Dev Blog #2
Our second dev blog about the new project "Korea. IL-2 Series" is dedicated to its map, the largest map our team has created since 2009. The size of the flight zone is 440×440 kilometers (an area of 194 thousand square kilometers). At the same time, to ensure a high-quality view of the environment everywhere in the fly zone, including near its border, the detailed landscape has a "margin", so the total size of the detailed map is 500×500 kilometers (250 thousand square kilometers). In addition, since the map mainly contains mountainous, foothills, and hilly areas, we increased the resolution of the 3D map grid by 4 times. For these reasons, the amount of map data is truly record-breaking.

In addition to the ability to better visualize mountains and hills, the increased detail of the landscape grid and the refinement of the graphics engine technologies allowed us to recreate airfields with uneven surfaces for the first time. On the map of Korea, airfields will not be flat like a table but will follow the topography of the surrounding terrain. Runways and taxiways will have a profile that matches the surrounding terrain, creating additional conditions for realistic simulation of takeoffs and landings. On the map of Korea, we plan to recreate all the airfields that were in operation at the time of the war — more than 40 airfields.
The task of creating an authentic landscape in the central part of the Korean peninsula is made more difficult by the fact that since the middle of the twentieth century, the urban areas have grown very much: even large areas have been taken away from the sea due to the creation of islands in the coastal areas. Some islands have merged into one, and in some places the coastline has been moved miles away from its original, natural position, completely changing its configuration. All of this means that the approaches used in other flight simulations, such as using modern satellite data, do not apply to recreating the historical landscape. You can’t just take SRTM data and use it as an elevation map. It is necessary to manually overlay topographic maps, eliminate inconsistencies in projections and sometimes even errors of the cartographers of the time, and manually correct the map of landscape, rivers, and vegetation.

The 500×500 km map contains 8000 km of coastline, of which 2600 km is island coastline. This is because the mountainous landscape descending into the sea forms a very complex, rugged coastline, as well as many small islands in the coastal zone. Designing such a complex coastline also required a change in approach and technology, and although it is a complex challenge, it is manageable for us in the time available. Roads and settlements will be rebuilt entirely by hand for the same reasons — the layout of cities and road networks has changed beyond recognition in 70 years. All this enormous work is now ending, and soon we will be concentrating fully on creating airfields and city scenes. More than 1460 bridges have already been installed as part of the road network, and soon we will begin placing a new type of object on the map — navigable tunnels.

We are also introducing a new type of object to the map of Korea — mountain reservoirs and dams. We will recreate more than 20 of them, including hydrotechnical dams and dams of hydroelectric power plants: due to the large number of mountain rivers in Korea, there was a very developed hydroelectric power industry already in the 50s. In addition to concrete dams, about 5−7 earthen dams will be constructed. The realization of a reservoir with a large and sharp water level difference required considerable modification of our technologies, but the result turned out to be very interesting. In addition to hydroelectric power, about 10 large thermal power plants will be placed on the map.
It is planned to recreate more than 800 settlements — this was made possible thanks to the development of a new technology for placing urban and rural buildings, which allows you to reduce the time required while improving their appearance — the visual quality of all land buildings will be made to a new level. Physical Based Rendering, DirectX 12, and deferred shading technologies allow us to apply complex, visually believable materials not only to vehicles, but also to all objects of the game without any loss of performance, and of course, we took advantage of this new opportunity.

The new map will contain several new artistic solutions and technologies dedicated to various other elements of the environment (trees, grass, new ground textures, new atmosphere model, new lighting, landscape shadows, night lighting of cities and airfields, 3D railway tracks, telegraph poles, increased diversity of the road network and much more). We will talk about all this in future issues of our Dev Blog. The IL-2 team continues to work on the development of Korea, and we plan to keep you informed about various innovations in technology and content in development.

Also today we released a 45-minute long interview with project producer Daniil Tuseyev and studio director Albert Zhiltsov — they talk about the history of the decision to focus the next project on the Korean War and many other things.