Friday, February 11, 2011

Developer Interview: DCS A10C's Jim Mackonochie

By Bennett Ring
Thu Feb 10, 2011 1:03pm

With DCS: A10C Warthog landing very soon, and promising to be the most detailed modern combat flight sim ever flown outside of a Miramar training facility, Maverick mimics will be busy fondling their HOTAS setups for many months to come. We spoke to Jim Mackonochie from The Fighter Collection, builders of the game, about how this simulator evolved from a product built for the US military, its final system requirements, improvements to the AI and tutorial sections, and even locked down the release window! Can you discuss how DCS: A10C evolved from work you did for the US military?

Jim Mackonochie: We had permission from the military to develop a consumer version of the A10C, so we were able to implement unclassified systems with considerable fidelity. How faithful to the real aircraft is the sim? Did you have to leave out any systems or simplify anything due to the limitations of PC hardware or certain systems being classified?

Jim Mackonochie: The sim is faithful to the real aircraft with the exception of certain classified modules, which quite frankly are not relevant to consumers. The Enemy and Wingman AI in Black Shark had certain shortcomings - how has the AI for DCS: A10 improved?

Jim Mackonochie: In regards to wingmen, you now have much more control of them in regards to where you want them to search, what weapons to use, attack headings and new formations. The mission designer can also use the mission editor to let the wingmen easily detect targets or use realistic spotting. Unlike Black Shark, users should have no problems getting their flight members into the fight. In addition the ground force AI has improved. Vehicles will scatter when attacked. You've introduced new triggers into the mission building tool - how do these impact the flow of the included campaign? Will each mission play out wildly differently each time?

Jim Mackonochie: The Mission Editor allows a host of ways to make a mission feel un-scripted. These include the ability to have units randomly appear in the mission, creating alternate groups, creating alternate waypoints, and being able to cue the next mission based on the results of the prior mission. Most importantly we feel is the ability to now give radio orders to other flight groups and ground forces. This allows you to now command ground forces to advance on objectives, call in a CAP or SEAD flight to clear out an area for you, etc. This provides a new level of battlefield interaction.

A very interesting introduction is the AI JTAC who will communicate with the player. Your simulators have a history of having very demanding system requirements - in fact, most simulators in general do. Would you say DCS: A10C follows this trend?

Jim Mackonochie: If you can run DCS: Black Shark, you will be able to run DCS:A10C With so many complicated systems modelled, how effective do you think the new in-game training tutorials will be? Is it possible for a pilot to learn how to fly the jet without reading the manual, relying upon these interactive tutes instead?

Jim Mackonochie: We think the in-game training tutorials will go a long way to learning the basics. However, as would a real life A10C pilot, reading the manual is desirable! We've heard rumours of campaigns and maps being released after the launch - can you comment on the future plans for content updates?

Jim Mackonochie: We are currently working on a Nevada map that will be centered on Nellis AFB. This map is designed to be used for training missions and virtual "Red Flag" exercises. This map will be the first map to utilize our new graphics engine. The map will be released as part of an Upgrade Pack later in 2011. Any firm release dates in mind? Christmas 2010 has been and gone ;)

Jim Mackonochie: The download version will be released in late February. The boxed version will be available, dependant on territory, within 2 to 3 months later. (According to our very helpful Mindscape PR representative, we should see a boxed retail release in Australia in April.) Anything else you'd like to add?

Jim Mackonochie: Coding has already started on the next aircraft in the DCS series. All I can say is that it will be a USA fixed wing aircraft!
Head over to the official site to pre-order the game now, and gain entry to the existing beta version. We've spent some time with the latest version and it's shaping up to be every simmer's wet dream, even if Kelly McGillis isn't included!

Are you looking forward to DCS: A10C? Got any impressions on the existing beta? Or perhaps you've got some questions about the game for our resident flight nerd, Bennett. Sound off in the comments.


Please note: Pictures will be uploaded soon.


  1. I've got about 100 flight hours in the sym so far.

  2. From: 74th_Tyger WC of the 74th Virtual Fighter Squadron - 'The Flying Tigers' -

    The DCS: A-10C is the most advanced Flight model ever seen in the simming world. Currently at Beta 4, the community in general eagerly awaits the Release of Beta 6. Beta 5 was a Steam release.

    The cockpit and high fidelity sim, is to be frank, OUTSTANDING! Even in these Beta phases, it is fair to say that the Graphics Quality is probably better than military sim software coding. Unlike a Mil Simulator, there is no 'pit' to interact with and so this ups the 'anti' for the commercial simmer who 'demands' that blood be extremely red from the stone. In essence, if the graphics were poor but the fidelity high, no one would buy it, we are after all, not real pilots whose life and effectiveness in the cockpit, rely upon his muscle memory and systems of work by interacting with the 'real pit'. Of the two on offer, IRIS doesn't come close - simple.

    We have our own dedicated Server hosting missions throughout the Beta phase, so if you want to learn more about this incredible sim, then feel free to hop along to where you can leave a message on the site FAO me, or even download Teamspeak 3 and jump on our TS3 server. Details of which are on the site.

    Finally, Anyone from the Real 74th Fighter Squadron FT, i`d be very much interested in saying hi to.

    On youtube, search for 'tigerpwrr' to view my engagement series of videos for DCS: A-10C. You will then be able to see the High Dynamic Range, High Fidelity sim in action!