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Creator Highlight Month 2022: RedKite

Creator Highlight Month 2022: RedKite

No matter our passion, we like to pursue it with dedication. But there always comes a point where learning by ourselves becomes an issue, and it is in these situations where people such as RedKite come into the picture. Someone who is willing to share knowledge and spread it around, allowing others to improve faster than they would have otherwise. Our third interview for Creator Highlight Month 2022 (CHM) is with RedKite, a video creator and game dev who dedicates himself to making elaborate video tutorials, reviews and showcases mostly for DCS World. I have personally been a fan of his content for quite a while, finding it to be some of the best out there when it comes to creativity and dedication. He also dabbles into retro flight sims from time to time. We had the honor of being able to interview him and have him as a guest in our CHM. Hello there and thank you for accepting our request. Let’s start right away. Could you please tell us who you are and a brief description of what you do? Hello! I run a flight sim YouTube channel, that's generally considered by the community as the 'Gold standard' for long form DCS video tutorials, and occasional DCS science and gameplay videos. I'm also a part of a hobby indie dev team, having released 'Pipeline VR' on Steam recently (A pipe building panic/puzzle game). How did you come up with your name? Is there any story behind it? RedKite came about because of a beautiful bird by the same name. When i was young it was all but extinct, but thankfully recovered to become a fairly common sight in England. I've a couple living in a large oak tree by my home, which I see each day, to which I owe the channel's name. How did you get started with flight simulation? Was it an early childhood hobby or did you pick it up as an adult? If it was in early childhood, what is your earliest memory you have of a flight simulator? Fairly early on in childhood I was exposed to flight sims, my Grandfather served in Coastal Command with the RAF during WWII, so I've always had an interest in flight and often went to see air-shows. 'Chocks away' was the first 'flight sim', which I'd play in split screen co-op with my brother! Another strong memory, is that of the bomber attack quick start on 'MS Combat Flight Simulator' (1) which was my first experience using an analogue joystick to shoot down Ju-88s or He-111s in a spitfire and seeing the bullet marks appear on my canopy! While your primary focus is Digital Combat Simulator, you occasionally cover retro simulators. Are there any simulators from the past that you would recommend people try? F-117A Stealth Fighter 2.0, which I covered recently still stands up and provides unique stealth action gameplay, if you can get past the graphics and janky controls. More recently, I'd thoroughly recommend Il-2 1946 especially if you like WW2 pacific carrier operations, something sadly not present in modern flight sims! What motivated you to start making YouTube videos about DCS: World? In particular, what motivated you to start making long-form tutorial style videos with some variety content from time to time? I heavily struggled getting into DCS and gave up a couple times initially. This was in part due to being dyslexic, which makes all the manuals a serious labour for me. Videos helped me through that, and I decided to return the favour by producing my own when I noticed a lack of videos of the quality I wanted. I started with il-2 Cliffs of Dover tutorials (although not public) My first DCS tutorial was on the Harrier's Mavericks. It received good attention, including from Matt Wagner! That encouraged me to keep on making them, and also provided me with a means to help cement my own learning. What is the process you go through when planning out one of your tutorial videos? Do you start by studying the aircraft system or do you like writing down the script first? It'll usually start out by writing condensed notes on how to work a system from the manual and getting experience using it and special use cases. Then break it down into segments for presentation. Most of the time I'll write a script, occasionally live speaking prompts. Scope is always a difficult one, a lot of viewers try to jump in the deep end and ask for absolute basics to be included (like sensor of interest (SOI), basic HOTAS and aircraft logic). So I try to cover these separately so as to not bog down an already complex topic. Shots I usually come up with on the fly listening back to the video's script, without much fore-planning. All said complex videos can take 10-20hrs or more to make. When it comes down to DCS modules, do you have any particular preferences for any aircraft? Would there be a module you would recommend to beginners? Personally I love modern western aircraft; The top spots going to the A-10C II, Hornet and probably the Apache soon! But I do have a soft spot for Cold War era analogue aircraft like the MiG-21, although I don't get on well with the heavily number based Viggen computer! I'd always recommend you buy the aircraft that interests you the most, not the one that's 'easy to learn' or the 'meta' aircraft for multiplayer. But it comes with a caveat: You need to make sure your HOTAS is up to the job, learning an A-10C on a Thrustmaster T.Flight is going to be a bad time, owing to it's meager button count. The Flaming Cliffs 3 level A-10A or full fidelity F-5E on the other hand would be perfectly manageable.

You do have to do a little mental preparation and accept you won't be good at a module day one, it's a commitment to learn in DCS in-depth. Which is where people often fall down, not the aircraft itself. DCS is incredibly complex, not just the full aircraft, but navigating, communicating, fighting and surviving combat on top of that! So you've got to pace yourself to avoid frustration. When you start studying a new DCS module, how do you approach it? Do you study differently if you know the subject is going to go on a video? If I'm doing a pre-release preview I've usually only got 1 week, so I'll always learn everything I can prior to access, taking notes. Then do the startup just once, skip to air starts and learn systems people would like to see. I've found this works well for me because I've built up vast knowledge that transfers over from other aircraft. But I'd never recommend this approach to a beginner, not least because you won't have access to developers to talk you through confusion occasionally. Learning properly without time pressures I'll always work myself up doing lots of notes, learning basic flight and weapons before hitting the hard stuff. I build up 'cheat sheets' with instructions on each task condensed without explanation to reference once I'm flying. The very process of making these notes is a big part of helping you remember it. You did a great video showcasing the T-45C mod by VNAO. Have you tried any of the other high fidelity community mods? I'd meant to cover them both by now, but sadly time doesn't permit me to. I've flown the MB-339 a tiny bit, and the A-4E a fair amount. I do love the terrain avoidance mode on the A-4E, very impressed they managed to model it, although i find it rather tough to land on a carrier well! Nearly on par with the full fidelity modules you can buy. If I could afford to commit more time to YouTube I'd happily cover them, but life gets in the way! With 'review' videos being one of the most time consuming to make. Is there anything you would personally like to be added to DCS World? A lot of DCS's core is very outdated; AI 3d models, AI behavior and general quality of life features are what I'd like to see the most (such as afterburner detent setting, Radio integration, weather, interactive startup checklist kneeboards, FLIR) Outside that, an overhaul of air refueling with basket and boom physics would be great, being one of my favorite skills. That and a dynamic campaign engine because I hope it will bring in lots of AI and mission optimisations, to allow for a greater focus on player driven mission planning and co-operative play. There are many DCS World campaign previews on your YouTube channel, but Raven One seems to be the only campaign you’ve recorded from start to finish. What was it about this campaign that piqued your interest? I'd read the Raven One book prior, which had gotten me into it. I'd been meaning to start doing campaigns generally, so this was a natural progression into it. In the past I'd struggled greatly to produce worthwhile 'let's play' videos, scrapping more than a few, being unhappy with the quality of commentary and or flying. I was finally starting to get comfortable doing it by the time Raven One released. I've got my eye on more than a few campaigns I want to play through on the channel in the future! Did you have any contact with Kevin Miller, the author of the Raven One book or with Baltic Dragon while doing your Raven One series? Indeed, I have talked extensively with both. You'll also spot Kevin Miller in the comments on a number of the Raven One videos! Kevin was very kind in regards to feedback on my carrier landings and provided me with a lot of tips, critique and praise on my performance around the boat. He was very impressed with my Case 3 recoveries during the campaign, and was plenty happy to tell me off when i did something wrong! (like crossing the catapults by mistake on the clearing turn after launch) I'm very thankful he took the time to watch and talk with me.

He put both me and Baltic to the test with the bonus 'Working the Wake' multiplayer mission; doing attack patterns which was a good laugh to play in multiplayer with Baltic Dragon.

Kevin rather enjoyed being able to see his creation brought to life in DCS, along with the little cinematic extras I did. So much so, you might just recognise the voice of a certain British exchange pilot in the next DCS Raven One Campaign! What kind of flight sim gear do you own? Any interesting stories behind any of them? I've picked up a lot of gear over many years and reviews! My Force Feedback Microsoft Sidewinder 2 holds a special place, being a technology sadly lost to patent trolls today. It was for the longest time my go-to stick for flight sims prior to DCS. The physical feedback and variable resistance was awesome. A Viripil WarBRD, CH rudder, and Thrustmaster Stick/Throttle make up the core of my current setup. With WinWing and Total Controls providing auxiliary panels and TM MFDs on monitors. I also make use of a WW Orion with Hornet handles occasionally. My WH Throttle has the Delta-sim slew stick mod, and in general I've 3d printed realistic switch toppers for many controls. I took up 3D printing as a hobby this year, and produced my own modifications and button boxes for my flight sim setup. Including an inline button box for my Viripil desk mount, designed and made myself. Taking advantage of the empty space in their design, filling in some gaps in my controls. I intend to design and build a radio panel (like those found on the A-10c II) some time this year. My setup is a little ram-shackle with a mixture of old and new pushed together, and even a few bits of cardboard propping things up! With two 10 slot powered USB hubs hooking it all up to my PC! I'd love to build a proper sim pit one day, but my computer needs to remain suitable for office work too.

