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Discussion on the plane visibility issue


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So, I will give  my opinion based on RL spotting, not game spotting.

I am (motor-)glider pilot with about 500 hours. I dont use any eye corrections, and can virtually spot ANYTHING flying around me within 4-6 km in a clear day (almost no haze). I can also certainly spot an aircraft flying below me 3-4k over the ground or over me. I can see my fellow pilots on the airfield walking around from 2k.

In IL-2, the 4-6km spotting only possible in some situations depending on background and vertical vertical spotting is very difficult, almost impossible over forests adn things alike. I can guarantee you that does NOT happen in RL.

 

The consequence of all that is that my eyes get very, very tired and dry after an hour or so of IL-2. I would like to fly more, but I really cant. In RL, I fly gliders regularly over 5 hours and have no problems with my eyes. I also fly BMS for much longer times (smart scalling works perfect), DCS (there are some bugs, but spotting works) and more recently MSFS (looks good so far), and also do not have any eyes issues.

 

Based on my experience, for me it is clear since I started with IL2- two years ago, the spotting math in IL-2 is not correct for the constrains we have with a monitor at about 75cm-1m in front of our eyes. The "hardcore" argument here is in my opinion BS, since we are in front of monitor and not in a cockpit! You cant use RL values....you need to adapt.

 

PS: Reshade helps though to improve spotting. Some servers, however, do not accept it....

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The game should aim to match realistic detection ranges.

 

For me, with my kit, I find it

matches closely with the detection ranges you'd get in real life.

 

However clearly some people, particularly those with high dpi monitors, detect contacts at far closer ranges, so I think your focus should be to tweak the graphics so there isn't such a disparity.

 

Also occasionally a contact is rendered as the same colour as the background. This should be addressed I think by ensuring there's some sort of contrast (by flickering between hues maybe) so the eye can pick up the movement.

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From a realism perspective I think the distance you see planes is just about right. As some people are mentionong the problem that we are having is the consistency of rendering and lighting. IRL it is fairly simple to look away briefly and then relocate something as you are looking for a consistent object. Certainly still should be the possibility that you lose it, but I've been 500m behind someone closing, lining up a shot and have completely lost them against a forest despite being zoomed in and staring right at them. From my perspective this has more to do with how the planes are being lit against their backdrop. A consistent object moving over something as complex as a forest should almost be easier to spot. There is the issue of rendering sizes also getting smaller as they get closer. This appears to be happening at crucial distances 5-1km.

 

Not sure what a solution would be. Whether it's possible to have a different rendering surface on planes at different distances, or set pixel/dpi settings is well beyond my technical knowledge.

 

Edit: also as people have mentioned this is not really an issue in Cliff of Dover so whether there is a rendering/lighting technique that could be looked at for inspiration.

 

 

Also I'd say reports from the Eastern Front around locating the enemy would need to be looked at more closely. The sheer size of the area would mean that running a standard CAP would be unlikely to find anything and getting lost would be incredibly easy. Taking into account the life expectancy also, you're average pilot wouldn't have much time to get better at picking up targets. Our combat zones are a lot more condensed than real life.

Edited by Cass
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Good morning gents.
I want to add my thoughts on this topic which is the eternal discussion of all flight simulators.
If we talk about simulation it means that they should simulate the pros and cons of real life.
Getting a "Tally" / "Visual" contact in RL is difficult, it depends on many factors such as light, weather, background, aircraft dimentions/colours etc. 
I find the contacts in this Sim really well "simulated" but there is obviously the limit of resolutions, colors, contrast that each one of us has in relation of personal hardware. I dont have VR so I don't know  how contacts are visible with it.
On the other hand I find that the transition between FOV's creates something not realistic. First of all in RL there is no option of zoom in/out but we have a wider FOV due to our eyes anatomy. 
I'm of the opinion that if you want to make a realistic SIM, DEVs should add as option to lock FOV to fixed zoom (still moving the pilot head inside the cockpit) and work on contacts acquisition with a fixed FOV. The scaling of the contact in relation of FOV is something forced and needed only for making their SIM more easy and playable for all kind of players from expert to noob.
How many players use zoom-in to shoot at crazy distances... but then cry for lack of realism?  How many players fly at 7000mt and get contact with enemy at ground level by using zoom-in... but then cry for lack of realism? 
In RL above mentioned examples are impossible! Just think to shoot from 6 o'clock to a thin shape from 700mt or more or see a 9x9mt aircraft from 7000mt... impossible the first, ultra hard and contrast dependent the second.
So if you want it "realistic" probably it is not always fun... so? what to do?
The solution is find tactics that work, anticipate the enemy, realize that there are other players have success in getting kills and survive (hoping without cheats) and accept what you have if it similar to RL. 
Another eternal discussion is weapon effectiveness but I don't want to go out of topic...
I did some pictures with an iPhone7 with a resolution of 4032 x 3024, nice day light and weather on a gray colored aircraft with a length of 10m and here how you see it:  3km.thumb.jpg.cf39bcc377815c5958fa8e112b5568f3.jpg 5km.thumb.jpg.4ff3dac9fdcaacbcfd55e31dabadcb12.jpg

Now immagine the same contact over the land... have fun to find it ;)

 

Edited by ITAF_Lynx11
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Thanks @Han for giving us this chance to speak our minds. I live in a place that has the highest concentration of pilots and small GA aircraft in the world. I fly a lot in them. I can say from experience that the visibility of nearby aircraft in the game is much poorer than reality.

