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What Tank Simulations did you play before SB

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1 minute ago, Ssnake said:

I'm a modernist, as far as my motivation is concerned. Not to say that WW2OL didn't have its merits.

My wish was always to see Cold War Online.

 

The 1/2 scale map of WW2OL was so massive, and everything you did was slow. Jets/Helicopters/Modern Armor all would've been a great catalyst for action and maneuver warfare. 

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8 hours ago, Apocalypse 31 said:

That would have been an impossible task...or at least extremely difficult.

 

That development team made so many bad decisions that it would probably take a Herculean effort to trace what worked and what didn't work.

 

At one point their lead coder left and they discovered that the code was so complicated that it took 2 years to untangle the web of code.

 

It's really sad. In its heyday it was an incredibly fun and popular game.

 

It certainly had the largest game world of any game I have ever played.

 

You know I forgot all about it, but I did *BRIEFLY* play it back in the day when it was big.  I just looked it up and I see now that they have free accounts, which must be a sign of the times.  I seem to recall that at the time I played it, without a squad of some kind it was horribly difficult to get anything major done, since the various AT and AA guns were basically immobile without a truck, and any type of armored vehicle that took a single penetrating hit was done immediately.

 

I had free trial accounts at various times when they were offered and spent most of that time playing as a rifleman I think.  It was incredibly fun when you could join in organized attacks or defensive operations but never seemed good enough to make me want to pay to play.  Too much lag, too, leading to lots of sudden death for no apparent reason, enemies shrugging off direct hits, etc.

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4 hours ago, Apocalypse 31 said:

My wish was always to see Cold War Online.

 

The 1/2 scale map of WW2OL was so massive, and everything you did was slow. Jets/Helicopters/Modern Armor all would've been a great catalyst for action and maneuver warfare. 

I think I've played some games that rival WW2OL's map size, though they were played exclusively in the air.

 

Falcon 4.0, for one, although that was single player only.

 

IL-2 Sturmovik had some online campaigns, some of which were played out on some quite large maps.  In fact, in certain aircraft, like the Bf-109s, I-16, early Yaks, etc, you really did have to worry about fuel.  Back when that was popular, you'd have rather large missions played out online and you never quite knew if you'd spend the whole flight without ever spotting the enemy, or if you'd wind up in a giant furball.

 

Later on when it got opened up to mods I remember there was a huge map of the Med.  A slice of North Africa from Tunis to somewhere east of Sidi Barrani, and an equally wide section of Italy and Greece as far north as Rome.  Never got to play it with a large group, but it certainly made an interesting experience when you did North Africa campaigns on it.

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In the 90s, I spent a lot of time playing air warrior, the first true massive multiplayer platform.  The tanks in it were super simplistic.  It performed decently over dial up modems and had in game voice comms, multiple mannable gun positions in the same aircraft, etc.  At its peak, around 150 people could be in the same world at once.  I think the AW crew was involved with several other sims, like warbirds and aces high.  Some of them possibly went on to being involved with ww2 online?  I bought WW2 online right after it came out.  What a disaster it was - it was clear that someone there wanted to to just ship it before it was anywhere near done.  I remember it had limits on how many other players you could see in your bubble, so many times you would just die when someone you could not see shot you.  They tried to fix the damage as quickly as possible and didn't charge a subscription fee initially, but the launch probably hurt them badly.

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45 minutes ago, Sean said:

I bought WW2 online right after it came out.  What a disaster it was

I remember the release date: June 6, 2001

 

My excitement was crushed to find out that I needed to download a 300MB patch upon install.

 

That's a pretty tall order on a 56k modem. It took me all night.

 

I finally logged in on June 7th; I ran around the barren farmlands around Dinant with a buddy of mine. I didn't see enemy contact for at least three days. 

 

Calling the landscape 'barren' is an understatement. 

OLDScreen.jpg

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Before SpeedTree, they used a 2d shrub concept.