Recently I've been 3D printing the freely available Authentikit Spitfire Mk. IX parts which i plan on building soon! Which is really exciting, being a scale replica of the controls set, so keep an eye out for that! We saw that in a couple of your videos you show VR footage of some modules, which headset do you have? Do you prefer flying in VR or with head tracking? I own both a HTC Vive and Valve Index. I immensely prefer VR flying, however despite owing a Nvidia 3080, DCS just doesn't run VR at an acceptable level of performance for me. So I stick to TrackIR. This works out better for videos too, as VR is not great for viewers. In IL-2 great battles I'll usually use VR instead, owing to better performance. But most of my VR use is on room scale games. I really can't wait for the coming optimisations and vulkan support, hopefully they'll make VR worthwhile in DCS for me, as the sheer immersion and extra sense you gain is not only great fun, but helps improve your flying precision greatly! Although I'm not 100% sure I'd ever fully replace TrackIR as it's just so much more convenient without the extra setup and encumbrance. We would like to thank you once again for accepting our request to interview you. Do you have any final thoughts you would like to share? YouTube has been a massive time sync over the years, I'm really proud of what I've achieved for the community, and honored to be held in high regard. The YouTube algorithm hates long form high production value content. So all the support from everyone in the DCS community, has made a huge difference to the channel's success and is the reason it continues to exist despite YouTube's demoralizing ecosystem. Thank you Everyone! About the Interviewer Santiago "Cubeboy" Cuberos Longtime aviation fanatic with particular preference towards military aviation and its history. Said interests date back to the early 2000's leading into his livelong dive into civil and combat flight simulators. He has been involved in a few communities but only started being active around the mid 2010's. Joined as a Spanish to English translator in 2017, he has been active as a writer and the co-founder of Skyward ever since. Twitter | Discord: Cubeboy #9034

Airforce Delta Storm: The Forgotten Rival in Deadly Skies

Airforce Delta Storm: The Forgotten Rival in Deadly Skies

Have you ever gotten into a rate fight with two MiG-21s welded together at the wings? I have. It might seem odd to review this series with its middle installment, but it may be the one that I can be the least biased about. Airforce Delta--known as Deadly Skies in Europe--was Konami’s answer to Namco’s Ace Combat. Before Project Wingman--before HAWX--there was Airforce Delta. I want to be blunt about this; It’s a competent answer, despite some of its lackluster presentation. This series gets mixed reactions at best, trash-talked at worst. I won’t deny that it flat rips off Ace Combat at points, but it brings enough to the table to carve out much of its own character. So let’s start with the game that has the least character to beleaguered-ly make my point! Airforce Delta Storm is the sequel to its progenitor on the Dreamcast and it effectively takes the formula that the original game developed and builds a new strategic movement system and a semi-realistic flight model into it. Developed for the original Xbox as a launch title, anecdotally, locating a copy was difficult for a time due to its release proximity to September 11th, 2001. Airforce Delta Storm was not the only game that disappeared from American shelves at this time—many other flight games were removed on a voluntary basis by retailers at recommendation by the United States government. As OG Xbox consoles become rarer, we should be so lucky that this game is part of the Xbox 360’s backwards compatibility library with minimal issues. You will run into sound and music issues at times, where both will fail to play, but they will pick up upon the next action screen. In fact, the Xbox 360 has a distinct advantage to the experience of this game; Airforce Delta has the rare ability to remap virtually all controls. Three control configurations are available for your flight experience: Novice—this is a familiar bank-to-turn setting that mirrors that of the novice controls of Ace Combat Expert—As traditional as it can get for a flight shooter game, granting you all six degrees of freedom. Ace – Similar to expert, but assigns a separate function button to the airbrake and holding throttle inputs like that of a traditional aircraft thrust lever. I reviewed this game using the Expert control set, emulated on the Xbox 360. To try to grant myself an accelerated re-acquaintance with the controls, I remapped the controller to mimic Ace Combat 7’s button layout the best I could. The infuriating insistence on all of these flight games to arbitrarily swap the gun and missile around the lettered buttons can create an exercise in patience and frustration. That said, about a quarter of the way into the game, latent brain programming tried to take over and I found myself starting missions with the Y button held firm—this correlates to the acceleration key in the default control layout. The first mission sets you up for the lackluster story and unintentionally humorous narrative. The over-the-top presentation of the narrator and your fellow pilots (whom you will only see in cutscenes) is almost meme worthy. Taking place during a resource war between your Allied Forces and the they’re-bad-because-we-say-so United Forces, your haves take on the surprisingly well equipped have-nots in a near-future world war set in an unnamed fictional continent with just-as-fictional regional landmarks serving as your mission areas. Sitting pretty in an A-7, your afterburner-less attack plane is tasked with destroying a landing force escorted by a lackluster naval and air contingent amidst a backdrop that has more shades of brown than a SCAR 17S. However intrigue does exist here: The aircraft models are gorgeous for their time, exceeding that of the game’s PS2 contemporaries. If it wasn’t for the lack of passive anti-aliasing provided by a CRT television I feel these models could stand up to modern scrutiny by more discerning eyes. Lighting is showcased here, with reflections off your aircraft from the setting sun feeling reasonably natural. Engaging in dogfights with the miniscule fighter escort on map exposes a use of aircraft that we still rarely see exhibited in this genre, like the FC-1, which DCS players may recognize as their coveted “Jeff”. The A-4 is versioned “V”, and getting a close pass to it forces you to double take its unusual planform. You already know you’re in for something a little different than previous fair. Then you’ll realize that you can’t use the right control stick for view swivel and start sweating bullets that you can’t eye-follow your targets. You’ll get used to it, honestly. But you’ll also notice a lack of threats on the map. This is something Airforce Delta suffered from early on. I can’t help but wonder if development was inspired more by flight simulators, where reality would dictate significantly less density of air power deployment. However, I theorize this is also a holdover from the original game for a different reason—But that will wait for a review of that misunderstood Dreamcast staple. Regardless, this in some ways might be a big reason this game fails to garner support by wider audiences. Airforce Delta Storm is not as fast paced as its contemporaries. Like mentioned, attacking a target takes a little more deliberation and snap-decisions for opportunities require something of a target chain. All in, this means that missions are also somewhat short, with a lot of passive flow to target areas. A mission accomplished state is accompanied with little fanfare. This follows with a replay that executes camera movement like that of a flight documentary from the 1990’s, and I love it. Replays are something of an also-ran feature of flight combat games, but they continue to be included and innovated. However, Airforce Delta’s system remains the most mature. The camera angles feel natural, like another aircraft is taking the shots. It flows well, it focuses on the right events at the right times, and I don’t feel another game has paralleled it since. In fact, reviews of this game have in the past praised the replay system in particular as a strong suit of the game, and I’m glad it got the love it deserved. Sure, we have more options for free-view now and todays free camera mods can afford gorgeous still shots, but Airforce Delta’s views make me feel like I could take what I’m given and live showcase an aircraft perfectly with it. Which I might very well do at some point. Time will tell. The most frustrating part about the replay feature will be your need to skip the replay each time you execute any mission. Airforce Delta Storm elects to use a semi-realistic flight scheme. Borrowing a term Ace Combat 6 used to describe the simple control scheme of Ace Combat 2, the aircraft that you use experience significant “recoil” upon control input, much like a real aircraft would. You can’t just point your nose like Ace Combat, you have to really drag yourself through turns. Acceleration and deceleration are arcade-traditional but thanks to the control layout using push button controls there’s no potentiomers in use, meaning you’re effectively accelerating to full throttle or braking fully with a set linear progression. Combined together you have an aircraft that actually follows realistic physics maybe a little too much for the comfort of the casual player. Maximum speeds are dictated by altitude and power—it is a chore to break Mach 1 at surface level. Your aircraft has an optimal maneuvering zone between 250-450 knots or so, where turn rates are optimal. There’s no accelerating during turns here—you bleed speed quickly in some of the early-tier fighters, and God help you if you try to climb after an extended pursuit. Thanks to this form of flight control, you will find that you will need to think more strategically to attack enemy units, allowing yourself more space for strafing and forcing more advanced maneuvers in pursuits, since both instantaneous and sustained turn rates comes into play. This discipline starts to loosen up with more advanced aircraft, to the point that aircraft possessing the highest mobility have such low recoil that they very nearly mimic the handling of the original Airforce Delta. These advanced aircraft are easier to come by than you think. Within the first ten missions you can go from A-7, to F-5, to F-4, to F-14, to F-15E and already be well into mid to mid-high tier performance. The performance difference between aircraft can be almost wildly noticeable and manage to give each fighter a distinct character despite lack of such modern amenities like special weapons—you’re stuck with a limitless cannon and a magazine of missiles that varies depending on the fighter, with more advanced fighters granting more ammo. Moving from mission-to-mission is setup in a non-linear board-game like fashion. This is where the game starts to show some real innovation. You start at an airbase where you can select primary missions, purchase new aircraft, alter your game settings, or simply take off. Selecting a mission briefs you on your objective, you select and aircraft and then hit the map. Here you will see multiple branching paths and two sizes of red dots, representing territory. Small dots can be permanently taken, and red dots can be temporarily taken. Advancing past this enemy territory requires completing a short, randomly generated mission (of about six missions or so, dependent on the geographical terrain the mission is set on) to take the territory. Holding temporary territory starts a countdown based on the amount of “turns” you take on the map. This is where the range stat on your aircraft comes into play. For example, if you have a range stat of 1 each movement you make on the map deducts 1 from the countdown on the temporary territory you took. If you have a range stat of 2, it deducts 1 from the range counter for every 2 moves you make, etc. This strategic gameplay enables unique mission ideas, such as “wandering” missions, where a need to intercept bombers or an ace enemy pilot has you chasing the force around the map. Range takes another part here. Bombers may be “slow” in so far as you can catch up to them using an aircraft with a low range of 1 or 2, while fighters may be “fast” and require you to use an aircraft with a high range stat of 4. You will get frustrated very quickly as the enemy moves a space for every space you move, making catching them nearly impossible. They’ll fly right over expiring enemy territory too, forcing you into another mini mission. This demonstrates another feature—ammo conservation. Your ammo counts are set upon take off from base, and each mission you conduct before landing again saves your missile deductions. There have been many a time when I’ve finally made it to the primary mission only to realize I have too few missiles to fight this effectively. Your gun’s got a punch, but dogfighting with it can be difficult. The nuances of the strategic map system can be frustrating, no doubt, but the innovation is appreciated. In fact, it creates something of a demonstration of the trade-offs of non-linear vs. linear gameplay. Even with the bland story you’re presented, the timeline of cut scenes is so butchered thanks to the gameplay that it’s hard to follow what’s happening. The overarching atmosphere of the game is presented in a mixture of subdued and high-strung music and a somewhat dank and bleak UI. The sound effects aren’t much to write home about, though the noise balance of the background to missile hit and enemy destruction can be sort of satisfying. The music is heavily synthesized, though less so than its predecessor. It doesn’t come off as unique or as strong as it did in its Dreamcast outing, even as it uses reinterpretations of those old songs, with the most poignant example being an interpretation of Home Air Defense used for Battle of Castalia Sea. The first mission’s music is a strong original outing, but the quality dips in and out as you progress through levels, sometimes being an outright assault on the ears for someone who might not be too fond of that dirty, distorted metal sound. It’s sort of unfortunate that the music takes a hit here—again, its competent, just not too memorable, and since music and gameplay really go hand in hand, I think it plays a part in what makes many missions forgettable. The UI is toned dark, with use of deep greens, blues, and browns. There is some attention to detail here I appreciate, like the different airbase portraits in the background of each different airbase menu you navigate that change depending on where you land. Backgrounds rely on geographical landscapes, which give this sense of fighting somewhere barren everywhere you go, despite the missions themselves taking place over more varied terrain than presented. It’s here however that this game fails to live up to its predecessor—terrain variation seems to be anywhere from Amazon Rainforest to American Southwest, but you never seem to fight over arctic or tundra or snow-capped mountain regions. Though given that the conflict you’re fighting heavily implies a post-global warming type environment, I’m wondering if this might be intentional. Your mission briefings are generic and lifeless, with your still-portrait command staff giving you voiceless orders to complete a mission. The portraits themselves feel very Metal Gear Solid-like, which I’m guessing is intentional given this is a first-party Konami outing. Hell, one of the portraits is a spitting image of Solid Snake. But I’ve come all this way without addressing the elephant in the room, which I teased a bit in the tactical gameplay section: Original aircraft. This game is packed with them. Like, crazy packed with them. The PAL version of the game has 80 aircraft in total, with nearly half of them being fully original, fictional variations on real aircraft, never-produced aircraft concepts, or parody aircraft based on Konami properties. In fact, aircraft diversity is probably one of the greatest selling points of this game. Once you unlock the MiG-21II FishbedZwei, you’ll find yourself immersed in a rabbit hole wondering just how crazy these things are going to get. In fact, the “real” aircraft selection set is sort of mediocre. Many of the aircraft are just family variants. However, this is one of the only Japanese-produced flight games that had the guts to include Chinese aircraft, like the aforementioned FC-1 (known more commonly today as the JF-17) and the J-10A. There are also some other welcome obscurities, such as the IAI Lavi and the EMD variant of the X-32. The manual even teases that the X-32 apparently won the JSF competition in this universe, resulting in the completed fighter we see here. But the tiers of original designs just make you come back for more. Look no further than the Su-23U “Furnace” a tri-engined monster of an aircraft that clearly has Cold War design considerations, but has no basis in an actual known aircraft. These aircraft vary in improbability, from the F-18S AiraCobra II—effectively an F/A-18E with all-moving canards, to the XF/A-27 Pleadius, which is what happens when John Boyd gets his hands on the F-22 and declares that it “NEEDS LESS WING LOADING” and injects it with four of the 26 genome sequences of the MiG-29. Despite the overall weirdness and some feelings of “OC donut steel” that they put off, I can’t help but adore the creativity. The fact that the manual even fleshes out fictional histories of some of the aircraft is icing on the cake. Perhaps the most unfortunate part of this from my North American perspective is that we’re short on aircraft this side of the Atlantic. As I previously mentioned, there are 80 aircraft available in the PAL version of the game. The NTSC version knocks this down to just 74. Perhaps not a big loss, but I lament not being able to use the S-55 Flanker-O or the Super Entendard. Looking back at Airforce Delta Storm today is a mixed bag, just as it was back then. It arrived amongst a sea of flight shooters at the time, and was clearly developed as a showcase for the Xbox’s graphical fidelity. In this, it succeeds. It also succeeds in creating a functional game filled with potential. But it’s not for everyone. Airforce Delta Storm was not as major a hit as its rival at the time, and how could it be? Just two months prior, the PlayStation 2 would receive Ace Combat 04, arguably the most important game that franchise could hope to have. Side-by-side, Airforce Delta Storm couldn’t stand a chance—Ace Combat 04 was a shining star in a genre of mediocrity at the time. But for those of us that still had to make a choice in the waning console wars, we went with what we had, and we played it, dammit! Airforce Delta Storm was my path, and I don’t regret it. The reason I want to emphasize that this game is worth a second look is because it is still well built and polished for the most part. It lacks much of the jank that games like Lethal Skies or Top Gun: Combat Zones would bring, despite their greater feature set in the former, or name recognition of the latter. It tried its best to start distancing itself from its Ace Combat influence, and was built by a team that clearly had some passion for the genre and for aviation. It’s eccentrics are subtle, but they’re there, and they’d lead into that same team “Project FUNK”, to pull out all the stops and go off the rails into a sequel built for the system rival that was too far ahead of its time to be appreciated. Airforce Delta Storm might be something of a footnote, but to me it’s an important one. It holds a personal historical weight for me as well: If it wasn’t for Airforce Delta Storm, I’d have never played Ace Combat 04. And, well… it’s easy to see where that led me. About the Writer T.J. "Millie" Archer T.J. "Millie" Archer is Life-long realist and aviation enthusiast. Once the co-founding Administrator of Electrosphere.info, the first English Ace Combat Database. In the present day he is freelance, roving the internet in search of the latest aviation news and entertainment.

