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iBeta's Realism Patch 3, Merlin's B-1B Cockpit.
by Bob "Groucho" Marks

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As we have seen through the preceding installments of this ongoing testament to Sim Geekdom, Falcon 4.0 has been broken open like a piŮata. Now, with its bits of source code (SC) scattered like chunks of cheap Mexican candy, a greater appreciation of the intricacies and complexity of this truly deep sim has emerged.

Hex editors and outlaw SC hackers from around the world are hard at work in their homes, offices, and parentís basements. Pioneers of a new kind of sim, one that is a vastly different and improved version of the official corporate release, these masters of binary code and C continue to tweak away.

The secrets of F4 are no longer in the possession of Hasbro Interactive alone---like it or not, Falcon is rapidly becoming a poster child for the free software movement. While much really interesting, important stuff is being found through soft-coded hex editing, the more militant members of our community point to the stolen source code as something that is somehow owed to them, as payment for . . .well . . .for MicroProse being just so darned sloppy.

That argument is, of course, vacuous. Hasbro Interactive owes nothing . . .they made a business decision, albeit one of questionable insight, that was strictly engineered to improve their bottom-line. Welcome to Capitalism 101, a prerequisite class at the School of Tough Doo-Doo. Unfortunately, Hasbro let a very important piece of work---the v1.07 source code---escape their grasp, and hackers the world over have jumped on it like Bill Clinton on an intern.

The adrenaline-fueled riptide of home grown patch releases has subsided somewhat recently, however. Since the initial release of the infamous eRAZOR hack a few weeks back, the SC hack types have been quiet. Whether that silence can be interpreted as hunkering down for a legal onslaught or just that they are hard at work, who can tell.

So far, however, there has been no sign from Hasbro that they are declaring a Jihad. Nevertheless, itís tough to imagine that progress on the SC front will be very swift. The collaboration and cooperation necessary for such a daunting task as reworking such a complex beast as Falcon can be a rough gig, particularly when you wonder if the next phone call you get is from the Hasbro Legal Department.

While these guys---particularly, eRAZOR---have been phenomenally successful at dragging the Falcon 4.0 graphics engine kicking & screaming into the modern era (for the D3D user, at least), the war fighting logic and gameplay still suffer from its inferior v1.07 code base.

There are advantages to taking the well-lit high road. Those hex masters at iBeta, having chosen that less treacherous legal / moral route by flailing away only at the more accessible, hexable bits of Falcon, have come out with another paradigm-shifter. Enter the latest iteration of Falcon 4 Plus---iBeta Reality Patch 3.


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