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Review of FG on reddit: xpost

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Review of FG on reddit: xpost

Postby legoboyvdlp » Wed Feb 03, 2016 2:45 am

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Right, giving it a quick go now as promised...
First, the download process is slightly tricky - I have no real idea what to download. My experience with FOSS and software development gets me to the download eventually, though... I almost got bored and gave up though, this needs to be simplified IMO
Starting up

Okay so first thoughts: the aircraft select page is still too "busy" on the list - maybe collapse the aircraft first, and then let me pick the versions?
Second... two many versions. Like, what's the difference? The B777 variants is obvious enough, but I see 4 Cessna 172P's and two even more identical Beechcraft b1800d's. Not every aircraft has the "ratings" part either?
I'd like to see just 3 or 4 of the best quality aircraft here, I think. Also this C172 has been "Early production" for as long as I can remember. It already feels like I'm being made to compromise on quality and I've not even opened it properly yet.
Just give me a good quality C172 and B777, and an easy "store" to download the rest (with good "quality" filters)
The airport page

Just a list... can I have something visual and a bit less daunting? Maybe again highlight a few of the best airports graphically at the top. KSFO always seems popular, and perhaps a well modelled smaller airfield?
Settings

Resolution... where's 1920x1080p? Surely that's by far the most common resolution nowadays. Default to it, even, I don't mind.
Is this also really the best default set of options? I've selected some stuff quickly by eye, but I've got no real idea what any of it does. I'd like some descriptions here
Loadin in.... looks nasty, honestly. It feels like I've just launched Combat Flight Simulator 2 or something. can this look any prettier? Downloading scenery is slow, even at 4MB/s - I guess most new users wouldn't hit the Terasync button, but even so a description would have helped perhaps, so I knew it would be slower
Overall, though, not much worse than FSX, although I'd put it a level below P3D's newer interface. This could do with some work IMO, although it's not atrocious, it just feels old and "developer-y", not consumer-friendly
Okay, I'm in

The cockpit looks, plasticy (C172P, no idea which one)
First thing I'm doing is looking at the settings because this looks crap. From P3D I'd probably already have quit, but I'm pretending this is me 3 years ago when I first tried FG.
I go to Rendering options, which is already strange because other quality options seem to be under File, and this is under View (I'd like to see both under "Settings"). First I whack the quality up, and it improves the scenery a bit, but then I click custom and when I close that, the whole settings page closes. That's annoying
So I whack everything up to full in rendering settings, and the Runway and clouds are looking nicer at least. The cockpit and buildings not so much.
What else?

Love the right click and drag to view, this is what FSX/P3D need by default. The cockpit, though, damn this looks awful. I'll try another bird in a moment to compare. The radio stack looks nice, and externally it's not bad if low resolution, but the rest is just plastic.
I can't hide the yoke so struggle to get it going, then stumble on the S button to start thing. Not ideal, though - I want to fly the plane with the systems.
I get flying and the keyboard controls are surprisingly nice compared to FSX/P3D. I want to be able to use shift+numpad to look around though, as having to switch to the mouse is a little annoying. Otherwise it seems okay. I'll try my Yoke+Pedals tomorrow hopefully, for a more "real world" test
Somehow I enter a 60x timewarp, but I get that sorted, then I turn to land.. airspeed physics seem a little squiffy, but I might have just come in way too fast. It seems very easy to bleed/pick up speed though, and damn hard to put the C172 on the deck. I run over the KSFO runway into the water which seems to do nothing at first, then I get a red screen telling me I've crashed, I assume.
777

I exit and go for the 777 which looks more "ready to go"
I click go with the same settings, then see "advanced" so I'm exiting back out from Windows.. it doesn't seem to like that and takes a moment, but tbh I'm not using the interface right, I can't blame it for this one. Most of the advanced settings seem to be about setting up the scenario, but I find anti-aliasing and filtering and slap them to full (i7 5820k, 4GB DDR4 and 970 GTX, I'm assuming I can get somewhere high up the settings, but I'm not necessarily expecting perfectly smooth now)
So I run the 777. The load is faster now, even though the 777 seems slower - no scenery downloading, presumably.
Anyway I load in and this looks more like it. Still not incredibly high quality, but much nicer than that Cessna. Make a Cessna this quality and just make them available at the start.
And first really nice thing - the camera. I turn to look backwards and it moves the camera position sideways, I like this! It feels really natural. That's properly nice, I want that in other sims.
Systems

