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Tomsk

Spotting: icons, labels, Smart Scaling and other ideas

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Hello!

 

 

I've not seen this discussed yet, and couldn't find anything with the search, so apologies if this has been discussed before.

 

One of the more controversial questions that comes up in almost every flight sim is what to do about spotting? The problem is that having icons telling you where people are, what team they are on, how far away they are ... is extremely unrealistic. In real life it just wasn't that easy to see other planes, or know that kind of information. However, on the flip side .. most people agree that spotting without any assistance whatsoever, is unrealistically difficult. The resolution of a monitor is just not as good as the human eye, as a result things that are clearly visible at a certain distance IRL, are often not at all visible in the game. This question often causes a lot of discussion, and people argue about which is better, but my personal opinion is that both extremes are flawed. What I would like to do is to propose a middle way!

 

Now from what I understand Battle-of-Stalingrad will have various realism options, including options on icons/labels. And I'm guessing each individual BoS server will have different realism settings. So ... I would like to make the pitch for including a middle option. Something that does aid spotting, but only to the point of making it realistically difficult. I've seen a couple of different ways of doing this.

 

My personal favorite approach to this problem was the solution used by Falcon 4: something called 'Smart Scaling'. For those that aren't familiar with Falcon 4, if you turned on Smart Scaling then the game would enlarge distant vehicles somewhat so that they can be spotted in the game at a similar distance to what can be seen in real life. The effect was gradual: when objects were close there was no scaling, as objects got further away progressively more scaling would be applied up to some maximum. Personally I felt this worked very well in Falcon 4, you'd think it might some how ruin your sense of distance or closure, but in practice I never found it a problem. The effect only really started to do much beyond a certain distance, and you quickly got used to the new sense of distance that Smart Scaling implied. The other thing I liked about smart scaling is that it also helped with identifying aircraft and ground vehicles a bit, again something that is unrealistically hard in a game without icons.

 
Other ideas I've seen floated are limited icons or halos. With limited icons rather than make the enemy plane entirely obvious with a brightly coloured label, you simply put a dot above the enemy if the enemy can be realistically spotted at that range. The dot is subtle, so you have to be looking for it. And it is the same colour whether friendly or enemy, so it doesn't automatically tell you whether it is a friendly or enemy contact.
 
Another idea is 'halos', here contacts that should be within realistic visible range get a slight halo effect around them. This makes them stand out against the background a little bit better. That said the effect would need to be relatively subtle, so that you could easily miss a contact, but you still stood a realistic chance of seeing them. It also doesn't help with identifying the contact, but at least you'd know they were there.

 

As I say, personally I like Smart Scaling the best, but I would be more than happy if BoS implemented any kind of reasonable solution for a realistic visibility aid. So yes, do other people think there should be some middle ground option between icons and no-icons? What do people think about Smart Scaling, and other suggestions. Does anyone have any more ideas for middle ground spotting aids?

Edited by Tomsk
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Well I hope one will have one or more of those options, as I find icons to be extremely helpful in WWII sims.

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I have found the system where icons appear at certain distance to be okey for my personal preference, like 500 metres or something.

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Well I hope the icons are very similar to what is in IL2. You can set the distance when they appear from .01 out and set them for plane type, pilot,army,distance.. you can turn them on or off server side.. and if they are on server side and you don't want them you can still turn them off on your PC. My RCU file that I ue on HL has friendly icons set at .6 and enemy icons at .5m with enemy plane types appearing at  .4m and names appearing at .3m. All in all a very versatile yet scalable system. 

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Sounds like there's plenty of debate on icons ... does anyone have any thoughts on Smart Scaling or any other 'middle-of-the-road' solution?

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Smart scaling sounds good to me, if we can't actually ID teh targets easily otherwise.

In ROF I liked how you could pretty much work out what aircraft type was what at a distance just by the distant LOD. It helped that speeds were lower and formations smaller, I think, but it was really great in RoF to be able to ID things without icons.

In IL2 I found them virtually essential, which is why I'd hate to just give them up completely.

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Well some don´t wish to endeavor in the skill of aircraft recognition......what is WWII with icons beats me?

With icons you sort of think. o.k. and where is the afterburner of my jet?


I had to do aircraft recognition during my military service, and several of the pictures we where expected to recognise where a lot worse

than what we had in IL2, although I found in Il2 only at great distances you had to guess, which is also so in RL

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Smart scaling seems a great option to me. When you get to a certain age some things arnt quite as good as they used to be. As our BoS pilot has good eyesight we need to be able to see what he could see,

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Well some don´t wish to endeavor in the skill of aircraft recognition......what is WWII with icons beats me?