I understand that many pilots in the war got killed without ever seeing the enemy and that in a few seconds of inattention a plane moves a fair distance and can be in a position you can't see. Many of these pilots particularly on the German and USSR sides were rushed into combat with minimal experience at mock combat and didn't finish their first combat flight. We all remember that feeling of our first couple of months flying MP. It wasn't because we couldn't see it was because we lacked SA. 

We now have thousands of hours of (virtual) combat experience and know where to look. But we still can't see anything.

The contrast is too low below the horizon or the textures can't be realistically produced, I'm not sure what the issue is but the spotting below the horizon is definitely not what I've experienced from the inside of bush planes during moose season.

 

Another completely separate issue is that on MP there is a bug that I run into a lot where the plane is literally not visible even at 50m. I sat in the back seat of a 110 and saw tracers coming from clear blue sky.

:salute:

skud

Edited by ATAG_SKUD
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This is one of several dozen aircraft I spotted over England. It is a small non-airliner aircraft. The altitude is 38,000ft, with slant ranges this means that this contact is more than 7nm alway. I am curious @ITAF_Lynx11 how you ascertained the range to the contacts in your pictures.

 

 

 

 

Ill also note that neither videos  (and especially pictures) do not do this stuff justice. Objects IRL are much clearer and larger due to what is taken on a camera due to field of view issues, resolution issues, and compression when it is delivered in various formats. The contacts in my videos here are MUCH harder to see than they were when I was taking the videos.

 

As I have posted before, the average spotting distance of a T-38 (which is rather small) was betwen 4-6nm.....much further than 3-5km.

Edited by [TLC]MasterPooner
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Haven't played for a few months but the problem always seemed to be that while planes were generally visible at a distance and at close range, the moment they transition between long/close they turned practically invisible.

 

Like some other people, it's better to focus on realistic results I think rather than trying to portray an exact 'technically' realistic size of the aircraft on screen. There is a huge amount of obstacles we have to spotting through a monitor and there should be some, perhaps 'unrealistic' enhancement techniques used to give us a better chance of seeing the enemy.

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To me what we have now is not realistic from what i can see in real world i live in, maybe things are differant in your world.

Contacts in game can be spoted easy from big distances, but lost easy when you come closer to them for no aperant reason.

Nav lights can be sean easy from big distances (get bigger as you move away) even at day time, not what i see in real world.

Contacts that you falow and just look to check 6 can be lost so easy, so its not new contact its contact you know is there your on him and you just look from him for few s.

Allied contacts show brighter when looked from abow even if they have como skins, while axis show darker, hows that realistic.

So maybe ill like realistic more then fun when i see it in game, what visability is now is not realistic and fun killer for sure.

Edited by CountZero
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Dear Han, thank you very much for opening this discussion! I regularly fly with a group of 6. None of my friends are active on the forum, but speaking for all of us: we love the realism in the flight models, damage models etc. But specifically, spotting is just no fun. We're not flying because we want the 100% authentic (and as you say, in real life very terrifying and unpleasant) experience. We fly because it's cool, and having realism makes the game more challenging, and therefore more satisfying when you shoot someone down. But the reason I fly Il2 is because I want to have fun. Not being able to find each other is not fun. It's super frustrating.

 

So, of course there should be options for realism (and what a can of worms that word opens up haha), just like with the flight models etc. But for the love of god, throw us slightly more casual players a bone here :) We are playing to live the fantasy of being an awesome WW2 fighter pilot, not necessarily the real deal.

 

Partially this would already be helped by having more control over the labels. Like, having player names show up way further away (we also fly with a bunch of bots, just for fun, but during banter it often happens I really want to shoot down one particular friend for some stuff he/she said, and that's really hard to do if everyone is flying 109's and spitfires).

 

Cheers,

Benji

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9 hours ago, Han said:

strive for the maximum possible realism in the simulation of air combat in all its aspects? Or are we striving to get the maximum "fun" from virtual air battles - which are based on real battles of the Second World War

 

I want it to be entertaining but plausible.  Not a destructive adherence to some aspects of realism to the extent that it makes the software an irritating experience to use and an unattractive product to purchase. I want it to follow the spirit, not the letter of realism if that makes sense. 

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Ever since the patch that removed the 10km render radius, I've had difficulties spotting aircraft in the mid-range. This isn't a question of realism vs accessibility, but an issue with midrange LODs. I do not experience the same issue with other sims like DCS or CloD

Edited by =362nd_FS=RoflSeal
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I can’t tell you what the difference is, whether it’s how haze for terrain renders, shadows and lighting can’t compare with real life, or simply resolution of a game compared to the human eye. But here are some spotting examples from real life. I fly for work and frequently spot aircraft from significantly further distances than il2 allows. Even military aircraft that aren’t white. The motion and lighting makes them stand out like a sore thumb. If realism is the goal spotting needs to be fixed. It’s documented that pilots spotted planes all the way across the English Channel on clear days. That’s about 20 miles. I routinely spot planes 20nm away and usually can ID them by 5. (Depending on size and angle). What you quoted about segmented scans is true. That’s how your eyes work. If you look straight at it, you won’t see it. You have to scan peripheral. Rods and cones. Color/contrast and static/moving. That’s how I scan in I2. Focus in the middle of my screen and scan the edges. That being said once trained and practiced spotting is easy. I’m not saying it needs to be hugely easier but it definitely is much harder than reality. Lots of things in this game don’t match reality. (Water drops in the windscreen for example. Water doesn’t bubble up in huge blobs at 250kts. It gets spread out in tiny 1-2mm droplets that streak across the windscreen.) and I’m not trying to hate on the game or anything. I love il2, but if you’re interested in reality and realism, I’m offering you my experiences. And if you feel what I’m saying isnt true, I don’t know what to tell you. I do this in real life. It’s easier. 
 

