Where are the Helicopters?
By:Jester
Published : 7th January 2002
Feedback : Here
Reference Links : FS | RAH-66


Introduction

Back in May of 2001, I saw my first preview of what was to be the greatness of Ghost Recon. I picked up that month's issue of "GamePro" magazine and lo, there it was. Those tantalizing screenshots (which, by the way, actually show the names of the first 7 maps in the game) gave us our first glimpses of the game in action. Some things, notably the interface, changed from that early beta version that the magazine had access to.

Another tease that we were given was a series of rendered screenshots of vehicles, with a caption that promised, "Not only will you collaborate with international troops, but you'll also receive support from a number of their ground and air vehicles." Two of those images were of an RAH-66 Comanche and an Mi24 Hind. The thought of being attacked or supported by either of those beautiful aircraft certainly intrigued me. I was looking forward to the idea of calling for support and seeing enemy tank turrets fly as they were struck by Hellfire missiles and seeing infantry scurry away from the hail of lead from a 30mm chaingun.

Where were the helicopters?

As the months wore on and Ghost Recon's release loomed on the horizon, I grew uneasy as more and more information came out about the game, yet there was little mention of how vehicles would be implemented. I chalked it up to secrecy on the part of Red Storm. When the game came out, I was on a business trip. I drove 45 minutes to the nearest mall, picked up a copy and loaded it on the laptop. I stayed up half the night playing.

I was pleased to see the tanks and other vehicles made it into the game's final release, yet where were the helicopters? There were none to be found. I checked the manual and saw nothing about them. A bit disappointed, I continued playing anyway and was quite pleased with the game, overall.

IGOR

Then I started using Igor to make mods and I found a little surprise.

Igor has several handy little editors built in for different parts of the game. One of them is the Vehicle Editor. While exploring Igor one day, I discovered that you can make new vehicles, assuming that you have 3d models for them. In the Vehicle Editor, there is a pull-down menu that lets you choose what type of vehicle you are making. There are tanks, APCs, etc. Much to my surprise, at the bottom of the list I found an entry for 'Helicopter'. "What's this? They have code in the game for aircraft? Where are they?" I wondered. I played with the vehicle type some and it seems that the code is either partial, or there are certain conventions that need to be worked out in order to use the vehicle type in-game. But I started thinking about it.

Helicopters - Found!

After my discovery, helicopters slipped my mind as I started working on mods and other projects, like beta testing Mike Schell's new character utility. Soon, however, I made another discovery. For those of you that have done any modding of Ghost Recon or that have explored the game files at all, you will have noted that there are some things that probably were not meant to be released available in the game folders. While looking through the game folders one day, I made another discovery. Somebody at Red Storm forgot to take out some unused textures. Mixed in with the texture for the downed Seahawk helicopter and the other vehicles, I found textures for an undamaged Seahawk helicopter and an RAH-66 Comanche, just like in the GamePro article! Also present are a series of five rotor images for a Hind helicopter, perfect for animating a moving rotor in-game.

Helicopter Textures
Damaged Panels (in-game)


Click for large image
Comanche
In-flight Screenshot

Rotors

The textures that are shipped with Ghost Recon, but not actually in the game can be found in the textures folder of the Origmiss folder, and are

  • iv_uh60_blackhawk.rsb
  • iv_helo_rah66.rsb
  • iv_hind_prop01.rsb through to 04.rsb

Furthermore

1) The renders of the helicopters in the GamePro article back in May 2001 are of a Comanche and a Hind in flight.

2) The helicopter vehicle code is still in the game. Tinkering with it, I was able to make an aircraft fly with Igor.

3) The multiple rotor textures in motion, probably for animating the thing in-game. Although it *could* be argued that they were for a static helicopter that was supposed to sit on the ground with its engine/rotors running during a mission.

 

Conclusion

So, what happened to the helicopters? That is a question that many of us would like an answer to. Perhaps time was getting short and, rather than delay release because of a feature that was not fully implemented, Red Storm decided to cut them altogether. Perhaps there were technical hurdles that just could not be overcome when trying to do a realistic helicopter in a first person tactical shooter. Perhaps we will never know. I, for one, hope that they make it into the upcoming expansion pack. In the meantime, I hope that some mod-maker will tinker with the code and figure it out, much like the unused claymore mine code in Rogue Spear that eventually was exploited for several mods.

 

 


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