to 50 km range
  • Tactical 18,000 ft (5,500 m) altitude, about 160 km range
  • MALE (medium altitude, long endurance) up to 30,000 ft (9,000 m) and range over 200 km
  • HALE (high altitude, long endurance) over 30,000 ft (9,100 m) and indefinite range
  • HYPERSONIC high-speed, supersonic (Mach 1–5) or hypersonic (Mach 5+) 50,000 ft (15,200 m) or suborbital altitude, range over 200 km
  • ORBITAL low earth orbit (Mach 25+)
  • CIS Lunar Earth-Moon transfer
  • CACGS Computer Assisted Carrier Guidance System for UAVs"

So given the terrain size of ArmA games and a healthy dose of common sense we can ditch a few of those classes:

  • Hypersonic, yeah right I'm really going to model one of those. By the time the player gets to see anything you'd be out of range!
  • Orbital? Erm, arent they called satellites?
  • CIS Lunar Earth-Moon transfer?

No Spaceships!

OK so lets just confirm here. RKSL will not be making spaceships just yet. I think we'll focus on some more practical systems. A few years ago I started making UAV models for ArmA1. They didn't get too far because the UAV module that was available was a bit limited. Lets be honest it was crap in practical terms. The game engine let it down, the lack of working turrets on planes really messed with the functionality. So I do what i always do when i hit a snag. I skype UNN. Can we make a UAV system? The reply was "leave it with me". As usual he did his magic scripting thing and one day passes me a test mission with the caveat "be kind it's only a proof of concept". Several weeks later he recorded this:

<iframe width="700" height="394" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_5vfU766eK4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Now, before the haters jump up and start screaming. Yes it was first published 4 years ago but there are several significant reasons it wasn't released back then. But let me remind you this is our hobby not our job. "Real world" issues were the largest factor for both me and UNN in our pause. Modding took a back seat for a while for both of us while we sorted out work and personal issues.

<hr>

Around about the same I had an accident that rendered me incapable of independent movement for a while and the entire project was shoved to the back burner and neglected by both of us.

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Picture if you will, a tight Victorian box staircase. Eight flights, each with a 90 degree turn, guarded by an (occasionally) polished oak handrail and cast iron rails perched on the edge of an original 100 year old cast iron stair case. Carpeted in the cheapest of hard wearing carpets that are guaranteed to generate enough static electric charge to make the most devout priest scream "Jesus fucking wept!" when you touch him. Each step lovingly held in place with a 'nice' steel carpet edge. Now place an empty wet Tesco carrier bag carefully on the penultimate step. Not over hanging but close enough to the edge to be able to slide away easily.

Imagine if you will a 280lb shaved Silverback (hey im getting old) Gorilla carrying a large mostly empty cardboard box. Roughly a 1m cube stuffed with the remnants of packing paper and other recyclable dross (We were a very environmentally conscious household). The aforementioned Gorilla then proceeded to carry said box above the also previously mentioned guardrail out onto the landing and down the stairs. My view obscured by the box I stepped confidently onto the first downward step. Transferring my weight fully onto the foot planted, not so firmly, as it happens on the wet Tesco bag. The bag, foot and all attached parties then shot off the step. Praying for an end to gravity I found myself mid air with the promise of some serious pain. I was not disappointed. Landing firmly, with the base of my spine and all my weight on the freaking EVIL SHARP EDGE OF THE... sigh... happy place. Haaaaappy place. ...Landing on the metal carpet edge I then reacted to the pain and shot up, losing any footing I momentarily had, I proceeded to go head first down the metal edged stairs. Rolling several times before hitting the wall, only to turn 90 degrees and roll down the next flight of stairs finally smashing into a neighbour's very solid - that hurt let me tell you - front door. Lying crippled on the floor for a few minutes, the door I hit opened with my neighbour peering from behind it. "Are you okay?"

"Me? Oh I'm fine I just love the pain."

"Okay" the door closed again.

Five or more minutes later, I've curled up in pain at this point and i really didn't much care if i died. It felt like I'd been run over by a herd of jack boot wearing elephants. I swear i saw the last few of them storm by in my pained state. Another, slightly more sensible neighbour appeared and helped me up stairs back to my flat.

To cut what is increasingly long story short, 4 weeks of hospital, I had chipped two vertebrae and severely damaged several nerves in my back making it impossible to walk for nearly 2 months. It took me a further 2 years to be able to walk without too much pain.

UNN on the other hand had just got a new job, successfully avoided wet Tesco bags and had taken up chain smoking.

<hr>

But prior to my rather embarrassing accident - plastic bags and metal edged stair cases are not fun and back braces chaff a lot - I was merrily making as many UAV models as i could. I managed:

  • Hermes 450 aka Watchkeeper 450 in British Army Terms
  • Lockheed Desert Hawk I
  • ADS-90 Ranger
  • MQ-1 Predator - It was a REALLY terrible model.
  • Prototype Predator 2
  • MQ-9 Reaper - it is different from the Pred2

As with the scripted system these got left behind while other easier things took precedence. ArmA2 arrived, pottered around and we set about learning the new engine. UAV's forgotten for the moment.

RKSL_UAV_Family_render_001.jpg.dd80e90a6

Several projects later I rediscovered my previous UAV models and work begins again. Modernising, upgrading and just plain replacing most of the textures and some of the models. This time work centred around the MQ-9 Reaper. Again I nagged poor UNN and he completely rewrote the original system and hugely improving upon the functionality. I'll use UNN's own words here:

"To add to Rocks post, the black on white and white on black text is there to facilitate the TI modes. From what I've seen (you tube being our only real reference) black or white text is the standard.
Again as Rock mentioned, you can register your own resource (HUD) to use along with two sets of scripts for updating and animating the HUD. The actual turret module is a standalone p3d and can in theory be added to anything. Although the fire mechanism may require some extra work.

