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Operation Flashpoint/Armed Assault info


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The PC gamer had an interesting article about successor(s) of the Operation Flashpoint. It is little difficult to read but should be well worth the "effort" for every ground war simulation fan.

 

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With a lot of small companies trying to perfect their war simulation products - I am wondering whether we (and they) would not be better off if they join their resources. What I would love to see is this:

 

o I buy Armed Assault and play it.

o Later on I buy LOCKON (or LOCKON successor). Since LOCKON & Armed Assault was "cooperative effort", I would be able to start LOCKON and join ongoing Armed Assault game session. So I could fly LOCKON's lets say Su-25T and kill ground units controlled by the "Armed Assault" game engine. This should work for Single-player missions or network/multiplayer missions.

 

I know that this probably is never going to happen - but I think it would make sense if BIS and ED cooperated on join't product. Next OFP/AA looks to be designed from ground up with dynamic campain in mind. Lock-On does not have dynamic campain and Lock-On does not have user controllable ground vehicles (like Shilkas) and ground units. OFP/AA does not have realistic aircraft, missiles & radar behaviour. They both use huge terrains - so they can share their work on terrain engine. I think these two products could perfectly complement each other - if they were designed to do so ...

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Theres been a couple attempts are merging a flight sim with other game types. Dangerous Waters combines ship combat with P3 orions and helicopters. The other one is Battlefield 2 which is FPS with tanks, jets and helicopters. Both are good but not as realistic as they could be.

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Theres been a couple attempts are merging a flight sim with other game types. Dangerous Waters combines ship combat with P3 orions and helicopters. The other one is Battlefield 2 which is FPS with tanks, jets and helicopters. Both are good but not as realistic as they could be.

 

But that is not what I am talking about. You are talking about single game produced by single company. I am talking about two (or more) games which are compatible with each other, each of these games is produced by different company - each game sold separately and playable with or without the other game.

 

Each company excels at what they do best - but when one company tries to do everything then they usually do not excel in anything since they don't have resources for that. If games from different companies would be compatible (so you can play both of them in the same time as a single game) - you would get a game which excels in all areas where those other individual games excel.

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Didn't Microprose try this with Gunship2000 and a tank sim they were making at the time. If they had pulled off the project you would have had two sims in one. Apache, Havoc and Tiger choppers up against M1A1s, Lepord2s and T-80Us.

 

So if Lockon was melded with the new Flashpoint game you would have a proper air and ground war. If you eject you could go to a first person mode and try and survive until a rescue chopper come to pick you up and fly you back to base. Nice idea in theory but imagine trying to get all that to work properly online. Its a developers worst nightmare waiting to happen.

 

Another idea could be if you in an infantry squad and under heavy attack, you could call in air support from other people flying A-10s. You could lase the targets for them and in return you knock out the SAMs in the area. All the possibilities. Maybe in 10-15 years time.

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The map is already a show-stopper for such a project. It can be potentnially handled, but it's quite difficult.

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The map is already a show-stopper for such a project.

 

What do you mean ? Map location or it's size (or something else) ?

 

It can be potentnially handled, but it's quite difficult.

 

Yes, definitely it would not be easy. Biggest problem I see is whether (any) two independent companies could overcome their disagreements and design the game-intercommunication-interface which would be needed for such a project (plus agree on lot of other things like who does what and who pay for it). Technically it would be also challenging - but I don't think it's impossible.

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I think it will be possible sooner or later.

Now the main problem is the lack of common standart for objects ierarchy and interactions between them (physics, graphics details and formats, AI). There is no standart which could satisfy both sides. Too many differences between concepts and implementations which used in aviasimulators and tactical shooters game engines.

The main reason is too different 'operational spaces' - small rages with extreme number of objects details vs huge ranges (plus 60000 ft of height up ;) ) with much smaller objects level of detail.

The another reason is that any company will not need all concepts that would be described in such standart, and as a rule will not find something speciphic that will be needed only for them. ;)

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К чему стадам дары свободы?

Их должно резать или стричь.

Наследство их из рода в роды

Ярмо с гремушками да бич.

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What do you mean ? Map location or it's size (or something else) ?

 

 

 

Yes, definitely it would not be easy. Biggest problem I see is whether (any) two independent companies could overcome their disagreements and design the game-intercommunication-interface which would be needed for such a project (plus agree on lot of other things like who does what and who pay for it). Technically it would be also challenging - but I don't think it's impossible.

 

 

Basically, what Olgerd said.

 

FOr more detail on what I mean for the map:

 

Take the Nogova OFP map.

 

It's huge, it has lots of detail. Memorywise, it's probablya s big as the whole LOMAC map.

 

So, there's a great difference in density: You would need MANY times the points (I mean orders of magnitude) to have a good looking map in OFP so that it was the same size as the LOMAC map.

