Daily News
by Gail Helmer

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Thursday July 12, 2001

PC News

WWII Online Features Update
Cornered Rat Software has been working over the past several weeks to stabilize and improve the game in order to maximize the number of players who can experience the beginnings of WWII Online. The 30 day free trial that comes as part of your purchase of the game has not yet begun as CRS, Playnet and Strategy First wanted to ensure that their customers experience the balance of features required to begin the full-scale conflict of Blitzkrieg. The development team continues to add features and squash bugs towards this goal. Below is a partial listing in alphabetical order of the features and fixes planned over the next several weeks.


Game World- We have been running a new test server environment with successful results. The outcome of this testing should move the game towards a single game world with the ability to hold thousands of players at one time. The team is currently evaluating the possibility of providing an additional game world to supplement the 'Blitzkrieg' world. The focus of this second server would be an "instant action" environment with no career tracking and a smaller geography.

HUD- A key to toggle off/on the heads up display that provides on-screen information about your character and vehicle will be added.

Radio Announcements- A base capture announcement via the in-game text buffer will be added. This announcement will be tailored to the appropriate force and be provided when a facility of a side's has been captured by the "enemy". This will help guide players to the action and allow them to identify and defend resources that are in trouble.

Rank/Mission Systems- Building off the additions to the strategic systems and the player scoring feature, a rank system will be added to the game. This system will allow a player to advance a character's rank by accruing mission points. All branches of service will share the same basic rank structure. As a player gains rank in a particular branch of service, for a particular country, he'll get access to more weapons as well as mission posting tools. Starting out on a career will be tough going, all your points towards the next rank will come only after succeeding at missions. Higher ranking players don't have it too easy though, they will need to design and post missions that will succeed, the only way they will get their points is if the missions they post get completed.

Scoring- Baseline scoring systems are an integral part of rank and career tracking in the game. A player scoring system is to be added to the game which will provide in-game reports on your last sortie and summarized information from past sorties. In addition, player scoring information will be made available through our exclusive Player Services package (services.wwiionline.org). Here is a listing of scoring data that will be made available:

Total Kills - Kills by Type - Kills per Sortie - Kills per Death - Missions Attempted - Missions Succeeded - Current Rank - Points to Next Rank

Strategic Systems- In order to launch 'Blitzkrieg', the team has been working to fix some outstanding bugs but more importantly put into place the persistent strategic systems that will ensure that in the event of a server crash or connectivity outage the state of the game world is retained and can be reinstated as needed. Although the results of this work may not be easily visible to players, it is a necessary enhancement prior to launching the war. The strat system has also gone through a major bug hunt, and uncapturable facilities should be a thing of the past. As well, the autogunners will be revisited. They will belong to various facilities and will not all go down when the armybase is taken. Each gun will fight until it's facility is taken, or it's killed.

Terrain- An additional 40+ choke points will be added to the game world and additional objects/fixes will be added to existing terrain.

User Interface- Some functionality will be streamlined including the addition of facility and chokepoint pulldown menus. There will also be new interface screens for points data display and mission outcome data. Help screens have also been added to some UI elements.

Vehicles- We are working to add vehicles on an on-going basis. Vehicles currently on the development schedule include the Hawker Hurricane (British fighter), the Bristol Blenheim (British medium bomber), Bf110 ( German heavy fighter), PzII (German light tank), and the MLE1937 47mm (French AT gun). Some of these vehicles will be made available during the 30 day free trial while others will be introduced at a later date.

Weapons- Grenades and satchel charges are to be added for infantry loadouts as well as the MG34 (German heavy machine gun), Chatellerault MG (French heavy machine gun), and the BrenMG (British heavy machine gun). Grenades and satchel charges will be effective against any targets in the game, but only deliver a relatively small HE charge and some shrapnel. They won't be "tank killers" but, when placed or thrown well, will be effective in damaging components...like tracks, wheels etc. Some of these weapons will be made available during the 30 day free trial while others will be introduced at a later date.

  • Animation fixes
  • 'Purple Sky' bug
  • User Interface behaviors
  • 'Flying Troop' bug
  • Revised paint scheme for Hawk 75
  • Keymapper issues
  • Strat fixes including Russian flags and non capturable facilities
  • Troops invisible/invincible when riding vehicles bug
  • These features and fixes are not inclusive of all development work being done and is in addition to our on-going commitment to reducing memory requirements and load times as well as other optimizations and known bugs.