At minimum maybe the scaling of #of pixel to various resolutions needs to be fixed for targets beyond 5km. I’ve seen a lot documenting that rendering issue. I think it’s true? But idk. 
 

here are some clips below of real life spotting. Note that the image does not reflect what my eye saw. It’s far clearer in real life. The plane at 5 miles or so I could clearly see that it had a T tail and tail mounted engines, which you can’t see in the image. (Planes are about the size of a b25)
 


https://www.dropbox.com/sh/4ivk55mpkd40pnl/AACjxO3TFXRdEnyzcSHV1doZa?dl=0

 

appreciate all your hard work, and I love flying this sim. My two cents. 


 

(In case it wasn’t clear, I am an airline pilot. “Flying for work” didn’t quite convey that. I only mention this in case that information brings more credence to my observations.)
 

Edited by JeffreyLeftovers
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10 hours ago, Han said:

We, the gaming community "IL-2 Sturmovik", inside of which I count myself on an equal footing with you, strive for the maximum possible realism in the simulation of air combat in all its aspects? Or are we striving to get the maximum "fun" from virtual air battles - which are based on real battles of the Second World War - and where should not be factors (albeit grounded in realism) that will excessively interfere with us in this?

 

I believe that we should find a compromise between the two, since there is no way to make looking at a 2D screen appear the same as seeing contacts in real life. 

From what I can tell, there seems to already be a compromise in place as @-=PHX=-SuperEtendard has pointed out here:

 

9 hours ago, -=PHX=-SuperEtendard said:

These are the results:

unknown.png

 

Whilst Jason may disagree on this, IMO this gives us a good indication what the final solution should be.

Currently it seems that the scaling appears to decrease until a realistic size is reached at about 2.50 km at which point the contact naturally increases in size again due to coming closer.

 

It is irritating that the current solution is inconsistent with what we perceive as realistic.

In real life, any perceived object that approaches the viewer consistently increases in size the closer it gets. 

 

In my opinion it would be a working compromise for the scaling that seems to be happening here to more fluidly and consistently increase the size of the visible contact from 5.00 km until it reaches the size displayed at 1.00 km. Whether this is realistic or not does not matter, what does matter is that it appears realistic and consistent with how humans perceive the direct correlation between distance and apparent size.

 

Edit: 

@[TLC]MasterPoonerpoints out a good working solution.

 

 

 

29 minutes ago, [TLC]MasterPooner said:

 

 

Edited by So_ein_Feuerball
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What some people wish for is suicidal for bombers. 
rather than making hard pixels I wonder if it ispossible just giving a server option on labels in form of a dot. A dot not showing itself before you should be able to spot. 
and only visible in windows. 
For me it is most importance that ai have same spotting condition as we. Good or bad

Edited by 216th_LuseKofte
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Thanks Han for opening this topic and particularly in the way you do it, it is very interesting. 

 

My personal experience is as follows :

 

- I am in favor of a realistic approach.

 

- I don't have that many issue detecting contacts. Most of the time, I'm among the first in my squad to spot contacts. The rare moments I can get frustrated with it is by example when following an aircraft, few hundred meters away, climbing in the blue sky or diving to the deck and I will suddenly loose track of him. I have no idea if loosing track of an aircraft in such a situation is realistic or not. If it is, it is perfectly fine for me then.

 

- There's a huge disparity in between pilots to that matter. Some people are real radars, some others will remain unable to detect an aircraft shooting at them 200m behind them even when looking in the right direction. I am unable to tell if the disparity comes from their hardware or personal abilities.

 

- As a flight instructor, I experienced situations I never experienced before on any other simulators. I sometimes had to activate icons and fly with lights in order to train someone on BFM or ACM as my trainee's ability to spot me and keep me in sight was really an issue.

 

- Moving with that trainee to DCS for a short visibility test gave much better results. He was able to track me pretty well although I am unable to tell technically why.

 

Feedback for players :

 

- When looking for enemies, once you've positioned your aircraft and head to scan a particular sector, stay still : it will be easier to detect a moving aircraft on a static background.

 

- Always assume a contact you've just lossed is in your 6 😁

 

- Stop disabling VSync. So many players disable VSync because they think  having 200 fps on a 60Hz monitor is a smart move. Screen tearing will completely ruin the fluidity and image continuity, which is key in being able to spot contacts.

 

Feedback for developers :

 

- Pretty obvious but chase like hell any micro stutters. As I mentioned above, image continuity is key for movement perception.

 

Aircraft models lighting I think is really important for that matter:

 

-  Reflections at distance. Light being reflected by a distant surface to your face is very noticeable IRL. When you fly IRL, the most obvious things are solar panels, velux window or... aircraft canopies. They will cause some kind of light sparkle that you can see miles away. I don't think this is present in IL2. I guess reflections will not be visible as soon as the reflecting area is less than a pixel while in reality, even a coin sized mirror would be visible at the right angle.

 

- I am not 100% sure about this but you seem to rely on a home made BRDF model for your lighting calculations (if I'm wrong, ignore the following). Moving the engine to a PBR approach might be a thing to consider. Better contact visibility is not guaranteed but more realistic one is.

