Crispy Gamer

The Russian Whisperer

My first PC game was Red Baron. I borrowed it from my godmother's husband and never got around to returning it *cough*. It started me down the path that I'm still on today, as a devoted PC gamer. So when I heard that a Russian developer, neoqb, was developing what looked to be Red Baron for the modern age, I was ecstatic.
Upon buying Rise of Flight, and jumping head first into the forums and online community, I quickly realized just how "indie" this scene really was. The first English-language blog post written for the site was an immediate apology for the unfinished state of the game, an explanation that development money was extremely tight and a commitment to make the playing experience better over time.

Struggling to parse through all of that broken English, I immediately realized that, while the game looked fantastic and played great (unfinished as it was), their PR was just not up to the task. It was clear that they needed the help of native English speakers and someone dedicated towards community communication. Thankfully, they hired a man named Mikhail Levin (Lefty to the forum members) to oversee the community and he acted quickly to take on some much needed English-native forum moderators. I petitioned for the special task of editing and revising Mikhail's English drafts of all official press releases, because I knew that clear, native English would be a key towards Rise of Flight's success over the long-term.

At first, the relationship was a bit tenuous, as Mikhail didn't quite trust me yet and the language barrier was a constant struggle to overcome. His English is great but he has a thick accent that made Skype conversations rife with, "Wait, I didn't understand that last thing" back-and-forths. Over time, he realized he could depend on me and gave me more and more freedom to edit the blog posts so they made sense, even going so far as to change whole paragraphs around to better clarify their meaning.
Mikhail suffers no fools 
There were lots of ups and downs within neoqb, as the company struggled to find the right balance between security measures and inclusiveness . A few months back they ended their "always online" DRM because they realized that it treated their customers like criminals (are you listening Ubisoft?!). They have generated update after update, usually with a plane or two that players can purchase for a small fee - their form of DLC. And they have learned to embrace their community more, listening to the hundreds of suggestions they receive and adopting dozens of them in each subsequent update.
Make no mistake, neoqb is still pseudo-indie. It's been at times both disheartening and inspiring to hear, through Mikhail, of their trials and travails as I continue to edit their English press releases, 10 months after first signing on.

Last Friday, update 1.012 of Rise of Flight went live, which finally gave the community what they have long asked for: Dogfight mode. Dogfight mode, quite simply is the ability play a multiplayer game with the ability to respawn. Sounds simple doesn't it? I used to think so too. But seeing just how hard a development team has to struggle to code a feature like that into a game that wasn't built for it, brought me a whole new perspective. I will never again be one of those whiney internet trolls, demanding endless features from developers. Even the mundane additions are far from simple.

My time working with neoqb has been, and continues to be, more fulfilling than I ever expected. It has sharpened my writing skills and I even picked up some PR knowledge. I also got a small glimpse into Russian culture, which can be both playfully jovial (Mikhail and his late-night vodka) and harshly proud (those guys will slap a forum warning on you for the slightest infraction!). Neoqb is the little development company that could, and from my perspective, deserves to succeed.
As I mentioned, Rise of Flight just got updated for the 12th time, making it the complete game that everyone knew it could be. The AI, flight physics and modeling, destruction simulation, realism and graphical intensity have been top-notch for a while, and now the multiplayer is equally amazing. And man, when first see one of your wings rip off due to the torque of too-steep a dive, you will be blown away. If you are even slightly interested in World War I, or flight sims in general, you need to pick up Rise of Flight today. They also have over 15 additional planes for purchase (with many available in cheaper packages if you buy in bulk). Trust me when I say, spending your money with these guys is not only going to provide you with a great game, but also a warm fuzzy feeling in knowing that you are supporting the "little guys" of game development.