As we mentioned in our previous developer diaries, Battle of Kuban is in full scale development. In particular, the map of the new thereat of war is in the works.
The Career mode time-frame of the Battle of Kuban will begin April 17 and end October 9, 1943, so the map will include three seasons - Spring, Summer and Autumn. Making a Spring map is a new experience for us and we'll see how it goes. We're confident that its quality will be good, but the difference in color palette should be significant compared to other seasons and we're hoping it will add a nice visual variety to the project.
Map borders are already set, as you can see on the attached picture - 416.2 km х 288.4 km fly zone which is 120,032 square kilometers total. Its borders, where you can't fly, ranges from 9.5 to 35 km thick (they are needed so you won't see the map edges). If we count these borders, the total visible area of the new map increases to whopping 165,000 square kilometers. The flyable area of the Kuban map is 32% larger than our Stalingrad map and 20% larger than our Western Front map in Rise of Flight. This is a significant increase in size with many more terrain features. You are going to enjoy it!
There are three major cities - Krasnodar, Novorossiysk and Kerch, several sea ports, some of them including unique infrastructure objects, more than thirty airfields. What is important, is that the map contains very diverse landscape types with the ocean, mountains, steppe, forested foothills, estuaries, salt-marshes, the Kerch channel, rocky and sandy coasts. Therefore, you'll see a diverse and interesting environment during three different seasons.
At this moment, initial research, map borders and the height map are completed and we can show you a very early WIP screenshot of the new map. There are no land textures at all yet, but it's a start :)
In addition, today we can tell you that our work on the next update 2.004 reached its final stage. The new update is in beta testing and we plan to release it in 2-3 weeks. It already contains more than 45 changes, including changes to physics, aircraft systems, damage models, 3D models, AI, user interface, mission system and ship improvements. The most important ones come from our work on the Battle of Kuban which is the first tier of physics and AI optimizations, resulting in double the number of AI aircraft on the ground at the same level of performance and 20% physics performance increase of AI aircraft in the air.
We'd also like to let you know that while our work on DirectX 11 implementation is not finished yet and the new render isn't ready to be included in 2.004 update, at the moment it grants a huge graphics performance boost, almost a 2x increase or more in FPS depending on the scene. We're hoping to release the new renderer to the public this year and we'll start its beta testing immediately after 2.004 release.
Update 2.004 will also bring some early features we're preparing for the new Air Marshal multiplayer mode - the ability to have recon planes in the multiplayer server (the server host will be able to give some aircraft the spotter ability). Joystick ID storing system is improved again, hopefully this would resolve the remaining issues with multiple control devices caused by Windows changing device IDs for those who encountered them. You can see the testing of this system on the picture below :)
And finally we have begun to work on collecting information and content for the new Career mode. Please check the forum for a section called Career Assistance. If you can help us create and gather the needed materials it would be a great help to the team!