Showcase: DCS UH-60L Black Hawk Mod

Showcase: DCS UH-60L Black Hawk Mod

Even before joining the development team in late August, 2021; I had already set my eyes on this community-made module. It was that feeling that pushed me to offer myself as aid for the project as a 2D artist, which has been quite the interesting experience so far. I would like to thank both Kinkkujuustovoileipa (Kinkku) and Jonas for letting me be a part of this project. The following article is meant to be a showcase of what will be seen at launch. This is not a review, just a showcase. Additionally, my opinion might be biased seeing as I have spent hundreds of hours working on this mod to make it as good as my abilities would allow me, so please do try the mod out and judge it for yourself. I will also provide some insight as to my side of the development, which was creating most 2D assets. EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL MODELS The UH-60L has a custom, almost fully-clickable cockpit. This UH-60L cockpit layout is accurate to Lima models from around 2009, which is the version we decided to replicate due to the accessibility we had to its documentation.

The texture work was mostly made by me. I aimed for a somewhat weathered look, without going overboard. Instruments should be accurate to the ones installed in these birds. We used schematics and reference sheets when able, as that would ensure proper calibration of the instruments. It is not perfect nor is it the most realistic cockpit out there, but I am proud of what we accomplished here. I really like how they look when viewed from certain angles: Night lighting required a lot of work to get right as well. So please make sure to fly this beast at night, it is quite the experience. Here is a recent shot of the lighting in action: We also took the time to model the rest of the cabin with its seats, did all the animations for switches and buttons, implemented the displays, etc. I hope you like what we did here. Now onto the external 3D model. The one we have now is quite a new addition to the project, in fact. But it was the piece that allowed us to finally take the final steps towards a public release. Its unwrapping could improve in some areas but what we have is good enough for an initial release. It is fairly detailed and animated but we did have to re-rivet it and detail it further with normalmaps inside of Substance Painter, which gives it a better look overall. We added the capability of installing/uninstalling the External Stores Support System (ESSS) alongside its drop tanks. It also has all of its external lights, which even change depending if you have the ESSS installed or not! It will ship with 12 liveries at launch: 6 U.S. military birds, 2 foreign operators (camo), 2 search and rescue birds and 2 fictional liveries. Here are all of them in one picture: SYSTEMS AND FLIGHT MODEL This is the part where Kinkku did most of the work, alongside contributors such as Dorian. It is still not feature complete but all critical systems have been modeled, as well as many of the secondary systems. Here is a short list of systems what is implemented at the moment: Functional radio Fuel systems Partial electrical systems Air to Air Refueling Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) Command Instrument System Panel Advisories and caution lights connected to aircraft system Doppler GPS Navigation ILS Navigation VOR Navigation ADF Navigation Radar Altimeter LC-6 Chronometer AN/AVS-7 Helmet Mounted Display All of these systems are fully functional and will be available at launch. At the same time, what I personally consider to be the most impressive aspect of this mod is its custom external flight model (EFM). We used the open source AH-6 EFM by Nibbylot as a base, but most of this has been rewritten and tuned to accurately represent a UH-60L as per based on performance charts, studies and subject-matter expert (SME) feedback. The Stability Augmentation System makes flying it a breeze. Here is an extract from our quick start guide as to how it works:

The Automatic Flight Control System is comprised of four main subsystems - the stabilator, SAS, trim and FPS systems. The Stability Augmentation System (SAS) provides improved stability and damping in all axes. The Boost system provides electromechanical assistance to the pilot inputs. The Trim & FPS system provides control positioning and basic autopilot function It is a pretty complex system but, as a pilot, it is incredibly useful. It eases the workload a lot, making the Black Hawk one of the easiest helicopters to fly in-game, at least to me. INITIAL LAUNCH, FUTURE AHEAD This is only the initial release version of the mod, as there are still aspects that we want to improve and work on, as well as features left to implement. I personally hope that you enjoy this mod as much as I have enjoyed being one of its developers so far. It is quite the project, with many moving parts, but I am happy that I was one of the cogs that kept it moving along this far. Fly it and enjoy it, it is free. About the Author Santiago "Cubeboy" Cuberos Longtime aviation fanatic with particular preference towards military aviation and its history. Said interests date back to the early 2000's leading into his livelong dive into civil and combat flight simulators. He has been involved in a few communities but only started being active around the mid 2010's. Joined as a Spanish to English translator in 2017, he has been active as a writer and the co-founder of Skyward ever since. Twitter | Discord: Cubeboy #9034

