Recent air combat sim recommendations?


Well FUCK. ED investigated the controls thing and their official stance on this is: fuck it, new way is the best way, so bend over and take it.

I am not happy with that and the way it was handled.


I don’t envy NineLine’s job. I’m pretty sure flight sim community manager is one of the circles of hell.

DCS is a particularly tough one, given that it’s still very much a spitballs-and-duct-tape project from all appearances.


Does this mean they improve their control scheme and offer defaults that make sense, or make control assignments better?

If so, @schurem I’m not sure how they should do it different. With a two week update schedule, beta release pretty much is their announcement. Their spokesperson isn’t being a dick about it.

I suppose they could have put a blurb in their patch notes…


I think what’s going on is that they added a bunch of default mappings for commonly-used controllers, and there’s some issue with the way they merge the default mappings and existing user mappings doesn’t play well.

Happily, I managed to dodge this one—as far as DCS knows, my joysticks are named CH Control Manager 1-4.


Heh, I dodged this one too. Since I’ve spent so much time in the Mission Editor, I haven’t bothered to map the majority of planes I own (all the FC3 ones).

I just checked. Instead of the horrific mapping from before, where the throttle mini-stick defaulted to flight control, all these planes now have a nice usable default scheme. Cool!

Easy equation for ED. They need to think about all those potential new customers who will buy Modern Air Combat, and nothing says boring ass flight simulator like having to map a gillion controls (although I’m special because I think it’s fun).


Today: Hornet AA workup!

Loaded for a fight.

The motion blur is really well done. I also noticed it flying low in the Harrier the other day.

Lofting a Sparrow at an Il-76.

Not exactly fair.

In close with a Sidewinder, getting used to the ACM radar modes and switching between them.

Splash one L-39!

Odd that the radar didn’t auto-lock, but I hardly need the help at this range.

An off-center, 4-wire landing caps off the night.


you’re right and of course i aint blaming Nineline. He wasn’t warned about this. First they conduct a poll showing the massive majority of users use TM Warthogs. Then they push out a patch that breaks those. And they do not warn their community manager person about it. Yup, that’s soviet communication skills right there. (ED mostly are from Moskva)

[ruffles hair on @anklebiter head] yeah who’s a special boy? you are a special boy!

The HUD scan mode guns default to takes a second or two to lock. I prefer boresight to get a quick lock. And soon we’ll have a helmet tracking device just like the MiG drivers have.

Did you guys catch Jell-O getting his ass handed to him by an AI MiG-21? It was glorious. He’s also going to be our LSO!


Great, now I’ll have to contend with someone yelling at me about waving off while I’m trying to land. :P

It is good to hear that a dynamic campaign engine is still very much on their radar. Once they get that out there, I’m suddenly willing to forgive a lot more jank.


I’m not holding my breath for the dynamic campaign being a game changer, at least for most. Here’s why.

My theory on video games. They key into two head systems to make them “fun”, adrenaline (which DCS has in spades) and dopamine. Of the two, dopamine is far more powerful and keeps em coming back. WoW, Candy Crush, X-Com, you name it.

A good dynamic campaign should handle both. Keeps adrenaline flowing with the unexpected, and allowing some sort of “progress”, “achievement”, “like” etc., for the heroin.

Where I see DCS dynamic campaign falling down is on the second part. Hooking the user (er… player) requires a positive consequence that is easy to achieve, at least at first, a freebie… (this is why games can be dangerous for kids… real life is rarely like that).

The easy part is really counter intuitive to the “realism” on the table and complexity of the jets. Blowing up a bridge is way harder in a Hornet than say a WW2 bird where “war” progression can come easier.

Without it, progression doesn’t hook, and the campaign becomes pretty much a soul-less random mission generator, kinda like the Falcon 4 campaign ;P Well regarded academically, but how many people actually got anywhere in it?

I suppose it could be done with the right AI and balance, but that is so hard.

A simpler solution is creating a “character” and a story. Key progression off that, and let the AI be dumb. I dunno, I just don’t see them going there. It isn’t who they are. I bet they are going to tackle the AI route and angsty posts will ensue. Would be happy to be surprised though…

Edit: Sorry for all the edits. Sparked lots of extra thoughts that related.


Me! I loved the Falcon 4 dynamic campaign engine, and I think it makes Falcon 4 a better overall sim package than DCS, even today, even with the fidelity edge and airframe advantage DCS has. I might even go so far as to call it the crowning achievement of the genre.

Sure, it might not have the same dopamine rush of easy incremental accomplishment, but the way I see it, it hooks into an even deeper psychological mechanism: the craving for narrative. Not the narrative of a pilot or a squadron so much as the narrative of an entire war, where every single element of the game is aimed at immersing you in that narrative. There’s a certain verisimilitude to that: games tend to tell stories where we’re the main characters, but life is more stories we get to be a part of. So also is a good dynamic campaign.

