|B17 II The Mighty Eighth
by Leonard "Viking1" Hjalmarson
Q: Why B17 2? While there is great interest on the part of virtual pilots, most developers would argue it's no fun flying big hulking bombers so you can get shot up by the fighters..
A: The original is widely accepted to have performed admirably, it was awarded "Simulator of the Year" when it came out and it certainly performed well in the other crucial area - sales. We've had no problems finding a Publisher willing to take on the sequel, and it certainly seems that a lot of people remember the old B-17 and can't wait to see the new one.
There is no shortage of people interested in bombing either, Warbirds recently increased its complement of bombers due to public demand, and flying as part of a BUFF formation online is immense fun. As for getting shot up by the fighters.... those Fortresses pack a lot of firepower, and they have some very dangerous "Little Friends" along for the ride....
Q: In real estate the watch word is "location," and in combat sims its "atmosphere." How do you establish atmosphere and suspension of disbelief in B17 2?
A: The short answer is Attention to detail and consistency of interface. If it looks like it should work, it will work. If it looks like it should blow up, it'll blow up.
If you choose Nose art and names for your B-17's then that's how the simulation will depict them and refer to them. The cockpits are incredibly accurate and the controls are complete and correct, which should please the most fanatical enthusiast. Of course we're providing flexible detail levels and strong AI support which allows novice players to find their niche.
Q: Another factor of immersion is giving players a reason to care about their crew and squadron. How do you accomplish this?
A: The crew is one of the most important aspects of B-17 2. At the simplest campaign level your responsibility is for the crew of a single bomber and your goal is to get all ten crewmembers through a 25-mission tour of duty.
In terms of gameplay each crewmember will be a learning AI who will improve with experience, the passage of time but most of all when the gamer performs as that crewmember. Combat losses from the gamer's crew will be replaced with rookies who will need training up before they can pull their weight. Loss of all 10 original crewmembers will constitute defeat for the gamer.
In terms of supporting background detail there will be personnel records kept on your crewmembers complete with mission histories, injuries, performance stats, promotions and decorations and also his classification if he goes MIA, WIA or KIA. Letters will be generated from the Pilot to the families of deceased or captured crewmembers for signature by the player.
Caring for an entire squadron is a more difficult task, but Squadron CO's will certainly care when all their experienced Veterans buy it! They'll be forced to plan missions that aren't advancing the course of the war particularly whilst they get new B-17s and those green crews gain experience. Handing out decorations and promotions will naturally draw his attention to the high achievers and, of course, he'll still be flying with them all.
Currently in the design are plans to allow gamers to customise their bombers with their own noseart and names - although we're providing a goodly amount ourselves that you might find hard to beat.
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Last Updated April 28th, 1999