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The DCS Identity Crisis: Who am I and Where am I going??


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The DCS Identity Crisis: Who am I and Where am I going??

 

 

By Lt. Dan

 

 

In my paradigm of flight simulation there are two worlds: P3d with VATSIM and DCS. P3d seems more or less self-explanatory. There is great ATC, there are strict rules, you do it by the book, and you learn about aviation as you do it. If you don't file an IFR flight plan, an administrator PMs you. If you screw up with ATC, they yell at you. If you cross the line, you are banned. It takes a lot of aviation knowledge to fly your SIDS and STARS out of a busy terminal area on a high fidelity jumbo while talking to live ATC.

 

 

Then, we have DCS. It was built around two fourth generation aircraft, the KA-50 and the A-10C, and then given appropriate fourth generation threats with the intention of getting military contracts. As I remember, the A-10C was used in the conversion course for ANAG A-10A pilots. ED was gracious enough to share their creation with us, which unquestionably is the closest the average simmer will ever get to flying a military aircraft. Further more, in terms of graphics engines, DCS blows P3d out of the water. The future seemed promising.

 

 

Then, for one reason or another, that was it for ED's great fourth gen systems simulators. DCS was turned into an engine for developers with really no limitations or criteria. We see everything from vintage warbirds through third generation fighters. In large, DCS modules are very well done but never intended to (a) go up against fourth generation threats or (b) fight on the same battlefield together. ED then did what I most feared: they unleashed their turnkey FC3 Gen 4+ fighters into the mix so that you could fire off some AMRAAMs against those poor outdated aircraft with pilots learning a systems simulator. I still remember the 15 minutes I spent setting up an A-10C only to get strafed on the ground by some guy on my team in an FC3 aircraft. As I recall, he didn't get banned from the server.

 

 

DCS is a blender. We have an interesting world that is basically a hodgepodge in terms of battle simulation. Throw in some taxiway takeoffs, near collisions, lack of ATIS, and simultaneous runway takeoffs in opposite directions, and you have yourself a really unique multiplayer experience. But, we live with it, because as satisfying as realistic PMDG 747 long hauls can be, nothing quite tops the thrill of flying a military aircraft by the seat of your pants. After all, "nobody's ever come this close to a Mig-28 before."

 

 

Let's come back to reality for just a second and look back at the great A-10C systems simulation ED built for us. We all know that the A-10C does not fly unless there is (a) undisputed air superiority, (b) undisputed SEAD, © a JTAC on the ground or in the air, and © a very low threat environment. If you meet those criteria, it can stay up for a long time doing a lot of damage and taking a lot of ground fire. Although almost no multiplayer game ever takes advantage of the JTAC/TAD interface (how hard is it to throw up a predator or a reaper?), the A-10C is still a six year old masterpiece that has never seen an equal. The KA-50 is no slouch either, and the only helicopter I will fly.

 

 

If you don't meet all of the above criteria, and you rarely EVER will given the plethora of aircraft now in DCS, not the least of which are the FC3 threats, then you need a fast interdictor. This is why the new Viggen is my next favorite aircraft. While I love it, the Viggen is still very much an advanced generation 3 design. It cannot really defend against SAMS without excruciatingly bulky pods, and it really can't defend itself against fighters in the BVR environment. The much improved JA37 holds a better accounting of itself with more modern avionics and weaponry, the compressor stall problem fixed, a better engine, and the list goes on and on. The JA37 is an aircraft that I would "almost" take into a fourth gen fight, except that even the Swedes knew that the Gripen was the future. The AJ37 is still the best interdictor in DCS until the eventual release of the Charlie, but I am really surprised that as streamlined as it is for the anti-ship role, it doesn't perform the SEAD role at all. If it could do both anti-ship and SEAD (think Tornado), I would almost forgive the non-precision ground striking ability. It's a "one and done" fast mover, and in the current DCS world that is what we need. When the BK90 is fixed in MP games, it will be that much more deadly against ground targets.

 

Where am I going with this? What is my point? After six years, the A-10C is still the best, most modern, most high fidelity, most deadly, and most amazing aircraft that we have. It feels right, it flies right, and it works right. Everything else has been well....an interesting historical experience. Am I the only one to raise an eyebrow when I get into my vintage 2011 A-10C and realize this is as good as it gets? When will we truly realize the potential of the fourth generation environment that is DCS? Much has been promised. A lot is in the works. It's 2017 folks. I hope sooner comes rather than later.

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Hmmm, DCS may be non cohesive but to be fair, so are we as players. Some love these old war-birds, some live by Vietnam-era rotary flying machine and others seek high-speed, near underground interdiction. Perhaps I look at things the wrong way but it seems that DCS is not dedicated to any of those but tries to establish key technologies for all of them.

 

A few years back we didn't have supersonic jet's high fidelity flight model, now we do. Same goes for 2 seaters or additional campaign by the dozens (I didn't count). Personally I'd love to have the carrier ops and a TAW style dynamic campaign. But military aeronautic is a vast subject and we all have our favorite parts.

