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Bonkin

TFS Developer Update - July 2018

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Hello,

I am posting here to introduce myself as your new Team Fusion Simulations public relations person for IL-2 Cliffs of Dover. Some of you know me from ACG and beta testing but for those that don't, I've been an aircraft nut my whole life. I'm married with a couple of teenage kids and live in East Yorkshire England, but I grew up in East Anglia, where my playgrounds included many old USAF airfield bases. As such I feel I have a bit of an affinity with the 8AF and the 100BG in particular. My eyesight was never good enough for the RAF so I learned to fly privately and studied engineering instead. I now work in the defence sector, having spent pretty much my entire career to date working on the many different variants of the Hawk jet. The last thing to probably add is that having been inspired by the 1969 "Battle of Britain" film and a few old b/w classics like "Angels One Five", I also like to make the odd video or two.

I would really like to start this update however by offering my sincere thanks to Mysticpuma for the sterling work he did in this role before me. Mystic worked very hard on behalf of the community and I'm sure will be missed by many. It would also be amiss of me not to offer gratitude and thanks to Spiritus Mortem, who temporarily stepped into the PR role whilst I've been getting up to speed on all of the things ongoing. This actually leads me into something that I think needs a mention - attention to detail. I am incredibly impressed at the focus the team puts into making sure things are as accurate as they can be. The team has built up a wealth of material and knowledge regarding everything from factory variants to weapon types, field modifications and performance data. When you set this against the limitations of the game engine and the necessity to understand some very complex code that is not supported by any design documentation, then it can perhaps give you an idea of why it takes a long time to develop and integrate.

In the information that follows, you will see that I talk about an "import" process. This is part of bringing any new object into the game engine. The import process involves integrating each of the level of detail (LOD) 3D models and cockpits into the game, and then ensuring that all of the internal and external animations operate correctly. The FM and DM then have to be integrated with the model before any testing can begin. In parallel to this is skin production, which in itself is a complex process because the template textures have to undergo detailed mapping to the 3D model before the artwork can actually begin.

To prepare a model for import it needs several things to be completed. In simple terms, the detailed model is created first and then many different versions are created off of it using a reduced number of polygons each time. This is LOD modelling (referred to above) and is necessary because the game engine will select which LOD model to use at distance. In addition, for each model, several different texture layers need to be added, e.g. for damage, transparency, rivets, finish (gloss/matt etc) and weathering. Hopefully this gives some explanation as to the amount of work required for just one object.

So anyway, now on with the information you really care about:

Team
We have added a number of new coders in the last few months, they, along with the previous members of this department, are allowing us to double track the importing process, (two aircraft streams) allowing for a dedicated coder for the Map Team, as well as providing man hour effort which can be allocated to other areas in the code which need improvement or bugfixing.

Schedule
A contentious issue for many but the truth is that since everybody is a volunteer working in their spare time, it is difficult to forecast release dates.

What can be said about the schedule, is that there is one (for v5.0) and that the project is on track. It is not a schedule in the traditional sense, e.g. a Gantt chart with logic links, but rather a list of activities each with a target completion date. I think the key message to take away is that work continues. In fact it has never stopped. Everybody in the team has a passion for the subject matter and wants to see the best release possible, e.g. v5.0 will happen. For me, the really exciting stuff is what is planned for v6.0. Although in all honesty, that will only happen if v5.0 is a commercial success.

Progress

  • Bugtracker work
A new team member has started some long overdue maintenance work. He has commenced a review all of the reported bugs with the objective of amalgamating where possible and making updates. I have highlighted some changes which I think need to be made to the Bugtracker in order for it to be less confusing. These are a long way down the priority list at this time though. In the meantime, please continue to use it as normal.
 
  • Map
For some time now the team have been working with their own custom built editor which is quite limited and requires a lot of manual inputting and code work. Consequently map development has been slower than expected. On the positive side, there has been a breakthrough in getting the original Maddox Map Editor to build and development effort is focused on getting it into a stable condition. In short, if we can get the original editor to work, (which we are confident we will) then we will save a lot of time and people who don't have a lot of code experience will be able to do the complex map work.
 
