Why485's Space Sim/Game Dev/Planes/Touhou Blog

Chris Roberts said something very important today.

v0.9.2 (our internal R13.2) has some significant aiming / targeting / fine flight control changes that I hope people will appreciate - it definitely is a much better set up for fixed weapons but also doesn’t go back to auto aim. I think this will also help with some of the complaints from Aurora and 300i pilots versus Hornet pilots. There is also a limited look / aim assist mode for gimbaled weapons for josytick users so they get some of the benefit of a gimabled weapon even though they don’t have a good way of controlling their look / aim (you can also set up the joystick for flight and the mouse for look BTW)

Now that the game is (mostly) stable and the netcode playable, the next biggest problem Star Citizen is facing is the control gap between mouse and joystick.

While the current version of fire control is vastly preferable to the annoying auto-aim we had before, it has hugely magnified the problems inherent in both having gimballed weapons allowing them to be aimed with a mouse. When coupled with the frustratingly imprecise and inconsistent flight controls, this causes a ship with both gimbals and mouse control to utterly dominate in such a way as to make ships with fixed weapons practically worthless.

The next patch looks to address this with some kind of limited auto-tracking for joystick users. This is absolutely the right way to go because otherwise class 2 guns are completely worthless if you use a joystick without TrackIR or Oculus Rift. It also sounds like the IFCS is getting some further tuning, which is always great news. Ship control massively improved in 0.9, so I’m holding out hope that they’ll keep tweaking the IFCS until eventually we get something good.

What a day. Battlefield 4 CTE patch, Elite Dangerous Beta 2, and Star Citizen control patch all in one day.

Tomorrow’s the big day. I’ve been playing on the CTE server a lot lately and like he says, it changes everything. It’s impossible to even sum up because there’s so many small but fundamental things that have changed to make the game so much better than it was before.

Yeah, this is what the game should have launched like but whatever. Ever since the handoff to DICE LA, they’ve done a fantastic job of listening to the community and iterating over and over to make a better Battlefield game in every way.

While messing around in the Kh-66 training mission I got to wondering if I could use these massive air to ground missiles in the air to air role.

They’re beam riding missiles so in theory they should be able to track anything the radar locks onto, right? I mean, what do they care if that lock is in the air or in the sea? A lock is a lock.

If you’d like to try this yourself, here’s the mission file. It’s your MiG armed with two Kh-66s, two R-60Ms, and very limited gun ammo. It’s not particularly challenging, but it’s fun to use Kh-66s as anti-bomber weapons.

g-limits:

why485:

After having played a bunch of Falcon last night I’m reminded again why even after 15 years, Falcon is still the benchmark in a lot of ways. Between the dynamic campaign, the chatter, and the dynamic weather, Falcon just feels so alive. DCS always feels like I’m just flying missions designed for my entertainment. Meanwhile, Falcon feels like I’m just a pilot doing my job in a much bigger world.

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It’s so good and even though I’ve been spoiled by DCS in a lot of ways (cockpit,systems, and graphical fidelity) I really wish it was more like Falcon. There’s so much Falcon does so right that DCS does so wrong.

I think it’s the modern multi-role swing-role jet fighter that you get in Falcon, that isn’t available in DCS. That’s what Falcon’s doing right.

That’s a part of it, but not all of it.

The mythical F-18C will fill the same role as the F-16 does in Falcon except it can land on boats too. There is no question that DCS lacks an equivalent to the F-16 simulated in anywhere near as much detail as it is. The closest we have right now is either the F-15 for its American concepts of a radar, and the MiG-21 is sort of a multi-role do everything fighter.

That is exactly why I am so looking forward to it, and that’s exactly why MiG-21 is my favorite module right now. It’s a fast moving jet that can do everything (sort of). The F-15C is simple, and only capable of air to air, and the A-10C is hideously complex and super slow and boring to fly.

DCS F/A-18C might be the last DCS module I feel compelled to buy because it’s such a final solution endgame to DCS.

However the addition of a slickly modeled F-18 will not give DCS “a soul” as I’ve sometimes heard it referred to. Falcon feels alive because of the talkative AI, unscripted where anything can happen, and a battlefield where things can matter. I don’t think DCS will ever have these things for a number of reasons. The engine just isn’t built for it and it would require such an extensive rework that it would require building a brand new game.

It’s interesting how completely opposite DCS and Falcon are. Everything that one sim excels at, the other fails.

DCS has graphics, an incredible attention to detail in modeling, and very good (relative to the sim world anyway) tutorials and new user experience. However it lacks in AI, mission scripting, and has a serious problem with long distance spotting.

