My Two Cents on the History of Third-Party Modeling Efforts

Now, at the risk of being unpopular, this reporter places the blame for all of this squarely on you, the viewers.

"History is the Lie we all agree upon"... In this case, it's the Lies the author has decided to tell, seen from his POV. If he has any dates wrong, or is missing something signficant (or perhaps, has made an ass of himself while blatantly mis-representing reality) please contact him. Additionally, any screenshots or other documentation of the events described on this page would be welcomed.

2000

2000.02.xx   While a growing fan base gawks at the incredible development screenshots showing up in the Friday Updates at the Blue Byte forums, potential 3rd party modelers begin to discuss the feasability of a 3rd-party expansion effort. After some discussion outlining the policy of "developer quality control", 1C:Maddox releases the first modeling guide.

2000.08.xx   Evidence of a modeling effort begins to surface in the form of model update posts at Il-2 forums and even an occasional screenshot. The beginnings of a community starts to evolve.

2000.12.09   An early version of the Majesty5's Arado Ar 196A-3 becomes the first 3rd-party model tested in the Il-2 engine.

2001

2001.05.09   Il-2 Center, paid for, built, and run by Luthier, is founded. 3rd party modelers begin to gather and coordinate modeling efforts.

2001.06.20   Il-2 Sturmovik beta testing begins with a pool of 100 testers chosen in secret. Beta CD's are delivered by special international service in a small package. For several days until everyone gets their CD, doorbells cause excitement and anxiety in 100 people across the world. Receipt of the Beta CD prompts excited posts on the secure Beta forums.

2002.09.11   Nihilistic loser assholes hijack planes and crash them into buildings in New York and Washington. Having witnessed the attacks personally from the front of the Staten Island ferry, Luthier takes leave from Il-2 Center for a few weeks. General sim-flying activity declines as people feel the need to refrain from simulating using aircraft to kill other people. (someone) takes up temporary administration of Il-2 Center in Luthier's absence.

2001.10.30   Il-2 Sturmovik beta testing is complete after four months of testing and three package updates to the core beta, which fix various bugs ranging from flight model issues to purple clouds, while adding new features such as trees.

2001.11.20   Il-2 Sturmovik is released. Flight simmers dive in and expend precious hours of their lives flying strange new aircraft of the East against well-known aircraft of the West. The absence of the Bf 110 is noted. The differences between Il-2's simulation of aircraft vs. that of other games begins a renaissance in simmer's conceptions of warbird performance. Old myths crumble, while new questions are raised. Proving that the Cold War isn't over, xenophobia, ignorance, and even genuine curiosity lead some to question Oleg's methods and partiality. "Is Oleg a secret Communist? Everybody knows that any flight data from Stalin's time would be biased!" Despite the fact that lying to Stalin was a wee bit on the risky side, and Oleg's claims to an aeronautical engineering degree and his own avowed preference for the Bf 109, the phenomenon of Luftwhining is born. Legitimate complaints and questions about German aircraft modeling are lost in a sea of irritating troll posts. In the meantime, most people have their cake and eat it, too.

2002

2002.03.xx   Addressing some of Il-2's weaknesses, Vadim "Starshoy" Kolosov releases his Dynamic Campaign Generator for Il-2, providing players with a great new way to expand gameplay. Many people begin putting together historical missions and campaigns for the game.

2002.06.14   The 1.1a patch for Il-2 includes Luthier's BI-1 and Zurawski's PZL P.11c, both entirely new flyables. Lending credence to the theory that "Those who can't, complain", a small minority of people wonder just what the hell a Soviet rocket plane is good for, saying that a 3rd party modeler's small amount of unpaid free time should be spent on a different sort of completely free bonus that would bring their idea of "more" to the game. Some modelers, in response to this new trend of having their intelligence questioned, begin asking the community what sorts of aircraft would be most appreciated. Some members of the community respond with spirited, positive movements lobbying for the inclusion of smaller air forces such as the Italians, Romanians, Hungarians, and Finns.

2002.07.xx   As discussions of what should (and should not!) be added to Il-2 continue, some fans come up with the idea of a World War 1 package or add-on. Oleg reveals that the current Il-2 engine could concievably handle everthing up to 1950's jets, with the exception of helicopters. He also agrees that if he recieves a package of flawless 3D models that don't need any corrective work from the 1C:Maddox team, he will try and take the time to put together a WW1 patch. Over the space of a few weeks, a World War 1 Project is born at Il-2 Center, and soon gets its own forums. Although the level of activity is low, a couple of the more prominent modelers begin building WW1 aircraft behind the scenes. These eventually result in a handful of really wonderful screenshots, but as time progresses and Il-2 Center activity fades, the project seems to lose momentum and disappear. Its status is currently unknown.