With icons you sort of think. o.k. and where is the afterburner of my jet?

I had to do aircraft recognition during my military service, and several of the pictures we where expected to recognise where a lot worse

than what we had in IL2, although I found in Il2 only at great distances you had to guess, which is also so in RL

Sorry, I don't quite follow. You think icons belong to a later age? In terms of in-cockpit tech, certainly. In terms of how the images are relayed to us casual players sitting behind consumer-level monitors, I see it as less relevant. They are introduced to reduce the disparity between what we can see and what we can be trained to believe to be able of beating.

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But you are aware that with icons you are catering to the "trigger happy" folk? As you do not have to bother trying to

recognise the aircraft, if the icon is the right color you just need to let it rip. With out icons, you first have to be sure, is it a

enemy or a friendly before hitting the trigger. That means you approach aircraft differantly till you are certain who they are.

Where as with icons it is yes like modern jets, where at distances way beyond the best eyes in the world you know who is who

and that makes for a different flying that in my opinion has very little in common with WWII. Attacks out of the sun a very favored method

for example would become then fairly useless. So a lot of "immersion" that is being called for on other topics is being dropped for the

comfort of icons. At least that is how I feel about it.

Edited by Lord_Haw-Haw
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Hmm..Be nice to have a few options and obviously being able to deactivate server side a must..

 

Smart scaling sounds good though never tried or seen it in action..

 

always a tricky subject this and is always open to debate

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Sorry, I don't quite follow. You think icons belong to a later age? In terms of in-cockpit tech, certainly. In terms of how the images are relayed to us casual players sitting behind consumer-level monitors, I see it as less relevant. They are introduced to reduce the disparity between what we can see and what we can be trained to believe to be able of beating.

To chime in.

FlatSpinman I understand your point. However I just find icons and labels WAY too imersion breaking. And playing on an icon enabled server would be a deal breaker for me.

 

I would be far more interested in any *elegant* solution, like the ones listed above that can help enhance a virtual pilots SA without breaking the (already awesome) immersion.

 

Some other systems I could think of:

 

LOD scaling

Halos

Sun reflections and shimmers

Enhanced 'dots' (ie not just 1 pixel)

Automated sighting reports via radio

Automated sighting reports by your pilot

Zoom functions

Automated/activated head/camera turning

 

So the above aren't all great ideas. But, to me at least, they are possible immersive alternatives to a floating text.

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Sorry, I should clarify.

I don't just mean icons. I really mean any method that assists the player in spotting a HA. I agree icons don't fit but then again it's okay - not a big deal for me.

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Well I hope the icons are very similar to what is in IL2. You can set the distance when they appear from .01 out and set them for plane type, pilot,army,distance.. you can turn them on or off server side.. and if they are on server side and you don't want them you can still turn them off on your PC. My RCU file that I ue on HL has friendly icons set at .6 and enemy icons at .5m with enemy plane types appearing at  .4m and names appearing at .3m. All in all a very versatile yet scalable system. 

Yes, I agree on this as well.  It was the best system for icons I've ever experienced.

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Icons will be a part of this and any CFS in the foreseeable future. The main thing is they can be turned on/off and hopefully at both the server and user sides. If you don't like them the simple answer is don't venture into those servers which have them. The debate should center around implementation not a simple either/or argument.

 

I played a number of styles from the old AAA full arcade, to semi-real Wings of Valor to a variety of full real servers. It depended on my mood, time available, and if any of my squaddies were available.

 

I liked the old Il2 style scaled down for a reasonable distance >2k but this Smart Scaling is intriguing.

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Well of course it should be optional to set it as you prefer. It is just a shame that one aspect of WWII flying is dropped, although many talk on all kinds of

topics about immersion. That aircraft recognition was a major part of flying in the WWII era seems to be something some or maybe many find not worth

while thinking about in a WWII sim?  But good it is a game, and I might be narrow minded and view it too much as a sim?

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The problem would not exist if we had Smart Scaling. We are trying to replicate what a pilot with GOOD eyesight would see. If he didnt have good eyesight he wouldnt have made aircrew selection.

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I think that smart scaling is absolutely the right thing (even though I think I have not played a game yet which does that). It doesn't really break immersion and cancels out the downsides of a monitor. Also things like sneaking up on someone or moving in from the direction of the sun still work because it gives you no instant spotting. I think I really would like that.

