Combat Air Patrol 2 Preview & Interview

Ok, let’s do a quick experiment. We’ll need a measuring rule, a bucket and (optionally) a towel. I’m going to list some things from a new PC flight sim coming out in 2015 (yes you read that right, this is like ‘Bigfoot Found In Walmart’ breaking news) so let’s set up the experiment:

Place the towel on the floor. Position the bucket beneath your lower lip.

Here’s the features of this new flight sim:

  • AV-8B Harrier II with 3D clickable cockpit using TrackIR and HOTAS support.
  • Single Player emphasis, with Multiplayer Co-op available, including drop-in play.
  • Dynamic Campaign engine.
  • Flight and Naval Strategic fleet battles.
  • Carrier Ops. Wingmen, Helos, Civilian traffic in shipping lanes.
  • Realistic campaign map set in the Straits of Hormuz using 250,000 sq km satellite imagery and modern graphics.
  • Dynamic Campaign engine. Yes, I just said it again.

Ok, now let’s use the ruler and see how much drool just entered that bucket. I’m betting a good couple of inches, so feel free to use the towel now and go rehydrate.

Gameplay footage of a preview build:

Combat Air Patrol 2 is a new title still in development from Sim155 of the UK. It’s been greenlit for the Steam Early Access program for October, with a small but experienced dev team, and should be in general release for Q4 2015.

The title is in Steam Green Light early access, and is still actively gathering feedback for ideas and suggestions, which is always great to see.

We haven’t had the chance to get our hands on this title as yet, but Sim155 reached out to Mudspike and we set up this short Q&A to see what’s up:

Q1. What’s the balance between single and multiplayer content in CAP2? Is this primarily a Multiplayer game?

I’d say it is 50-50. For single player there’s a collection of training missions, single missions then an open ended dynamic campaign. For multiplayer there’s quick start dogfight, fleet defense/attack and fleet vs fleet. In addition any player in a campaign can invite players to join in a mission and take the place of AI controlled wingmen.

Q2. What’s a good comparative title for CAP2, it seems similar to Gaijin’s Apache Air Assault – is that a fair comparison in terms of sim fidelity and gameplay? Fun and action more than hardcore simulation?

I’d say we lean more towards a simulation than AAS. CAP2 has a strategic element in campaign mode which I don’t think you’ll find in many titles.

Q3. I’m old enough to have played Combat Air Patrol on the Amiga 500 (great game btw), what would be the main advances Ed and the team have been able to feature in CAP2 on today’s more powerful hardware?

Glad you liked it! With CAP I developed a 3D engine in 68k assembler as we didn’t have GPU’s. With a CPU running just over 7Mhz you could see the impact of just a few extra polygons. Now we’re pushing millions of polygons per frame we can draw pretty much anything we want. Terrain in CAP was limited to a few blue water polygons, CAP2 has over 250,000sq km of geo accurate terrain. Shaders allow us to render complex atmospheric lighting, water, shadows and post process effects.

Reference material is one of the biggest differences between developing CAP2 vs CAP. Back in the 90’s I wrote to the DoD asking for material on CVN-71 and actually received info & pictures a few weeks later. Today you’ve got a thousand images/movies/schematics available in seconds so things have changed massively.

Thanks to Ed and the Sim155 team for taking the time to answer our questions. We can’t wait to find out more, especially on the dynamic campaign side. For those that loved the gameplay fun of Strike Fighters and IL-2, this looks like a really nice ‘fidelity middle ground’ with a mix of tactical fleets mixed in. Awesome.

Recently announced is the new Kickstarter for the sim, that differs from a lot of others in that it is for additional features rather than the whole game’s initial development. This represents a ‘less chance of getting burnt’ in that the stretch goals are some things that would be great to see, but won’t kill the entire game if they’re not reached. It seems like a pretty sensible way for people to show support of features they really want to see without feeling they have to carry the entire ship on their backs (or wallets).

