Jump to content

Request for Advice


Chuck_Owl
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hello everyone,

I am a combat flight simulator enthusiast and I read (by pure chance) about Steel Beasts. It seems like an interesting game, pretty detailed and authentic. I'm thinking about maybe buying PE with the sale coming up, but I think that even 75 bucks is a pretty steep price. Is it "worth it", content-wise or fidelity-wise?

Personally, I'm the type of guy that likes to read 600-pages long manuals a la DCS. I like to know how everything works, what to do in what situations... that kind of stuff.

I would like to know what you guys think about the game. Why did you buy it? Why do you play it? Is there an important online community? How detailed is the sim?

I'm not necessarily asking you to convince me to buy this sim, but I'd just want to have a clear picture of what I'd be buying and if it suits my needs.

Thanks in advance,

Chuck

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Compared to DCS, learning the systems on tanks/AFV's is fairly easy. So, learning the technical aspects of the vehicles won't take that long. The challenge is using your forces in a coordinated manner to achieve the outcome you're trying to achieve. The tactical challenge can be as small as trying to fight your vehicle, or as large as a company. So, the sim has multiple challenges that will keep you engaged for years.

I've flown pleanty of DCS in the past, but my interest in them has come and gone, whereas SB has been a constant for 7+ years.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would like to know what you guys think about the game. Why did you buy it? Why do you play it? Is there an important online community? How detailed is the sim?

Hello Chuck_Owl and welcome. I've collected hundreds of computer games over the years (including Lock-On/Flaming Cliffs) but with my busy life Steel Beasts (SB) is the only simulator I make time for these days.

It doesn't have cutting edge graphics that you may have grown accustomed to from playing flight sims by DCS, so don't expect lens flares, heat blur, or hi-res fully working cockpits. Heck, don't even expect shadows just yet.

You should understand that SB is an actual training tool for actual militaries around the world so its focus is on gunnery and tactics. The SB that is offered to the public is an offshoot of that training tool. This is probably why SB is a bit barebones when it comes to eye candy. But what it lacks in special effects it makes up for in simulation fidelity. This is why I can recommend this sim only to the hardcore gamer.

SB doesn't have any campaigns either; remember, it's a training software, and it only comes with a handful of single-player scenarios. However, you can download missions that the community has shared here. Beyond that, you are free to create your own missions using the map/mission editor, which is excellent.

The gunnery is absolutely awesome and I spend most of my time playing this sim in the gunner's position. SB has a vast inventory of armored vehicles and they are modeled very well (no other sim offers such a huge collection of vehicles to shoot at). The tanks in SB do look great and the sound effects are authentic too!

If you like high-fidelity simulators and you like tanks, SB is your best bet!

There is a major upgrade coming; ETA this summer. It will have a new graphics engine and who knows what else? I'm looking forward to the implementation of shadows (finally!) and I can't wait to find out what new vehicles will be included.

P.S. When I say SB, I'm talking about Steel Beasts Pro Professional Edition (Steel Beasts Pro being the military version), not the original Steel Beasts released a decade ago.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Obviously my opinion is biased, but I think that you probably would enjoy SB Pro. As there may be special promotional offers during the initial release of the new version, I'd suggest to wait with your final verdict until version 3.0 is out ... probably in about six to eight weeks.

SB Pro has been under constant development since 2003, and if you include the development time for the original game, it all started in 1995. The upside in that is that you get pretty mature code. SB Pro should never crash or freeze even if you Alt+Tab in and out of it during the action (can't rule out that it happens in cases that we haven't identified yet, but I guess that if you ask outside of the beta team people will have a hard time remembering the last time that their SB Pro crashed). Of course it isn't bug free (I think we have accumulated more code lines than Windows 3.11 by now), but hopefully these are below the "serious annoyance" threshold.

The downside of a software product that is as old as SB Pro is that sometimes things aren't as easy to change as if you had a clean slate. It's a bit like trying to fix a car's engine while it is running (and amazingly enough, the programmers manage to do that). Which might help to explain why SB Pro is a bit behind in the eye candy department. Some of that will be addressed with the coming 3.0 release.

Like Tacbat already pointed out, the challenge is not so much to master the individual vehicle than to orchestrate a larger body of vehicles to act in support of a common tactical goal. In other words, what SB Pro is lacking in switchology in comparison to DCS, it vastly overcompensates in combat environment complexity. This is of course partly due to the different roles. Aircraft are usually operational if not strategic assets, the individual tank belongs to the tactical realm. You will lose your own vehicle more often than you lose your jet or helicopter in a typical DCS mission, but there are more vehicles around not only as "spare rides" but as additional assets to support you in your mission. As every vehicle has different strengths and weaknesses, and as you may be facing up to several hundred combattants in a single mission, you can imagine that the challenge is different than what you know from DCS, but probably no less.

