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HOT INFO from an E3 chat with BIS


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Parker from over at WWII Engineer corps has posted some great new info from his E3 chat with BIS

Parker's E3 Coverage

I had a chance to talk with Maruk Spanel, Bart Van Paassen, and Paul Statham of Bohemia Interactive Studios at last weeks Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. They were kind enough to show me what they have in store for strategy war gamers in the near future.

There are actually three different projects in the pipeline from Bohemia.

The first of course is the Xbox version of the original Operation Flashpoint. This, as I was told, is basically completed.

There are also two different projects being prepared for the PC. While they are two different games, they are actually closely related and will share a lot of technical features. Let me explain.

Bohemia has spent a lot of time working on a new highly detailed graphics engine. The new models in their current projects are not only highly detailed, but sport gorgeous normal mapped textures.

The attention to detail can be seen all the way down to the tiny wrinkles on the pocket of a soldier's ammo pouch.

The graphics engine is based off Bohemia's work on the Virtual Battlefield System, or VBS1, currently used as a training tool by armed forces around the world. But it's not simply the same engine on a different game.

A lot of work has gone into optimizing code and creating greater levels of detail that action gamers have come to expect.

The improvements to the graphics engine also includes improvements to the terrain detail. No longer is the world of Operation Flashpoint poulated by barren ground and pixelated trees.

A new in-house tooled named Linda, has helped Bohemia create a highly detailed vegetation system. Each plant is modelled after a plant found in the real world. Every single tree is accurately modelled, adding a lot of depth to the already realistic environment.

Along with the enviroment, Bohemia has worked on creating real time weather effects. On clear days, the sun can momentarily affect visibility if you choose to look directly it. And storms now look and act like real storms.

This included offshore effects. Weather affects the water in the sea. When it is storming the waves (yes waves) will be larger and behave a little more violently. When the weather dies down the sea will be more calm and light will even reflect off of it.

As with the original Operation Flashpoint, graphics are only a small part of the equation. Bohemia's goal is to make a large-scale tactical war game. Therefore, a lot of work has gone into the gameplay aspects.

The concept is to have [Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising]* take place in several different chapters much like the original. Each chapter will have the player in a different role from infantryman, to tank crew, to pilot, to special forces operator. There is supposed to be a full-scale war going on around the map.

To achieve this Bohemia has implemented a way of having every action on the map recorded. If a helicopter flies overhead, then it is on it's way to perform an action. It is either dropping off or picking up troops or it is on it's way to attack an enemy position.

Everything in the game will have it's own goals and priorities to handle. There will even be civilians living and going to work in the cities. If Bohemia can pull this off, it should give the player the feeling that his is not Rambo, rather he's just a lowly soldier in a conflict much bigger than him.

In order to make the player feel that he is really in the boots of real soldier, Bohemia is trying to implement some RPG aspects into the game. A.I. characters are going to be able to observe and learn things on their own. The player will then have to ability to chat with the A.I. to find out information.

In the demo Maruk Spanel showed me, he walked up and a computer controlled bot and asked him if he has seen the enemy. The bot replied that he had seen the enemy and told us where. The information the bot knows is not scripted. He has to actually see something before he will know. This is a unique and depth-enhancing aspect to the game.

The player now has the option to gather his own intel before going into a battle. Along with that the character will be able to build up their skills, such as strength or accuracy, in between missions. This was still an early version, but this should create an interesting approach to playing through the campaign.

Bohemia also plans on implementing a full chain-of-command system. From Colonels all the way down to squad levels. For mission editors, this should add a new level to the game. Imagine a mission where you have to command several different squads to achieve an objective. This should allow for larger battles and more complex strategys. Although this is a feature yet to be realized, it does appear very promising.

Mission editors will also need to consider the equipment loadout that the troops will carry in the missions. Yes, the equipment in the game will be fully customizable. If the player will need a scope on their rifle, then the mission editor can add it. If he want a sniper to carry as little extra equipment as possible, then they can remove all of the gear that's not necessary. This is a feature that has been done in games like Rainbow Six, but to no where near the scale that [Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising]* will offer.

Bohemia is also hoping that this feature will be handy for the MOD community. By giving people the ability to add different features to the M4 (a scope, a laser, camo, etc.) then there wont be a need for addon creators to create 5 different versions of the same weapon just for minor detail changes.

Speaking of modding, Bohemia is very excited about the mod community that has sprung up around Operation Flashpoint. They fully realize that the Operation Flashpoint engine can be used to create many different gameplay scenarios.

They also realize that were were a few limitations to the original Flashpoint engine that are being corrected for Flashpoint 2*.

One of these limitations is the use of multiple guns on a single vehicle. This is a limitation that Bohemia is working on correcting and we may be able to see tanks with working machine guns in [OFP: DR]*.

Another focus is collision detection. The original Flashpoint had trouble with collision detection in that it was nearly impossible to land a helicopter on another unit (like a ship), or to walk around in the cargo area of a moving object. VBS1 already has collision detection that allows for movement in a moving cargo area. This will be updated and used in [OFP: DR]*.

A big question that I hear a lot from addon creators, is "Will OFP1 addons work in [OFP: DR]?". I took the question to Bart Van Paassen of BIS and he gave me a short answer of Yes. BUT, [OFP: DR]* will be using a new engine.

