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Flashpoint Middle East - 3/3/2007 4:41:50 AM   
Hertston


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I keep seeing "coming soon, Flashpoint Middle East" on the Matrix catalogues; I've been around here long enough not to ask about a release date, but would like to know if the game is still happening?

If so, is it an Arab-Israeli thing (good) or a US beats up assorted Syrians/Iraqis type thing (not so good)?
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RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 3/3/2007 3:51:36 PM   
Capn Darwin


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Quick answers.
1. Yes, the game is very much alive and well and we are in testing with it and beating all of the bugs out of the new game engine and editors. The good news is the player will have more capability to "mod" and build scenarios this time around and the game has many new features. The bad news is it is a development team that has one primary programmer and and me doing some program/debug/everything else I can. We both live by our day jobs and have families so the long story made short is that things move much slower then we would like. The folks at Matrix are very understanding of the various "design houses" under its wing and their "production" capability.

2. Release date. I wouldn't touch that with a ten foot pole either for the reasons above. We are working for a target date and should be able to make that but I'm not jumping on any limbs just yet.

3. The initial release is centered on the Arab-Israeli conflicts 48 to 79. The plan (plan, not set in stone yet) is to then add-on to the region with more countries and fill in the time from 80 to now. This would cover the major Eastern Middle East conflicts like Iran-Iraq, Iraq-Everyone else, etc. Where and when we take the new game engine is still in discussion with folks so take the info lightly at this time.

Hope this answers the questions because I need to get back to debuggin'.

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RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 3/3/2007 10:32:39 PM   
Hertston


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Capn Darwin

Hope this answers the questions because I need to get back to debuggin'.


It does, thanks. Looking forward to it.

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RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 5/29/2007 8:23:29 PM   
MikeBrough


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Capn Darwin

Quick answers.
1. Yes, the game is very much alive and well and we are in testing with it and beating all of the bugs out of the new game engine and editors. The good news is the player will have more capability to "mod" and build scenarios this time around and the game has many new features. The bad news is it is a development team that has one primary programmer and and me doing some program/debug/everything else I can. We both live by our day jobs and have families so the long story made short is that things move much slower then we would like. The folks at Matrix are very understanding of the various "design houses" under its wing and their "production" capability.

2. Release date. I wouldn't touch that with a ten foot pole either for the reasons above. We are working for a target date and should be able to make that but I'm not jumping on any limbs just yet.

3. The initial release is centered on the Arab-Israeli conflicts 48 to 79. The plan (plan, not set in stone yet) is to then add-on to the region with more countries and fill in the time from 80 to now. This would cover the major Eastern Middle East conflicts like Iran-Iraq, Iraq-Everyone else, etc. Where and when we take the new game engine is still in discussion with folks so take the info lightly at this time.

Hope this answers the questions because I need to get back to debuggin'.


Do you have an update. I'm a bit concerned that the game isn't appearing yet in the Coming Soon section.


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Be sceptical of the things you believe are false; be very sceptical of the things you believe are true.

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RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 5/30/2007 6:58:38 PM   
Capn Darwin


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Mike,

You should be seeing it soon in that area. Rob and I are working hard to get a new build up and running to our testers when we can find time to work on it. Both of us have day job pushing about 50 hours a week plus family plus end of school/vacations/etc. I also know we are waiting on some artwork and a few other minor items before Matrix drops us in the Coming Soon section. We are looking forward to Origins in 5 weeks to show off the beta to folks and take in some feedback as we close the loop on documentation and last minute bug squashing.

I'll keep you posted.

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RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 6/20/2007 4:07:50 PM   
RobertCrandall


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Watch this space because I will start uploading screen shots here shortly.  I made several last night but it seems today that the jpg quality isn't what I expected and I need to do them again.  

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RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 6/20/2007 4:09:38 PM   
RobertCrandall


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You can see what I mean by looking at this image.




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RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 6/21/2007 5:06:17 AM   
RobertCrandall


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We have changed the unit counter design around as you can see. There is a silhouette of the dominant vehicle type now with a name, a unit size indicator, and such. The big number in the lower left is the # of subunits / vehicles and the one in the right is the relative mobility of the unit. There are two small letters between them. The upper one indicates the posture of the unit (Dug in, Covered, Exposed, Very exposed) and the lower one the current orders (On Call, Barrage, Assault, Move, etc).