That said, some of our vehicles have grown to be pretty complex in their modeling (I'm looking at you, Finnish CV90/30! (the version with almost another year of tinkering after it was released with Steel Beasts 2.6 in November 2011 (...!))).

It's grown in complexity to the point that I'm beginning to zone out. Which is probably more due to the fact that I'm beginning to become an old geezer with a porous brain, but still. Let me just say that the Finnish Army has begun to rewrite their technical manual of the vehicle after we were done with modeling it in SB Pro. The development work brought to light at least a dozen points where the manual was wrong. To put things into perspective, that isn't a unique thing. Whenever we're tasked to create a model of a vehicle, we need to understand how it works, and sometimes the explanations of two related elements contradict each other, and then we start inquiring until we know the real answer. So we uncovered errors in the technical manuals of other vehicles as well. I'm just mentioning it to illustrate that we're doing our due diligence. :)

Our manual isn't 600 pages thick because we cut out everything vehicle-specific (these details are usually covered in the tutorials). If we had to put the tutorial contents into text and added all ancillary information from the other documents - I think we'd easily top it.

In short, SB Pro is designed to support explorative learning about armored fighting vehicles and their role in combined arms combat tactics, and it illustrates a pretty wide range of different vehicle concepts, dozens of different fire control systems, from a time span covering about the last 35 years in combat vehicle development. I think it's a pretty sweet price, if you take all of this into account.

Oh, no DLCs or other stuff that you have to pay for afterwards. SB Pro PE pricing is honest, as is our communication with all our customers. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That said, some of our vehicles have grown to be pretty complex in their modeling (I'm looking at you, Finnish CV90/30! (the version with almost another year of tinkering after it was released with Steel Beasts 2.6 in November 2011 (...!))).

It's grown in complexity to the point that I'm beginning to zone out. Which is probably more due to the fact that I'm beginning to become an old geezer with a porous brain, but still. Let me just say that the Finnish Army has begun to rewrite their technical manual of the vehicle after we were done with modeling it in SB Pro. The development work brought to light at least a dozen points where the manual was wrong. To put things into perspective, that isn't a unique thing. Whenever we're tasked to create a model of a vehicle, we need to understand how it works, and sometimes the explanations of two related elements contradict each other, and then we start inquiring until we know the real answer. So we uncovered errors in the technical manuals of other vehicles as well. I'm just mentioning it to illustrate that we're doing our due diligence. :smile:

*Zip with Technical Manual*

"That's wrong!"

*Scribbles over entire section with FDF Standard Issued Red Pencil*

"And That!"

*Scribbles over entire section with FDF Standard Issued Red Pencil*

"And That!"

*Scribbles over entire section with FDF Standard Issued Red Pencil*

*Hands a page to BAE Engineer*

"That bit is OK"

(Page reads: Congratulations on purchasing the CV9030FIN)

:biggrin:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well you could of course borrow a license for two weeks and have a look for yourself. :)

Details on the home page.

Sorry that wasn't meant to be taken as a fob off.

What I meant was if you "borrow" it for two weeks you can explore it at your leisure and get to review it in terms of your personal likes and dislikes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are two sims I play on a regular basis. Steel Beasts Pro PE and DCS: Black Shark 2. As has been said, if you're looking for bloom effects and cockpit shadows, look elsewhere (for now). If you're looking for "as real as you can get without enlisting"...you've come to the right place.

Operating your AFV effectively will take lots of learning, patience and practice. This ain't no "jump in an' shoot 'em up". The systems operate almost exactly like the real ones. Just one example: you take a hit and your loader is incapacitated. Now, the commander must take over the loader's duties and engagements will take longer until you rendezvous with a medic and have the guy patched up. Granted, not every little possibility is modeled, but it's enough to make my palms sweat...which even DCS, with all its eye candy, doesn't do.

But don't worry...this community is second to none when it comes to people willing to help and offer advice. And these aren't all just armchair Generals either. Many here are actually former or current AFV crew members. I've learned more about tanks hanging around here than I ever thought possible. And I don't even know half of what these guys know. Given the fact that they tolerate me, I'd say they're pretty patient, too! :biggrin:

If I were you, I'd look into borrowing a license, like Gibsonm suggests. It's the best way to see what the sim is actually like. And you have FULL access, it's not a limited demo.