 

More to your point, the introduction of ground radar was a major limitation for the expansion of the 4th gen. With the release of the Viggen and the upcoming F/A 18, one more key technology will be present. But even then, the problem of acquiring data to accurately simulate and the licences to legally simulate might be hard to move obstacles.

 

But I feel your frustration, in a sense this is truly Digital Patience Stimulator and it might be worth the wait.

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@ dores893: I agree. Aircraft like the A-10C and the Ka-50 are the modules that made DCS what it is. I never understood, why we had to have the ww2-stuff, but that's the way it is. Would be nice though, if ED would concentrate on aircraft like the ones mentioned above. Anyone wanting to fly warbirds, could fly "Cliffs of Dover"...

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Nice analysis.

 

But, perhaps we should see DCS as providing us (the community) with the framework and building blocks, and the cohesive identity is something we do?

 

In the MP world: the free-for-all wild FC3 + 3rd gen + 4th gen air quake servers, with all types flying on all sides need to define DCS for you or me unless we choose to? There are WW2 only servers, (chopper-heavy) Vietnam-era servers, and hopefully some time soon a Korea war one, etc. etc. I imagine with the release of Normandy we will see a bunch of Cold-War-Gone-Hot servers?

 

And, of course, in the SP world, you are free to craft any mission as you like, achieving both balance and realism?

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The DCS Identity Crisis: Who am I and Where am I going??

 

 

I dont like multiplayer ... so, for me there is no crisis :D ... i just love to learn each aircraft's systems to the best of my ability.

 

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I have witnessed a FW190 getting shot down by an AIM120 online. i don't know how this could be considered fun. The vast selection of aircraft in game is amazing and a good thing to have but honestly you can't have everything in the same server simultaneously.

It's up to the community to create a tailor made experienced that is balanced and fun for everybody. This isn't the norm.

IMO despite the A10C being the best module in game it pretty much stands alone. All other planes of its era are the arcade FC3 junk. The gen 3 jet arena is growing and shows great potential though.

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lol what is this? Where is DCS going?

 

The answer...

EVERYWHERE

And that's the fun of it..... we will soon have a WWII map with units and campaigns

We have 2nd 3rd and 4th gen jets with a growing fleet of them all.

If it seems too mixed up for you then you are either playing the wrong missions or playing on the wrong server.

 

As for the improvements listed, they will probably come once we have a stable 2.5 merge.

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I totally agree that DCS is having an identity crisis. I never understood why WW2 would become the forefront of this sim. There are so many alternatives that better suit this role (war thunder/il2/cliffs of dover). I'm very curious about Strait of Hormuz and building on the infrastructure from Caucuses. I don't understand why they want to build from the ground up.. No wonder the development of 2.5 is taking forever :/

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Well written I think.

 

I believe we can look at a few key "moments" that have put us here though.

 

When ED realized the NTTR terrain was on them. That has really pushed some things back and out of order. In fairness, it reads as if their attempt to design the map showed them the necessity of the 2.0/EDGE. Hopefully sooner than later.

 

Choosing the F18. We have runways, that aren't perfect but largely work. Choosing a naval craft meant not only working on a flight model, but reworking the carrier(s) too. Not to say the naval interactions will hold an f18 release back, but I expect it to bea part of the design.

 

I'd be surprised if the f18 related changes aren't also a blessing for SU33 pilots.

 

 

I can sympathize with your grievances on server balance but I believe that lies more with mission makers than ED. It's hard to say just build SAM walls, but it could happen. I think the experience will get better with dedicated servers though.

 

I kind of wish a modern US plane was named Mustang II now.

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I don't see an identity crisis. For anyone who doesn't realize what DCS's identity actually is, here you go:

 

https://forums.eagle.ru/showpost.php?p=1480510&postcount=1

 

DCS stands for “Digital Combat Simulator”. DCS is a world simulation engine permitting the user to operate or direct a growing number of combat and civilian aircraft, ground vehicles and ships, from different historical eras, in different geographical locations and at different levels of fidelity. It is a true "sand box" simulation. DCS started with the Ka-50 and A-10C, but has recently grown to also include the P-51D Mustang and, with Combined Arms, a ground command and control tactical warfare component. Future products from The Fighter Collection and Eagle Dynamics in the DCS line are in development and will includes partner products like the UH-1H "Huey", MiG-21bis "Fishbed", T-2 "Buckeye", BAE "Hawk", and Mi-8MT-V2 "Hip".

 

The overall "simulation operating system" is termed DCS World and is a free program that includes a free Su-25T for the player to fly. All DCS products will plug into DCS World as unique modules within the same software installation. DCS products will not be limited to aircraft, but will include maps, missions, campaigns, environment objects, weapons, vehicles and ships. We even hope to look into a train simulation component in the future!

 

Partner products to DCS are supported by ED and there are already several qualified 3rd party teams creating new aircraft that will plug into DCS World. In these cases we leave it up to the developer to decide the level of systems fidelity, but we do expect certain "DCS Standards" to be maintained such as detailed and accurate models and cockpits with 6 DOF view control.

