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Meet the most insanely authentic flight sims ever: IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad and Ilya Muromets

Hayden Dingman | Aug. 11, 2014
"This is how we do games: To understand what it's like to dogfight, we just go outside of Moscow, put ourselves in planes, and do some dogfighting," says IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad's producer Albert Zhiltsov, showing me a video of the team flying maneuvers in real planes.

You'll also unlock modifications for your plane that reflect real history, such as the ability to have a rear gunner. "Shortly after the battle of Stalingrad began, the mechanics on the field created a place for the rear gunner. This is a type of unlock in our game," says Zhiltsov.

And, as I mentioned, the team had a Stalingrad veteran consult on the project — one Stepan Anastasovich Mikoyan, who was part of Stalingrad's air defense in 1942 at the age of 17.

"We have a very special community," says Zhiltsov. "These are very high-skilled people. Everyone from civil pilots to veterans."

It's a very niche, very specialized community — and thus it's absolutely essential for 1C to nail the flying aspects of IL-2. "Everyone on the market makes games thinking about how to simplify everything. We don't want to do this," says Zhiltsov. "We created a new type of AI — not just an average cheating AI where he's doing the maneuvers sharper than you. No, this is a real flying drone. He's controlling the airplane like a human does. Sometimes he makes mistakes, like a human."

Zhiltsov demonstrates by exercising his developer powers, untethering the camera from the cockpit and showing us how the AI pilots still move every lever and dial inside the plane, just as if a player were controlling things. A very skilled player.

The same AI system can help you, the player, fly, if you don't want to mess with every single detail of the plane and just want to have a more relaxing time. "The easiest way to explain it is like cars," says Zhiltsov. "You can have manual or automatic gearbox. It's not 'changing your car' but changing the way you control it. With manual, you can do a lot of small things to have an advantage over your enemies.

"When [the AI] is flying, he's doing it like a man," says Zhiltsov. "Everything is like real life.

"Basically we're all just fans of this game," he continues. "Right now we're developers, but ten years ago we were part of the IL-2 community. We've grown up creating Rise of Flight. Flight sims aren't just about buttons, physics, all those things. It's about emotions.

"All we need to do is just for maybe ten seconds, you believe you fly. This means we did everything okay."

The Ilya Muromets, flying Winnebago

The Ilya Muromets is a Russian legend. Built by Igor Sikorsky in 1913, it was originally intended for commercial flights. With the outbreak of World War I, however, the Ilya Muromets was repurposed into the first four-engine heavy bomber used by any military worldwide. Only one was ever completely destroyed by enemies — a group of four German fighters managed to take down a single Ilya Muromets, though three of the German fighters went down in the process.


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