Report 055: Incubation complete

This report is to mark the last update for the Incubator (at least for now).
Now that the new mechanics are more stable, the next update can be available in all other branches and it will be like any other update with the addition of new units and challenges.

The incubator was a very useful tool for enabling the development very delicate mechanics while continuing to provide feedback to the players, without this the players wound have any other choice other than being out of the development loop while this build were unstable.
Also considering how useful it was, I might use it sometime again as a preview of an upcoming build, in order to fix and the issues that manage to pass through the test before making it as a default build.

But now moving on, at this moment it is already available a new build in the incubator:

  • FIXED: hiccup during campaign levels just before spawning new units
  • FIXED: showing KMH when using knots
  • FIXED: not reading sub mission actions and triggers when testing a mission in the editor
  • FIXED: achievements connection (get ready for a lot of pop ups telling you that you unlocked new achievements, the data to unlock this achievements have been recoding since the earliest versions)
  • FIXED: Mig-21PF challenge
  • FIXED: Su-37 Challenge
  • FIXED: restriction on XF10F-1 access
  • ADDED: fixed fire direction for sub objects
  • ADDED: Mph measurement
  • ADDED: action to configure or set damage Limit
  • ADDED: option to ignore collision check and use only proximity (useful for bullet hell weapons)
  • ADDED: descriptions in the editor for each action and trigger

(Don’t forget in the next build the players won’t be able to use the cheat to automatically unlock all units)

But that is not all for this report, besides talking about the incubator build I find it is the right to reveal something:

I’ll use this opportunity to reveal all the planned super weapons.
However this reveal does not include the super weapons that will appear in Juniper/Hollow Thunder, that reveal will be for another time.

None of the design is in scale, as all of them will greatly vary in size and role. These roles can from offensive, Air space denial or just support units.

Stay tuned, more reports will follow.

Report 054: Countermeasures

New report is here!
But no, there is no new update available at this moment; this report is actually just to talk about the next build.
There is nothing special to be shown here, just a simple explanation of what is to come.
The reason for this is because the next update will be very important, if not the most important update in all early access (in gameplay perspective) and the way it will be delivered has to be a bit different, this means it won’t be immediately available in the main branch.

The reason for this is because this update introduces a lot of new gamplay changes that I’m sure some of them will interfere with the existing content.
At the moment I’m making the final test to fix all the issues that I find, but it is always possible that there are way more that to ones I can find.

That is why the next update will be more like a preview that will be available only on Beta to allow anyone interested to test and find any potential issues before releasing the real update in the main branch.

I also need to point out something, do not expect new content, there will be changes in loadouts and some fixes in some missions, but the purpose of this update is not to add content. Most of the upcoming content is ready, but it only be added in a following update after there are the guarantees that these new gameplay improvements don’t have any undesired effects.

But now let’s talk about these improvements


For anyone that does not understand what this means is when you aim slightly ahead of the target so it increases the chances to hit the enemy by the time the projectile reaches that point. Basically it is like using the same as the helper that players use when dogfighting.

You may ask, how is this important? Well it is, I can guarantee you that just this change alone would be enough to require the next update to be released as test build first.
While this is a very simple change, it has a high impact in gameplay and overall difficulty of the game.
This means all AA units are now a LOT more dangerous, not just flying head-on, the moment you are near them there is a high risk of being shot down, so I recommend from here on avoid flybys near enemy units.

In addition, as this update will take a few days to be available it is possible that I also add the ability for the AI pilots use lead when aiming their guns.


Something that has been bordering me is how the AI controls some units. As there are units with very distinct specs, there were some where the AI isn´t able to have a precise degree of control when maneuvering them.

The goal of the AI is not to turn them into robotic and high precision maneuvers, but I think it is important, the AI should be able to adapt to any specs.
The biggest factor for being displeased with the previous control system is that even with all the collision avoidance routines, there were cases where the AI was simple unable to perform the correct maneuver to avoid collision.

So I think it will be interesting to try to dogfight with the new AI, they also make better use of acceleration to perform better in tight dogfights.
I might still use the old style but to give to AI personas with low piloting skills.


This update adds the ability to destroy all projectiles (with the exception of bullets and small shells).
However, only a few can be locked by normal aircrafts, most of the projectiles can only be detected and locked by CIWS.

This addition is to simulate a method of interception projectiles that is usually referred as hardkill.
The system in the game is simple, with this update most of the projectiles have HP like any other units and they will be damaged by a direct impact or a blast radius. By extension, explosions with large radius may neutralize all surrounding projectiles.

This can make a very effective way of defense, even with low Hp if you are able to neutralize any threat you become more impenetrable than any armor.
However there are some exceptions and weaknesses to this, small projectiles like bullets and shells won’t be possible to intercept.
And the ability to intercept will vary accordantly to the incoming projectile and specs of the defense system.

The defense systems must have enough time to aim and lock to be effective, not only that but it is always possible that they simple miss the target.
Actually, considering all tests I made up to now, the probability of interception is quite low, especially you choose a good angle to engage the target. Besides that, is always possible that the defense system is already aiming to another target.


This is the standard flares and chaff.
The code was already in the game but in a dormant state, it required some tweaks and a final test to be sure that everything was alright.

I´ll assume all of you are already aware what are the countermeasures, so I’ll move on to explain how they work in the game:
Each missile now has an electronic HP, in the game is called softkill HP.
Soft kill means when something is neutralized without damaging it physically.
In contrast, the CIWS use the hardkill measures.

Also each aircraft’s countermeasures can have different effect values, but for now, to be simpler all flares will have the same strength; the only element that will change is the SK HP for each missile.

But this is not that linear, there are several factors that affect the flare effectiveness.

There is the distance, the closer is the seeker to the target the more effective is the flare, the rate of release and the acceleration level of the targeted unit, if it is using afterburner it will take a lot more flares to be able to elude the seeker

In a way, this has been set in order to the player to be able to make a rough guess how many flares it will need to neutralize a missile, however, at same time all the variables and conditions make it hard to have accurate guess.
I sure the result will be that some players will try to use only the bare minimum while others won’t bother and it will waste flares like crazy.

Also, something very important, releasing flares don’t just make the seeker lose track of you, but also make it aim towards it.
So it is quite dangerous to continue to use flares after the seeker has been neutralized because they may aim to a new flare and explode near the player

Ok, let’s stop for a moment, I’ve been taking only about flares, but there is also the chaff, these are used to neutralize radar guided missiles, while flares only work for heatseakers.
Normally in the media we only see the use of flares, because they are cool and a lot more noticeable than chaff, but that doesn’t matter here, flares or chaff are completely ineffective against the wrong seeker. So it is important to be aware which seeker is in use to avoid wasting the wrong countermeasure.

For this, here is a tip, normally medium/long range missiles are radar seekers, while close range are more often heatseekers, with that in mind if you know the unit, the loadout it usually carries and where it was fired you can make good guess which countermeasure to use.

Also, for the players that are not concerned about that, there is the option to release all countermeasures at the same time.

But there is also another type of countermeasure, besides the expendable type, there are also passive countermeasures.

These don’t need the player interaction; they automatically create a surrounding field that any hostile missile that enters the field will be affected, even if it is not aimed at this target.
This type of countermeasure is usually less effective in soft killing the enemy, only if the seeker stays too long in the area of effect it will be neutralized, but due to the speed the missiles usually have this will hardly happen unless the area of effect is quite large. Instead, the purpose of this effect is to affect the accuracy of the seeker and lower the amount of active countermeasures required to soft kill the target

Part of a design choice, passive countermeasures are only applied to units that use noticeable ECM built-in by default, because for now it is not possible to select this type equipment in the louadout menu.

Some units that use this are:
P.125 ECR
S-37
Su-39MK2

(I’m probably forgetting some, but they aren’t that many, which is unfortunate considering the number of aircrafts that are available.
I have some ideas to expand this to other units, like being to select extra equipment as part of the loadout, with some performance penalty of course, however I don’t see this as a possibility for anytime soon, but it is something that would make units like the A-10 have an interesting teamwork role in dogfights)

And finally,


This is something that I’ve been feeling the need for quite some time, this allows the player to quickly test any missions that is currently working on without having to go to all the steps in battle scenario just to be able to test a mission.
This option allows to quickly jump to a mission with any aircraft and with any weapon.
Sure this allow players to play with units that are not unlocked, but I think in this case, at least at this moment, there is no reason to hinder usability for this kind o restrictions.