    This represents the majority of issues surrounding our ability to kick-off 'Blitzkrieg' but we are constantly evaluating, prioritizing and rescheduling based on both the effects on gameplay and performance as well as our ability to deliver them in a timely manner. In order to introduce these features and fixes into the game we will be releasing at least two major updates and most likely some smaller patches as well. Some features will be added in stages. We will be pre-announcing the date when the clock for the 30 day free trial starts along with more details on when the war will begin as soon as possible. Until then enjoy the free play and again thanks for your support.

    Microsoft to Allow PC Makers to Alter Windows
    (Reuters) - Microsoft on Wednesday said it will change how it licenses its Windows operating system to computer makers, letting them remove access to its Web browser and make other alterations. The move was in response to a ruling last month by a U.S. appeals court that said some of Microsoft's licensing practices were illegal.

    The most significant change will let PC makers remove icons for the Internet Explorer web browser -- the product that is at the heart of the U.S. government's antitrust case. Microsoft had bundled the browser into Windows and forbade PC makers from removing the program as it battled with rival browser maker Netscape. Internet Explorer would also be included in a utility that would let users disable the program on their own, Microsoft said.

    PC makers can also add icons for other programs, such as RealNetworks's popular RealPlayer or AOL Time Warner's AOL Internet access service, to the Windows desktop. That marks a rollback on the design for the next version of the software, Windows XP, which was originally meant to be nearly free of icons.

    The changes would require some testing but would not delay the rollout of Windows XP, scheduled for an Oct. 25 launch, Microsoft said.

    Military News

    World War II ace flies with 'Grim Reapers'
    As World War II raged in Europe, flying ace Bud Anderson patrolled the British skies engaging in aerial combat with his German rivals. Now, nearly 60 years later, he had the opportunity to cruise the same skies. This time, however, aboard an F-15D Eagle instead of his P-51 Mustang.

    On July 6, Anderson received an incentive ride with Lakenheath's 493rd Fighter Squadron, returning to Royal Air Force Lieston -- the base where he was stationed during the 1940s.

    "It was an outstanding flight," Anderson said. "It was so amazing to look out my window and see us flying side by side with a P-51 painted up just like the one I had during World War II. It had my name on the side, the kill markings and the same color scheme. It was really a special and memorable moment in my life."

    Anderson, along with fellow aces Bob Goebel, Lee Archer and Don Blakeslee, spent several days with the 493rd FS -- getting tours and telling stories with the latest generation of air-to-air pilots.

    When comparing the Eagle to the Mustang, all Anderson could say was that both were top of the line for their time periods.

    "The Eagle is today what the Mustang was 60 years ago -- the best in the world," he said. "But, compared to the Mustang, the Eagle is huge. We looked like a 747 pulling up to the P-51. It was just amazing to see these two great aircraft flying together."

    Returning to the base he had flown from during the war was yet another highlight for Anderson. Although he had made the trip the day before in the Mustang, he said seeing it from the Eagle cockpit brought back even more memories.

    Anderson was not the only one with a memorable experience. His F-15D pilot, Lt. Col. Bob Sneath, said there were no words that could really describe his feeling of flying an ace over the skies of Great Britain.

    "All I can say is that it was amazing," Sneath said. "Bud Anderson is a legend, and to be able to fly him around was just such a privilege."

    Flying alongside the P-51 Mustang was something Sneath said he will never forget either.

    "I'd love to fly a Mustang once, but I doubt that will ever happen," he said. "But, to see it come up and see it fly alongside us over the English countryside was just something that's hard to describe. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it's been one of the greatest days in my Air Force career." (Photo by Maj. Lawrence Pravecek)

    Australia Ditches Submarine Tenders In Favour Of The US
    The troubled history of Australia's $5 billion fleet of Collins-class submarines has begun another chapter with the news that the government has abandoned an existing tender process for a new combat system for the fleet, and instead opted for a closer partnership with the United States.

    "We have had a good look at the tenders and we have decided that given all that has been put to us that we are not going to proceed with the existing tender process and instead we will move to have a statement of principles with the United States Navy." Said Australian Defence Minister Peter Reith.