But as it stands atm, in SP you can switch between the gunner and pilot and still retain the target. While occupying the turret as a gunner with an AI pilot, the UAV will either follow custom or pre-defined waypoints if set.

In MP you can switch roles by exiting the UAV terminal. Terminals are whatever object you add the user actions to.

There will be an auto pilot feature for mission planning.

AGMs and LGB's are the only weapons currently supported. There will be no dive bombing with AI pilots or gunners.

As far as the HUD info goes, the only static text is "Rate", frequency "1511" and temperature "21 /15c". Frequency will be enabled later on as part of the public server additions. Temperature isn't really relevant atm, and wouldn't add anything significant and probably just over complicating things. Everything else works and serves a purpose to a greater or lesser degree. Who wants target range in Nautical Miles (NM)?

As mentioned, some of it is based on our interpretation of You Tube videos. TWD being a good example. Lacking any better info, this represents the scale or distance covered by the display at the current zoom level. So in the first pic, the width of the displayed terrain is exactly 316m, from left to right.

This project has been on a reluctant hold, for two years due to other commitments. Originally we didn't want to post screen shots until it was close to release. But after a two year delay, knowing people are still interested in this, does help spur us on. So please forgive us if we don't release anything just yet."

uav1.jpg.da9ea6715d9fd54a12002ff6e1588a9

uav2.jpg.fe2cfa960347b16b67e276fe409d0a3

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I have grand visions of proper MP UAVs. Not just a scripted system you could log in and out of but a realistic UAV suite with a proper ground station manned by a Pilot and a "Gunner". But the system does allow a single user to swap between stations. Meaning that it may be possible to translate the scripts to the likes of the Typhoon and Tornado to simulate the various targeting pods engine limits permitting.

Last Christmas I had planned to release a few of the UAVs utilising the stock BIS UAV module. But again real life personal and domestic issues rose up and I was again thwarted. So here we are months later and I'm looking again at UAVs. Inspired in no small part by Feint's very impressive RQ-11 Raven

RKSL_UAV_Family_render_002.jpg.2007288e8

Well ArmA3 has me thinking. You see BIS have promised a significant upgrade to the UAV system for ArmA3 With ArmA3's release getting closer what to do next? Wait to see before continuing or just continue development? We haven't really talked about within the team yet. No one has really had the time but we still plan on finishing and releasing some new models for ArmA2 either just for the BIS module or maybe something else.

Well we have:

  • MQ-9 Reapers <Pics>
  • Elbit Hermes 450 aka Watchkeeper 450
  • RQ-7 Shadow
  • Desert Hawk I and III - May have to have a chat with Feint on this one.

RKSL_reaper_render_001.JPG.bf45c28a268f5

RKSL_reaper_render_002.JPG.157101356ea20

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RKSL_rq7_render_002.JPG.09e2343b51c99e0f

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RKSL_rq7_render_001.JPG.f7aa9f08c8d38e50

RKSL_wk450_render_001.JPG.777adbe7e8f114

RKSL_wk450_render_002.JPG.17bd177b65531a

RKSL_wk450_render_003.JPG.b937d87819786f

RKSL_DH1_render_001.JPG.a71585b648f7e515

RKSL_DH1_render_002.JPG.94b81f4b7c429fd1

RKSL_DH1_render_003.JPG.e600c50ca871e009

and coming for ArmA3... eventually

The plan is to give each faction some form of UAV or maybe UCAV capability. But as always, remember projects rise and fall. Some may die off, while others rise to continue to preoccupy us. And of course this is just a hobby after all.

 

 


RKSL_Reaper_001.jpg

Rock

CBF Shipbuilding, in cooperation with RKSL Studios.

Well it all started many moons ago, back when 1982:Flashpoint for the Falklands was forming. I was asked to join that team to do island building. The person who was doing the ships quit and I offered to give it a go. Turned out I had a wee bit of skill, and my own interest in nautical items helped.

The first ship I built was HMS Invincible, and I am glad I no longer have that version (at least not without digging through old cd's), it was so simple, but from this one build I learnt many things..

  1. You can take off using a ramp in OFP
  2. The ships could not be more than 64m in length, so was broken up into shorter lengths and at that time, placed on map carefully.
  3. A column of ships with ramps can be fun in Humvee.

A Much later version of HMS Invincible, just textures to finalize

OFP3227.jpg.39da1af7c3a82bd47e45128f8220

OFP had a huge benefit for me, I did not have to learn how to model the underwater parts of ships, this is where they get really curvy.
It did however let me do something for the community that was not being done by anyone else in any quantity. I added quite a few ships to OFP:

  • 2 Carriers (HMS Hermes, HMS Invincible)
  • 1 Landing Assault Ship (HMS Fearless)
  • 1 Beach Landing Ship (RFA Sir Galahad)
  • 1 Landing Craft (LCU Mk 9S)
  • 1 Destroyer (Type 42/1)
  • 2 Frigates (Type 21, HMS Plymouth)
  • 4 Merchants (Elk, Baltic Ferry, Nordic Ferry, Atlantic Conveyor, SS Canberra)
  • 1 RFA Refueller (RAF Fort Austin)
  • 2 Patrol Ship (HMS Endurance, ARA Guerrico)
  • 2 Sumbarines (HMS Oynx, ARA Santa Fe)
  • Kayaks.

A few of the ships lined up for review (or rather picture taking)

OFP3210.jpg.8d5fc331c844b02e2f5542925229

I would also add a method that would be seen in later Bis games, multi-part ships..

Most of these ships got upgraded several times, with HMS Fearless being the worst. She started from scans of the plans from an Airfix kit. I later found out just how inaccurate they are!

Out of all these ships, HMS Plymouth is the only ship that I went further than required, and I did a full hull model, something that would be of use much later. (cut the underwater part off for OFP, but it was built in its pure form for later use)

HMS Plymouth, Early view, showing full hull

OFP3237.jpg.aaface2cbb5a04310cc9a415af4c

So you all wondering, why mention all this old stuff, we got ArmA 3 around the corner and OFP is so old now.

