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rnzoli
08-01-2007, 11:09 AM
Hi,
it was almost exactly 1 year ago when I posted my open invitation to test the first prototype. So I thought it was a good time to review what happened since then, and look a little bit into the future as well. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/partyhat.gif

Some of you, who were involved in one way or another, might find this overview useful.


<span class="ev_code_YELLOW">1. History</span>


<span class="ev_code_YELLOW">1.1 Where did the idea come from</span>

One of the strengths of IL-2 is the multiplay capability, human against human over the Internet. There are plenty of dedicated dogfight servers, where you can try your own skills against another human opponent at any time. However, the dogfight servers, by nature, use a very much downgraded version of the full game. It is often overlooked that IL-2 offers its best capabilities in co-operative mode, where you have moving tanks, trains, ships, massive bomber flights and so on, giving you a far more immersive and historical experience.

Unfortunately, co-operative missions always required a manual host since the very beginning of IL-2, in order to press buttons to select, launch and stop missions, and this fact made cooperative gameplay always dependent on kind souls, fellow players, who hosted a few missions per week, at their available times, on machines and network connections they could afford. This translated to big differences in mission designs, playability (warp, lag) and availablity. Knowing how much better co-op missions are, the natural question came up: how to allow playing co-operative missions in a more easily available manner, guaranteeing availabilty, stable mission quality and good connection, around the clock? It just seemed so illogical, that a downgraded game version has better multiplayer availablity than the real full game. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/crackwhip.gif


<span class="ev_code_YELLOW">1.2 The small prototype</span>

While experimenting with various things related to IL-2, including running my own little dogfight server with a special controller, I discovered a number of undocumented features in IL-2, which kept me intrigued - could they be used to create a dedicated co-op server maybe? Sometime around the spring of 2006, I took a deep breath, and started to put together a small program to test the ideas I learned earlier. At the end of July 2006, I felt that all components were ready for a public go and posted my open invitation to you folks.

The start was disappointing, as usual. The whole concept was a little bit out of place - the server looked like a regular dogfight server in HL, so many people were confusing the server with just another dogfight server, and left in horror, when they found something else, while many other people never expected the server to be running a series of co-op missions, so the true co-op fans never came.

But the call for testing was responded to by a few people who shared the interest, and players started to come slowly. Their initial presence was critical to iron out the teething problems in the beginning, and they were also drawing the second line of pilots, who never heard about the request for testing, but were open to the idea of "something different". By the end of the testing and continuous improvements of 2 months, the prototype server clocked up nearly 500 hours of flight time, sometimes all 6 slots were fully occupied.

<span class="ev_code_YELLOW">1.2 Going big</span>

Already during September 2006, the preparations started to transfer the server controller to from its design environment to a machine with much bigger CPU capacity and a 100MB/s high speed internet link in Southern Europe (Croatia). This machine was offered by Cmirko (a.k.a. 102nd-HR-cmirko), who was among those following the idea from the beginning. The 102nd COOP server started operation in October 2006, with a schedule of weekday eventings and whole weekends. The gameplay became really smooth and the server picked up a regular group of visitors, some coming over from the discontinued prototype server. While we were certainly pleased, we soon realized in horror that a popular co-op server needs a lot more missions (scenarios) than a dogfight server, and mission creation with follow-up tuning is a lot of work on its own.

The man who came to our rescue at this critical moment was Charliechap (a.k.a. 242Sqn_Chap), who created, adapted and tirelessly tuned excellent co-operative missions for us and the regular players, grouped around several mini-campaigns. His research, his collection of aircraft skins really filled the server with content and a pure joy to fly any day. Besides him, others also donated a few of their special missions to the server, some of them which became quite popular (e.g., the gunnery challenge missions).

As the regular player base grew, more people hopped in to see what we play on the server. Among them was II./JG1_Kadin, who made a very throrough testing of various campaigns, and later on asked for the possibility to run his own server with his own mission set, in the U.S. The new server KDN_Dedicated was installed in November 2007, and quickly populated with a massive amount of historic and training missions for his squadron mates.

<span class="ev_code_YELLOW">1.3 Phase II: Dynamic campaigns </span>

By the end of the 2006, the co-op servers caught the attention of people interested in dynamic campaigns, which are essentially a series of co-ops, where the outcome of one mission directly influences the next mission. In December, the development work started to create a new version of the controller, primarily including a lot of new feature ideas from the previous operational experiences, and also with the ability to run co-op missions for two dynamic campaign generators, Paul Lowengrin's DCG and later the open-source Scorched Earth Online War (SEOW).

Due to the structural changes, the work has lasted until March and testing continued into April 2007. At this time, cmirko converted the 102nd COOP server into a fully continuous 24/7 operation with the new controller version, and started to accommodate an ongoing SEOW campaign. Also during April, the first DCG-oriented co-op server was started up (Na_Kane_Pono), quickly followed by another one (214th.com). Both servers are located in the U.S., and offer DCG-controlled, customized dynamic campaigns, very special to these servers.

In May, another big, constantly available, high-speed server came online, the 22GCT server located in Germany, but sponsored by the Italian squadron 22GCT. Initially, it was primarily used for SEOW campaign testing and now is being slowly populated with static missions and DCG-campaigns as well.

The latest installation was done for the U.S.-based Sea of Madness co-op server in June, with the aim to host a few private SEOW campaigns within the community of Scorched Earth Xtreme (S.E.X.). This server also hosts a few static PTO missions, which were originally designed for the 102nd COOP server.