Also it has been added the possibility to save missions in a separate folder instead of the battle scenario or campaigns, this is for modders to maintain a better workspace without having the actual game filled with test missions

there are two other mechanics that I plan to add that may be included in this update:


After the bomb aiming system was fixed, I realized something that was bothering me for some time, bombing is actually, boring, and guided bombs are even more boring.
Basically what I´m saying is that there is no meta game in the bombing mechanics just aim a pixel to be over the enemy and that´s it.
To make it more interesting, each bomb should have it own CEP (Circular error probable), that will change accordantly altitude, speed and if the player is leveled.

This will also be applied to guided bombs, so each bomb will have his own level of accuracy that will also change to the aircraft used. Some planes will have increased accuracy, but event then the player must manage the CEP instead of just randomly throwing bombs.

Of course, for carpet bombing adepts, this will be irrelevant, but that is a waste of ammo.


This is just a fancy way to call the situation where an aircraft flying at low level becomes undetectable to a unit flying high in the sky.
This is to give a tactical tool for units like the A-10, Su-25 or jaguar be able to avoid or surprise enemy fighters.
If you are trying to lock to these units a simple solution is to lower the altitude and then the radar may be able to pick up the target.

Also, the closer the aircraft flies to the ground the higher will be the chances to pass unnoticed.

And this is what the next update will introduce.
At the moment I’m still fixing issues that were introduced with these mechanics, I’ll make this build available as soon all of them are corrected.
I’ve no exact day when that will happen but my guess is that it should be in the next days.
I’ll also let everyone know how this update will be available, because I´m not sure if I’ll use the “Beta” or create a new branch for this.

With all this changes I challenge you to fight the Ziz again.
Think this will be a good training because the Leviathan and others will arrive soon.

Stay tuned, more reports will follow.

Report 052: F-14

The report of the latest update is finally here, although this is not that special because the update I’m talking about was already released some time ago, the v0.9101 and v0.9102 versions.

Because this delay, I believe there is little to be said that you may not aware by now.

In other hand, now that the early access has been released I can’t make the mistake of assuming that everyone already owns a copy, so feel that I should post a proper report for them, but I apologize for this report being more simpler than usual.
In the next update I’ll try to release everything more properly timed.

As I said, this will be short report, only to reveal the new aircraft:

Let’s start with the G-303E,

It is not the very beginning of the F-14 family, but the rest of the elements will be added later.


It can be easily distinguished by the single tail.
(Speaking of prototypes, I also like the other proposals that competed against the G-303, but I’m not sure if I ever be able to add them)


The YF-14 was already in as a preview, but I feel I should post it here to have a complete family


The changes in the F-14 versions are usually very small, but you can easily spot them if you know the differences, in the YF case it uses larger wing fences.


This version of the F-14A uses the new tail, some of the F-14A did in fact used this tail, but after a file all F-14A produced were build using the definite tail.


The F-14B also known as Bombcat is an upgraded version of the F-14A which feature all the improvements of the F-14A+ plus a few new avionics.


Live most mass produced F-14, the overall aesthetic are exactly the same, which the only exception being the censors under the nose.


The F-14D, the final mass produced variant, the improvement is mostly only avionic and a glass cockpit, so everything else stays the same.


The Best way to distinguish the F-14 from the earlier models, is that the F-14 has two sensors are side by side under the nose.


F-14D Quickstrike features an improved radar and modifications for more stand-off weapons like the Harpoon, HARM and SLAM (Standoff Land Attack Missile) missiles.


This new version is mostly an avionics upgrade, so there isn’t much difference compared to the F-14 besides the ability to carry a more variety of weapons.


The ST21 stands for Super Tomcat for the 21st Century, it is upgrade over the Quickstrike which features a new glove area, the glove was enlarged to take the place of the extended glove-vane of the F-14A model.


Another noticeable modification is the single piece windscreen. This would have given the pilot a much better frontsight compared to the older Tomcats.


The AST-21, one of the final branches in the F-14, this variant has been adapted to excel it attack capabilities.


For what I gathered, there is no external change in the aircraft, so it will always be hard to distinguish this and the ST-21

And that is all the F-14 that have been added, does is this mean that this family has been completed?
Absolutely not.

There are a lot more variants to be added, but most of them will be fictional, as this is a very popular aircraft, there are quite few interpretations how more advanced variants should look.
I’ll try to address some of those interpretations in a way I see fit and then, to completely close the family, I’ll add one last unit, probably the one you will most likely look forward to, the STF-21.
There is very little information about this unit, so it will be an interesting challenge to build this last variant.


I’ll also start to post here the change list.
This information is more useful for anyone that is already able to play, but in the next reports I’ll explain everything in detail.

FIXED: F-16A Block5 Challenge
FIXED: F-16C Block30 Challenge
FIXED: F-104G-HA Challenge
FIXED: Crash caused by using the Action to change music
FIXED: FB-22-1 engine effect
FIXED: FB-22-3 engine effect
FIXED: FB-22-4 engine effect
FIXED: FB-22-5 engine effect
FIXED: FB-22A engine effect
FIXED: FB-22C engine effect
FIXED: Crash caused if an unarmed scene object uses an AI

ADDED: the turret sub object now stops firing if their parent or any allied unit is in the line of fire
ADDED: the possibility to use Grunt type AI in skirmish mode
ADDED: the possibility to change the size of mission bounds in skirmish mode
ADDED: the possibility for turret type sub objects be placed in a different orientation
ADDED: now the player gains play points even if he quits the mission
ADDED: Optional change target behavior where it selects the target close to the center (it can be activated in the options menu)
ADDED: option to rotate the camera around the center of the aircraft
ADDED: Waypoint mechanic for AI missions including escape and patrol routes
ADDED: G-303E Aircraft
ADDED: F-14A Aircraft
ADDED: F-14B Aircraft
ADDED: F-14D Aircraft
ADDED: F-14D Quick Strike Aircraft
ADDED: AST Aircraft
ADDED: AIM-9M1 missile
ADDED: AIM-9M8 missile
ADDED: AIM-54A missile
ADDED: AGM-65A missile
ADDED: G-303E Challenge
ADDED: YF-14 Challenge
ADDED: F-14A Challenge
ADDED: F-14B Challenge
ADDED: F-14D Challenge
ADDED: F-14D Quick Strike Challenge
ADDED: Stress damage to AOA maneuvers

UPDATED: YF-14 special weapons selection
UPDATED: JST-21 special weapons selection
UPDATED: J 35 Mod 4 Challenge
UPDATED: All sidewinder users before 1982 will use AIM-9M1
UPDATED: All sidewinder users before 1995 will use AIM-9M8
UPDATED: YF-16 can now equip as a special weapon the AGM-65A
UPDATED: F-16A Block5 can now equip as a special weapon the AGM-65B
UPDATED: default joystick dead zone to 200
UPDATED: Accentuated the difference of the campaigns difficulty levels (the player in easy and normal mode have more HP)
UPDATED: changed music in the intermission menu
UPDATED: changed music in the mission fail menu

UPDATE 0.9102

FIXED: change target option not saving configuration
FIXED: “Center” type of the change target mode not selecting some targets
FIXED: bore sight
FIXED: F-14A Gun position
FIXED: F-14B Gun position
FIXED: F-14D Gun position
FIXED: F-14D Quick Strike Gun position
FIXED: AST-21 Gun position
FIXED: F-14B special weapons
FIXED: AST-21 special weapons
FIXED: missing animation for the AST-21
FIXED: missing texture details for the pylons in F-14A
FIXED: missing texture details for the pylons in F-14B
FIXED: missing texture details for the pylons in F-14D
FIXED: missing texture details for the pylons in F-14D Quick Strike
FIXED: missing texture details for the pylons in AST-21
UPDATED: YF-14A Challenge, now it easier and uses the AIM-54A weapon


Well to at least add something new to this report, I’ll talk about the upcoming update.

The main improvement will be the completed campaign editor, the version you have at the moment is limited in some functionalities, like setting the skins which a playable aircraft can use. And lacked a unlock system were you were give access to buy new aircrafts after you clear the mission or campaign.

This is related to the idea that I’ll be focusing the modding capabilities in the next updates to have everything ready for when I add the steam workshop support.

As it was mentioned before, this next update will also introduce new families, like the F-4 and MiG-23, I will continue to add new aircraft families in the following updates until all of the initially planned aircraft are in, it will be only after that I’ll focus in adding the variants to compete the family structure.