A small "M" in the upper left corner means that it is a "mixed" unit in the sense that there are multiple types of subunits, say tank and infantry combined. A "H" in the top right corner means that is an HQ unit.

The unit highlight has become a transparent band around the perimeter of the counter instead of a solid yellow background. If the unit is moving (none are in this shot) then a small diagonal band will show in the bottom right corner. This will make it instantly obvious which units are in motion at any given time.

The sils all face to the right for player 1 units and to the left for player 2 units.




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RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 6/21/2007 5:11:11 AM   
RobertCrandall


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Scenario makers. The scenario mission briefing has changed from being a complete mini-website to a single html page. The advantage is that 99% of it is automatically generated for you by the scenario editor and therefore it is vastly easier to create. All you have to do now is click on a button to generate the briefing and then fill in some free text in the top paragraph where it helpfully says "[Insert your text here.]"! Put in as much or as little as you like and then do the same for the other side. Voila! You are done and ready to go.




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RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 6/21/2007 5:15:29 AM   
RobertCrandall


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This shot is lower down the same screen. What we have tried to do is use the same vehicle silhouettes consistently in all the places instead of using a sil here, a photo there, and a NATO-style symbol somewhere else. This will especially help the newer players who are not equally at home identifying items of military hardware in all three forms interchangeably!

A new player can scroll down this mission briefing and get a pretty good idea how many tanks, infantry squads, artillery tubes, etc. he has to play with even if he or she has no idea what the actual names or designations of the items are yet.




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RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 6/21/2007 5:17:31 AM   
RobertCrandall


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In the previous shot you will notice that the leg passengers are represented by NATO-sytle glyhs after all.  This is beta artwork still but these images have grown on me and we might well keep them.  Capn Darwin advises that they are clearer than the sils he was working on otherwise.  The general point remains the same though - if we use the image in one place then we use it in all.

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RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 6/21/2007 5:25:31 AM   
RobertCrandall


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By way of example, from this shot you can see that we have added a new Subunit display to the game (the middle band with 3 tanks in this case) and revamped the platform encyclopedia substantially (the bottom band).

In the Subunit display we see a representation of every subunit (vehicle or squad) in the unit. Ones that aren't runners have a transparent red X over them. This gives you a very tangible feel for where you stand.

By clicking on any of these subunit sils you can see what the stats for the corresponding platform are. (There are three Israeli subunits in this shot of platform type Centurian tank.) The Subunit Inspector gives a thumbnail display of the vital stats. Each weapon / ammo combo is listed in the combobox and will have its own performance chart shown below. Again, the idea is to make the characteristics of the weapons more tangible and accessible than was the case in FPG.

Tomorrow - the map, what it represents and how you can make your own in half an hour or so.




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RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 6/22/2007 4:48:24 AM   
RobertCrandall


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The new map model is kind of interesting for us. We wanted roughly the same thing as before but *much* easier to produce and modify. What we did was we went to a modified tiled system that operates like this:

We have four layers to the map. From bottom up they are elevation, natural terrain, rivers, and man-made terrain (e.g. buildings and roads). They combine into one visual layer but are strictly separate underneath.

Each location is still a 500m by 500m square but we have divided it into a 4 x 4 grid of "cells" within. Each cell can hold its own 4 layers and there is no requirement that they be the same. The various values of the 16 cells are averaged together to produce the overall values for the location. For example, elevations are tracked in 10m increments. We can drop a "10m" elevation tile onto a location and then drop two "20m" cells onto it somewhere. The average elevation of the whole becomes (14 x 10 + 2 x 20) / 16 = 11 (rounded) meters. The finer grain of the cells lets us create tiles with a near infinite variety of values from just a handful of tile and cell images.

