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Len "Viking 1" Hjalmarson
20 Years of Military Flight Simulations on the PC by Len "Viking 1" Hjalmarson.

Flight sim guru Len "Viking 1" Hjalmarson chronicles the first 30 years of computer flight sims, the software, hardware, people and the culture.

The Mature Years: 1997-2000

European Air War

In 1998 Microprose released European Air War, considered by many to be the best WWII combat simulation ever. The initial release allowed only 640x480 resolution, but the game was atmospheric in the extreme. Voice and sound effects were excellent and the wingman command structure was broad and effective.

Furthermore, flight models were solid, and the dynamic campaign supported large flights of aircraft and excellent action. Multiplayer features were also quite good and many online squadrons still fly European Air War. A huge variety of end-user modifications have extended the life of this game, including sound packs, mission packs and campaigns and new aircraft.

1998 might be the year that the MMOG came into their own. MMOG is an acronym that stands for mega-multiplayer online games.

In 1998 Air Warrior III appeared, an online only simulation that fought with WarBirds 2for air dominance. With dedicated online communities numbering in the thousands, the online arenas for these games can support as many as five hundred players simultaneously.

The online experience up to 1997 was a mixed bag of bad connections, poor software, and overworked hardware. But the improvement in online code, the rapidly growing horsepower of the PC, and the growing number of Internet users were conspiring to change the face of online gaming.

By 1998 MMOG games were coming into their own. Microsoft launched their Gaming Zone in 1997 and Fighter Ace was released in November. By 1998 the Zone supported a number of multiplayer arenas, including one for Red Baron II and European Air War.

In 1998 iMagic Online’s Dawn of Acestook the player back to the world of biplanes and Lewis guns, and Novalogiccontinued to grow their own MMOG venue with F22 Lightning II Novaworld.

FW 190s and B17 in EAW
FW-190 and B17 in European Air War

Air Warrior 3
Air Warrior 3

Dawn of Aces Online
Dawn of AcesOnline

Read on

This article is ©2001 Leonard Hjalmarson and Thrustmaster ® and hosted with permission in the Flight Sim Museum. Unauthorised reproduction is forbidden.