In the spring of 1998,
with Total Air War well into beta, Mark "Boxer" Doran and I wrote a
letter to DiD in the hope that Total Air War could become the basis of
a virtual battlefield that would include an update of EF2000, one of the best LAN sims ever released. On the weekend we learned that EF2000 v. III will be DiDs next major sim product.
In the spring of '98 we were feeling nostalgic. We liked Total
Air War and its new campaign system, but we missed the Eurofighter and
the fjords of Norway. Why not marry these two worlds together, updated
to the best of modern graphics, and with the latest information on the
avionics suite in the newly released Eurofighter?
We believed that Total Air War's AWACS module could be improved
and expanded, with more control given to the player. I've forgotten
some of the outlines of this now, but the idea was to create an eight
player (or more) simulation, where two players could act at Theatre
Commander, with others flying the missions.
In short the feature list would read like this:
A dissimilar aircraft to fly : Su 27?
Coop multiplayer with ef2's for eight players
Greatly enhanced tactical control through AWACS interface
Addition of the dual H2H Theatre Command modes
Enhanced detail in briefs, debriefs and Intel
The addition of a Norwegian campaign
state of the art graphics and environment modeling
Complete control of wing, element and flight
In this electronic battlefield, each Theatre Commander, one for the
Russians and one for NATO, would possess the God's eye view of the
AWACS commander. In the initial release, it might be that only the NATO
pilots would have the option to actually fly the missions, pending an
SU27 release later on. But in the meantime, it would be Theatre Command
vs. Theatre Command, with human pilots flying the actual Eurofighter
missions in a real time conflict.
The Theatre Commander would possess an expanded viewing
ability as compared to Total Air War, with the AWACS display on one
monitor, and the real time view on another. In single player mode as
Theatre Commander the player would also possess this ability.
Click for full size MAP
Currently, Total Air War gives us a real time view on the left
side of the display, and the AWACS view on the right. Picture this dual
display ability translated into a large screen TV for AWACS data
projection for the Theatre Commander, and a 17 to 21 inch monitor for a
real time view of the action or the first person view of the human
pilot flying the mission in the multiplayer setting.
AWACS View. Click for full size MAP
The AWACS command ability would also be expanded for this simulation,
with the ability to call up new flights and the ability to choose the
type of intercept. Here is a more detailed look at the enhanced
The following selectable filters would clarify the information presented on the AWACS interface MAP screen:
Ability to toggle on/off route trace for a single selected
Ability to display flights by type, separately or in
combination: - Strike - WW - Escort - Auxiliary (to include AWACS/JSTARS/Texaco etc.)
Ability to highlight F-22's that can be co-opted by the player.
Ability to show only flights that are awaiting AWACS intervention.
Examples might include: - low fuel requesting tanker vector, - under
attack requesting assitance, - checking in for tasking
Ability to show only flights engaged and dogfighting
Ability to highlight a single flight and show this flight and
any associated flights in the same strike package only.
Ability to display max weapon range bubble around a flight (book
value Rmax will do as a compromise here).
Possible Specific Implementation
Currently the information presented in the AWACS view is very
limited, and control ability is also limited. The idea is to expand the
Threatre Commander portion of the game and thus making the strategic
game much deeper by giving more information to the player, as well as
expanding control ability.
Current TAW control buttons.