To start a new map we fire up the map editor, select new map, and specify the size. 40 x 30 is still my favourite but you can go larger or smaller if you like. No, I haven't tested to see how big it can get... You also select a default elevation (e.g. 10m) and a default terrain type (e.g. clear) and you are presented with the basic map. You then select amongst the four layers to paint on, the various tile and cell sets to paint with, and you get creative. If you don't like what you have drawn then you can erase it or just paint something else over it. A 40 x 30 map (1,200 locations or 19,200 cells) takes me about 20 minutes to knock out. I'll fuss over it later of course, but the basics are there in 20 minutes.

At this point the map will look like a refugee from the 8-bit Atari days. The elevation layer has a resolution of 16 pixels per cell and looks rather blocky to the eye. What we then do is apply a Gaussian blur to the elevation layer to get rid of the blockiness and then posterize it to resolve the blurred colors back into discrete height bands again. This gives us a map reminiscent of the FPG maps but requiring something less than 200 hours a pop to produce. It is also way easier for a player to use.

The 'blocky' version of the map is saved as a stream of map objects to an *.m (map) file. It can be reloaded and modified at will in the editor unless it is password protected. It is not used by the game code though and need not be distributed. The key location averages and values derived from the map are saved as a *.p (parameter) file and are used by the game. Finally, the finished map is flattened to a single layer and saved as a *.png graphics file for use by the game as the main battle map.

I mentioned "averages and values derived from the map" above but where do those values come from if all you have done is exercise your painting skills? Ah, the tile and cell images that you painted with are coded in their file names with the key values we are tracking. These are the mobility multiplier (%), the visual hindrance modifier (%) and the cover height field (m). Swamp, forest, rough, cropland, towns, farms, whatever are given a visual image and rated on these three attributes. As with the elevations, the location values are the averages of the painted on values.

Does this that you can make your own map artwork and use it? Of course, that has been the intent all along. You make not just single images but horizontal strips of images and the game will then randomly select and remember the particular one to use. If you have the password you can add completely new tiles (image and values) to old maps, redo the graphics but keep all the values, or change the values and keep the images. We are trying to be mod-friendly here. All artwork is bundled up into the .m file so you will have it anywhere you take it, but since you are not required to distribute it with your scenarios you can keep control of it too. It is an open ended system.

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RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 6/22/2007 4:52:45 AM   
RobertCrandall


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This is a shot of the map editor. On the left is the layer selection radio group, the layer visibility group (to let you turn off layers as desired) and the numerical details for the selected location.

In the center is the blocky version of a map and on the right are the elevation tiles and cells since the elevation layer has been selected for drawing. To draw, click on a tile or cell image and then start dragging it around on the map.




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RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 6/22/2007 4:57:22 AM   
RobertCrandall


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This shot shows the grids with the magic numbers that are derived from the map. The terrain tiles on the right sport the three numbers that make them up. The elevation tiles seen in the previous shot are considered to be perfectly bare and therefore have no values.






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RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 6/22/2007 4:59:32 AM   
RobertCrandall


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Finally, we may need to browse what images and values are residing in the internal map cache. We can view them in a grid and modify them directly if we want.




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RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 6/22/2007 5:12:35 AM   
RobertCrandall


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This is the map shown in the first shot with the blurring and posterizing applied to the elevation layer. The other layers do not get the treatment.

The yellow lines snaking around are roads. By the time the game ships they will become solid ribbons of yellow. Also, I suppose the images are still subject to change but I'm really happy with the job that Marc S has done with them.

More this weekend.

Cheers, Rob




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RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 6/24/2007 6:21:19 PM   
RobertCrandall


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The use of artillery has changed a lot in FPME. In FPG all artillery was essentially on call for each side - you could pick a spot where and when you wanted to and there was some assurance that you could get timely fire made against it. Very few artillery missions actually work like that though.

There will now be three general kinds of artillery fire: map fire, pre-plotted fire, and on-call fire. (Of course, if a unit can engage directly over open sights it will do so but that is not part of this discussion.) In addition, the Direct Support mission will remain as a type of on-call fire for just the designated unit(s).

