|Interview: Target Rabaul's Micah Bly|
February 12, 2002 | Tim Morgan
Macintosh flight-sim buffs itching for newer flight sims to put to the test have no doubt been eyeing the progress of Targetware's Target Korea for quite some time now. Concurrent with Target Korea's development, Target Rabaul: Pacific Air War 1941-1945 is being produced by an independent programming team. High hopes have been placed on their shoulders, as many Mac users, waxing nostalgic about their heydey flying days with Hellcats, have grown an as-yet insatiable desire to play The Next Big World War II Flight Sim. Target Rabaul intends to answer many simmers' top desires, and as the open beta draws near, we asked developer and project manager "Yak" Micah Bly to shed some light on what Mac users can expect in this enthusiastically-awaited flight sim.
IMG: First off, let us know who you are and what you do for Target Rabaul.
MB: I think I should take this opportunity to outline the difference between Targetware and the Target Rabaul Dev Team. Targetware produces and licenses the Sickware flight simulator engine. The Target Rabaul Project is an entirely separate, user-based organization that is developing a WWII combat flight simulator based on the Sickware engine. My role at Target Rabaul is oversee the development of the project, provide direction, and manage user contributions. Although I do some object development, and some programming, I would say my main job is to make sure everyone on the team is on the same page.
IMG: Tell us a little about the setting and time period for Target Rabaul.
MB: Our first campaign, New Guinea/Solomons '43, brings the player to late 1942. The Army and Naval Air Forces of Japan are fighting tooth and nail to hold onto territory captured in the early days of the war, while US and Commonwealth forces push up from the south and east. For most of the campaign, the air battles are fairly even: both sides are stretched very thin across a huge area. The terrain itself is very diverse, with volcanic islands, coral atolls, and the Pacific Ocean on one hand, and the vast jungles and rugged mountains of New Guinea on the other. Either side could win, it's the players that will determine victory or defeat.
IMG: One of the biggest claims the development team has made about Target Rabaul is its focus on historic accuracy. What steps are you taking to meet that goal?
MB: One of the reasons we started this project in the first place was that we wanted to finally see a Pacific Theatre flight sim done right. We wanted the right planes, the right flight models, the right paint schemes, and the right environment. It is very easy to get things wrong. We try to ensure accuracy by involving researchers, historians, and plane buffs in every step of the development process. Before we build a plane, we research everything about it: when it flew, where it flew, who flew it, which models were available, how critical was its role, how was it painted, etc. The research team decides on the markings and camouflage schemes in advance, and the 2D and 3D artists bring that research to life. Throughout the process, the artists get feedback and checks, so errors can be picked up early on and fixed. When we declare an airplane model to be finished, it's because we believe it to be as accurate as we can get with our information. But, and I think this is what makes us different, we will without hesitation go back and change it if someone discovers a problem with it. I believe that if you are building a WWII flight sim, you have to have that level of commitment to History if you want to do it justice. I used 'planes' when talking about the modeling process, but we apply the same level of intensity to the modeling of ground vehicles, buildings, artillery emplacements, ships, the terrain, and everything else that makes up the Target Rabaul environment.