Good afternoon Pilots,
For this July update we'd like to share with you all our latest news on several of our projects, including the much anticipated A7E Corsair II for DCS World, as well as update you on our other projects and our general plans, timelines & goals for the remainder of 2020.
We aim to be as transparent as possible with all our development, so we apologise that this update has been along time in the making! We've been heads down lately, busy with our P-38L project for X-plane 11, which has been serving as a sort of test-bed for some of our new simulation methods being developed for the A7 Project. With the P-38 now nearing completion, we're happy to say that our focus will be shifting over onto the A7 completely, so you can expect to receive much more regular development updates from here on out for the Corsair.
A7E Corsair II for DCS World
Let's get things started by discussing what we've been up to in terms of development of the A7 Corsair.
Firstly, the bad news: Unfortunately we don't have much to show in terms of Art development as of right now, so there aren't many flashy screenshots attached to this update. Expect that to change very soon! As previously discussed, with the programming work expected to take significantly longer to complete than the visual art, our Artist has been diverted onto our P-38 project whilst we progress further into development of the Corsair. With the Lightning almost complete, Art is now being refocused onto the A7 full-time, so you can expect to see progress updates coming through regularly.
Much of our development time thus far has been spent learning the ins & outs of DCS World and it's complex code structures, learning how systems work together and the flow of information within the sim. Admittedly this has been a daunting but necessary task, and we're pleased to say that we are making excellent headway and now beginning 'the real work' of developing the aircraft FM & systems.
With that out of the way, lets get onto discussing some of the specifics what we've been working on and what we have planned:
SFM & AI Model Development
One of the first & most important phases of development is the creation of the SFM (Simple Flight Model), which is used by the AI for flight. The SFM serves as a great starting point as it is not only essential for AI Flight, but also provides a data foundation for the EFM. Work here has progressed rapidly and SFM tuning is nearing completion, with weapons testing & AI behaviour to be examined next.
EFM (Flight Model) Development
Creating the Flight Model for the A7 is undoubtedly one of the most complex & difficult aspects of creating the simulation, and is receiving the appropriate time and care within development. Our EFM is being built in several phases; starting from simple and being refined & updated repeatedly to achieve the depth & realism of simulation we are aiming for. Currently we are working to complete Phase 1; a simplified FM that incorporates the key equations of motion & fundamental flight physics simulations accurately.
We are experimenting with multiple approaches of FM simulation, however it is likely we will use a hybridised combination of blade element theory, CFD analysis & data tables to create our FM. Ultimately we believe in this case the end is more important than the means; our number 1 priority is and always will be to create an A7 that flies as true-to-life as it possibly can, and we will use any combination of techniques to achieve this.
Building Core Flight Systems
At the same time, work is progressing in development of the aircraft's core systems, specifically the fuel, hydraulic, electrical, flight control & oxygen systems. This is of course a hugely complex task given that virtually every detail of each system is being simulated; not only what you see & control as the pilot, but also everything that is happening under the hood to power & control these systems. To give an example; each facet of the electrical system is simulated & modelled; from your generator RPM & electrical output calculations, down to the most minute details such as the resistance & impedance of wires within a circuit.
As these systems provide the foundation for more complex weapon, navigation and targeting systems, we will be developing these systems first before moving onto the aforementioned advanced systems.
Photogrammetry & New Art Technology
Whilst our Art team hasn't been actively working on the Corsair, we have been working on integrating several new workflow techniques for the A7, with early tests providing some very exciting results. Specifically, Alex has been experimenting with photogrammetry & 3D Scanning techniques, which can yield stunningly accurate results in a short amount of time.
Thankfully we've had several people assisting us here by providing pictures, videos and reference material for us to work with. We are always looking for more however and if you think you might be able to assist in this department by providing reference material, please feel free to contact us directly via our website.
P-38 Lightning for X-plane 11
We're very pleased to announce that our P-38 Lightning for X-plane 11 is almost complete! While we aren't giving an exact release date yet, we are happy to say that beta testing will be beginning very shortly and we are quietly confident you will see the P-38 in the virtual skies before August :)
As of right now development is wrapping up with Livery creation, Particle FX creation and tuning (including new tyre, dust & skid FX), 3D Sound placement & Distance tuning and finishing off VR integration. The User Manual is also in development now, and will be made publicly available on or just before the release date.
Plans for 2020+
As we've stated previously, we will not be taking on any further DCS projects until the A7 is 100% complete; our goal is to ensure that the A7 reaches the highest standard in the fastest possible time-frame, and we don't wish to compromise that by taking on another project as complex as a DCS module. After the A7 is released & complete, we will be open to the possibility of beginning another project.
Earlier in the year when we first announced the A7, we speculated that we had hoped to have the module ready for release sometime towards the end of 2020. We must inform you that after working on the project we have adjusted our release expectations into a more realistic time-frame; we're sad to say that the A7 will not be ready for release in 2020.
We understand how frustrating this news will be to many of you, and we wish to deeply apologise for setting our expectations far too optimistically. During these last few months of development we have realised that in order to achieve our goals of achieving maximum realism & fidelity, we will need significantly more time than first anticipated.
It's still too soon for us to give an accurate time-frame; we hope that you will forgive us for not being able to provide one at this time. We can say that we expect to be working on the project for at least another 12 months from now; again please take this with a grain of salt and remember that this can and (likely) will change during development.
After the release of the P-38 Lightning, we will be slowing our X-plane work for a period in order to prioritise development of the A7; therefore we are not expecting to release any new X-plane modules in the next few months.
We will however be releasing updates for our current modules, in order to bring them up to the standard of the P-38 and incorporate our latest simulation methods.
Once we are in a place where we feel comfortable enough to begin working on another X-plane project, there is a strong likelihood that we will be reviving our F-117 Nighthawk module and continuing development on that. We feel that our development skills have come a long way since beginning the project, to the point where we feel comfortable we can create a high-fidelity simulation of the F-117 that meets our growing quality & realism standards. This will be a long-term and complex project; you can expect to find out more about the project towards the end of 2020.
Please note for the reasons mentioned above we will not be considering the F-117 for DCS anytime in the near future.
Images below are old WIP images from 2019.
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020
While not official & not yet set in stone, we are very excited to announce that we fully intend to port some of our modules into the visually breathtaking MSFS2020. Expect to hear more later this year!
We hope that this update will help quench your thirst for information; we apologise that we don't have more to show right now but we look forward to sharing these longer updates more regularly (particularly for the Corsair).
If you have any questions, comments or feedback, please feel free to share it with us via any of our media channels listed below:
Thanks All & Stay Safe,
Dan & Alex