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Aircraft Spotting issue - Black Dots. Oh dear what happened and why?


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Ok so after 2.5.6 came out I reported about the white dots at night being an issue for ground vehicles.

 

 

This got "fixed" in November but that fix meant that all units had white dots on them in the daytime.

 

This then got fixed in December's patch, we now have black dots on aircraft and ground units that can be seen from 20+ miles away.

 

Why?  

 

The problem is by introducing these cheat mechanisms, which is what they are, ruins the gameplay for your core customers that pretty much have every module and have been with the development journey since lock on days all those years ago.  

 

There is already a dot option for labels for those that prefer a less realistic environment and need assistance.

 

Please can we remove all black dots from the game, go back to what we had so as not to "help" gamers who are struggling to spot units that have perhaps one or two modules and a few months or more in the game.  It is VERY hard in real life to see units, especially once past 7 miles or so.

 

Your "dream is to offer the most authentic and realistic simulation of military aircraft, tanks, ground vehicles and ships possible" please do not then ruin the gameplay it by spotting dots.  Which is what we now have, its CAP and CAS by dots again from outlandish ranges. 

 

Would hope that this new easier to spot dot mechanism be switched to the options tab rather than hard baked in like it currently is.  This then means that for those players and servers that wish to have an easy mode it can be enable it whilst not ruining gameplay for others who play DCS a little more seriously.

 

Many thanks @bignewy please help and feedback. 

 

 

 

 


Edited by Hawkeye_UK

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8 minutes ago, Hawkeye_UK said:

It is VERY hard in real life to see units, especially once past 7 miles or so.

Yes, but it's not that hard to spot aircraft in real life like it was before these changes. I know from real cockpit time. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of the current status either, but simply going back to before these changes occurred is wrong as well. Before you were lucky to spot an aircraft the size of a MiG-21 at distances >1 nm, 7nm would be fantastic! 

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Personally, and I know it's been spoken about before, but I think the only solution to this is something akin to the spotting and smart scaling option in that other F-16 orientated simulator (apparently it can't be done due to RCS values also scaling for some reason IIRC).

 

Otherwise, I agree with the OP - there are already options in place for those who have trouble spotting.


Edited by Northstar98

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17 minutes ago, Hawkeye_UK said:

The problem is by introducing these cheat mechanisms, which is what they are, ruins the gameplay for your core customers that pretty much have every module and have been with the development journey since lock on days all those years ago.  

 

 

Would hope that this new easier to spot dot mechanism be switched to the options tab rather than hard baked in like it currently is.  This then means that for those players and servers that wish to have an easy mode it can be enable it whilst not ruining gameplay for others who play DCS a little more seriously.

 

Just one problem: they're not “mechanisms” and they very little to do with spotting. They're rendering artefacts take came about because of the new lighting engine, and given that that fix took, what? Two years? Three? to come about, further fixes are not likely to be rolled out in a hurry.

 

At least the black ones don't stand out nearly as much as the white ones, and give some hope that dot labels (and indeed all labels) could conceivably be given a bit of a visibility update, it's probably the best it has been in ages, sad as that is. 😄

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Posted (edited)

@Pilot IkeI guess it depends on hardware and software configs also but i was spotting fighter sized aircraft depending on aspect out to 5 6 miles in VR perhaps further.  I run a pretty high setup for VR resolution wise etc.

 

I also have alot of hours airborne RL so appreciate the differences and difficulty of what they are trying to do.  For me spotting ground unit's that come as black dots like what they have brought in December is just super gamey.  There has to be a better solution.  CAS is now hunt by dots again at range and shows up particularly bad on desert maps.  Long live the day when we start getting to the fidelity of nets and the like i say.

 

But what they have done is killed gameplay for some of us, especially those that prefer the CAS mission.  I noticed WW2 spotting is also badly affected with the black dots bigger than the aircraft at range.  No more sneak attacks, its a problem!


Edited by Hawkeye_UK

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so essentially OP wants us to go back to not being able to spot jack, Which isn't realistic. Not saying that the way it is now is realistic either but it's FAR better than not being able to see anything at all regardless of time of day. I think this sits in the " unpopular opinion's " department if I can be fairly honest. unless ED figures out a way to smart scale objects I'm completely okay with the turn of events.

