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ArcMod for OFF Phase 3 2-seaters

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Available here (once the mods have cleared it):




Contents of the Readme:



ArcMod is respectfully and humbly dedicated to the crews of the 2-seaters on all sides in the Great War, who did the really important work - recce'ed the objectives, took the photographs, ranged the guns and bombed the targets - day in and day out, taking risks and facing dangers at least as great as the scout pilots, and deserving at least as much recognition for their skill, their courage and their achievements.


1. Description

ArcMod alters the arcs of fire for the observers' guns in all OFF Phase 3's 2-seaters (except the the double-Lewis-gunned FE2b and the fixed-Lewis BE2c). The aim is to provide a better experience for 2-seater missions and campaigns, whether flying or gunning, and without making life too much more difficult when flying scouts and attacking them. The spur for this was the quite severe limits in the stock arcs, which sometimes prevent gunners from firing when it looks like they should. If manning the gun yourself, it becomes very clear how severely your arcs of fire are limited, downwards in all directions, especially.


The main change is that ArcMod increases the depression limit for all aircraft (exceptions above) from 10 degrees stock, to 25 degrees. Elevation has been changed from 30 degrees (stock, except Brisfits) to 45 degrees (roughly the same as the stock Brisfit), again across the board. This will obviously give all observers a significantly better field of fire, including yourself when manning the gun, and thus a better chance of survival when attacked.


Lateral fields of fire have been adjusted a little. Stock, there was a fair bit of variation but I have instead put planes into two groups - those with observers sitting roughly level with a wing trailing edge get 90 degrees either side (0=fully aft) while those who can fire ahead over the upper wing (just the Hannover, Brisfit, Roland) get around 160 degrees, leaving just a small-ish gap dead ahead.


These new arcs are all somewhat arbitrary of course. Greater tho they are, they are still less than the theoretical maxima; but I hope they still take some account of the practical limits for effective fire, within the limits of the game engine. For example, I realise observers had some field of fire forward between the wings, but I have stuck with something close to the stock OFF approach, limiting the ability to fire ahead to those planes whose observers can readily fire ahead over the upper wing, without risk to struts or wires - the Hannover, Brisfit and Roland.


ArcMod still leaves a significant 'blind spot' underneath in all directions, but it is naturally a smaller one and on balance I think is much more realistic. There is still a considerable blind area ahead as well, except for the Hannover, Roland and Brisfit. By comparison, the Rise of Flight DFW CV has much greater depression (when player-manned, anyway) and has 360 degrees traverse (tho it will damage its own aircraft, unlike OFF).


The changes were made simply by using Wordpad to edit the stock arcs in each plane's .xdp file. So ArcMod contains an edited .xdp file for each variant of each plane, plus a .bdp file. OFF/CFS3 generates these .bdp files from the .xdp file and uses the former (.bdp files are less readily editable, as an anti-cheat feature for MP I believe). If you look at the file structure, you will see there are actually six variants of each plane, which each needed their .xdp files edited with the new values. Not sure why the different variants are needed, maybe to support different skins; apparently the first and last are player-flown and the others, AI.


ArcMod was developed and tested in OFF Between Heaven & Hell + Hat in the Ring, both patched to date, but I've no reason to believe it won't work just the same with just BH&H


2. Known Issues

(i) CFS3 seems to have a minimum effective range, inside which rounds do no damage. I suspect this is deliberate, so as to prevent the CFS3 bomber gunners hitting their own tails, since the sim doesn't simulate real-life safety mechanisms as fitted to powered turrets. So in OFF, you can safely fire thru any part of your plane which comes inside your arcs of fire. So your tail, rear fuselage, wings etc do provide your potential targets with cover from view, but not cover from fire. Even at the OFF stock 10 degrees depression, you could in most planes fire through your tail and in some cases, rear fuselage or wing trailing edges, without doing any damage. The increased depression, in most cases, merely increases this somewhat. I think this is a price more than worth paying, for a respectable field of fire. You can always hold fire rather than take advantage.


(ii) OFF observers do not change their stance as weapons elevate or depress, so they do not line up too well with their MGs when they are at maximum elevation or depression, even stock. The generally increased arcs in ArcMod somewhat exaggerate this effect, from those angles and ranges where it's visible. And the Strutter observer, with an Etevée mount rather than a Scarff Ring, has his hands held rather high, so they come into your field of view somewhat, up near the new maximum elevation.


(iii) ArcMod has been tested to make sure that it 'does what it says on the tin' - which it does - but not enough to establish fully how it affects the balance between 2-seaters and scouts. I certainly don't believe ArcMod will make flying 2-seaters too easy, just give you a fighting chance against scouts. It may not make flying scouts too hard either; but if you find it does, I'd suggest first trying it with AI rear gun accuracy set in Workshop to one or two levels below front gun accuracy, and rear guns one or two levels higher when flying 2-seaters (I'm citing HitR settings here, not sure they are also in BHaH). Or if you still find it too hard, just disable the mod and re-install for flying 2-seaters. Remember, 2-seater 'specialist' Maj JTB McCudden VC considered a well-handled 2-seater more than a match for a single scout, so it wasn't easy, in real life.


3. Installation

The procedure described here is for installation with the widely-used Jonesoft Generic Mod Enabler (JSGME), with JSGME in your main game folder. Unzip the contents of the compressed Arcmod file you downloaded, retaining folder structure, into your OFF MODS folder, in the usual way. You will then have a new folder in your MODS one, 'Aircraft', with the new subfolders for the different versions of each 2-seater, inside each of which is an .xdp file and a .bdp file which contain the changed arcs of fire. Activate or disable using JSGME; simple, safe and fast.


Of course, ArcMod can be installed manually, by over-writing the .xdp and .bdp files in the relevant OFF game folders; don't forget to take backup copies first. JSGME is much easier and quicker.


4. Feedback

Feel free to post questions, bug reports, comments or other feedback on the appropriate OFF forum at www.combatace.com, or to PM me.


5. Disclaimer

Use ArcMod at your own risk. There are no limitations as to use. No responsibility is accepted by me for favourite pilots killed off by 2-seater return fire, or for anything else, come to think of it.


6. Acknowledgements

Thanks are due to Bullethead whose observations and insights helped crystalise my thinking, and to Polovski for confirming that AI and player use the same settings, which saved me rather a lot of testing; and to those in the uniquely friendly and helpful OFF community who took an interest. Thanks also to the good folks at CombatAce for the valuable service they provide for all of us. And of course thanks also to the whole OFF dev team for this great sim (and for putting a decent and exceptional selection of flyable 2-seaters into it, from the beginning!).

Edited by 33LIMA

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