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What should I know about FG?

Postby Matuchkin » Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:08 pm

I am about to install FlightGear for the first time in my life. However, before I would do so, I would like to ask a few questions in order to confirm my expectations of this simulator. This is being done because I want to understand the level of realism that there is in this game, and the etiquette that I should follow.

The Questions (With According Subcategories):

1. Etiquette: Many civil aircraft transportation/ ATC simulators (such as VATSIM) have their own etiquette, based on real life. How much of this should I know before installing FG? As in: can I just climb into a Cessna 172 and take off on a leisure flight, or should I ask permission to taxi, hold short if prompted, take off at according altitudes and headings when prompted, etc?

2. Realism: How realistic is the FDM? How realistic are the planes and all their systems/controls? How realistic is ATC? I have numerous such questions.

3. Experience: To give some reference on my flight simulator experience: I play Digital Combat Simulator (DCS), and can fly the SU-25t Frogfoot to its full potential (this means that I can engage ground targets with laser guided, laser riding, rocket, gun and radar/ antiradar guided payloads, start up, take off and land, etc). I can also partially operate DCS's most realistic model, the A-10c. By that, I mean that I am able to fully start the plane and all of its main computers from a cold start, taxi to the runway, take off and land. However, I am not able to use the A-10c's munitions.
All in all, is this enough experience to even get me started with FG?

4. Requirements for installation: I have an ACER Aspire 5250, with AMD Radeon graphics card and AMD dual core processor E-350, along with 6GB of RAM. I am not, as you would call, "computer-smart", so I have a frighteningly small amount of idea on what this all means. To give reference: I can run Kerbal Space Program (I hope you know what that game is) fairly decently, at a maximum of 20 fps.

5. What do I need for this? I am quite scared to download this game: do I need a flight simulator setup (i.e. joysticks, pedals, headphones, etc)? Is Flight Gear game in itself, or does it rely on other programs to function?
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Re: What should I know about FG?

Postby Parnikkapore » Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:58 pm

Warning: AMD cards can introduce glitches into the graphics. Proceed with caution.
A gaming setup is not needed, you can fly with a mouse and keyboard. FlightGear can run by itself.
There's no automatic ATC, and the multiplayer ATCs each have their own etiquette. (If you're not in Multiplayer, you can do whatever you want.)
The realism differs from aircraft to aircraft - some are so realistic you can't flick a switch and fly away (except using Autostart!).
There are free alternatives to every program you encounter. You just have to find them.
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Re: What should I know about FG?

Postby Johan G » Fri Feb 17, 2017 2:23 am

First of all: Hi and Welcome to the FlightGear forum! :D

Matuchkin wrote in Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:08 pm:1. Etiquette: [...] can I just climb into a Cessna 172 and take off on a leisure flight, or should I ask permission to taxi, hold short if prompted, take off at according altitudes and headings when prompted, etc?

Mostly yes, you can just jump in and leisurely fly away. :D

For a few airports someone will have volunteered to act as an ATC controller on a more or less regular basis. If it is a lot of traffic they might get frustrated when a knew pilot with little knowledge messes up their flow. On the other hand, if there is little traffic they will likely just be happy to help familiarize you with the "phraseology" they use.

While it is not required, some of them announce their planned sessions either in the Multiplayer events subforum or on the (unofficial) FlightGear ATC Events website.

In most cases they would rather have you be able to control your airspeed, altitude and heading, than being fully versed in the exact phrases. ;)

Matuchkin wrote in Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:08 pm:How realistic is ATC?

It depends. There have been actual controllers jumping in, but from what I hear the level of realism is relatively good. Sometimes there can be downright trolling, intentionally or not.

Usually only the areas around a few airports are controlled; there is rarely or ever any en route control centers.

A note about trolls. It seems the best way to handle them is to ignore them, and for that there is an "Ingore" checkbox in a list of all multiplayer pilots in the vicinity.

Matuchkin wrote in Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:08 pm:2. Realism: How realistic is the FDM? How realistic are the planes and all their systems/controls?

That is all up to the aircraft developer. Some aircraft developers have spent literally hundreds of hours tweaking the FDM to meet published performance data and/or flight manuals. Some other aircraft on the other hand are more "arcade like".

Some background may be of help. Currently FlightGear ships with two built FDMs (FDM engines): JSBSim and YASim. One could also plug in an external FDM (for example developed with Simulink). If a lot of data is known, in particular wind tunnel data, JSBSim is a good choice. Some of the more advanced FDMs therefore uses that. YASim on the other hand is good if only a little data is known (and if the aircraft is subsonic). But it can still do a rather good job.

Regarding systems, there is a few generic systems added to an aircraft that only have a few things configured. Usually there is more than just those and some aircraft developers have like with the FDMs gone to great lengths to make the systems as complete as they can manage (including optional random failures).