  • AI
A code study/analysis of the AI behaviour modelling has been undertaken with the aim of understanding what needs to be changed and how. This has focussed on offensive and defensive manoeuvres, the command system, detection and gunnery. It is considered that improvements can be made in all areas. Work continues but here is an extract of the report:
 
Quote

AI Gunners
Easiest thing to fix. Mostly isolated from the other things regarding AI so changes we make here
will not affect anything else.

We can play with parameters until we find good balance between difficulty and fun.

AI Fighters shooting
Fighter planes don't shot effectively in dogfights. This is combination of two problems. First one is
selection of correct aiming point. That one is easier to correct and it can be considered solved.
Second part of the problem is getting the plane pointed at correct aiming point. With this one I'm
not satisfied yet. In some situations and with some planes shooting is acceptable. Hit percentages
are good and everything seems to be fine. But there are some annoying occurrences of visibly bad
shooting.

Things like that are annoying for players because AI looks like complete idiot who can't do simple
correction of the aim. This is related to the way AI controls the plane but this is tricky to do correct.
When I increase effectiveness of the controls AI can't control the plane smoothly enough and it
looks bad and often result with ground collisions in low level flights.

Defensive maneuvers in dogfight
Game is using same set of maneuvers as original Il2. This is something where we can make easy
progress. More maneuvers and better selection of them will make things noticeably better. We don't
have to make very big changes here at first but we can make some positive changes that will show
players that we are going in the right direction.

Commands
This is complete mess. Just a couple commands work and half of them don't work as they are
supposed to. Biggest problem is that in order for commands to work, actions they should perform
should work. And they don't. So there is huge amount of work necessary before we can enable all of
the commands that were supposed to be in the game.

AI enemy detection
This is one of the main reasons why commands don't work. Ai have very poor vision, especially
lower AI levels. Rookies are practically blind and oblivious to the environment. This is not that hard
to fix but I need to find right balance between AI ability and computation. As you know this game is
not an epitome of efficiency as far as code is concern. So we have to be careful not to add anything
that is not absolutely necessary.


Aircraft

  • Gladiator II Cockpit 3D work and import is complete. The Vokes filter (for use in desert conditions) has also been added to the External model.
  • CR-42 Cockpit 3D work is complete, cockpit import and animation is now underway. External model 3D work for bomb racks also complete.
  • Bf-109E-7/E-7NZ External and Cockpit 3D modelling is nearing completion. Drop tank modelling for the E-7 and F's is complete.
  • The Me109F 3D work is mostly complete and texturing work is now underway (covering F1, F2). Import of an Alpha F-1/F-2 with placeholder Cockpit & Textures is in-game. Ultimately it will have high resolution textures as per the Bf109E. The F-4 3D cockpit/external will take longer due to 3D cockpit differences and the 3D modelling of the underwing gunpods.
  • Wellington IA cockpit, turrets, and bombardier positions 3D work are now complete. Wellington IA/IC front and rear Turret 3D work is complete and imported in game. Wellington IA/IC Cockpit/bombardier positions are now awaiting commencement of the import process following completion of the CR-42 import. Note, the IA and IC had different bombsights so the bombardier positions are different. Wellington IC external model waist gunner positions 3D modelling are awaiting assignment although we are unlikely to expend effort modelling a mannable gunner position as players are unlikely to use it.
  • Hurricane IIA/IIB/IIC (and Trop versions) external 3D modelling is complete and is now being prepared for import. Cockpit 3D modelling requires some details. IID external 3D modelling is underway.
  • Spitfire IIB 'B' wing external 3D modelling is underway and should be completed within the month.
  • Spitfire V external 3D modelling for Trop version is in progress. Due to the differences in the wing there are a huge number of rivets and panel lines to move.
  • Dewoitine D.520 cockpit 3D modelling is almost complete. External model 3D work is nearing completion with the LOD modelling complete.
  • P-40C external 3D modelling is nearing completion. Cockpit underway.
  • P-40E external and cockpit 3D modelling is maturing nicely and not far off being completed.
  • Martlet III external and cockpit 3D modeling is mostly complete and the LOD's have recently been completed.