Bottom line: is it worth it? IMHO, H*** Yeah!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello everyone,

I am a combat flight simulator enthusiast and I read (by pure chance) about Steel Beasts. It seems like an interesting game, pretty detailed and authentic. I'm thinking about maybe buying PE with the sale coming up, but I think that even 75 bucks is a pretty steep price. Is it "worth it", content-wise or fidelity-wise?

Personally, I'm the type of guy that likes to read 600-pages long manuals a la DCS. I like to know how everything works, what to do in what situations... that kind of stuff.

I would like to know what you guys think about the game. Why did you buy it? Why do you play it? Is there an important online community? How detailed is the sim?

I'm not necessarily asking you to convince me to buy this sim, but I'd just want to have a clear picture of what I'd be buying and if it suits my needs.

Thanks in advance,

Chuck

Chuck, May I suggest you get a demo licence.

Try and join a multiplayer session.

(There is an entire forum dedicated to multiplayer meet ups.)

You will learn a lot more (and faster) by doing it this way than reading squillions of pages, learn by doing.

If you can try and join a UK Armour session @ 1900GMT on a Sunday or Wednesday.

We can give you a quick walk through the game mechanics strengths/weaknesses by playing a mission.

And you can then make your own mind up.

If you are apprehensive about the whole thing I understand I was the same when I first started out, and now I wonder what the fuss was about.

(Word of caution, UK Armour tends to be erm very un politically correct. :biggrin:)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey Chuck,

It sounds like we have similar passions. I come from the Falcon 4 flightsim world. I love the detail. Can't wait to get DCS once I buy a new HOTAS.

But I was playing World of Tanks and was just getting sick of it, too arcady. Then someone on the forum over there mentioned Steel Beasts so I came over here and went through the forums and watched some you tube videos. I then discovered you could borrow a temporary license to try it out so I contacted Ssnake I think it was and he was awesome and got me setup. I think within 3 days of the initial contact I had bought the sim and a dongle was on the way. For me it was the right fit, I prefer games that are more sim than arcade. Thats why my main games are Falcon4 ( soon to be DCS hopefully), Steel Beasts and Arma2. Plus the community here is great, real life tankers and they seem quite ok to help us new guys out.

So my advice Mirrors others, try it out.

Tracer

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello everyone,

I am a combat flight simulator enthusiast ...

Then this is 6 pages of good reading for you:

A Flight Simmer's Guide to Steel Beasts

by John "Spoons" Sponauer

For air combat sim pilots, at first glance there really shouldn’t be much in common between their preferred flight sim and Steel Beasts Professional (Personal Edition) or “PE” for short.

There’s no intimate maneuvers to master in an armored vehicle… no High Yo-Yo or Immelman to counter an opponents’ moves. The maximum range of a tank’s cannon is just about the distance of the close-in aerial ‘knife fight’ today; (...)

All those differences are true, but there’s also much for flight simmers to enjoy in PE, which is, in my opinion, quite easily the best tank simulator made.

Some of that enjoyment can come from employing similar tactics from your favorite flight sim into PE’s world, where they may have great relevance.

Once you move past many superficial differences, flight simmers will find much in common with their virtually armored comrades.

To illustrate that point, and teach a little about tactics, let’s combine some lessons in how to survive and succeed in PE with quotes from the classic book, Robert Shaw’s Fighter Combat: Tactics and Maneuvering (Naval Institute Press, 1985) and available here from Amazon. We’ll also pull a little from the US Army’s Field Manual 17-15 “Tank Platoon (...)”

-> http://www.simhq.com/_land2/land_062a.html

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You got me pretty interested there, fellas. The whole tactical aspect is something I constantly look for. I'm sold. Thanks for the intel, I appreciate a community that's alive and helpful such as this one.

Now, some people suggested I wait for version 3.0 to come out... I won't have access to a decent computer for about 2 weeks, so I'm in no rush to buy. I just want to make sure, how does the whole "buying" work? I heard of "upgrade" packs, what are those?

Will I have to spend, say, 75 $ now (with promo) and have access to all next versions of SB PE? Will I have to pay again for future updates? How frequent are these updates? I just don't feel like spending 75 now and have to constantly pay for 25 $ updates each month...

