Microprose - The Bloody 100th and The Mighty Eighth

B-17 Flying Fortress: The Bloody 100th and The Mighty Eighth

In a recent press release, MicroProse announced that it was collaborating with the 100th Bomb Group Foundation on a new B-17 Flying Fortress simulation. Correspondence between MicroProse’s owner and CEO, David Lagettie, and PC Pilot revealed that the company was in fact working on not one but two projects: The Mighty Eighth VR, which is a dedicated VR experience and B-17 Flying Fortress 3: The Bloody 100th - the third instalment of MicroProse’s popular B-17 bomber franchise. So, following our interview with David in issue 129 of PC Pilot, we invited him back to discuss these two very exciting projects with us, which he kindly agreed to do.

The Bloody 100th and The Mighty Eighth

PC Pilot: In our previous Q&A, you said that we should think of the VR version of the Mighty Eighth as the distilled aircrew combat experience. Can you give us some more detail on what the VR experience will entail and how will it differ from the fully featured game?

David Lagettie: The Mighty Eighth is a dedicated multiplayer VR experience that you can play with up to nine friends in a high paced game of fight and survive.

The focus will be on the engagements that the crew face and encapsulates what some have likened to ‘trench warfare’ in the air.

You will be doing your best to repel enemy fighters, repair damage, triage your crewmates and survive ferocious flak as you or your bombardier ensure you drop bombs on the target before returning home

You will have the choice of selecting missions and fly with friends in multiplayer or take to the skies in single player with a motivated AI crew who are willing to do whatever it takes to complete the mission. B-17 Flying Fortress 3: The Bloody 100th, on the other hand, is a dedicated strategic crew management game very similar in nature to the two previous games in the B-17 franchise. The strategic elements and crew management remain the foundation of the game. You will need to make very important decisions before, during and after a mission is completed. Your core responsibility will be to ensure your crew and bomber return home safely after each mission.

“The Mighty Eighth is a dedicated multiplayer VR experience that you can play with up to nine friends in a high-paced game of fight and survive.”
“The Mighty Eighth is a dedicated multiplayer VR experience that you can play with up to nine friends in a high-paced game of fight and survive.”
David Lagettie

PC Pilot: Will B-17 Flying Fortress 3: The Bloody 100th have a strategic element like its predecessors in the franchise?

David Lagettie: The strategic elements are extremely important to the franchise and we will be looking to recapture every one of those meaningful strategic choices that players have made in the past in B-17 Flying Fortress 3: The Bloody 100th.

PC Pilot: In our previous discussion, you mentioned that you planned to build more comprehensive crew and aircraft management systems. Can you expand on this; how will crew management differ from previous versions?

David Lagettie: In B-17 Flying Fortress 3: The Bloody 100th there is a heavy emphasis on crew management, your crew and the choices you make with them will play a big part in whether they make it home in one piece or not. Life-threatening wounds were unfortunately common-place among bomber crews, so ensuring your crew has a good number of members with multiple skillsets will be essential when these dire situations arise.

For example, a navigator who also has some flying experience will be very valuable if a pilot or co-pilot is incapacitated, or a radio officer who has a reasonable level of medical experience, can move through the aircraft assisting crew with any injuries.

Even the smallest amount of experience in a backup role could be the difference between life and death. What’s more, using that skill will, over time, improve it.

The experience of the crew is carried through the game and their abilities will grow with each mission. The crew will have very specific jobs and must really work well as a team.

As for how we add to this experience, we will provide additional information on that as we get closer to release, but needless to say, each element we add ties in nicely with your next question.

Here we see a render of the B-24’s front turret.
Here we see a render of the B-24’s front turret.

PC Pilot: Previously you stated that you wanted players to have a real connection with their crew and even while engaging with the ground crews and other crews within your squadron. Can you explain how this will work in practice in B-17 Flying Fortress 3?