Well ArmA 1 I started to experiment a bit with ideas and even ported over from a couple of other games some ships for theory work (they didn't get released for obvious reasons)
I learnt a few more things here.
1. Most other games have ships models that are too low quality for what I need, OR are far too detailed...
2. Adjusting models does not work, its too much work.
3. Its MUCH easier to use them as a rough guide and effectively build new.

This would be a good thing as it has meant that all I have has been built or totally rebuilt by me, and has meant I learnt more 3d modelling.

An ArmA 1 experiment with attachto

ArmA0283.jpg.caf4b2e91540f899a2520854f56

So what I am actually working on, what is likely to see light for ArmA 3.


RFA Sir Lancelot (LSL)

As can be read above, she has been in and out of a few roles, which means she becomes rather suitable as a floating base, or a ferry, or a patrol ship... Also I liked building the original so I wanted it..

Now the model is an upgraded version of the OFP one, with the underwater portion 'made up' and attached. Textures, well these have to be totally re-done as the model got adjusted to correct some discrepancies.

I also worked on something new for ArmA 2, cranes... after all this ship has 3 big ones

Forward Port Crane loading a Humvee

ArmA2-0500.jpg.425253232594ae30f4fea213f

Yes it works, but... its humans only.. (although with mission scripting you might be able to make it work without humans)

Now some of the testing was fun...

ArmA2-0481.jpg.05af0bf3ba8fc4f3a3e3c96f3

ArmA2-0483.jpg.f12225f9f70837ea7a70efc79

Yes cranes are useful on a battlefield... moving obstructions.. (the Launcher was chosen as a vehicle of suitable size and style) The cranes are 'attached' to the ships so in theory can be attached to anything.

View from deck below the Bridge

ArmA2_0123.jpg.5d87d98fe72d39acdab2d7c05

Cleave Express

A civilian Ro-Ro (Roll-on Roll-off) Ferry. This is based on a ship called Emerald Express made by G & G Shipping, Florida (http://www.gandgshipping.com/) This vessel suits the transport of vehicles to and from shore, whether is a proper dock, or a beach...

Early image showing sort of load space available

ArmA2-0076.jpg.46bd1a4e63e141bb536420c48

Later image showing detailing starting to appear, note she is still in 'basic' colours

ArmA2-0433.jpg.9bc652d67c92e6d3289030568

With the minor adjustment of leaving the back open, she works as a floating bridge between other craft too.

ArmA2-0121.jpg.ec28cc9cd915cca141c242da5

Enough clearance to carry larger loads.

ArmA2_0124.jpg.b4f3b35572836edc3b0a62b8d

LCT Mk 5

A WW2 era landing craft, some may even still be in use today, real load 150tons.

Plenty of space

ArmA2_0122.jpg.d932dae1aad12fa08bb065766

Even for big loads

ArmA2_0125.jpg.345363d246c581b6308f428e1

HMS Plymouth

Another old ship, real ship is laid up somewhere, I think...She has had little adjustment since the OFP model 'cut' in better places to make it easier to work with.

HMS Plymouth alongside the dock at Siposis

ArmA2_0120.jpg.d869aab13fed3407a6abd5553

Atlantic Conveyor

Two early images of the rebuild:

Clear deck, ideal for helicopters, with a bit of cover..

NEWS_0010.jpg.9d59e06919d965561dad93f288

NEWS_0014.jpg.fbc5b80473bf45911bbb5ef8d4

What is so special ? These are only useful static...

Well, turns out with UNN's fantastic help I have a system built where you can drive on, tie the vehicle down, then drive the ship away, untie the vehicle and then drive off at a new location. This also works with helicopters on the flight decks, and allows landing while the ship is in motion (but its not easy trying to match speed)

So what else is in the pipeline ?
Personally I would like to try and get many of my OFP ships converted over. I have an island that I have dreamt of doing right from the start of OFP and its useable now but lacks lots.. I'd also like to build dockside equipment and sections to allow for greater utilization of the vessels. (There are 27 'intentions' in my work folder... I expect about quarter to make it...) Currently in the "RKSL Paintshop":

  • A small patrol boat is currently with the painters.
  • A small personnel landing craft is with them too.

A road crane for doing what my testing allowed, but a proper visual crane..

So how does this fit in with RKSL ?

Well Rock and I go back to the OFP days, and we sort of help each other out. Many of my vessels will see action in the IAP setup and this helps me to realize something I have wanted for a while. My own personal island will fit in with IAP as its based in a similar region and may even see release too.

CBFASI

 

 

 

 

Rock

As the self confessed shaven gorrilla takes a well earned break from writing these weekly annoucements, I've been asked to step up and share a few of my mumbles and babbles, as well as my poor sense of humour and what is turning out to be a rather long day. So yes, I'm Messiah (not the real one as the topic reminds us) and whilst my naughty days are long past me and I begin to approach the wrong side of thirty, I've returned (some what) to the ArmA scene after a rather extended hiatus.

Now most probably don't remember me, but to give you an idea of my background, I'll quickly gloss over who, what, where and why. So, it was a cold and wintery day in Copenhagen the 14th of December, 198.... ok, perhaps not that far back. My real name is Daniel (not Brian), half British, half Danish, and besides tinkering around in O2 I spend my days moonlighting as an Architect. My relationship with the BIS series of games goes back to 2001 and OFP, and after a stint of mission making and lurking around OFPEC, I started dabbling with O2 and addon making. I guess my 'break' (should you wish to call it that) came with joining Project: UK Forces back when addon teams were trendy, and men were men. I dabbled around, eventually inheriting the Land Rovers from deliltmon and since then I never really looked back.

