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by Gail Helmer

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Friday March 15, 2002

PC News
Exclusive: Three New Projects from IC: Maddox Games Revealed
COMBATSIM.COM has received details behind IC: Maddox Games' next three projects. The first project in development by 1C and 1C:Maddox Games (creators of award winning IL-2 Sturmovik), is WW II RTS (working title). WW II RTS is a real-time tactical strategy depicting the most significant battles of World War II during 1941 - 1945. Players will command a special task force composed of different kinds of units, including tanks, APCs, field guns, mortars, various infantry regiments, etc. Human resources management, detailed troops micromanagement, exceptionally high level of detalization, amazing visual and sound effects, historical accuracy and realism, unique AI algorythms and immersive engine based cutscenes are key features of this project. 1C Company will present prototype of the game at E3 2002 exhibition taking place in Los Angeles, May 22-24. Click here for exclusive screenshots from WWII RTS.

Oleg Maddox tells us that they are busy on these three new projects and will split their team in two parts. One team will focus on RTS, while the other focusses on flight simulators. Oleg has revealed to COMBATSIM.COM that IC:Maddox is working on two new flight sim titles. The first flight sim is a IL-2 follow-on product, which will be based on modified IL-2 engine and will be released this year. The second flight simulator is completely new, and it will use the best features of IL-2 and will have many more new features for single and online play. In general, they are currently working with concept, documents and 3D engine for this sim. The unnamed new simulator will have a new 3D engine and the graphics from WW II RTS shows how it approximately will look . The new simulater will be released when ready or when defined by publisher, but not this year, for sure. We will keep you posted on the official info from the publisher.

Silent Hunter II & Destroyer Command Patch Update
Ubi Softís long-awaited Silent Hunter II-Destroyer Command multiplayer interoperability patch could be available as soon as this weekend, executive producer Carl Norman announced Thursday. "We have been working very hard this past week to finish the version 1.1 patches for both products. We are scheduled to have these patches available for download this coming weekend. Please note that we are still testing these patches, and while we are confident we will have them ready by the weekend, this could change if our testers during the final rounds of testing find significant problems."

The absence of multiplayer interoperability when Destroyer Command shipped this month has been a point of contention for sim fans purchasing either title. Ubi Soft was mute on the point until Thursday, when it revealed the complications surrounding the implemention of the feature:

Destroyer Command and Silent Hunter II utilize a licensed multiplayer engine Ubi Soft contracted to use in both products. When a large computer and entertainment corporation acquired the company from which Ubi Soft licensed the code, the new parent company stopped providing comprehensive technical support and ceased updating the multiplayer engine for use with the PC. This forced developer Ultimation to work with older code that was no longer supported by the licensor.

"Our difficulties with the multiplayer stability became apparent very late in development, and we were at a point in the development cycle where it was impossible to change to another multiplayer solution," Norman said.

While the multiplayer code does work, it has limitations on the size of the data packets transferred between players in a multiplayer session; Ubi Soft has therefore drawn up guidelines for multiplayer sessions for both products. As with any multiplayer game that uses the Internet, performance and stability will vary depending upon the speed and quality of their connection. The size of the scenario, number of players, and degree of activity at any given moment of gameplay are all factors that relate to stability and performance.

Here are the multiplayer benchmark guidelines:

  • Dial-up Modem - less than four players
  • Broadband - four players
  • Local Area Network - six players
Ubi Soft originally planned on supporting up to eight players, but found that four players is optimal. More than four players should only be attempted when playing on a Local Area Network, Norman, said; Ubi Soft has seen the best results on a LAN with six or less players. It is further recommended that the host player use the fastest possible connection as the testing teamís results indicate host players have more success using broadband or LAN connections.

When released, the patches will be available for download at the following websites:

  • support.ubi.com
  • www.silenthunterii.com
  • www.destroyercommand.com
The patch will also address a large number of additional issues, including improving the artificial intelligence of computer-operated opponents.