David Lagettie: We have worked very hard on this aspect of the game; as a player, you will be part of one of the most famous bomb groups in World War Two: The 100th Bomb Group. Our goal is to make the player feel as though they are part of the 100th Bomb Group and experience the heroic events and situations many in the 100th went through during missions.

We want the player to become connected with their crew and the support crews that maintain the aircraft. Your crew will also have connections to other crews and groups within the game. This attachment and chemistry between crew members will have both negative and positive consequences as your campaign progresses.

Here we see the bombardier’s position; the attention to detail is apparent.
Here we see the bombardier’s position; the attention to detail is apparent.

PC Pilot: How will you be enhancing the historic variety of aircraft, airfields and missions in B-17 Flying Fortress 3?

David Lagettie: Being based on the famous Bloody 100th Bomb Group, you will be part of the historical campaigns and operate out of the same base, ‘Thorpe Abbotts’, in the UK.

We have spent the last couple of years heavily researching every element including the base of operations. We currently have hundreds of buildings modelled and accurately placed from original building location plans. Every hardstand and taxiway is accurately re-created.

When it comes to the bombers, we have spent time researching the various variants, places of manufacture, crews and paint jobs. The variety and personality of the bombing group will be present, along with your ability to customise. We meet almost weekly with historians from the 100th and every detail is checked and verified. The goal in this respect is to create an authentic experience that honours the memory of the 100th and educates a new generation.

This shot of the B-17’s cockpit illustrates the level of detail we have to look forward to.
This shot of the B-17’s cockpit illustrates the level of detail we have to look forward to.

PC Pilot: You also mentioned in our previous interview that a mission and campaign editor will be available to create and share missions, and even campaigns. Can you shed some light on what the editor will allow the player to do?

David Lagettie: The world rendering game engine technology we have in B-17 Flying Fortress 3: The Bloody 100th will give players access to the entire world. To take advantage of this, our mission editor will allow players to create a single mission or even create a campaign by combining multiple missions.

The player will have the ability to recreate virtually any mission from World War Two, be it in the Pacific, North Africa or Europe. We will also be supporting modding with a wide variety of tools.

Both mods and missions can then be shared with other players.

PC Pilot: Can you give us details on the kinds of decisions the player will have to make on the ground in ‘The Bloody 100th’?

David Lagettie: This will really depend on the role. If you are playing from a high command, you will be planning your missions with incredible detail. You will task special units to obtain recon photos of identified target areas, then carefully build a mission from intel to try to avoid flak and fighters.

If you are a crew following orders and completing missions in a campaign, your choices on the ground will be different. You will be focused on outfitting, maintenance, training, and crew wellbeing.

PC Pilot: Can you tell us about the work that has been done on the flight and damage modelling in ‘The Bloody 100th’?

David Lagettie: The flight modelling for the main B-17 continues daily. It’s very important that the flight dynamics are realistic, especially when it comes to damage or the loss of an engine, or even if a flying surface is damaged. We want the aircraft to respond to any adverse effects. Losing one or two engines will need to be handled very carefully, as dropping out of formation will have dire consequences.

The damage system is very comprehensive. We have modelled virtually every system in the B-17 (and others such as the B-24) and having all these systems in the aircraft means we can simulate a very wide and realistic set of malfunctions and workarounds that might just get you home.

For example, managing fuel is essential, pumping fuel from damaged tanks to functioning tanks quickly could change the outcome of your flight. Repairing faults during the flight is also something that needs to be managed and can have serious repercussions during the flight.

A view of the B-17’s left cheek gun.
A view of the B-17’s left cheek gun.

PC Pilot: Have you enlisted the help of any real-world B-17 pilots from the warbird community?

David Lagettie: Yes, we have partnered with the 100th Bomb Group so we do actually have access to pilots and experts in operating and flying the B-17.

PC Pilot: Are you able to give us details on what progress has been made with regards to the modelling of the various internal and external elements and the level of detail that has been incorporated?

