Sunday, March 24, 2013

VRS Tacpack integration (i.e. WORKING WEAPONS!)

Killing drones over NAS Fallon

Shooting drones is a quite fun way to learn the basics... 

 ...although I have to admit I am pretty bad at aerial combat!

Guns only for the moment....but still, it is quite fun!
I never ventured into the "working weapons" functionalities so far, for several reasons - mainly the lack of time, and the fact that I am more interested in flying rather than shooting things. However, the people at Vertical Reality Simulations were kind enough to provide me with access to the Tacpack Software Development Kit - and I was very impressed.
For those who don't know (very few I assume), VRS has developed an incredibly complete and realistic rendition of the F/A-18E Super Hornet - which is IMHO the best military plane for FSX - and, on top of that, they have developed the Tacpack - an add-on module for FSX which implements working weapons (an a lot of other features, like the drones you see in the screenshots). Not only weapons are working, but they have a realistic behaviour and can be used in multiplayer. For the moment, their Superbug is the only plane supported, and it is required for the installation - but this will change in future. More information here:

http://www.vrsimulations.com

Long story short, I fell in love with the Tacpack - and I am working to integrate some of its functionalities into my projects. For one, the F-14D has now a working gun and can shoot down things in Tacpack (well, only in the SDK build for the moment...you will have to wait a little!).
The Tacpack module provides many functionalities that, I have to confess, I thought they were impossible to implement in FSX and they bring a completely new perspective for military flying in FSX.
Unfortunately, due to my (ever increasing) lack of time, it is unlikely that I will be able to fully support the package - so the Tacpack integration from my side will be limited to very basic functionalities. But still, shooting things is fun!

22 comments:

AviaScorp said...

I'm very happy that you are now testing out the Tacpack and are enjoying it also.

It was only a matter of time, before the two of you met (VRS and Dino).

Dino, now that you have tasted the TP, may I draw your attention to an issue I had posted, when you had released Version 2.35 of T45C. Since that update, the tacan doesn't work whenver the T45 is flown in a TP server. It works quite well in SP mode or in non-TP servers.

A lot of us (TP fans), seriously miss using your fabulous creation for this reason.

Whenever you find some time, could you please look into this issue?

Thank you in anticipation.

Dino Cattaneo said...

@AviasScorp

Thanks for your appreciation.
I had another look into the issue (and I already did so some days ago) and I cannot find the root cause - although I have to confess that NAVaids tracking in FSX is not my area of expertise.

Are you sure it happened only after V2.35? I am asking because there are no changes whatsoever in the avionics code in that release.

Also, I guess this happens on the Tomcat and the F-35. Or possibly only on the Tomcat (uses a very similar code...)...

AviaScorp said...

Thanks for looking into this Dino.

Since the T45 flies perfectly in single player and in non TP multi player mode also, I'm certain the issue is not 'primarily' with the airplane as such. It's definetly, something to do with the way it interacts with Tacpack.

I 'know' that it happened in v2.35 and later, because that's when I noticed. Before around that time is when tacpack came out in open beta and I could test it.

If you want me to test earlier versions, I could do that too. I have downloads from v2.01 onwards :)

Happy landings.

Dino Cattaneo said...

@AviasScorp

If you have time to test earlier versions I'd appreciate that.

Although it is not reported in the documentation, at a certain point I remember I did a last minute change to carrier tracking code - which caused an overflow in the FSX command "stack" which made it impossible to use certain keystrokes. That is the only change I can remember in the avionics department (around 2.20 maybe)....

Varun Krishnaswami said...

Hey Dino can you make a small video of yourself trying out these missiles on planes like the F-14, or F-35 and also maybe the guns. And also I read on there page of the Forum it said it is license free, does that mean free or still payware??

Dino Cattaneo said...

@Varun

I'll see what I can do... although at the moment the only thing implemented is the gun in the F-14.

"Free license" means there is no cost for the developers. Tacpack will be payware. My planes will still be freeware as long as I can afford it.

Varun Krishnaswami said...