Ghost Recon: Desert Siege Goes Gold
Ubi Soft Entertainment has announced that Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Desert Siege has gone gold and will soon be available in stores. The expansion adds a number of new features to Ubi Soft's tactical action game Ghost Recon, including eight new single-player missions, new areas and enemies, and five new multiplayer maps. It also contains an editing toolkit that lets players create their own levels for the game.

World Wide Web War Expands
CDV Software UK is pleased to announce new additional maps for Mini Combat, the free online game created for launch of Combat Mission in the UK, which has subsequently been a huge success for CDV UK. Due to its spontaneous success the organisers at i10 will be hosting Mini Combat on the LAN over the four-day event. Located at www.minicombat.com, three of the new maps available will push the armchair generals of the World to their tactical limits. The fourth new map is now four times the original size and specially designed for those with high-end machines. The new maps will feature their own theme and style of gameplay each of which will require careful planning if victory is to be achieved.

Platoon Unveiled
Budapest-based game studio Digital Reality has released new screenshots from its Vietnam-era tactical real-time strategy game, which is currently known by the working title Platoon. The game will use the developer's proprietary Walker game engine, which will also be used in the developer's upcoming 3D space strategy game, Haegemonia. Players will assume the role of a platoon commander in the Vietnam war, and they will control their squads in a series of missions against the Vietcong. As players progress through the game, they will gain access to new weapons and specialists. Platoon will be published by Monte Cristo and distributed in the US by DreamCatcher this fall. We'll post more information about the game as it becomes available. Screens

Military News
New Strategy For UK Ground Based Air Defence
15 March 2002 The Ministry of Defence has launched a comprehensive programme to develop the UK's Ground Based Air Defence capability to continue to match the emerging air threat.

Defence Procurement Minister Lord Bach said "Ground Based Air Defence is an essential component of our force protection package. It provides defence from a range of threats, from cruise missiles through to unmanned aerial vehicles and attack helicopters. But the Strategic Defence Review showed that the operational context in which it will be used is changing. Future operations will be high tempo, more complex, and invariably joint or multi-national. This makes high situational awareness and accurate target identification vital."

An off-the shelf Air Defence Command and Control System will be purchased to enhance the existing Rapier Field Standard C and High Velocity Missile (HVM) Systems. Six companies are being invited to tender for the contract.

In parallel with this contract, the manufacturers of both Rapier and HVM will be asked to consider a series of targeted updates to their weapon system performance to meet the emerging threat expected to develop over the next 10 to 20 years.

In the second stage, the UK is considering collaboration with NATO allies to explore the technologies required for future GBAD weapons. Lord Bach added "This programme is a fine example of Smart Acquisition in action. Use of off-the-shelf technology at the start, and introducing further improvements in stages, means that the UK's joint GBAD force gets improved capability earlier, and the system is able to grow to meet the emerging threat. Carrying our plans forward in this way also delivers savings of some £450M for the taxpayer."

The Invitation to Tender for the Air Defence Command and Control System is being issued to 6 companies: AMS of Camberley Surrey; EADS Defence Systems and Electronics (UK) Ltd of Milton Keynes; Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control of Orlando USA; Oerlikon-Contraves AG of Zurich Switzerland; Thales Defence Ltd of Crawley, Surrey; and Raytheon Systems Ltd of Harlow, Essex. Down selection to two contractors to undertake a two-year competitive Assessment Phase is planned for December this year.

Invitations to Tender will also be issued to the makers of the Rapier and High Velocity Missile, MBDA of Stevenage, Hertfordshire and Thales Air Defence Ltd of Belfast, Northern Ireland, to assess updates to the Weapon Systems' performance. Contracts for this work are planned to be let in parallel with the Air Defence Command and Control contracts in December.

Merlins and HMS Ark Royal Working Together
Merlin helicopters have been training off Plymouth for the first time with Aircraft Carrier HMS Ark Royal. 814 Squadron, which is stationed at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall, has been refining its skills and procedures during Operational Sea Training with the Portsmouth-based Carrier as part of an intensive three-week training package assessed by Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST).

FOST is the organisation based at Devonport Naval Base with over 200 seagoing officers and senior rates who instruct and assess all Royal Navy and many foreign navy ships on leadership, command and control, seamanship, warfare and emergency handling capabilities.