Fixes

  • Online Server 'Lobby' function has been fixed. The intention is to release this as an interim patch.
  • Spitfire DM (wing damage) bug fix will also be included in the above patch. There also will be tweaks to all aircraft DM's.


In terms of PR updates I will be aiming for one a month, even if it is just a few words. This will depend on whether there is much I can show or talk about though. There have been some technical break-throughs in certain areas but it wouldn't be right to set expectations when there are still problems to resolve in order to implement them fully.

I think that covers the things I can talk about for now. If you want to get in touch with me personally then do PM me in any of the forums I'm registered in. Feel free to say hello on Teamspeak as well. Most often you'll see me on the ACG Teamspeak on a Sunday evening (UK time from 7pm) or sometimes on a Thursday. I can't promise you I'll have answers to your questions but I can listen, record them and put them to the team to use in future updates.

Also, if you have the right skills and think you could help then please get in touch. Our prime need is for more people who can do the complex 3D work required to build aircraft, aircraft cockpits, vehicles and ships, using Blender or 3DMax. Those who are interested in building and populating maps are also welcome to submit applications... in this case, Photoshop, some coding knowledge, and a thorough familiarity with the Mission Builder would be the requirements. Those with lesser Blender/3DMax skills could look at creating buildings for the Map department.

Finally, here is a short video showcasing a little of the work that is ongoing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCk6sA6KGjA

I hope I can serve you well.

For and on behalf of Team Fusion Simulations,

Bonkin.

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I was looking forward to that bit at the end ever since you first suggested it... awesome work mate!

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Nice one Bonks. I'm glad to finally see some real progress, and excited for more. 

I still have trouble understanding why the team is working on projects such as Bf-109 F1 or E-7NZ or the Spitfire MkIIB, as those were made in such small numbers that despite being hardly important for the theatre they still take resources and time to make - prioritizing essential projects is key. Especially taking into the account how low on recourses TFS is. 

 

Anyway, that's it for me rambling, can't wait to know what the release date is, keep up the good work guys.

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4 minutes ago, 4./JG26_Onebad said:

I still have trouble understanding why the team is working on projects such as Bf-109 F1 or E-7NZ or the Spitfire MkIIB, as those were made in such small numbers that despite being hardly important for the theatre they still take resources and time to make - prioritizing essential projects is key.

 

Personally, I’m actually pretty excited for the Spitfire IIB. It’ll be nice to have some more firepower against all those Heinkels.

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The IIB uses the same wing as the Vb, so all that work will move over leaving the only thing to finish on the V's are the tropical filter placement. So the IIB is a natural step towards the V's anyways.

Altering the Spitfires has been a challenge. We had to rearrange parts of existing textures to make room for cannon shrouds and the tropical filters since those parts have to be on the M_diffuse (Skin). Once that room was made available, then we had to make the change to all other textures (roughly 8 more). Then we could actually put the new objects on, and now I'm on the step of adjusting rivets and panels so the B wing looks correct... and once again, once this is finished on the M_overlay, the same process has to be done on the other 8 or so textures. 

 

The DM is challenging as well with the Spit. It must be changed to reflect the cannon now since parts of the DM show the .303s. Lots of work but nearing completion. 

 

Anyways, back to the IIB, all the work I'm doing on the IIB paves the way on the Vb, so no wasted time or resources. When the IIB is finished things will progress quickly on the rest. The wing changes is the most time consuming. 

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Posted (edited)

Great update Bonkin. Good luck with the flight ahead, the cross winds will be strong, the thermals will be turbulent but eventually you'll reach your destination. 

Would have been nice to have an estimated release date as without that the words about on schedule have no foundation :(

 

Look forward to the next update, cheers MP

Edited by Mysticpuma
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45 minutes ago, Mysticpuma said:

Great update Bonkin. Good luck with the flight ahead, the cross winds will be strong, the thermals will be turbulent but eventually you'll reach your destination. 

Would have been nice to have an estimated release date as without that the words about on schedule have no foundation :(

 

Look forward to the next update, cheers MP

 

Haven't TF stated repeatedly that it is their policy to not announce release dates?