So that means if I buy Tacpac and get the SDK with it I will not be charged separately for creating my own weapons system right??

Dino Cattaneo said...

@Varun

That is my understanding. However, please be aware that to fully implement working weapons you must have access to the source files of the airplane model - and, while relatively simple to use, it is definitely not for beginners.

Varun Krishnaswami said...

I understand, I am doing lots of research as I wish to make my own payware and freeware addon company in the future, also I have a suggestion, since you have a google account, why don't yougo ahead and create a youtube account, I mean you already have one, you just need to give it a username thats all.

Jiri said...

Hi Dino.

Any chances of seeing visual-only payload? No Tacpack, just weapons models.
I know you don't have much time and now you're busy with Hoover, but I just want to know if you already gave up on that idea or if it's at least in TBD state.
If I remember correctly, your old Tomcat had some JDAMs mounted and it looked good. J.

Dino Cattaneo said...

Hi Jiri,

I have to confess that the Hoover was neglected, last week, as I was excited by the Tacpack functionalities and shooting down things.

Anyway - YES. In order to make the tacpack work, I needed to venture into the "weight dependant" visual model features... so the current Tomcat model is such that, if you put the right weight into station 1A or 8A, Sidewinders appear. This can be done dynamically in game (by changing the loadout values in the menu) and works. I plan to extend this to all the stores of the Tomcat (well, most of). Yesterday, I implemented this on the F-35A and it works very nicely.

I am trying to get a "Tacpack aware" build rather than a Tacpack exclusive one...

Jiri said...

OK, that's good to know, thank you. As I said, I don't have any plans to buy TacPack right now, so I'll be happy at least for "static" load.
By the way, second fictional repaint is being uploaded at the moment. J.

Anonymous said...

@Dino,
Nice! Real Nice! :D
Now please fix the Tomcat squat along with these remarkable additions.
And, as far as I'm concerned, you have all the time in the world, you just have to decide how best to use it. ;)

Bravo! :D
From,
James F. Chams

Varun Krishnaswami said...

So Dino, in the future, are your F-35 and F-14 updates going to contain tacpac or what??

Dino Cattaneo said...

@James
The (much wanted) nose strut kneeling feature is not easy to fix, because it is simply not supported by the FSX physics engine . I have thought of a method of making it look (almost) right on the external model...but this is just a gimmick at comes at at a big price on modeling time.
Then

@Varun
They will NOT contain the Tacpack (which is payware add-on module and you will have to purchase it separately) but rather will be Tacpack "aware" - if the Tacpack is detected, you will have (some) working weapons.

Varun Krishnaswami said...

DAMN!! Thats amazing Dino, can't wait to try it out!!! Also if the TacPac is detected, then is it like you can customize the loadout of the planes or are they already loaded??

Varun Krishnaswami said...

So Dino, is the new F-14 already tacpack aware or are you making a new update??

Dino Cattaneo said...

Varun,

The current F-14D (version 2.00) is NOT Tacpack aware/compatible.

Aside, current Tacpack works ONLY with the VRS Superbug.

I cannot discuss the details of the Tacpack workings, as they are confidential, but planes MUST be modified for Tacpack by their developers.

Dino Cattaneo said...

...and, I forgot, Tacpack "awareness" will be added in a new release of the Tomcat - but it will take a while.

Varun Krishnaswami said...

Ok Dino Awesome, take your time, also what about the F-35??

Adam B said...

one comment i'd like to make about the F-14 is this

to make it easier to add external weight dependent load outs, why not add the number the user has to add into the display name for the hardpoint (i.e. 1A +150lbs) as i keep flying your AWESOME F-14 with out weapons as i dont know what numbers to add...

Freddy Fred said...

Hey Dino. Great stuff!
We fly (Sky Blue Radio crew) using FSOpen server and the F-14, -45 and -35 work well. However, in the shared-cockpit mode (multiplayer) in FSOpen, does not work using the -14 or -35. The -45 works fine as a shared cockpit. Any idea?
Thanks!