Stochastic Geometry

March 4, 2009

New Toy…

Filed under: General,New Toys! — Mark Dennehy @ 01:38

I used to be a great fan of the “study sim” genre – flight sims which tried to model their aircraft as accurately as possible. The acme of the genre (and simultaenously its nadir thanks to system requirements and a plethora of bugs and instabilities) was Falcon 4.0, a simulation so accurate that F-16 pilots reported no discenable difference between the simulation and the real thing (beyond the obvious). They even took one player of the simulator up in a real Block 52 F-16 and had him fly for a few minutes, and he was able to do so successfully (not to trained professional fighter pilot standards, true, but for a guy who trained on a home PC, it was a definite succes).

Well, the new laptop can finally handle the computation load that went with Falcon 4.0 (which was enormous back when it was released), and a new version with all the patches and updates since 4.0 was released recently (Falcon 4.0 Allied Forces), so all I need is a new USB joystick (my old thrustmaster kit was wonderful to use but needs a joystick port my laptop doesn’t have).  Away to Maplin and I buy this utterly ridiculous-looking thing, seemingly the last USB joystick in Dublin (none in PC World, none in Game, none in WH Smiths even – maybe Petes had some but they had closed):

Saitek ST290 Pro

Saitek ST290 Pro

Don’t get me wrong, to get the job done it’s grand – stick, throttle, a few buttons (sorry, but five thumb buttons, a pov hat and a trigger is not a lot for a flight sim joystick when you’re used to the Thrustmaster HOTAS systems 😀 ) and rudder through twisting. But look at it. It looks like an extra from a Transformers fight scene, and not in a good way!.

See, this is what I miss about the study sim genre. Yes, you got an inch-thick book, actual paper maps of the area you were flying in, had to learn arcane jargon and procedures, needed a top-of-the-line PC (which is why I fell away from the genre in the end, Falcon 4.0 demanded so much that it just broke my enjoyment) and “proper” gameplay was a dedication of several hours and it was often more cerebral than adrenal. But that was the joy – it was immersive escapism at its best.

And the joysticks didn’t look so utterly ridiculous.



1 Comment »

  1. Believe it or not, Falcon 4.0 helps me sharpen a few skills, like shooting instrument approaches and some airwork. I’m a pilot in actual aircraft, and so I wan appreciate Falcon! No kidding! In fact, I want to encourage young people to take interest in flying, because it helps them keep their noses clean, and to engage in life. One way is to start them on Falcon, and giving them the controls of small plane and some lessons now and then if there’s some money for it. It’s expensive though. But I hope to do it. I created the Armchair Fighter Pilot’s Association, a place where we have live broadcasts of Falcon 4.0 flights, simulated furballs and just socializing. It’s small now, but I see that it can indeed grow.

    Comment by Carolina Liechtenstein — February 24, 2010 @ 10:56 | Reply

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