 

On the other hand, LOMAC - or any sim, don't need -quite- that much detail. As I said it's not impossible to handle, but pretty difficult at this time; until you can run huge maps without trouble, this will be a pretty serious issue all on its own.

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I used to play flight sims like you, but then I took a slammer to the knee - Yoda

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The whole thing sounds like a bit of a nightmare for programmers - there'd be a few pages of bugs when the first joint missions started getting played, but surely the map & texture things aren't such a big problem.

The two games don't need to share the same graphics engines.

you just need a server running both games concurrently & feeding information about object positions / timeline between the two..

The physics and performance charicteristics would have to match fairly closely for the two games where objects were directly interacting (weapon ballistics / flight models / game distance covered in a given time) , but if they did so then while playing from the flight sim all the textures & models would belong to that game & only the existance of and position of ground units as well as the outcome of any combat between them and SAM launches etc would have to be fed to the flight sim.

From the flight sim I don't care if the bodies down there have rendered hair & rag-doll physics for the FPS player, only that they've fired a SAM, AAA or blown up one of mine... so for the flight sim everything would be as for a multiplayer game except that instead of AI controlling ground units there'd be someone in another game feeding the commands back.

Same for the FPS / RTS ground war ( whichever it was).

They could just play using their game engine, textures, models etc & get fed the position of the planes, missiles, bombs etc launched from the sim. They don't care if I click the cockpit, use the keyboard or spend the whole time I'm cornering in tunnel vision, only whether I fly in or out of weapons range & whether I kill them or their enemy.

To do the transition from one game to the other would be just that (& only available to people who owned both) - Eject & you pass out while the computer unloads one game, loads the other, the server passes your co-ordinates (& everyone elses) to the second game & decides if you'd have hit the ground yet, then either spawns you on the ground or hanging under a parachute - maybe you're given the option of taking death & respawning into a plane or keeping the life & joining the ground battle (maybe find a vehicle & RTB or steal a flyable from s/where. Walk up to a plane, climb the ladder & drop put of that game respawn in the flight sim ready to spool up.

I guess that the ground game would have to either

1/ do some sort of bubble generation of a more detailed texture in a rules based way ( as in the Far Cry editor ) as the players moved over the agreed large scale terrain

2/ there could be areas corresponding to various maps where the FPS would hold additinal detail & the bits in between would be relatively barren - like flying off the edge of the MAP in LO/FC (there's something to fly over, but it's not pretty)

3/ maybe battles with Island sized maps as in Far Cry & sea inbetween for the planes to fly over & the FPS players to boat over with no massive amounts of map needed.)

 

Anyway - that's enough typing for an idle dream.

Cheers.

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Erm yes, the map IS a big deal. It is LITERALLY a /huge/ deal. ;)

 

Literally. We're looking at /least/ at several gigabytes of data for the ground to rendered accurately in the entire map for the soldier component.

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I used to play flight sims like you, but then I took a slammer to the knee - Yoda

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BUT - you don't need to have the whole thing rendered at that sort of detail.

In LO/FC you fly over an (admittedly large) island of detail on a larger featureless world.

In the same way that the detailed LO/FC map sits in a larger barren wilderness, for the FPS pick a number of areas of managable size (islands of high detail) say 10 - 15 fairly large ones, some rural, some urban - create detailed maps for them that are separated by the correct amount of distance and have gross structural simillarities to allow them to be correlated with areas on the LO/FC map.

( I guess you've played Far Cry - Same idea. Islands of detail in a much larger map that's covered in featureless water. )

In the countryside between you could have either:

A map exactly like LO/FC's with the same amount of detail as it has now - ie blank outside the Caucuses-Crimea, then FC/LO countryside & most cities (which is all there & damagable - if not very detailed by FPS standards) then several strategic towns, airbases & maybe open rural / valleys & their surounds all at FPS detail.

or

That map plus - When you create a map in the Far Cry sandbox (the only editor outside of LO/FC I've used so that's what I'll talk about) you define a set of rules to terrain that landscape between this hight and this hight, when the angle of the ground is between this & that there will be this texture on the ground, this plant at this density per sq meter, this second plant at this density etc. You could simply have a standard set of these rules for each season (smart enough to not plant over towns, roads & rivers) generate the textures / vegetation on the fly "Bubble wise" as you moved between those detailed areas. they wouldn't need to be particularly dense or detailed & if they're just non collidable sprites like the trees in LO/FC or the grass/bushes in Far Cry, it doesn't matter if people are able to customise the render distance / density as we can for trees in LO/FC. + the visible range is usually a lot lower in a FPS so they wouldn't have to generate more than a few miles around themselves (& make planes a special case for ground units visability so they don't get snuck up on.)

None of it would interfere with the SIM Frames per second as the flight sim wouldn't see any of it.