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Fantastic work TFS! Always impressed. Any word at all on VR support? I appreciate that it's a mighty hurdle but it's still #1 in my book.

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3 minutes ago, peregrine7 said:

Fantastic work TFS! Always impressed. Any word at all on VR support? I appreciate that it's a mighty hurdle but it's still #1 in my book.

 

We decided not to delay 5.0 for VR simply because it will take a coder focused only on VR to get it finished, which means taking a coder from other work. Once 5.0 is finished, then yes, VR is a must. We hope to have it released after 5.0, something like a 5.1 update/hotfix type thing. 

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Posted (edited)

I agree with that 100%..Let's just get over that boiling hot desert!!!!

Edited by II./JG27_Rich

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1 hour ago, ATAG_Flare said:

 

Haven't TF stated repeatedly that it is their policy to not announce release dates?

 

And apparently Jesus will return to earth one day..... But without an Eta that has the same foundation as a no date schedule. 

I reiterate, an ESTIMATED time of arrival would be appreciated as would an ESTIMATED time of arrival for the interim patch Buzzsaw and Spiritus mentioned. 

 

We all know it arrives when it arrives but an indication of when would be appreciated. 

 

 

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As has been said many times before, a release date is not TF's responsibility to announce.

 

We hope to have an interim patch for 4.5 with some fixes out in the near future.  This will not include new content.

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Nice update , will there be also further game engine optimisation ????
Thanks !!! :) 

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4 hours ago, FFS_Cybermat47 said:

 

Personally, I’m actually pretty excited for the Spitfire IIB. It’ll be nice to have some more firepower against all those Heinkels.

 

Sure, but they weren't really used to all that much. I'd rather have all the manpower TFS has go towards essential aircraft.

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I hope game will get some advertisements 😕 if 6.0 depends on commercial success then I really hope some youtubers will promote it. Also BoX fans should give it a try :P

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2 hours ago, 4./JG26_Onebad said:

 

Sure, but they weren't really used to all that much. I'd rather have all the manpower TFS has go towards essential aircraft.

There were approx. 200 Spit IIB's produced, and along with the Spit IIA, they were a mainstay of RAF Squadrons during 1941, especially during the first six months of the year.

 

As has been mentioned, there is no significant additional modeling work required to produce the Spit IIB... the wing is the same as the Spit VB, the body the same as the Spit IIA.

 

TF has a design philosophy which means we provide as many of the significant variants of a particular aircraft type as we can.

 

So for example, this means we will provide the 109F-1/F2/F4, + tropical versions of these types, not just a single version of the F type.

 

And the applies to the Spitfires too.  

 

There will be no significant delay as a result of these types being provided.

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Yes, to m a spit is a spit, 109 a 109 , who cares. Let me climb on to that wellington. A plane for heroes. Great update

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2 hours ago, InProgress said:

I hope game will get some advertisements 😕 if 6.0 depends on commercial success then I really hope some youtubers will promote it. Also BoX fans should give it a try :P

 

Yes it would be nice if 1C would email out the TF dev diaries like they do for BoX. Also they should upload some of the TF updates to their channel.

 

I'll surely be making more CloD cinematics for 5.0 when that comes out.

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Hi Bonk,

 

Nice to meet you and thank you for the much appreciated update.  Look forward to hearing from you soon!

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Posted (edited)

Yea, it's a good idea. 5.0 should be in one of 1C emails. Would be nice to see it in dev diary on release as well.

 

My suggestion, you should put these dev diary on steam store as announcement. Don't underestimate steam, having some official steam store updated (not on discussion, as a post developers can make on page). It would show people that game is updated and alive. Posting changelogs there would be great as well. Don't focus only on forum here.

 

Because now there is only one announcement... from 14 December 2017. It may look like devs went silent and many people don't sit on forum, they just look on steam.

Edited by InProgress
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Agreed. We as a community need to help as well. We should get involved at other game's forums and talk CLOD up. We could post links here and people can join in on the conversations involving CLOD. Great update. I feel that 1 per month updates is too short. Weekly updates is a must. Even if the update is full of propaganda you have to keep the troops motivated. If four items come at once....release the news one at a time over 4 weeks to give more feel of a steady progress. 