    Two short-listed companies, Germany's STN Atlas and United States-based Raytheon, had proffered bids for the A$400 million (US$204 million) contract. While Raytheon have ruled out legal action, STN Atlas, which is a joint venture between German engineering group Rheinmetall AG and BAe Systems Plc of Britain, is now set to seek compensation having invested around A$100 million in the project.

    "It is understandable that a tenderer would be disappointed when a tender process is cancelled and the Government can understand STN Atlas expressing that disappointment. However, the public should be aware that no contracts have been signed or entered into in any form with STN Atlas," said Reith, who was quick to defend the decision. "This is a decision taken in the national interest and the government always reserves the right to make decisions in the national interest," he said.

    Reith has explained the decision to scrap the tender process for this project, and that to develop a new heavyweight torpedo, as a desire to re-align defence policy closer to the United States. With the US having previously been on hand to help the fault-plagued submarine programme, by providing expertise to solve noise problems with the hull and propeller, it seems increasingly likely that the Australian Government has bowed from pressure Stateside not to give the tender to a German company.

    As early as last year, STN Atlas doubts over the deal were revealed in documents obtained by The Australian. Minutes of a meeting between officials of the German company and the Australian defence department reveal: "In relation to the combat system, there are no strategic issues, only a technology protection issue due to the US contribution to the Collins submarine. The US has a requirement that no foreign nationals have even casual oversight of their technology in Collins submarines."

    STN Atlas had been the favourite to secure the control system contract and reportedly only proceeded with its tender when the Government confirmed that it was satisfied that safeguards would be put in place to prevent technological information being compromised.

    The decision to abandon these tenders effectively means that Australia's submarine fleet will now be utterly dependent on the United States, and as such the decision has prompted criticism from opposition benches and defence analysts alike. Furthermore, it could well deter non-US companies from seeking Australian military contracts.

    "We recognise our defence alliance arrangements with the US are the most important," said Opposition defence spokesman Dr Stephen Martin, but considered that the Government had sent "very poor signals to the defence industry, both nationally and internationally, that this is not a reliable government to do business with".

    "This looks like a major shift in weapons procurement," said Australian Defence Forces Academy senior fellow Stewart Woodman. "The US offer is a good deal in the sense that we get leading edge technology, but the price of doing that is that we would not be as independent as we were."

    The Government's decision could be further under fire should any legal action undertaken by STN Atlas be successful. The Government has set aside A$6 million to pay costs to existing tenderers but any subsequent litigation could leave the Australian tax-payer funding more than just a US designed combat system. However, Mr.Reith was quick to stress: "The Government is confident in its legal position in this matter."

    US enthusiasm for a major role in Australia's non-nuclear submarine programme may also be linked to the Bush Administration's recent offer to provide non-nuclear submarines to Taiwan. Since the US does not build such boats, any sale of submarines to Taipei would have to be sub-contracted. Sweden and Germany, the two prominent conventional submarine builders, have said they will not build boats for Taiwan. An Australian submarine industry indebted to the US may well feel itself duty-bound to support any effort by the US to fulfil it pledge to Taiwan.

    Alaskan Missile Sites Planned For NMD Tests
    President George W. Bush's administration has continued to flex its muscles by announcing a "much more robust" missile-defence test program to be expanded to sites in Alaska. Defence Department spokesman, Rear Admiral Craig Quigley revealed that the planned test sites at Fort Greely and Kodiak Island would form part of a Pacific "test bed" intended to allow realistic missile interception. However, Quigley refused to be drawn on whether such bases, when operational, would violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

    "The president has said, Secretary Rumsfeld has said that we need to move beyond the ABM Treaty. Now, the next question you might logically ask is at what point during the research and development in the months and years ahead might we come into conflict with the ABM Treaty? I can't give you an answer to that question, " said Admiral Quigley.

    Currently, the only interception tests being carried out by the US are taking place from a test range in the Kwajalein Atoll of the Marshall Islands. In the three flight tests so far, interceptors launched from Kwajalein have succeeded only once in smashing a dummy warhead-tipped Minuteman 2 booster fired from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. However, the White House will be seeking funding for this latest step towards missile development when the next fiscal year begins in October.

    "We intend to conduct a much more robust test program and to develop the research and data and analysis that you need to test out different means of providing missile defence," said Quigley. He further added that the proposed Alaskan test sites would clear the way for more "challenging interception geometries" than currently available from Kwajalein and Vandenberg Air Force base.

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