Bohemia is trying to make it as compatible as possible and nearly every addon made for OFP1 should work in [OFP: DR]*. But to utilize the new features provided by the [OFP: DR]* engine there will be, for example, new config entries for physics.

The other PC project Bohemia is working on is actually a game that will essentially be OFP 1.5. Tenetively titled Armed Assualt, this new project will serve as a bridge between Operation Flashpoint 1 and [Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising]*, which is expected to be completed by late 2006.

Armed Assualt will include all of the original Operation Flashpoint content in a new graphics engine.

From what I was told, Bohemia is hoping addon makers will used Armed Assualt as a way of learning the features of the new graphics engine.

Armed Assualt will also have a lot of offer non-editors. There will be a new 100 sq km extremely detailed island, a new story line, and an upgraded comprehensive multiplayer mode that now will allow players to join games already in progress.

Armed Assualt is expected to be ready by the end of this year [and is] meant to be a taste of what [OFP: DR]* will be like.

With [OFP: DR]*, Bohemia will introduce 500 sq km highly detailed maps (no longer called islands).

The architecture of the islands is going to be a vast improvement over the original. Buildings will no longer crumple up like paper when destroyed.

I was able to witness Maruk Spanel blowing holes into the walls of buildings with a tank. After so much damage the building will even collapse, killing anyone inside. This will create a much more war-torn environment than the original. Now streets may be littered with debres.

But the tank that does the damage isn't safe from getting blown up itself. You can now blow the turret off of a tank. When vehicles explode, they truely explode. If you are unlucky enough to be in the way of a flying door or rotar blade or other piece of shrapnel, consider yourself out of commission.

The realism in the explosions is something that must be seen to truely appreciate. In the demo I witnessed the original OFP1 particle effects were still being used, but will some improvements on that and you may find yourself ducking under your computer when your ride explodes.

From what I have seen Bohemia is on the ball with both Armed Assualt and [Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising]*. Many things that the loyal community, and addon created have been asking for will find their way into the game. After the little over an hour I had to talk with Maruk Spanel and Bart Van Paassen, I believe that [OFP: DR]* will no doubt be as big a hit as the original Operation Flashpoint was nearly four years ago.

*Note: Due to ongoing negotiations with Codemaster (who own the right to the Operation Flashpoint name) [OFP: DR] in this article may or may not be released under the name [Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising].

* and as we now know BIS have diverged from codemasters and will be producing these as separate games (2x names TBA), Codemasters report they are going to release a game titled [OFP: DR] themselves

:drool: WOW

BIS rocks :thumbsup: these games are going to be Awesome :D

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The Project due out in 2006- The Ultimate Game looks and sounds very promising indeed. Should really add to the community and i'd imagine quite a few of the current GR Fans will migrate over to it when it's released.

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faces of the units and a few shadow errors are the only things wrong wiv the engine at the moment (as far as i can see), BIS are concentrating on dx9 effects, vehicles, unit models (not faces) and physics before they put the finishing touches to gfx. this is the ultimate game for realism, gr used to be fairly realistic, then gr2 and 3 look like theyve ruined the realism, rainbow six used to be about realism but they screwed that up with raven shield and beyond. i can see all the dissapointed realism seekers migrating from all the games like bf2, lockdown and gr3 over to this new "ultimate game"

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Should really add to the community and i'd imagine quite a few of the current GR Fans will migrate over to it when it's released.

Oh yeah, they are screaming out for Realism, Tactical gameplay and Great features, well OFP/VBS had em by the bucket full and these new games are going to have them by the lorry load :P

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Good to see what BIA/BIS have worked on in VBS1 and enhanced will be used in the next gen shooters. Good stuff indeed.

Amd good to see whats promising to be the most realistic mil sim/game...

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Sounds good

...... Along with that the character will be able to build up their skills, such as strength or accuracy, in between missions. This was still an early version, but this should create an interesting approach to playing through the campaign.

Damn, gonna have to drop the twinkies and hit the gym.

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This included offshore effects. Weather affects the water in the sea. When it is storming the waves (yes waves) will be larger and behave a little more violently. When the weather dies down the sea will be more calm and light will even reflect off of it.

!!1

To achieve this Bohemia has implemented a way of having every action on the map recorded. If a helicopter flies overhead, then it is on it's way to perform an action. It is either dropping off or picking up troops or it is on it's way to attack an enemy position.

Everything in the game will have it's own goals and priorities to handle. There will even be civilians living and going to work in the cities. If Bohemia can pull this off, it should give the player the feeling that his is not Rambo, rather he's just a lowly soldier in a conflict much bigger than him.

!!!11

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Just read this again...

In the demo Maruk Spanel showed me, he walked up and a computer controlled bot and asked him if he has seen the enemy. The bot replied that he had seen the enemy and told us where. The information the bot knows is not scripted. He has to actually see something before he will know. This is a unique and depth-enhancing aspect to the game.

BADASS.

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Just read this again...

In the demo Maruk Spanel showed me, he walked up and a computer controlled bot and asked him if he has seen the enemy. The bot replied that he had seen the enemy and told us where. The information the bot knows is not scripted. He has to actually see something before he will know. This is a unique and depth-enhancing aspect to the game.

BADASS.

Jebus, that's smarter than most people I know.

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