Creator Highlight Month 2022: Wolfpack345

Creator Highlight Month 2022: Wolfpack345

Those enamored by flight will pursue it wherever it can be found. It's the type of passion that drives people to look up when they hear an aircraft overhead during their everyday lives. This same passion is not restricted to aircraft, but to any kind of vehicle whose size and magnitude stuns one's mind at the mere sight of it. Submarines, tanks and war machines all do this. Our second interview for Creator Highlight Month 2022 (CHM) is with Wolfpack345, a video creator and streamer who mostly covers historically-focused games, be them flight games, submarine simulations and tanks battles from WW2 and beyond! We had the pleasure to have a delightful interview with him and are honored to have him as a guest in our first CHM! First off, we’d like to thank you for accepting our interview request. Could you start by introducing yourself and telling us a bit about what you do? I am happy to conduct an interview! Thank you for having me! I run a YouTube and Twitch channel by the name of Wolfpack345 and Wolfpack345Live respectively. I mainly focus on Air Land and Sea simulation content on the channel. I do try to do things a bit differently than just showcasing gameplay however. I try to make my videos cinematic, and I also like to inject RPG elements into these sims I play on the channel. Additionally like a lot of people interested in these types of games I do have a passion for history. I integrate that passion into my content as well. How did you get started with flight simulation? Do you have any early childhood memories about your early experiences with them? I first got into flight simulation with the first iteration of the IL-2 series. Around that time I also played some Combat Flight Simulator 2 and 3 but I do not remember them as fondly. I am a bit newer to the genre than a lot of other folks. That being said I played loads of the original IL-2 and some of those campaign missions in the 109 and IL-2 will stick with me forever. I still have the original disk! Along with Forgotten Battles, Pacific Fighters, etc. Your channel is mostly WW2-centric for almost every game you cover. How did you grow to like this era and what aspect do you consider to be the key one that caught your attention? The Second World War has certainly been an interest of mine for a while. Naval combat and more specifically submarine warfare is what I would consider to be the key area that catches my attention. That being said I am fascinated in the air war as well and my interest don’t only lay with WW2. I find the First World War extremely fascinating. Especially when it comes to the aircraft. I do feature a good amount of WW1 flying on the channel in Rise of Flight and Flying Circus. The reason WW2 is so prevalent on my YouTube channel isn’t really due to lack of interest in other time periods. It mainly has to do with what is available game wise. The Silent Hunter series covers the two most prevalent submarine campaigns of WW2. Other than that, there is not much in the way of modern subsims. Dangerous Waters is a modern submarine simulation released in 2005 however it has not aged as gracefully as Silent Hunter 3 & 4. That being said it seems things are changing. Of course there are more WW2 games coming out that I am interested in like Task Force Admiral however there are also more modern naval games on the horizon like Sea Power and Modern Naval Warfare. I am positive all of these titles will be main stays on the channel. Which other flight-related titles have you played that you personally enjoy but that you haven’t recorded yet to your channel? As far as titles go there is only one flight sim that I am interested in but have not played on the channel and that is Wings Over Flanders Fields. A WW1 flight sim that looks like it could be tons of fun! There are plenty of modules I would like to showcase in DCS that I have not shown on the channel. The MiG-21 for example is an aircraft I would love to make videos on and will be doing soon. Same with the P-47. One of the most popular franchises that you cover in your channel, and one that I particularly enjoy, is Silent Hunter. What would you say that is the factor that attracted you to the series? Is there anything in them that you would think is shared between it and your passion for flight sims? Silent Hunter 3 & 4 are two of my all time favorite games and Silent Hunter 3 probably takes the number one spot! I absolutely love the tension and thrill these submarine simulators provide. There is absolutely similarities between flight sims and subsims. Just like in aerial combat in naval combat positioning is more than half the battle. Both of these genres certainly reward patience as well. Taking your time to acquire more information before diving on a target or engaging a convoy can prove to be extremely beneficial. If you rush in you may just miss a destroyer nearby or a 2 more Bf-109s looking to bounce you. How long does it usually take you to make a complete video from start to finish? I suppose it varies a lot from series to series. Oh boy… The answer is… it depends. My Silent Hunter 4 videos are the ones that take the most time. Silent hunter is a rather slow game to play and a lot of the time you are just waiting around or chasing the enemy down. It also depends on what I am trying to do in the video. A lot of times I will spend lots of time working on a transition that maybe only a handful of people will notice but it is all about learning new things and implementing new editing techniques. I always try to improve; it is a never ending battle however it gives me a sense of satisfaction when I see a finished product. I am quite proud of my latest content, but I am sure in a year or so I am not happy with the quality. I feel this way about my older content now haha. When I first came across your channel it was due to your IL-2 Great Battles videos. What is it about IL-2 that made you make it one of the primary titles in your channel? I do play a lot of IL-2 on the channel! One of the main reasons for that is its career system. I love the ability to make a pilot and try to keep him alive as long as possible. The “dead is dead” style of gameplay really appeals to me (in flightsims and subsims) and allows me to tell a story over the duration of a Youtube series. I have a history of playing a lot of Role Playing games and I certainly transfer some of that into flight simming. The career mode in IL-2 (and Rise of Flight) makes it very easy. Additionally, I like the variety that IL-2 brings to the table. Lots of aircraft and fronts to take part in and learn about! Despite having a preference for WW2 aircraft, you do have some experience with Digital Combat Simulator (DCS) and its mostly modern set of aircraft. Is there any aircraft that you particularly enjoy over the others? I really enjoy the early Cold War jets a lot! I love the F-86 and would be ecstatic to see a proper Korean War scenario in DCS World. As of late I have been flying a lot of the MIG-21 and 19. Both are really fun jets with a lot of character. Although I prefer the older stuff, I do find my self in the Hornet a lot and it is probably the modern jet I am most proficient in. I have been dabbling with other modern aircraft though. Such as the F-16 and F-14. As I play more and more DCS my interest in these aircraft has increased. As for the more modern aircraft in DCS such as the Hornet, what has been your experience with them so far? Is there anything you have personally liked/disliked about them? The Hornet was my first full fidelity module in DCS and it has been one fun ride learning it. It has been a very rewarding experience learning that aircraft. I still remember the first time I did AAR. There is not much I dislike about these aircraft. I just like aircraft that try to kill you a lot. The Mi-24 Hind was way more fun than I expected. I have had a blast flying that helicopter. We’ve noticed that you cover IL-2 Great Battles a lot more frequently than DCS on your channel. Is there something about IL-2 that attracts you to more to it? Like I previously said the career mode for IL-2 is fantastic and I would love to see something similar in DCS world. You recently released an article about how DCS is multiplayer dependent, and I agree that it is. Although I love flying multiplayer it is a bit harder to craft stories around these multiplayer sorties. I try to make my content unique, and I have just not found a way to do that with the multiplayer missions. I do tend to stream DCS multiplayer, however. The other big turn off for making DCS content is the replay system. With how finicky it is it can really be a chore to make content with it. I do have plans for more DCS content. I did the Hunters over the Yalu campaign on the channel, and I loved it. A new series will be coming soon. Have you flown any of the World War II aircraft in Digital Combat Simulator? What are your opinions on them as someone that primarily flies in IL-2? I really enjoy the WW2 aircraft in DCS! I have primarily flown the P-47 and love the way it handles. I do want to do more with it for sure. My main issue with DCS WW2 is the plane set in conjunction with the maps. The BF-109 K4 and FW-190 D9 just don’t line up with the time frame of the maps. That is kind of a turn off admittedly. I think that is why I like IL-2 more for the WW2 stuff. Just the sheer amount of variety really makes me feel like there is a war going on. The world feels more alive to me. Of course, like everything there are tradeoffs, DCS for example has some strategic bombers which IL-2 lacks. Both are fun and do some things better than the other. The Korean War era “Hunters over Yalu” campaign is the only full DCS World campaign you’ve recorded. Do you have a favorable opinion of Korean War era aircraft in DCS? I do have a very favorable opinion of these aircraft! I think they are very unique and loads of fun. Unfortunately, DCS doesn’t have much in terms of content for these aircraft. The Hunters over the Yalu campaign was top notch and I would really recommend it but there is not much else for the F-86 besides that campaign. There is even less single player content for the MiG-15. I would love to see the Korean war properly done in a flight sim. I do believe it is a very interesting conflict and would be a blast if properly done. In addition to that I think the Cold War would be a great place for DCS World to expand in the future. So many fun platforms and unique gameplay opportunities are there. As a content creator, are there any features you would like to see added to DCS? The biggest thing that I would like to see in DCS is an overhaul of the track system. It would really help with making cinematic content and allow me, and others to show off DCS in all its glory! Regardless of this issue I do plan to make more DCS content and look forward to what the future has in store for the sim. That will be it, thank you a lot for answering our interview! Is there anything else you would like to add before we conclude? I really do not have anything else to add! I really appreciate you giving me the opportunity to come on here! It has been a pleasure. About the interviewer Santiago "Cubeboy" Cuberos Longtime aviation fanatic with particular preference towards military aviation and its history. Said interests date back to the early 2000's leading into his livelong dive into civil and combat flight simulators. He has been involved in a few communities but only started being active around the mid 2010's. Joined as a Spanish to English translator in 2017, he has been active as a writer and the co-founder of Skyward ever since. Twitter | Discord: Cubeboy #9034

