Csim: Team Apache is looking to be a very unique approach to military sims
in general. Can you tell us how this developed?
Bryan: Team Apache developed from my own personal experience as an Apache attack
helicopter pilot and Desert Storm veteran, as well as my frustration with
the current status quo in rotary-wing flight simulation. I view TA as a
breakthrough project, intended to show the player what it's really like to
strap on an AH-64 and lead a flight of intelligent, highly-trained aircrews
The biggest influence the player will be able to see involves the tactical
planning, and personnel management issues. TA really emphasizes good
planning and employment of the available resources, both technical and
personal. It also emphasizes the human side of the equation, including
fatigue, morale, and unit cohesion issues. TA challenges players on
multiple levels, instead of simply their ability to wiggle a joystick.
Csim: I'm curious that you chose NOT to model the AH64D Longbow. What factors contributed to that decision?
Bryan: The Longbow system certainly has potential, but it doesn't have any combat
experience under its belt. In addition, I found that putting Longbow-style
technology into the mix without presenting ALL the nuances of the system
present makes gameplay more of a button-pushing issue than anything else.
From a gameplay standpoint, I personally disklike "Super Weapon"
simulations, as they remove much of the challenge of real-life combat
aviation, and trivialize the experience.
What is the setting for the campaigns?
Bryan: TA features perhaps the most involved dynamic campaign engine ever
created, with multiple levels of command and control dictating the
battlefield environment. The Columbian campaign focuses on low-intensity
conflict, where the Russian campaign really turns up the heat by
challenging the player to fight in an environment where they're facing
newer technology and have to simply be smarter than the enemy.
Csim: Tell us about the leadership factors built into Team Apache?
Bryan: The biggest challenge will be to manage the aircrews and maintenance
personnel. TA's environment is completely interconnected. Some aircrews
can be flying while others are on alert and others sleeping. The same
applies to the maintenance section, who can be repairing aircraft while
others are deployed. It's up to the player to decide which pilots to
deploy, how they're paired, which aircraft to put them in, and how to
allocate the maintanence manpower. Badly-damaged airframes can be
cannibalized if need be, or Partially-Mission-Capable aircraft can be sent
Working the pilots or maintenance personnel too hard can
result in mistakes, crashes, and reduced effectiveness of the entire unit.
It really becomes a balancing act for the player, deciding which missions
to focus on, arguing with the "Head Shed" about priorities and timescales,
and looking out for his men while still accomplishing the objective.
Csim: The AI that factors in experience, moral, and team cooperation must be quite sophisticated. Can you tell us some of the nuts and bolts of
Bryan: Each "Artificial Pilot" is rated in 21 different categories, including
technical and personal traits. Compatibility between crewmembers can come
to the fore, particularly once Fatigue and Morale come into play. Some
pilots will prefer different weapons in different circumstances, while
others excel at night missions. The outcome of specific missions and the
progress of the campaign in general has effects on not only the morale
issues, but can have a great deal to do with the player's status as a
If the success rate is high, then the player will have more
leeway in mission selection and supply requests. If the success rate is
low, then the top hats won't put up with a lot of guff while debating a
mission's priority. The loss of an aircraft or pilot can have a
devastating effect on a unit, and the rescue of missing aviators becomes a
priority when a bird goes down. On top of that, the pilots can
occasionally receive "Dear John" letters and such, causing their morale to
sag. It's up to the player to decide how to cope with these issues, and
it's no small task!
Click to continue
. . .
Csim: I understand that these moral and cooperation factors will extend beyond the pilots to crew chiefs and mechanics! How does this actually work? What tells me that my mechanic is tired of fixing my chopper? Will there be dialogue choices for example?
Bryan: The pilots' tent and crewchiefs' tent have interfaces that allow the
player to view estimate the fatigue level and guage the moral level of the
personnel. The pilots can be examined individually, while the crewchiefs
are viewed as a unit. The "platoon seargent" of the crewchiefs will pass
along advise at critical junctures if the maintenance personnel are ready
to drop, and senior pilots will also offer input when a change in
assignments should be considered.
Csim: Will we see a "real time" dynamic campaign, or will we see a mission generation system where a pilot chooses from a list of missions every
set no of hours of gameplay?
Bryan: TA's campaign runs in real time, with it entirely possible to have the
unit divided up performing multiple missions simultaneously, while other
aircraft are undergoing maintenance.
Csim: Suspension of disbelief is a watchword in the simulation community. What other factors are key to the virtual environment other than the
morale and team interaction factors?
Bryan: The persistence of the environment is paramount. Destroyed vehicles from
previous missions will litter the battlefield as the unit moves progresses
forward. Losing a pilot brings up a screen with the player/commander
writing home to his family. Certain incidents can be "remembered" by
Operations personnel and come up to bite the player in the butt at a later
date. The suspension of disbelief is achieved by appealing to the player
from a personal side, as well as immersing him in a very dynamic
environment of cause and effect.
Csim: How much control will the team leader have over his team when in action?
Bryan: The player can design tactics and formations, and then practice them in
training missions with his unit. The more these tactics are practiced, the
more proficient the unit becomes as a whole and individually. (This can
become an issue if a pilot needs to be replaced, with a "newbie.") Tactics
and formations can be activated via macros, and individual aircraft can be
given specific orders in the event everything goes to hell.
Csim: I understand that the average flight in Team Apache will consist of four or more units. How does this affect an attack group? And what
extra demands does it place on the team leader?
Bryan: Apache units are viewed and employed as a "big stick", with a company of 6
aircraft possessing more than enough firepower to dispatch an armored
battalion. As a result, they're typically used in 5 or 6-ship elements.
However, many missions will require the player to divide up the company in
smaller elements to "fight fires" that crop up unexpectedly. (The Plan is
always the first casualty of battle.)
Csim: Will the player start out as a team leader, or will he have to complete some training first?
Bryan: The player has a wide range of training utilities to start with, but he'll
hit the ground running in the campaigns.
Csim: The screen shots for Team Apache and FN2 have been looking good, but there are differences in the two engines. Can you tell us about the difference?
Bryan: Though FN2 and TA use most of the same graphics technology, there will be
some differences by the time TA ships next Spring or Summer. Most notable
is the higher resolution of the terrain graphics.
Csim: What resolutions will be available to the player?
Csim: Will we see light source shading?
Bryan: The FN2 and TA graphics engine can support an infinite number of light
sources, limited only by the available system memory and CPU speed.
Csim: Will wind and weather be modelled in Team Apache?
Bryan: Absolutely. This can become very critical in mission planning, as
laser-guided munitions such as the Hellfire suffer degredation during rain,
Go to Part II