For the ground game you'd only end up with a low detail map of LO/FC size, but would have 15 maps or so of First person shooter quality spread over however many thousands of sq km there are in LO/FC (& you could travel over any of it!).

Ground players could chose to concentrate their activities around the more detailed islands, or cross country into the larger but less detailed LO/FC enviroment.

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Erm yes, the map IS a big deal. It is LITERALLY a /huge/ deal. ;)

 

Literally. We're looking at /least/ at several gigabytes of data for the ground to rendered accurately in the entire map for the soldier component.

 

I think the data ammount problem can be quite easily solved. You need to do something similar as SOLDNER game did (soldner is otherwise IMHO quite failed game but the terrain they used was OK).

 

http://soldner.jowood.com/?RubrikIdentifier=961&lang=en

 

Also you can take a look at this link:

 

http://web.interware.hu/bandi/ranger.html

 

I suggest you download the demo there - if you have a NVIDIA card (GeForce 3 and up) I guarantee that you will be very impressed how much amount of data can be rendered by 3MB package (which includes data & the program to run it).

 

The trick behind the engines above is to generate/refine the detailed data in run time using noise functions. The perlin noise (or other noise generators) has advantage that you can achieve about infinite data detail - depending how much CPU time you are willing to spend. For terrain far away you generate less dense data - for close terrain you use more noise samples. This technique is I believe used in other engines - I really doubt that for example Far Cry is reading the grass positions data from a file - I think it generates it on the fly using some parametrized noise pattern.

 

My thinking about this "joined games" was mostly in the same line as Weta43 wrote. Basically each game could use it's own rendering engine. When flying LOMAC plane then regular LOMAC's engine would be used. It would not render things displayed in FPS - like grass, rocks, furniture inside buildings, and perhaps not even soldiers (except SAM soldiers). When playing the "OFP part" - the OFP engine would be used - working about the same as if LOMAC wasn't there. When LOMAC rendering engine would be used - the only OFP component running would be ground units and overrall "war picture" controlling code. The control of air units, missiles, radar and SAM sites would be in LOMAC's control - LOMAC would feed the OFP dynamic campain engine with whatever is the result of the air war. Similarly - when playing the ground war - OFP rendering engine would be running - LOMAC would be controlling only the air/SAM units in immediate player's vicinity. I guess this could be running pretty nicely on multicore processor - each "subgame" running on it's own core.

 

As Weta pointed out - one issue would be load times when going from air to ground war and back. Since most of the load time is loading of terrain and textures and objects - this load time could be greatly reduced if both games used the same terrain and object structures (which is, well - unlikely).

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That's -a- solution, but not a great solution, IMHO.

 

If you have a huge amount of battelspace, it would be best to be able to use it all. Then you can set up battles pretty much anywhere.

 

There may be some techniques for populating a less dense map and making it denser, but there may be a performance/generation/load time hit to accomplish this.

 

 

Edit: ROman, that's pretty nice stuff. The problme is though that you're still missing a LOT of data at the detail level LOMAC's map's at - I mean the mesh specifically, the towns seem very nicely populated.

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I used to play flight sims like you, but then I took a slammer to the knee - Yoda

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The problme is though that you're still missing a LOT of data at the detail level LOMAC's map's at - I mean the mesh specifically, the towns seem very nicely populated.

 

Not sure what you mean ... you mean mesh for buildings data or mesh for the terrain under the towns ?

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No, the mesh in general.

 

Noise works well only for a limited distance, LOMAC's mesh appears to have 100's of meters between points.

 

It -appears- that the data is say 1km between points, mayeb a little less.

 

Now keep in mind that OFP's visibility is set to about the same distance ... there is a LOT of detail missing for the same amount of terrain in the LOMAC map, and it's the kind of detail you won't be able to populate very well with noise.

 

Potentnially with good compression plus noise effects you could effectively take that map and fit 100x data in it (for a 100mx100m mesh), but this will -significantly- increase the size of the map. Anything less will likely not be very appealing graphically to someone playing a 'solider' and will look more like flat terrain or large triangles.

 

See what I mean? You can only do so much with noise, you still need a fine enough mesh to make the terrain good.

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I used to play flight sims like you, but then I took a slammer to the knee - Yoda

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visibility range. while in flight visibility is greater and as such less objects populate the virtual world. haveing the many objects that are a small town or city would be to big for flight but for ground units, its quite possible that their limits of high detail can be limited to a 1km radius with 'extra' objects thus when you combine the two, different engins your get some sort of virtual battlefield.

 

enough rambling for me..

 

-Salute-

Savage 77th Squadron 'S77th' http://www.s77th.com

 

The Lomac League, For Squadrons & Single Players http://www.LomacLeague.com

 

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GG - you have a point about the present map in LO/FC.