VTOL VR: AH-94 First Impressions

VTOL VR: AH-94 First Impressions

VTOL VR has a great variety of playstyles for you to choose from. From the heavy and only true VTOL aircraft, the AV-42C, to the agile, fast STOVL like the F-45A. But it was always missing a crucial type of aircraft that is the definition of vertical take-off and landing: a proper helicopter! That has now been addressed with VTOL VR's first DLC, the AH-94 Attack Helicopter. Launched on the 6th of January, 2022 alongside the multiplayer update, this aircraft is the first addition to the VTOL VR line-up in quite a while, aside from mods of course. Let's see how this rotary wing treated us in its first days of release. INITIAL IMPRESSIONS At a first glance, it is pretty evident that this design is a mix of several western attack helicopters, with heavy influence coming from the Comanche and Apache airframes. The cockpit design is pretty much straight out of US Army helicopters, specifically, the AH-64A/D.
It has a large set of sensors and most of them are intuitive and easy to manage if you have any knowledge as to how any of the other aircraft work in VTOL VR. Some of its systems, such as the TADS and its augmented vision mode are exactly the same as they are in the F-45A. If you had any experience with that aircraft, you should not have any trouble transitioning over to the AH-94. But the same cannot be said about its flight dynamics. After all, last time I checked the only moment when a F-45's wings rotated was when I got hit by a SAM. FLIGHT DYNAMICS For not being a full-on simulator, it is pretty solid! You have to manage your systems and engines the same way as you would have to do on any helicopter. It flies mostly as you would expect it to, as a fast helicopter even when loaded to the brim with Hellfire missiles and a full belt of 30mm. It is extremely agile as well, letting you do plenty of wacky maneuvers. It is a sim-lite, after all, you have to have some fun. There is an aspect which was pretty weird to me, and that is the behavior when the helicopter entered an overtorque situation. It just spazzes out, pitching up and down. I tried applying all of the techniques I use in other flight sims where helicopter flight models demand that you do "proper procedure" per aircraft in order to recover from those scenarios, but to no avail. The only way to get it out of that state was to drop the collective all the way down and pitch nose down and right after that, pulling up. An example of this is in the video below: It felt weird and somewhat broken, in a gameplay kind of sense. I like that the developer took the time to implement something akin to the difficulties that are experienced in rotary wings, but the implementation is a bit quirky. Again, I could just be talking out of my previous experience and putting unrealistic expectations into something that does not need them. MULTICREW This is the first aircraft in VTOL that allows two players to fly in the same aircraft. To say that this is fun would be an understatement. This is, by far, some of the most fun I have had in a while. Coordinating attacks with another Skyward staff member, RibbonBlue, planning out strategies, delegating tasks and utilizing the aircraft to its very limits. That is what real teamwork is, and with a good friend by your side, you can not go wrong with the AH-94. It is an incredible experience, and one that would be flawless if it were not for the plethora of issues that we had while trying to use multicrew. I had several crashes to desktop and freezes, all of which were only while playing the AH-94 in multiplayer. But, at the same time, these crashes were extremely inconsistent and we had zero issues during our second session which lasted 2 hours. If you have VTOL VR, you need to try this experience out. It is fun, challenging and exciting at the same time. Bring your best pal along for the ride, you will not regret it. About the Author Santiago "Cubeboy" Cuberos Longtime aviation fanatic with particular preference towards military aviation and its history. Said interests date back to the early 2000's leading into his livelong dive into civil and combat flight simulators. He has been involved in a few communities but only started being active around the mid 2010's. Joined as a Spanish to English translator in 2017, he has been active as a writer and the co-founder of Skyward ever since. Twitter | Discord: Cubeboy #9034

