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The Balkans Terrain and Campaigns for Falcon 4.0
By Jennifer & Robert Mitchell

Article Type: How-To
Article Date: August 31, 2001

Rockin' in the Balkans

Balkans Terrain splashscreen

Sometime before the suits at Hasbro Interactive put the lid on the Falcon 4.0 project back in ’99, the development team announced that the anticipated addon for Falcon 4.0 would be an F-15E, and the theater of operations would be the Balkans. It made sense. EA's Jane’s F-15 was still very popular (and arguably still is to this day), the F-15E is the type of jet that developers like to build a study sim around, it does air-to-air and air-to-ground, and the Balkans was the hotspot in the world at that time. So, we all looked forward to a bright future of a fixed Falcon 4.0 with a Balkans F-15E add-on for it sometime in 2000. You know the rest of the story.

What you’ll need: (expanded--you cannot install the Balkans without an expanded F4Patch folder. See Playing with Fire, Patching the ‘new’ Falcon 4.0--Parts II and III for instructions on expanding your F4Patch folder).

Waitagoldarnminute! RP 4.1?
There are a couple of stipulations for using the Balkans Theater that you should know about. First, you can’t use Realism Patch 5.0 with the Balkans Theater. You’ve got to use Realism Patch 4.1. We can hear you saying “Why do we need to use RP 4.1? We just read last week about patching to RP 5.0?” The reason for this is because the RPG group didn’t get the data edits included into RP5 for use with the Balkans campaign. This is supposed to be fixed soon, as an RP 5.0 compatibility update will be issued, the last update issued, before the Balkan’s inclusion into F4SuperPak [F4SuperPak info. —ed.].

So, until the compatibility update comes out, you have to use Realism Patch 4.1. If you have any other RP besides RP 4.1 installed, I’d really recommend uninstalling Falcon 4.0 from your computer and starting fresh. I’m sure that there are ways through F4Patch that you can revert (or convert) to RP 4.1 from another RP version. But, really, you’ll probably save yourself some problems just by starting fresh.

The second thing is that the README included with the Balkans Theater says that in the last days some technical problems were found in the campaign that couldn’t be fixed before release. It goes on to say that at the time of release (July 4, 2001) the campaign is at beta status. The Balkans terrain team reassured us in the README however that fixes would be forthcoming. So far, one update has been delivered: “” [file hosted at Frugal's World —ed.] You can find more info about this file at the Balkans Theater site.

According to Manfred Nelles, this will cure the “day one, 14:30” CTD (crash to desktop) bug that many users encountered. He also told me that the campaigns are still in development, especially the "Under Siege" one. So we can expect even more from the Balkans in the near future.

Assuming that you’re all set with an install that has RP 4.1 in it, your first step will be unapplying all your patches in F4Patch. Ok, this may seem a bit odd to you, but trust me on this, you gotta do it, if you don’t it won’t work! So, go ahead and open up F4Patch now and begin un-checking everything! Use the “All Patches” filter to make sure that you don’t miss anything. I can hear you now, ”But I only applied patches with the eFalcon (or iFalcon…take your pick) filter on.” Go ahead and change the filter to All Patches. I promise it won’t hurt, and it will only take a second. You just never know what the gremlins have been up to while you were off flying in Korea or playing with the IL-2 Sturmovik demo.

All Patches Filter

Unapply Patches
Uncheck EVERY patch that’s applied. Don’t think that leaving the Training mission #29 Fix patch on is okay…it isn’t. Unapply all your patches…all of 'em. Hopefully I’m making my point that every single patch you’ve got needs to be unapplied by now. ;) I too thought that I’d take shortcuts once and ended up having to reinstall from scratch. That’s not a big deal you say? No, it’s not, neither is unapplying them all with the All Patches filter showing!

All patches have been unapplied

After clicking on the Apply Changes button you’ll get a pop-up showing you what’s been unapplied, and any errors that occurred while un-applying the patches. If you’ve got a ‘clean’ install you will most likely have no problems.

Unapplied patches pop-up window

Balkans Install
Now that all of ‘em are unapplied, we can begin installing the Balkans Terrain. Put the Falcon4BalkanTheater10.exe file [file hosted at Frugal's World —ed.] in your Falcon4 folder. Double-click and let it run. Easy huh?

Balkan Theater .exe file in your Falcon4 folder

You will be reminded to have ALL current patches UNAPPLIED before installing the Balkans Theater. If you have any doubt in your mind at this point stop the installation and go back to F4Patch and double-check.

ALL current patches must be unapplied before installing!

Pick a Flavor
Now, dependent on what Falcon configuration you use, you have a few choices to make. Just pick the configuration you use and go with next. As an aside, eFalcon 1.10 uses a larger terrain texture than the earlier eFalcon’s and the iFalcon’s do. As an eye-candy junkie and eFalcon 1.10 user I go with #4 eFalcon 1.10 (full terrain). (That was one of my attractions to eFalcon to begin with!!!!)

Select your installation type

Keep going and right before it’s go-time you’ll be at a confirmation screen. Read the text in the Current Settings box carefully, if anything is wrong go back and fix it now!

Confirmation window

As long as everything looks good, and is going to the right folders, etc. keep on going and start installing the Balkans. You’ll be glad you did! Repeat after me: “Change is good. Change is good…” Anyway, you’ll see next why you had to have an expanded F4Patch folder, and why we harped on the importance of expanding your F4Patch folder in our “Playing with fire” series. What is happening next is that the F4Patch files for the Balkans are being installed to your F4Patch folder.

Installing files to your F4Patch folder

Now we’ll see it really start to work on building you a new theatre of operations to fly in. Shortly, you’ll see a PKZIP DOS window appear as files get moved around and stored.

PKZIP at work

The Slow Part
Next is the really cool, and time-consuming part. The installer will start building the terrain. This will probably take awhile, so go do something around the house and let your wife sit back and relax. She’s earned it! If you’re female, stay in your seat and ask your husband\boyfriend\whatever to bring you something to eat and/or drink while you wait. (You can probably guess which half of the writing duo came up with that—Bob)

Generating Level 0 Terrain

For us, generating Level 3 terrain is the longest part of the installation, it’s been that way all the way back to the beta v.5 days of the Balkans. I don’t know this, but I assume that it’s the higher detail terrain files.

Generating Level 3 Terrain

After generating the terrain levels you’re done! Balkans is installed.

Installation complete

Reapply Patches
Now what you’ll want to do is go back to F4Patch and re-apply your patches. I recommend starting with Realism Patch 4.1, then reapplying the eFalcon (if you’re using eFalcon) patches next. Then the Balkans patch down in the new terrains folder. If you do use eFalcon, don’t use the eFalcon configuration editor.exe. For some reason that causes a lot of errors with the Balkans. If you’ve got to make a change to the eFalcon.cfg file, do it manually with Notepad or a similar text editor.

Have fun in your new theater!

Balkans theater UI screen

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