This reminds me, I need to post a report stating what is planned for early access. It will list the essential features and content to go to beta and full version. Although you can be sure that I’ll add more than that (to satisfy my own desires and to address content/feature requests), but that is not the end, I can always add more stuff after release without having to resort to DLC. I just don’t want to stay to long in early access.

Delays are bound to happened, but my goal at the moment is to have it feature complete six months after it was released in early access.

As for ETA of the next update, there is quite a few steps missing in order to be completed, in addition to that I’ll need to take a least a full day to test everything since I made a few changes that may affect the gameplay code.

And that is it for now.

Maybe one more last question, the F-5A is leaving texturing phase, in your option is better for the update to wait for it, or to release as soon as possible?

Stay tuned, more reports will follow.

Report 051: Pre-flight Checks

After a long streak of delays, the release is finally taking shape with the steam page now online.
To anticipate the actual release, this report will be about what to expect of the game.
This information will be added in both the steam page so it can be available to anyone that is only knows VT by the page store, but also will also be posted to a new thread in the forums and it will be continually updated as the game evolve.

As for the release date, all I can say is play close attention to the coming soon tab in the steam store, it is the best way to guess when the release will come.

he following information is both directed to both players who where already following VT for a long time, but also those who only noticed it recently.


Let’s start on the gamemodes, VT offers an unusual range of game modes besides the typical campaign and multiplayer.

Quick Action mode
This mode is for anyone interested in quickly jump into action. Every battle is auto generated from the wining conditions to your aircraft.
Also to note that this mode uses only the aircrafts you have currently unlocked, the more you have, the more variety the matches will have.

Arcade mode
(unavailable in the current version)

Campaign
It is the usual game mode as it is expected, it features two campaigns, however at the moment they were built only to feature the gameplay elements, the story pieces and cutscenes will come after.
But, it is not limited to these two, the player can add as much custom campaigns as he likes.

Skirmish mode
If you remember those old strategy games which had similar named game mode you will immediately understand what this mode is about.
This mode if to quickly create dogfights in an arena like mode where you can edit all the battle field conditions.

Multiplayer mode
The current multiplayer is a variation of the Skirmish which it offers the standard Deathmatch and team Deathmatch rules.
This game mode will evolve as development progresses.

Challenge mode
This mode is the most unique of all of them, this mode was made to test your abilities and prove your piloting skills.
The first levels are simple and serve some sort of tutorial, but as you progress the Challenges start to become more complex and demanding.
Also this is the mode where you can unlock new units for Multiplayer and Skirmish.


I´ll take this opportunity to also post the main game features:

• Stay engaged from dawn until dusk and beyond with multiple game modes.
• Keep coming back for more with multiple missions via a series of campaigns.
• Unlock over 200 aircraft through a simple yet competitive Challenge Mode.
• Pit yourself against advanced tactical AI that responds to the world around it.
• Clash against titanic aerial fortresses and super-weapons.
• Duel with a myriad of Ace fighter squadrons, each with their own unique combat strategies.
• Modify your game with easy, simple modding tools and share your creations with others.

I should note that to be accurate, while this will be true in just a matter of few weeks, at release it will only include around 165 aircrafts.

But these are not the only features the game has; there are a few other important features that are usually omitted

• A detailed Weapons Flight model, even between weapons with similar role each has his unique characteristics, like acceleration, max speed, homing ability, etc. It is also very noticeable how more modern weapons are highly more effective that the first iterations.
• A detailed Stealth system, the makes the way you are positioned to the enemies critical in determining well hidden you are, some steal aircraft are only hard to detect in the frontal aspect, you must consider this when engaging a target. Also if you happen the weapon bays too soon, you will only make easier for the enemy to spot you.
• A highly advanced AI that adapts to the aircraft and weapons they are using and make you think you are actually facing other human players.
• You can change the battlefield conditions with and extensive Jamming mechanic filed with a variety of different effects.
• and finally it has more than a thousand of achievements to conquer.


Okay. With all the promotion of VT done, the next step to talk about that the early access release will have.

A quick overview, this early access release version of Vector Thrust is focused in providing a polished gameplay, highly indicative of the quality of the final product. While incomplete, all the main features gameplay are available and other secondary features will shortly follow.
In the content department, it also offers a large variety of game modes and a quite significant amount of missions and challenges that will keep you entertained for a while.

So if you fear the game is in early alpha, fear not, the game is well developed, especially if are looking for a solid for arcade flight game, if this is what you want, I guarantee this you will have it.

But to be clearer I’ll show what the game has in more detail.


The current version has over 160 playable aircraft.
This is just for now, because as the updates will start to appear you will notice how this number will rapidly increase, more 100 aircrafts are already guaranteed that will have. I you have read the earlier report you will notice a lot more are already in the development.

Also, for everyone who may not be aware, Vector Thrust organizes aircraft by families, each family will feature multiples variants, starting from the initial concepts to the late life speculative variants.
In this, some families display a more interesting evolution than others, some stay faithful the same overall appearance, while other display radical new looks in each variant.
I want to raise the awareness, that when you hear that it has more than one hundred aircraft, keep in mind that there are a lot of variants.

This is entirely subjective, aviations enthusiasts may love this idea, but if you are only interested in the most well known variants you may feel overwhelmed by this selection.
But don’t fear, the available campaigns have a more reasonable selection. Also, this wide selection has been setup so you experience each variant gradually as you unlock them one by one, and maybe, during this process you may find something interesting to your liking.

Also these are the main families that will be available in the release version:

• A-10
• F-15
• F-16
• F-22
• F-35
• F-104
• F-117
• J-35
• Jaguar
• Lampyridae
• Mirage F-1
• Mig-21
• Mig-29
• Su-25
• Su-27
• Su-47


Repeating what has been said before in the features, there are two campaigns one with 6 levels and other with 10 levels.
Each will have their own playable selection where you gain money to purchase beter aircraft.
While there is no story, there are dialogs during these missions, but these serve only to create the mood, help with the mission objectives/events and to serve as an example for custom made missions.

Also the missions are relatively short on time; each can be cleared in between 5 to 20 minutes, although this speed is determined how well suited the aircraft and weapons you select for this mission. Don’t expect to enter massive dogfights with an A-10 or you will be sorry.


At release, this game mode has only one mission that is a fight with a super weapon (Ziz)
This challenge is available right from the start, later this will be changed it will be only unlocked after completing certain requirements, because this mission can be quite hard if you are playing for the first time.
You may have noticed this is an ongoing theme, VT is hard, the AI is challenging, etc.

Well, to be honest, this game was made for veterans of Ace Combat and similar games in mind.
VT can be a difficult game, to ease a little it has added a simpler AI for most of the Campaign missions to allow the player to at least be able to breathe a little. If you feel confident, play either Quick battle or Skirmish, you can think that as a good training for the Multiplayer.
But if you are new to the genre, I have to prepare you, there is no tutorial at the moment, the best suggestion I can give you to start with the game mode below.


This mode is a series of challenges that start with simple task and quickly evolve to more demanding missions.
So this is perfect for newcomers.

This is mode is also very important, because it is in this mode that you will be able to unlock aircrafts for all other modes.
In the present version, it features over 50 challenges (around 1/3 of the existing playable aircraft)
This also means that only a few more than 50 can be unlocked normally on this release; however the campaign mode follows a different rule.


The current release features 5 different biomes in 38 maps (there is a place holder map in there as well)
The biomes are: desert, mediterranean, arctic, continental and tropical.

Given the context of the world of Vector Thrust, all the maps that have civilizations only feature very small urban areas.
Also, there are no tunnels at the moment; more unique maps will be added later.


There are also 33 mutators available for skirmish and multiplayer game modes.

For anyone that is not aware mutators are simple modifiers of gameplay, they can be added to a multiplayer match or a mission to completely change the experience.
Multiple mutators can be used at same time to give even crazier results, but obviously some are incompatible, but that I will leave for the player to experiment.


This is also an important point, there is a forum thread that is keeping track of the existing issues, and the tread will be updated with each new release.
Again if you are fear the state of this early access, I recommend you to give a look at this list to determine if the issues are a deal breaker or not.
Of course it is possible that there are more hidden in this release.

But a lot of dedication was paced to make this release as solid as possible, while there are some minor issues, but the game is mostly free from crashes.
The only exception is the game editor, it is the more sensible game mode so it is possible to stumble in some crash, the best practice is to save your file often.

And that is for the main content the game has, I don’t want to be too revealing so I will let you explore the rest.
As it stands now, with all that is offered I sure it will be enough to satisfy your hunger for a while, but in case you want more, then there is mission editor with multiple toys to play with.
But also in the next updates it will be added more missions and everything else.