Creator Highlight Month 2022: Shadé

Creator Highlight Month 2022: Shadé

Besiege Flight Machinima Creator Those enamored by flight will pursue it wherever it can be found. It's the type of passion that drives people to look up when they hear an aircraft overhead during their everyday lives. In the virtual world, that same passion drives people to bring flight to places where it was never intended to be. Our first interview for Creator Highlight Month 2022 is with Shadé, a machinima maker creating aviation-focused content on a rather unexpected platform: Besiege. For many years now, Shadé (pronounced zah-day) has created aircraft to fly in the medieval skies of Bisege and made elaborate videos of fictional and non-fictional aircraft in a wide variety of settings and situations. After years of being curious about how this was possible, we got an opportunity to discuss this subject at length with Shadé. There is a lot we do not know about this subject, so it is great having an expert here. Pleased to meet you. Hello! My name is Pascalis Sadewa, but the community knows me more by the name Shadé. I’m from Yogyakarta, Indonesia but now I have moved to Bali to pursue my dream of developing video games. I’m the one behind a YouTube channel called Dawn-Shade where I upload machinimas (animated films using video and computer games videos) using a game called Besiege. I’ve seen videos of your work for years without completely understanding what is happening. Let’s start from the top. What is Besiege? When I first played Besiege in 2015, just a couple of months after it launched as early access on Steam, I thought it was just a fun silly medieval destruction-building game at first. Besiege is a physics-based builder game in which you build medieval siege engines to solve puzzles, destroy opposing armies and structures. You start with a single 1x1 block, then you place more blocks connected to said starting block. Each block type can have its own function: Wheels can rotate, springs can contract, hinges can bend, blades cut, armor protects, etc. For example, if you want to make the most basic car, you start by making a chassis from wooden blocks, then you place two steering hinges at the front, then add four wheels. If you bind the wheel to Arrow Up, then steer left/right to Arrow Left/Right, you can get a basic working car. You then make machines this way giving them whatever functions you can think of to complete the objectives, solve puzzles, and finish the campaign. Does the base version of the game have a single player campaign or multiplayer? What is the goal in those game modes? Besiege has a single player campaign spanning four chapters. The first chapter is more like a basic tutorial, acquainting players with what each block does. Some levels have how-to-build guides that players can follow. Each subsequent chapter introduces new challenges and gradually makes it harder. Not every stage has destruction as its main objective, some need you to take and deliver a certain object into a specified place, some have a Zelda-like puzzle. If you’re more keen on just building creatively, there’s a Sandbox mode where you have a flat, vast area to test and play your machine. This mode is where the majority of players spend their time in Besiege, building machines and sharing it to the world via the Steam Workshop. Besiege also has a level editor where you can design your own levels or combine them into a campaign of your own. The levels you have created can then be used for multiplayer mode. Besiege multiplayer mode is where players can create a lobby and other players can join directly, playing custom levels with their machines. You can do racing, tank combat, just hang around, simulating battlebots, or PVP dogfights, with the last one being very popular in Besiege’s Japanese Community. Because of the medieval setting, machines like trebuchets and battering rams were probably was was expected by the Besiege developers. Users can build machines with various types of building blocks. Is flight as simple as placing a single flying block? Fun fact, the developer actually never expected that players could achieve flight like we did. There is only one flying-based level in the campaign. You’re supposed to make a flying machine to hit target balloons, but in actuality it can even be completed without flight, by simply shooting the targets from the starting point. In the early days of Besiege, planes were an elusive technique that only a handful of players understood. It’s surprisingly easy to get something into the air, however getting it to fly will require some basic knowledge of how planes work in the real world. Most players default to a quadcopter design, because it’s one of the easiest ways (and cooler than simply making balloon airships) to make a controllable flying machine. It took awhile for players to realize that the Wing Block and the Wing Panel the developer provided is not a good block to build the wing part of the plane. Turns out, building wing parts with the Propeller Block make things fly so well that now it has become the standard. You can dissect someone else’s machine they uploaded in the Steam Workshop to see how they work. But copying the mechanism without understanding how aircraft works will lead you nowhere. Aircraft that work in real life can work in Besiege, so knowing how real aircraft works helps. Small bit of trivia, on my earliest attempt at building a plane in Besiege, I put elevator control on the main wing. My brain thought aircraft gain altitude that way. I learned a lot about aircraft after that. After I’m confident enough to know about flight and the easiest way to build one in Besiege, I then created and uploaded a tutorial video on how to make a plane in Besiege. It’s a very basic plane that works well enough, but still covers a lot of knowledge of mechanisms needed to build your own. And the most important part, this should be possible even for players without any mods installed. Are mods to enhance or alter the game needed to create aircraft? Creating aircraft never strictly requires mods. Some mods that add handy tools can speed up players' build and can increase the detail on their machines, but after the developer added an update that contained Advanced Building Tools, players now can make detailed planes even in base game. The Besiege Japanese Community in particular are very fond of this tool. So much that the mainstream players are all about making powerful planes in vanilla and duel them together in PVP fashion. My old F-104 Starfighter was one of the first realistic planes that could break the sound barrier in the early days. At that time it was very challenging. From making an engine that doesn’t spontaneously burst at high rpm, then building a fuselage that can withstand that amount of Gs, and even making control surfaces that still work at high-speed. But now Japanese players say that 1000km/h is the bare minimum if you want to PVP. Initially they were strictly going vanilla, but as they discovered more techniques, vanilla Besiege cannons were considered underpowered. Now they use vanilla fighter + Weapon Block Mod. There are various other types of mods. Weapon Block mod is the type that can add custom blocks to the game. This mod adds fun real life modern armament you can place as blocks on your aircraft. I like these because they are useful for making action scenes more fun. But if you share something that contains modded blocks, you have to keep in mind that whenever other players that don't install the mod try to load it, that block would be missing. Before sharing you have to make sure with the block missing, the machine should still work. Other mods add many various things, like adding custom HUD similar to what Ace Combat has for that game’s camera, or add ocean to the game to test out ships or seaplanes, or allows you to write Lua to a machine you build, or change the game’s physics calculation speed, making things very accurate and laggy, or very wonky but smooth. The Ace Combat HUD mod is a mod I co-developed with another modder from the community. Besiege is a physics-based builder. Does this mean that aircraft design matters in this game? Can designs that are too heavy, unbalanced or just too unconventional still fly? Very much physics still matters. If an aircraft is too heavy, it won’t take off. If it’s unbalanced, it will require constant correction because it won’t fly straight. Wing aspect ratio too wide? Your plane will glide easily but rolling would be very sluggish, You make your wings anhedral? It will react to movement quicker at the cost of being more unstable. But with the Besiege, some limitations of the world don't apply, like airflow. When the design can’t take off, you can solve them with various things like increase the lift by adding more aerodynamic blocks, or increase the engine power. You can even reduce the weight by strategically adding strong hidden balloons inside. People who have full knowledge of what things affect the flying physics and what doesn’t affect can make anything fly. Examples are this CCC-166 Gharial Attack Helicopter which is an Attack Helicopter shaped like a tank based on a meme; or this majestic Swan ‘Boat’ that’s a boat but can fly and it comes with its own passenger; or a flying Ricardo Milos. You mentioned key bindings in your basic car example earlier in the interview. Can aircraft be controlled with gamepads? Have other types of controllers been tried? The developers said not to expect official analog support. Besiege uses Unity Engine so it should read XInput just fine, but currently you can only use gamepad buttons. When remapping key bindings, the inputs from analog or trigger won’t be detected, so all input you can use is digital. There was a mod that added controller support into older versions of Besiege. This is why on some of my uploaded planes, it has a control scheme for controllers written on its page. It’s quite powerful, you can even utilize the sensitivity of the analog or trigger to control, for example how fast the Wheel turns, or how much the angle a Steering Block turns. You can even use HOTAS to control the movement. Sadly it has never been updated to work on the current version of Besiege. The aircraft you’ve assembled in your Steam workshop collection, “Shadé’s Skycruisers”, covers a wide array of aircraft. From World War I biplanes, to modern day jets and helicopters to fictional aircraft from various other games. In your opinion, what are some of your best works? That is a very hard question! Each new upload I always strive for something new like trying different tech or try to not have weaknesses previous aircraft had. If I decide based on the stats alone, I don’t think the Gypsy Danger video counts because my helicopter there only has a supporting role. So then the Su-25TM “Frogfoot" with the most popular showcase video is the best. I like that I managed to design bombs with satisfying explosions and fit plenty on that plane. If based on the most subscribed on Steam, it’s the Aurora Alpha Bomber. The Aurora bomber has this one downside where it was really laggy, particularly because it was made from the period where I don’t know that a certain block is more laggy than other blocks. If I can redo it I would rebuild it without the block. Maybe my personal favorite is the F-4E Phantom II. It’s my go-to plane for testing new levels I designed. Something on it’s engine design makes the flight the smoothest, it has sufficient armament to destroy targets, and it’s agile enough to evade obstacles. If I remember correctly, at a certain point it also became one of my most reuploaded planes. Some of them asked for my permission first, which I always agreed to as long as they mention that it was originally made by me, but often others just stole it and reuploaded it to the Steam Workshop without any credit whatsoever. Steam Workshop's ability to easily share user-made machines is a powerful tool. What are some of the most complex or unexpected aircraft you’ve seen made in Besiege? There are few, the latest one is this Fully Mechanical Supermarine Spitfire. On the surface it just looks like a regular Spitfire, but on the inside it’s mechanical. Every control surface is connected to the cockpit where using the pilot camera you can see it moving. It does fly wonky thanks to a lot of the added weight of the internal mechanism but it’s still very impressive. There is also this almost perfect replica of the F-22 Raptor. This aircraft has everything you could possibly need in a plane: accurate missiles in the missile bays, accurate gear doors, very good agility, missiles are using sensor blocks so you can just fire-and-forget, and it looks fantastic complete with a canopy you can open and close. This one is called The Skycrawler, a giant ship using a rare method of propulsion called cyclo-gyro. It uses a horizontal-axis cyclorotor as a rotor wing to provide lift, propulsion and control. I still can’t explain it if someone asks me how it can fly. There is also this monstrosity called Balaculus with more than 10,000 total blocks that apparently can fly in addition to melting anyone’s PC. For at least 6 years now your machinimas have included one-off combat missions and recreations of scenarios from Ace Combat and Battlefield, for example. Can you give us a general idea about the filming process? The spirit of these videos I made is always sharing a new build uploaded on the workshop, either by myself or by other members of the community. So naturally I decided the scenarios based on what build will be shared next. Most animators are taught to create a storyboard first, before doing the actual take. I never actually draw those storyboards. Most of my storyboarding process is by pure visualization in my mind while listening to the music many times. I visualize what should I start with, what would happen at this part of music, when the climax occurs, and what would be the ending. Making a recreation of a scenario is generally easier because I already know what the sequence is. I simply insert dialogues from the scenario to the music then listen to it several times so I can get a good grasp on what part I should use, and what part I should omit. So deciding the music is usually one of the first things to do. When I make recreations of existing scenarios, the music is just what the original used. When it’s not, I pick various music from either free music library, shows, or from other games I’ve played. Next, I list all extra machines I need and scour the Steam Workshop to find which machines have been built. If some machines are not available, I’ll find some alternatives. But if the type of the machine is very important to the scenario, I’ll ask several other community members and they are usually more than happy to help me build one. When everything is assembled, it’s time to start recording. There are several ways to record multiple machines at the same time in Besiege. The old way is additive load another machine with a mod, so that both can appear at the same time within a world. When the machine is loaded this way, I control both machines using one keyboard. I sometimes need to remap the machine buttons so that their movement does not overlap. I fly the first machine with my left hand, and the second machine with the right hand while keeping the machines in frame (I often wish I had a third hand to control the camera with the mouse). Imagine it’s like you drive a car but instead of looking at the road, you look at the driver’s seat from the outside, while also making sure the other car behind it is still driving straight. When the Multiplayer update came out, recording scenes just became a lot easier. I can ask other community members to fly a machine or two for me, while I focus on the camera work. I often arrange a recording session on the weekends where most people are online and there sure are many good pilots from the community. This is where my camerawork quality gets better because now I don’t have to worry about where my plane’s nose is headed. I can ask them to do certain actions over and over again for each camera angle. A downside of this is that we need to be online at the same time. I often have to stay awake after midnight because the other person is in the European time zone. After the Replay Mod came out, my scenes can now keep their quality without having to rely on other people too much. With it, I just need to do a successful run with the machines once, then hit the replay button. The machines will accurately follow my previous path so I can just set up my camera on every angle I want without having to do the run multiple times. Simulation in Besiege is very CPU heavy, I don’t think there's a consumer computer capable of running more than 1000 blocks at 100% speed, not to mention OBS on top of that. People have been joking that my computer must be from NASA but I only have a laptop. So then how could my mere laptop do that? It’s because I always record everything in slow motion, at max 25%, down to 5% if there’s so much going on, then speed up in the editor. The advantage is that even if my laptop renders Besiege laggy as low as 15 FPS, in editor it will be sped up 4x which means I will have a sweet 60 FPS for the final video. This poses several challenges. For starters, everything is very slow. A 40 seconds footage is only worth max 10 seconds, usually less. Second, camera movement also needs to be very slow. You move the Camera in Besiege by dragging it with the mouse. To mimic the handheld shaking, you have to shake it with the mouse but do it very-very-very slowly. This is why in my early videos, the camera movement is not that good. This was solved with the addition of the cinematic camera the developer added in an update. In the early days I was the one responsible for making the aircraft for my videos, some time passed and I see the number of Besiege plane builders has grown a lot. So when the Level Editor update was released, I delegated the aircraft build to other community members so I can focus on other things I am passionate about, designing levels. This is why at the end of 2017 most of my videos become showcases of levels developed by me with additional supporting aircraft provided by the community. That's an ingenious video recording solution! Your videos have multiple machines and landscapes. This makes me wonder what the stage/world/level limitations of Besiege are and how you worked around those to create your videos? In the early days of Besiege, I can only use the campaign levels. It’s very limited, but planes are usually high in the sky so it doesn’t matter much. Then a mod came in and one of its features was adding a custom scene with terrain you can customize the texture. I used it for a long time until one day the Level Editor update came out. The Level Editor in Besiege is very powerful. The levels are created with various Objects that you can place and edit in the world. The object includes destructible structure, trees, NPCs, basic shapes, and even environmental effects. You can set every object’s coordinates, rotation, scale, and its specific parameters. The only hard limit is what the game can run, and that depends on the PC of whoever wants to play the levels. The official levels have about 10-100 objects, while the player made levels averages at being around 1000 objects. Some extreme examples reach 15,000 objects, like the Tyrie Continent or the Illushor Air Base. The Level Editor has a logic system that is used to make things happen in the level you create. Basically, players can script in-game events without any code or programming knowledge. You can make simple things like when a player destroys a building, a certain door moves to reveal the exit, or complex things like where you can make several rocket-shaped-objects with sets of Triggers that can track and chase the players, or even this Level Fighter, which is a playable fighter plane achieved only with logic and not physics. I have always had a passion for making or designing games. After Besiege released the Level Editor, I went from full plane builder into full level designer. I have made several racing levels, puzzle levels, but the community mostly knows my Ace Combat missions recreated as Besiege levels. They all have mostly accurate albeit simpler, objectives and win condition you can play with Besiege machines and Besiege physics. None of them are playable with standard medieval catapult Besiege are intended, so I often provided the level with preloaded aircraft you can just pick. A very limiting factor is that Besiege Level Editor world boundaries are very small, at 1980 m x 1980 m x 1780 m. This is more than enough for ground based machines, but for planes, it is just really limiting. Keep in mind that most aircraft made in Besiege are not 1:1, they are much bigger. Several missions from Ace Combat simply can’t be recreated because of this reason. You can mod the game to remove the world boundaries, but then you have to make sure anyone trying to play your level must also have removed the world boundaries or the level just won’t work. I’d rather have more people to enjoy my levels so I always make sure my levels are within Besiege limits. One other thing that is hard to implement is AI for the enemies. There are some other community members that have achieved AI aircraft that have convincing flight and fire homing missiles at you, but the logic needed for just one enemy is just so complicated, having more than one will severely lag the game. This is why most of my levels are ground attack or obstacle runs, where you don’t need a lot of resistance from the opponent. Still if you wish for some dogfight action, you can simply invite a friend to play as the enemy. Has your work with Besiege increased your passion about game development? Honestly, I don’t feel it caused any significant increase. I have been passionate about game development since I was a child, starting from making custom levels/scenarios, creating mods, to making small games with friends in college. I actually think that it was Besiege that has increased my interest in aircraft. Before Besiege, I knew fighter jets were rad, flying is cool and that’s it. Since I started creating an aircraft in Besiege, I've been using a lot of references from articles, photos, blueprints, video footage, and even 3D models to create an accurate representation of the aircraft in Besiege. This is where I learned a lot of things like how aircraft uses combination of aileron and elevator or sometimes elevon to turn, how aircraft airbrake work, how angling your thrust when turning grants supermaneuvrability, why helicopters must have an even number of rotor but not planes, and how different wing configurations affect flight characteristics. If possible, could you talk about your current game dev project(s)? I’m currently working with Engram Interactive studio, developing Fractured Core. It’s a classic JRPG with cyberpunk for it’s main theme using isometric 2D pixel art for the visual. You play as a mercenary undertaking various missions in a futuristic Germany. You can expect a standard turn-based mechanic for its battle system with plenty of customization for the magic available for each of the main characters. My responsibilities are directing its animation for the combat and cutscenes. The combat will mostly have hand drawn animation. I am also designing the layout and gameplay for the later dungeons. The dungeons will have random enemy encounters that you can turn off or on, and some will require you to solve puzzles to progress. There won’t be any aircraft or flight mechanic involved in the game though. There is a demo available on Steam that you can download. Our Discord is always open, feel free to join in and have a chat with me. Thank you so much for this interview. I must admit that I am somewhat in awe after learning so much about flight in Besiege. I feel like I have to give it a try myself now. This has been fascinating. Thank you for this rare opportunity. I would also like to thank my friends from the Besiege community: Brammer, daichi, and dagriefaa for giving me some valuable feedback when I was writing this. Several people heard about me first before Besiege, and they first played Besiege with the intention of creating planes and tried to follow my plane tutorial without any understanding of the basic tool nor the characteristics of each block, and thus can’t really follow my tutorial. So for readers who are also interested about learning flight in Besiege, try to at least complete the first campaign first and I’ll be happy to assist any difficulties. Just mention me, Shadé, in the Official Besiege Discord with the trouble you are facing, or you can also message me via Facebook. About the Interviewer Aaron "Ribbon-Blue" Mendoza Co-founder of Skyward Flight Media. A lifelong aviation enthusiast with a special interest in flight simulators and games. After founding Electrosphere.info, the first English Ace Combat database, he has been involved in creating aviation related websites, communities, and events since 2005. He continues to explore past and present flight games and sims with his extensive collection of game consoles and computers. | Twitter | Discord: RibbonBlue#8870 |

