Sometimes it takes a while for a game to finally reach store shelves. Such is the case with Jane’s Attack Squadron. The complex World War II combat fight sim was under development by Looking Glass Studios for Electronic Arts before the developer shut its doors in mid-2000. Yet good things come to those who wait and now developer Mad Doc Software is close to completing the work that Looking Glass started. The title will be published soon by Xicat Interactive. HomeLAN got a chance to chat with the producer of the game, Tim Farrar, to find out more about this long awaited flight sim.
HomeLAN - Obviously, the game was originally being developed by Looking Glass before they shut down. How did Mad Doc get the go-ahead to start development on the game again?
Tim Farrar - A number of the Looking Glass team came to Mad Doc, and they brought with them a desire to finish the game. Mad Doc and its agent, Dotted Line Entertainment, worked to transfer the core code rights to Mad Doc in 2001, and we've been working on it ever since. Xicat Interactive picked up the publishing later in 2001, and Xicat and Dotted Line then worked with Jane's on a more general licensing agreement between Jane's and Xicat that includes the Jane's Attack Squadron title.
HomeLAN - How much of the game's original design and content made it over to the current work Mad Doc is doing on the game?
Tim Farrar - Almost all of it. Our goal wasn't to create a completely new game, it was to complete the game that was started at LG. We have a number of ex-Looking Glass people at Mad Doc, including the Lead Programmer and Lead Designer from Jane's Attack Squadron, so we were already familiar with the game as it stood.
HomeLAN - Did Mad Doc decide to make any changes to the game's original design?
Tim Farrar - We changed a few things, and trimmed some of the more ambitious features, but it's the same game. Again, our goal was to finish the game we started at Looking Glass.
HomeLAN - What can you tell us about the engine that's being used for the game?
Tim Farrar - It's a very detailed simulation. Planes are made of up to 45 different parts, all of which can be damaged and break off. The physics model is incredibly detailed, taking into account all of the different lift and control surfaces. We have a very sophisticated damage model, where every part of the plane can be damaged, and the plane's performance will mirror that.
Our terrain was generated from satellite maps of Western Europe, so real terrain features and cities are represented. Our game world is 1 million square miles in area!
The graphics in the game are just incredible! We have dynamic lighting, specular highlights, and impressive special effects.
HomeLAN - Jane's Attack Squadron will offer a bunch of planes for players to fly. What are some of your favorite planes in the game?
Tim Farrar - My personal favorite is the Spitfire Mk IX. It is very fast and very nimble. The Me-262 is another fun plane, because it's just so fast. I also like the B-17, because manning the gunner stations is a real trip.
HomeLAN - What sort of features will the game have in terms of making the flying as realistic as possible?
Tim Farrar - The physics system is incredibly detailed. All of the important forces (lift, drag, torque, etc) are modeled with high fidelity. We have spins, stalls, and pilot redout and blackout. And of course, as parts of your plane get damaged, they affect the performance of your plane in a realistic way. So, for instance, if you are just missing a wingtip, you may get a bumpy ride, but if you lose your tail, you may as well bail out, because you're going to spin into the ground!
We want the game to be enjoyed by everyone, not just hardcore flight sim fans, so all of the flight model features are options that can be turned off. In fact, for the most casual of gamers, we have an "arcade" physics model that is incredibly easy to fly, but still fun!
HomeLAN - The game is concentrating on air-ground attacks in the Western European theater of World War II. How difficult was it to bring this type of gameplay to a flight sim title?
Tim Farrar - It was difficult, be we preferred to look at it as a challenge! We have a huge amount of ground objects, from buildings to fuel trucks to tanks to battleships! You can attack ground objects with guns, bombs, rockets, or torpedoes. All ground objects have multiple damage levels and special effects, so you'll know you hit your target by the huge explosion.
HomeLAN - What sort of multiplayer features will Jane's Attack Squadron have?
Tim Farrar - We have very exciting multiplayer dogfights. You can fly any of the planes from the single player game, including the multistation bombers. You can have multiple players all in the same bomber, manning the different gun stations! We like to put two bombers in the air, fill up each plane with players, fly them towards each other, and just blast away! It usually results in both planes being shot down, but it's a load of fun.
HomeLAN - What other gameplay features do you consider to be important or unique in the title?
Tim Farrar - We have an incredibly detailed damage model. The system tracks where each bullet hits, so you'll see bullet holes on the plane, as well as damaging the part you hit. Many flight sims have a "hit bubble" around the plane, and just check to see if the bullet hits anywhere in that bubble. In our game, if you shoot the wing, you'll hit the wing, and if you hit it enough, it will fall off, or if you hit the fuel tank, you'll get a fantastic explosion. Engines catch on fire, and the fire causes damage to your plane. If you hit a coolant tank, you'll leak coolant until you run out, and then you have a limited amount of time until your engine overheats. And those are just a few of the systems that can be damaged.
HomeLAN - Are there plans for a demo of the game to be released before the game is sent to stores?
Tim Farrar - No, there no plans for a demo.
HomeLAN - Currently what is the status on the development of Jane's Attack Squadron and when will it appear in stores?
Tim Farrar - It's going gold and should appear in stores very soon.
HomeLAN - Finally, what can you tell us about Mad Doc Software's future games?
Tim Farrar - We are working on some very exciting titles. I really can't talk about them right now, but we should have some big announcements in the months ahead.
Mad Doc Software