Casual Day

by Chuck “PFunk” Bellows


“Hi, I’m Chuck.”

“Hi, Chuck”, says the chorus.

“I’m Chuck, and I’ve never adjusted azimuth and bar scans on an air-to-air radar. For that matter, I can do 9g loops around a Su-27 with my Cessna. I’m a (gasp…) casual gamer”.

There, now I’ve said it. 20mm said I’d feel better if I just admitted I had a problem. And you know something… he’s wrong, the twerp.

I am a casual gamer, and we tend to get a rough time in here, getting questions answered or help with our easier settings. This is due in part to the fact that the vast majority of SimHQ’s nearly 27,000 members are hardcore priests, acolytes, bishops, and the odd nun or two. Unless they can count the rivets on an exterior panel of the MiG-23ML, they’re not interested.

And it’s not as if they’re rude. They simply function from a vast gulf of ignorance on the nuances of simplified settings. So, when you guys start blathering on about advanced flight models, I feel like the janitor at the local Mensa Union #209. It’s Lockheed-Martin’s engineering farm team around here.

This is fine by me. I am not now, nor was I ever an aviator, civilian or military. I am perfectly comfortable in my status as a casual flight simmer. I just know better than to ask about my radar settings.

It’s for this reason that I’ve logged more flight time in Strike Fighters: Project 1 and Wings Over Vietnam. These two are approachable, like the girl at the end of the bar after some liquid courage. She’s interesting all right, just not supermodel interesting. LOMAC’s a supermodel. Falcon 4.0 is Heidi Klum with a LANTIRN pod, but we all know we stand a snowball’s chance in hell of scoring with her.

But, we casual simmers still fly it with relaxed settings. And Heidi would have to relax a few of her settings to be seen in public with me. It’s fun to dream, right?

Why Am I So Casual?

Like anyone who graduated from a state-run university in Texas, I know my limit. I am aware of what I don’t know. As a matter of fact, what I don’t know fills more volumes. I DO know that you will never get your apartment security deposit back when attempting to cook a pig on a spit in your living room during a luau. I also know exactly how many empty beer cans it takes to pay for a tank of gas.

As a gamer, I know I can’t manage a Block 52 F-16C in flight. I need crutches. You’re probably out there snickering, “So stick to Jane’s USAF.” Well, I don’t want to. Like anyone else in here, I’m fascinated by flight, and I’d like to punch holes in the sky just like you guys. Just watch out for the training wheels. If I were meant to ramp-start an F-16, I would have been born with better eyesight, and smarter.

One thing that sets the casual gamer apart is our willingness to concede to the limits of technology. We are fully aware that no home PC can run a program that will duplicate flight down to the last molecule of oxygen coming over the leading edge of our virtual wings. That’s when you buy a Cray. Most hardcore pilots in our forums complain about a lot of little details that most casual gamers never notice.

That being said, there are a few titles that stand out as simulations that attempt to bridge the aforementioned gulf. I’ve selected three: EA’s Jane’s F-15, Ubisoft’s Lock-On: Modern Air Combat, and Graphsim’s Falcon 4.0: Allied Force.

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