Looking Back at 2021

Looking Back at 2021

With 95 posts published to our website which is around double of what we managed to put out in 2020, media partnership with Flight Sim Expo, sponsorship from Fox 3 Managed Solutions and our ever expanding coverage of flight games and simulators, 2021 was an immensely productive year for Skyward Flight Media. Our end of year video shows some of these highlights and gives a glimpse into our flying adventures this year, with what we feel were some of the most significant titles we touched upon. We are feeling confident as we look forward and want to push things even further. Happy Holidays, Happy New Year and see you in 2022! Regards, Skyward Flight Media Staff

VTOL VR Multiplayer Beta: Impressions

VTOL VR Multiplayer Beta: Impressions

VTOL VR is a game that, without looking photo-realistic, managed to immerse me like no other game had done in VR. Stable framerates on mid-range machines, immersive cockpit interactivity and unparalleled blend of realism and simplicity. I have always loved this game but, like many, I noticed the biggest flaw that it had: its lack of multiplayer. When we saw that BahamutoD, lead dev and creator of this title, announced that a public test of the multiplayer feature was available both Ribbon-Blue and I jumped right in to test it. I am not going to lie, I was pretty excited when I heard the news. Until then, players had to rely on a community-made third party mod to use multiplayer, so this was a long time coming. The first aspect we tested was the stability of the "netcode", or, how well could clients see each other and how the clients synced. I am extremely happy to report that our experience with this was extremely stable. There was never a case of client de-sync, enabling us to fly in close formation, dogfight and engage targets without any issue. Staggered carrier take-offs and naval ops were awesome to explore in multiplayer, but what really changed the way these scenarios changed was the ability to share information between aircraft to build even more situational awareness (SA) than before. We had more fun in PvE scenarios just because of this.

Marking targets with IR lasers at night with night vision googles (NVG) on, planning your own objectives with your friends and using the aircraft to its absolute limits, that is what made this beta worth it to me. Aside from gameplay, I was highly impressed by how smooth the entire experience was. From choosing a lobby to getting airborne, every step of the way is as clean as it can be. Menus are simple and easy to read and before you sortie out, you enter a briefing room where you and your teammates can plan out everything, load your weapons and go. It is impressive, but I kind of expected this.

After all, this same level of polish was first seen in BahamutoD's secondary title: Jetborne Racing. This racing spin-off served as testbed for networking within the developer's framework, allowing him to hone his skills to make VTOL VR's multiplayer transition even smoother than it could have been. VTOL VR's multiplayer is the last piece in the puzzle for me to consider this as a must own title for everyone with a VR headset. You have to try this out for yourself. It might be hard to adjust to not having physical feedback from a joystick, but believe me when I told you that this compromise is well worth it for the immersion that you will experience. About the author: Santiago "Cubeboy" Cuberos Longtime aviation fanatic with particular preference towards military aviation and its history. Said interests date back to the early 2000's leading into his livelong dive into civil and combat flight simulators. He has been involved in a few communities but only started being active around the mid 2010's. Joined as a Spanish to English translator in 2017, he has been active as a writer and the co-founder of Skyward ever since. Twitter | Discord: Cubeboy #9034

Jester A.I: Unexpected FAC(A) in DCS World

Jester A.I: Unexpected FAC(A) in DCS World

Forward Air Controller (Airborne) (FAC-A) is one of the most complex roles a modern-day military pilot could engage in. Forward air control with two feet planted firmly on the ground is challenging, but doing it while managing a high-performance aircraft in hostile airspace is on an entirely different level. While single-seat aircraft with targeting pods are perfectly capable of fulfilling this role in Digital Combat Simulator, having a second aircrew member that could take over a few tasks would ease the burden. Thanks to the Jester LANTIRN update, solo pilots of the Heatblur Simulations F-14B can efficiently conduct FAC(A) operations. Weeks of fulfilling this role in PVE and PVPVE multiplayer missions with friends and random people have solidified my opinion that the F-14B is becoming one of the finest FAC(A) platforms in DCS. A summary of FAC(A) For those that do not know, in short, ground-based Forward Air Controllers identify hostile forces and guide fire support from friendly forces outside of the immediate area to strike those targets. Their tasks include managing the direction that support comes from, deconflicting assets, requesting specific weapons for the task, accounting for weather conditions and visibility, and safely guiding in fire away from friendly forces. Pilots that fly FAC(A) fulfill the same task as their ground-based counterparts but do so from an aircraft. This makes them a fast platform capable of finding hidden targets from high above while bringing their own weapons to bear if needed. They must do all of this while being competent enough to fly and fight in any condition effectively. An entire article on FAC(A) in Digital Combat Simulator could be written, but for now, let's leave it at this. F-14B Design Benefits Despite FAC(A) being an unusual role for this aircraft, the F-14B's capabilities and design are beneficial. Its pair of F110-GE-400 turbofan engines give it enough power to sprint at well over Mach 1 to the area of operations if needed and use that same speed to break away from unexpected threats. Its variable swing wings sweep to more easily fly at lower speeds when needed. Though it does not have a fly-by-wire flight control system, placing the Tomcat into an easy right-hand orbit with a mixture of stick, throttle, and trim. When an orbit is established, the pilot only needs very light inputs to change the height and shape of the orbit. The large fuel capacity can translate to extended FAC(A) loitering time, assuming the pilot flies the aircraft efficiently, without frequently selecting afterburner. Unlike aircraft that use wing-mounted fuel tanks, the fuel tanks on the Tomcat are unable to obscure the targeting pod because of their position beneath the engines. Most importantly, the second crew member can independently search for targets and manage radios while the pilot concentrates on flying and the surrounding airspace. The second crew member can make all the difference. This is where Jester LANTIRN comes in. Restrictions Whereas aircraft like the A-10C, JF-17, F-16C, and F/A-18C can employ their targeting pods easily, the F-14B Tomcat has been hindered. Since its release on March 13th, 2019, the Heatblur Simulations F-14B could only use its LANTIRN pod (Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night) if the aircraft had a human Radar Intercept Officer in the backseat. And, let's be honest, how many DCS World Tomcat drivers have a consistent human backseater for every sortie they fly? It's a low percentage. This means that since its release, the most advanced air-to-ground capabilities for the aircraft have been locked away from a majority of its users. Players flying the F-14B alone could access their targeting pod by switching from the front seat and back seat manually or through the use of the Pilot LANTIRN Pod Control mod. With the Jester LANTIRN October 2021 update, all capabilities of the F-14B are universally accessible, which in turn made FAC-A a possibility for all that own it. FAC(A) with Jester Before attempting anything as a Forward Air Controller (Airborne), be competent enough to use Jester LANTIRN. As capable as Jester is as an automated RIO, he obviously isn't capable of passing information to other human players or searching for hostiles without player input. It's best to think of Jester as a semi-self-guided targeting system capable of sorting targets by certain categories while maintaining laser guidance and providing basic threat detection. The human pilot of the Tomcat will still be in charge of getting Jester looking into areas where targets may be, forwarding that information to allied forces, and coordinating attacks against the hostiles. There are multiple sections to this topic: F10 Map Marker Placement Placing map markers in the F10 map is essential for navigation and target acquisition in the F-14B Tomcat. These markers can be placed on the map both pre-mission (during the briefing) and mid-mission. The markers can be given custom labels typed out by the players. Short names are ideal, but the markers can have longer labels if needed. Make as many markers as needed for navigation, target areas, locations of nearby friendly forces, and other relevant marks. While the Tomcat does have a limited number of waypoints that can be stored within its systems, the map markers can still be used by Jester through LANTIRN Q Modes. Add as many target-related markers as needed. As a side note, the marks on the map are also visible to other players looking at the F10 map, improving their situational awareness as well. RIO Navigation Menu The F-14B can store three navigation waypoints, one surface target waypoint (location of enemy units), hostile area waypoint, initial point (beginning of bombing run), and defended point (location of friendly units). Map marker coordinates can be input into these waypoints by using Jester's Navigation Menu to select Steer Point From Map and assign map markers to the waypoints desired. Jester LANTIRN Q Modes Use Jester LANTIRN Q modes to quickly begin the search for targets. Select either waypoint (QWP), which were set in the RIO Navigation Menu, or cue map markers (QMAP MARKER). Jester will immediately slew the LANTIRN onto the selected point. Unanticipated targets can be acquired quickly by using the menu's Head Control subsystem and using either QEYEBALLS to look out the canopy and tell Jester to look at a specific area or using Direct Head Control to make small adjustments to what the LANTIRN is currently looking at. Getting Jester's attention back onto areas of interest is as simple as reselecting a waypoint or map marker, letting Jester handle the process of returning the targeting pod onto those locations. Target Spotting and Guidance After Jester finishes slewing the LANTIRN onto the desired location, immediately select SEARCH FOR TARGETS and begin searching either for units of a specific type (SAMs, Armored Vehicles, Aircraft, etc.). After the first target is located and automatically designated, new targets of that type can be found by using the Jester menu to search for Next Target or Previous Target. Once the desired target is selected, Jester will continue tracking the designated target but will begin giving steering cues to bring the F-14B onto an attack run. It is at this point Jester's steering cues should be ignored, and the pilot can settle into an orbit and begin guidance for other aircraft. These options include: Begin generating Nine Lines or establish parameters for buddy lasing of a target. Talking an allied aircraft onto the target using terrain landmarks and visual cues. Using laser designation to guide other aircraft capable of laser spot search/laser spot tracking to get their targeting pods looking at the same target area. Relaying coordinates of the designated target (bottom right of LANTIRN display while a target is designated) by radio or text for other pilots to input into their navigation systems. When other aircraft are ready, having the FAC(A) Tomcat launch the initial attack, visually marking the area with a column of smoke from the first destroyed target. FAC(A) can then return to orbit. Creation of further F10 map markers as needed. LANTIRN Lasing Details Normally Jester only lases a target while the F-14B is attacking a designated target. For FAC(A) and buddy lasing purposes, using the second page of the Jester LANTIRN menu is vital for these operations. Jester can be ordered to turn the laser from Automatic (for the F-14B's own attack runs) to Always On (laser on at all times). As friendly aircraft get the information they need or use the FAC(A) laser to get their weapons on target, once the task is complete, switching the laser back to Automatic shuts it off, preventing a potential overheat of the LANTIRN. The laser code of the LANTIRN can be changed while in flight, but any laser-guided bombs on the F-14B can only have their laser codes changed while on the ground. This is the same for many other aircraft in Digital Combat Simulator. While coordinating laser codes and weapons pre-mission is ideal, in the event this is not possible, keeping the LANTIRN pod's default 1688 code is fine. Just keep in mind that multiple lasers using the same code in the same area could cause problems. Threat Detection While Jester's steering cues should be ignored, muting him is an unwise decision. He still gives callouts for non-laser designation-related events. These include the location of friendly aircraft close by, new radar warning receiver hits from air contacts and surface contacts, and warnings about incoming missiles. The missile warnings, in particular, are useful in the case of short-range surface-to-air missiles like MANPADs being fired at the aircraft. Quirks and Bugs As of the time this article is being published, there are a few known quirks and bugs of using Jester in this capacity. A voice glitch can occur where he constantly lets the pilot know a target has been lased or designated. Using the LANTIRN reset utility stops this but requires the target to be re-acquired through Q Modes. Jester's ability to spot targets can underperform if the area of interest is too far from the aircraft (over 20nm, estimated) or overperform to the point where enemy units are spotted through solid objects like buildings. This could be a problem because though Jester sees the target through obstructions, the laser from the LANTIRN will designate the obstruction and not the target in question. As stated in a comment from a Heatblur developer, Jester's target sorting is limited by the way DCS groups units. While the mission editor has sub-categories for unit types, these categories are not present while a mission is running. For example, anti-aircraft guns appear under "SAM" search, while armored personnel carriers, main battle tanks, and infantry fighting vehicles are classified as "Armor." Some units have an odd crossover, like some parts of the HY-1 Silkworm anti-ship cruise missile launch site appearing under the "SAM" designation. Normally this is where visual confirmation of the target is needed. While Jester is able to change the LANTIRN's field of view to zoom the camera in and out, he seems to only do so momentarily. Jester has no issue seeing targets in this regard, but there is not a function that allows the pilot to adjust the field of view. While Jester may not need this, giving the pilot the option to have Jester adjust FOV would be beneficial to the pilot in certain situations. In the real world, the F-14B "Bombcat" has served as FAC(A) in actual combat despite it not being its primary role. The F-14B of Digital Combat Simulator certainly has more hurdles to leap and bugs to squash in relation to this role, but with further development, it's possible that Forward Air Controller (Airborne) in swing-wing fighters won't be a rarity in multiplayer servers. About the Writer Aaron "Ribbon-Blue" Mendoza Co-founder of Skyward Flight Media. A lifelong aviation enthusiast with a special interest in flight simulators and games. After founding Electrosphere.info, the first English Ace Combat database, he has been involved in creating aviation related websites, communities, and events since 2005. He continues to explore past and present flight games and sims with his extensive collection of game consoles and computers. | Twitter | Discord: RibbonBlue#8870 |