<span class="ev_code_YELLOW">2. Current status</span>

With more than 7000 hours of accumulated flight time in past 3 months and 250 active pilots per week, the 6 co-op servers are obviously behind the popularity of the largest dogfight servers. This has to do with the fact that co-operative missions are not just nicer, but also require more co-operation from players than dogfight servers, because missions have to be started together, flown for the same goals together and terminated together. This is not everyone's cup of tea, as many players just want to blast away at an aircraft in front of their gunsight as soon as possible. So they keep out of the co-op servers. Which is quite good in fact, I can't complain http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

However, I think the above numbers, the presence of regular visitors, and simply the good, cooperative atmosphere on these servers leave no doubt, that this form of gameplay has taken its deserved place among the variety of online servers. It was something worth going for.


<span class="ev_code_YELLOW">3. The future</span>

As the currently available servers seem to be capable to fulfill all demands. Apart from an an ongoing discussion about a new server in Australia, and server transfers from one machine to another one, it is unlikely that new servers will be installed from now on. The focus will be on allowing the servers to use their maximum capacity, e.g., time-slotting for competitive campaigns. We are also thinking about running a demonstration/training SEOW campaign on one of the servers, to allow people experiment with the feeling of the dilemmas and choices of war-time commanders. We are also planning to improve the DCG campaign statistics by actually presenting the frontline situation in graphical form.

As SoW:BoB is slowly taking shape, the autumn of 2007 is the last chance to see the IL-2 community at its current size, so if you have never tried a co-op server, seize the day and try one tonight. When the new king of combat flight simulation hits the stores in December, the IL-2 community will be halved, due to the attractive new visuals and 6DOF in SoW:BoB. On the other hand, some people will keep revisiting IL-2 as well, due to older hardware, or due to planes not available in SoW:BoB yet, or due to the time it takes to get the 3rd party utilities to the new IL-2 successor. I also expect that the dogfight servers will be the first to move over to SoW:BoB with the main crowd, so perhaps the co-op servers may be the last quality servers to entertain the dwindling IL-2 community in 2008.

According to Oleg, SoW:BoB will allow AI objects in dogfight games, and probably the dedicated server will also allow co-op missions by design, without the need of any external application. Let's hope and let's see http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif



<span class="ev_code_YELLOW">Acknowledgments</span>

I would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the outstanding contributions of the following people to this project:

Cmirko (102nd-HR-cmirko) - Donated the first large, high capacity server for the cause, and still operates 102nd_COOP server. A guy with a very good sence of humor. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Charliechap (242Sqn_Chap) - Donated 200+ hand-made or manually adapted mini-campaigns for all of our fun. He is not as active nowadays as before, due to his RL duties, but if you catch him online, don't miss saying hello to him. You can also find his very detailed co-op maker guide on M4T: http://www.mission4today.com/index.php?name=Downloads&file=details&id=2592.

4Shades (IV/JG7_4Shades) - Wrote an interconnection script in between my server controller and the excellent heavy-weight dynamic campaign system called Scorched Earth Online War (SEOW). He is the main developer of SEOW nowadays.

Paul "Lo" Lowengrin (Stab II./JG1Lowengrin) - Helped to eliminate some tricky interworking problems with my server controller and his high-quality lightweight campaign generator on his end. He is the developer of DCG.

I also want to express my appreciation to all server operators, taking the effort and joining me in my crusade for more accessible co-op missions.

I also thank the dozens of players, who publicly supported the co-op servers, shared their ideas, recommended improvements and new features.

God bless them all, it is a priviledge to work with them.

danjama
08-01-2007, 11:23 AM
S! http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_cool.gif

T_O_A_D
08-01-2007, 01:58 PM
Godd stuff for sure, shamefully been neglecting it lately though.

trumper
08-02-2007, 02:11 AM
http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gifA great server and great people to fly with,Thanks http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

cmirko
08-02-2007, 05:21 AM
S! m8, and thx for all of your countless hours programming new functionality and resolving those few problems we had http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif - it was a pleasure and still is hosting COOP server with your software http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

S!

FlixFlix
08-02-2007, 10:06 AM
Coop dedicated server rocks!! Thanks rnzoli for making it happen! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/11.gif

S!,
I/JG78_Flix

crazyivan1970
08-02-2007, 10:37 AM
congrads on the anniversary, just one more occasion where i`ll say that talent of this community never fails to amaze me http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

f.ip2
08-02-2007, 12:39 PM
i am here because i would like to play Co Op mainly.

Thats why I bought this game few days ago.
Where can I find those servers?

rnzoli
08-02-2007, 01:07 PM
On Hyperlobby (http://hyperfighter.sk), Forgotten Battles lobby General room, look for these servers on the left side:

102nd_COOP_ded
KDN_Dedicated
Na_Kane_Pono
214th.com
22GCT
Sea_Of_Madness

If you add these signatures as your "friend", you can see them highlighted.

If you are using ASE, just click on the Coop folder and you will see them straigth on. In ASE, they don't have to be mixed with the dogfight servers, so it is easier to find them.

More information about these servers (mission set, TS info etc.) can be found here:
http://web.t-online.hu/rnzoli/IL2DSC/intro-coop.html#servers

Enjoy http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

f.ip2
08-02-2007, 03:01 PM
mh

i got the program but i never see any room.
i am not sure why i am not getting connected.

wait t-online is also in Hungary?

rnzoli
08-02-2007, 04:58 PM
As we say, if all else fails, try following the manual http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif
http://hyperfighter.sk/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=1