Still, very vividly, I remember sitting on the ramp at Kwangju, watching other flights taxi while waiting my turn, and dialing in the guard frequency or other flights’ frequencies to overhear other little snippets—AWACS calls, missile launch warnings, eject calls, and more. I remember running SEAD to knock down a SAM site so that a strike package twenty miles behind me can bomb a bridge. I remember one time, deeper into the war, where an AAA battery around Hwangju in the North shot me down, so after gliding as far back to the south as I could, I set up a strike mission to knock out the guns and flew it myself.

It’s similar with Battle of Britain 2 for me, at least on the occasions when it works, and that’s why I’m looking forward to a DCS dynamic campaign. Once you get above a certain threshold of simulation, a dynamic campaign stops being just a random mission generator and starts being a world you’re a part of. I kind of flip your construction around, to tell you the truth: a proper dynamic campaign flight sim has more soul than any other kind of game I’ve played.


Excellent points. The idea to examine games on a chemical level is genius. Dopamine and Adrenaline. New tools for thought when it comes to this. Might these be the only two factors? Perhaps social factors also play into it, not just “my friends are playing it” but also some sort of fashion sense, belonging to a certain in-crowd.

Anyway, here’s some of the things flight games have done to keep the dompamine going:

  • In Falcon4.0, mission success gave an exaggerated effect on war progress. Get your targets and the blue divisions start rolling forward. That’s on the strategic level. On the operational level, bombing a runway or shooting a MiG would make the sky less red. That was real, tangible reward.

  • In Falcon3.0 your squad was 30 names, portraits and small amounts of stats. They had a skill at flying, at A2A and at A2G. They also had a fatigue rating and IIRC a morale one. Getting them through tough missions would improve those stats. Keeping a good pilot alive was worth something, especially if you trained those dudes through red flag and such.

  • The old dynamix Aces games (and the more modern Ace Combat games) had great styling. The music, the menu’s, the bits of video cutscene, it all came together to paint a picture of aviation cool. You could also “earn” a better plane by doing well.

That’s my two cents, but if they look closely at what made those games great, its gonna rock.

p.s. Completely and correctly starting up a machine like the F/A-18 or Ka-50 gives me a nice shot of dopamine too, almost for free :P


Good point. Looking at it from that perspective, it’s probably why I transition to cold starts as soon as possible in the learning process. No matter what else goes wrong on a given flight, I can always fall back on saying, “Well, at least I started it up right.”

(Although now I’m realizing I have more steps to do for countermeasures setup, so maybe I wasn’t starting it up 100% right in the first place…)


countermeasure setup in the hornet is a bitch, especially since you really don’t want to do that on the ground (or ship) because you need to arm up the jet for that.


Aha! But that’s the quality stuff which comes from learning and actually achieving something hard.

Ah, to be a flight sim snob :)



hon hon hon oui oui mon ami

I just greased my landing in the MiG-29 for the first time. Not a pretty landing but the plane could be reused and that’s what counts. all of the chemicals on that one. No shots because I was too busy being happy about not scrapping the little bastard plane.


Some great random thoughts @Anklebiter, but I think I agree more with @Fishbreath.

IL2 career mode is better than random mission generator, but the environment isn’t as dynamic as in Falcon or EF2000. You may fly in support of the 1st Tank Corps over Kletskaya but you don’t get to see the Soviet armour towards Kalach. Rather than being immersed in a continuous simulation, it is apparent that the simulation moves forward in big time steps.

Simulating well the Eastern Front ground war or any other major WW2 land campaign is indeed a harder problem than simulating modern campaigns. Especially so if these take place over big bodies of water.

On the other hand @Anklebiter you are totally on the money with the thing of modern sims putting the rewards very far away or behind the mechanical application of procedures and execution of tasks lists. I do a lot of work programming and producing research, so I have a hard time finding those activities “fun” outside of the scope of work.

I would be rather be working - programming, analyzing a datset - than pretending to fly a modern jet fighter, as I find myself exercising the same parts of my brain but without a practical purpose :)


Hey, did someone say EF2000?! Hi guys!


I prefer the EECH dynamic campaign because you can direct ground forces (I think?) and take over territory.


I think peak “fun” was the MicroProse Pacific Air War/European Air War games. Realistic pilot behaviors, name your squadron mates, dynamic campaign.

Not the most realism, but I think PAW was probably peak “fun.” I’d love to see that design modernized.


@Fishbreath Don’t get me wrong about Falcon 4.0. The campaign is genuinely great. I wouldn’t be surprised if less than 10% of those who purchased it actually got far enough in it to see any positive progress though. It’s glory did not exactly energize the genre. I hope ED considers a different route, or at least adds some character / squadron traits into it.

@MiquelRamirez I hear what you are saying with the work thing and feel the same. I’ve bounced off too many sims from it. The game changer for me is the fidelity of DCS and VR. The experience flying the Hornet, Viggen etc. is freaking incredible. The feeling of flight… the sounds… just being there. This is a whole different ballgame. The procedures are limited, and once you learn them, you don’t really have to think about them. A good HOTAS helps tremendously. I strongly feel everybody on this forum should give it a go.