2002.08.xx   Il-2: Forgotten Battles is announced. Originally concieved as a large add-on, over time FB morphs into a whole new sim building on the original Il-2 core, adding many game engine enhancments, new theaters, new campaigns, and dozens of new aircraft. Answering the hopes of those who wish to see more "minor" nations represented, it is revealed that the new campaigns will be set in Finland and Hungary.

2002.09.01   The highly anticipated 1.2 patch for Il-2 makes the Ju 87B-2 flyable, courtesy of Jippo's cockpit. Legions of Stukaholics rejoice, and while people enjoy the experience of piloting the infamous dive bomber in the best WW2 flight sim out there, they look to the future and begin to dream of piloting the Ju 87D in a tankbuster role.

2002.09.xx   The Killjoy Saga unfolds across the Il-2 modeling community. Someone calling themselves "Killjoy", later determined to be (at best guess) an attention-desperate 15-year-old from a broken home somewhere in the Low Countries, descends upon the Il-2 Center boards. It stars with a harmless question about using Milkshape 3D for Il-2 modeling. "No" is not a good enough answer, evidently, and soon the question is repeated, again and again. Frustrated at making no progress in changing things by making five-word posts every ten minutes, Killjoy requests that he be allowed to model the Mosquito. Luthier, who by now is not around much due to his job, gives the newbie the benefit of the doubt and approves. Three weeks of poorly spelled spam posts follow, interspersed with screenshots of a poor-quality model thrown together in Milkshape which utterly disappoint real fans in the community who were overjoyed at the prospect of a Mosquito in Il-2. Gibbage, no master speller himself, gets into arguments with Killjoy in a series of epic battles that are unreadable for most English-speaking people. Killjoy then schizophrenically abandons the Mosquito and moves over to the Gloster Meteor, which soon recieves the same treatment as the Mosquito. He then posts screenshots of other people's professional 3D work as his own in Oleg's Ready Room, and admits that the shots are not his work after questioning by skeptical posters. Suspecting that Killjoy is behind recent e-mail threats and attempts to hack the site, Luthier bans Killjoy and his recently discovered aliases from Il-2 Center. The death throes of spam posts last another week or two before finally dying away. The whole affair leaves a trail of astonished people in its wake. The real victim, however, is Gibbage, who is left with permanent psychological scars and a temper that automatically explodes on the mention of the word "Killjoy".

2002.11.xx   In a surprising twist, Luthier reveals on the Modelers-Only Il-2 Center forum that Forgotten Battles will have the capability to show individual faces on the virtual pilot's head. This means that 1C:Maddox needs photographs of individuals for pilot's faces. It eventually leads to modelers posting their pictures and a revealing their real names to each other. Now the modelers know each other by name, and correspondence becomes more personal and more frequent. An observer might even say that an interesting, and somewhat overdue, bonding has taken place.

2002.11.xx   A similar phenomenon to the "WW1 Project" now develops around the subject of late- and even post-WW2 and experimental aircraft. Advocates of post-WW2 aircraft debate with those who want to see wild experimental prototypes in the game. Historical purists have their say as well, with one person even suggesting that aircraft with production runs of less than 100 examples shouldn't be included in the game at all. Others point out that low-production Russian types (like the La-5FN) are included, so why not aircraft like the Ta 152 and Do 335? Finally, in a stunning leap of unLogic, the poor little BI-1 (despite its being a 3rd-party model added to the game at no extra charge) becomes part of an Evil Communist Plot to tarnish the history of the Luftwaffe. Distilled to a McCarthyist comedy of errors, the "debate" is now "Luftwhiners vs. Evil Communist Biased Game Developer". Gibbage, ever the diplomat, deliberately throws gasoline onto the fire by announcing that he is developing the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star (a borderline late-war aircraft) in a brutal shot at the Luftwaffe fans, who are already upset that the Me 262 will not be available until Forgotten Battles adds multi-engine management. This ignites three-week-long flame threads in the Ready Room. In the meantime, less inflammatory discussion goes on in the background at Il-2 Center, with most parties deciding that more aircraft of any sort can only be healthy for gameplay. Eventually plans for a "1946 Project" evolve, which is intended to contain at least the Go 229, Do 335, and P-80. Majesty5 even formulates secret plans to build the F7F-3 Tigercat for this package, but is unfortunately thwarted by lack of references. Xanty's Do 335 also fizzles out due to a diabolically timed massive hard drive crash. Gibbage succesfully completes the P-80 and Go 229, however, both of which are expected as flyable add-ons sometime in the future, but the larger "1946 Project" will disappear as a collective effort when Il-2 Center eventually goes down.