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The problem would not exist if we had Smart Scaling. We are trying to replicate what a pilot with GOOD eyesight would see. If he didnt have good eyesight he wouldnt have made aircrew selection.

I know what you are trying to convey, the thing with icons is, you do not need to think >friendly< >hostile< as you see the icon, if it is set for icons on friendlies only, you know right a way at a distance I can shoot, or not - which has much more with modern military aircraft in common then what hopefully most are hoping for WWII. That just trashes also certain tactics of WWII as useless. Attacking out of the sun with icons is not really going to be a surpise then is it? Flying in clouds to hide from the enemy? With icons? For me that sounds like modern flying with WWII aircraft.

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I know what you are trying to convey, the thing with icons is, you do not need to think >friendly< >hostile< as you see the icon, if it is set for icons on friendlies only, you know right a way at a distance I can shoot, or not - which has much more with modern military aircraft in common then what hopefully most are hoping for WWII. 

Actually DD_Crash wasn't suggesting to use icons at all. He was expressing support for the Smart Scaling idea I described in my original post. Smart Scaling doesn't break immersion and it doesn't change which tactics work or don't work. All it does is make enemies that are far away larger than they actually are so that they can be spotted and identified at a realistic distance. No icons, just scaling. So you can't tell whether the target is friendly or hostile, unless you can identify it by shape ...  you don't know the distance, unless you can judge it by shape or movement. And it means that tactics such as attacking out of the sun, or hiding in clouds, work exactly as they should.

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Actually DD_Crash wasn't suggesting to use icons at all. He was expressing support for the Smart Scaling idea I described in my original post. Smart Scaling doesn't break immersion and it doesn't change which tactics work or don't work. All it does is make enemies that are far away larger than they actually are so that they can be spotted and identified at a realistic distance. No icons, just scaling. So you can't tell whether the target is friendly or hostile, unless you can identify it by shape ...  you don't know the distance, unless you can judge it by shape or movement. And it means that tactics such as attacking out of the sun, or hiding in clouds, work exactly as they should.

O.k. maybe I did not read properly what was meant with the scaling bit, if that is optional fine, but I do hope it is an option and not a fact where you have no choice. As the part with the aircraft identification was a big thing then, and when you can recognise aircraft from all kinds of angles, lighting and distances, that is an art. and a lot of attention was payed to it!  It would be just a shame if that was dumped because fast recognition and fast action are the actual interests and not really WWII style flying.

Edited by Lord_Haw-Haw

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The Il-2 icon settings are a very good model. They are adjustable and the server actually dictates exactly what kind of icons everyone gets, which is a big plus. Especially good in Il-2 is the dot system that lets you see the planes at a given distance even if you're not zoomed in.

 

When it comes to viewing aids in simulations I think the different factors include

 

Drawing / viewing distance - can be broadly similar

Resolution - much worse in simulator

Framerate - worse in simulators, usually much worse

Viewing angle - much worse in simulators

Ease of looking around - worse in simulators, even with TIR

 

If you just model each of those parts "realistically", you will end up with a definitely unrealistic experience. It's of course personal preference how people want to play the game, but I like to try to find some kind of a balance that results in a somewhat realistic ability to spot and recognize planes.

Edited by AndyHill

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Well some don´t wish to endeavor in the skill of aircraft recognition......what is WWII with icons beats me?

With icons you sort of think. o.k. and where is the afterburner of my jet?

I had to do aircraft recognition during my military service, and several of the pictures we where expected to recognise where a lot worse

than what we had in IL2, although I found in Il2 only at great distances you had to guess, which is also so in RL

 

Yes, is OK if icons are need to be include due "is just a game" folk,

but should not include "type", this educate people to recognize planes per shape.

 

The system used in il-2:'46 is very flexible, allow set several combinations.

 

Sokol1

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Smart scaling in Falcon was fine and I liked it.

 

I wonder if the devs here would consider it.   It might require some significant changes to things.  However I think it would be a good path to follow.

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I would be very happy with JUST smart scaling. I used to be a bit of a "plane spotter" when I was a lad.

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Smart scaling in Falcon was fine and I liked it.

 

I wonder if the devs here would consider it.   It might require some significant changes to things.  However I think it would be a good path to follow.

+1

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We will find out soon how the manual spotting is in this game, as I read there will be AI planes included flying around with our 109s.

 

Maybe it is already good?

Edited by pixelshader

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We will find out soon how the manual spotting is in this game, as I read there will be AI planes included flying around with our 109s.

 

Maybe it is already good?

Yea we're going find out soon enough as am not a fan of labels or icons.