Okay, I can't work a 777 at the best of times, but I get it started before I realise there's an autostart. That's cool, I like to start it myself. The views are pretty nice, too, but it would be nice to be able to "pop" things like the FMC and charts thingy out like I can with the MFD, but that's not the end of the world. Also, I can set the flaps and spoiler with the mouse, but I can't work out how to retract them! The flaps I manage with the keyboard... my spoilers are still deployed. This is a much nicer experience, though, and the systems feel pretty good. I've not fully explored the FMC though, and it seems to have something missing regarding positions: as I said, not my strength at the best of times.
I still can't retract the spoiler, this is annoying. Why can't I drag or click it? Google is no help initially but eventually I find it's shift+B or ctrl+b. This shouldn't be this hard.
So a quick look round the plane - the exterior is a bit shiny but passable, and the runway and cockpit (the most important bits) look decent. Let's take her up.
Flying the 777

First, this camera again - I like it. Right click to view, it works really well especially with the combined zoom from the scroll wheel.
I arm some things for the autpilot - the text "Captain, the auto-throttle won't arm below 400ft" type of alert is a nice touch, I like that too. The PFD is a little cartoony, but I can live with that, it's not bad.
So I set flaps etc, no FMC today, I can't be bothered figuring it out... just a few circuits I think. I go to take off and... nothing. No throttle. Strange, 9 worked in the C172, what gives? I try stopping and using the autostart, but still nothing. After 5 minutes of this I'm a little bored and thinking of closing the program but in the interest of fairness I plug in my yoke.
Nothing immediately, but I remember seeing a Joystick Configuration menu so I open that and hit refresh, and there's my Saitek Yoke and Throttle. The flight controls immediately work (I'm not sure about the pedal toe brakes) and work pretty well... apart from the throttle. I have an option of pulling my throttle all the way back to the stop, which says "Thrust reversers on screen" but actually gives me full thrust... and that's my only option, any other setting is off. There's no "reverse/invert" option in the joystick configuration screen, and no way to set the scale... even though FG appears to recognise the difference between +1 and -1 when I move the lever. I get a zoom in/out on my Joystick though, which is again nice, and the hat works fine. My Saitek multi-panel (autopilot etc) doesn't seem to be recognised, but I've made no attempt to configure it.
I take off using full thrust and the flight model again seems a bit offf - too light and "fidgety", with a tendency to roll even at flight speed. I can't say I've tested that heavily though. I fly up a little but the inability to have anything other than full/no throttle makes a landing attempt seem pointless and I end my session.
Performance

On my system good. The GPU never hit more than 50%, the CPU seemed load balanced to some extent, and no core went over 92%. This presumably demonstrates the lack of graphical power, though, as I don't appear to have hit a bottleneck on what I assume were pretty close to max settings (I maxed everything I could find). Loading is slow but not unreasonably so, and I had one or two stutters when changing view but nothing too bad (and usually just after loading - once going it seemed better)
Summary

Overall I think it's an improvement over the last time I used FG, particularly in the cameras which are better than FSX/P3D at default, but it still feels like I'm fighting against the program rather than having the ability to plug in my yoke, fire it up and start playing. The graphics are better than before, but still below recent FSX/P3D etc.
For free, I really can't complain too hard - and I can see the work that's gone into it and the undoubted substance the fundamentals and "sim" have... but it badly needs some "polish" to bring that substance out and let me see it.
Oh and as an aside, I used FG as part of my dissertation on UAV's (the UAV interfaced with FG via an auto-pilot thing someone else made), so I owe you guys a big thanks for that one. If anything, I found it worked better as a modelling tool for that purpose, than as an actual "I fly planes around with a yoke" game. 



I replied to many of his concerns, but I made a mistake and lost is all.
I reccomended the download the new Cessna and / or a newer version later.
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Re: Review of FG on reddit: xpost

Postby jarl.arntzen » Wed Feb 03, 2016 6:02 am

Nice find. Got a link?
Frequent Flyer. Occasional Lander.
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Re: Review of FG on reddit: xpost

Postby PINTO » Wed Feb 03, 2016 10:23 am

You can't post url's to reddit, sooo......
It's in /r/flightsim. =]
Actively developing the MiG-21bis (link to repo) (link to thread)

http://opredflag.com is an active flightgear dogfighting community (using a system that isn’t bombable)
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Re: Review of FG on reddit: xpost

Postby Thorsten » Wed Feb 03, 2016 10:44 am

I think much of this is

Why aren't the options arranged like I am used to?

(incidentially, what I found very annoying when trying FSX was that all the GUI was structured differently from FG - that's however not particularly FSX problematic, so I had to make a conscious effort to not 'rate' that aspect).

The truth is that you need to invest some time to learn to configure something that's more complex for your needs. There's many passages 'I want to do that and that (but I really don't want to be bothered to configure it myself)'

I think it's not a very meaningful review - you can't judge quality of software by whether it agrees with your habits or not.
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Re: Review of FG on reddit: xpost

Postby jaxsin » Wed Feb 03, 2016 12:00 pm

The reviewer is the typical computer user. Lacking the patience to see if something was meant to be better, by instead just rushing through stuff.