The Map Fire Plan
-In the pre-game setup phase each player is given an allowance of map fire in discrete standard units, e.g. “12 fire units of 10 x HE 20, 8 x HE 40, 25 x Smoke”. Each ‘fire unit’ is a group of abstract artillery missions that arrive during the same five minute time increment. The ‘assignments’ in this case are “HE 20”, “HE 40” and “Smoke”, and there will be 10 + 8 + 25 = 43 assignment markers to be placed per fire unit. The exact caliber and number of supporting guns is not important, just the final effect. No more than one fire unit can be used per time increment of 5 minutes. Fire units do not have to be used in consecutive time increments. This map fire allowance is above and beyond any other assets the player might have. Other assets may not engage in map fire. Map fire may be delivered anywhere on the map without regard to weapon ranges.

-Each fire unit should appear in a side panel populated with individual assignment markers. The player can scroll backward and forward in time and drag and drop assignment markers as desired. Markers can be repositioned on the map or returned to the side panel if desired. When the pregame setup is finished all unused markers will be lost.

-Only HE and smoke assignments can be made in FP-ME. In FPG there will also be the possibility of FASCAM and non-persistent chemical assignments.

-A HE assignment of “20” is equal to the fire of 20 tubes of typical supporting artillery. This will usually be of a heavy caliber but might be mortar, howitzer or rocket – this is abstracted out and to start with an HE value of ‘8’ will be used – a value typical of a 155mm howitzer.

-“Smoke” means a sufficient quantity of smoke of whatever size and number of shells to completely fill the location for five minutes.

-Each assignment creates a map fire marker containing a cross hair, quantity, and munition type.

-During the game the player can review the remaining portion of the map fire plan by invoking the map fire panel and stepping forwards and backwards through the time increments to view the markers.

-Map fire is unspotted and does not require any further intervention from the owning player. Having units in place to spot the fire is no help for correcting fire.

-The unused portion of the map fire plan may be cancelled during any orders phase but if it is then it is entirely lost to the player for the rest of the game. Cancellation takes double the normal command lag to take effect. It cannot be converted into PPF or On Call support.

-A map fire plan can be created by a scenario designer and saved with the scenario.

-Most attacks use substantial (75%+) map fire and only a small amount on-call fire. Overwhelming map fire is the hallmark of a classic Soviet-style attack.

-Artillery map fire is not subject to counter battery fire. Air strikes are subject to air defense measures in the usual way in the sense that they can be shot down or driven off, but this will not stop subsequent strikes from coming in as assigned.

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RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 6/24/2007 6:24:26 PM   
RobertCrandall


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Pre-Plotted Fire (PPF)
-PPF is plotted during the pre-game setup phase as to location (TRP) only and is used in a ‘just in time’ fashion. The timing, intensity and munition selection are up to the player at the instant of use. The great tactical advantage is that it is very speedy to fire an artillery mission on a pre-plotted location.

-To prevent overwhelming complexity the actual doctrine will be abstracted somewhat to achieve the desired effect. A player will be allowed 12 TRPs for the first artillery battery (on or off-map) in his force mix and an additional four TRPs for each additional battery. For WP forces the allowance is based on battalions, not batteries. Any artillery unit can fire on any TRP. TRPs cannot be stacked and are good for the entire scenario unless they are removed (see below).

-During the player orders phase all TRPs will be shown as blue or red rectangles drawn just inside the location grid boundaries of the map.

-The artillery unit is assigned a PPF mission in just the same manner as with On Call fire. The difference is that if the target location is a TRP then the response time will be 30 to 60 seconds rather than the normal On Call delay factor of several minutes to ‘whenever’.

-The TRP used must be within range of the actual artillery unit assigned the mission.

-Target spotting is not necessary but conveys the usual accuracy bonus if it exists.

-Firing units may engage in any mixture of pre-plotted and on-call fire subject to the usual limitations.

-PPF can be created by a scenario designer and saved with the scenario.

-Optional rule: TRPs are lost each time an artillery unit first relocates. The first movement (voluntary or involuntary) of an artillery unit causes four TRPs to be removed at random. None are removed for subsequent moves for that unit. Note: an off-map arty unit will be assumed to scoot the first time it loses a step to counter fire.
Most defenses rely on a lot of pre-plotted fire.


On-Call Fire
-The player (or staff) simply calls down fire on a location that has not been pre-plotted. On-call fire is a bit of an emergency measure, subject to many uncertainties, and may arrive too late to have the intended effect.