After OFP we moved to ArmA and ArmA 2, and culminated with creating content for VBS2. I spent most of my Armed Assault time with my head firmly buried within a mound of Land Rovers, and eventually releasing them after a development time that looked like it might rival Duke Nukem. Besides the lannies, the Jackals and various bits and bobs within the weapons packs and other releases kept me busy at UKF. Eventually the fun and draw of modding ran dry, and I wandered off in 2009.

But like all things, time spent apart allows one to appreciate it again, and after completing a masters degree this spring, I wanted to pick modding up again as a hobby, far away from all things commercial, and essentially a little time sink to potter around with. Rock was kind enough to let me join RKSL rather than be homeless in what was quickly becoming a rather brave new world, what with the majority of my knowledge on modding, the addon community and the British Army being rather ancient. Needless to say, picking up my inner geek and diving back into all things British was enjoyable, and I've been savouring the many new vehicles that have and are about to be procured.

Somewhat in line with BIS' path of setting ArmA 3 in the 'near future', I wanted my first project to be a recent procurement, and something that was as futureproof as DE&S allows these days. As anyone who has had any experience creating British content, things never stay the same for very long. New UORs, trends and in field modifications keep releases pushed back week after week as the more determined amongst us (or self destructive is probablly closer to the truth) try and stay at the forefront of what is 'current' in the field with any given vehicle, weapon or aircraft. Numerically, it meant the Land Rovers, with a base model that was completed and in game within a month, took three years and two games to release, and were out of date again soon after. With a recent procurement I feel slightly more at ease that I am able to stay on top of any changes once in field, and the Foxhound provided an ideal vehicle with which to get started. Predictably, that would come back to bite me as I begun to dust off O2, learn how most of it worked again (mostly through pesting DM through email and facebook) and started collecting reference material (that and I always relish the prospect of 'no safesearch suprise porn' results on google, always a hoot... and sometimes a worrying affair)

Through my work as an Architect, I need to be mobile, and the same goes for my choice of computing hardware. In earlier years I played epeen with the greatest, building expensive rigs because... well I could... and generally spending my rather female free teenage years glued to a hulking great piece of desktop hardware. These days, alas (well, perhaps not the female part), I'm laptop bound, a DELL no less, and with that comes a few interesting... challenges. I was at least savy enough (and considering many of my architectural psd's and dwg's fill many gigs these days) to fit what was at the time the high end i7, 9 gigs of ram and what DELL assured me was the best laptop GPU they had (not that comforting really), but what only occured to me after burning what can only be described as a crop circle into my thigh (through a pair of jeans to boot) is that laptops are... well, not very good at doing anything if much intensive.

The problem lies in the case, and without whitering on about temperatures, air flow and exhausts, my little box of doom is attempting to keep cool with a deminuative hamster wheel and about 5mm of space between components. Helpfully, O2 keeps me amused, less I resort to throwing the laptop into the lake, with all its laptop related quirks, like using F keys which I can only access when holding down Fn, a numpad that doesn't exist, and an ever so slightly, and pernamently, fish eyed bulldozer viewer that makes reviewing my work a bizarre guessing affair. Rock mentioned something about importing user profiles from ArmA, but after 15 minutes of trying to work out the where, what and why of how to do it, and the horrors of installing the BI tools fresh in my mind, I promptly ignored it and learned to... err... give up on trying to fix any of it.

foxhound_wip_1.jpg.4a0dec7b93bfafae8fbb1

Besides my slightly naive notion of being a somewhat futureproof vehicle, the Foxhound was the obvious choice due to it being one of the first of a series of ground up procured vehicles, rather than an UOR as with many of the recent fleet (and therein lies the possibility fo them becoming surplus to requirements once we leave Afghanistan), and its pod system that allows it to be a troop carrier, a cargo carrier and my personal wet moment maker, the WMIK. This diversity meant it would also be able to be a truely useful addition to ArmA in one guise or the other, which is something I personally try and look for when choosing an addon to make (as well as it's trouser tent making potential, of course)

foxhound_wip_2.jpg.f9bdb9abb26f22abb3f28

Being anally retentive as I am, getting back into O2 and making British Addons has been a bit of a mixed affair. I'll spend hours rotating and aligning the model to make sure every face is perfectly planar, because it bothers me when vertexes are out of place. Currently its around 8000 faces, with about every nut and bolt modeled, no interior and no suspension. I've remodeled the front and rear a dozen times thus far, and I'm still not content with the dimensions at the front, and to top it off, our resident greasemonkey expert informs me that the crew pod has been altered just prior to final production. So much for the joys of the choosing new procurements then (In hindsight thats precisely what new procurements are, likely to be chopped and changed right up to being sent out into the field). However, with this being intended for ArmA 3, its of little concern. A few extra hours remodeling the hull shape won't really dent the many hours I want to sink into this so its... just so trouser-tent-raisingly right

foxhound_wip_3.jpg.43babc50f2348d44e500a

I guess that sums it up for my 'return' (no, not the extended references to bodily functions), and something for anyone new to or thinking of making addons to think about. Like all of us, I want to enjoy the game and addons are just an extension of this. The moment that you lose sight of the fun and pride in making your own addon, regardless of what others may think of the results, you lose sight of why you're spending so many hours on it in the first place. Enjoy it, be creative, be a little bit crazy, and for the love of god think twice before choosing anything procured for the British Army.

So a good night and week from me. In writing this I've missed the first half of the footie (not that I care much for it anyway), forgotten to drink my cup of tea and have a heap of drawings to do before work tomorrow. Next time I hope to natter on about unwrapping stuff in O2 and how... err... 'enjoyable' that can be. Oh to be retro.

Messiah.

Rock

This isn't exactly what I was planning for today but it's probably more interesting than baking tank tracks. At least I think so.

Wednesday 18 Wk16 : Days gone by.

A bit of Nostalgia today. I've been working on some things these last few days that had me searching my hard drive for reference material. What I found left me with a huge headache, extremely frustrated and a profound wave of nostalgia for the OFP era.