While I do agree that the rendering options by default are 'yuck', less then 30 seconds you can change all that. Though it is not really clear whether ALS or Rembrandt is preferred or what each other really does. The defaults are sane for low end hardware and THAT is FG's goal. The lack of an 'auto tune' feature to setup hardware is obviously ruining brain cells on an individual basis.

I think some of the 'polish' the author is talking about is already being added in. New launcher, new detailed set of planes, etc... But there is no easy way for a new user to see that, I was a new user couple months back. What he says where some of my first impressions as well. But this old goat knows better...
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Re: Review of FG on reddit: xpost

Postby Bomber » Wed Feb 03, 2016 12:12 pm

it's an honest apraisal.....
"If anyone ever tells you anything about an aeroplane which is so bloody complicated you can't understand it, take it from me - it's all balls" - R J Mitchel
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Re: Review of FG on reddit: xpost

Postby Thorsten » Wed Feb 03, 2016 12:21 pm

Writing reviews others can actually make use of is a skill that requires to distinguish the personal from the universal. Honesty is a requirement, but far from being the whole.

If I criticize a hotel because the plane was late, I arrived late and stressed out and therefore slept poorly in my hotel room, I disqualify myself as a reviewer because what I criticize has nothing to do with the hotel. Though it is undoubtedly honest to claim I slept badly in the hotel room.

Similarly, if I have an acquired habit of using right mouse-click to transit from control to view to click and criticize FSX for not doing it the same way, I'm not qualified as reviewer.

Telling a personal story is (unfortunately) often confused with reviewing in the internet - which is why I don't believe in the wisdom of crowds :-)
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Re: Review of FG on reddit: xpost

Postby jaxsin » Wed Feb 03, 2016 12:25 pm

distinguishing the real reviews is where I have found some of my best internet deals. You are oh so correct in what should disqualify you as a reviewer.
Last edited by Johan G on Sat Feb 06, 2016 3:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: No useless quoting please. No need to quote the entire preceding post.
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Re: Review of FG on reddit: xpost

Postby Bomber » Wed Feb 03, 2016 12:31 pm

I find that people that don't want to listen to a review will attempt to dispute it not on the facts within the review but on the history of the author, experience, the writing style etc...

I've read on other forums that people find FG folk to be snobs.... I can see where this comes from.
"If anyone ever tells you anything about an aeroplane which is so bloody complicated you can't understand it, take it from me - it's all balls" - R J Mitchel
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Re: Review of FG on reddit: xpost

Postby Thorsten » Wed Feb 03, 2016 1:21 pm

I find that people that don't want to listen to a review will attempt to dispute it not on the facts within the review but on the history of the author, experience, the writing style etc...


That's probably the case as well. Personally, I'm a fan of evidence and facts and always have been.
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Re: Review of FG on reddit: xpost

Postby Bomber » Wed Feb 03, 2016 1:57 pm

So if we agree that even though this review is told in the story style it still holds some truths. It becomes a task of comprehending the review and categorising it's content.

Why bother ?

Because the reviewer bothered and in this community reviewing his review it sends out the message that we are interested in hearing users opinions...

It's a community cultural thing...

So.... "the download process is slightly tricky - I have no real idea what to download"

Also reading his review its about the whole process including the plane download page... I'd suggest separating this out so as to concentrate solely on the FG application.

Simon.

P.S.
If your answer to the why bother question is.... I don't have the time... well we all find the time for a flame war.
"If anyone ever tells you anything about an aeroplane which is so bloody complicated you can't understand it, take it from me - it's all balls" - R J Mitchel
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Re: Review of FG on reddit: xpost

Postby Thorsten » Wed Feb 03, 2016 2:17 pm

Just short - I agree that it holds truth, I do not agree that it's a review. For instance, lots of things are tricky - right until you read the documentation provided :-)

Edit: With some more time on my hands:

Let me for a moment slip into a different fictional persona, reviewing e.g. the T4T Spitfire (which I personally find a very impressive FDM).

In my (fictional) review, I write 'The plane is impossible to take off, it drags to the side when accelerating - I had to cheat and start in-air to fly at all. (...) The gun is complete crap - I was firing at a target right in the crosshairs, and missed anyway (...) it's far too fidgety in the air...'

So - what I would write would be all true. Yet the review would be completely misleading.

What happens is that I (i.e. the fictional user) had the wrong expectations - not knowing about torque and p-factor, one would expect a different take-off. Not knowing about ballistics and bullets falling in Earth's gravity, one would come to expect to hit whatever is in the crosshairs no matter the distance. Not knowing that an agile plane has to be fidgety, one would come to expect an easy ride. I (the fictional I) am disappointed because my expectations aren't met.