With all that has been stated above, if you are not sure if this is for you or not, I’ll explain here to who I think the current release version is recommended for:

• Anyone interest in participating in the ongoing development of Vector Thrust.

• If you are looking for a solid gameplay experience. As it has been said before the existing package is already very indicative of the final quality.

• If you want to play with a variety with the aircraft selection, or if you are interested in playing with units that are not the usual standard fare.

• An action flight game that allows you to make our own custom missions, campaigns, units or any other element of the game with ease.

• Anyone that thinks he is an ace and no AI can beat him without resorting to cheats.


Then, in other hand, who I think this version is not recommended for:

• If you are looking for a complete game. For obvious reasons it is missing some content, story, missions, units and others.

• Bug free version. If you have trouble in dealing with bugs and issues or you become upset if you find unbalanced or not fully working game mechanics.

• Story driven campaigns. At the moment there are two campaigns but none has the story as it only will be added later. But even this, I’m sure some players will make their own story driven campaigns.

• A complete multiplayer experience, at this point the multiplayer is still on development. A solid base net code is being built before adding all the fluff the multiplayer nowadays has.

• Also, this is no simulation; this is an arcade flight game.


To be sure we are not eluding anyone; let’s talk about the incomplete side of the game. Well, it is on early access after all.

• Limited in menu navigation using only the controller/keyboard. Until this has been fixed some menu options can only be access using mouse. So if you plan to play with only the controller, have your mouse close by.

• It is not completely balanced. Every element is being constantly tuned, some spec are already close to final but some loadouts and some secondary elements need to be revised.

(Also as a side note about the AOA, it should have been limited to be used by only by a few aircraft. But after some thought, it will remain the unchanged so everyone can experience how the AOA works depending solely on the performance of the aircrafts.
This will help draw some extra feedback, but it will be rectified a few updates later.)

• As mentioned before, both campaigns are incomplete in narrative, both in story and cutscenes.

• The maps have little to no buildings or decorative geometry, some even use placeholders.

• Countermeasures were disabled for release because they require a additional balance in all the elements before allowing them to be usable.

• Game editor is incomplete, at the moment it has map, mission, and campaign editor, but only the last two are usable.

• Missing online Leader boards, this functionality in only active locally in the client side, online leader boards will be enabled later.
Because of the moment all the missions are subject to change so I think that comes first before enabling online leaderborads, but this system will be activated gradually as the missions and challenges become fully closed.

• Jamming system it is still heavily underused. It will be added more units to make use of this detailed mechanic.

• Challenges may require tweaks.
This applies for all levels, but especially the challenge, they are highly subject to change.
With the upcoming feedback from the players, they will be tuned and tweaked to give the right amount of challenge, to be difficult but also entertaining.

But something to note, in the current versions there are quite a few difficulty spikes, but some may be intended, the main branch will always be easier than obscure variants, but still I’m sure some of them will need some tweaks.
However some of the challenges have been already tweaked to an insane degree, one example is the NF-104A; it is a shame the leaderboards are not active for this challenge yet, because would like to see if anyone can beat my time in that level.
But we have a simple alternative for that, if you achieve ACE rank and you can be sure you are a highly skilled pilot.


This section of information is dedicated to the Alpha funders.

As been said before, but it case someone missed, the delivery of the keys is planned to be in the same day of release.
Unfortunately it will not be possible to send them earlier, nor can I give any guarantees how promptly you will receive your keys.
But I’ll do everything I can to deliver them as soon as possible.
It is possible that you receive a few hours earlier but it is also possible that you make receive them after the release.

Also, SlyCooperFan1, has created a tread about the subject, let me know trough there if you had any problem about this.

Also about game related material, “Doppelganger Battle” and “Survival Mode” missions were removed from battle scenario, they will be used in future challenges.
Some mutators were also removed due to their incompatibility with the multiplayer, but they will be added again when this is resolved.

Other small change, it is no longer possible to use the editor mode during a gameplay mission, but the debug mode remains accessible.
This option will continue like until it evolves into something else or be removed in the final version.

 


Something important to tell about the multiplayer, this mode is only available in a alternative branch.
You don´t need anything for this, and can use it at any time, you just have to change the branch you are using in the steam client.

Also, to be very clear, at the moment the multiplayer offers the basic package that is expected of this game mode, Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch.
This is also intended so it can be easier to find the simpler yet critical issues in the net code.

After this has been cleared, then will be added more evolved modes and other ideas that may pop up in the forums.

Other important point, at the moment, there are no private matches, something that will be added very soon.
This is very important to add quickly because otherwise I’m sure I’ll be assaulted every time I create a match to test some changes in the code.

 

Well that is it for this report.

But then the next question rises, what will be expected beyond the early access release?
That will be featured in the next update.
That report will be in the next days and it will show what is planned for VT, including what the final version will have and how it will be added during early access.

Also, one last point before ending this, there is an ongoing contest to win free keys in the facebook page.


I recommend everyone to give a try.
But if you are an alpha funder you will already receive your key so give the chance to win to others, but you are welcome to spread the word.

Report 050: Aircraft development

Well here it is the report number 50.
This report took me some time; I was sure what I wanted to show and tell, but at the same time it was difficult to decide how exactly I wanted to do that.

But before go ahead with the report, let me just say that I still don’t have no idea when it will be released.
I’m trying to speed up everything that I can, but in this case was either bad luck or bad timing.
I was aware that this process could either be easy or it could take quite a while. Usually the worst part is having a cover that everyone agrees, I was expecting the same but surprisingly the new cover was immediately approved. The trailer also went by fast, but don’t worry, I feel as soon the release really picks up the pace everything will be resolved in only a few days

With that out of the way, let’s move on.

So, what exactly this report will be about?

Well to celebrate 50th report, this one will be quite different from others, this time the theme won’t be about a new mechanic or content, instead it will reveal the processes of making new aircrafts. But no! Not a tutorial.

I think this is quite an important topic as I’m certain that when the game is released, there will be very often questions about when some plane will be available.

To address that, this report will also reveal which units are currently in progress and which particular step they are in at the moment.
Also to play a bit, I’ll also show some images and hints of units that are to come.


Making a new aircrafts can be a though process. Making an entirely new aircrafts can range from 2 to 6 weeks. And making a new variant can range from a day to a week.
As expected, the time it takes can vary depending of the shape of the aircrafts but also the information available.

About this, some fun facts, the quickest family to make was the Mirage F1, the slower and most troublesome it was the EF-2000, it was so troublesome that it earned some kind nicknames from myself.
It is not that I don’t like that plane, but I also don’t know why, but it was a pain to make.

Usually, about the time spend, when we think of the production of the new aircrafts the most common thought is the modeling phase, but while that takes a significant amount of time, very often that is not the most time consuming step.

But well that is why this report is here; to give the players a better perception of steps required to make a completely new aircraft:


Everything starts with the gathering all the materials involved to the aircraft.
But in this phase is just randomly collecting stuff while surfing in the web, without any organization or plan.

This is because, and I must confess that in most of the cases when I start this phase I feel that I don’t know practically anything about that aircraft.
But this is where I start to get an idea the potential size of the aircraft. Some already surprised me for having a lot more variants than I expected


For this step I only use simple online searches, and stuff that was posted in the forums.

Also to note, this steps usually takes place while other units are in development, so everything can be gathered with no rush, but this also means when I start to this phase is an indication that that I plan to begin the development of this plane soon.

Notable families that are in this state:

  • F-18
  • Rafale
  • X-32
  • Tornado


This phase starts when I begin to be a lot more active in looking for all information available about the aircraft, so I can gather everything and plan the development.

By let me start saying this, it may sound strange, but this IS indeed the most time consuming phase.
Initially one may think that making the game model is the critical part, but in order do that a lot of information must be gathered to recreate the models as faithful as possible.

To achieve that and to be fast and accurately as possible a lot of references are required.
The internet can be a valuable source, but as expected not every information can be found there.

So other valuable source of information is the traditional books.


These are just some of the reference books I’ve been collecting. A lot of information can be found here that is hard to find anywhere else.
They have been a great help, not only at developing aircrafts but every other unit type.

There is another source for reference that I realized that could be extremely valuable in helping modeling the aircrafts, plastic scale models.

This idea came because I was already a modeler before starting this project, so one day I remembered that I had some aircraft models stored and tried to use them as reference. I was immediately surprised how helpful they can be.