 

We are also developing "DCS Flaming Cliffs" titles as modules for DCS. These aircraft include highly detailed models, 6 DOF capable cockpits, and advanced flight models. However, they have the same level of cockpit functionality as our Lock On series (a less complex and shallower learning curve).

Truly superior pilots are those that use their superior judgment to avoid those situations where they might have to use their superior skills.

 

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It is true that no single period is complete, and there are gaps that need filling.

 

However, DCS World is a sandbox, and it is up to multiplayer admins, mission writers, and ourselves to include or exclude whatever aspects we choose to. 4th Gen is a very ambitious era to model, and it will be a long time before we have the complete battlefield for this era in particular.

 

The A-10C is a window that was opened due to extramural activities by the devs, and we were lucky enough to be allowed into that window.

 

The best hope for a complete era and environment is with earlier, simpler, unclassified subjects. I'd suggest WW2 will be the first to come anywhere near complete, and that may still be years away. In the meantime, we have to concentrate on very limited engagements, with mission designers making use of what is currently out there, and restricting things to just their chosen pallet of units.

 

The only identity crises are those that arise due to the comprehensive nature of missions, and the way servers are operated. If a unit isn't placed, you won't face it.

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We have a modern/still in service full fidelity interceptor module if you want simulated air combat, its the DCS Mirage 2000C. Certainly more deadly than an A10C in the air combat role.

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lol what is this? Where is DCS going?

 

The answer...

EVERYWHERE

And that's the fun of it..... we will soon have a WWII map with units and campaigns

We have 2nd 3rd and 4th gen jets with a growing fleet of them all.

If it seems too mixed up for you then you are either playing the wrong missions or playing on the wrong server.

 

As for the improvements listed, they will probably come once we have a stable 2.5 merge.

 

 

U won't have stable 2.5 because they are working on WW2 modules all the time. You can't use your fancy jet's on Normandy map or boring open nevada map.

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You can use jets on Normandy map.

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My 2c:

 

There is a lot missing in DCS. However it is always growing (albeit very slowly). One of the things that is definitely NOT missing is probably some of the best (if not THE best) high fidelity flight models and advanced systems modeling you can get outside of professional flight simulators.

 

This is why I fly DCS and nothing else. I make it a point to stay away from the SFM modules. Everything else goes.

 

I do hope that they manage to get 2.5 out the door this year. It's really a nightmare to have three different release branches.

 

One other improvement I hope is in the works after 2.5 is the weather and cloud improvements. We spend most of our time in the sky, but it is arguably the weakest part of the graphical engine in DCS.

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You can use jets on Normandy map.

 

Yes... I can fly on map with jets where 3/4 of terrain is just water. The map measures 267 x 348 kilometers, ground airfield or they are to short. You can fly over whole map in just 15 minutes. That's perfect map for jets...

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One other improvement I hope is in the works after 2.5 is the weather and cloud improvements. We spend most of our time in the sky, but it is arguably the weakest part of the graphical engine in DCS.

 

Crossing fingers for ATC improvements on my part. :music_whistling:

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I totally agree that DCS is having an identity crisis. I never understood why WW2 would become the forefront of this sim. There are so many alternatives that better suit this role (war thunder/il2/cliffs of dover). I'm very curious about Strait of Hormuz and building on the infrastructure from Caucuses. I don't understand why they want to build from the ground up.. No wonder the development of 2.5 is taking forever :/

 

Forefront? Look I wish Normandy hadn't taken priority for now either...

But forefront???? What?!!! What are you talking about?

 

We have 4 World War II aircraft. EVERTHING ELSE, are other eras.

We have two maps and two in the works, only one of those is World War II oriented.

And out of all of the third-party devs, none of them have produced any of their planned World War II modules yet....

We have as many helicopters as we do World War II planes...

So why on earth are you saying that World War II has become the forefront of DCS world?!?!

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Forefront? Look I wish Normandy hadn't taken priority for now either...

But forefront???? What?!!! What are you talking about?

 

We have 4 World War II aircraft. EVERTHING ELSE, are other eras.

We have two maps and two in the works, only one of those is World War II oriented.

And out of all of the third-party devs, none of them have produced any of their planned World War II modules yet....

We have as many helicopters as we do World War II planes...

So why on earth are you saying that World War II has become the forefront of DCS world?!?!

 

Normandy took the "forefront" because it was the next module ready to go. You are correct, WWII is by no means the "forefront" of DCS World. I have seen many internal updates about many things, there are separate teams working on WWII and other cool things. Every time these comments come up I get really confused on what its based on. When something is prepped for release, ED focuses on that, be it a new module, 3rd party project, or whatever, they dont want our attentions competing for a bunch of different things.

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A question for all the WWII naysayers:

 

I don't understand how you can be against the best recreations of the WWII birds in any game or sim ever made? I mean even if you don't fly them, why does their creation bother you so much? None of the WWII sim affecionados have ever had an opportunity for such lovingly created cockpits, deep systems modeling and great flight models before.

 

And no none of those other "sims" mentioned comes even close.

 

I fly both WWII and the more modern stuff. I prefer the modern stuff, but I keep going back to the WWII birds. Why? Because it makes me a much better jet "pilot".


Edited by OnlyforDCS
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