 

I really like it for two reasons -

1. At the proper angle it looked great (they used real foliage textures)

2. It was great for FPS preservation

 

When they introduced SpeedTree in 2004 (?) it killed FPS and didn't look that great. This is an older picture with the 2d foliage. 

 SShot7.thumb.jpg.06bcc8cc4853a3265746d6180985aad6.jpg

 

Up close it was a bit wonky - but honestly - it worked fine, looked ok (at distance) but was great for preserving FPS. 

SShot4.thumb.jpg.5ae849a28995538ba97d7cc1c01b1103.jpg

 

 

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Posted (edited)

didn't play any tanksims before SB1. i bought SB because i was working on a tank game, and wanted to understand how tanks really worked. 

choice was betweeb M1TP and SB, i saw all the labels of "worlds best tank simulator" on the cover, and was sold. 

installed the game, started SB, and the graphics were so ugly i nearly threw up on my keyboard. 

to put it mildly, i felt ripped off, and wanted to uninstall the abomination immediately,  but decided to give it a shot, since i had paid good money for it.

and well, here i am, over 15 years later. 

 

Edited by dejawolf

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17 hours ago, dejawolf said:

installed the game, started SB, and the graphics were so ugly i nearly threw up on my keyboard. 

 

Honestly, I'm not sure "Bad Graphics!" was ever a complaint I had about the original Steel Beasts.

 

Mostly what I wanted out of it was more content.  I kept wishing that there had been more playable vehicles, more AI vehicles, more customization of certain things, mod compatibility, etc.  Lots of what I wanted at the time has been added to Pro-PE, plus new graphics.

 

The people I knew who whined about the graphics were also completely not interested in accurate modeling of, well, anything.

 

 

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Well, you could be happy with the content and still be unhappy about the looks. At the end of the day, the content can be as good as it could possibly get - if the game looks so ugly that people don't bother checking it out, you aren't in a good position. The looks should at least be "passable". You don't have to be the knife's edge of technology, but it's go to be somewhere near the top of the bottom third of all games.

It's like a hotel room. Must be clean, can be fancy and spacious.

 

It took a fair bit of effort to convice people in 1999/2000 that Steel Beasts, despite the dated looks, was worth checking out. The engine "got the job done" and rendered out to 4,000m which was no small feat at the time, but you had to point these factors out to a fair number of people. A good looking game meeting the same functional goals would not have faced this adversity. But, of course, at the time a good-looking game couldn't have rendered out to 4,000m without stopping to be good-looking. M1 Tank Platoon 2 represents the best of graphics at the time. Its forests and tree lines were nothing to write home about, let alone the 800m grid for the terrain engine. But the tank models were nice, and the smoke columns drifted. It was a fake drift, yes, and the fire control system simulation wasn't impressive at all. But the looks created a receptive mood in the audience.

I knew that we had the better simulation when it came out, but I also knew that we couldn't compete with the looks, at that time, at least if taken at face value. But I was elated knowing that we had the by far more accurate simulation.

 

In a similar way I was clueless about the value of good sounds. Until Volcano came along and made much, much, much better sounds at the last minute (=between the release of the preview demo and the actual release of version 1.0). All of a sudden it was a difference like night and day. That certainly helped to make up for some of the deficits in the visuals.

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It was the fidelity, game play and community that made me stick with SB all these years.

The graphics were good enough over the years to create the illusion one was in a combat zone.

The sounds have steady improved over the years especially the Arty.

In saying all that.

I do believe the current engine is coming to the end.

Maybe i have got it wrong but i get the impression the SB team seem to be fighting the engine square peg round hole type scenario.

What we have works well but if we want to attract new players maybe its time to look at options. which i assume is already been examined 

I fully realise its no mean feat. and the cost may well be prohibitive.

But maybe its a case of who dares wins.

 

 

 

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I miss WW2OL, the HC system screwed squads sadly but.. rolling in giant armor groups with 3rd panzer or 23rd armor was pretty fun. And the integration with infantry and armor was pretty good.

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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, Snoggy said:

HC system screwed squads

For me, it was the Brigade system that was my breaking point.

