The GHPC Patreon preview build has been updated to version 20201129!
This build introduces a day/night cycle, night vision devices, infrared illuminators, and thermal imaging sights to GHPC. There are several other major features still in progress as we work to bring combat missions to the new build of the game, so we thought it would be good to release the night sight content in the meantime to give our supporters something new to explore. As always, we've released these features as soon as they were reasonably stable, and there will be issues that we missed and features we weren't finished with yet. Keep an eye out for a minor patch sometime in December.
Foremost in the new feature list is the ability to change the time of day. (Since both of our current test maps default to daytime, you'll need to manually advance the clock using the comma and period keys.) The sun and moon are positioned correctly in the sky as the cycle advances, and the moon itself is properly rendered with phases that change day by day.
Currently, we have clear skies, and the moon starts off full and bright. That provides the ideal conditions for using light intensification night vision optics, especially the type seen in the game.
Night vision sights have been added to the T-55A and T-72M1 in the demo. These optics are first-generation Soviet night vision sights, and they work best when used at ranges under 1000 meters and with active infrared (IR) illumination. Target detection and ID outside that range, or with the IR spotlight switched off, is quite difficult if not impossible.
IR illumination is provided by "Luna" type spotlights, fitted with IR filter covers to prevent most visible-spectrum light from escaping. This results in a light beam that is invisible to the naked eye, while still appearing in infrared sensitive optics such as the night vision sights. Only a faint red glow remains visible when the lamp is switched on.
The night sights for the T-55A and T-72M1 are the TPN-1-22-11 and the TPN-1-49-23, respectively. These sights are variants of the same system and have similar fixed gunnery reticles. There are no range labels, but the vertical landmarks in the pattern correspond to known ballistic values for specific ammunition types. In general, within the ranges these optics are useful at, gunners will be using the upper tick mark to aim.
The night sights on the T-55A and T-72M1 are covered during the daylight, as are their spotlights. In the GHPC demo, the covers are automatically removed when time advances to night, as well as re-attached when daylight arrives again. Viewing the night sight while it is covered will result in a black screen.
The T-72M1 comes with an additional feature: a night sight cutoff while the trigger is pulled. This is a feature that was added to some Russian night sight systems to protect the optics from damage during muzzle flash. The T-72 variant seen in the GHPC demo is technically too old to have had the automatic cutoff and would have featured a manual switch for it instead; however, we have chosen to make it automatic to simulate a trained crew operating their tank properly, rather than forcing players to memorize extra key binds for just this specific purpose. This fits our general philosophy of depicting authentic systems but making them easy to use and have fun with.
Infrared intensifier optics aren't the only type of night vision optics in this build, though. The M60A3 TTS and the TOW launcher make a strong showing with their new thermal sights. In these optics, sources of heat show up brightly colored for easy detection.
Thermal sights work well in both day and night, and they make it very difficult for a warm target to hide. Unfortunately for the Warsaw Pact, NATO outfitted many of their vehicles in the late Cold War with these optics, at a time when the average Soviet tank was still using IR spotlights and (at best) second generation night vision optics. The M60A3 TTS would have made up for its abysmal armor protection with superior target detection, especially in the dark.
It's worth noting that the thermal sights in GHPC are a work in progress. The heat signatures on vehicles are a first pass with uniform temperature and no separate heat sources, and the particle effects have no proper thermal signatures at all yet. This will be improved in later updates as we are able to author the art assets required to make things look more realistic. We've delivered this early version of the thermal system to give our supporters something fun to use in the meantime.
A final visual upgrade in this patch is the new tracer system. This, too, is a work in progress (we will be adding different colors and limited tracer burn time), but already it's a staggering improvement over the tracers in the old build and previous Patreon builds. Tracers will no longer show up through obstacles (or even the terrain), and their brightness and coloration is much nicer now.
The length and thickness of the tracers depends on speed and distance to the observer, and the resulting effect is quite easy to visually track. The tracers are also visible on thermal sights.
Most of the machine gun belts in the demo are fitted with intermittent tracers, usually every 5th round. Some of them, like the .50 caliber load for the M85 cupola gun in the M60A3 TTS or the 14.5mm belts for the BRDM-2, are currently 100% tracers. Either way, you should be able to easily adjust fire by watching the shots arc onto the target.
A final note - if you shoot a T-55 and strike a flammable item inside, you may notice that smoke starts to pour from the entry hole. This is a tiny peek at the fire and explosion system we're currently developing. In this build, fire propagation is disabled, and the crew won't even react to the fire, but that small feature is present and serves as a reminder of what's in the works!
We hope you enjoy the update! Be sure to check in on Discord for feedback or to see the latest teasers. And remember, if you'd like to try this demo for yourself, you can get immediate access with a subscription of APC tier or above on Patreon!
Added celestial bodies and day/night cycle (Time control keys: comma (,) and period (.))
Added night vision optics to T-55A and T-72M1 (Default key: T)
Added IR illuminator lamps to T-55A and T-72M1 (Default key: N)
Added thermal optics to M60A3 TTS and TOW launcher (Default key: T)
Added basic thermal signatures to all vehicles
Added visible waypoint paths for player controlled vehicles
Added thermal vision debug mode to 3rd person cam (Ctrl+T to toggle)
Added basic compartment system and smoke effects for T-55 ammunition hits (WIP)
Added anti-aliasing options to graphics menu
Added trigger shutoff to T-72's night sight
Added more Patreon supporter names to credits
Improved coaxial MG markings in TPD-K1 sight on T-72M1
Improved reticle in 9K111 launcher
Reworked tracer appearance
T-72's Luna lamp now aligns with its gun, with an animated linkage
Night equipment covers now disappear and reappear based on time of day
T-55's Luna spotlight can now be shot out
Fixed inconsistent lighting on projectiles
Fixed nav mesh issues