When we first announced Take On Helicopters, our brand new helicopter game, a lot of interesting questions were quickly raised by the community. This nebulous number of floating queries soon collapsed under their own weight to form one post.
Ruthlessly administered by folk hero of forum legend, Instagoat, it's only now that we are braced for the challenge, and readied ourselves to take on the one FAQ to rule them all!
A full set of answers awaits you below, along with links to some of our most recent activity.
The questions were taken from the forum a few week ago, and were gradually digested by the team. For more information about the development, don't miss a recent interview with Executive Producer, Lukáš Milacek, who talks about modelling helicopters and more... You can keep up to date with the latest news via our FB and Twitter channels, and join the discussion about all the latest developments at our space on the official forums.
Will there be a business aspect included in the Campaign (Buying, Maintaining and Selling helos, Recruiting Personnel and Organizing Contracts and Missions)?
- While the career mode itself doesn't require you to engage in optional contracts, taking them on means that you can earn money. This may then be invested in a number of helicopter upgrades, such as, for example, special winch attachments.
- Should you purchase these components, you'll be able to take on more optional missions, which actively require them. However, the fundamental goal of our story is to introduce players to a wide variety of gameplay, so you will be at least introduced to the full range of gameplay possibilities without having to complete side-missions.
- The result is, if you enjoy a particular type of flying - say, sling-load - that it's then up to you to go out and earn the right to take on more of these contracts, by upgrading your chopper as you see fit.
Will there be wear and tear on the helos as they operate, and associated maintenance costs? Will different types of helos be harder to operate than others?
- We're modelling helicopter damage, which extends to ongoing maintenance costs; how well you treat your helicopter will be reflected in the likelihood of mechanical failures.
- Depending on how you fly and the operating limits of the helicopter, you can cause stress damage to various components. When reaching critical levels, this can result in severe structural damage.
- So, you'd be wise to do pre-flight checks, which will reveal the status of your helicopter.
Will there be distinct characters in the campaign, and a story attached to them?
- Primarily, you'll be taking on the role of Tom Larkin, but his brother - a combat pilot during the South Asia conflict - also has some interesting stories to tell...
- While the central story is based around these two brothers, there are a number of other characters, who act as conduits to other stories and gameplay. On your heliport, you'll meet your business and security managers quite early on, who - later in the story - may offer up interesting or unique side missions.
- This underlying gameplay structure alone has taken a lot of work to implement, and represents a new way of progressing though the story than you may have seen in our previous projects.
Will the game take place in the Armaverse? Will there be crossovers with OFP/Arma?
- You can certainly think of the South Asia terrain as being part of the Green Sea Region. Joe Larkin was a pilot before, during, and after Operation Arrowhead took place, for example.
- Also, those familiar with Vrana Corp and the ION private contractors will more than likely see them again, as well as a couple of other familiar faces.
- We enjoy the lore and sense of internal consistency that our universe can offer, and we're certainly looking forward to extending it.
Will there be competing helo operators? How will they influence the campaign?
- We don't have a specifically competing company, for example, an AI opponent that tries to beat you to contracts.
- That sort of 'tycoon' gameplay is beyond the scope of our current development, where we're focusing more on the holistic helicopter experience, and prioritising a range of features associated with operating and flying choppers.
- However, a small company like Larkin Aviation is always at the mercy of the big boys...
Flight & Helo modelling Questions
How many helos will be included, and which types?
- We're working with three classes of helicopter: light, medium and heavy. Each has a flight model suited to the characteristics of its class.
- Within each class, we've got variants - including (at least) two civil and one military - that are designed to perform different roles, such as winch operations or VIP transport.
- Therefore, aside from any other external inputs that you may model in the simulation, each helicopter should itself be tuned to feel 'different' when you fly it.
Could You please comment ficional helicopters models? I think it is one of the most discussed topics here.
- We believe these three classes - light, medium and heavy - are very representative of various real world helicopters. We decided to create these distinct fictional helicopter classes for several reasons, but we're not going to discuss any more details about this decision.
- Also, we are confident that our users looking for as accurate and as detailed representation of particular helicopter types will be more than well served by talented addon makers after the game release.
- Our mission for core TKOH game is to create as good as possible helicopter experience - including but not limited to the well built career mode and tutorials that will train users how to flight helicopters and introduce them to a world of helicopter gameplay - and provide examples good enough for people to create whatever they like later in the game.
