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Author Topic: Realism
Member # 275

posted 10-13-1999 07:56 PM     Profile for Envelope   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Has there been any discussion of some kind of objective standard for what is meant by flight sim realism? For example, when I want a flight sim that is realistic, my first concern is the airplane. Does the simulation accurately reflect the aerodynamic performance of the airplane? My second concern is basic operations. Am I rewarded or penalized for my ability to manage the elementary operations of the airplane? I was really delighted to find that my old Mac B/W Falcon assigned me a desk job when I did something really stupid. I remember I was also rewarded for managing to keep a Falcon from burning up and bringing it back as close as possible to base before ejecting. The last thing I am concerned with is the realism of the operational theatre. Let's face it, you can fly your sim any time you want, but in an operational theatre, you are on day and night. Unless you are willing to work at your desktop like that, it's hard to expect too much realism there. This includes operational tactics in engaging the AI enemy. I like to see accuracy in the physical performance and elementary tactics of the AI enemy. I also like to see as much global interaction as possible among the AI components. But this is where I begin to lose interest.

I would summarize my realism priority this way:

1. Aircraft model
A. Aerodynamic model
B. Engine model
C. Airframe model

2. Operational model
A. Pilot performance
i. performance over time
B. Aircraft history
i. engine or airframe history, whichever is most dramatic in reality.
C. AI/mechanical performance
i. pilot AI/aircraft mechanics
ii. ground AI/mechanics

3. Global interaction
A. AI and user performance history (I am speculating here, in modern air combat, can things get personal?)
B. AI history

Maybe I left a few obvious things out. Anybody else?

Posts: 2057 | From: Davis, CA, USA | Registered: Sep 1999  |  IP: Logged
Andy Bush
Member # 12

posted 10-13-1999 10:03 PM     Profile for Andy Bush   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
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 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 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.


Posts: 595 | From: St Louis, Mo | Registered: Sep 1999  |  IP: Logged
Member # 275

posted 10-14-1999 05:01 PM     Profile for Envelope   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
I agree with the gist of what you are saying. There are some natural limitations as to what you can do in a desktop simulation. In Mig Alley for example, (Which I have not run) the simple fact that it is easy to spin may not have any bearing on its realism as a sim. The question is, maybe, why is it easy to spin? If Mig Alley is to call itself a simulator at all you should be able to spin those old jets. And, it should be easier than, say, an F-15.

For me, part of the enjoyment of simulations is the education I get from running them. Another part is the satisfaction I get from learning some new skill. I am not the only one. We are pleased to hear about the experiences of those who have flown the real airplanes represented in our simulators. Perhaps we should start asking questions of those who run "real" simulators. I mean full scale cockpit mockup simulators that are used universally in both civilian and military aviation. Not all of these are set up to duplicate all the subtle feedbacks that are found when actually flying an airplane - especially high powered military aircraft. So despite the natural limitations of simulations, we can respect attempts to make them realistic, even to the casual consumer.

Flight simulation is serious business. The awesome change in the availability of computing power has made this technology available cheap to consumers, but we should not forget where it all came from. The history of aviation is bound up in the struggle to communicate to the beginning pilot what flying is like so that he can begin to accumulate experience without getting killed. This is where flight simulation was born. Perhaps sim pilots should begin to pay as much attention to the technology of simulation as they do to the actual airplanes themselves. The interface already allows some control here, but I have seen so far only limited control and very little insight is available as to what it is I am controlling. Operating the simulator should be as much fun as the simulation itself.

Simulations are the most fun I have ever had with my computer. I enjoy arcade games too, Plane Crazy is fun. The truth is there is a certain amount of simulation in the video arcade games too. Pong, Space Invaders and all those pinball simulators all use a certain amount of physical simulation. But when it comes to my flight simulator I don't want anything but a physical model of some kind. I don't like to think I'm being fooled with. If there is a gap or softening in the physical model, just tell me and let me judge for myself if this is what I want.

Flying airplanes is difficult. The more consumers can appreciate this, the more they will enjoy realistic desktop simulations. Those of us who have tasted even a little flight already do, the rest take a little convincing, that's all

Posts: 2057 | From: Davis, CA, USA | Registered: Sep 1999  |  IP: Logged

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