I'm pretty sure every modeller/addon maker out there has a folder full of incomplete and failed projects. Things that died off for various reasons, lack of time, interest, slightly more ambition than ability. Well I found a few of my old ones. And when a say a 'few' there are quite a few! I'm probably opening myself up for some abuse on this one but it's interesting to see how far we as a community has come. And it does illustrate the huge leap in quality from the OFP era to what is now expected by the majority of the larger community.

Anyway some of my favourites WIPs that went away to that far off land of Nevertobefinished:

Nimrod MR2 circa 2004

I loved making this model. It was one of the first planes that I really wanted to get in game but it was hard. The original model was one I made for Flight Sim 2002. The textures were pretty crappy in FS and they didn't really improve for OFP. It did finally make it into OFP and was released to my friends and a couple of game groups as a beta. But it had so many major problems.

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The AI couldn't fly it. No matter how I tried they just crashed for no reason or flew off into the sunset never to return, no matter what commands you gave them. It couldn't Auto land and the AI didn't even try. In multi-player it had the most peculiar bugs, things that were never seen in single player; disappearing textures, odd bits of floating geometry in the pilot LoD. Lots of stuff I never found the cause of too.

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It was also my first adventure with proxies and CoC's Torpedoes. Oh boy I spent many happy hours 'testing' chasing down and sinking Pauk Class boats. Eventually other projects took priority and it slipped quietly into the night.

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I did try and resurrect it for ArmA:1 but again it got lost in the Great Server Suicide. My File server jumped from the shelving in my office and trashed the raid array. It was made up of the infamous Hitachi "Deathstar" drives. They were originally called "Deskstars" but they died so often they were renamed by the Geek community at large. Mine went the same way as the original Deathstar over Yavin. Many addons died that day...

Sadly with the demise of the Nimrod MR2/R1 and MR4 in real life I don't really have a driving need to resurrect it. Maybe one day though.

Boeing XF/A-32

This was another learning curve. And when I say curve I do mean it literally. It looks like a simple shape doesn't it. Well it's really not easy to do in 6-7000 faces. That was the poly count most of us worked to at that time. Very few people baked anything and ambient occlusion was something weird people did in dark corners.

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For those that don't know what the X-32 was then shame on you. But it could have been the Joint Strike Fighter if, well if it had been any good. And it had been the actual design that Boeing were proposing to use for the production model. The X-32 was a delta wing. The proposed production model was a completely different configuration, which of course did not inspire confidence in Boeing's test results. From the rest of the world looking in the moment Boeing said, "Oops we've made a mistake the production model is not going to look like this", it was obvious the competition was over. Lockheed and the X-35 toddled off with the prize.

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So back to modelling it, I decided to have a crack at the 'loser' since it was a much more interesting design. I have a soft spot for unusual aircraft and let's face it its bloody ugly. And since I'm not much better myself I was drawn to it. I probably made the first model in AutoCad 2000. It was my chosen CAD program at the time. (And the only one I actually owned - I used CADDS5 and Catia at the time for work but I didn't have a UNIX box at home). At the time I habitually ported the meshes via DXF (I don't recommend this format to anyone who is serious about 3D work, need lots of cleaning up) and proceeded to try to whittle it down to 6000 verts and faces. I couldn't tell you the original number but it took some time. I did eventually get it in game but I hit a couple of stumbling blocks along the way.

  1. My textures were utterly shite. Try as I might my mapping and painting skills were terrible. I spent hours making some really nice textures but once they were applied to the model in PAA and PAC format they just bleed out.
  2. I couldn't script to save my life. I tried several different ways to get the internal weapons bays working but lost the will to live after numerous attempts. Some led to CTDs and OFP's error reporting was a bit naff so finding the cause was often akin to holding a séance. If you believed strongly enough you might find the answers you seek. But mock the spirits and you are doomed! Well ok maybe not doomed but you would spend a lot of time retracing your steps and more often than not completely rewriting your scripts.

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In the end well, it just fizzled out of my sight. One of those projects left in the darkest corner of the virtual closet to be found many years later. Much like the X-32 really. I did eventually solve the internal weapons bay issue a year or so later thanks to the legendary Footmuch but it was too late for the XF/A-32. It had long since been eclipsed by more interesting things.

BAC TSR-2

Possibly the greatest plane that should have been. The TSR2 was a turning point in the British Aerospace industry. Years ahead of its time, technologically and aerodynamically advanced and so very expensive. It was eventually killed off and almost completely wiped from history by the Politicians of the day.

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I'll go easy on the history because its long and involved. Not to mention it makes me angry that they threw such an aircraft away, not even using it for research and all for the sake of the F-111. Which they later ditched anyway since it proved to be even more expensive in than the TSR2... But I digress.

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The TSR2 would have filled the role that the Tornado now amply occupies. Interdiction and Strike. It was a beautiful plane, fast, elegant design unlike the competing British designs. It should have been made but it wasn't to be. So I thought it deserved to be brought into OFP.

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It was made on a very memorable train journey from Bristol to Edinburgh via London and back again. Memorable because I was travelling with a guy who managed to snore all the way from Didcot parkway to Paddington. Leave the train, into the underground, still snoring up to Euston and eventually to Newcastle-upon-Tyne. I swear he did not wake up once. He just followed along like a freakish zombie. The return journey was also memorable for less nasal reasons. We got stuck on a remote piece of track for three and a half hours due to 'high winds'. I got loads of work on the model done though.

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I never really finished the model because I found that it was a tad too quick for OFP size islands and it didn't prove to be very popular with the guys I was playing with at the time. I switched my focus onto helicopters for a while which brought about the Lynx and Pumas. Not so long ago I gave the source to someone to bring into ArmA1/2. I don't think it ever got anywhere. Which was a shame.

The Light Tower

At the time I released this in 2005 there were some issues with it. But it was the issues that made me love it so much.