Matuchkin wrote in Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:08 pm:3. Experience: [...] I play Digital Combat Simulator (DCS), and can fly the SU-25t Frogfoot to its full potential (this means that I can engage ground targets with laser guided, laser riding, rocket, gun and radar/ antiradar guided payloads, start up, take off and land, etc). I can also partially operate DCS's most realistic model, the A-10c. [...] All in all, is this enough experience to even get me started with FG?

Being able to understand some of the things involved, like checklists, systems and aircraft handling is a good start and will help when trying to understand other aircraft. :)

Matuchkin wrote in Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:08 pm:4. Requirements for installation: I have an ACER Aspire 5250, with AMD Radeon graphics card and AMD dual core processor E-350, along with 6GB of RAM. I am not, as you would call, "computer-smart", so I have a frighteningly small amount of idea on what this all means. [...]

As Parnikkapore mentioned AMD graphics card can have problems sometimes. Most of the developers and many of the users seem to prefer NVIDIA cards.

Matuchkin wrote in Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:08 pm:5. What do I need for this? [...] do I need a flight simulator setup (i.e. joysticks, pedals, headphones, etc)?

Some very few actually uses only the keyboard, some other uses keyboard and mouse. Most seem to use a twisting joystick and a few have separate joystick/yoke, throttle/throttle quadrant, and pedals.

Having an axis for rudder control, either through a twist joystick or pedals, make a great difference, in particular in crosswind landings and takeoffs. Flying a helicopter is near impossible without it.

Matuchkin wrote in Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:08 pm:Is Flight Gear game in itself, or does it rely on other programs to function?

Not game, but flight simulator. :wink: You only need FlightGear and a handful of aircraft of your choice. Some additional programs can be of help, but are not required. For example TerraMaster, a terrain manager.
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Re: What should I know about FG?  

Postby Richard » Fri Feb 17, 2017 4:59 am

1. For military craft the Multiplayer (online) etiquette is simple; do not engage unless prior agreement has been made[2]. If you are in an area with ATC you will find that most ATC will contact you. If you want ATC play along, if not just say so

2. FDM (and aircraft) realism varies greatly. The F-14 and F-15[1] both have wind tunnel/flight test derived FDM's that are much better than anything you'll find in DCS; both of these models have fairly comprehensive systems simulation and you can perform real life procedures (such as engine start). The armament and weapons systems we have (on these craft) is probably where DCS is better. Other craft worth investigating: JA-37 Viggen, Mirage 2000, and EuroFighter. There is a set of craft that have more developed weapons and damage that can be found here: http://opredflag.shivtr.com/forum_threads/2412191

ATC realism varies a lot. I don't do much ATC flying; and generally avoid controlled areas. Usually there will be 10-50 players online (in the world); so there's lots of room to explore.

3. Yes; that's more than enough experience. Grab yourself an F-15, select quickstart (from the F-15 menu), and off you go.

4. That should be fine. Recommended to set shader effects to quality 1, turn on Atmospheric Light Scattering and adjust the other settings until you get a decent frame rate.

5. You can fly with a mouse and keyboard. It can get a bit difficult when trying to use rudder, but it will work. FlightGear will work standalone, that's the usual installation for most people.

Overall FlightGear (the simulator) places realism above all else; so with a good aircraft model (such as the list above) you will have a very realistic simulation.

If you're used to DCS then FlightGear is going to feel a little strange at first; but with the right aircraft, and graphics configuration FlightGear is the best you can get (the world models aren't as pretty as DCS, but we do have the whole planet rather than a few detailed areas). I can tell you where the DCS F-15 is not correctly modelled - but I don't want to turn this into a comparison, DCS and FG have different objectives.

It will take weeks to get used to how FlightGear works, how to operate configure and operate the simulator to get the best out of it; but it is an investment that is immensely worth making

-------------
[1] I'm obviously a bit biased about these two
[2] there are a few groups that you might want to join, FGUK.eu for a Saturday night flight, Operation Red Flag (http://opredflag.shivtr.com/) for military flying.
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Re: What should I know about FG?

Postby Johan G » Fri Feb 17, 2017 1:20 pm

One ATC etiquette thing we all forgot to mention: When starting from a controlled airport most ATCs will be rather frustrated if you spawn on the runway threshold, like FlightGear usually do. To get around this, start FlightGear in offline mode at the selected airport, taxi to a parking spot and then enable multiplayer.
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Re: What should I know about FG?

Postby Richard » Fri Feb 17, 2017 2:20 pm

Johan G wrote in Fri Feb 17, 2017 1:20 pm:One ATC etiquette thing we all forgot to mention: When starting from a controlled airport most ATCs will be rather frustrated if you spawn on the runway threshold, like FlightGear usually do. To get around this, start FlightGear in offline mode at the selected airport, taxi to a parking spot and then enable multiplayer.


Although recent versions of FlightGear will move the aircraft off the runway if you reposition to a runway whilst connected to MP it is still better to position to a parking or hold position explicitly. These are available in the Airports list.
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Re: What should I know about FG?

