Joint Strike Fighter: Interview - Page 1/1

Created on 2005-01-28

Title: Joint Strike Fighter: Interview
By: Len 'Viking1' Hjalmarson
Date: Unknown 1191
Flashback: Orig. Multipage Version
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Csim: Lets start with some history. Who are "Innerloop?" Where have you come from and what do you do?

Henning: Innerloop was started by six people who had previously worked with Funcom and DMA Design. With about 2.5 years of industry experience we set up the company and started to work on the terrain-technology you see in JSF. After touring various publishers, we struck a deal with Eidos - a deal we are very happy with. It allows us to focus on creating solid titles with original contents while Eidos takes cares of the distribution-side of things.

Csim: What is your personal role in the project?

Henning: I am Managing Director of the company, and try to keep the company and the teams focused on their project goals. With JSF I have been involved in the design-work, tuning of the game, bug-testing, PR and marketing-activities, and getting everybody around the world working with JSF to communicate together.

Csim: When was JSF first conceived as a serious project?

Henning: In september 97. Before that, we only had the terrain-system going.

Csim: What are the design goals for JSF?

Henning: First of all, no one in our company has been particularly amazed by the efforts of other developers in creating realistic scenarios in simulations before. Even though several developers have impressive realism in flight-models, cockpit functions etc, there are still no flight-sims which combine fast graphics, realistic landscape, high level of details in the scenario objects with everything you expect from state-of-the-art jetfighter-simulations: A detailed fully working virtual cockpit, a good communications menu and PLENTY of camera-views.

Also, with the campaigns we wanted to give control of missions back to the player. Instead of just offering pre-planned missions, we wanted the player to choose his own target, set his own waypoints and decide all aspects of every mission by himself. With four campaigns, there are many more than 150 mission-targets available in JSF! Not counting all the secret targets scattered around the campaigns, undocumented by intelligence!

You should also keep in mind, that when we started on the project JSF was intended to be a software-only game, with no support for 3D-cards. Thus, we wanted to make a simulation which would look good for even people with P90s and no cards (which is a huge market). We decided to add 3Dfx as well, as many simulation-freaks own that, and it was an easy thing to do. Still, many people within Eidos prefer to play the software-version over the 3Dfx version as it has more detailed textures and is less smoothed.

Csim: That puts JSF in context for us...can you comparing it to particular sims in its class?

Henning: When it comes to avionics, cockpit instrument control and realism I think EF2000 is probably the closest thing. We have spent thousands of hours on research and dedicated work to get the physics system right with particles, wind, gravity, air-thickness (don't know the proper english word) and getting this right. The pilots beta-testing for us say this is the closest thing to flying they've ever seen. As for terrains, there's nothing really like JSF. It is much more realistic and has much more features in general compared to most other sims on the market (except for the likes of TFX-F22 and Back to Baghdad) so it really is quite close to EF2000. You can also choose whether to play it sim-style (starting out by the hangars, taxing out, turbulence, black-outs) or just to start on the runway, with unlimited weapons, no turbulence, just to have fun.


Csim: In what areas will JSF break new ground?

Henning: The quality of the terrain, the freedom of mission-planning, the realism in the cockpit and the control of the wingmen. Also, this is the only sim which features the X-32 and X-35, which have very interesting flight-models.

Csim: Some aircraft designers like Janes Combat Sims have close ties with the military and base their avionics on data supplied through these connections. How does Innerloop gather info for systems and flight modelling?

Henning: We have worked closely with the aviation expert Bill Sweetman who has been used as a consultant by many other flight-sim companies as well. He has researched the project, talking to anonomyous sources within Boeing and Lockheed-Martin, checking out weapons on military trade-shows and researching everything for us. We have also talked directly to the manufacturers of the new high-tech weapons to get them right in every detail. Regarding systems and flight-models, all I can say is that these are accurate.

Csim: What other military resources will Innerloop draw on? Are there actual pilots involved in the project?

Henning: We have been involved with pilots from Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands as well as Americans. Both in terms of beta-testing the plane and the game at various stages, but also to bug-test in the final stages. We are currently in discussion with military organisations regarding contract work on other simualations.

Csim: What can we expect to see in terms of realism in avionics and flight modelling? Will we see a similar level of detail similar to EF2000?

Henning: Yes, like EF2000.

Csim: What about weapons modelling in terms of physics and realism.

Henning: We have worked closely with the manufacturers to get the weapons right.

Csim: In the past year there have been some real advances in physics and ballistics modelling, in sims like A10 Cuba and Janes Longbow and others. What will we see in JSF?

Henning: We have played these titles excessively, are very impressed, and have had a lot of fun with these. We have probably bought around 500 books on subjects like these, and people working on JSF have PhDs in these things. I am sure that when you fly JSF, you will find the modelling very good.


Csim: What can we expect in terms of resolution options and detail options?

Henning: In software the sim supports all the resolutions available through Windows which has 16bit color.