Considering I'll buy this game anyway (I'm in no rush), whether it takes a week or a month, what would yo suggest me to buy to have my money's worth? Buy SB now or wait for 3.0?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well the cost of the "upgrade" is yet to be announced but the way it has worked in the past is three levels:

1. Initial purchase. This buys you the dongle and the license and gets you up and running.

The cost actually varies depending on whether you want just the downloaded software and PDF manual or a physical DVD and printed manual.

Currently this is 2.654, but in June it will become 3.0.

2. Incremental updates. These are released roughly every 18 months to date and add major new functionality.

This would take someone currently with any number less than 3.0 up to 3.0.

3. Patches. Free and issued as required.

If you buy it "now" i.e. today, then you'd pay for "1" then in June pay for "2".

If you wait until "June" and buy it then you just pay for "1".

Because 3.0 has been announced eSim has reduced the cost of "1" so that buying "1" now and then buying "2" will be roughly equivalent to buying the full version in June and paying the non discounted price (i.e. you'd roughly break even).

The $25 (to use a historical figure) upgrade is once every 18 months, not every month.

Current pricing details are here:

http://www.esimgames.com/purchase.htm

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Then this is 6 pages of good reading for you:

A Flight Simmer's Guide to Steel Beasts

by John "Spoons" Sponauer

For air combat sim pilots, at first glance there really shouldn’t be much in common between their preferred flight sim and Steel Beasts Professional (Personal Edition) or “PE” for short.

There’s no intimate maneuvers to master in an armored vehicle… no High Yo-Yo or Immelman to counter an opponents’ moves. The maximum range of a tank’s cannon is just about the distance of the close-in aerial ‘knife fight’ today; (...)

All those differences are true, but there’s also much for flight simmers to enjoy in PE, which is, in my opinion, quite easily the best tank simulator made.

Some of that enjoyment can come from employing similar tactics from your favorite flight sim into PE’s world, where they may have great relevance.

Once you move past many superficial differences, flight simmers will find much in common with their virtually armored comrades.

To illustrate that point, and teach a little about tactics, let’s combine some lessons in how to survive and succeed in PE with quotes from the classic book, Robert Shaw’s Fighter Combat: Tactics and Maneuvering (Naval Institute Press, 1985) and available here from Amazon. We’ll also pull a little from the US Army’s Field Manual 17-15 “Tank Platoon (...)”

-> http://www.simhq.com/_land2/land_062a.html

1) I don't want to sound spoiled (but I guess I will anyway ;) ), but does 3.0 include a slight graphical improvement over previous versions, or is it simply a functional update? I know that graphics are not what a sim should be about, but... eye candy never hurts, right?

2) Are there any books you guys would recommend? I couldn't find the US Army Field Manual on amazon... I'd be looking for the battle tank equivalent to Robert Shaw's book for Fighter Aircrafts.

3) Will SB's manual differ from this version to 3.0? I intend to buy a hard copy, but I don't feel like buying an "outdated" version of the book.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well I don't think the US Army sell its doctrine (not yet anyway) so that's probably why its not on Amazon. :)

Did you look in the forum's "download" section?

Oh my, sorry for being so blind! :)

Which manual is the one I should read first to grasp the basics of tank warfare? Are there any "MBT" bibles I should be aware of? Are there other alternatives on amazon and the likes?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Let me summarize the purchasing thing - Mark pretty much said it all, but if you want it from the official source, here we go:

  1. There's patches. They are free, but they require a certain base version. Typically, after every major release there's at least one patch, sometimes two or three if there are nasty bugs that hide well. Patches are usually incremental and released as quickly as possible, but it's never really cool having to go through a certain patch sequence when reinstalling the software. So we try to limit it to no more than two patches in a row.
  2. Closely related are updates. They are free as well. Think of a patch that also adds a bit of new stuff. Typically we prefer to release an update over a mere patch as a way to say sorry for not catching all the bugs before. Updates come with their own installer, and typically (see version 2.654) we also upload a complete installer for them as well so that if you have to reinstall, you simply download the latest version in one complete package rather than dealing with the hassle of specific patch sequences. Some simulations turned that into an arcane art of itself - we don't like it.
  3. Upgrades are not free. They will bring new vehicles, add new tactical concepts or modify existing ones. Our target is to release a new upgrade about every 15 +/-3 months. Maybe, in the future, we'll lift the upgrade interval to 18 +/-3 months, but it mostly depends on whether we feel that we have accumulated enough changes and whether it fits the overall development schedule.
    The price of each upgrade varies, depending on what we think is fair value. The basic formula is 25% of the basic license price, but that's a rule, no law.
    SB Pro PE 2.4 was the first upgrade that we sold, for $40 (there was an early bird discount of $5 at the time, and a further $10.- off if you didn't order the updated manual), version 2.5 and 2.6 were offered for $25.- each.
    Since version 2.5 we made it a habit to reduce the price of the old version about two or three months prior to a new release by $25.- ... which is only fair, I guess, given that you're likely to pay for the upgrade a few months later.
    With SB Pro PE 3.0 we're planning to introduce new licensing options in addition to the current one where you have a CodeMeter stick. So if you're particularly careful you may want to wait until we're ready to announce all the details. On the other hand, if what you heard so far sounds like a good deal to you, I see no particular reason to wait.
  4. As far as technical procedures are concerned, here's our web shop where you can order a license. We will then ship a USB stick, the CodeMeter device. Once that you have it, we can send you links to a "ticket server" which will generate a license for you, so there's no need for further shipments in the future. It's like those "activation codes" that you may know from other games, except that they are much harder to counterfeit or to steal, and that you don't have to log in anywhere to verify the legitimacy of your copy. You simply plug the USB stick into the computer on which you want to play, and have a go at it.
    The obvious downside is, if you lose the stick, the license is gone and cannot be recovered.

I hope this helped to clarify the situation. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

As far as your question about the new version 3.0 are concerned:

1) does 3.0 include a slight graphical improvement over previous versions

More than just a "slight" improvement. :)

I'm not going to run around, thumping my chest and claim that it'll be the sweetest eye candy that you've ever seen. Steel Beasts has never been at the forefront of visuals, but we recognize when an update is due. ;)

SB Pro should never look as bad as to be a deterrent, but we neither have the budget nor the manpower to compete with EA when they release a new Battlefield version or so.

2) Are there any books you guys would recommend?
Tactics are easier to learn by trial and error, if you keep your eyes open especially in the after action review. While there are tried and true techniques, the reality is that it is as much art as it is science. If it's crazy but it works, you'll survive, and then it wasn't crazy. But of course, just as you simply have the better hand if you're coming into an aerial dogfight with lots of altitude and speed, there are of course situations in ground combat where you have the botch real bad to lose a fight - like if you're having firepower dominance, can attack from multiple directions, with multiple weapons, and if you manage to catch the enemy by surprise. So - yeah, it doesn't hurt to read up the basics. There are documents like "TacSOP.doc" in the electronic documentation. The user manual contains a few appendices with useful information as well. And I recommend the "Tanker books/novels" thread in the Ground Zero board here on this forum. Arguably, some aspects of armored warfare are better taught in the form of a recollection of past battles - "The Heights of Courage" (A. Kahalani) comes to my mind, also "Thunder Run" (D. Zucchino), or "Main Battle Tank" (N. Edworthy).

A bit out of the left field but still enlightening to read I found Patrick Wright's "Tank", a cultural history of the tank (how it was seen by different people at different times, what reactions it sparked in varying socio-political contexts ... and how Aleister Crowley was behind it all (I'm not kidding, just slightly exaggerating)). I don't think that there's another book like it.

3) Will SB's manual differ from this version to 3.0? I intend to buy a hard copy, but I don't feel like buying an "outdated" version of the book.

While we are indeed working on a new revision, I don't think that we'll have it ready in the next three months. It may even take until the end of the year before we have it completed (unless the current writer surprises me big time, at which point we'd probably have to pulp the remaining stock). The manual does get installed as a PDF ... but if you consider printing it from your own printer or a local copy shop, it's probably cheaper and gives better results to order it from our web shop. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for your honest answers. I'm glad to see such a transparent and friendly community. 'Appreciate it. I bought "Thunder Run" and "The Heights of Courage", both seemed quite interesting.

I think I'll just be waiting for 3.0 to be released and then buy the whole package. Like I said, I'm not in a hurry and I firmly believe that I'll be getting my money's worth anyway. Meanwhile, I'll just be lurking in some dark corners of the forum ;) See you on the battlefield!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I doubt you'll be disappointed when you get it Chuck_Owl

I've had Steel Beasts for 7 years now, but I also was and still am a big flight simmer since the early 90's.

I've had Falcon 4, F4Allied Force, BMS, DCS A-10C, Black Shark, IL-2 and always come back to Steel Beasts for the tactical and simulation elements. I love how much I learned by going through the simulator, I had no idea how complex it can be when managing a tank or fighting vehicle.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...