How deep will the simulation experience be? How much detail and complexity will there be modelled in the stock aircraft?
- The flight dynamics are a different class from what you may have experienced in our previous projects. These are dedicated flight models that respond to a variety of external inputs.
- We simulate a number of things, both interior and exterior. Pre-flight checks are possible, as is an extended start-up sequence. Unlike previous projects, our cockpits are interactive, and have real-time instruments, mirrors, and monitors.
- Weight also plays a crucial role in helicopter behaviour. Things adding to weight are: flight crew, passengers, internal load, sling load and even the actual amount of fuel.
Will there be clickable cockpits?
- To a degree, yes. In a manual start-up sequence, you will need to interact with several controls, batteries, APU, throttle, etc.
- Importantly, this can be automated for players not wishing to go through the procedure themselves.
- However, with the unique sounds attached to the various components and steps, we've found the manual procedure to be really rather satisfying.
Will characters be drawn in first person, and will they be animated as they operate the helicopter? (This is opposed to the empty pits [...] where the pilot body is not rendered)
- We're hard at work on this right now. We can confirm that - if you have a co-pilot - he'll be there and animated, such as pointing in the direction of your task or flicking a switch; however, we're still evaluating whether the co-pilot's character will be attached to the moving flight controls. As for the player, integrating 6-DOF and mapping animations to the players range of movements provides some challenges, which we're certainly still evaluating.
- What we can say is that when you interact with the collective, pedals, or cyclic, these models respond visually to your inputs. In pre-flight, for example, you can even see the pitch angle of the blades change as you alter the collective, and respond to cyclic inputs.
- Besides animation complexities, another reason to not show the pilot's body is blocked view of critical instruments for the player. We're still evaluating this feature, and ways to integrate passing control of the helicopter dynamically between pilot and co-pilot, so we wouldn't like to rule anything out at this stage of development.
How detailed will the flight model be? (Will it model details such as retreating blade stall, vortex ring state or realistic auto rotation procedures?)
- Yes, yes and yes.
How detailed will the damage model be? (Does the DM include wear and tear, over-stressing the airframe and lifting surfaces, loosing parts of the aircraft and associated impacts on the flight model, randomized failures based on aircraft age, maintenance state and type?)
- Stress damage, component failure, and leaks are all featured.
- These problems can be detected in a pre-flight check in their visual state and via animation.
- This kind of damage will be reflected in the flight dynamics too.
How detailed will the engine simulation be, and what types of engines will be modelled? Will the weather and flying altitude influence the power profile on the engines, or similar effects?
- Yes, weather, altitude, pressure, and other variables are all integrated into the simulation.
- We also feature helicopters with multiple engines, which should allow players to safely land when one engine fails, for example.
Environment and weather modelling Questions
How detailed will the environment be?
- In urban terms, we've got 3D models of a variety of structures: industrial, residential, commercial - all at varying heights and different levels of detail from different heights.
- In the natural environment, we've got detailed trees and ground clutter, and a brand new weather simulation. Currently, you can only see one of the tree variants in our videos, but we're hard at work creating more, and working on ways to efficiently integrate them in-game, while still running a smooth frame rate.
- Overall, while - by nature - it will be less detailed than Arma 2, we feel they come together to give a really great feeling of immersion - even when you step out of the helicopter.
- Of course, these are all very nice words, but for those looking for some harder data, our terrain resolution is 15m between vertices in Seattle, with a 1m/px satellite texture resolution. That compares well to Chernarus, which also offered 1m/px; although, featured 7.5m/vert. When we take into account the brand new support of normal mapping, we think that the visual impact is probably even better than Chernarus from a helicopter-eye-view.
How large will the environment be?
- Seattle is ~3800 km. sq.
- South Asia ~15000 km. sq.
- There's also a much smaller map included, which is useful for quickly testing out some ideas in the editor.
Will there be civilian ground traffic? (Editor Module based?)
- Ambient traffic is planned and is currently WIP.
- Aside from ambient traffic (which is not as fully simulated), we also allow the placement of ground, water and air vehicles to add to the experience where needed.
Will there be civilian air traffic? (Editor Module based?)