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, Jackal-01 said:

so essentially OP wants us to go back to not being able to spot jack, Which isn't realistic. Not saying that the way it is now is realistic either but it's FAR better than not being able to see anything at all regardless of time of day. I think this sits in the " unpopular opinion's " department if I can be fairly honest. unless ED figures out a way to smart scale objects I'm completely okay with the turn of events.

 

Ok so a couple of questions for you?

 

How long have you played DCS and what's your history with simulators ?

 

Say you could put yourself in the same situation in real life.  What's your expectations of seeing a fighter sized aircraft  say nose on visually with your mk1 eyeball, say if the threat is below you over terrain?  Co Alt?

 

What's your expectations in real life of seeing an IFV at say 20,000 feet what range would you expect to see this from.  Lets say mountainous arid/desert terrain and vehicle would have appropriate camouflage scheme for its AO?

 

My opinion may become unpopular if we have more gamers that start playing DCS then people looking to play a simulator.  The two are different beasts and i respect both sides, just saying they have different desires for their experience.  

 

What i'm sayin is we cannot alter the core ethics of the game, that people have invested alot of time and money into over the last 10+ years to then suddenly change the goalposts on spotting that ruin's realistic gameplay.  Its as simple as that.  Yes i respect some newer players will not what that level of difficulty but trust me when i say experienced players also do not want the all seeing CAS and CAP by dots from 20+ miles.


Edited by Hawkeye_UK

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16 minutes ago, Jackal-01 said:

so essentially OP wants us to go back to not being able to spot jack, Which isn't realistic. Not saying that the way it is now is realistic either but it's FAR better than not being able to see anything at all regardless of time of day. I think this sits in the " unpopular opinion's " department if I can be fairly honest. unless ED figures out a way to smart scale objects I'm completely okay with the turn of events.

 

This is the visual signature for spotting based real empirical research by the Air Force Lt. Col. John Burton. Where he defined the BVR range to be a 5 nmi in casualy use.

 

BVR spotting range.jpg

 

 

Simply put, those are the ranges where you likely might spot the enemy if you know where to look with few degree zone to scan around, not the best scenario possible.

Currently one can spot a F-5 or MiG-21 from about 20-25 nmi. Is that realistic? No, it is not. It takes away the reasons to even use radars, to look around trying to spot the possible threats etc. As majority of your time is suppose to go looking outside searching possible aircraft sneaking near you.

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

@Fri13 Could not agree more its equally disappointing on the ground perspective and WW2 now is super painful

 

Beyond me why ED have gone down this road when its going to alienate the sector that this product is aimed at.  Fine can understand trying to make it easier for people with little experience, new to DCS who are primarily after a gaming like experience but this should be an option in settings (set server side for MP) not hard coded in for those of us that prefer realism. 

 

I note most of the comments are people who have not commented much on the forums (like a few posts) which i know is not always an indication (i only joined the forums 2 years ago but was very experienced at that point with the product and it was due to having more time and wanting to start posting issues with MP and to get other users feedback).

 

There is an alternative thread to this with people thanking ED for this spotting increase - painful and again note its what appears to be newer players.

 


Edited by Hawkeye_UK

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3 hours ago, Hawkeye_UK said:

@Fri13 Could not agree more, it's equally as disappointing on the ground perspective and WW2 now is super painful.  

 

Beyond me why ED have gone down this road when its going to alienate the sector that this product is aimed at.  Fine can understand trying to make it easier for people with little experience, new to DCS who are primarily after a gaming like experience but this should be an option in settings (set server side for MP) not hard coded in for those of us that prefer realism. 

 

I note most of the comments are people who have not commented much on the forums (like a few posts) which i know is not always an indication (i only joined the forums 2 years ago but was very experienced at that point with the product and it was due to having more time and wanting to start posting issues with MP and to get other users feedback).

 

There is an alternative thread to this with people thanking ED for this spotting increase - painful and again note its what appears to be newer players.

 


I personally fly without labels, in VR and non VR, but I appreciated the extra visibility in VR due to the VR tech still not being up to displaying the same quality as my monitor......an "option" would surely cater for both sides, and at that, for MP purposes a server side forced  "option" ,  then everyone is surely happy ?