 

- Experiment new anti aliasing methods like DLSS which seems to give very sharp results.

 

Hope my contribution will be helpful. Anyway thanks for opening a discussion on this. 😉

Edited by JG300_Vylsain
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I think attempting to find a realistic solution is laudable but I think gameplay experience needs to sit at a tier above realism in order to make for an enjoyable combat simulation. Yes, pilots did not always see their attacker, however, that was usually because of poor situational awareness or insufficient wingman/leader tactics in scanning the sky. The problem we have with IL-2 (and frankly other sims too) is that good tactics are sometimes let down by an aircraft not being sufficiently visible on my 1080p screen and that's where a nod to gameplay over realism I think is required.

 

A close examination of contrast, aircraft dot/LOD relationships, and the overall shine and reflectivity of aircraft (especially with different skin colours and configurations) would be something I'd like to see and a few adjustments made.

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10 hours ago, Han said:

I invite everyone to share your opinion here.

 

Thank you Han to provide us a chance to thoroughly discuss this issue.

 

First I'm afraid that I have to disagree with part of your opinion. Yes, realism is the first priority for us to consider in plane visibility and No, reasonable comfort should be allowed in this game that we, as players, can purchase and enjoy.

 

Secondly, with doctrine emphasized, I would like to give my suggestion on this issue:

 

(1  Please try to minimize the difference between people using different screen. My friends with 32in 4K screens can spot contacts 8km away with maximum zoom but me with a 15in 1080p laptop screen can only spot 4km contacts on the same condition.

 

2)  please try to incorporate a consistent LOD setting and render targets in a more stable manner. I kept suffering from contacts stop rendering at medium range with a certain deflection angle. 

 

3)  Please try to incorporate a rigid solution on silhouette of the contacts, and the contrast between different background and the contact.

 

Besides I think that pursuing a real spotting experience not with our own eyes but with screens has gone a bit too far... On condition that 'what is real spotting experience' is still a controversial topic with standards changing from person to person and thus difficult to perceive. Not to mention that people use different screen and VR sets, which make it even more difficult to make spotting experience consistent. 

 

I personally recommend to have a reference to Cliffs of Dover's system in spotting. Although this system leans a bit more to the 'Comfort' side, it's a rigid and relatively persuading solution for the time being. Over the years I've seen little or no complaints relating to spotting on Cliffs of Dover communities and forums.

 

To sum up: Strike the balance is more preferable to me.

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Han thank you for opening this topic.

My experience is that after some of the latter updates, is that I have real problems spotting aircraft, I play SP with icons on.

My monitor is 27 inch 1440 with an Nvidia 980ti card.

 

My problems are:

When aircraft fly directly towards me I cannot tell if they are flying straight at me or slightly to the left or right, too late I find out.

I can be on tail of an ac and only know he’s there because of the icons, at the last minute the ac becomes clear, by this time I’m swerving to avoid a collision.

On an airfield attack there are parked ac (no icons) I only see these when I fly directly over them. I remember where they are return and strafe what looks like open ground, finally the ac appear by which time I am virtually on top of them

 

My difficulty with spotting is always against the dark green browns of the earth textures.

I know the ac are camouflaged but to me they are virtually invisible until the very last minute.

I have no experience of flying except as a passenger but I am able to see ground objects easily from a good height.

 

Realism and enjoyment in sim is a difficult balance to achieve, I enjoy this sim, but the spotting as it is removes some of the pleasure from it: in my opinion.

Thank you once again for opening this debate.

 

Update, after reading some of the comments here I tried lowering my resolution to 1080, in my opinion there was no improvement in visibility.

 

Edited by Adj
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Thanks for finally opening a thread about this. I can only hope that some solution can be found that suites the majority.

 

As it stands now, my impression is that only few people that are absolutely adamant in having a 1:1 plane scale rendering are satisfied with the current solution. For others like me, this is by far the worst aspect of this particular flight sim, and one where this gorgeous game lags severely behind all other flight sims.

 

In order not to repeat what others have posted, I will point out comments that I think are most important in improving the current situation:

 

5 hours ago, [TLC]MasterPooner said:

-Why zooming doesnt work, and why 105 FOV is needed: Because using zoom for spotting creates a time observation loop that is far worse than your eyes would operate IRL. In reality your eyes seen the equivalent to multiple fields of view all at once.  Forcing the player to zoom to see something creates a problem where the focus and effort to scan an area becomes an absurd chore compared to real life. 105 fov provides a wide enough view to allow the player to dogfight, but then you cant see anything in the current game. Zooming in, even snap zooms, take too long and it can be hard to point the zoom in the precise direction. I have asked for the spotting system being based around the widest fov not to make things extremely easy, but because zooming in to see things is extremely unlike the real world. If you guys make changes to the spotting, whatever techniques you use could/should be modified when the player zooms so they dont get double advantage. If you rely on zoom, you can be in a dogfight looking right at a plane about to jump into the fight and not see it because its only visible enough when zoomed.

 

Absolutely true. Zoom in this game is used to actually render visible long range contacts. They are not visible on wide FOV. This is forcing us to use zoom as in to mimic what our eyes would do in real life without even thinking about it. It is a bad approach and needs to go. As @[TLC]MasterPooner wrote, we need guaranteed rendering on widest FOV as it far better simulates real eyes peripheral vision.

 

 

4 hours ago, norsetto said:

To the OP, you talk like realism and fun are two opposite side of the same medal. I don't think they are, quite the opposite. If the question is "Do you think the current il2 implementation of contact visibility is realistic or fun" I would say neither.