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Attacks out of the sun a very favored method for example would become then fairly useless. So a lot of "immersion" that is being called for on other topics is being dropped for the

comfort of icons. At least that is how I feel about it.

 

I discussed of this matter so many times...

 

Icons are mandatory in a PC sim because of the reason the OP has already explained. The issue is the way these icons are turned on by the engine: simply if you can't see the contact (because of the sun, distance, contrast, clouds and so on) then the icon must not be rendered at all. For example the ROF icon algorithm is wrong when you can see icons under you nose... but is extremely realistic when you see tanks or trucks moving on a field.

 

I always disagree about the harsh icon refusal: in a combat sim SA is the most important thing, and "smart" icons are too much useful for this matter. If instead we fly only to admire the landscape and take screenshots, I agree that icons ruin the immersion... but that's not the point of playing a combat sim.

 

This is related to icons and spotting: http://forum.il2sturmovik.com/topic/1291-draw-distance-discussion/?p=27770

 

 

 

Edited by 6S.Manu
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From what we've seen in the early testing , both the aeroplane and the landscape share the same graphic resolutions. This improves spotting immensely. There is no "noise" in the background from resolution differences.

 

Second, from what we could attest the progressive geometry when closing distance or moving away is working great. From a good > 4 miles distance from the airfield one could clearly see the aeroplanes sitting on the bunkers. ID could not be clear but once you came closer than that you could say for sure they were not 109's ;)

 

In the end is all about how the playset and the toys are welded together. So far it looks excellent.

 

In RoF one see a contact miles away and adapt flight pattern and eventually ID them by shape once you get closer.

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On full real servers there will be no ICONS.

 

:P

 

Good, we won't need them.  This is not IL2 @Maddox games.  We won't be trying to eyeball 'dots'.  The LoD works much too well for that.

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I would be very happy with JUST smart scaling. I used to be a bit of a "plane spotter" when I was a lad.

 

+1

 

Never had a 20/20, more like a +2.25 reading glasses for now LOL
 
Of course in ROF you see scouts at 4 to 5 miles ... on full zoom, limiting your field of sight at 6°, takes eternity to do a 360 after which you have lost your bearings completely - maybe only me having this kind of problem?
 
And I can do without "expert" settings servers also.
 
A poll in the making I'd say.

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I'm not sure if people calling for icons have ever played the RoF. Even without any icons it's possible to see a contact  5 - 7 km far. If you gain some experience, you can recognized particular planes at about 2 km. At 200 m - 300 m you can recognize personal markings and numbers/digits on wings/fuselage. I think this is very good way how to simulate real world.

 

And of course if you want you can set the icons on (if this option is allowed on the server).

 

EDIT: I don't use TIR. I use mouse for looking around (actually the ministick on X 52 Pro throttle) and have no problem to see and track the planes at these distances or during dogfights.

Edited by II./JG1_Pragr
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I hope they will provide the "toggle icons" option just like IL2 and ROF.  At least in SP mode.  I think it's a huge help and was frustrated that it was missing from CLoD.

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I'm not sure if people calling for icons have ever played the RoF. Even without any icons it's possible to see a contact  5 - 7 km far. If you gain some experience, you can recognized particular planes at about 2 km. At 200 m - 300 m you can recognize personal markings and numbers/digits on wings/fuselage. I think this is very good way how to simulate real world.

 

Time for some math and some demonstration pictures. So let's take a 24" screen (520mm x 320mm), at resolution 1920x1200 being viewed at a distance of 700mm. If you do the math you work out that that is about 1.33 arcminutes per pixel [520/1920 = 0.27mm/pixel, tan(x) = O/A, x = atan(O/A) = atan(0.27/700) =  0.221 degrees = 1.33 arcminutes). Now, many studies in human vision have determined that a young person with good version can resolve details that are between 0.3 and 0.4 arcminutes [http://clarkvision.com/articles/eye-resolution.html] [http://www.cultofmac.com/173702/why-retina-isnt-enough-feature/]. So that's about 4x the resolution that you can achieve with a current screen. So what does 4x resolution difference look like .. well ...

 

ResolutionCompare.png

ResolutionCompare2.png

That is an incredible difference. My opinion is that flying without some kind of spotting enhancements in a game is simulating aerial combat of the partially sighted. 

Edited by Tomsk
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Thanks Tomsk.  ;)

 

I really appreciate your post.

 

Can I add that the human eye is build to capture moving objects? That plane is moving fast over a fixed landscape. and should be easily spotted in a pair of seconds while watching in that direction.

Edited by 6S.Manu

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