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Foxendown

First Eagles, my impressions

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I've had this sim for a while now but have only really started to get into it in the past few weeks, so I'm getting to know it a bit better. I think it has the makings of a great sim and there are things I like a lot about it. The aircraft are beautiful and I like the terrain and sky a lot too-there is a real feeling of being up there in the heavens in a small biplane. The dogfights I've had have been close-range, swirling affairs that feel realistic for WW1: with other sims covering this period I've sometimes felt that the AI has almost supernatural marksmanship, opening fire at ranges where I didn't have a chance. In my last FE mission, an SE5 went right over the top wing of my DVII missing me by a hair's breadth-exciting stuff that felt convincing. But there's some problems too and at the risk of rehearsing points others have made and which are already on a list of coming fixes, here are mine (they all relate to stock aircraft-I've not really tried out the add-on aircraft with the new FMs yet, though I have had a look at the Junkers monoplane which is a superb piece of work).

 

1. The AI pilots fly like they're drunk, swooping up and down in pointless climbs and dives. They also roll about all over the place while trying unsuccessfully to stay in formation.

 

2. When I select the hard flight model, my clouds disappear (yes really!). I assume this is the sim stepping down my graphics options to make room for the extra demands of the hard flight model?

 

3. The hard flight model is too hard IMHO. I usually fly the DVIIF and it is extremely unstable in all axes in "hard". If you try to bank you spin wildly. On the other hand the normal flight model is too easy: the aircraft flies like it is on rails in the sky. I'm sticking with normal though for the moment because I find hard impossible and I like my clouds! It would be nice to have a compromise, "moderate".

 

4. As I've mentioned in another thread, there is definitely a problem with auto-generation of enemy flights in single missions if you are starting from the runway (I've flown a few more missions in skies empty of enemies to confirm this.

 

Apart from coming across things I like as well as problems as I play FE, I find myself thinking about the sort of features that it would be good to have in any WW1 flightsim, a wish-list if you like, but I'd better post about that separately, this is long enough already......

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Agree with the AI's stupid flying and them not appearing during single missions - are you flying the expansion pack btw? because thats supposed to change the AI habits, I think spin stalls and gun jams are toned down also!

 

As for the difficulty level you can customise the various options - although I get clouds with everything set to Hard. Sying that though dont expect clouds on every mission.

 

There is a great photo realistic terrain that I downloaded for my install if you dont have it: http://forum.combatace.com/index.php?autom...p;showfile=3943

 

replaces the default patchwork terrain quite nicely!

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1. Known issue. While you will find attacking and defending flights of enemy AI flying perfect formations on the way to and from the target area, your own flight will never form up on its own...unless you hit Alt-N. When you reappear after Alt-N your flight will be in formation behind you. No knowm fix for this.

 

2. Never heard of that one before. I fly on HARD all the time and have not seen that happen.

 

3. Don't have that problem either. Granted the FM's are "lively" and a little too touchy IMHO but as long as I don't ignore the stall buffeting (rumbling sound) I don't usually spin. Perhaps you need to turn down your stick sensitivity setting in the Options menu.

 

4. Again, during single missions, you won't get any opposition until you near the IP. Flying over enemy airfields other than the objective will not cause the enemy to fly up and attack you. There is, however, and increased problem with attacking enemy flights flying into the ground when you hit Alt-N. When this happens you will not find the enemy over the target area yet you will get credit for the kills in the debrief screen.

 

Having flown the EP quite a bit since it's release I have come to the conclusion that while it adds many nice new features, such as new airfield layouts, static aircraft, bridges, etc. it has broken more things than it fixed and has "fixed" some things that didn't need fixing. Every time TK tries to "fix" something to satisfy one group something else seems to get worse as a result. The new FMs and the resulting AI behavior (formations and flying to the target area, AI not showing up at the target area, etc.) and the almost totally ineffective ARCHIE (people whined about it until TK almost completely neutered it) are good examples. I'm about ready to chuck the EP and go back to the original game as I had it modified before. Very frustrating. :dntknw:

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I am playing FE with the expansion.

 

Re my 1. I've observed this "drunken" behaviour in both enemy and friendly AI flights and not just after take off.

 

2. I've tested this by switching between hard and normal several times and every time I select hard my clouds disappear. When I go back to normal they always re-appear. Weird I know.

 

3. I don't even get to the stall warning-I can't even fly on a straight course. Last time I tried the hard model I was in a DVIIF at 3000m and I just couldn't control it. I have no problem with hard FMs in other sims. As you say, the cause may be my joystick settings (Cougar HOTAS) so I'll check that out.

 

4. I can live with this one because, now I've got KMD going, I'm more interested in building historical missions, but it would be good if this feature worked as it should. Whether the flights are crashing or just not there, something is amiss.

 

I think I can live with the harmless Archie too because I think flak was pretty ineffective at medium and high altitude in WW1 (ground fire at low level was a different matter). I remember reading somewhere that gunners had a poor grasp of how much lead to allow. It's good to see that different colour smoke for shell bursts has been implemented though I haven't worked out yet whether it's consistently the right colour (black for German white for Allied ??). No "flaming onions" though. There were other risks from guns on the ground. There's a scary account of artillery spotting (another potentially interesting area for WW1 flightsims which tend IMHO to be too focused in fighters) and how the giant shells fired from far behind enemy lines would actually arc clean over the aircraft spotting for them. Their velocity was relatively low so they were clearly visible. Occasionally a spotter plane would be hit and little trace would remain.