HMS Ark Royal arrived in Plymouth for training in February after a major refit at Rosyth.

Commander of 814 Squadron, Lieutenant Commander Steve Murray said: "The squadron has integrated very well over the past few weeks with the ship's company of HMS Ark Royal. This is the first time we have been on board. We feel it's going very well and everyone here is very highly motivated."

He said Merlin is very much a force protection asset. Merlin can search vast areas of sea and give the data to the ship and that can give the Commanding Officer of Ark Royal or the Force Commander a clear picture of what is happening.

There are currently four Merlins and about 100 personnel supporting 814 Squadron on board Ark Royal.

Commanding Officer of HMS Ark Royal, Captain David Snelson said: "Merlin is a very capable aircraft. In the FOST weekly war exercise we found that two Merlins dominated the war. They are very good at getting data to us so it makes it a lot easier to find out what's happening around the ship and to defend ourselves."

Evolved Sea Sparrow Intercepts Target At Sea
A Raytheon Company Evolved SEASPARROW Missile (ESSM) intercepted a subsonic target during at-sea tests last month. The Feb. 6 test was held off the Southern California coast from the US Navy Self-Defense Test Ship.

The missile was tested against a manoeuvring, low-altitude BQM-74E subsonic target missile. The target was detected by the combat system and assigned to ESSM. The ESSM round was fired using inertial midcourse guidance. At the scheduled time, ESSM acquired the target, initiated terminal guidance and flew to intercept with the proximity fuse detecting the target and initiating a warhead firepulse. Preliminary data indicate all test objectives were met. ESSM had its first successful test at sea in November 2001.

In January, an ESSM passed within lethal range of its target during a firing from the Mk 41 Vertical Launching System at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. The land-based test on Jan. 25 was the third in a series of four planned firings to verify the ESSM's compatibility with the AEGIS fire control system. This test demonstrated ESSM's performance against a BQM-74E subsonic target utilising the AEGIS in a short-range, short-flight time scenario. The target represented an anti-ship cruise missile.

ESSM is an advanced ship self-defense missile, which is designed to protect ships by destroying currently fielded and near-term projected anti-ship missiles, particularly those that fly at low altitudes and manoeuvre during their terminal flight phase.

The missile is being developed for the US Navy and nine of the other 11 member nations for the NATO SEASPARROW Consortium.

Lockheed Martin Successfully Fires ATACMS Missile From HIMARS Launcher
A Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control's High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launcher successfully fired an Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) Block IA missile recently at White Sands Missile Range, N.M.

This marked the first time an ATACMS Block IA missile had been fired from the XM-142 HIMARS launcher, developed as part of the program's engineering and manufacturing development (EMD), or maturation, phase. All systems performed nominally.

Test objectives included gathering information on the maturation launcher's systems, as well as additional data related to the man-rating of the HIMARS vehicle in relation to firing ATACMS over the cab.

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control have developed and fabricated four operational HIMARS prototypes as part of the Army's Rapid Force Projection Initiative Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration contract, which was awarded to the company in March 1996.

Three of the wheeled vehicles (a platoon) are undergoing user evaluation at the Army's XVIIIth Airborne Corps Artillery. Missiles and Fire Control is maintaining the fourth vehicle for testing and evaluation.

HIMARS is a C-130 transportable, wheeled, indirect fire, rocket/missile system capable of firing all rockets and missiles in the current and future MLRS Family of Munitions (MFOM). HIMARS will provide 24-hour, all-weather, ground-based responsive indirect fires to the current and transformation force. The system is designed to provide high-volumes, as well as precision lethal fires in support of manoeuvre forces. The system will extend the range of support provided to the warfighter.

The HIMARS fire control system, electronics and communications units are interchangeable with the MLRS M270A1 launcher, and the crew and training are the same. Because of its size, HIMARS can be deployed into areas previously inaccessible to the larger aircraft required to transport the standard MLRS launcher. It also retains the self-loading, autonomous features that have made MLRS the premier rocket artillery system in the world.

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