David Lagettie: Our aircraft models are extremely detailed. We have been refining the B-17 model alone for the past two years. The internal and external elements are extremely detailed. Each variant of the B-17 has different nuances and we have been working hard to capture those as well.

PC Pilot: Will mechanical issues and crew injuries be modelled in ‘The Bloody 100th’ as they were in the previous versions and if so to what extent?

David Lagettie: Absolutely, when you read the many accounts of missions the 100th Bomb Group flew, the number of things that can go wrong we are trying to capture.

“Our aircraft models are extremely detailed. We have been refining the B-17 model alone for the past two years.” David Lagettie

We want the player to be faced with many tough circumstances where they will have to make some very tough choices. Do you turn back? Do you continue? Do you bail out?

Injuries will be much the same. You will need to try to maintain an operational crew but again you will be faced with tough decisions that will impact on your crew’s lives.

In the Mighty Eighth VR, the crew member you control will have to co-operate with others when these highly tense moments arise.

PC Pilot: Can you tell us at this stage which aircraft will be flyable in The Mighty Eighth VR release?

David Lagettie: At this stage, The Mighty Eighth VR will have access to the B-17 and B-24, Lancaster and many of the support fighters from both sides. In B-17 Flying Fortress 3: The Bloody 100th, you will be able to fly most of the aircraft in the game.

“It’s very important that the flight dynamics are realistic, especially when it comes to damage or the loss of an engine...”
“It’s very important that the flight dynamics are realistic, especially when it comes to damage or the loss of an engine...”
David Lagettie

PC Pilot: Will training modules be included for players in order to qualify for the B-17’s respective crew positions?

David Lagettie: Yes, there will be a built-in tutorial system to make sure the player is trained in certain roles and you will need to qualify to take control for the main campaigns.

In The Mighty Eighth VR this is extremely important as you will need to be good at each role to work effectively as a crew member.

PC Pilot: Previously you said that your top priority is in the co-operative aircrew experience. Can you relate how that will be manifested in the new simulation?

David Lagettie: In relation to The Mighty Eighth VR, the VR experience will rely on team play; having a full crew will make your chances of getting your bombs to target more achievable. Communication will be very important during encounters with enemy fighters.

Each variant of the B-17 has different nuances and MicroProse has worked hard to capture those elements.

PC Pilot: What can you tell us about the work that has been done on the audio side of the simulation?

David Lagettie: This is a great question. We have access to the aircraft and we will be capturing everything we need from them. We also have extensive sound libraries from the past recording sessions of previous games which we will look to utilise.

PC Pilot: Is there any kind of ‘Comms’ feature in The Mighty Eighth VR and B-17 Flying Fortress 3?

David Lagettie: Yes, there will be internal comms to communicate with your crewmates.

PC Pilot: What elements from the previous versions have you included and enhanced in the new simulation?

David Lagettie: With B-17 Flying Fortress 3: The Bloody 100th, we have tried to capture all the game elements from the two previous games and more. We are continuing to develop new key features that we can reveal at some point in the future.

“The damage system is very comprehensive. We have modelled virtually every system in the B-17.”
“The damage system is very comprehensive. We have modelled virtually every system in the B-17.”
David Lagettie

PC Pilot: How closely will the scenery match the English landscape of 1943-1945?

David Lagettie: Our goal is to represent the landscapes accurately. It’s a real challenge as the landscape is massive (the entire planet actually). We have many talented developers working on this constantly. The hope is to have it as close as possible to how it was during 1943-1945.

PC Pilot: Can you tell us when you hope to release both products?

David Lagettie: Our current targeted dates are Q3 2022 for The Mighty Eighth VR, with B-17 Flying Fortress 3: The Bloody 100th taking off in early 2023.

PC Pilot: Many thanks David for telling us so much about these two exciting projects!

David Lagettie: It’s been a real pleasure. Looking forward to chatting again.