Q: There are rumors that Massgate servers will be shut down next year. How would MW Mod players organize multiplayer matches then?
blahdy wrote: Fortunately the good news is that this will not affect the mod players by any margin. WiC supports LAN game hosting over IP address -- so as long as your firewall is properly configured (or turned off), you can host a match and have people connect to your IP address under the LAN section of Setup Game screen.
So, even after Massgate is shutdown, people can continue to play the mod over the internet without any problems -- you do not need any special software like Hamachi ;-). Kudos to Massive for leaving LAN gameplay feature on (something I wish publishers would do on newer games but I digress).
Q: Ah, that's sweet -- crisis averted. That leads to my second question -- World in Conflict is probably the best RTS the industry has ever seen, but it seems to be dying. How will this impact MW Mod development?
blahdy wrote: As long as there is a continued community interest in MW Mod; and Microsoft does not screw up future Windows or DirectX releases to prevent the game from running in the future, we will continue to support and develop the mod, time & resource permitting.
Q: Our recent mod release (version 4.1 R1) is the most awesome release ever. Although there are no new major gameplay additions per se, there have been lot of work done to this version. Can you describe to us on what makes this particular version so awesome?
blahdy wrote: The new update improves upon the older MW Mod 4 release significantly to make gameplay really enjoyable. The initial 4.0 version was great because it allowed us to model every aspects of modern arms in WiC, with the addition of networked artillery units. But it had numerous reliability problems -- first, the networked artillery system was not very functional as anticipated, more likely than not, units spent more time doing nothing than actually heeding player's call for fire.
Second major issue in 4.0 was the infamous AI bug where bots simply sat around and did nothing all the time. On Tug of War maps, game was practically unplayable because AI would spawn their tanks and stuff but does absolutely nothing. This was also plagued with the fact that game frequently froze in mid-game -- it was hard to play more than 2 matches at most without game freezing.
I am happy to say that all of these bugs are eliminated with 4.1, and gameplay experience is now simply excellent in quality. In addition to these improvements, we also have new highly detailed models for Abrams tanks, M270 MLRS, Apache and the new M142 HIMARS unit brought into the game.
Finally, AGM-154 JSOW has been added as well, which is a long range stand-off glide bomb that is practically an air launched cruise missile in battlefield utility. The addition of AGM-154 JSOW will now cover the gap left over by removal of old Tomahawk launchers in game, which functioned very unrealistically and looked stupid overall.
Q: Could you describe to us in more detail on how the 4.1 Update has finally addressed the annoying issues with AI and stability problems that were painfully plaguing the mod in the past?
blahdy wrote: During 4.1 development, we've gone through extensive and painstaking debugging process to better understand how WiC's AI system (called CommanderAI or 'CAI') works and why the game is freezing and bots are behaving stupid as they were. It was pretty hard to do because CAI is hardcoded inside WiC and is not something where modders could view and access -- it's completely proprietary code by Massive. So there was lot of trial & error and exhausting troubleshooting analysis to resolve these problems.
However, in the end, the work had paid off tremendously. I am pleased to say that MW Mod 4.1 is the most stable release we've ever had in the mod's entire history since 2009. Yes, there are sometimes still very rare crashes or freezes -- but the amount of crashes/instability issues we have in game are now so rare that it's hard to tell whether the mod itself is even causing them anymore (for example, even vanilla WiC crashes from time to time in the same rare frequency).
Q: You forgot to mention the new Flexible Interceptor (FLINT) 4.0 engine for simulating missiles and ordinances in game.
blahdy wrote: Ah, yes. For those who are new to the mod, MW Mod runs an internal engine called FLINT or 'Flexible Interceptor', which is a software we've developed for this mod to provide realistic simulation of missiles and guided projectiles in game. Almost every missile, guided bomb and/or ordinance in game uses FLINT missile system for rendering and simulation in game.
During the 4.1 mod development, I've decided to completely gut out and rewrite the FLINT engine code from scratch. This is a complete rewrite of the FLINT engine since it was originally introduced during summer of 2011. The new FLINT engine features a new physics routine that handles movement of missiles in the game world -- this is called 'Integrator' by developers in game-dev speak. The new Integrator uses much more accurate Verlet integration and also provides linear interpolation (Lerp).
The addition of new integrator and Lerp now allows FLINT to be finally freed from the constraints of game's running frame rate. Missiles' aerodynamic physics are now no longer affected by the game's running frame rate. Even at 10 frames per second, missile physics are simulated the same regardless.
Moreover, handling of point-mass objects and simulation of basic rocket physics have been significantly improved than before, making the missile behaviors look quite photo-realistic and believable as if you are watching them fired in real life.
