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PC Invasion

Oleg Maddox On IL-2

Oleg Maddox, the founder of Maddox Games and the force behind highly acclaimed IL-2 1946 PC title and more recently IL-2: Birds of Prey, takes time out of his schedule to discuss the history, heritage and challenges he and his team faced creating what are now considered to be some of the best flight sim games. Why would you bring a hugely successful flight simulator the console, and did you not think this would water down the game?IL-2 Sturmovik is the world-recognised leader among combat flight simulators, popular, renowned and respected both among game players and journalists alike. It is one of the most critically acclaimed flight simulators on the market – IL-2 has received over 50 awards from the leading specialised media. Many modern well-known developers used the ideas and technologies that first appeared in IL-2.

Considering the ever-growing popularity of console games, it was natural that at some point a decision was made to create a console version of the game. I think it is a great opportunity to let console gamers become familiar with the legacy of this flight simulator series. Birds of Prey has a different and unique approach to development in terms of controls and playability than in other console flight simulators. Was the first game (on PC) hard to do without flight sim dev experience?We were eager to do something better than any preceding game in this genre. And it was a real challenge for us because we had pretty strong competition. In the beginning we weren’t that experienced in developing flight sims at all, however we became, without false modesty, one of the best combat flight sim teams in the world. What was the hardest challenge you faced while developing IL-2 initially?It’s always hard to be the first -to invent something that has not been done before or simply create something to be the very best. But the hardest of all is to achieve the correct emphasis on compromise between a game and a pure sim all achieved on the technologies available at the time of creation. So you must have had a big team that were dedicated…There are not many people in the team, but every one of them is very talented. Often we will work very late into night. Right now we are working full steam on a new simulator series, and the opening release will be dedicated to the Battle of Britain in 1940. The guys are using state-of-the-art technologies to achieve the highest realism possible starting with the visual side and ending up with a real feeling of flight. We are developing the engine with an eye to the future. It will be capable of much more than will appear in the first release of the series. And you will see this gradual development coinciding with the improvement of PC performance and capabilities. What do you think of the console version?The project is very well done. From my point of view it is an example of a balanced compromise between the complexity of IL-2 and the required accessibility of console games. Good looking and enjoyable. The gamepad controls are really well implemented (within the niche of console air simulators). Moreover unlike the competitors they have flight physics and it’s pretty easy to control the plane.
Do you not think there’s anything else which could compete with Birds of Prey?Currently I do not see any competitors of a comparable level within the niche of console WWII air simulators. IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey sets the standards for console flight sims really high and I believe that in the near future it will be very tough to beat these standards. Where the genre will go with technological advances?If we talk about PC, then I believe that the tendency is in moving even closer to realism of flight and visualisation.As for the consoles, first and foremost it is the possibility of displaying images using full HD capacity. I’m sure that physics is also an important feature to keep an eye on. It is important to give a feel of real physics and a close-to-realistic flight model is easier to take care of than some invented one. I also believe that console flight simulators have a bright future in terms of online playability.