The Ultimate Patch in Detail
The Jane’s F/A-18 cockpit
A unique aspect of Jane’s F/A-18 is that there is no 2D cockpit. At first, this attracted complaints of impacts on framerates and muddy textures. To be fair, the cockpit is probably pretty hard on 1999-era hardware, and it certainly did not look as nice as the photorealistic cockpits that were being used in Falcon 4. Another issue is that the cockpit is downright ugly at 640×480, a resolution much more popular in 1999 than it is now.
But as more and more Jane’s F/A-18 flyers got used to their new cockpit, its popularity began to grow. Forum discussions took place over the best way to pan the 3D view: HAT switch, mouse view, keyboard, HOTAS control, etc. Today, Jane’s F/A-18 remains the only combat sim with a clickable 3D cockpit, and is considered by many to be one of the best 3D cockpits ever created.
The drawback to the various view control methods is that they were either too slow (HAT view panning speed is constant in Jane’s F/A-18), required an extra hand (mouse view), or were too imprecise (mouse mapping to a HOTAS control). When TrackIR first appeared on the market, it solved all of these problems, but never seemed to gain much popularity with Jane’s F/A-18 users. This was most likely due to the lack of TrackIR enhanced support, meaning you could not pan the cockpit view and use the mouse to operate buttons and switches at the same time. Users were forced to turn the TrackIR on and off continuously while in flight, making it clumsy and at times frustrating to use.
TrackIR Enhanced Support
The most recent TSH release, the Ultimate Patch, adds TrackIR enhanced support. With enhanced support, constant recentering and on/off cycling are no longer necessary. Best of all, enhanced support means the cockpit view can be panned smoothly and accurately while retaining the ability to click on everything. Using enhanced TrackIR in Jane’s F/A-18 is a very rewarding experience. With the Ultimate Patch, Jane’s F/A-18 becomes the only combat flight sim with enhanced TrackIR support and a clickable 3D cockpit. It will retain this unique claim until the release of Lock On: Black Shark.
TrackIR enhanced support is pretty neat, but why is the patch called “ultimate”? The name refers to some things that are happening behind the scenes. As mentioned previously, TSH is not working with the source code, so many modifications are being done directly in assembly code. This is a horrendously tedious and frustrating way to work with code, so the Ultimate Patch converts some modifications so that they can be controlled via C++. Future TSH releases will include additional files that control new game functionality via .dll and .ini files.