by Richard Sheffield
Don't you just love flying? The way it makes you feel, the liberation of your feet from plain old, standard horizontal earth, the freedom to twist and turn and roll—all at hundreds of miles per hour? It's almost like being a kid at a playground again, spinning and zipping from here to there just for the sheer joy of motion.
I love flying so much that I went to the U.S. Air Force Academy to do it for a living. I graduated from the Academy in 1970 and have been lucky enough to get 3500 hours behind the stick in everything from trainers to A-37 jet fighters, and our company's own T-28 Trojan airplane, the lovely, charming, and talented Miss MicroProse. Flying has always been the most fun and exciting thing I ever wanted to do.
And am I ever excited about flying F-19 Stealth Fighter! Although we're always "pushing the envelope" of computer game technology, F-19 is the culmination of the great MicroProse tradition of authentic flight simulation. The tradition began in 1982 with Hellcat Ace, really took off with F-15 Strike Eagle in 1984, and blew people away in 1986 with Gunship and its solid-filled 3-D graphics. Now, I'm proud to say, "F-19 has the best 3-D graphics you've ever seen." They're the best in clarity, the best in detail, and the best in the sheer volume of neat things to see—cities, SAM sites, shipyards, ships, bridges, other planes, airbases—four whole worlds, each measuring 250 miles by 250 miles. That's a total of quarter-million square miles of real-world terrain.
My partner and computer game design genius Sid Meier is always mild-mannered and soft spoken, but during development even he occasionally revealed bubbles of enthusiasm for F-19 Stealth Fighter. The news of his breakthroughs spread quickly. From the early days of the project, everyone in the company, from the warehouse to the secretaries to the sales staff to the accounting department was buzzing with excitement. "Have you seen what they're doing? The graphics are unbelievable!"
But great graphics are only part of what makes F-19 Stealth Fighter such a magnificent game. After all, the terrain doesn't just sit there and look pretty. It's crawling with enemies and targets and hostile weapons carefully programmed to give you all the challenge you can handle. And as you choose higher and higher skill levels, the enemies get more experienced, better equipped and smarter—with artificial intelligence that will give your human intelligence a real run for its money.
Which brings up another big thrill for me in F-19 Stealth Fighter. Aside from the sheer fun of flying, I love to be in real situations where I have to make real decisions. I love games that require my intelligence, help me learn something about the real world, about my equipment, about the enemy's equipment, but mostly about myself. If you've played F-19 Stealth Fighter, you've probably learned a lot about yourself already. I'll bet your brain is running at Mach 5 when the bad guys start closing in!
F-19 has pulled in awards from all around the software industry. The one that makes me happiest, though, is the one from my peers. In May of 1989, F-19 Stealth Fighter won the Best Simulation Award from the Software Publishers Association. It means a lot when your friendly competitors say "Way to go, MicroProse!"
Another terrific honor is this book you're about to read. Rich Sheffield is one of the very finest and most knowledgeable journalists covering computer entertainment. The fact that he has developed the time and energy to write an entire book about F-19 Stealth Fighter is a tribute to the game's truly remarkable depth and sophistication—and fun! One of the nicest things he told me as he was researching the book is that "F-19 Stealth Fighter has the 'personality' the MicroProse games always seem to have."
That's a big compliment from a great writer who has written a terrific book about an outstanding game.
What more can I say? Only one thing: Good flying to you!
"Wild Bill" Stealey
President, MicroProse Software