Edited by Phantom_Mark
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Exactly this an option is need for those that want the easy mode so it doesn't ruin the gameplay for those that play the game a bit more seriously.  Settings needs to be server side as briefed for MP.

 

What we cannot have is the current status quo.  Its appalling.

 

As for the monitor, i only fly VR also.  All because a monitor may see further doesn't make that right either - that is my entire point.  The current system in VR specially as you mention it is incorrect you can acquire units way to far out and too easily.  Note new VR systems coming out are far more capable however the Dot's are on all systems monitor or VR.  There should be none unless you want them and then server owners should be able to hard lock this option either way like we can with labels currently.

 

 

 

 

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@Fri13PS  and thanks for finding a graph that i was trying to explain verbally with this post.  One thing i do agree on is the circa 7 mile range as i stated in my original post here and elsewhere.  Its not hard and fast rule either with climatic conditions, time of day (light level) and the AO terrain below having a huge impact on this in real life. 

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4 hours ago, Hawkeye_UK said:

 

Ok so a couple of questions for you?

 

How long have you played DCS and what's your history with simulators ?

 

Say you could put yourself in the same situation in real life.  What's your expectations of seeing a fighter sized aircraft  say nose on visually with your mk1 eyeball, say if the threat is below you over terrain?  Co Alt?

 

What's your expectations in real life of seeing an IFV at say 20,000 feet what range would you expect to see this from.  Lets say mountainous arid/desert terrain and vehicle would have appropriate camouflage scheme for its AO?

 

My opinion may become unpopular if we have more gamers that start playing DCS then people looking to play a simulator.  The two are different beasts and i respect both sides, just saying they have different desires for their experience.  

 

What i'm sayin is we cannot alter the core ethics of the game, that people have invested alot of time and money into over the last 10+ years to then suddenly change the goalposts on spotting that ruin's realistic gameplay.  Its as simple as that.  Yes i respect some newer players will not what that level of difficulty but trust me when i say experienced players also do not want the all seeing CAS and CAP by dots from 20+ miles.

 

i've been playing dcs for several thousand hours. since 1.5.0 infact i dont comment on here much because its most of the time a toxic pit of arguments the I'm right you're wrong fact checking mentality. much rather fly and enjoy my time with people who actually play the game instead of sitting in forums. 

 

your gamer statement is honestly rather ignorant, cause either 1 you clearly dont play the sim or listen to what others have to say, or two you never owned a vr headset. either way you look at it, spotting used to be impossible pre lighting engine fix. at the end of the day this sim is also just a game..

 

i dont expect to be able to see things very well past 10nm, but i do expect to be able to see things that resemble a plane or tank. irl i can spot planes way high up with relative ease as long as im looking in the right places. i expect to be able to do the same thing here. which the latest update allows me to do so. reverting to a even more broken version of the sim would be a bad idea.

 


Edited by Jackal-01
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1 hour ago, Fri13 said:

 

This is the visual signature for spotting based real empirical research by the Air Force Lt. Col. John Burton. Where he defined the BVR range to be a 5 nmi in casualy use.

 

BVR spotting range.jpg

 

 

Simply put, those are the ranges where you likely might spot the enemy if you know where to look with few degree zone to scan around, not the best scenario possible.

Currently one can spot a F-5 or MiG-21 from about 20-25 nmi. Is that realistic? No, it is not. It takes away the reasons to even use radars, to look around trying to spot the possible threats etc. As majority of your time is suppose to go looking outside searching possible aircraft sneaking near you.

 

 

 

This is for one eye.  IIRC it says so a bit earlier in the paper or in the original paper that chart comes from I will find it when I have time.

 

I'll just post what i've found:

Q5rKfdG.png

JNHlIA7.png

H3k0Vyk.png

tRkz4YN.png

EDIT 2: of note for this above chart ^ the frontal area of a mig-21 is 40 square feet keep that in mind with this chart.

EDIT:

 

I should probably also state my opinions on the black dots, it seems they were added to fix one issue but caused another.  They are fine in the range of 5-8 NMi but need to fade to a blueish grey from the outside in as they approach 11NMi.  And should largely be gone by the time of 15NMi (except for very large aircraft). With the rate this happens dependent on the size of the aircraft.  Also this causes major issues in determining the aspect of the hostile aircraft as its covered up with a dot and you are completely unable to determine any information regarding its exact orientation till your stupidly close or have sensors on the target.  Hence why smart scaling is a thing.  It also creates issues with contrast as it makes it next to impossible to see stuff against even slightly darker backgrounds.  Trees and targets above you in particular.


