Aces High II Combat Flight Simulator

Offline Flight Simulation Missions

Aces High II was designed to permit users to design "offline missions" that can be enjoyed without an Internet connection or subscription. All of the aircraft, vehicles, and terrains that are compatible with the online services are available for custom exercises, and some of these are very sophisticated. The best missions consist of large, well-coordinated numbers of aircraft and vehicles flying over realistic terrains to re-enact historic battles that shaped our modern world.

In late 2009, after Aces High II advanced beyond version 2.13P1, the online Aces High community migrated to newer simulator versions. Unfortunately, experience has shown that these newer versions don't offer good support for the sophisticated offline missions that had previously been written. The community has really "stumbled" over this, and has only begun to recover. In September 2010, a new version of Aces High (V2.21) was published, and it solved the biggest of the problems. However, there are differences in the way it interprets every mission. Some of these differences are inconsequential for simple missions, but sophisticated old missions, which worked well with version 2.12.4 and earlier, now require extensive re-work. Mission authors are wondering if it is worthwhile to write any more sophisticated missions. A newer update in early 2011 did not really change this situation.

The newest versions of Aces High always include an associated "Mission Editor". With that tool, it should always be possible to edit an old mission and build a new version for use with the new Aces High software. However, experienced users have been reporting many problems with that process. It seems that even under the best circumstances, only the simplest of the old missions can be successfully converted without time-consuming, tedious rework. (Furthermore, even on the missions that can be converted from old to new, it seems that computer-generated aircraft don't fly as intelligently as they did in prior versions.)

In Mid 2011, Aces High developers made big changes to the way the simulator plays sounds, and several bugs were introduced that affect offline missions. Version 2.24 came out with no Mission Editor, halting most new mission development until "Patch5" was added, which made Mission Editors an automated part of this and every subsequent distribution (hooray!). However, problems remained. Missions written with the new V2.24.5 Mission Editor caused the Flight Simulator V2.24.5 to crash with a "White Screen of Death" at the conclusion of the mission's first sound file, so development of sophisticated new missions was halted again. Sigh....

People that prefer to learn Aces High through the best available offline missions will probably have best success by installing version 2.12.4. It's a good idea to install this in addition to the latest, greatest version. It's easy to install multiple, simultaneous versions; simply create separate folders for each. Thereafter, instead of using desktop icons or the "Start" menu to commence an Aces High session, simply explore your way into the appropriate folder, where you will find "aceshigh.exe". Double-click on that to start up the version of your choice.

In November of 2011, Aces High released Version 2.26.3 (I found that the "bot" planes still don't fly the brilliant, aggressive combat tactics that characterized version 2.12.4, but the offline missions are still a lot of fun, especially for beginners.)

In July of 2012, HiTech Creations released Version 2.28.x and made some very important changes. Offline missions became known as "Staged Missions", and the "bots" (computer-generated aircraft) once again fly the brilliant, agressive tactics that had been missing for years! Also, it is now possible to fly these missions online, in the "Custom Arenas" area of HiTech Creations subscription services, with a mixture of "bots" and live opponents. THIS IS A MAJOR DEVELOPMENT and we find it very exciting! However, none of the previously compiled missions will work with Version 2.28.x until they are re-compiled.

Fortunately, recompiling is very easy. Version 2.28.x includes the mission editor, named "ahedmiss".

Get the mission's source code, place it in the proper directories, and re-compile by:

THAT'S it! The recompiled mission will now appear when you use the "Staged Mission" option from the appropriate terrain. The mission briefing with images and narration should start immediately with the mission in the usual way, and all of the special mission features will play during the mission as you fly among the "bots".