See something you really want in the kickstarter list, well, you can help make it happen.

Ok, on with the eye candy, sprinkled with some features touted for release and kickstarter goals:

Play co­-op or against other players in single missions.
Invite players to participate in missions from your campaign
Play fleet vs fleet with a mix of players and AI opponents.

VR Support:
HTC Vive

Naval simulation:
Civilian traffic transit shipping lanes
Enter and leave ports

Campaign mode:
Dynamic open ended campaign
Set in the Straits of Hormuz

Head Tracking:
Track IR

Screen display:
Supports very wide screen aspect ratios

3d environmental audio
Radio comms and chatter

Training modes:
Learn to fly the Harrier AV8B II
Learn to deploy its weapon systems

Detailed 3D cockpit:
Selectable, articulated controls

Accurate terrain:
Campaign is set in the Straits of Hormuz
Over 250,000 sq km of terrain

Day/night cycle:
Geographically accurate environmental lighting based on longitude, latitude, date and time. Accurate star map

Tactical mission planning:
Control your fleet and air assets.
Plan your mission waypoints and target ingress/egress together with your fleet formation, route and speed.

Multiple controller support:
Rudder and MFD panel support
Gamepad mode

Plus some earlier dev shots:






Hmm, we’re going to need a bigger bucket..


Notable Replies

  1. I started off with a big bucket and had to get another. I’ve backed them on Kickstarter.

    My biggest wish is that they can expand the multiplayer campaign. If they get that in there … it’s the killer feature that will make this a huge success (in Flight Sim terms, of course). I can imagine all the fun I can have with a group of other people playing the dynamic campaign! I filled a while bucket with the drool for that dream quickly.

  2. It does look promising, and for me the combination of Harrier/Carrier and being from the same dev as the original Psygnosis CAP sim is great.

    For an Amiga title (1993 I think?) it was amazing in terms of the tactical map and controlling units. It took till about DCS Combined Arms to get that again. It even had in-flight refueling :smile:

    Roll on for October, when we should start getting some gameplay looks.

  3. Are we talking here about a DCS-level of simulation (with a fully clickable cockpit) or a Flaming Cliffs 3 non-clickable cockpit?

    Your article seems to suggest that the game has a fully click-pit, but the interview and information available on the kickstarter page seems to suggest otherwise.

  4. I’d be fine with an FC3 level Harrier…as long as it hovers and has some at least psuedo believable physics…sign me up!

  5. My best guess until we get a review copy (this is just a preview, although a preview build shouldn’t be that far away so we can confirm) is that this is a clickable cockpit but with simple systems modelling, so sort of a FC3 level fidelity but still some direct clickables/binds in the cockpit.

  6. I remember seeing some early dev screenshots while researching this that showed ‘Nozzle position’, so my best guess is there is hover (plus those Wasp-class short decks). Not sure about ‘viffing’ though! :smile:

  7. Oh man, I had not realized I was missing this from my life right now. Thanks for the heads up!

  8. speck says:

    Great you got something on the site about this, seems really promising -

    One thing though about the article, I don’t think the game is actually scheduled for release in 2015. The steam early access, yes, but at least according to the kickstarter it’s

    “Estimated release date for the final game is July 2016, however we will be releasing in Early Access later this year.”

    Also as far as clickable cockpits, if “3D cockpit with selectable articulated controls” = clickable, then I think that’s a yes.

    (edited for typos).

  9. I first got word of this title early last week. The anticipation of the possibilities for this game, led me to reach out to the developer. Ed has let me in on a couple more details, namely Hawaii is currently in game as a training area, and they have plans to add Yuma/SoCal down the road. How much coverage the Hawaii map includes will be revealed later of course, but it is a safe bet that the main airbase is MCAS Kaneohe Bay. Also other aircraft are in the works, of which, all can operate from the Wasp Class LHD’s. -Woog

  10. Welcome @CAP2 team!

    Good info on the flight model and the vertical landing modes in the new Dev Blog - thanks!