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Posted (edited)

I'm really looking forward to the 109E7NZ and all 109F versions.
thanks for the detailed update.
where is my old post stayed???

 

Edited by 7./SchG.2*SirAthlon

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2 hours ago, [BANG]Diamondaxe said:

I feel that 1 per month updates is too short. Weekly updates is a must. Even if the update is full of propaganda you have to keep the troops motivated. If four items come at once....release the news one at a time over 4 weeks to give more feel of a steady progress. 

I have to totally agree with this. At the very least there needs to be an update ever 2 weeks. Keep people motivated. Keep the Buzz up that 5.0 is definitely coming. 

Nice first update Bonkin. Good Luck as PR manager.

 

S!Blade<><

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Nice update by the way!

I'm glad things are speeding up a bit.

Godspeed TFS!

Can't wait to give that biplane some love ^^

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Posted (edited)

Thank you very much for the update Bonkin, really appreciated.:cool:

 

 

Really looking forward to seeing the inside of the Wellington, the WIP images shown so far look outstanding, nothing quite like sitting in it though.

 

 

Wishing you all the very best, Pete.:biggrin:

Edited by Missionbug

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I love all of the development detail in this update and the status of the aircraft currently in development. The day that Tobruk is released, I’ll buy it! But I still have one question: On the TF 5.0 flyable A/C, it states that the Bf108 and the Macchi MC202 will be flyable in patch 5.0. So if they are going to be in patch 5.0, what is their current status? 

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4 hours ago, Novice-Flyer said:

I love all of the development detail in this update and the status of the aircraft currently in development. The day that Tobruk is released, I’ll buy it! But I still have one question: On the TF 5.0 flyable A/C, it states that the Bf108 and the Macchi MC202 will be flyable in patch 5.0. So if they are going to be in patch 5.0, what is their current status? 

 

108 is basically ready for import, just a couple cockpit elements need to be finished. 202 cockpit is being built, external is close but still needs work. Just remember there are only a handful of modelers with day jobs. Sometimes it is odd to see the progression from the outside but we all are working on multiple aircraft at once and or helping out other projects/modelers. 

 

Im sure Bonkin's next update will have another list with more news on the aircraft in this update list as well as others that were not mentioned. 

 

Cheers

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On 7/7/2018 at 1:24 AM, 69thSpiritus_Mortem said:

 

We decided not to delay 5.0 for VR simply because it will take a coder focused only on VR to get it finished, which means taking a coder from other work. Once 5.0 is finished, then yes, VR is a must. We hope to have it released after 5.0, something like a 5.1 update/hotfix type thing. 

 

Thank you for the reply and information! I look forward to everything you guys do, but VR especially so!

 

 

 

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By the way that Dewoitine 520 looks amazing I have to wonder what this modeller  (that I assume to be French) plans on working after that.

Possibly a Ms.406? Or maybe something bigger?

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You're doing a great work Team Fusion, my compliments! :good:

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I think the linked video is really mouthwatering. I'm looking forward to play with the shown content. THX TF.

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On 7/6/2018 at 4:24 PM, 69thSpiritus_Mortem said:

 

We decided not to delay 5.0 for VR simply because it will take a coder focused only on VR to get it finished, which means taking a coder from other work. Once 5.0 is finished, then yes, VR is a must. We hope to have it released after 5.0, something like a 5.1 update/hotfix type thing. 

 

In my opinion if you want 5.0 to be a commercial success, then you need to make the time to release it with VR.

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VR is the only thing I'm looking forward to here. I wont fly it again till it has it, cant go back.

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37 minutes ago, =FEW=Herne said:

 

In my opinion if you want 5.0 to be a commercial success, then you need to make the time to release it with VR.

I doubt, how many people actually own it? I know only one friend on steam who has VR. I don't think it's something that popular, too expensieve. And i don't think VR would make commercial success, at best it could add some sells but i don't believe it would change anything. I would not want to wait for 5.0 for month or more just because VR delay that me and most of world population does not even have...

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