November 2020: Why not Channel Map?

The Storm of War server requires a warbird. Sure, the TF-51D is free and can be used, but nearly everyone will end up moving on to something “with teeth”. Then, you’ll need the WW2 Assets pack for troops, tanks, trucks and other period components. Then there is the map: Normandy 1944. Our campaign is set during that time and in that location. But often we will get the question… will Storm of War move the The Channel Map?

In the foreseeable future? No. We will not.

Here are the reasons.

The Campaign

Storm of War (SoW) is dedicated to historically-based combat flight sim environments. The aim of SoW is, where possible, to recreate historical air combat. To make as authentic as possible, we’re following a particular campaign, carefully researching the content and providing targets, objectives and dispositions consistent with the Normandy campaign from D-Day to the Normandy Break-out. This makes for a lot of missions.

Philstyle, the Lead Research and Mission builder for SoW, wrote back in July:

“I am building day-by-day Overlord Campaign missions for the SoW server. Am currently 12 missions in, and only up to June 24th. I plan to build missions out to the Falaise Pocket which was late August 1944. That will be around 70 or so missions. At 1 mission per week, it will take a couple of years.”

SoW has a lot of work to do, and that is going to take a long time. Phil and the team are determined on this vision, which means we’ll be sticking to this development plan, and thus to Normandy. But there are some other reasons for not moving to the Channel Map.

History

Another, less important reason to not use the Channel map is because it doesn’t meet our criteria for historicity. By the time Manston had the concrete runway, and by the time the current plane-set was in action, the Germans had moved back 150km from the French coast. Sure, there are lots of little details that are annoying… European buildings and vehicles on the UK-side of the Channel, and those vehicles are on the wrong side of the road in the UK. There are modern housing estates and industrial areas. And even then historical sites are lacking detail (e.g. no infrastructure buildings and antennas in incorrect layout at the Chain Home radar stations). However, it is possible to overlook these things.

What is more difficult, are the airfields. In the UK, there are only four: Detling, Lympne, Hawkinge and High Halden.

Many smaller fields are completely absent, which is understandable. But critical fields like West Maling, Friston, Deanland, Gravesend, Eastchurch are all missing. Most notably, there is no Biggin Hill… an essential airfield and the key of the entire Biggin Hill sector.

Some Aifields which should be on the channel map but are not.
Missing Pre-1944 RAF airfields in Red. Missing 1944 AGL’s shown in yellow.

On the continent, the situation is worse. There are only three WWII Airfields: Abbeville, Dunkirk and Saint Omer. None of which remained in service at the time of even the earliest t of the aircraft in the current DCS Luftwaffe planeset (the FW-190 A8) and the only planned addition to the DCS Luftwaffe planeset is the Me-262… also not a match for these airfields.

Note: technically, a fourth airfield is also in France (Merville), but it is the Cold War NATO layout with what was (when built) the longest concrete runway in Europe.

Merville airfield in France showing a 1960’s layout, with one of the few aircraft that belong on this map, the F86 Sabre

Performance

Whilst undoubtedly beautiful, being a newer map, with more detail, the performance hot for players is greater than for the older maps like Normandy. Frame rates plummet significantly over built-up areas. This is a big deal for multiplayer, where lag and stutters are game-breaking. It is perhaps less of an issue, as settings can be turned down, and hardware will one day catch up. But still, it is a deterrent from using the Channel Map where performance is a major issue at the moment.

There are also some bugs, such as the temperature being locked to 0 degrees celsius, regardless of the Mission Editor settings. Basically, the map is still too rough and raw to use.

Normandy Forever?

For the foreseeable future, yes, SoW will be sticking with Normandy. But not necessarily in the distant future. Philstyle writes:

“We might throw in the odd Marianas mission when it is released, but the problem is working out HOW to have them on the server without interrupting our current vision. But this is not a problem we have to deal with yet.”

The Marianas map is in development and is looking nice. When the promised WWII version is released, we’ll assess the map and see if it can be used. And, who knows, by then there might be an F4U Corsair or a P-38 Lightning (both 3rd-party modules) to add to the scenario.

No matter what map we use, Marianas, Caucasus or Normandy there will be concessions. Although all good in different ways, no map will be perfect for us. But we have to draw the line somewhere. Sure we are making concessions, but the Channel Map requires too many concessions, and simply does not fit in with our plans.

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