-Any artillery unit that is On Call, has ammo and is within range may be used for the mission.

-There can be a potentially serious time lag between the request and the mission. The biggest variable will be the expertise of the spotter and the state of the communications net wrt electronic warfare levels. Two to three minutes would be an excellent response time. Ten to twenty minutes would be a bad one and if longer, the mission would be cancelled instead.


Direct Support Orders
Intent: to be able to weight the attack or defense and prevent a dispersion of fire support to non-critical sectors at an important time.

-Use a direct support order to restrict a unit to support requests only from the indicated unit or from units subordinated to that unit. Pick the indicated unit by clicking on its name in the CoC tree.

-This order can be used by any unit that can accept missions from the FSCC. E.g. artillery (on or off-map) and air strikes.

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RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 6/24/2007 8:09:51 PM   
mb4329

 

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Looking good I like all the changes you guys have made.  I have always been a fan of the GDW Assault series and I have been looking for a computer equivalent.

I do have a question will these changes (i.e. discrete infantry, map editor, etc.) make it into/upgrade FPG?

Regards,
Merrick


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RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 6/24/2007 8:47:53 PM   
Capn Darwin


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I have all the games and expansions for the Assault series sitting in my bookcase of games. I loved it too and FPG is very much a computer version of that game. We will be talking with the rest of the Matrix crew at Origins  in less then 2 weeks about the time table of the release of the Mid-East game and what venues we will be looking to move the game engine into after that. I know we have a list of advanced features we will be talking about and in no particular order we've talked about Flashpoint Europe (more of a full blown FPG), Flashpoint Asia, Flashpoint WW2 (east/west/africa) and a few others. We will be able to say more with more details and clarity after Origins. Until then, enjoy the sneak peek.

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RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 8/30/2007 12:08:46 AM   
Wiseman

 

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What's the latest news, if any?

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RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 8/30/2007 4:00:17 AM   
Capn Darwin


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Both Rob and I are working hard on the game in order to hit our release schedule for the late fall. Rob is tweaking the AI and doing a ton of code work under the hood. I'm up to my eyeballs in graphics and data and hoping to catch up over my upcoming 5 day weekend. We are looking to get a beta out to our testers ASAP as well. We are a few weeks behind on that. Day jobs can definately ruin your hobby job.

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RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 8/31/2007 1:50:33 AM   
irishman


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If you need an extra beta testers let me know!!!


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RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 8/31/2007 3:48:09 AM   
Capn Darwin


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I'll keep you in mind.

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RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 11/16/2007 11:11:31 AM   
MikeBrough


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Capn Darwin

Both Rob and I are working hard on the game in order to hit our release schedule for the late fall. Rob is tweaking the AI and doing a ton of code work under the hood. I'm up to my eyeballs in graphics and data and hoping to catch up over my upcoming 5 day weekend. We are looking to get a beta out to our testers ASAP as well. We are a few weeks behind on that. Day jobs can definately ruin your hobby job.


So?

C'mon, I'm getting anxious.


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Proud to be an Arab

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RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 11/21/2007 4:56:33 AM   
ab5000

 

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Can I make a request - even though I'm a newbie... There are so few modern warfare game and so MANY world war 2 games - can I plead to focus on modern warfare?
Pretty, pretty please!!!!

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RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 11/22/2007 11:57:00 AM   
nukkxx


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That's great ! I love FPG. But please:

- lots of maps (not just a couple like in FPG
- lots of scenarios
- a solid TCP/IP

Great news !

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RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 11/23/2007 1:48:14 AM   
Capn Darwin


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nukkxx,

We will ship with a handful of maps and scenarios. The new games will have data/map/scenario editors so the sky is the limit on user created content. As for TCPIP, I'll leave that to Rob to comment on, but it should be there too.

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Post #: 29
RE: Flashpoint Middle East - 12/1/2007 3:42:51 PM   
Swamp_Yankee


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Capt. Darwwin, excuse me if this has already been asked (I'm lazy)

Do you plan to revisit the Fulda Gap with another version of the game that has increased infantry presence?

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