Edited by nighthawk2174
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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Jackal-01 said:

i've been playing dcs for several thousand hours. since 1.5.0 infact i dont comment on here much because its most of the time a toxic pit of arguments the I'm right you're wrong fact checking mentality. much rather fly and enjoy my time with people who actually play the game instead of sitting in forums. 

 

your gamer statement is honestly rather ignorant, cause either 1 you clearly dont play the sim or listen to what others have to say, or two you never owned a vr headset. either way you look at it, spotting used to be impossible pre lighting engine fix. at the end of the day this sim is also just a game..

 

i dont expect to be able to see things very well past 10nm, but i do expect to be able to see things that resemble a plane or tank. irl i can spot planes way high up with relative ease as long as im looking in the right places. i expect to be able to do the same thing here. which the latest update allows me to do so. reverting to a even more broken version of the sim would be a bad idea.

 

 

Just to clarify my experience with consumer available simulators, i've been playing them on and off for 25 + years when able to do so.  Yes i have had many gaps and the like over that timeframe but i have consistently been involved since 1997 and played when able to do so and back in the UK.  I have been UK based for the last 5 years again and have played DCS consistently since then.  I have been playing with VR for the last 5 years plus that includes beta testing on one of the original headsets.  I have used and owned DK1, CV1, Rift S, Vive Pro, Reverb G2 and also Quest 2 now on order.  I have also tried other VR and AR headsets in a professional capacity which exceed those listed.  I think i qualify to have enough time in VR play.  I'm a very active player online over the last 3 years including upto a few marathon 16 hours sessions non stop in VR!

 

Yes I have experience RL and i will say the current view distances are ridiculous for stationary units with the mk1 eyeball.  I respect the difficulty in what ED are trying to do but the dots on ground and air units is not right, its not the solution, its a quick effort to improve visibility for those that complain about it without actually appreciating for what it is.  Yes the whole spectrum needs improvement but not this in its current form.

 

A camouflaged unit on the ground can be difficult/impossible to spot from even a few miles with experienced operators who use terrain depressions/wadi's , background topography and nets appropriately.  Especially with climatic conditions.  Now that would be an excellent option for tac commanders to be able to have LUP points that units could do this, but a point for another thread.

 

You say you can spot aircraft IRL "way high up", ok lets assume that these are commercial aircraft as you didn't specify and they are flying circa 35,000 feet.  That is in old money what about 6.6 miles on a jet that has no attempts at camouflage (the opposite they want to be seen), the best possible aspect re shape to spot, your stood stationary with no movement with time to search and you knew where to look.  I'd be amazed if you couldn't see it at that size, range and speed.  If I said try and spot an F16 size aircraft, that was not contrailing at 35,000 feet on its own good luck out of a random sky.  Even if you know where roughly the sky is like a sea it swallows you up and it take's time for your eyes to focus on an unknown point its a chance shot.  Change the aspect to head on, your moving also, climatic conditions on an aircraft a fraction of the size good luck sir if you think you can spot things out as far as we have in game at present, VR or not.  Change it to mountainous terrain and below then again good luck.  Sometimes the best hope is not spotting the aircraft itself but the exhaust vapour depending on type as gives a visable signature which is larger dependant on the aspect.  Add in that say they are just cruising speed, that's 8-9 miles per minute across the sky, if they are shifting then it may exceed 20 mile's per minute if high.  The only thing you are guaranteed to know is that they are there somewhere by the sound (which again can be extremely disorientating depending on the terrain around you and reflected acoustics)  

 

I note you didn't actually answer the questions i raised really on where you think the view range should be out at to contribute to where you think we need to be.

 

Nothing i said is ignorant.  It's just stating facts on how things are, not trying to get an angle as you will note i have respect for the desires from both sides in the statements i have made.  But an easy "gamer" mode (don't delude yourself as that's what it is) as other's will point out is not something that should be enforced for those that have no desire for it.

