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Digital Gaming => Computer Gaming => Topic started by: Toonces on July 06, 2019, 10:04:46 PM

Title: BMS 4.34
Post by: Toonces on July 06, 2019, 10:04:46 PM
I finally got BMS 4.34 up and running today and started working out the kinks.

I also got DCS up and running, updated and with all of my modules installed.  So I was able to sort of compare BMS with DCS as a frame of reference.

I have to be completely honest here: I think maybe some of the improvements in 4.34 are simply lost on me.  My overwhelming impression after fighting the game for several hours today is that BMS has perhaps gone a bit too far in the realism department, and likewise has perhaps pushed the Falcon 4 engine too far.

I'm going to caveat everything I say with, I haven't played Falcon is a really long time, I haven't read up on the changes in 4.34 beyond some quick YouTube videos, and I only spent a few hours with it today so these impressions are relatively superficial.

Regarding realism: One of the glaring changes is in the ATC and comms system.  The typical shortcuts (T, Q, R, etc.) still bring up the appropriate menus, with some additional options in the ATC menu.  However, in order to communicate with the entity that the menu brings up, you must select the appropriate frequency in your UHF radio.  I thought that this could be automated by loading the default data cartridge in pre-flight, and then use the preset comm buttons to move through ground to tower to departure, etc., but it worked only sporadically for me.  If the cartridge is porked, or you didn't load it right, and you didn't write down the freqs, you are SOL because you're going to be out of comms for the entire flight.

The pre-flight briefing in campaign missions has more information than ever before.  Of particular note is the plethora of IFF information.  IFF was a sorely missing feature of BMS and for "realism" BMS absolutely refused to implement a simplified IFF like Freefalcon.  Now it's in there, but in order to get it working properly expect to spend some time figuring it out and configuring it properly.

While this probably appeals to the hardcore crowd, I can't help but feel that we're simply adding complexity for complexities sake, and not where it's really needed.  These new options didn't leave me feeling more immersed, and I didn't enjoy trying to figure out how to pick up where I left off without investing some amount of time learning the new systems.  Certainly as a virtual pilot you're going to be spending even more time in pre-flight, and you're going to be spending more time with the little details of flying a high-performance, highly complex fighter.  The shortcuts are becoming fewer and fewer.  More keyboard shortcuts then ever are present, and don't conclude that the clickable cockpit is going to solve all your problems.  Finding and clicking those little buttons can be a real bear.

Regarding the Falcon engine: There have certainly been some terrain and graphics enhancements, and I applaud the BMS team for continuing to stretch the realm of possible.  However, especially after coming off of DCS, Falcon really starts to show its age.  It works, but it's starting to look more like a stretched old graphic engine than what is becoming more commonplace in sims like DCS, IL-2 BoX, RoF, etc.

The new ATC features, AWACS comms, and such are welcome.  However, the voices are obviously hacked together from the voice file, and the effect is pretty awful.  The information is welcome, but it sounds like Joshua from Wargames speaking, or an automated phone system.  Further, the same old timed exclamations from pilots flying around the virtual skies are present.  After decades of listening to them they're just jarring more than immersive. 

Forget about the new cockpits.  I tried the F-4, Tornado, and F-18 and they simply feel hacked together now.  Even the F-16 pit seemed sterile and not immersive compared to the artwork in DCS.  It felt like a step backwards, and I can't even see myself flying the other jets at this point.

I tried the carrier ops briefly, but gave up because I couldn't figure out the right way to do it, all the keybindings and comms required, without more reading.  Still, while the deck moves, there are still those same buggy things that have always seemed to plague Falcon, like jets taxing through one another on the deck, Hornets taking off and flying with their wings folded, etc. 

There are three new campaigns that are interesting takes on stretching that Korea terrain a bit longer.  However, 4.34 uses a new database meaning all of the add-on theaters that folks have been working on all these years are once again incompatible.  Why anyone would continue working on theaters for BMS is beyond me.  I threw in the towel years ago once I finally realized the utter futility of ever creating something that would endure.  I don't know if the theater devs are planning to rebuild their theaters to work with 4.34 or just bag it.  I know some people are flying with dual 4.33 and 4.34 installs.

I'm not giving up on Falcon.  But the changes have broken the add-on theaters, the new DB wrecked my keybindings, and they added complexity means that you're going to have to spend some time in the books to figure out how to make the new features work before you can dive back in.  Ultimately, after a few hours I gave in to my frustration and just found something else to do.  For me, I don't find most of these new features adding value (except for IFF if I can figure it out).  There comes a point where adding complexity really starts to detract from fun, and that's where we're at now.  And, I feel like while the new comms and ATC are laudable goals, it ends up being detracting rather than value-adding because the limitations of the engine become more glaring. 

You can't beat the price, so there's no cost to try it for yourself other than your time.  I feel like this version is a step backwards, though.  I am hopeful that with some more time invested to overcome the learning curve, and when the new hacked up comms become more second nature, I'll start to enjoy the game more.
Title: Re: BMS 4.34
Post by: Jarhead0331 on July 07, 2019, 04:37:27 AM
So in other words, youíre an adult with responsibilities and just dont have the time or patience to focus on learning something this detailed and complex because youíre game time is just too valuable. Yup. Iím there too.

If you donít throw in the towel, check this out, Iíve found his videos helpful.

Title: Re: BMS 4.34
Post by: Yskonyn on July 07, 2019, 06:48:05 AM
Wow nice vids. Thanks for sharing.  :bd:
I keep being amazed by what the crew can do with the old Falcon.
Title: Re: BMS 4.34
Post by: Toonces on July 07, 2019, 10:44:01 AM
There was a bit more to my impressions than simply not having the time and patience to learn the new systems, but that is part of it, yes. 