  11. @CAP2 - “In hard difficulty level, when you attempt a vertical landing on a pitching, crowded deck, managing your throttle, nozzle position whilst monitoring the windvane you get an idea of just how skilled real life Harrier pilots are. It’s tough but that’s the point isn’t it?”

    I think I just fell in love with you!


  12. @CAP2

    I’m just excited that we are going to have that much control over the nozzles and that it will be that challenging to fly. I might just do carrier circuits endlessly…haha… Nice update!


  13. Koriel says:

    Backed !!

    I would so love this game!!

    Incredible that support seems to be lacking so much… :frowning:

  14. Yep…I went ahead and backed it today too. Hope it gets some traction…


  15. this is on my list, what happens if they don’t make there goal on Kick Starter, as I really think they will still have a good chance, even if they don’t make the goal amount.

    Also here in California we have a huge electronic do it your self Store, Called “Frye’s” and they have a huge software section, with games PC, console, the like. How come there is no CD DVD roms any longer; people will still buy those.

  16. WOW! This looks very promising. Best of luck to the development team. You’ve got a buyer here. Something different and unique is a winner in my book.

  17. Nice update here!


  18. Another great update… That looks pretty darn good. I was somewhat (cynically) expecting a vertical takeoff from between those helos…but that looks pretty great! Love the sound effects too…


  19. Quick question if I may. I, like the others have stated, have been dreaming of something like this for quite some time. Thanks to Beach for posting this article, that I immediately backed this program.

    Sadly though, I received an email from the crowd funding site that the financial goal had not been met. My not so quick question is/will development still continue with this and potentially another crowd fund started? I believe the interest is certainly there, however, I think the word needed more spreading.

    Thoughts? Concerns?


  20. NEVO says:

    Why Kickstarter?

    The following features are widely requested by our community and a successful Kickstarter campaign means we can deliver on all of them!

    so imho KS was more about some additional features then about game future, they will hopefully deliver it anyway

  21. Some additional info about the campaign was posted to their blog: HERE!

    CAP2’s dynamic campaign seems to have piqued the interest of a few people so I thought it was time to post some information about it.

    A basic feature of CAP2’s dynamic campaign is persistent world state between missions. This state includes unit positions, orders, armament levels, damage, fleet waypoints etc and is saved after each mission.

    A major feature of the campaign is dynamic mission generation. This is reactive to enemy actions, previous mission results and your overall strategy, e.g. if you move your fleet closer to the Strait to be closer to the action then more of your missions will involve fleet protection from air and surface attacks. In addition to the dynamic campaign missions there are predefined missions which are ‘blended’ into the mission cycle.

    Before each mission you can access the mission planner which allows you to adjust the number of aircraft in the mission package, weapon loads and the auto generated aircraft waypoints.
    You can also alter your persistent fleet waypoints. This includes assignments to individual ships so if you want to send a couple of frigates out as ‘radar pickets’ or take part in a combined air and sea bombardment of an island then you have that capability.

    You can see the merchant maritime traffic following sea lanes through the Straits. You must protect these throughout the campaign. If you cannot protect them and declare the Straits closed this will count towards campaign failure.

    There are numerous strategies you can follow within the campaign which leads to a significant amount of replayability(is that a word?). So, do you close the Straits on day one? Focus on the islands? Send the fleet to the Straits? Keep the fleet together? It’s up to you.

  22. Another development update has been posted on the CAP2 blog:

    Apologies it’s been a while since my last post but I’ve been locked away in a small, dark room converting the ~90k lines of the CAP2 codebase.

    Previously CAP2 was XNA based, written in C# and using a DX9 level graphics API. By converting to C++ and using DX11 we get a slight CPU performance bump and a major graphics performance boost through efficient graphics buffer reuse and improved shader capabilities. Basically we can eliminate some duplicated draw calls and shader workarounds we’d previously employed.