 

Something I find harder to live with is the ease of balloon busting. It would be great to have balloons that winched down when enemy a/c approached or if that isn't possible, several balloon models for each type at varying altitudes including one on the ground. Attacking a balloon low down was suicidal because of ground fire, so the best chance was to catch one by surprise. Pretty well impossible to model the same conditions in FE (I seem to remember that in RB3D the balloons did winch down).

 

Thanks for the info about the terrain CoolHand29 : I'll check it out.

Edited by Foxendown

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Shameless plug follows.... :wink:

 

For more groundfire at low levels you might try my AA Machine Gunner and Bridges for Verdun mods. The AAMG mod places machine gunners around the airfields for both Cambrai and Verdun terrains. The Bridges mod adds bridges over several river crossings and also adds AAA protection for these vital lines of supply. (Currently only the Verdun map is covered for the bridge mod...the Cambrai version is still a WIP and its slow going at the moment.) Both are available here in the downloads section and are fairly simple to install. As for Archie, I seem to recall reading where the standard practice was to NEVER fly over no-man's-land below 10,000 feet so there was some respect given it. Not so in the game as it is now.

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1. Yeah, a whole Jasta going in waves is weird. At least they fight well now. :biggrin:

I wonder if one can tweak inis to increase formation size and position boxes at to least double size.

 

3. Maybe axis are mapped wrong? I remember having great "fun" when got my throttle mapped to stick twist in RB3D.

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Yep, they are a lot better in actual combat. :good:

 

The AI, other than your flight, do form up and fly tight formations well before getting to the target area so the game is capable of modeling that. The problem is somewhere in the relationship between the player plane itself and AI as far as "normal" flight (as opposed to combat) characteristics are concerned. Never really bugged me that much until the EP seemed to make it worse.

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I've certainly noticed that the AI is good in combat, but even on the way to the target I've seen erratic flying. That's possibly because I didn't give the AI flights a long enough run to the target in the mission I was building, so I'll experiment a bit with the waypoints. Ground fire-I'll take a look at your mod Tailspin, thanks.

 

I take the point about Archie. If the sim has made it harmless rather than merely ineffective that's a pity. There can be little doubt about its psychological impact, which would have forced aircraft up a respectful distance (in our virtual cockpits we don't have the same motivation :no: ) . There's an interesting discussion of Archie in "Fighting the Flying Circus" by Eddie Rickenbacker (Doubleday, 1965 ISBN 0-385-50559-00). Rickenbacker thought that ".....the actual danger is almost nil". Having said this he does go on to describe the death of an American pilot from a direct hit, but clearly thought he was very unlucky.

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Perhaps TK hasn't found the proper balance with archie yet. Remember what it was like in pre-patch FE? 10 seconds of straight level flight and you're history. :blink: Now we see what it's like the other way round.

 

BTW, just got my first archie hit in OFF :biggrin: Looked like my D.II got her whole engine ripped out and flames were everywhere.

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Just modified my test mission (which was all stock aircraft). I've now taken out all the stock aircraft and substituted the add-ons with the new flight models. They performed better at keeping formation, not perfect but no swooping. I flew a Siemens Shuckert and on hard it was OK. However, if I engaged the autopilot some strange things happened. My aircraft started to roll wildly and my flight started to move away from me. After that I tried some automatically generated missions with stock aircraft (DVIIF and Camel) and the hard flight model was OK again. But when I went back to my home-made mission I was still having problems. I'm wondering now if the problem is altitude. I have flights of DVIIs at 2000m and 6000m (quite a normal height for combat in the DVII) and the stability problem seems to be much worse higher up. I've played around with joystick sensitivity and that helps a bit but not enough to get me back to the hard fm, for the present anyway.

 

It's interesting to read what people in this forum have to say about OFF. I gave it a try but didn't like it. It runs too slow on my PC and the terrain doesn't work for me. But I could see that an amazing amount of work had gone into it.

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Actually 6000m is very near or exceeding service ceiling for the DVIIF and DVII....depending on the source. Its certainly higher than the value given for the DVII, and only 96m less than the DVIIF, in the game's data.ini . That would explain the lack of control at that height.

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Actually 6000m is very near or exceeding service ceiling for the DVIIF and DVII....

 

That would certainly explain what is happening at 6000m, but the lack of control (in the hard FM) seems to be just as bad at 3000m.

 

Cecil Lewis ("Sagitarius Rising")

 

".......Scrapping at high altitudes, fifteen to eighteen thousand feet the Huns had a marked superiority in altitude [over the SE5A]".

 

Lt John M Grider's account (85 Sqdn again flying the SE5A) "We climbed up to 20, 500 feet feet and couldn't get any higher. We were practically stalled and these Fokkers went right over our heads and got between us and the lines."

 

Grider also says about the altitude "Your engine has no pep and splutters; it's hard to keep a decent formation and you lose 500 feet on a turn". Well that works in FE!

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Good thing is there are engine altitude tables in the data.inis that I think control engine efficiency. Someone who knew what they were doing (sorry, not me :dntknw: ) could probably make some adjustments for better performance at higher altitudes. Peter01, the FM guy, is taking a well deserved break right now...besides the fact there is an upcoming patch and extensive work on FMs now could be a waste of time as the patch may change some parameters that would require redoing previous versions.

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there is an upcoming patch and extensive work on FMs now could be a waste of time as the patch may change some parameters that would require redoing previous versions.

 

That certainly makes sense. Perhaps this issue could be raised with peter01 at a later date then.

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