The endless 'realism' debate....
For starters, as we all know, most folks here are not pilots, let alone military fighter pilots, so their concept of 'realism' is open to debate from the gitgo.
From my perspective (real world pilot and sim enthusiast), I'm willing to give the typical simmer a lot of room in defining 'realism'. My bottom line is not realism...it is the ability of the sim in question to deliver $50 of fun...and to do that more than once or twice.
As we all have seen in some sims, there are areas of aircraft performance that are so outlandish in their lack of realism that this shortcoming tends to cloud any of the positive aspects of that sim. Unrealistic acceleration or deceleration rates, g levels, or armament kill probabilities are examples.
But we cannot forget that each of us comes to the sim looking for characteristics that are important to us...often, we tend to lose sight of the fact that these characteristics may not be of significance to others. The end result is that developers probably are never going to be able to make everyone happy! At least not for $50 a pop.
Sometimes I think the developers go too far in their attempt to replicate realism. Realizing that the sin of being accused of being 'arcadish' is the worst possible thing that can happen, they then provide us with a sim that becomes difficult to fly as the pilot approaches the edges of the flight envelope. MiG Alley is a good example...this sim will spin you in a heartbeat...and this is supposed to impress the typical simmer with MA's credible flight model.
Baloney!! If the real jets were this sensitive, no one would have made it out of training alive. We hear people using the term 'twitchy'...folks, there is no such thing in fighters. Airplanes aren't twitchy..their pilots are! The simple fact is that effective formation flying, air refueling, BFM, or A2G cannot be flown in a 'twitchy' airplane. Perhaps these people need a different adjective..but even then I might disagree. And here's why.
The real world pilot gets input from his airplane that we in the 2D virtual world are likely never to get. The 'seat of the pants' thing that you all have heard of is a very real and important part of flying. There is very little of this in today's sims. In MiG Alley, it is easy to push the airplane too far (as it is in many sims). This is not a flight model issue...it is a pilot cue issue. We simply do not get enough cues as to aircraft performance to fly our sims to the edges of the flight envelope. Are there fixes for this...yes. Will they be implemented in our sims...probably not.
And why not? Because if the developers included these cueing techniques, there would be a outcry from many so-called knowledgeable sim experts that such cues are not found in real fighters...consequently, if these cues are included in a sim, the developers run the risk of getting slammed.
For example...many sims are sensitive to back stick input. Pull too hard and bad stuff happens. The problem is...what is too hard? In the real world, there are usually many cues to the pilot that he is pushing the jet too hard. MiG Alley gives us a little buffet that we can see on the screen and a little sound effect that we can hear (of course if you have your sound off, you lose this!). What this sim (and any other, for that matter) cannot give you is that seat of the pants situational awareness that a real world pilot will have. What is needed is some sort of a 'Here's how hard you are pulling' indicator (in the real world fighter, we do get these inputs...both visual in the form of an Angle of Attack indicator and aurally in the form of an AOA tone, as well as g loads, stick feel, etc). It would not be that hard to include AOA cues in our sims.
So here is where I end up. I want to say to the folks that are unhappy with their sims...chill out and enjoy the positive aspects of the game (because that's what it is...a game). And to the developers, I want to say that they need to get some serious input from real world pilots..and not just somebody whose claim to fame is having flown the airplane in question. Instead, the developers need to find someone with real world expertise who also understands the limitations of our 2D world...and then has the ability to communicate that to the sim developers to eliminate or at least reduce the problem.
Maybe it will happen some day...until then, let's all appreciate our hobby for its good points and not get too hung up on the negatives.