Not only but especially in the modeling phase, most of the times some aircrafts have strange surface details that are hard to understand using only blueprints or even with the help of pictures, but the scale models provide a unique view to the shape of the aircraft without most of the noise that makes it hard to perceive it.

With this I noticed on thing, the better is my mental image of the aircraft the quicker it is to make the 3d model of it.
So usually before starting a new aircraft from scratch I play around with the kit to have a good perception how it is shaped.

Also after seeing how helpful they can be, I started to gather some kits.
Most of them I have them already build, but I still have a small backlog.
Usually I build them with enough time in advance so I don’t need to stop at the 3d modeling to wait to have the scale model to be finished.

Also here is part of the backlog that I here in the office:


From this you can already guess what will be the next aircrafts to be added.
Of course I’m not always able to have a scale model with me, in that case I need to use other references or try to see pictures of the scale model in the internet.

And here is the finished models I have here with me, they are also a good hint of what is to come of what is already being worked on:

Can you name all the models in this picture?

Fortunately for me, I already was a collector of aircrafts scale models before starting VT and back then gave them a proper finish, but now they are mostly used as reference material so they don’t need to be painted.

But on rare occasions, when I have the opportunity, I like to pickup one of these models make them into a finish display piece.

These are the ones I have here with me:


The D-21 already broke off from the SR-71.

The others models that I’ve build before starting this were already used as reference and while doing that they also suffered a lot of accidents in serving as valuable reference material, so usually after they finish the job I store them in a safe place.

And that is what usually happens to every after being used as reference, these models usually end up with some pieces broken

One poor guy was the F-35 kit, thanks to him I was able to understand the intricate surface details at the bottom f the aircraft, but at the cost that this kit suffered a lot in my hands.

Like this:

The F-35B surrounded by other pieces that broke off and unused ammunition.

Considering this, I believe that it can be used in the credits the typical phrase, but in this case:
“Several Aircraft models were hurt during the development of this game”

But moving on, besides reference books and model kits, other valuable source for 3d modeling is aircrafts pictures, especially up-close, the ones known as workarounds.

Pictures that capture the whole vehicles are great, but these up close shots are the best.


There are quite a few sites that provide great pictures for that, although it can be hard to find stuff for the newer planes.

Practically almost all pictures that I use are from the internet, but although not very often I also gather some myself.


I would like to someday add this plane to the game, with this skin.

Notable families that are in this state:

  • Mirage 5
  • Mirage 2000


So after having everything the research, then it is time to work on the blueprints.

How this is done?
It starts by pacing all the gathered blue prints on top of others to see where the common parts are.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
But it can actually be quite tricky.

Right from the start I must choose the most reliable blueprint. For this blueprint it must have both a good resolution and accurate details.
After that, there is another tricky part, very often each blueprint has unique proportions, so overlaying two blueprints it can be very misleading in hinting shapes when in reality there is no change in that area .

After organizing several blue prints on study their relation they start looking like this

As you see the lines only roughly match, so it is important to have a good knowledge in where in reality these variants change.

Of course they are not used this way, they are worked individually, but they are placed this way not only to study the relation between each variant, but to also this give a rough idea how much space will be required in the UV mapping to cover all variants, this is very important as it helps me plan ahead unusual variants so I don’t need to re-map everything from scratch.
There have been some cases were that this didn’t happened, one example was the F-16XL, in that case I had to do the mapping all over again, that is why that variant was kept in development hell for quite a bit of time.

Notable families that are in this state:

  • F-5
  • Mitsubishi F1/T2


So after the blueprints are organized, I pick again the most reliable, throw it to the modeling program and start working on it.

A development pipeline that I feel is the most efficient is making the first model not a known variant, but instead a combination of the most common elements.
This means that I´m actually making fictional variant that in the end it will be unused, but after exporting it to the game and confirming that is everything is ok, I go back to editing this variant and use it as base to make each individual variant, usually starting from the closest to the common variant and end with the wildest aircrafts.

However there are some cases that this can´t be done and requires making multiple planes from scratch, for example this family:

YF-23 and F-23 are very similar, and they may look identical at first sight, but the shape of the body is completely different.

Other example is the MiG-23-01 and MiG-23-11, completely different models, they don’t share a single vertice.

Notable families that are in this state:

  • J-31
  • YF-23
  • Super Tucano


This is where the panel lines and paint scheme are added; in this I’m also include the process of mapping the vehicle.

Something to note is especially the processes of mapping, this phase can vary greatly the time it takes depending on the planes, flying wings are usually the easiest to make, in other hand, some of the older and slower aircrafts have a lot of intricate details, like the Su-25, making this step much more time consuming.

Concept or fictional designs, most of the times are a breeze to make, because the panel lines are guess work based in similar aircrafts of the same time and maker while trying to stay faithful to the available material.

However as usual, real aircrafts require studying a lot of the blueprints and photos available to determine were the panel lines should be added. And I can’t use just one or two blueprints as a reference, there were multiple cases that these blue prints were completely wrong, in this case walk around photos are really important

Also, if you see this type of reveal:

It means that at least the model has reached this step, and while you may think it is ready to go to the game you will notice now that there are quite a few steps ahead.

Notable families that are in this state:
None


This phase is where everything is exported to the game.

Very often this process happens before everything from the steps above are completed, the reason for this is to proof-check the progress so far and be able to changes the texture or the model without scraping too much work.

This is one example of a unit that reached phase but it will have to back to the modeling phase to make some improvements.

Note: is not that I don’t like you, EF2000, but I cont feel a good connection between us.

In this process also includes adding audio and visual effects. After this point, the aircrafts can be used as a in-game preview like some that you already have seen.

In this process the concept and fictional variants also have the advantage, unless something as gone terribly wrong there is hardly any reason to go back to the modeling phase.

Notable families that are in this state:

  • MiG-31
  • X-36
  • EF-2000 (this one will have to go back to modeling phase)


Well this is like the tin says, after the aesthetic part is ready, the model can finally be animated.


In this phase there no real difference in development time between real and concept models, the only distinction is that in the real models I need to be careful to animate the right moving parts. But even if I make some mistake it is quite easy to fix

Notable families that are in this state:

  • J-7/F-7


The following step is to gameplay values for the flight model and other details

If the game only had the very well know aircrafts, I have not doubts that the specs would have been base what is often perceived by the general public.
So it means an aircraft would be as good as it reputation.

But all this lesser known aircrafts and variants forced me to try something different.
Also one of the main design philosophies in the game is trying to be fair and avoid stereotypes.
So the solution was to make a system that would give me the game values depending on the easiest values to get weight, surface area, wing aspect ratio, etc.
But you may ask, how do you get the weight? Well, I use the same relation between volume and weight of a know variant or a very similar unit, as I’ve seen the values are usually very close so I have confidence this is the best approach.

These calculations were based in real flight dynamics, but I hardly believe they are accurate, but that is not the goal, go true aim is to everything be proportional and follow the same rules without bias.


This also completely fixes the problem of the fictional or wild variants; you probably may not notice the first time you play, but it is interesting to notice how much the performance changes with a simple modification in the wing design.

Notable families that are in this state:

  • MiG-23/27
  • F-4


After all that has been done this is the considered as the final step, so the aircraft can be released to the public.

This is where the aircraft is armed with its respective weapons, usually starting with the sub weapon, main weapon and ending with the special weapons.
But as soon it is equipped with the first two it can already be considered playable.

In this phase is also were I make the actual weapons for the aircraft in case there are not in the game yet.


After everything has been done, the last step is to add functional weapons bay. One reason for this goes to the fact that some units use very specific weapons and these weapons must be already done before adding the functional weapons bay so I can be sure they really fit inside.

Notable families that are in this state:

  • F-14
  • F-22 (Weapons bay)
  • F-35 (Weapons bay)


All the steps above are required the ones to make the aircraft playable, but in order to everything be truly complete, there is one other step required, make their respective challenge.

But to make good, tight and fun challenge, everything above must be truly complete, from the weapons selection to the aircraft behavior.
At the moment, only one third of the aircrafts available have cleared this phase, the rest is waiting for one of these reasons, either have their development truly closed, or waiting for new gamplay mechanics to add more variety in the challenges.

The early access will also help in this, not only to give more ideas, but also to balance the existing ones. During these last days I’m been organizing what will be released in the following updates and I plan to release a constant stream of a handful of challenges, probably less than ten, I feel that is enough to give time to everyone be able to play them before releasing the next update.

