Yes, that is in fact, the first genuine public screenshot of a WW2O Boat: a British Fairmile B motor launch, in fact (kind of like an American PT Boat… the British had hundreds of the things). What it’s doing on a river the middle of Belgium is an anachronism (or whatever its geographically misplaced equivalent is) the historical obsessives will no doubt still have weeks to puzzle over. (By the sounds of it, the Cornered Rat Studios team is repeating the 1914 “Race to the Sea,” desperately creating terrain in a frenzied rush to actually provide this baby with a coastline.)

Proving once again that their beta testers can’t be trusted to do anything right, CRS Producer Chris “Mo” Sherland expressed his regret tonight that this screenshot had leaked out. Actually, word had been spreading on the official discussion boards, hampered somewhat by the skepticism of a by-now completely jaded fanbase, and board moderators who ruthlessly removed any thread that mentioned boats, water, or Eric Cartman’s rendition of my favourite Styx tune.

I can’t believe they really mind that much, though. What we saw tonight in the, erm, wake of the boat can only be described as the restirrings of hope by the devoted that they have in fact, not wasted the last three months of their spare time being screwed around by, as one Lum-poster memorably put it, a bunch of “chimpanzees on crack.” After a very unimpressive outing in the second major CRS-run scenario on Thursday, they needed the goodwill hit with their fans more desperately than ever. (One of their recent tweaks to the servers seems to have accidentally turned the “friendly fire” switch on, and it couldn’t be fixed in time… the result was Germans-shooting-Germans, cats-lying-down-with-dogs anarchy.)

So when will all the good stuff come to pass? Hard to say. V1.25 seems to have been more ambitious than anticipated, which may push it out of next week. I’m going to stick by my earlier prediction of late November for when “the game will match the box” for now. They should certainly be starting asking for credit card numbers before Christmas. There’s no doubt that a lot of the diehards were a little more tempted to pay than they have been in a long, long while. CRS has sung them a song of hope, and this is what they said…