Postby Matuchkin » Fri Feb 17, 2017 4:23 pm

Richard wrote in Fri Feb 17, 2017 4:59 am:*snip*


Great reply, I especially liked how you recommended settings for FG. Very informative.
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Re: What should I know about FG?

Postby PINTO » Fri Feb 17, 2017 5:30 pm

Richard wrote in Fri Feb 17, 2017 4:59 am:1. For military craft the Multiplayer (online) etiquette is simple; do not engage unless prior agreement has been made[2].


I have an auto-ignore-this-callsign list, and excessively doing this is one of the quickest ways on to my list.

If someone wants target practice, use AI or the QF-4E, not other planes. And it's no fun to dogfight with someone who keeps magically repairing and reloading missiles. /rant

That said, OPRF loves dogfighting, so if you want to fight come on over and join us. Our forums are fairly quiet because most of our discussion moved over to discord.
http://opredflag.shivtr.com flightgear dogfighting community
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Re: What should I know about FG?

Postby Matuchkin » Fri Feb 17, 2017 10:40 pm

PINTO wrote in Fri Feb 17, 2017 5:30 pm:
Richard wrote in Fri Feb 17, 2017 4:59 am:1. For military craft the Multiplayer (online) etiquette is simple; do not engage unless prior agreement has been made[2].


I have an auto-ignore-this-callsign list, and excessively doing this is one of the quickest ways on to my list.

If someone wants target practice, use AI or the QF-4E, not other planes. And it's no fun to dogfight with someone who keeps magically repairing and reloading missiles. /rant

That said, OPRF loves dogfighting, so if you want to fight come on over and join us. Our forums are fairly quiet because most of our discussion moved over to discord.


I will certainly see to it, as not only should this game be less laggy than DCS, but the actual aerial engagement based aircraft are completely free (hence the reason why I could only train for the A-10c and SU-25t back in DCS). Keep in mind, though, that I do not nearly have as much experience as the members of this community (I am in 10th grade), and though I may be able to understand certain doctrines/tactics, I may not be able to follow/execute them.
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Re: What should I know about FG?

Postby Matuchkin » Sat Feb 18, 2017 4:47 am

By the way, an update: I have installed Flight Gear recently. The most FPS I could squeeze out of it was 6fps. All I can say is: help...
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Re: What should I know about FG?

Postby Parnikkapore » Sat Feb 18, 2017 12:14 pm

First, get to Tower view (look from), then turn your camera up to the sky. Do you see improvement?
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Re: What should I know about FG?

Postby Clive2670 » Sat Feb 18, 2017 1:33 pm

Matuchkin wrote in Sat Feb 18, 2017 4:47 am:By the way, an update: I have installed Flight Gear recently. The most FPS I could squeeze out of it was 6fps. All I can say is: help...

Hi there I am running a Toshiba laptop, Intel i5 dual core (4 theoretical cores) 6 Gb RAM and a AMD Radeon R7-M260 2Gb card. I did have some problems a few weeks ago but this is down to the card software. DO NOT use the "Crimson" software as this WILL stall your FPS down to these levels, COMPLETELY uninstall all software if using a laptop use "AMD clean up utility" downloaded off the net as this will remove EVERYTHING and then download the original software to revert it back to the computer manufacturers original specs. Doing this for me I was on the Crimson software flutuating between 1 FPS and a maximum of 8 FPS now with the reverted software I get around 15 - 28 FPS depending on the LODs and real weather engine. I didn't see others pointing out the more LOD you run, The amount of detail in the real weather from METAR being received and processed, AI, ETC. This all eats into your processor, and RAM, Flightgear is "A very hungry beast" when there is a lot of things going on in the back ground!!!!
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Re: What should I know about FG?

Postby Matuchkin » Tue Feb 21, 2017 1:07 am

Parnikkapore wrote in Sat Feb 18, 2017 12:14 pm:First, get to Tower view (look from), then turn your camera up to the sky. Do you see improvement?


Indeed, I see a very large improvement. What's most surprising is that this rise in fps stays even when I exit that view. How does that work?
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Re: What should I know about FG?

Postby Parnikkapore » Tue Feb 21, 2017 10:41 am

It looks like the staggering occurs when loading scenery models.
In this case, each time you start up FlightGear, change to Helicopter/Chase view and spin the view around for a few seconds (until it stops staggering). We have experienced this at some point!

Edit: Oh and, Thorsten LOVES the Viggen so much he featured it on the front page! It's FGAddon version is "spectacular"! ;)
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Re: What should I know about FG?

Postby adam_one » Tue Feb 21, 2017 10:53 am

Disabling AI-traffic is good for framerates.
Tweaking view-distance, completely disabling vegetation and 3D-clouds, setting a max framerate to your preferable minimum. If you tick the box "Custom Shader settings" you can find the upper limit of your rig quite well.
I select "Water" on highest since it's important for (accidental pun) immersion, the rest I set on whatever I feel like at the moment.

Since upgrading my rig I've had a lot of fun exploring the graphical contruction of FG. =)
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