    The other major benefit to the conversion is much simpler and more efficient integration with API’s such as:

    FMOD (3D Audio)
    RakNet (Multiplayer)

    We’ll release to Early Access with TrackIR, Steam integration and FMOD. Oculus then multiplayer will follow.

    As for release dates I’ve been burned a couple of times in the past with those so we’ll give one when we have a release build in hand with just marketing & Steam store tasks to complete. I won’t be adding any new features before then, so no Zeppelins or other crazy requests to delay things :slight_smile:

    So, having taken a bit of pain with the time taken for the conversion it puts us in much better shape for the future with improved performance and API integration.


  23. Another update…hopefully they are close!

    Hi Guys, We are pleased to say the dx11 c++ conversion is complete and we are now moving on to steam integration, TrackIR support and gameplay polishing and tweaking. Thanks for your continued patience. The conversion has increased performance noticeably and we have it running well on our in house testing laptop. So we are confident it’s going to be a smooth experience, even if you don’t have a top end gaming machine.

  24. New video showing TIR integration on FB:


  25. Looks very fluid - nice.

    Who let a cat loose in that cockpit? The crew chief will have to buff out all those canopy scratches!

    I know it’s part of the art style, but the contrast set to 9000 is a bit distracting - it’s a nice pit, light it up a bit I feel…

  26. Did the flight model look a little off to anyone else? It might have been the exaggerated terrain, but it looked like he wasn’t shedding altitude quick enough when he was nose low. It looked odd to me.

    Still, I’m glad to see work is keeping up on this one.

  27. Feb 26:

    “We’ve completed our (unexpectedly long!) C++/DX11 conversion so we’re looking at a late March release. We’ll post a specific date in a couple of weeks.”

  28. Guess their page is getting ready to go live on Steam soon…

  29. I’m priming the Ron Paul gif as we speak.

  30. That is exciting news! Do we know a price-point for release?

  31. Some new footage of weapons deployment in CAP2…

  32. Nice footage but these post effects are really annoying. They simply overdo it. I hope this is not from the engine or they can be turned off.

  33. I agree the render colors make it look really stylized, and the shaders are contrast set to 11 which gives it a bleached out look so far. The island seems pretty brown and volcanic, although in the video that makes the color MFD’s really pop out. Could do with some green. :slight_smile:

    If the frame rate is good, it might make an excellent VR title as well, as the systems sim side looks pretty simple but the low-level flying and cockpit details seem ideal.

  34. The desaturation is bugging me a bit.

  35. It won’t really bother me to be honest. I mean…there are some other titles out there that have some funky shader effects that don’t bother me too much. I’ll just think of it as an action movie sim rather than a true to life sim. Besides, I’ve found most sims don’t really get the color and palette of flying right anyway. 80% of the time things are very washed out and kind of dull looking…but you rarely ever see that in a sim. CAP doesn’t look right either…I’m just saying that rarely do sims get the haze right…

  36. Maybe it’s this place…LOL…

  37. Plus they could add civ traffic too…

  38. I don’t mind a bit of desaturation (original Op Flashpoint, Steel Beasts etc) but looking at CAP2 I wonder if its hiding something - the videos are all so dark!

    PS - don’t want to seem like I’m running it down - I will almost certainly buy this, as i like the aircraft and setting, and the idea of the campaign…

  39. LOL. It took me nine hours to get it!

  40. At first I thought PhotoShop…then I think I figured out it was ash…

  41. From the Dev:

    We expect to submit to Valve for review this week, once that’s done we set a price with their input. The initial EA release should be available a few days after that.

    So, not too long to go :slight_smile:

    Sorry we don’t have a specific release date yet, there are a couple of variables in the release process.

  42. I am sort of looking forward to this but fear I will find it unplayable with the HDR/colour correction that is currently going on. I can barely see what is happening in the video’s. Fingers crossed for being able to turn that off!

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