So that is it, I think the timing report was also suitable to give an idea what are the aircrafts more likely to appear after the early access release. I’m not sure if there will be another report before the release, but if that happens it will again back to the usual style.

Stay tuned, more reports will follow.

Report 049: Sea Control


The new report is here, as it was mentioned before it will be solely about ships.

I will also take this opportunity to talk about the current build and actual release.
At the moment the game is in QA improving and fixing any issue. The idea is to release it as polished as possible and a lot has been done in that regard, but there are still some issues remaining and some of these were requested to be resolved in order to the game to be released.

At time of writing these are the issues that remain to be fixed:

  • There is no draw screen received by the players during a multiplayer session after the multiplayer session timer has ended and none of the players have made any kills.
  • Sensitivity is too high on the stick controlling the camera that the feature cannot be used while playing the game with a controller.
  • The volume control panel is not functional.
  • The controller doesn’t work in the sub menus
  • The controller doesn’t have a default configuration.
  • Using the machine gun greatly decreases frames per second
  • Users unable to see the person who joins whilst someone is respawning
  • The team lives count from the scoreboard doesn’t work in Last Team Standing game mode in a multiplayer session.
  • The client hits on the host do not count during the first kill on the Deathmatch and TeamDeathmatch multiplayer modes.

 

So as soon as these issues have been resolved the game I’ll enter the release process and the VT page on steam will likely turn visible.
I’ll also let you all know as soon this begins.

Also related to this I apologize, I’ve been less active in the past weeks because I was focused in resolving all the issues as quickly as possible. Now that there are only a few left it shouldn’t take long to go back to the normal activity.

Now onto the report itself, but this time the actual report was written by FlyAwayNow.


The introduction of aircraft in warfare has, among other things, sidelined the battleships that have reigned supreme over the seas and oceans. This is no truer than in Vector Thrust’s world, where in fact aircraft have become the go-to method for most militaries to strike targets in general. That hasn’t meant that warships in their entirety have been ruled out of the equation, and even as the constant threat of Anti-Ship aircraft descend upon battle fleets of the more archaic thinking military commanders, they won’t go down without a fight, as is the testament of every good captain of any worth.


Battlecruisers, arsenal ships, destroyers, landing craft, carriers of all sizes and specializations, Vector Thrust does not lack in the naval compartment, and the roles they serve in the world are no different than in ours.
Despite the rule of aircraft, the ships of Vector Thrust do serve a very critical role in the world in the form of an international effort in the f‡ x+q0%úºcre Å x5110x9))-7110x740x690x6 of îüö: ███████████████.
On that note, here are several of these ships which will be at the helm of that blockade, and indeed in most of the notable navies.
Looks like we’re back where we started. This is FlyAwayNow, your local Black Ops pilot, providing you my analysis of some of the naval units in VT.

-Sovermeny

Currently one of the larger conventional ships we have in the inventory, and I do stress when I say conventional, this is also one of the older designs, predating the Great War. With enough maintenance and upkeep this anti-surface warship has become the mainline naval powerhouses for some navies, even four decades after its design was drawn up. CIWS on this naval ship, and indeed present on most of the larger surface combatants up the survivability on this class of ship considerably, both in point defense, anti-munition, and of course you pilots who dare try to strafe.


It’s certainly no battleship, not many of those that class of naval ship are left in the world, however for you more privateering mercenaries, there is a considerable bounty on one such ship that’s even older than these Sovermenys…
These ships are a step up from the Karel Doorman-class frigates, competing with the Arleigh Burkes in the same role, however the stars of this report are ships that are bit more… exciting.

-Sea Jet

A smaller ship, more intended for recon in coastal regions and rivers, for those of you who are well read with ships of this particular design, the Sea Jet was the test bed for the more advanced Zumwalt-class destroyer.
Unlike the Zumwalt however this ship poses no tangible threat, given you aren’t flying a prop or give anyone that has a firearm on this thing any time to get a bead in your gloating flybys.

Still it has stealth properties and a low profile, so anytime you do see one of these things, you best hit it because they’re probably ferrying some sort of spec ops team and what not.
You see one flying a black and gold flag and a pretty looking mermaid on the bow though, don’t hit it, that’s mine for when the agency lets me have a weekend off.

-Sea Shadow

A stealth ship of similar scope to the Sea Jet. Unfortunately, despite its looks, it is not a set piece of a secret spy movie in which a media mogul plans to control all of the….
I digress.
This ship is a tad larger than most ships with its radar signature, but as no real point defense. Any pilot worth his or her weight should be able to knock this thing out with little difficulty.
You either put out enough firepower to call the bluff of some pilots or you don’t be seen at all. A common trend, a trend have personally observed so far in unit testing.


The radars across the entire spectrum of aircraft is not penultimate, a lowly radar set on a MiG-21 cannot compare to the F-22s or the Typhoon’s electronics, and even then our fifth generation fighters can hiccup when it comes to unit detection. This is one of those units that can give advance radar systems a run for their money, especially since the Sea Shadow’s signature is only as big as one of a fishing boat.

-Visby

A corvette which has been designed within the last few years. Its main responsibility is patrol duties and ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare). Equipped with enough munitions to make a bad day for an unprepared cruiser, submarine or soldier on shore leave on a beach, these ships usually hug the coastal areas of their respective navies, and are seldom seen out deep within the oceans.


As with most predatory creatures of the oceans and seas, they hunt in packs, and as such you’ll get off easy if you only see one of these things on your radar on sortie.

-LCAC

Not as much warships as they are landing craft, these things spearhead most coastal invasions. Needless to say that taking them down, or defending them, is imperative in such an operation. These things go hand in hand with the escort carriers.

That being said the next few are such ships.

-P-48

Definitely on the smaller side of warships capable of launching and receiving flying machines, the P-48 is armed with a multirole turret up front as if to dissuade any attackers from interfering from its helicopter, VTOL, and UAV launching capabilities.

-SC-1D

On the surface, this would appear like an upscaled Sea Shadow with an added armament and a helicopter platform.
Well its face value pretty much is its true value.
Another stealth frigate with the capability to launch helicopters and the sort from a flight deck in its rear, its design and skids speak to a low profile and a low radar signature, just barely higher than the Sea Shadow’s.


It packs a punch on its own from a dual five inch gun and I have some of the more idiot pilots get shot down trying to hit one of these things, so, despite how small these things might look, if it has a modern fire control system, for God’s sake, don’t go in thinking your twenty millimeters will beat out that thing’s aim. Unlike the damn Udaloys or Sovermenys, these things were developed rather recently. No captain of one of these things will want a MiG-21 taking one of these ships out unless you ram the ship with it.

-NAM-16

A monster of an escort carrier, it’s probably the widest ship we have on record if we don’t count any of the EOS plans, and even then I’m pretty sure it is still the widest target out there in terms of naval targets.
Supporting helicopters, UAVs, STOL aircraft, and VTOL aircraft, this could be classified as the command center for any naval or landing operation. As such you are cordially invited to drop as much ordnance as you can on this thing.


Now this thing doesn’t have the full capability afforded to it like the Nimitz or the Admiral Kuznetsov, however it’s a bit more capable than the L-61 type.
If you’re looking for firepower and capability however, some of the more exuberant and well financed nations have put forth the following designs.

-Arsenal


As big as the battleships of old, these arsenal ships basically have a twenty five kilometer kill radius with the massive payload of several hundred missiles of all varieties. Hull redundancies have made these things hard to sink, but not much lends itself to any point defenses admittedly.

Anything with such a long stick however, and a competent escort fleet, wouldn’t need point defense now, would they?

Of course such a ship would have an impressive defense fleet, so dealing with the Arsenal ship itself won’t be your only problem.


However the concept of the Arsenal ships leave it vulnerable if the electronic advantage is not in its favor. Arsenal ships are named such in large part due to the armament they carry, however the amount of missiles they cram inside themselves doesn’t leave for much else. Aegis cruisers or even AWACS aircraft are required for the combat effectiveness of this ship to be fully brought to be…

_end of ships report.

Probably you may have been looking forward to this, but the EOS-04 wasn’t included in this report.
There were two reasons for this, one is that the weapons systems are still being studied and tested, and the other, a boss unit should deserve its own report.

Also I wasn’t able to include the Zumwalt on time, but that can be saved to another report, also I feel that even with all these ships, the current selection and variety is still small but that will be improved over time.

And finally to conclude this report, just to say the next will be the report 50, to celebrate the number that report will be special.

 

Stay tuned, more reports will follow.