Q: Would you say that FLINT Missile System is quite comparable to that of Mando Missiles for ArmA or Bohemia's VBS2 environment?
blahdy wrote: In a way yes, but they are different animals. FLINT focuses primarily in achieving realistic weapons guidance by implementing unclassified, real-world military technical algorithms to drive the missiles in game. Mando Missiles however have significantly more flexibility in player interactivity, giving you more guidance mode options.
Q: Let's talk about some loose ends here. What happened to the GBU-53/B Small Diameter Bomb II (SDB 2)?
blahdy wrote: Modeling work for GBU-53/B was completed by one of our modelers (combatace) who did an awesome job at it. He also makes models for DCS game, so you can just tell that we're going for high fidelity on our new modeling jobs.
The issues we're having with SDB II are time constraints and game balancing issues. The introduction of SDB II will really imbalance the game in an already overstressed Russian AD environment. Russian ground units are already facing a sky saturated with unrelenting US PGM spam; adding SDB II into the fray at this moment in time seems way too excessive without a robust counter to be put on the Russian side first.
Additionally, SDB II uses tri-mode seeker which will be quite interesting to model and simulate in game. Basic code for dual-mode guidance was written in the past for laser-guided JDAM, but expanding that into tri-mode simulation is a much more complex job that's going to take quite some time to develop.
That is not to say that we are not going to add SDB II -- it is still very much planned, and I don't want to see the modeling work go to waste. We're going to continue to think about new ways to make the game enjoyable, and in time, you will see SDB II introduced along with new stuff on the Russian side to go along with it. In the meantime, the addition of AGM-154 JSOW will close the gap left over by removal of old Tomahawk launchers in game. JSOW is less of a balancing issue, because unlike SDB II, it is unable to aim at moving targets -- it is more or less practically a short-ranged air launched cruise missile against fixed targets.
Q: People are still wanting to see the South Korean KM-SAM come back into the game, and there were talks of adding Iron Dome into the game as well. What's the deal on these?
blahdy wrote: We've acquired a very good model of Iron Dome launcher, so good news is we don't have modeling problem on this one. I can't give timeline or promise anything, except to say that it is "planned" for the near future.
So, KM-SAM has a little bit of history. KM-SAM has this complicated cold-launch ignition sequence where the missile is thrown up and side thrusters are fired to align it into position. Unfortunately, this caused lot of problems in modeling using FLINT system due to limitations of our code and math -- this was the reason for KM-SAM being removed in game.
The good news is that the new FLINT 4.0 engine now finally removes these hurdles. Unlike before, FLINT 4.0 now supports 3-axis inertial navigation where the missile can literally turn to any direction it wants, even backwards. Vertically launched missiles are now handled without any complications. With this improvement, the complex cold-launch sequence of KM-SAM can now be modeled in its full glory.
So, the question now is what is going to take to bring KM-SAM back into game and also introduce Iron Dome. This all comes down to programming work required to integrate these guys into the game. Probably the most easiest way to integrate them is to add these units into the already existing integrated air defenses (IADS) that are operated by Patriot system in game. The Patriot complex already features all of the required parameters to run these, including verifying whether the enemy missile is going to land within a "protected asset area", so that systems like Iron Dome could make intelligent decisions on whether to engage or ignore.
This is going to require a heavy forklift work on the Patriot unit's Weapons Control Computer (WCC) program code, in order to allow netted sensor and "plug & fight" style integrations with Iron Dome and KM-SAM.
Having said all of this, right now we have Phalanx C-RAM for counter-rocket and PAC-2 missiles to handle ballistic missiles below the PAC-3 envelope, so KM-SAM and Iron Dome would not make any significant contribution to the game. I agree in that it'd be very cool to have these systems in game, so I'll get to them eventually -- but for now, they are at a low priority.
Q: The new models being added recently look pretty sweet. Can you tell us more on this?
blahdy wrote: Since WiC is dying, the unofficial responsibility to produce "WiC 2" has basically fallen on our shoulders. So in tribute to WiC's awesome game engine, it's been decided to gradually "refresh" the models and unit art content in game as we can get to them slowly. New units such as Apache, M1A2, MLRS, etc are much more detailed than the old stock models provided by Massive.
Additionally, seeing FLINT missiles working in action would be incomplete without photo-realistic looking units to go along with them :) You can expect more of new highly detailed models replacing existing ones as mod updates continue on.
Q: Great, final question -- any new units or gameplay features planned for the immediate term?
blahdy wrote: Yes. Currently works are under way to upgrade the Russian Tor M1 system in game to the new "M2" standard, which will provide 4 simultaneous engagement channels to improve air defense during saturation environment. Tor M2 work is tied to obtaining a new higher detailed model to replace the existing Tor model in game, but the work is definitely in progress.
Another unit being worked on slowly is a new Anti-Tank (tank hunter) vehicle for the Russian faction -- this would feature the 9M123 Khrizantema anti-tank missile system. The addition of a new dedicated tank hunting vehicle for Russian side should help further balance the game.