 

Seconded +1000. Realistic and fun are not in stark contrast to one another. Quite the opposite, else we wouldn't be playing this game / flight sim. 🙂

 

The current system is neither realistic or fun. In the old IL-2 1946 that had a much more "easier" contact rendering system when compared to what we have here - losing a target or not joining with a friendly was still a very common occurrence. To me this system feels as if it is forcing a "newbie" experience on us veterans that have 15 years of experience with flight sims on highest realism settings.

 

For all of the above reasons I only fly bombers in this sim, as everything else is too demanding, inconsistent and a very exhausting and frustrating experience.

 

My monitor is 27" 1440p, color calibrated with a device.

Edited by [DBS]TH0R
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For me, as a VR only player, I have to say that I am someway "forced" to a more realistic simming exp, since I have no aid for looking around, since head tracking is 1 to 1 (this is a great thing).

In That situation and counting the limited amount of quality in the VR screens, what I experience often is that if I loose sight of a plane, for checking 6 IE, I cannot re find it almost always, no matters I know where it should be. Many often, I can not even see planes that I know are in front of me or that I know are at my six, at a distance less than 500 m. I am in favour of realism, but this situation does not seem to be much realistic, according to what @MeoW.Scharfi said in first answer. We should be able to find a moving object that we know where is, or the relative area were it is located. I think this is due to excessive merging with background.

For Shure, completely different is the situation were you loose attention of your high 6 and get shot by a zooming enemy, Wich is a very "realistic" situation and is Ok.

I must add that the game introduces some lags or stutters when players are more than 25 on an MP server, wich sometimes, due to firing asw or just having some hiccups, make it a little harder, since the time you invest on, ie, checking six, is a fraction of a second. When there are coincidence between a stutter and looking backwards, it is almost the same as not have looked behind.

Thanks for officially introducing this discussion and If it is useful, as last comment, yes, this discourages to use the sim sometimes.

 

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Another thing is that people use external factors to improve the spoting and have advantage over other users, is that fair? In my 1440p monitor I am blind but if reduce the resolution I can spot much easier, is that fair? It's like cheating and break the whole point of "realism" you want to achieve.

 

Secondly many users tweak the startup.config + use reshade to change the washed colors this sim have(colors need an adjustment too to improve the spoting) so what you want to achieve is broken.

 

Edit: if changing graphics settings, config, monitor, etc make easier the spoting then what you want to achieve is impossible, people will always find a way to have advantage over other, if you address that and no matter the setting every user will have the same experience then I am with you on the realism thing. But if not it's broken. I refuse to do that to make my game looks horrible, to increase the DPI size just to have advantage over other users, I prefer to not play.

Edited by SJ_Butcher
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Spotting in the simulation online play as it sits now is harder than real life and inconsistent.

 

Running a 3 year old rig that uses an I7 7700 with a GTX 1080 the game runs great on my old Rift CV1.

But when on voice comms with others in Combat Box, sometimes I'm the first to spot a bogey and and other times the wing men on large flat displays are the first to make the call out.

This is when we are formed up within a few hundred meters or each other. I know the old CV1 has it's limitations, but the inconsistency in who makes the first call to guide others in is what I'm questioning.

 

Also, I'm still wondering whether or not the size that planes are rendered at a distance up until they are in lethal range has been handled.

Reference my post about the P-51 rendering at 1/3 the size of ANY other plane when viewed from long range.

Glad to see the developers asking this question.

 

 Now about the damage from bombs on hard targets..........

 

Edited by flynvrtd
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38 minutes ago, [TLC]MasterPooner said:

This is one of several dozen aircraft I spotted over England. It is a small non-airliner aircraft. The altitude is 38,000ft, with slant ranges this means that this contact is more than 7nm alway. I am curious @ITAF_Lynx11 how you ascertained the range to the contacts in your pictures.

I watched each of your videos at least 3 times, and only on the last video I was finally able to spot the aircraft. There's nothing wrong with my eyesight - I rather think it's a nice example of how things are easy to spot when we know where to look but very hard when we haven't seen it yet, especially against a background.

 

Just now, JG300_Vylsain said:

-  Reflections at distance. Light being reflected by a distant surface to your face is very noticeable IRL. When you fly IRL, the most obvious things are solar panels, velux window or... aircraft canopies. They will cause some kind of light sparkle that you can see miles away. I don't think this is present in IL2. I guess reflections will not be visible as soon as the reflecting area is less than a pixel while in reality, even a coin sized mirror would be visible at the right angle.

This. When seeing gliders above the local airfield (~6km away) I'm often completely unable to spot them until they suddenly reflect the sun.

 

1 hour ago, tbuc said:

So, I will give  my opinion based on RL spotting, not game spotting.

I am (motor-)glider pilot with about 500 hours. I dont use any eye corrections, and can virtually spot ANYTHING flying around me within 4-6 km in a clear day (almost no haze). I can also certainly spot an aircraft flying below me 3-4k over the ground or over me. I can see my fellow pilots on the airfield walking around from 2k.

In IL-2, the 4-6km spotting only possible in some situations depending on background and vertical vertical spotting is very difficult, almost impossible over forests adn things alike. I can guarantee you that does NOT happen in RL.

  There is one essential difference, and that is colours. Modern aircraft are mostly white, which stands out against the ground like a sore thumb. WW2 aircraft are camouflaged. They are meant to be hard to spot. By definition, spotting in game should be harder than spotting modern aircraft IRL.