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For instance, shoot the base unit enough and a civ guy would pop out and run off, always good for a laugh in the middle of a game. And if you refuelled it the AI would occasionally drive off into the distance. Again, occasionally hilarious when you get passed by one when driving around Everon.

There is a new version in the IAP objects pack, but I'm still not convinced I should fix the bugs. They were just so much fun.

Lockheed U-2

I'm not sure why I started this. It was just one that popped up one day. I don't remember why I thought OFP needed one but it did prove to be a fun target to try and destroy.

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I can remember several games where you had to destroy the plane only to find someone rolling down the runway in it only to sail off into the distance with all the Rambos chasing after it.

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I did actually release the BETA on the RKSL forums at the time but I can't remember why it never made it onto the news sites. We had a few "stealth" releases in 2005. But very few ever made it to "complete" status.

Ilyushin Il-76

Another forgotten monster, I really rather enjoyed this build. It was nearing the end of OFP's natural life with ArmA1 looming on the near horizon. I was attempting to solve my on going crappy texture problem by modelling decals on the planes. It meant that I could skirt around the mip mapping issues by using much higher resolution textures on the areas that mattered. It sort of worked but it wasn't until the advent of RVMATs and their ability to control Z-writing that it wasn't really practical.

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As with a lot of large aircraft projects things started to stall when I realised that the AI were completely incapable of flying the aircraft properly. That and without a cargo system they really weren't very practical in OFP. I mean seriously what do you do with a large transport plane when you can't transport anything? This is why we put so much effort into the ArmA1 scripted cargo system.

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In the end it got relegated to Set dressing status in campaign that never saw the light of day. Sad really but the IL-76 was another project that taught me a lot and inspired several other projects that went onto better things.

Right that's it for this week. I'm running out of time and I need to crack on with baking some new textures. We hope you enjoyed it this little blast from the past. There will be more historical stuff when the main site goes live. But until then, have fun.

Rock

Rock

This week rolled around fast. No sooner you finish writing one update and you need to write another. This week:

Typhoon updates: Part 1.

A Typhoon update was due to be released around the same time the official patch 1.60 came out. But the changes in 1.60 caused us unexpected problems. Well honestly the 1.1 Typhoon build was due ages ago (I’ve just checked its well over a year since we released the 1st build) but to my shame I have to use the tired and oh so common excuse: Life just got in the way. Things like work, moving house, more work, other models, beer the odd pizza, walking the dog. You know the usual stuff that gets in the way of your hobbies.

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Anyway, the much promised 2.0 update is pretty significant. The time hasn’t been wasted. At least I don’t think so. Here’s the list of the biggest changes:

  • More detail in the cockpit view.
  • New MFD Displays
  • Accurate HUD
  • Improved AI handling (New Flight model)
  • Improved animations (model.cfg)
  • Improved scripting
  • Pylon options
  • Support for national plug-ins
  • Rexeuk’s sounds now included (with full permission – thanks Rob)

The original Typhoon has/had some significant flaws. As I repeatedly get told, the AI couldn’t fly it that well and the sounds were “crap” and various other unhelpful critiques. I always thought BI’s sounds weren’t that bad myself. But alas I am tone deaf. Seriously, you don’t want to hear me sing in the shower, although unless you are female, slim attractive and possibly blind I’ve no idea what you would be doing in my bathroom listening to me sing anyway. Actually lets just leave that image alone, its getting a tad creepy. Right back to the quality of my singing, it’s rather like dropping a half a dozen bricks and a cat in a moving cement mixer. Lots of wailing, the odd screech all with random Doppler effects. My ex once said I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. Even I have to admit she’s right about that. But I digress.

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So as above, lots of changes the two most significant changes are the Flight model and HUD.

I really didn’t like the original displays. It felt a bit too “cartoony” for me so I rewrote them using the class mfd command in the config. It’s long winded, complicated, annoying and rife with limitations but it looks pretty good in the end. I went a tad OTT (Over The Top) with it, replacing pretty much every bit of text in sight and ive had some issues with the conditional sources/triggers but it does add a bit of something extra to the displays.

But the HUD is where all the work pays off. Some time ago BIS introduced a parallax effect to the pilot’s point of view by moving the aim point and camera around during manoeuvres. The problem is that it meant the aim point/crosshair moves. Making the HUD markings useless. BI’s solution to that was to move the entire HUD display with it. There is a whole thread devoted to the topic so I wont bore you by repeating it here but it had some undesirable effects. Mostly it was just annoying as F*@%. But it did mean we couldn’t use the MFD command as we had planned. BUT BIS were kind enough to give us the option to enable and disable it at will. This led to the options to create multiple layers of HUD. A static plate and a dynamic – parallax enabled - plate. Meaning the we now had the ability to display things like speed, altitude etc in the static plane and have the aim points and cues moving around to maintain accuracy. Its hard to see in the pictures but once you are in game and flying it becomes so obvious that you wonder how you lived without it before.

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The other hugely significant change is the Flight model. This had to be changed mainly for the AI, they occasionally turned so sharply that they lost control and lets face it they were worse than useless at engaging threats. Especially air-to-air, corkscrew anyone? And this was my fault, in my never-ending-quest for realism I had tried to get an accurate pitch, roll and turn rate. And as far as we could see it wasn’t far off but the AI just could not deal with it. So I was forced to trim it down a bit. The “new” flight model is actually the result of nearly 2 months of AI testing – there is a whole series of blogs about Flight models planned for the future – part of which was an attempt at writing a large chapter of the “Aircraft addon bible” I seem to be writing (tutorials). The result isn’t what I would like but it works quite well for both AI and Players. Ballistic09 seems to have mastered it quite well in our PVP games. He keeps killing me anyway. (he cheats!)

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So I’m going to leave it there for the moment. I’m starving, need a pee, I really want a beer and I have spent a large part of today trying to get a meeting with a guy that doesn’t seem to exist according to his receptionist. Despite the fact his name is on the building in one metre high letters. Tomorrow however, joy of joys, I get to stand up in front of a couple of hundred people and talk about Extended Enterprise and Remote Working in Modern Industry for 3 hours. It’s going to be so much fun I can just hear the snores already.