I'm sure once I learn how to get the systems set up and it becomes second nature it will become more enjoyable. 

I know I'm in the minority here, but I continue to believe that there is a line between realism and gameplay that on one side keeps the game a challenge but still fun, and on the other it becomes more work than fun.  I sit firmly on the fun side.  There are some times when it IS fun to sit in pre-flight for a half hour getting the jet and flightplan set up, for example when I was hauling people around in a virtual airline in FSX.  Once the jet is on its way and the autopilot is clicked on, there isn't much to do, so the interactive part is playing with the systems, getting the FMS properly configured, watching the little trucks load the food and luggage, etc.  For a sim like BMS I don't think the added time in pre-flight and the additional minutiae adds to the enjoyment of the game.  For me, the fun lies in flying the mission, dogfighting and dropping bombs and dodging sams.  The info in pre-flight gives my mission context.  But all the minutiae and detail getting the jet off the ground is just complexity for complexity sake IMO.  For me, it doesn't add to the experience, it detracts from it.  I don't want to spend a half hour getting my jet ready for takeoff.  Streamlining this stuff gets the player to the fun part faster.

I always felt Freefalcon understood this best.  We didn't stress on data cartridges and comms and all the pre-flight nonsense.  The player can assume that the data cartridge is configured, the appropriate frequencies are selected, and can get on with concentrating on the real focus of the game, employing a combat jet in combat. 

Anyway, I'm ranting, and I know that most people don't agree with me, and it doesn't matter since I'm not the developer, so.

There were some nice new touches, like moving clouds and persistent contrails. 

Just my thoughts.  I was looking forward to trying this out somewhere other than Korea; I'll keep my eyes open to see how the port to 4.34 process evolves.
Title: Re: BMS 4.34
Post by: mikeck on July 07, 2019, 10:52:28 AM understanding how BMS falls short in areas to DCS, why would one play BMS other than the cost? What is it about Falcon BMS that keeps you from moving over to DCS? Is it flying the F-16 itself or the campaign?
Title: Re: BMS 4.34
Post by: Toonces on July 07, 2019, 10:56:03 AM
I watched some of that comms video.  I realize what likely happened.  On my first mission I was the lead flight (or only flight) in the package so my data cartridge defaulted to flight 1 comms and the presets worked.

My next flight I was 3rd or 4th flight in the package, so none of the presets worked because I didn't select the other flight in the data cartridge menu.  I was wondering what I fat fingered.
Title: Re: BMS 4.34
Post by: Toonces on July 07, 2019, 11:07:43 AM
mikeck, this is purely my opinion.

I keep going back to BMS because of the campaign.  Despite its limitations, it really does a good job of dropping you into a living war.  The initial conditions are set by the campaign designer, but once you press start the script is over.  Neither one of us is going to have the same experience because the missions are dynamically generated.

Once the campaign is running for a bit, at any given time, I can select an F-16 squadron, look at the frag list, and there will be more missions available from which to choose than an entire DCS scripted campaign.  And that's at one moment in time, and all of the missions are dynamic and unpredictable, and nobody else will have those same missions to fly.  BMS is a sim you can play forever and still keep having new experiences.

On the flip side, sometimes the computer frags stupid missions, suicide missions, missions without appropriate weapons, etc.  I've been flying long enough that I can see when the computer is putting together missions that simply won't work and I just let the AI figure it out and fly a different mission.  The campaign engine has its limits.

BMS has done a lot of work to make other aircraft flyable in BMS.  But under the hood the avionics are all F-16, and the quality of some of the pits is not usually as good as the F-16. 

DCS has a lot of aircraft that are modeled as well as the BMS F-16.  It also has the controllable ground units.  It is build from the ground up to be an interactive sandbox of very highly accurate modules integrated into a battlefield.  But, somebody has to do the work to write the mission.  The mission by its nature can only have limited unpredictability, using triggers and randomness.  But there's nothing going on that the scripter didn't put in there.  This is why I lean towards multiplayer for a sim like DCS.  MP is fully dynamic, and so it provides that unpredictability, and more aircraft to fly and much better graphics and sound.

IF Eagle Dynamics and create a dynamic campaign system that meets or surpasses BMS's, I'd move over to DCS and not look back.

Regardless, both sims are excellent at what they do, they just do slightly different things IMO.
Title: Re: BMS 4.34
Post by: Yskonyn on July 07, 2019, 01:33:19 PM
I agree very much with Toonces about the line between sim/detail and still being fun.

Sometimes sims put in stuff that is excellent for the technical nerd who drools about the buttons and intricate systems at work of a given system, while (in this case) the real life pilot would hardly ever have to configure or play around with that given system as detailed as the preflight procedure in the sim makes it out to be, because the pilot is the 'end user' of the platform and other personnel on the flightline take care of all the preflight tech stuff. The sim obviously models it with only one user; the player.

Sometimes less is more indeed. :)
Title: Re: BMS 4.34
Post by: Toonces on July 07, 2019, 01:40:10 PM
Could be that I'm becoming more Grandpa Simpson-like in my old age.

Indeed, my time to game is limited, and I find my desire and patience to spend hours learning new games and configuring controllers is waning.  I find myself increasingly just sticking to what I know.

The BMS thing sort of reminds me of the evolution of Total War series.  I thought M2TW was just about the perfect game.  But you get to Rome 2, and while there is so much to like, the settlement management, and food balance, and inter-personal just got to be too much (for me).  The focus shifted from providing a mechanism for getting the player into tactical battles into this management game that just isn't what I turn to Total War for.  You know what I mean?  It's like the TW guys just had too many good ideas.  BMS feels like that to me right now, just not knowing when to stop "improving" things.