 

9 hours ago, Han said:

But nevertheless, without denying the two points sounded above, I consider it necessary to clarify the main issue on the visibility of aircraft. We, the gaming community "IL-2 Sturmovik", inside of which I count myself on an equal footing with you, strive for the maximum possible realism in the simulation of air combat in all its aspects? Or are we striving to get the maximum "fun" from virtual air battles - which are based on real battles of the Second World War - and where should not be factors (albeit grounded in realism) that will excessively interfere with us in this?

I'm all for realism, whatever that means. If someone convinces me that spotting is in fact much harder than in real life, I'm all for enhanced spotting. But so far people have yet to convince me.

 

Of course that doesn't mean that some problems such as different DPI settings shouln't be addressed. And possibly other hardware-related issues (low VR resolution, big FOV on a small screen, ...). Against the sky, I'm usually able to spot fighter-sized aircraft from ~8-10km distance on my hardware. Against the ground, I accept that camo makes it much harder to detect enemies.

 

For people who want to be able to instantly spot any enemy and focus on the "fun" or tactical side of combat, there's already a good option. It's called "Icons On".

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Hello Han,

 

Thank you for this discussion. I will provide my point of view about this topic:

 

In my opinion, realism should be achieved, but sometimes we are handicaped by hardware and not real-life conditions. Visibility has improved a lot since the Deferred Shading implementation, but not everybody has seen good improvements as there are millions of combinations of hardware and conditions. 

 

I am happy with it as it is right now, but I also think that some people has problems or that the experience of another approach would benefit the saga. All of that still being realistic which I think it's the goal of Great Battles and should stick with it.

 

I believe that the team should aim for realism, but when the result is problematic (Using real life visibility or the pixel problem with high resolution)  they should try to find a solution so at the end the result is realisitic. This means that even if there is a "simpler" solution for this in the "backstage", at the end it would be realistic if the conditions are met. So there would not be a compromise in that regard.

 

The 1-3 km thing that sometimes is hard to see (as the plane has it's wings thin when it's approaching) and cause errors could be something to fix. Maybe outline or smart scalling that makes everybody, independent of fov see the plane in short distance. I believe that the long distance spotting, as many have said, it's great but sometimes it's harder to see someone that's closer.

 

The team is doing a fanstic job and this discussion will surely provide an answer or at least some ideas of what to do. I am sure we will enjoy the future. The sim is in good hands.

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First of all, great to see such a request for feedback. I'll do my best to give constructive criticism and keep it all fair, direct and on topic. 
 

11 hours ago, Han said:

I will be honest with you, I am not an impartial party in this matter. I myself really love our project, not only as a developer, but also as a player, and I spend a lot of time in it as a player too. I have always looked for realism in simulators. And the realism of air combat for me - to a great extent - is the realism of the target detection process. In my views, I am guided by the research of historians on the topic of the combat work of the Red Army pilots on the Eastern Front. The harsh historical truth is that most of the Soviet Air Force pilots died without ever seeing an enemy aircraft in the crosshair of their sight. The losses of the Red Army Air Force during the war were many times greater than their original quantity. The war in the air on the Eastern Front was not an easy walk for Soviet pilots - it was a bloody struggle for their homeland, where most were doomed to perish. And I don't really understand how such a historical truth can be compatible with the concept of Comfort in air combat. I do not think that any of the sides was Comfortable in the battle - the Red Army Air Force, Luftwaffe, USAAF, RAF. Air combat is the culmination of the world history of personal and group military confrontation, what kind of comfort can we talk about?

 

This I totally agree with. I do not see the point in creating a fake and "pleasant" spotting system. It is arcady and part of aerial combat is the challenge of finding your opponent before he finds you. In that respect, I think the system fits right in with IL-2. There are various elements already introduced that work well. Or at least, understandably close approximations.

I'm not going in too deep on the size of aircraft and how hard spotting should be as I do think it's quite fine.

However, It's technical execution is rather lacking and fails to account for several important elements. Some are undeniably part of PC gaming. 

 

11 hours ago, Han said:

The requirements that we see on the forum say that "we should be able to easily detect targets at mid-range (1..5 km) against the background of the ground with the widest FOV (field of view)." So, this requirement calls on us to take some development that will allow us to detect targets in these conditions with a cursory view and wide FOV.
But my question is - are we trying to do our best to make a realistic air combat simulator? How these requirements are compatible with the desire for realism? Or maybe the pursuit of realism is a myth, and the community needs simplifications and compromises, and not a ultimate-realistic simulation of the combat work of a WWII pilot?

 

First of all, this contradicts itself, the human eye doesn't have a "zoom" function and is inherently unrealistic. However, zoom is also a well understood necessary solution to the unrealistic nature of pixel displays. I'm not saying we should get rid of zoom or make spotting unrealistic! But it is important to realise that spotting will never be fully realistic until we reach a point that pixel size no longer effects realistic displayed sizes of objects. 

 

This zoom also brings with it a very specific unrealistic and deeply flawed effect. At some short distances (sub 5km), it is possible to zoom in and spot a target. While at the same time, zoomed out that same target is not displayed at all.
As I mentioned before, a human eye doesn't have a zoom function but it also isn't the case that a plane will disappear completely if a human eye isn't focused fully on a target. Very hard to see and blurry but not invisible. 