 

 


Edited by Hawkeye_UK

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@nighthawk2174 Thanks for visually showing and they largely reinforce my point - i think it was on here or the other thread that praises how good the new system is i was stating its a disaster and that also light levels are also critical for spotting and greatly affects it along with climatic conditions (not shown in the graph lol).

 

I'm not asking that this dot thing be taken away as some people are saying they can't see anything and in real life "they must" be able to see x object as its within 12 miles or whatever.  Happy if it makes them happy to believe this.  Clearly this dot thing is needed for less experienced players so that they can survive longer, get better at tactics and SA training so its a good thing, should just be in options to enable that's all. 

 

But when we have dots on ground and air units and i can see them at 20 miles, its crazy and just utterly ruin's the immersion, gameplay and experience.

 

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48 minutes ago, Hawkeye_UK said:

@nighthawk2174 Thanks for visually showing and they largely reinforce my point - i think it was on here or the other thread that praises how good the new system is i was stating its a disaster and that also light levels are also critical for spotting and greatly affects it along with climatic conditions (not shown in the graph lol).

 

I'm not asking that this dot thing be taken away as some people are saying they can't see anything and in real life "they must" be able to see x object as its within 12 miles or whatever.  Happy if it makes them happy to believe this.  Clearly this dot thing is needed for less experienced players so that they can survive longer, get better at tactics and SA training so its a good thing, should just be in options to enable that's all. 

 

But when we have dots on ground and air units and i can see them at 20 miles, its crazy and just utterly ruin's the immersion, gameplay and experience.

 

Yeah using a dot system is fine and is largely accurate for longer ranged contacts (6+ miles).  It just needs A) to be variable in its size and darkness based on distance, B) Needs dynamic contrast adjustments to fight color bleed, C) needs to be turned off under a certain distance say 6 miles and replaced by some form of scaling, D) Needs to be turned off over a certain distance say 20miles (although it should blend in very very well at that distance, a light pale bluish grey dot sort of deal), D) Needs to be hidden by clouds and the cockpit.


Edited by nighthawk2174
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I think the current system is not bad, just need some more polishing to account for other variables, more subtle as you go past 5 miles, and even more in the case of ground units with camouflage. 

 

Having the experienced the worst of both worlds (Remember when it was close to impossible to keep track of a wwii fighter past 1 mile even if you were looking for it) I prefer this for the time being. The 20 nm spotting should be easy to tune down in an iterative process and until a more complex system is introduced.

 

In the end I think most of us agree about what distance are "real" for spotting fighter size targets 5-8nm ish with rare exceptions that decrease or increase this distance. It is just not easy to get this right. Wouldn't like to be the person that needs to accomplish it.

 

 

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3 minutes ago, falcon_120 said:

I think the current system is not bad, just need some more polishing to account for other variables, more subtle as you go past 5 miles, and even more in the case of ground units with camouflage. 

 

Having the experienced the worst of both worlds (Remember when it was close to impossible to keep track of a wwii fighter past 1 mile even if you were looking for it) I prefer this for the time being. The 20 nm spotting should be easy to tune down in an iterative process and until a more complex system is introduced.

 

In the end I think most of us agree about what distance are "real" for spotting fighter size targets 5-8nm ish with rare exceptions that decrease or increase this distance. It is just not easy to get this right. Wouldn't like to be the person that needs to accomplish it.

 

 

Well for uncued spotting for smalish stuff like F16 yes.  For cued or multiple airplanes close together it will be much further.  As can be seen in one of the graphs I posted 20% of the participants in that army study were able to detect an F4 at 20km (12.75 miles).

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For lots of years now and since playing DCS every flight I have ever taken I pay careful attention to how visible ground units are from the air, it is surprising how much detail you can see at 15/20 thousand or so feet in clear conditions , just IMHO, as for range IDK, as you cant exactly see forward properly from an airline passenger seat 😄

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4 hours ago, Hawkeye_UK said:

Beyond me why ED have gone down this road when its going to alienate the sector that this product is aimed at.  Fine can understand trying to make it easier for people with little experience, new to DCS who are primarily after a gaming like experience but this should be an option in settings (set server side for MP) not hard coded in for those of us that prefer realism. 

 

Again, I feel I need to question the assumption that this is somehow a “road ED have gone down”.