Rock

Rock

Just Snuck it in! Its still Wednesday in England, just!

I've spent most of today cleaning up after the gale force winds lashing the North West of the UK. We lost a drain pipe, 4 fence panels and most of a 20m high Conifer (tree) came crashing into our yard. Sooo this is not what i planned to do but its a direct response to some questions about model making and in particular the F-35C we showed a while back.

If you are a follower of UK Defence procurement you'll know the saga of the F-35 and the CVF Carriers well. If not then in a nutshell; The previous UK government chose the F-35B (STOVL - Short Take Off Vertical Landing) under a procurement project called the Joint Combat Aircraft, then we got a new coalition government who started a huge cost saving exercise in the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) called the SDSR (Strategic Defence and Security Review) aka Strategic Defence Spending Review if you are financially minded. This wrought a swathe of spending cuts and cancellations, killing numerous projects and thousands of jobs. One of the few things I did personally agree with was the switch to the F-35C (CATOBAR - CAtapult Take Off But Arrested Recovery) version of the Joint Strike Fighter.

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The biggest reason I agreed with the move was the change in the CVF carriers and what it meant for interoperability with France and the US navies. With the STOVL Harrier and the F-35B we could land on any of their carriers. But they could not land on ours. With the more conventional F-35C we could share decks more readily, giving us better opportunities for training and cooperation. And the 'C' has other distinct advantages. Its cheaper, carries more fuel and weapons and is arguably cheaper to support over its lifetime since there are more C's on order with the USN etc.

And its easier to model... less doors and fiddly bits ;)

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I get asked a lot what tool I make my models in and how i do it. The honest answer is that its a mix of CAD, various 3D apps and BIS own O2.

My background is Aerospace engineering so I've spent a lot of time working in 3D CAD packages, CADDS 5 and CATIA mostly but I've done a lot of stuff in AutoCAD too. More recently Ive just been using O2 and Modo. (There a story about buying modo off a Reseller that i will relate another time - but in short buy always buy direct. It will save you lots of drama). If you follow the RKSL thread on the BIS forums you will probably know I'm a fan of O2. Alot of the early RKSL models were almost exclusively made in O2, specifically the Lynx and the Typhoon. I like the simplicity of the interface and the cost (ie free) and if you are willing to spend some time with it you can make some very good models with it. But now the accepted standard of models in the ArmA2 community is much higher than it was. With the demand for more detailed models and textures the need to use a good 3D tool has increased. You really do need to be able to sculpt and bake models and textures now just to be accepted as "good" in the community it seems.

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I've found that getting good reference pics is the key to making good models. I pretty much save every interesting image i find these days. My research image archive is over 80gb with a further 30gb of movies. In Modo, O2 or Max getting a good background 3 view drawing will make your modeling life so much easier. if you can't find a decent schematic, try photos. The F-35 was partly made from an old 3 view and about 20 photos i pieced together in Photoshop. The photos are obviously the far more accurate source.

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Modelling is only half the fun though. I've often found myself remaking large areas of models so that i can animate it properly. In a lot of my commercial jobs, especially TV and film stuff its embarrassing how low poly/quality some of the models are. You make to a spec that often means a plane wont have any landing gear since it will only be on screen for a few seconds. In ArmA2 you will spend far more time making an addon than you will with most projects that end up in the popular media .

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I've always taken great pride in getting everything working properly in our addons. The landing gear must fold up correctly and not stick out of the doors or fuselage or it really bugs the crap out of me every time i see it. With the F-35 - see we're getting back on topic - its proved to be a bit of a nightmare. Working out the hinge points, the sequences etc. Don't get me wrong I love this part. Well the techie geeky part of me does, but its not always quick or simple especially if you want to make it look as realistic as possible.

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One of the biggest dramas was fitting all the Weapons in the F-35's bays. Getting a 2000lb to sit nicely in the bay with an AIM-120 AMRAAM is proving a bit difficult and required quite a lot of fettling. We're going to try and support the widest possible range of weaponry for the F-35 but its not going to be the full selection, Even after we add support for external stores we don't have the time to model every possible combination.

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But it all comes down to having fun, even when its a pain in the arse trying to land on a CVF Wink

Have Fun,

Rock, UNN, Messiah and CBFASI

Rock

I was rather disappointed to discover that the recent UKF Challenger 2 update by DK was ACE2 only. Since Im not an ACE user it left me without a tank for one of our new joint ventures. So I thought I'd make one.

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Pathy - the original author - has previously given me permission to modify the UKF model if I wanted but with ArmA3 looming and the new texture and model standards And as DM was 'kind' enough to point out on the BIS Forums the UKF model is a bit out of scale and proportion I thought I'd try to make a new model.

Its really not that easy either. The turret is a nightmare when you get into it. Da12thmonkey pointed out a small issue on the internal dev forums, it took 3 1/2 hours to change in the end.

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And before anyone screams "Finish X first!". Wait a while and you might understand why the Chally has become important....

UPDATE:

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Well the main point of this project isn't really for addon purposes. At least 50-60% of the reasoning behind making it is to add some ground kit to my portfolio. Its easily 90% aircraft. The HP is more for render effect anyway. It is a bit easier to get the scale and proportion right when it all matches up. Baking it in the complete form means that the texture is perfectly aligned to Low Poly. Its important because the anim seems are occasionally visible due to the texture. It can be very obvious if you get it wrong.

You can see the complete discussion thread here.

Thats all for this week. More next Wednesday.

Rock

Rock

Its been 'kindly' pointed out to me on Skype that I havent teased anyone with previously unseen addons this year (so far)

So I thought i'd better accede to the request:

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And to prove its an addon and not just a model... there we go, in-game and flying. Remember though its a still a work in progress.