 

11 hours ago, Han said:

Secondly, there is the problem of 4K monitors, where the DPI (pixel quantity per square inch) is much higher. The existing algorithm for increasing long-range LODs of aircraft takes into account only the size of the aircraft on the screen, expressed in pixels, but DPI is not taken into account. This means that on monitors with increased DPI (which are 4K monitors), the linear (in millimeters) size of the aircraft at a large distance (with all other things being equal) will be smaller than on a fullHD monitor. This happened because 4K monitors entered mainstream use not so long ago.

 

By all means, I can only describe this as a technical blunder and oversight from the start. 4K monitors and QHD (1440p) have been around for far longer than the new spotting system and should have been accounted for. I switched to a UWQHD before these spotting changes were introduced and I know, I'm not the first to do so. 

Please do fix this asap. It will only get excesorbated over time and disproportionately disadvantages those with high res monitors.

 

Then there is the issue of contrails and other "smoke/vapor" effects being displayed beyond 10km. The initial release specified that things like burning planes and contrails would be visible well over 10km just like irl. We can see burning planes from an easy 70-100 km. But contrails still fail to show at anything beyond 10k range except for AI bombers. 

Lastly, there is the invisibility issue of the transition between sub-10km and beyond 10km. I know this is addressed before and contributed to a "technical limitation" but that doesn't make it less distracting. 


To summarise, the core intentions and underlying core elements work quite well and are by all means a good step in the right direction. But the technical execution is lacking and requires several fixes:

  • Zoom can make planes completely invisible at short range. Planes should be hard to see when zoomed out but not vanish completely.
  • The DPI not being taken into account needs to be fixed ASAP!
  • Contrail/ vapor effects not showing beyond 10km
  • The 10km transition area is distracting and breaks the immersion.

BlackHellHound1

:salute:

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3 hours ago, AEthelraedUnraed said:

I watched each of your videos at least 3 times, and only on the last video I was finally able to spot the aircraft. There's nothing wrong with my eyesight - I rather think it's a nice example of how things are easy to spot when we know where to look but very hard when we haven't seen it yet, especially against a background.

 

I did not know where to look when I was filming. Like I said it was alot easier in person.

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32 minutes ago, I/JG54_chuishan said:

 

(1  Please try to minimize the difference between people using different screen. My friends with 32in 4K screens can spot contacts 8km away with maximum zoom but me with a 15in 1080p laptop screen can only spot 4km contacts on the same condition.

 

 

This. Until there is a solution that gives a level playing field for everyone, no matter what monitor or VR headset they are using, it doesn't matter how 'real' it is or not. I am constantly 'outspotted' by someone using a VR headset because of the difference in resolution. Even when he points out exactly where the contacts are I don't see them until they are much closer.

I would rather go for 'realism' over 'comfort' but its not the real argument IMO.

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I also prefer realistic approach and do not expect to be able to see aircraft  hugging the deck from 20nm. But I think that the game is missing a key feature that allows to spot aircraft against terrain at close-ish ranges.

 

IRL, when you view an aircraft flying below you, it's easy to notice because of:

 

a) movement against ground catches your eye immediately. It is just something that humans are conditioned to pay attention to

b) moving aircraft changes colours and shades, and those changes in lightning also draw attention

 

I find that shading/lightning effects in the game behave different to what I observe IRL. Aircraft seem rather dull, they do not reflect light in a way that would make them easy to see against dark, forested areas and whatnot. Also maybe because the game is in 2D ( VR fliers correct me if I'm wrong) movement isn't displayed the same way human eye perceives it IRL. 

 

My points apply to dark backgrounds - forested areas, dark waters (such as black sea) and dark sky. Sometimes the sky is very intensly blue and it's very hard to see aircraft against it, they "blend in" very well. 

 

 

 

 

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First of all thanks for asking this question at all. Very nice that you take the time to collect an analyze what your customers think about spotting and are looking into the subject to improve this fantastic simulator even more.

 

I don't fly that much without icons or tweak the system for better spotting but even with icons on I think it is very difficult to pick out the outline of an aircraft against the ground, which you need to set up the correct deflection in a head on pass for example. Probably a lot of this has to do with depth perception not being present on my 2D screen but compared to how I perceive aircraft against a background in real life I can think of two improvements that could be done:

 

One is to compensate for the lack of depth perception by introducing a more hazy coloring of the background compared to the plane which would then appear to have more saturated coloring and consequently be easier to pick up against the background. In addition, I don't really think this would be unrealistic at all since in many times (other than after a cold front passage) there can be quite a lot of haze giving the background a bluish tinge.

 

The other idea I think was mentioned before already: Introduce more pronounced "glittering" to emulate canopy reflections and reflections from various surfaces of the plane. To make this fair, it would of course have to be some random system so that everyone who is flying rolls the dice at the same time intervals and consequently run the same risk of generating a reflection.

 

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4 hours ago, 71st_AH_Barnacles said:

The game should aim to match realistic detection ranges.

 

For me, with my kit, I find it

matches closely with the detection ranges you'd get in real life.

 

However clearly some people, particularly those with high dpi monitors, detect contacts at far closer ranges, so I think your focus should be to tweak the graphics so there isn't such a disparity.

 

Also occasionally a contact is rendered as the same colour as the background. This should be addressed I think by ensuring there's some sort of contrast (by flickering between hues maybe) so the eye can pick up the movement.


I like this post and agree with it. As a real life pilot, spotting is Difficult and like everything else, it gets better with time and practise. 
I fly VR and I can say that over the past 3 years my spotting ability in the game has increased significantly.
 