I guess another alternative would be to just have something like the LOD system LO/FC uses already - a set of detailed models for each of the LO/FC planes/buildings / structures - there's only a limited number of different structures arranged in many different ways, but you're right, from what's there's a lot of variation & compexity already.

As you say LO/FC already has a lot of detail in the world, it just looks dodgy up very close.

If up close there were a bit of grass (textures on fields, sparse random sprites in the forests ( fairly large complicated sprites so that each was several seperated clumps of grass & bush, which would keep the number of objects on the map down. have them auto distributed by rules & brush as the trees are now ) at the same desity as the trees & , proper textures on everything, detailed buildings with a few more polygons etc & more realistic trees, the map in LO/FC is probably good enough as it is, & you don't need any more detail in the sense that there are more things on the map except for the grass / bushes (which don't seem to affect frame rates while they're not displayed so wouldn't wory the Flight sim players), just better detail up close.

Given that on foot a player would move incredibly slowly by LO/FC standards there's plenty of load time.

In a vehicle you'd need better buildings, trees etc. than now - but not much -you need the outside of a building to look OK from a tank or car, but it doesn't need an inside in any sense beyond a visible 2D texture (you'd only see it through the window or when you drive through & destroy it anyway.)

So if you're in a plane you use the present set of models via the present distance based rules.

If you're in a vehicle you use the same till some close distance then use a better set of models out to a certain range then the existing low res models.

If you're on foot you have plenty of time to load higher resolution models again for everything very close, & those models have structure - an interior, multiple levels, fittings, dynamic lighting etc, outside there's some grass, better swaying trees etc, but you'd only need those out to say 150m then use the vehicle's defn. models ( have transition distances all user definable via .LUA's ), so you'd only have 3 or 4 loaded at any time, which you could probably do on the fly (even a detailed building wouldn't have the poly count of a plane, just more textures).

From where I stand here I can see the city & only the building I'm in & the ones across the road actually have 3d from paralax & would need high poly models - everything after that is implied & would look the same with a lower Poly count & textures providing detail.

The large wharehouse, command centre, covered hangars - most of the buildings on the airbases & the new FC structures would do between 300m-500m as they are.

(You'd have to fix some of the models so their ends didn't float in mid air, but I've seen that happening in FPS's anyway.)

Regarding the terrain mesh.

My understanding is you could bump map apparent detail onto it up close, wind up the advanced haze for pedestrians & let it all fade out into the distance. (don't know if you could run a LOD for the terrain ? or just bump it up to higher res to 200m out around the buildings.

Cheers.

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GG -The map's mesh is pretty coarse, but I think haze & a covering of better vegetation / trees, better ground textures would hide a good bit of that & as I mentioned above you could do the 100m x 100m mesh only within 500m of a town/settlement.

My guess is that players would forgive a fair bit of chunky middle distance as long as the immediate enviroment looked pretty good, the buildings very good, & if they were swapping the middle distance for being able to fly a great flight sim, engage in ground battles with armour or wander on foot over any of a 100,000 sq km map.

Have you never landed on the road & then just driven around the cities in a plane?

as it is it's good enough for tank battles...

My guess is you could sell it with the present mesh, (but good high LOD models / lighting for structures) if you had good vehicle/weapon modelling & a 100,000 sq km map of real terrain you could move freely around in.

At 60km/h how long would it take a T80 to drive from end to end on the present map?

Never covering the same ground, knowing that you're free to take any turn & that IRL there's country just like this (but smoother).

Get in a vehicle, drive 2 hours cross country & get out & do a raid on an enemy camp, steal a plane ...

come under attack from AI & human armor, planes, people hiding in the trees with a rifle or an RPG or a stinger.

I still think that designating a few strategic areas with better terrain mapping would allow campaign builders to use them for the most part if they want better visuals, or drift off if they want something a bit different.

Cheers.

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Merging with other sim types can be done, here is the ultimate.

Lockon

Steel Beasts

Longbow2

Joint Ops

Dangerous Waters

If all the above had a common map and network code it could work for a next generation game. There are problems with doing this of course thats why you take it 1 step at a time. For example lockon in its present form could accomodate a jet/tank/ship/helicopter sim. And it would work but as for FPS maybe not right away. I think if a company were to attempt this they could approach it one of two ways. Either assign a separate division in a company to handle external addons or do it cooperatively with another company. If an aircraft or vehicle is made for one side then another should be created for the opposite side. eg F-16 then Su30, T80U then M1 or Ka50 for AH64. Things have to be balanced in order for it to work. I myself would like to see a carrier group under human control with human controlled aircraft. Possible with an engine like lockons.

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They're all just games in the end... Just like chess, Draughts & Go, some are harder to master, some have more fun in them, some have both.

If you pay $40 bucks for it & play it on a PC - it's a game.

If you paid $30,000 for a license for it & you pay a proffesional to teach you to use it - OK - it's probably not a game

Cheers.

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