Meanwhile, Falcon has an incredibly immersive and alive world, an actual stable framerate, and very dynamic AI. Falcon’s problems lie in its terribly unforgiving treatment of new players, very dated graphics, and its hero jet, the only flyable jet, is not as fully simulated as your average DCS module. I was actually surprised at how much of the cockpit doesn’t work or isn’t interactive.

Thanks to this video, I played Falcon BMS pretty much all of last night. It’s an excellent video that covers all the basics in a really concise and easy to understand way. It’s a fantastic resource for new players, and a great refresher for someone like me who hasn’t touched Falcon since the Superpak 4 days.

After having played a bunch of Falcon last night I’m reminded again why even after 15 years, Falcon is still the benchmark in a lot of ways. Between the dynamic campaign, the chatter, and the dynamic weather, Falcon just feels so alive. DCS always feels like I’m just flying missions designed for my entertainment. Meanwhile, Falcon feels like I’m just a pilot doing my job in a much bigger world.

Just taking off, doing a flight, and landing after a ramp start in training was an adventure and an intense experience. There was traffic everywhere, I was queued in line for takeoff, taking vectors from ATC into landing to avoid traffic, and the weather turned sour on final so I had to land into a really nasty crosswind.

It’s so good and even though I’ve been spoiled by DCS in a lot of ways (cockpit,systems, and graphical fidelity) I really wish it was more like Falcon. There’s so much Falcon does so right that DCS does so wrong.

God this is so much easier in the F-16 vs doing it in the F-15C in DCS.

I don’t know if it’s because Falcon BMS’s flight model is simpler or if it’s because of the fly by wire on the F-16 is that good. I remember in the Falcon manual that the pilot was saying the F-16 feels a bit weird because of the fly by wire so I’ve always been under the impression it’s the latter. 

Either way, not only was it a breeze, but I did it in the middle of a turn!

Here’s a few pictures of ground attack practice.

Rockets are my favorite weapon to use, but the Kh-66 guided missile is a close second. It’s a really unique weapon in the MiG-21’s air to ground arsenal. It’s the only guided missile the Fishbed can carry, and is a beam rider. Whatever you locked your radar onto will be where the missile hits.

It’s incredibly overkill for anything short of a tank, but tanks aren’t exactly easy to score hits on. I’ve seen these used mostly as anti-ship weapons than anti-tank weapons.

I was playing on the hoggit server earlier tonight. They have a big testing range of a map where there’s ground targets for people to take out, plus a dogfight area separated off to the north.

Since dogfighting in the MiG-21 is stupid when Su-27s and F-15Cs are flying around, I loaded up gunpods and rockets and decided to give ground attack a try. I wish I had pictures of it, but it turns out to be a lot of fun, and terrifying, to do in a MiG-21.

I haven’t read any of the documentation for how to fire off rockets, shoot gunpods, or drop bombs. Turns out they’re pretty easy to do if you already know how to use the air to air missiles. Just use all the opposite settings and you’re good to go.

Something I noticed is that the crosshair is not accurate until you get close enough that the red light on the right of the sight turns on. That distance is frighteningly close considering how fast the MiG has to fly in order to stay in the air. Rockets and guns are a lot direct and easy to use fun. Accurately getting the crosshair on the target is so important because the faster you do it the earlier you can pull out of your dive.

Bombs on the other hand require even more daring. I wasn’t able to the get the crosshair to show up. Turns out, the reason I couldn’t was because:

  1. I wasn’t diving steep enough
  2. I wasn’t getting close enough to the ground for it to show up

I thought setting up gun runs was scary enough. To accurately drop bombs, you need to fly >45 degrees towards the ground at some 500ish kph in a plane that can’t turn, was designed as a high altitude interceptor, at a height of what feels like less than 1km, and if you go too slow, you won’t have enough elevator authority to pull out of your dive.

Yeah…

Anyway, I’ll to run a few missions tomorrow and get some more screenshots. It looks really cool and is surprisingly fun to do. I’ve never cared for ground attack, but it gets a lot more interesting when you’re doing it in a plane that literally cannot fly slow enough, or turn tight enough, to accurately do the job.

The first picture was a Black Shark taking off while I was taxiing. The second picture is of an A-10 that was doing attack runs in the same target practice field I was.

In the time it took me to make one pass and kill 1-2 targets, he could make a pass, kill at least 2 targets with his gun, turn around, make another pass, and kill 2 more targets.

It was really impressive to watch.

I love Dos Gringos.