Report 048: Game Editor Part 2


As the title says this report will not be about game editors, specially the mission editor

The editor has already available in the past, but because at that time, as the game was still on the process of implementing gameplay elements that would drastically change the core code, this made editor be considered lesser important to avoid refactoring every time a new mechanic is included and helped by the fact that at the time making new missions wasn’t really the main concern.

But now, as all the mechanics are in the core code, there won’t be any drastic change in the core code for the time being so the mission editor can have all the attention again.
This is especially important as the editor it will be on of the main flag ships of the game.

While the game is fully customizable and while everything in the game can already be edited using just a note pad, nothing should be beat the experience of using an editing tool.
For the release, main concern for the game editor, is to have the Mission and campaign editor fully ready. These two were considered the most important because, not everyone will have the possibility to add the aircrafts they wished to the game because for this it his needed some skills in modeling and texturing, and this may not be their cup of tea. But making new missions is completely different, everyone should be able to make them if helped with a good editor, and probably everyone has already a handful of ideas waiting to be realized.

Following this idea, the campaign has already been added, it hasn’t been mentioned before but the campaign editor is near 90% completion, at the time what only lack is complete the tool that selects which skins the player will be use in that campaign and setup the trigger to automatically unlock aircrafts and weapons

As for the mission editor, it already had an drastic overhaul.
Thanks to the challenges mode, it is being extensive and intensive tested. This lead to the introduction of new helper and optimizations to make the mission creation a lot easier and fun.

To be completely honest the first challenges I made felt like a chore, I felt something was mission with the editor, I wondered for quite some time, but as soon I had a solution I implemented it. And after that, as more missions were made the editor continued to evolve and now it is really easy to use. At this point I still have more improvements I wish to add, but it is already very usable.
But even now, I can imagine that a first timer may feel lost with it, as there isn’t any tutorial available. But this is something that can be resolved with tutorials.

But besides editor, I must confess the sometimes I become lost in making the scenarios, but for another reason, with the content available it is easy to make nice scenes and building a virtual world.

But the best part is saving the mission; fly a close by and then dropping some bombs in the place.

That picture above wasn’t the case, because it was just a quick demonstration, as you can see that is pretty empty outside the shot view range.

But this can potentially be very useful in creating cutscenes new the ground.
Also this can be misleading, but the roads weren’t added in the editor, they are part of the map.
Lately there have been some tests in making ground surfaces with higher detail and unusual structures.
(hint: tunnels, etc)

Also, about those vehicles in that screenshot, some haven’t been reveled yet, it a nice opportunity to do so,

First the M1069:

A variant of the hmmwv converted to be able to transport cargo and ammunition.


In the same way, the Type-73, is a variant of the Type-81 also converted to be a truck,

As for the aircraft that is in the right upper corner:

It is a reconnaissance UAV, the RQ-3 Dark star

But now going back to the editor.

Here is something it was recorded to show how quick and easy is to make a mission.

The criterion was to make a mission were a bomber is spawned 10 seconds after play and the player’s goal is to destroy it:

It took only 3 minutes to setup everything.
The video was recorded as is, so in the editor mode there will be a period without any sound.

One of the design philosophies is to be able to make missions as quick as possible, so has it was mentioned above, there has been added a lot helps and other tools that enable making missions with a few clicks.

But what do you think of this quick preview?
Are you interest in trying?

This report was something that I found that it could be interesting to shown now, maybe the next reports will be about other topics besides content, but the next will be about the new ships as it was promised.

Stay tuned, more reports will follow.

Report 047: Grunts and Aces

This time the update is to announce something different.
As it was hinted before, it is about the AI.

It has the expected improvements in making the AI more effective in killing the player; this update is also introduces something in a completely different direction.

But before that, let me confirm, the AI is now smarter with a more fine tuned logic that also fixes one noticeable bug the would result in the AI not avoid crashing to the ground, now if that happens is by their own mistake and not due to bug in the logic.

Also the AI players will now dynamically chose between the special and main weapon by considering the battle condition, ammo and each weapon characteristics, but like everything else, the personality may affect the selection, so it is not really a matter of always selecting the most effective weapon.


And that’s it, now we have an even more lethal AI. Awesome!
But in other hand, this also becomes a problem.

Veteran players or anyone that is skilled enough will probably be able to deal with them on even terms. But what about the players that jump into the game for the first time?
They are almost certainly jumping into a world of pain.

Something I also noticed with the existing AI, it actually does not work well in highly scripted missions, they are too unpredictable and engage the player in their own ways, it is great to create an emergent gameplay, but not so much if you want to create a sequence of well coordinated events.
This is also an issue, as the VT wants the players to create their own campaign, this could limit some scenarios.

For both of these reasons it was made new and alternative type of AI, that from here on it will be referred as the “Grunt type”, and the AI type that was here from the start it will be referred from now on as the “Ace type”. And this new grunt type was made to be used mostly on campaigns and normal missions.

But how different is the Grunt from the Ace type?
Right from the start, this new AI is the complete opposite of the Ace; it is bland, predictable and easy to shot down.
To have a better idea, the grunt type is the regular AI you will probably find in other similar flight games.
They rely on numbers and while they can still harm the player, their lack of skill is used to make the player feel like a true ace always in control of the battlefield.


In short the Grunts are best used for easy levels, large numbers, or heavy scripted levels.
Aces are best for bosses, or dynamic battlefields.

But that is not everything that is added in this regard.
To help the level design it was added two small tricks that can be applied to any unit and both AI types.

One that was inspired by the older Ace Combat, if you played them you probably may have noticed that some aircrafts on the global map simply do not move unless you get too close them. Although this not very accurate, this is very helpful in the level design, otherwise these enemies would simple move away from the area they were supposed to be protecting.
But to better fit VT this trick was been slightly changed from “The AI will only act if they are in the player’s view range.” to “The AI will only act if they are in the enemies’ view range.”
So if you have an AI partner the meets these agents they will fight properly without the need of the player intervention.


Another trick, is the hidden state, this makes any unit even if they are non stealth, hidden from the global map until they have been spotted once. This is great for ambushes, surprise attacks or even eater eggs.

Both these tricks are very simple, but open a lot of possibilities of making missions, something that should be explored not only in future missions, but also to be implemented in all that have been done before.


Something also to be revised/updated, the weapons loadouts.

The new idea is to make conceptual special weapons more likely to be found on conceptual aircrafts, prototype weapons and prototype aircrafts and fictional weapons on fictional aircrafts.
This is not golden rule, is more a guide line for arranging the loadouts for the aircrafts.

Let’s use this as an example, the UA-10D.

The ucav version of the A-10, a conceptual design evolved from the A-10C.


And it will be equipped with the AGM-124 Wasp
This weapon is like a real micro missile pod, it was made to engage multiple tanks at the same time.


And an example of a fictional weapon, it is not noticeable from this screen, but it is armed with a Gatling gun that starts to fire when is close to the target.
Despise the novelty it may have, it is only useful against large targets.

And finally something you will probably hear more from me in the future.
We need more ships!

The problem is not much about quantity, is more about their role in the missions.
Due to all the weapons systems some ships contain, each are like a small boss.
The problem lies in that most modern ships have very advanced Anti-air systems that can track aircrafts beyond visual range, this created a situation where one side we have completely inoffensive ships and the other side highly lethal ships.

So the real problem is that there is very little in between, as a result what is really need is more ships that serve as point defense with different characteristics to help bridge between the both extremes of difficulty.

To ease the content creation the new ships you will see added in the future will likely be either conceptual/speculative or fictional designs.

Here is a preview of you can expect to see in the future:

The STAC is a conceptual Trimaran carrier design; part of the “Avpro project”.

Also, all the ship units will be revised as well in other to have their own sub subsystems be independently targetable and destroyable like a regular boss.
And that’s everything for now.

Stay tuned, more reports will follow.

Report 046: Back from GDC

As promised this is report is to announce that I came back from GDC and into active development again.

I took a day off to rest, but I still feel that I’m recovering from the jet lag.

Also this report will be divided in two parts, the first is about the development that I manage to make in the last week just before going to the GDC, and the last part is my thoughts about that trip.

The followings are very small changes that have a significant visual impact.

The main one is the tweak of overall aesthetic, now the terrain and overall look have more vibrant colors.

Here is a comparison shot of the old and new version:


The idea was to too advantage of the cel shaded look and have a more distinct bright colors

The other one was on effects; it has been tested before but now has been fully realized; now all missiles and rockets have more noticeable flares.