 

Before Brigades, each town had a garrison with an equipment set. The only way to 'over-strength' the garrison was to manually drive stuff in from rear towns. Most fights ended because either an attacker or defender lost all of its garrison equipment. The garrison ORBAT was also realistic for the number of players in the game. It was common to destroy an entire garrison of equipment. 

 

Then the introduction of Brigades....Brigades were stacked with equipment - too much stuff, really. And also very difficult to actually 'destroy' a Brigade. Whenever a Brigade was on the brink of destruction, the HC would swap it out with a new, fresh Brigade. Attacking a town became a difficult task, and moving the map became too sluggish. Gamey. Not fun. 

Edited by Apocalypse 31

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6 hours ago, Marko said:

... The graphics were good enough over the years to create the illusion one was in a combat zone. ...

In saying all that.

I do believe the current engine is coming to the end.

It is, yes.

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M1TP2 was probably the first tank sim I really got into. But when SB came out I was sold on its gunnery model and amazing sounds. I still enjoyed the graphics even without 3D acceleration.

1 hour ago, Ssnake said:

It is, yes.

Does a new graphics engine endanger compatibility with old maps and scenarios? What engine are you leaning towards?

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We'll develop a new Steel Beasts engine. I hate being dependent on the whimsical decisions of other developers. We'll make sure that there will be, in the worst case, a migration path to convert old content (like what happened with the new terrain engine in 4.1). Ideally however the new version would be capable of reading legacy files without requiring any user action.

 

Converting files sucks, so the "migration path" is a distant second option for me. But like in version 4.1, sometimes there is no other way, and then it's better than nothing. Implementing that kind of backwards compatibility probably cost us a year and a half in development and testing, and it wasn't fun for the beta testers at all, but the alternative would have been a total catastrophe. We take preservation of your time investment into the stock of scenarios and map files very seriously.

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I'm down with an all-new, from the ground up, Steel Beasts even if backwards compatibility is lost. Wouldn't I be able to run a parallel installation of 4.1 anyway (for legacy scenarios and maps)?

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Maybe this should be split off into a separate thread. But I think that eSim Games can, over time, redevelop Steel Beasts Pro from ground up. Not everything, that'd be crazy, but there are a good number of areas where I think we can't make much progress with the current code base. What we can't do is to recreate a similarly rich canon of scenarios. What good is a simulation game if you don't have content for it?

Besides, it's a moot point anyway. Our military customers simply wouldn't accept having to rewrite all their scenarios. It's a considerable investment. Since we couldn't be successful if we didn't protect that investment, we basically have no choice. And if there's no choice involved, what's the point of debating it?

;)

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On 6/16/2020 at 2:18 PM, Maj.Hans said:

Honestly, I'm not sure "Bad Graphics!" was ever a complaint I had about the original Steel Beasts.

 

Mostly what I wanted out of it was more content.  I kept wishing that there had been more playable vehicles, more AI vehicles, more customization of certain things, mod compatibility, etc.  Lots of what I wanted at the time has been added to Pro-PE, plus new graphics.

 

The people I knew who whined about the graphics were also completely not interested in accurate modeling of, well, anything.

 

 

back in 1999 or 2000 or so there was interest among the player base for improved graphics, among other things- part of the overall transition to an update. it's not that users would turn down better graphics, it's that the core experience

was still good enough at the time to continue playing steel beasts- but there certainly was enthusiasm for improvements. steel beasts was clearly a good basis to keep going, and we saw the value in it with a future upgrade in mind.

i think it's somewhat of a myth that steel beasts' graphics were really that awful- given the generations of land focused simulations, armor or otherwise, there weren't many at all to speak of in the late 1990s, and of those

that existed, say, panzer elite, panzer commander, m1 tank platoon2, the graphics on those games weren't that stellar either, steel beasts in most cases was either more or less on par with those games (rendering tracers, fire effects, infantry as flat sprites), or it even surpassed them