Creator Highlight Month 2022 Announced

Creator Highlight Month 2022 Announced

The reoccurring series is getting a big push! Following the positive reception of the Creator Highlight series with our articles about the Flight Sim Historian and Requiem's Air Combat Tutorial Library, we have thought about what to do with this series. In January 2022, we are having our first ever Creator Highlight Month (CHM) to kick off a more consistent effort to write about aviation-focused content creators next year. During CHM we will have articles and interviews with a diverse group of people about their content creation efforts: RedKite: DCS focused content creator known for highly detailed tutorials. Sacchan: Lead developer of the VRChat aviation phenomenon. Shadé: Long-time machinima creator and complex aircraft designer in Besiege. Solutus Eversol: Ace Combat expert guiding viewers through its intricate lore. Spudknocker: DCS content creator producing tutorials, historical videos, large-scale community missions and more. Wolfpack345: Known for dogfights in the air and sea on IL-2, DCS and Silent Hunter 4 on Twitch and YouTube As we get closer to 2022, the date of our first CHM release will be announced. We would like to thank everyone we contacted for participating in our upcoming Creator Highlight Month!

Skyward DCS World Liveries: A new look for 2022!

Skyward DCS World Liveries: A new look for 2022!

As you might have seen, we always like decorating the aircraft that we fly with the colors of this website. Our co-founder, Cubeboy, started making them as soon as the website became public, two of these have been available to download for quite a while now. We would like to present something that we have been wanting to do for quite a while now but haven't gotten to it due to time constraints. More DCS World liveries! They are still only for the F/A-18C Hornet and F-16C Viper modules, but they have now been overhauled.

The designs are pretty similar but now they come in three flavors which should make it easier for you to use them with your friends. We now include more military-oriented designs with Cube's spin like the use of dark blue instead of Air Superiority Gray (ASG), if you want to download them, they are publicly available right now: Here are a couple of screenshots of each so you can judge them yourself, more screenshots are available by clicking the button above which redirects you to the download page. 1. Airshow and Original F/A-18C Skyward CAG Original F-16C Skyward Airshow Livery 2. High visibility/CAG bird-style F/A-18 Skyward CAG New F-16C Skyward CAG New 3. Low Visibility F/A-18 Skyward Low-Vis F-16C Skyward Low-Vis

Skyward Flight Media Announces Sponsorship with Fox 3 Managed Solutions

Skyward Flight Media Announces Sponsorship with Fox 3 Managed Solutions

Skyward Flight Media is excited to announce our official sponsorship with Fox 3 Managed Solutions (Fox 3 MS) for our Digital Combat Simulator World server hosting needs. While this sponsorship opportunity is brand new, one of the Skyward co-founders has privately used Fox 3 MS services since July 2021 as an everyday paying customer. Skyward has accepted the sponsorship offer because of this positive and unbiased experience. Fox 3 Managed Solutions is staffed by individuals with over 30 years of tech industry experience and countless hours in Digital Combat Simulator World. The result is a company specializing in hosting DCS servers from the point of view of people that fly in DCS World and are familiar with what is required for a stable server experience. Fox 3 MS currently has data centers in Europe, North America, and the Asia Pacific region recently. Skyward first heard about Fox 3 Managed Solutions from a few Spudknocker videos. Before this, we searched for DCS World hosting services that were relatively easy to access. We had minimal experience with hosting and managing a server for this simulator. After ordering a subscription from Fox 3 MS, the company's co-owners began direct communication. Within less than 24 hours, the server was up and running without the customer needing to lift a finger. Admittedly feeling a bit daunted by somehow messing something up, we found it easy just to ask questions and receive responses that were straight to the point and easy to understand. For example, after initially inquiring about how to upload missions to the server and run them, one of the Fox 3 MS owners did a brief screen sharing session to demonstrate a few things. Besides that, the staff has assisted us with answers or video demonstrations with even our most minor questions and hypothetical scenarios. The Skyward team has operated the DCS server with little to no assistance from Fox 3 MS staff for months now. A testament to how accessible they've made things. Customer service wise the past five months have been smooth sailing. We've had two to three short periods of downtime, each lasting a few minutes, throughout our Fox 3 Managed Solutions servers subscription. These disruptions were caused by an open beta patch being in the middle of a download, a slight hiccup at one of their data centers that was resolved just by rebooting the server, and a self-made error caused by one of our staff members changing a mission while using an unstable mobile connection. When talking about hosting services in general, these downtime instances are hardly worth mentioning. After reading the documentation and understanding the user flow, uploading a mission and running it on one of their DCS servers takes no more than a few minutes. Switching missions already uploaded to the server is as simple as clicking "run" on the desired mission and giving it a minute or two to start up. Users can upload third-party mods, support Liberation Missions, Tacview, and LotATC with Simple Radio Standalone (SRS) added as a default to all of their server plans. Skyward has used our server for many things so far. Photo and video shoots for content creation, running open-ended PVE missions with friends, training sorties for players new to DCS World, experienced players wanting to practice in a controlled environment, and sharing server time with mutual friend groups. The capacity to have private and semi-public sessions in DCS World has been helpful in ways we did not expect. While we choose to use a smaller service plan for our needs, Fox 3 MS has more extensive server options for communities of all sizes. There are also extended services for livery uploads and one-time event servers. For more information on all of their services and what's possible with their servers, we recommend visiting their website or sending an email to talk server details and capabilities that may suit your exact needs. In the future, Skyward Flight Media will continue using the stable servers of Fox 3 Managed Solutions for our DCS World content creation and operations. We would like to thank Fox 3 Managed Solutions for this opportunity and their services.