Confessions of an Elitist Page 3

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The “Realism” Settings (continued)

Cockpit On: Elitists never, ever turn the cockpit off when flying. It’s “arcade” and makes it too easy to spot and track planes underneath your opponent.

Flying doesn’t come naturally to me. I have a heck of a time keeping my little pixel plane going nose forward through the light blue stuff and not into the green or dark blue stuff. I need the cockpit frame visible around me so I can tell which way I’m going in relationship to the ground. So even when it’s an option to turn it off in a server, I leave it on.

Since there is a sizeable advantage to having the cockpit off versus someone that has it on, I avoid servers where it’s an option. Since it’s pretty lame to say “whoa, I can’t handle flying without the cockpit turned on!”  I simply turn my nose up and say “hummpf!” in my best haughty tone.

Icons Off: Icons are little cartoon labels that show up over planes to tell everyone which side you’re on, the type of plane you’re in, and your distance. In the IL-2 series of sims, one can customize the settings for range, information, etc.

I tend to read the icon for the sake of reading it. I can't help it.Some Elitists will budge a bit on icons so long as they are severely limited to showing only on friendly aircraft at close range, claiming that the draw distances in the simulation aren’t realistic enough to allow for identification at the appropriate ranges.

This is a pretty standard self-justification: any deviation from “full switch” difficulty settings is necessary only because the simulation itself is inadequate. If the sim was better made, they could do without it.

I’m a no-icons guy. Even when it’s an option, I always hide them. Not out of some claim of “immersion” or sense of challenge, but because they are a counter-productive distraction. I tend to read the icon for the sake of reading it. I can’t help it. The numbers are changing and the text disappears and reappears as the plane turns over the top of them. It’s eerily fixating.

When I finally get into firing range and work up the solution, I lump the text in with the plane for my aiming point. It’s a guaranteed miss! Heck, I’ve fired while aiming at the icons instead of the enemy aircraft itself.

External Views: The Elitist views the use of external views as a fundamental character failing of the lesser sim pilot. From the external view one can spot the enemy farther out and at angles not available from the cockpit. In the IL-2 series of sims, one neither blacks- or reds-out in external views.

For me, it is like no cockpit and icons on at the same time. I get so hooked on watching the plane move around against my view that I’ll usually fly myself right into the ground. Add in that I can’t get the hang of the TrackIR while looking externally, am incompetent with a hat, and simply can’t work a mouse at the same time as a joystick and throttle, and I don’t fly with externals on. I like the option, though, as it lets me watch the fight continue after I’ve been shot down.

Padlock: Padlock is a feature that allows one to select an aircraft or ground object and have the computer keep it inside the view of the virtual pilot automatically. Elitists don’t like padlock for a host of reasons, but the primary ones are: 1) that simulations will automatically select the nearest enemy whether or not the player (excuse me, simulation pilot) actually spotted it, and 2) in the IL-2 series, one can select an “external padlock” of the nearest enemy to include from above or behind and show where he is at even if the button is pressed from the cockpit view. It is very hard to surprise someone when they can just keep pushing the F4 or F6 key until something pops up.

This became a Real Big Issue after TrackIR came out, as searching the skies with a TrackIR unit is infinitely better than with a hat switch. Every Elitist worth the title has a TrackIR. Most Mainstream Pilots do not. Hardware advantages are not cheating in the world of the Elitist – software advantages gained through unclicking a “realism” setting is.

The disadvantage to padlock is that one can become target fixated; one’s entire attention is on the plane that is locked and nothing else around it enters into one’s thought processes. I’m a big target fixation guy that likes to fly against squadrons that use an awful lot of teamwork and the “drag and bag” technique where one fellow dangles himself out there for his wingman to collect. For me,padlock = death in most cases.

Besides, I have a TrackIR!

Map Icons: Most Mainstream sim pilots don’t like the Map Icon feature that shows where every plane — friendly and enemy — is located. Few, however, go so far as to switch off waypoints and the little white airplane that tells one where they are on the map.

Elitists have spent quite a bit of time on each of the maps and are very familiar with landmarks and the locations of important places. They have practiced navigation and probably have a printout of the map with waypoints and objectives drawn on them in alcohol pens.

Since I rarely pull the map up in the first place (it takes up a lot of the screen) and when I do still find myself lost, I don’t much care either way. The little plane is nice, though, and I always leave it on when I host a server.

Besides, if the simulation had better draw distances and variety in terrain coloration (such as burnt out spots) I wouldn’t need the little white plane showing my location.

Self-imposed Difficulty Settings: This is a true mark of Elitists. They rarely mention them, but when they do it’s with a passion. Everything from using rockets in a dogfight (generally historically inaccurate) to turning off the Speedbar that shows altitude, speed, and heading when it’s available, the Elitist plays the game by the “right” rules even if others don’t.

I definitely fall into this category. The IL-2 series allows one to change how far away from one’s plane sounds can be heard. In real aircraft, every effort is made to muffle the sounds around a pilot both for hearing protection and to enable him to hear the radio. I have the attenuation set to where if it’s not happening right next to me, I don’t hear it. Not because it’s “realistic” or “adds immersion,” but because I hate loud noises, am easily spooked by the sound of tracers or flak (and so I don’t want to hear them unless they’re whizzing right past me), and I need to hear what my squaddies are saying!

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