New explosion effects have been added:

The last change that was added was to improve the aircraft’s visual feedback, especially for units that don’t have an afterburner. This new change makes the engine slightly glow red as the as the throttle increases.


Also as a correlation, the aircrafts no longer instantly afterburn, now each aircraft has a short period where the acceleration gradually increase.


Let’s start off with what was probably my own issue, because I never went to the GDC before, but I was expecting more a games festival, but the business aspect is the main theme of this event, so it was a bit disappointing in that regard.
But this is more of my impression, because I actually spent little time inside GDC.

Besides enjoying a city that I haven’t been before and be able spend a few days without touching the development of the game, something that I wasn’t able to do in ages, which was also great to step a bit back and see things in a different perspective.
But what really mattered and I think it was overall the most valuable experience I gained with this trip, was to be able to hear other developers’ stories.
In the last week, I spend the whole days with other game developers that iceberg is also publishing, namely Start Drive, Star Lords and Star Port Gemini 2. They are all great guys and besides enjoying my stay I used that opportunity to hear everyone own stories.
It ranged from their development priorities, missteps and stories of best and the worst moments and actions of their own community.

I also noticed that I was making a mistake, my priorities was to develop the game, then talk to the community and much later when I had time, talk a little with the press.
They told me that no matter the quality of the game I’m making, if I don’t leave my cave to spread the word no one will know or care what I am doing.
So, learning from what they said, from here on, that the main priority should be to talk to any press whenever I have the chance because, they combined with the community, are the most important factors that will determine if a game relevant or not.
This should not be translated in the time invested, but for example at the start of the day, which should be done first.

But besides all that, I have to say, I was very positively impressed by the Icebergs, I was already grateful for their support, but meeting them in person I saw that they are really great.

So I can say this trip was absolutely positively, made me grow as a person and as a professional, it also inspired me to immediately jump into to the development and make VT even better.

Before closing this report, I took a lot of pictures in this trip, but they were more about hanging out with these guys and probably not very relevant to this report.
But I’ll leave here one picture of me with the Icebergs and Star Lords and Star Port Gemini 2 developers in the last day of my stay.

Stay tuned, more reports will follow.

Report 045: F-35

This report has finally arrived.
This one took awhile, I feel this report was probably the toughest to make. Not by its own fault, but the production was always interrupted other matters.

One of them is, as some probably already know, but I’ve been invited by the Iceberg to go to the GDC next week.
And the preparations for the trip and the event, made it more difficult to find time to finish this report

But now thinking back, this made me realize, a report per month is not a good flow of information, especially if we want to build anticipation for the release, so in the future I may have to see alternatives or use help to add faster reports.


This image was already shared in the forums but as there may be others that do not know it here is the mock up of the final HUD:


The final HUD has some revisions from this mockup, but this is what you can expect how it will look.
I feared that the cyan color could be difficult to read, but in actual gameplay against multiple lighting conditions everything worked fine so far, still it can be change at any time in the configurations.

Also in this Hud is now customizable, I won’t say “fully”, because unlimited customization won’t be possible as some of the UI elements are placed and moved dynamically to adapt to every aircraft and game mode, but it is possible to completely reskin the UI elements.


As for the family that will be presented in this report, the F-35, this family is somewhat unique as it main aircrafts are is still in development and there are already lot of speculative designs.
While some appear to be more credible, it’s safer to assume that this in a special family composed mostly by fictional units.
But something I always wondered is why, besides the significant amount of fictionally designs that popped up in the last years, the F-35 doesn’t seem to share the same amount of popularity of other modern aircrafts.
Also this family has a lot preproduction designs, much earlier than the X-36, but at this point there were skipped and only to be added on later date.

So let’s start with the main unit:

The F-35A is your run of the mill Fifth Generation multi role fighter. Conventional Takeoff and
Landing, something noteworthy in this family, this variant has internal cannon.


Intended to replace the F-16 in capabilities, this first variant of the F-35 is reasonably the smallest when compared to its descending variations further down the line.


The next unit is the F-35C, very similar to the A variant, also a multirole, but with much larger wing spawn that allows it to fly at lower speeds.
However it does not have a gun installed by default.


The F-35C variant is capable of dealing with operations expected on carrier deployments, thus leading to such features such as its ability to fold its wing and the capability for catapult launches. Its larger wings built for slower landing speeds also speak to a larger payload and range.


Similar with the A version but with no gun and two seats, the F-35D is for training proposes.


As usual like most trainers it offers better capabilities against ground units, at the cost of additional weight.


The F-35E, a fictional multirole, it was heavily inspirited in the YF-23 wing layout, making this variant the most easily identifiable of the entire family.


The F-35E, besides the new wing designs, it is oriented on stealth, ECM, and solo capabilities. Ideal for deep strikes in enemy territory, this is perhaps one of the most advance aircraft the player is able to fly.
Coveted by regular air force pilots and well-to-do mercenaries alike, the F-35E’s capacity for the art of war is only kept back by its pilot’s ability.


The F-35M a delta winged attack variant, much like the FB-22 and its own variations. Increased
wingspan and payload size at the cost of mobility.


While still capable to engage fights, his forte is against ground units


The F-35U is a strike variant with is a revised version of the M variant with larger wing spawn.


Although at first impression it may look like it is more agile than the last one, but this variant actually loses some mobility in comparison to the F-35M due to the additional weight.
But on other hand it allows it to fly at lower speeds and higher altitudes.


Another functional design, the F-35X is dedicated fighter that follows the trend of adding reverse swept wings in conventional aircrafts.


The F-35X is a fighter variant with FSW to enhance maneuverability like it is usual for this wing design, but also gains all the typical disadvantages of this type of wings.
Even without the TVC engines of the Su-47 or the lightness of the F-16 FSW, this is actually the aircrafts with the highest pitch rate in all the game at the moment, making it the beast of the tight turns.


The FB-35 is the ultimate Strike variant, perhaps a design inspired in the FB-22C.


Very specialized in attack ground targets, but has very poor mobility. However to compensate that, the FB-35 has the lowest frontal RCS in all the family.

This is not the final list of F-35 variants, so don’t be surprised if you see another F-35 variant on the battlefield.

Also you may have noticed that there is no B variant, the reason is because there is no VTOL nor landing mechanics at the moment, so this variant will be postponed until this feature has been added.


This was something I was interest in fixing for quite some time ago
In the alpha, all the performance specs of the units were given based on what was the most popular perception of the capabilities of that aircraft. In a way it was great since it made as most of the units performs as what people expected of them.

But the problem started when it were added units that never appeared before in any media.
They didn’t carry any preconception like the others, so how good would they maneuver? To avoid this issue, the performance of these variants was mostly a variation of any existing similar unit.

The result was ok, but I wasn’t completely satisfied, because this made that some of the crazier variants feel not so different than the original.
Other idea I also wanted to debunk is the mobility of the aircrafts is higher as the technology advances; this idea is very common on other games of the genre, but not very accurate.
This idea meant that an FB-22-5 would be more maneuverable than a smaller and lighter F-5.

So my idea to fix this was to make a formula that can generate the performance values by imputing known attributes, like volume, engine thrust, wing aspect ratio, surface area, etc.

Since we are dealing with a lot of obscure aircrafts, there are some of the values are guesses by what it’s available, for example weight is determined by volume, using a similar ratio of weight/volume of another known aircrafts with similar shape and era.
It is safe to assume that this formula is far from being scientifically correct, but it actually follows the aerodynamic principles of how these elements affect each other. Still, the point is not to make an accurate simulation, but more a coherent and proportional representation of each aircrafts attributes.
But to my surprise, actually some attributes that some aircrafts had before are quite close to the new ones.
Also, with this you can expect that lighter fighters like the F-16 with relative low weight and fly by wire technology to be much more agile than other more modern and heavier aircrafts.
This is also great because these results are completely unbiased, and while they can still be refined they already display far more interesting characteristics than before.


Before closing, as it was mentioned above, the next week I’ll be attending the GDC the whole week, so if you are going there too I hope we have chance to meet.
But for those that will unable to be present I’ll try to make a report after this week, to share everything that was relevant.
In that week I’m not sure how available I’ll be to reply to comments or forums post, but I’ll try to stop by whenever I get the chance.

As for the future report there is still a lot of aircrafts to make the official reveal, some have been already hinted, other appear in screenshots, but future reports may probably be a little differently, they could be either directed to mechanics, weapons or other types of units.

Stay tuned, more reports will follow.

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