2003

2003.01.xx   As Il-2's lifetime wears on and Forgotten Battles takes shape, the steady, systematic decline of Oleg's Ready Room, a place where Oleg can theoretically interface with the community, begins. Some very real flaws and drawbacks to the game attract a fair share of criticism, which unfortunately begins to snowball. Perspective is lost as people realize they can take personal shots at the developer without fear of retaliation from lax (and in some cases, nearly useless) moderators. Smelling blood, professional whiners, loonies, agitators, and kiddie trolls (later referred to by Oleg as "some not nice people") bombard the forums with noise, and Oleg's online presence becomes rare. Never a place for the sane, soon the board is almost fully populated by people with psychological dysfnuctions that are common to the Internet, such as trolling, martyrdom, and persecution complexes. Twenty-page argument posts between socially stunted, overtly nationalistic airplane nerds, egged on by troll cheerleaders, make it difficult to tell what is real and what is relevant. People who actually know what they're talking about begin to correspond in private rather than public. Many other regulars of Il-2 forums who actually have lives and functioning brains decide that it's time to unplug and get on with real life for a while. Some of them quit the Internet entirely. The 3rd party modelers begin to disappear one by one, into various places like college, the military, or other personal work. In the meantime, the Ready Room becomes one of the worst places on the Internet, trailing only behind fetish-picture-trading IRC channels, usenet conspiracy groups, and boards featured on the "Weekend Web" at Something Awful.

2003.03.04   Il-2 Sturmovik: Forgotten Battles is released. It includes the new flyable TB-3 and I-16 cockpit by Luthier, the Me 262 cockpit by Vibert & Derrien, Gibbage's PBY-6, Walter Pedrao's P-47, Xanty's He 111 external re-work and cockpits, MW's B-239, Radek's P-40, SB's Su-2, and Majesty5's Arado Ar 196A-3.

2003.07.xx   Il-2 Center's front page is defaced by a collection of recessive genes masquerading as an illiterate Portuguese-speaking teenager. As the weeks wear on without the obvious problem being fixed, the small number of modelers remaining begin to wonder where Luthier is. Discouraged by the decline of the community and the drying up of the modeling effort, and busy with other things, activity has declined to the point of an occasional "check-in" on the forums.

2003.08.xx   Il-2 Center's remaining online content (really only the front page and the forums) is suddenly, mysteriously deleted. Bewildered modelers figure that if that doesn't bring Luthier back, nothing will.

2003.08.xx   After months of no activity, a small group of modelers decide to move to a new "home" online. Under the coordination of Gibbage and with the help of Neil Washbrook, a move to Netwings takes place.

2003.09.xx   Oleg announces his future plans for Forgotten Battles. He reveals that there will be one more patch, followed by a 1C:Maddox-developed paid add-on package. Additionally, he reveals that a large-scale European campaign with new maps is being created by an independent developer. As a warm-up for this European add-on, the patch will include the P-51D (flyable) and B-17 (AI), as well as new maps simulating Normandy. Community reaction alternates between praising Oleg as a God and decrying the imminent Communist desecration of the sacred Mustang.

2003.10.06   Piling on the good news, Ubisoft announces that the next 1C:Maddox sim will be a simulation of the Battle of Britian, expected in late 2004. The dreams of those who hoped for the Mediterranean theater are crushed, until Oleg floats the possibility that the Mediterranean theater will be tackled after BoB, using it's engine as a basis for new sims. On the whole, reaction is positive to the new announcement. Oleg also points out that the new game will very specifically model Italian participation in the Battle of Britian.

2003.11.08   The public beta of the 1.2 patch is released, allowing a nervous community to experience the P-51 Mustang as envisioned by Oleg. Fears of the apocalypse abate as it is revealed to be, in fact, a good plane, despite the absence of torque effects.

2003.11.13   Majesty5, tired of having to scroll down past half a dozen sticky posts that re-hash old information at Netwings, decides that it's time to put all known modeling information into a single, easily-distributed package. Having already compiled a Cockpit FAQ, he figures (wrongly) that it wouldn't be too much work to collect everything in one place and build an HTML index for it. And so, this Modeling Bible was born.

2003.11.19   Capping a shocking two weeks that has already seen the 1.2 beta patch, a lunar eclipse, and the death of Dr. Romano on "ER", Luthier drops a bombshell by simultaneously returning and announcing a new Il-2 add-on product under his aegis in a single post at Netwings.

2003.12.03   The full 1.21 patch is released, officially adding three new planes, almost two dozen new surface models, and half a dozen new maps, as well as other tweaks and features.

2003.12.14   Il-2 Center returns, as the headquarters for Russain Rocket Games, developing the Battle over Europe add-on and a "new project" in the works.