Csim: Will we see light source shading?

Henning: The sim has three light-sources, but explosions, bullets etc. are not light-sources.

Csim: Frame rate is often a snag for the newest simulations. What can we expect to see with all detail options on, and what will be the recommended system?

Henning: The highest-detail option for the terrain is not recommended as this is for people playing a couple of years into the future. However, with about 30% of detail on (which is fine, believe me) in 640x480 it does about 22 fps on a P200 with a Trio64 graphics card. A P90 would be sufficient if the graphics-card supports lo-res. This is by far the fastest flight-sim around, and the dogfight option is lightning-fast as there is not so much AI going on.

Csim: Running under 3d hardware is a big step forward. What kind of hardware will JSF support? Will there be both proprietary support as well as D3d support?

Henning: JSF wil only support 3Dfx, and not Direct 3D. For using 3Dfx we are using Glide2.

Csim: Will the AI pilots use the same flight model as the virtual pilot?

Henning: The AI pilots use the flight model of the PLANE they are flying. This means that AI pilots flying a Mig-29 use a different flight-model than the SU-27 pilots.


Csim: Tell us more about the AI for the computer driven aircraft. What can we expect to see? Will pilots improve over time?

Henning: Basically, the AI pilots have five different skill-levels. During the progress of campaigns, and from one campaign to another, they increase in skill-level. You can also adjust this in an in-game menu.

Csim: How much control will a flight leader have over his wingmen?

Henning: Total control. You have about 8 formations (including decoys etc), 3 steps in separation, change formation leader, can tell them to engage at will, when tracked by enemy radar, when targeted etc. You can control their fire, tell them which target to go after, get various status info, radio silence, use ecm, check six at various intervals... There is more...

Csim: How does a pilot progress to command, or can we simply step into the role?

Henning: You are always the wing leader - this does not change.

Csim: Will we be able to use simulated radio to command? How will comms in net play be handled?

Henning: All comms control features samples spoken on the radio - with different voices for different wingmen, tower and awacs. I cannot go into detail about net play.


Csim: Other than suspension of disbelief the area that keeps virtual pilots coming back for more is identifying with the pilots they fly. How will JSF seek to involve the player personally?

Henning: You will attach to your pilot after you have ejected a couple of times and walked your pilot quake-like on the ground back to the base to save your progress (!). Other than this, you can only change callsign and pilotname.

Csim: Will we see a "real time" dynamic campaign or will the structure be more comparable to DiDs first WARGEN engine?

Henning: The campaigns are set in Afghanistan, Colombia, Korea and the Kola Peninsula. It is real-time, meaning that all enemy objects move about as time passes. However, time does not pass on the mission planner screen except for when you choose time skip. The enemy objects go about with their own things, so you have to get updates from the AWACS.

Csim: Will resource management be a consideration in the campaign?

Henning: Not really.

Csim: Integration of the ground war with the air war adds a lot of depth to the newer simulations. What approach have you taken in this area?

Henning: There are plenty of ground-targets to take out, and convoys must be stopped in order to avoid enemy forces increasing in strength. However, this is not as advanced as what DID are working on.

Csim: Will we see a wind model in the sim?

Henning: Yes. There is a wind-model, turbulence close to ground, winsocks on airports etc.

Csim: Can you tell us how padlock and views will be handled? Will we see a virtual cockput as well as fixed views?

Henning: The views are as following:

  • Straight - with HMD info
  • Padlock - Straight with target padlock
  • Virtual cockpit (can move head around, all MFDs updated) - you can also padlock targets in Virtual cockpit.
  • External view - (zoom in/out, pan around)
  • Air flyby
  • Gnd flyby
  • Chase view (A10-style)
  • Check six
  • Left wing fixed view
  • Right wing fixed view
  • Missile view (same controls as External view)
  • Missile IR camera
  • Missile flyby (you can toggle all missile views between all friendly and
  • incoming missiles, and also bombs)
  • Satellite view - top-view w/zoom in/out
  • Winsock view (only on airport)
  • Tower - plane padlock on airport
  • As well you can cycle enemy planes, generic objects, and enemy vehicles and installations. Much like Hind.

Csim: How will new technologies impact JSF? Will we see surround sound, force feedback, support for vr headsets?

Henning: Force-feedback will be supported, if not from the box then atleast as a patch. Patches for VR headsets and surround might happen (we only have stereo right now).

Csim: What can we expect for later add on scenarios?

Henning: No comment. If Joint Strike Fighter is well received, the product will be extremely well supported. Otherwise we will retire and mourn!

Csim: What do you feel is the coolest feature of JSF?

Henning: Two things: "virtual man" - moving hands and feet inside the virtual cockpit, and the IR missile cameras! Well, the WCMD weapon is also pretty cool!

Csim: How soon can we expect to see JSF?

Henning: The game is almost finished here in Oslo! Release will be decided by Eidos.

Csim: Thanks Henning, and best wishes for success!

Henning: My pleasure.

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