- Ambient air traffic will feature in game.
- An editor module to control this is planned to be in the game.
Will there be simulation of air traffic routes and associated navigational aids (VOR/NDB, ILS beacons, strobes on high rise buildings, running lights on ships and cars, etc.)
- We've actually just added a variety of lights to the game, including those which you have mentioned, and more.
- Currently, it's beyond our scope to fully simulate air traffic routes and ATC; although, some scenarios will feature aspects of this.
- We're also adding a suite of new scripting commands which should allow dedicated community members to extend the scope of ATC (e.g. custom radio channels).
Will there be city hazards, such as telephone and electrical wires running between buildings, power lines, street lights, trees, etc.?
- Trees will certainly be a hazard, and have proven rather annoying to several developers still learning to fly...
- Also, as power lines are a serious risk to helicopter pilots, we plan to feature these as best we can.
- The visual damage state of the helicopter will be impacted by collisions, including rotor blades snaps and even losing your entire tail.
Will there be an advanced weather simulation? (Up and Downdrafts, Shear winds, Building aerodynamics, cloud formation and precipitation, dynamic weather in general?)'
- Clouds are now volumetric and will come in many more variants than we've seen in BI titles before.
- These aren't just eye candy, though; flying in clouds will cause turbulence.
- Wind is also overhauled, and also has a direct impact on the flight model, which you'll notice, for example, when landing into the wind.
Will AI be affected by the weather at all?
- Currently, our focus remains upon the player's flight experience.
- AI choppers can, however, be scripted into certain behaviours where it's appropriate to interfere.
Will BI provide an editing suite as is provided for OFP/Arma? Will this be immediately after release, or after some time has passed?
- Our tools are usually released just after game release, but certainly not held back unduly.
- We simply focus our development on the game, and try to support our tools as best we can, which we have a long history of doing.
- Of course, in game tools are there day one; you can start messing around in the editor before doing anything else, if you so choose.
With how much extra detail over the stock aircraft can modders construct their own aircraft?
- As long as the technical engine limits are obeyed, modders can really accurately model whatever helicopter they like, even going beyond the ones that will come with the game.
Is the simulation limited to rotor wing aircraft, or could modders build fixed wing aircraft using the stock code too?
- Airplanes are A2-spec, so their simulation has not been updated.
- The simulation itself is specific to helicopters, so if you wanted to fly a plane in the engine, you could, but at a simplified standard.
- However, some of the new helicopter features, such as cockpit interaction, are part of deeper engine upgrades, and can be applied to these and other vehicles as well.
Is there cross-compatibility of Arma 2 terrains with Take On and vice versa?
- This is being tested and might be possible.
- We'll have a better idea closer to release and thereafter.
Is there cross-compatibility of Arma 2 aircraft or vehicles in general with TOH, with Helos receiving a „default“ flight model until a detailed one is provided by the modder?
- We are trying to allow using some limited A2 content in Take On.
- This course of action should help everyone populate the game world with the massive variety of models aleady created by our dedicated community.
Mission Editor Questions
How will the ME differ from the one shipped with OFP/Arma?
- More advanced modules and waypoints will be included.
- For example, you can give a helicopter special waypoints with functionality integrated, such as formation flight, sling-load, timed-flight, etc.
- We plan that the community can define their own, which can be plugged straight in to the editor.
What types of game modes will there be present by default? Races, Missions, Challenges?
- Initially, we're planning to offer a set of checkpoint races and one or two cooperative scenarios.
- The system is ready to accept community scenarios, just as before.
What is the scope of modes that can be constructed using the Editor?
- Just like in A2, only bounded by your creativity, and the power of your computer.
Will there be a multiplayer campaign? (Cooperatively, or competing with one another)
- Not in the initial release, no.
Is sharing an aircraft possible between multiple players?
- Yes it is. We are also working on allowing the transfer of controls between the pilot and co-pilot.
- Obviously this can create some interesting gamplay and support opportunities
Will we get an Armex like game mode?
- In singleplayer there will be 'Free Flight', which offers the freedom to pick any helicopter, fly around and optionally complete challenges.
- ARMEX itself will not be featured in the initial release, as its requirements are outside the scope of our current development.
- However, we really like its concept, and hope to re-work it into an air show in the future, when we can afford to dedicate more resources to its support.