(steel beasts rendered forests consisting of individual trees, even though they were like carboard pictures, and the infantry representation was still better than those other games). i think steel beasts really wasn't as obsolete as it claimed in grahics- panzer commander looked quite artificial

and lifeless, had no infantry, and had generally featureless, flat terrain. M1TP2 was better in this regard, but certainly quite flat and barren. pictures on the box gave the impression of much more terrain and urban detail in the game than were actually present.

panzer elite looked like a bad impressionist painting, the vehicle models did not look very convincing either. steel beasts had better terrain representation with softer, undulating hills, depressions and gullies. i think out of all the games the putting off was the lower resolution

of steel beasts and the lower surface details on the models- but generally it was still on par or better than the competition. computers of that era probably would not have been able to handle much better representation of vast environment details and many actors at the same time,

that's why you tended not to see it back then. it was a couple years later when other games started showing more detailed graphics- operation flashpoint, battlefield, and so on- by then steel beasts' graphics were obviously falling behind (as the previously mentioned games also did),

hardware moved on, the more consistent player base looked forward to updated graphics. this is also why i don't really understand this move over the last couple years where you see some users looking back and playing steel beasts version one again, and actually in some cases

wanting support or updates to it because they prefer the experience of steel beasts 1

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On 6/17/2020 at 7:07 PM, Scrapper_511 said:

Steel Beasts even if backwards compatibility is lost. 

As a scenario maker, I object to this most strongly.

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Posted (edited)

 

On 6/18/2020 at 4:07 AM, Scrapper_511 said:

I'm down with an all-new, from the ground up, Steel Beasts even if backwards compatibility is lost. Wouldn't I be able to run a parallel installation of 4.1 anyway (for legacy scenarios and maps)?

 

35 minutes ago, Hedgehog said:

As a scenario maker, I object to this most strongly.

 

Well as Ssnake has already alluded to, I'd confidently say that would be unacceptable / a deal breaker for military clients.

 

Edited by Gibsonm

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On 6/18/2020 at 10:45 AM, Ssnake said:

And if there's no choice involved, what's the point of debating it?

;)

Since you put it like that 😂

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Posted (edited)

About some of the other games, again..

 

I'm pretty sure I was playing Panzer Elite with whatever version of the Ostpak mod was then available right about the time I got into the original Steel Beasts.

 

At that time, I think Panzer Elite had better tank models, better graphics in general though not by much.  It had terrain that COULD have been better but often times was just simply far too choppy.  And I don't think it rendered much beyond 1000 meters or so.  Maybe 1500.  The infantry LOOKED similar to Steel Beasts sprite infantry but the modeling was totally different.  In SB if you shot a guy, he flopped over dead.  In PE, you had to pound the snot out of the flat sprites before they would die.

 

So honestly in order to get a good simulation of modern fire control systems and modern-ish combat, the SB graphics totally didn't bother me.

What I wanted at the time I bought Steel Beasts was easily in reach of the engine you guys had developed at the time.  Back then I remember wishing that the game would have supported a built-in ability to switch between Woodland, Winter, and Desert themes, and although I would have liked to see a "night time" mode added, I admit that had it simply been the flip of a switch without any representation of twilight or smoth progression of time I would have been thrilled.  I would have loved to have had an IPM1, and standard M1A1.  Functional 3rd and 4th ammo type slots.  M60A3, a Leopard 1, Leopard 2A5.  More AI red tanks like T-55, 62, 64.  Transport trucks, helicopters, and support aircraft like the A-10, SU-25, etc, that could be made to do an attack pass.

 

Honestly, had eSim put out add-on or upgrade packages featuring the things I mentioned above, I would have *gladly* shelled out hard cash to purchase those things.  As it stands right now, I think all that I had wanted back in the day has now been added to ProPE.

 

I also had Panzer Commander and it simply didn't hold up.  Nice attempt with the landscapes but as has been said before, totally lacking infantry, no actual modeling of HEAT shells, which meant that the stock early Panzer IVs and the mod-on Panzer IIIN and short StuGs I had were totally impossible to make realistic...  Truly frustrating in that it had what felt like lots of potential but simply didn't deliver.

Edited by Maj.Hans

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