Box 1 = filter routes (selecte
d ac only. Click on AC adds route
Box 2 = filter mission type (add red and yellow boxes and
triangles).. more below
Box 3 = filter F22s (make em yellow for quk visual ident)
Box 4 = filter urgent only (selected flight, awacs and low fuel)
Our version of EF2000 v.III would use colored boxes or diamonds to filter type of allied flight. Filter Mission Type:
* red diamond: this flight is intercepting
* yellow diamond: this flight has taken damage
* green diamond or flashing symbol: this flight is low fuel
* green circle: AWACS or JSTARS flight
* bright green symbol: strike flight
* normal green: other allied flight
Colored boxes to filter non allied flights:
* red circle: this flight is designated for intercept by an
* flashing red: HIGH THREAT not designated needs attention
Our version of EF2000 v. III would ensure that threat radius circles
are distinguishable by type when multiple types are selected at once
(e.g. make EWR radius and SAM envelopes show with *obviously* different
Now as for control ability, a great deal can be done. The
current command set given to the AWACS chair is extremely slim. The
click/drag/drop MAP interface could be enhanced to include the
+ Hold - in current possition - in designated position (drag to a point in space) - at next waypoint
+ Return to flight plan as fragged
+ RTB now
The vector command area would be greatly expanded over the present
single mode option, allowing not only more options but increasing
tactical control: Vector
+ to refueler
+ recovery at designated airbase
+ escort designated flight (like drag to subject)
+ strike designated target (like drag to subject)
+ targets of opportunity in area (rubber band sweep area)
+ stern conversion
In the same way, Rules of Engagement could be issued to flights, either when a new flight is called up or in the air:
+ weapons green tight
+ weapons yellow hold
+ weapons red free
+ be aggressive: engage as a priority
+ be cautious: avoid engagement if possible
Vector control would include flight path control:
+ change intended route of flight (drag existing waypoints?)
+ change speed (slow [300kts], max conserve [~0.93M], buster,
+ change alt (TFR/low/med/high)
In keeping with the ability to manage multiple flights in real
time, we need a more detailed reporting function. We should be able to
query any flight for fuel state, damage, weapons status, TOT etc.
And in order to estimate vector times, etc, we will need a
ruler or compass function. We ought to be able to measure distance on
the map between two arbitrary points. A button then drag interface
would be easy enough for this, similar to the one used by Janes in the
Longbow II mission planner.
As for the ability to
call up new flights, this is a must to a true Theatre Commander. We
should be able to click on an airfield to bring up a list of the
flights that are ready plus the number and type of alert birds. Using
this you can scramble interceptors or scrub/advance strike missions(?).
F4 Factory in view.
the graphics environment of this simulation should be state of the art,
rivalling Falcon 4.0 and Janes WW2 Fighters. Resolution should be
available as high as hardware will run, and high resolutions should
extend to the interface. Multiple cloud layers, alpha blending,
reflections and special effects should all be state of the art.
We should also have environment modeling that surpasses Team Apache.
Give us wind, turbulence and weather. We want to feel that we really
are flying in a Norwegian conflict!
An important component of the new EF2000 would be the WARGEN
engine promised for Total Air War but cut back due to time constraints.
Let's finally have DiD's version of the total battlefield, a real time
dynamic system integrating the air and ground wars.
Resource management, persistent environment, and true dynamics should
all be present here. Taking out a key GCI station will affect
detection. Taking out the enemy AWACS would be even more important. And
taking out a power dam would affect production of war materials.
Intel briefings and debriefings should be advanced far beyond Total Air
War, and these should be generated dynamically on any target we
request. This means that RECON flights will also have be managed, and
if a RECON flight or BDA flight is taken out, the fog of war will take
effect and we will have only very limited intel on a given target.
In fact, early on in the development of Total Air War a more
detailed INTEL system was in the works. The shot above gives you a
taste of what we want to see in EF2000 v.III.
Finally, DiD needs to finally make the jump to a truely full
featured flight control ability. No more of this commanding a wingman
to engage a single bandit and having an entire flight engaging and
firing weapons! Janes F15 gave us greatly expanded abilities, enabling
a flight leader to command a single wingman, an Element, or a Flight.
Microprose Falcon 4 gives us similar abilities. EF2000 v.3 must be
state of the art here too.
Now, while it's true that EF2000 v.III is DiDs next project,
all that you have read here is only a partial wish list of a couple of
sim nuts. This is all "sound and fury, signifying nothing." But..... if
you like this proposal, send mail to DiD and tell em what you want to
see in EF2000 v.III.