 

You seem to be operating on the assumption this — both the black dots and the white ones before that — were deliberately introduced to act as spotting aids. Is there any statement or explanation from ED to actually suggest that? It came along with the changes to (in particular) night lighting, which had some… ehrm… interesting side-effects. What is there to suggest that this isn't one of those?

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1 minute ago, Tippis said:

Again, I feel I need to question the assumption that this is somehow a “road ED have gone down”.

 

You seem to be operating on the assumption this — both the black dots and the white ones before that — were deliberately introduced to act as spotting aids. Is there any statement or explanation from ED to actually suggest that? It came along with the changes to (in particular) night lighting, which had some… ehrm… interesting side-effects. What is there to suggest that this isn't one of those?

 

Yea sorry i had dialogue with an ED representative when the white dots in the daylight issue appeared in November and it was communicated to me that the dev team had indeed brought in intentionally a spotting mechanism but alas it wasn't as they had expected it to perform.  But yes the current dot issue im hoping is another case of its not turned out how they expected as surely it can't remain like this.  In the last hour just taken a warbird up and wow the black dots at distace are about 5 times the size of the aircraft if not more. 

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Well ok, then. That's a different matter and it is indeed a bit of a weird (and poorly communicated) turn from how they've spoken about it before.

 

It's particularly strange that they chose to make that the default long-distance rendering scheme rather than do what people have been asking for ages, and make it the behaviour of labels (so those no longer show right through the cockpit structure).

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I have thousands of hours flying commercial planes up to B1900 (so similar altitude to a hornet normal cruise under load) although obviously way slower! But spotting airplanes is VERY difficult, also at 25,000 ish cars are very small, even semi's (lories) are small. However, what the Mk1's do an exceptional job at is spotting movement. That's basically what you look for in RL is you pick an area of sky (or ground) don't move your eyes for a few seconds and see if you pick up movements, if you do, switch mk1 to that area and re assess. If not move to next block of view. In DCS (i'm flat screen 1080p) it's very difficult to spot a convoy at normal zoom on a highway, this would not be that difficult in RL if you know the general locations (dcs requires super zoom to which some say is a cheat). As above have said, imagine trying to be the team to get this right... I'm not sure why people that enjoy the large dots complain they couldn't see before, why didn't they just turn on tags? I for one like the realism and don't use tags, but it's also frustrating knowing the spot of ground I should see something (thanks to F10... I mean intel) and not seeing it... even though you know it's there. As above sure in RL you'd use camo and what not and not park at the top of a dune in the desert, but there does need to be a balance. I do realize there needs to be options to turn on and off for VR and flat Earthers as there does seem to be a discrepancy. Keep at it ED you'll get it eventually. We need to keep providing constructive feedback and not cry out with whinging for or against.


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50 minutes ago, LTRMcrew said:

I have thousands of hours flying commercial planes up to B1900 (so similar altitude to a hornet normal cruise under load) although obviously way slower! But spotting airplanes is VERY difficult, also at 25,000 ish cars are very small, even semi's (lories) are small. However, what the Mk1's do an exceptional job at is spotting movement. That's basically what you look for in RL is you pick an area of sky (or ground) don't move your eyes for a few seconds and see if you pick up movements, if you do, switch mk1 to that area and re assess. If not move to next block of view. In DCS (i'm flat screen 1080p) it's very difficult to spot a convoy at normal zoom on a highway, this would not be that difficult in RL if you know the general locations (dcs requires super zoom to which some say is a cheat). As above have said, imagine trying to be the team to get this right... I'm not sure why people that enjoy the large dots complain they couldn't see before, why didn't they just turn on tags? I for one like the realism and don't use tags, but it's also frustrating knowing the spot of ground I should see something (thanks to F10... I mean intel) and not seeing it... even though you know it's there. As above sure in RL you'd use camo and what not and not park at the top of a dune in the desert, but there does need to be a balance. I do realize there needs to be options to turn on and off for VR and flat Earthers as there does seem to be a discrepancy. Keep at it ED you'll get it eventually. We need to keep providing constructive feedback and not cry out with whinging for or against.

 

Would you agree with my observations from 15-20k things being pretty well defined - just out of interest 🙂    I know when we are at full cruise height the world is a tiny spec lol

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