As well, there’s another game on the market that is so much worse than this one when it comes to spotting. While not perfect, I think this Il2 title has done a good job of spotting. I would like to see a slight improvement with spotting contacts against the earth, maybe a flicker or something. 
 

thanks

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Whatever changes you make, make sure it is optional and controllable by servers.

 

I dont see any issues with giving players and server hosts more ability to change and modify the game to their tastes.

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Han, thank you for opening this discussion, I prefer realism definitely, and this is what differentiate Il2 series from other sims that are easier and less detailed, which also has their popularity, and their following, the farther away IL2 series goes from those type of games the better.

Spotting like many has said before in this thread, the difficulty is a closer distance when contacts disappear, with that being said, I rather we stay the way we are (its difficult for all, so even) than an arcade solution like bigger planes or icons of some sort.

As a pilot IRL, I can tell you spotting is difficult, we have ADSB which shows the traffic in the screen, and when trying to locate the planes knowing where they are its difficult and we are talking GA planes which the majority are white, but once you see them (usually 3km or less when against the ground) they are not that easy to loose.

I also fly a military trainer and fly with friends, doing dogfights, their cammo planes are harder to spot unless against the sky or water, and once you see them if you turn around to check 6, you can loose them for a bit this between 1km and 3km, when closer than 1km they are not to difficult to find again, which is where it gets difficult in game against the ground, the medium to close distance loosing contacts, sometimes from above the other plane and sometimes at low level flying over forests chasing another plane at close distance, you just loose it against the trees.

Seems to be its a difficult issue to fix, great to see the developers are open to discussing it.

I made a video to show  an idea of how it looks IRL close to medium distance, which IMHO is where the main problem exists.

 

 

Edited by SCG_motoadve
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Spotting issues have chased away almost everyone I convinced to try this game with me. Five people down to just me. Had I not joined a squadron I too would have quit. 

 

Spotting issues and .50 cal issues are killing my joy of this game and have prevented me from buying or preordering further content and have severely reduced my play time. Instead I've been flying other sims (even WT of all things is more engaging because I can actually SEE. And it's a terrible sim. That's how bad it is right now ), and currently enjoying MSFS.

 

Il2 could easily be my no-brainer favorite, if only I could see. Current situation does not feel realistic and it absolutely is not fun. If you had to make a choice, choose fun. Choose it hard. And make sure you don't further balkanize the server population by allowing admins to force original spotting the way you allow them to force reshade off.  That situation is obnoxious at best, having to deal with very different spotting situations on "expert" servers. 

 

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OK, great subject.

 

the goal should be the feeling, the perception of realism.

 

i was part of the warbirds team in the 90’s and back then we were having the same discussion.

 

i believe the disconnect is the way a screen works vs your eyeball. We perceive in a fairly wide angle, but we see slightly telephoto in the fovea (area of detailed vision).. The eye flicks back and forth and the brain fills in the data not in the eye view. The perception is we see detail wide, we do not in real time. Scan and persistence fills in the gaps. The eye/brain is an amazing system. If we chose a wide angle of view like our perception, then objects are smaller than should be. If we choose, a normal field of view then the field of view when represented on a monitor is way too narrow. The object sizes should be calculated and adjusted based upon actual focal  focal length of the eyeball at distance, not the focal length of the field of view. Objects are too small and the perception as it is now is not realistic. This would fix everything, imo.

 

secondly, there are major differences between device used for playing the game. My VR headset is far more glare prone than my monitor using track ir. Again that should be balanced to be equivalent.

 

lastky the game engine can contribute. Has anybody see how the sky reflects off the ocean lately. The sea is not glassy smooth and would not reflect the sky like it does now. Maybe it’s finserver and not the game. But lighting effects should continue to be improved.

 

WB_jokkr

Edited by WB_jokkr
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Thanks for bringing this up. 

 

 

I upvoted some posts in this threads showing dynamic scaling and making points I agree with. In my view this game is about getting a realistic overall impression of the experience but still having fun. There must be trade-offs as we are still sitting in the comfort of our homes playing a computer game.  

 

I played both CloD and BoS on a 24” 1080p panel. Now changed to 32” 1440p  and the situation in both sims is really still the same. Pretty much blind in BoS and happy to be able to see contacts in CloD.

 

IMO the spotting in BoS should be made similar to CloD’s.


In a nutshell:

- more opaque dots at larger distances, preferably with its size proportional to screen resolution up to a certain point

- larger LODs with a more solid and opaque colors to them at closer range when shape should become visible
- smoother transition between dots and LOD


In CloD contacts transition from a grey/dark grey dot to a dark almost black, rather large and clunky LOD which gets finer the closer you get. This is for me ideal as the transition makes tracking easier after spotting.
Also reacquiring the contact after checking your six, instruments or wingman / leader.

The initial dots also seem larger in the distance with CloD, which also helps with spotting them at a distance.
Also reflections on canopies and surfaces make contact at closer distances easier to spot.

 

Sure, there are problems in CloD with larger objects (e.g. bombers and ships) transitioning too abruptly from dots to LOD and the initial LODs are quite large for fighters (maybe correct this to be more consistent with today’s standards) but overall it is for me a better solution.
 

 

FWIW: After a longer break coming from CloD and having just picked up BoS I immediately noticed that unlike CloD, dots and LOD are much smaller (sharper) and have more color to them. They blend with their surroundings very easily. Not as an object moving over a background of similar color (making it hard to spot at first but once you have seen it, it is easier to reacquire) but really blending in like was already posted above. This makes spotting very hard in BoS.





 

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