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Have fun. I am.

Rock

UPDATE: Typhoon v2.0

Just a quick extract of the key additions/changes:

  • Refined/Improved Flight model.
  • Improved AI use.
  • Re-developed HUD and MFD displays.
  • Pylons are now configurable.
  • You can choose between 1 and 7 pylons. (See Pics below)
  • All national versions are supported by "Plugins"
  • A plugin and texture template will be available at release.
  • National plugins have associated weapons (RKSL Air Weapons pack 1.6)

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Rock

We've been asked for some national Typhoon Varients so we've tried to oblige. We will be releasing a texture and config template pack too, so you can make your own skins too.

Upcoming Typhoon V2.0 Plugins are:

  • Royal Air Force
    • 3 Squadron
    • 11 Squadron
    • 17 Squadron
    • 29 Squadron
    • 43 Squadron (OK its fictional - they didnt have Typhoons but it was a special request from a tech "consultant")
  • Austria
    • Generic Skin (neither Da12thMonkey or I could find any squadron specific markings other than numbers)
  • Germany
    • Generic
    • JBG31
    • JBG33
    • JG71
    • JG73
    • JG74
  • Spain
    • Generic
    • ALA 11
    • ALA 14
  • Italy
    • Generic
    • 9 Gruppo 4st
    • 10 Gruppo 36st
    • 12 Gruppo 36st
  • REDFor
    • Red #1 Air Superiority Blue/Grey Splinter Camo
    • Red #2 Ground Attack Green/Yellow/Brown Splinter Camo
  • Saudi Arabia
    • Generic
    • 10 Squadron
    • 29 Squadron

PLEASE NOTE: Big thank you to Da12thMonkey for making the international Squadron skins. He's made nearly all these plugins possible.

Rock

Just to show some progress in the Cockpit. I've replaced the old style HUD unit withthe correct TARDIS enabled version now and done some work on the rear seat.

Recently I've had a little break from the hectic life of ArmA2 modding. But, as they say, "All good things must come to an end". So i'm back to the joys of lighting errors and unwrapping.

So here we are again, Tonka cockpits. When i showed the first pics of screenshots of the model Da12thmonkey was kind(?) enough to point out i'd made the wrong HUD projectors for the latest GR4 airframe. (You have no idea how much time i spent on the f'ing thing) So i've now replaced the GR1/F3 model with the more up to date TARDIS (Tornado Advanced Radar Display Information System) version.

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I think i've said it before, the Tornado is one of "those" hard to finish projects. You know, one of those jobs you need to do, but aren't really sure how you are going to finish it. Like so many people, i desperately want to finish the damn thing but its proving to be slow going. Not because Im not interested in it, but because I want to do it properly. So stick with me while I slog through the not-at-all-fun unwrapping and texturing.

Lets hope its going to be worth it in the end.

Rock

It's been a very long time coming but Typhoon v1.5 is nearing release. There has been some significant restructuring going on.

During the last year we've had lots of feedback. And i really do mean lots, and its still coming in. We've tried hard to respond to all of these comments and suggestions and I think the latest build we have represents a huge improvement in the addon.

Key Features

  • Improved HUDs - incorporating the Parallax enabled layers Improved
  • Flight models - improved stability and turn rates Improved AI compatibility - the AI now fly the aircraft properly and really do hold their own (kiss good bye to the SU-34 and SU-30s.)
  • Improved cockpit model Added Pylon system - change the number or configuration of the pylons
  • Improved textures Improved Afterburner textures End user made plugins now supported. New Sounds - courtesy of Rexeuk and BigPickle
  • User made plugin in Support

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Typhoon Core and Plugins

 

Due to the number of requests we've had to make other national versions we've had to restructure the PBOs and classnames. To make it easier for people to get the version and only the version they want we've split the previous RAF class names away from the base/core PBO file. Each nation now has its own plugin PBO.

We've also changed the focus of the the Air weapons pack to include a much larger range of ordinance. Including, UK, NATO and Eastern Bloc weapons. This means that its now possible to more accurately tailor the load outs to fit your own national needs or create your own custom weapons fits.

We'll be providing config and texture templates for those that are interested in making their own versions and plugins so you can make your own clan/team specific version without affecting the core addon or having the need to ask for permissions (as long as you don't mess with the original PBO).

Rock

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Phase 1 - Fixes and short reworks

  • Fixed up the currently available model
  • New Flight model/performance
  • Better AI performance
  • Various small model tweaks
  • slightly reworked cockpit
  • New MFD displays
  • New HUD setup
  • Improved HUD function and Targeting.
  • Split the PBO into a core file and a "plugin"
  • Added full support for texture swapping via config.
  • Added German Luftwaffe EF2000 plugin with German Language support.
  • Improved the Stringtable support for non-English speakers.
  • Improved the Weapons pack
  • Added to the weapons pack
  • Changed some config values
  • Various script upgrade
  • Added detach option to the break chute.
  • Brake chute automatically detaches over a set speed.

Phase 2 - Model Revamp - All of the above +

  • Improved model
  • Reworked Forward fuselage to correct for the odd blending and vent placement.
  • Split the main texture over two tiles now.
  • Increased the detail on the textures
  • Added support for Myke's leaning.
  • Improved Normal and RVMATs (rendered as opposed to drawn)

And more.

Rock

In my continued insanity I've done it again. After the claims against Myke's version of Footmunch's F-16 and as a favour to another friend I've made an F-16. Don't worry, its not impacting on the Tornado. It was planned like this, to be made in parallel etc. So when I get p'd off with one i can switch to another for a while. It also lets me work with some other contributors.

Anyway... how this will work:

I'm going to give the base model (minus the cockpit) to Myke so he can continue his "F-16 Evolution Project". And to develop as he wishes without any other claims on the IP.

RKSL will continue develop the model as well. WLD427 of PRACS will also be getting the source to some specific versions so he can update PRACS.

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