Yet the problem is not with the plane, the problem are in fact my expectations. My fictional review would reveal chiefly my ignorance about WW-II warbirds - and probably my unwillingness to read the flight manual of a Spitfire.

(In actual reality, I think the planes I did write reviews for FG I spent a week minimum to learn, sometimes a month - I would never try to fly the Concorde for an hour and then believe I have anything meaningful to write into a review).

You might react to this in different ways - you might try to teach the fictional me about how a real warbird is. Or you might conclude that I am just not the kind of user for whom you develop and leave it at that.

So - the latter is my conclusion about the above review. I see lots of expectations which haven't been met by FG, but personally these expectations reveal a vision of a flightsim that isn't mine. So said user is probably genuinely better off with FSX.
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Re: Review of FG on reddit: xpost

Postby vnts » Fri Feb 05, 2016 4:08 pm

Bomber wrote in Wed Feb 03, 2016 1:57 pm:So if we agree that even though this review is told in the story style it still holds some truths. It becomes a task of comprehending the review and categorising it's content.

I think the discussion perhaps got derailed, because review in the thread title wasn't the correct word. The context was just a user, somewhat familiar with a much older version, providing his reactions/impressions directly to a developer (feedback) as best he could manage. It wasn't intended to be widely viewed, or to change minds of public. https://www.reddit dot com /r/flightsim/comments/43savm/reddit_share_your_impressions_of_flightgear/czlolso He used an older FG version, and his updated (more positive) impressions of the latest nightly are below that post.

The importance of accessibility/first impressions/entry hurdles depends on the demographic FG is currently targeting - developers with specific development skills who might be at various stages of being interested in simming, people who use other sims but might be interested in FG because of unique features, or people who are new to simming and/or aren't financially/emotionally invested in other sims who would benefit the project in the long run (who would cause a lot of support requests). From the perspective of being a very new FG user, there are certainly things that would help with first impressions.

Kind regards,
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Re: Review of FG on reddit: xpost

Postby Thorsten » Fri Feb 05, 2016 6:09 pm

I think for practically any developer, FG is this toy we tinker with and learn, both from our own tinkering and from working out what the others do.

If you don't enjoy this tinkering aspect, if you expect things to work out of the box without investing some time and work to delve into it, then it's probably the wrong sim for you.

I remember learning a lot about how the Concorde works just spending a month with the plane, reading through the docs, expanding them, trying things out. Some people put an insane amount of detail into planes, and it's fun to discover all of this.

Currently I'm coding guidance for an automatic Shuttle launch. I don't care a thing whether this makes it easier for people (I'll definitely make it not the default option), I care whether I can solve the puzzle, because it's educational - the challenge is very different from normal AP coding, because you have to capture control from a ballistic flight phase in which the AP can't really hold anything.

If anyone asks me whether he should spend his time make the GUI nicer/more intuitive or the experience more realistic, I'd vote the second unconditionally. If you look into the mission statement

The goal of the FlightGear project is to create a sophisticated and open flight simulator framework for use in research or academic environments, pilot training, as an industry engineering tool, for DIY-ers to pursue their favorite interesting flight simulation idea, and last but certainly not least as a fun, realistic, and challenging desktop flight simulator.

it doesn't say anything about 'easy to use' but mentions 'challenging' and 'DIY' as well as 'engineering tool' .

Anyone who expects strong focus on ease of use for the end user has the wrong sim. That's not saying we don't do anything - but it's not as central as other themes are.

If you feel that FG should go that direction, you need to get involved yourself and work that direction - there's no point in asking others to change their priorities and interests.
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Re: Review of FG on reddit: xpost

Postby Hooray » Fri Feb 05, 2016 7:15 pm

if you feel that FG should go that direction, you need to get involved yourself and work that direction - there's no point in asking others to change their priorities and interests.

that's generally true, but to be absolutely fair, the whole reset/re-init work seems to be largely based on FlightGear reviews stating how the sim is unable to save/load/resume flights and change aircraft without restarting the whole simulator: http://wiki.flightgear.org/FlightGear_Sessions#Problem

Those reviews mentioned there predate the reset/re-init effort by several years, and while the original reviews may not be very objective, they did have /some/ merits - and it seems that some core developers do care about such reviews and are sufficiently motivated by reviews highlighting certain issues - for instance, Stuart used to be an avid participant in "usability" discussions, including reviews of FlightGear highlighting the lack of usability - equally, the Qt5 effort could be said to be aimed at making FG more accessbile.

And the FlightGear multicore debate is seeing some attention via HLA - so people certainly care, it's just the timeframe that makes things appear very unresponsive
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