DCS and aircraft (object) visibility

I’ve been working on BVR and WVR in the Eagle using Sryan’s excellent primer. Although I’ve got lots of WWII air combat sim experience, jets with missiles are a whole new deal for me. Learning the systems is one thing, but the adjusting to the speed and distances is quite another.

One challenge that I’ve discovered is picking up a/c visually during WVR engagements. Initially, I was ready to write it off to declining eyesight with old age and relegate myself to moving mud or flying a trash hauler. However, while reviewing Bunyap’s Red Flag F-15C 16-2 video series (excellent BTW), I realized that others are similarly challenged.

Then I found this discussion and mod, which seem to help quite a bit, well especially within 5 miles or so, and wonder what other folks are doing, or if they are even having an issue? I haven’t played around with the object size settings or screen resolution, which might be better options. Or, just live with it.


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That is an interesting post (the discussion and mod post) that has some interesting observations. I learned a lot I didn’t know from that thread about how they are attempting to handle visibility issues…

Impostors work in such a way that once 3D model of an object reduces to certain pixel size, and it reaches max value in impostors.lua settings, at this point the 3D model switches to impostor effect and then reduces in size (up to min value in impostors.lua settings) and then stops reducing in size and just starts fading (increase opacity) until its no longer visible.

The user comments in that thread are interesting, but I’m on the fence as to whether they are helpful or not. Discussions on visibility and what should and shouldn’t be possible are very much based on what each individual thinks should be right, and what is right. And as you know @chipwich - those conditions change so drastically day to day and hour to hour in real life. I’ve long told people that I regularly (as in very, very often) miss traffic that is just a couple of miles away because spotting traffic in real life can be extremely hard. And that is with the benefit of TCAS telling me exactly where to look.

I also recognize that my perceptions might be flawed as well because I fly (generally) in a less dynamic environment than a fighter pilot would. Are whirling and looping and rapidly maneuvering aircraft more easy to see during combat because there is so much non-linear relative motion? I would think so. Your eyes are quite good at picking up motion in their periphery, and I just have to believe that ACM triggers those sensors a bit faster than sedentary crossing traffic at 1000 above or below you that is sort of droning along.

Whatever the case - it is a very complicated issue with opinions that range from really well thought out to completely unrealistic. I’m not sure what the answer is, and it is a discussion that will continue even if a perfect system is worked out (there will be those that think you should always be able to see airplanes at X distance, period.)

I love the effect of the mod but seriously considering… why am I not working on the skins I promised?!

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TL;DR: If you are using a 4k monitor, give it a shot. Otherwise I am not sure that it will do much for you and may, as was my case, cause distance viewing issues.

I was using that mod for a while on my widescreen monitor (2560x1080) and was relatively happy …


after flying online on night with @near_blind and @klarsnow I was having a significant problem seeing what they were seeing. I was flying right next to them but contacts that they pointed out did not exist for me until they were much closer.

Turns out, it was this mod that was adversely affecting my view distances. When something was about 1nm away, other aircraft would disappear. Literally. After being frustrated with my terrible situational awareness during the engagement I was forming up with both my wing men when I noticed that at a certain distance… poof, they were gone. I ran to the F10 view and used the measuring tool to get the distance between them and I and verified it was about 1nm.

So, I exited DCS, started the mission editor and put an F-86 (this was what we were flying) 2nm off of my right wing on a parallel course with my F-86. I entered the game, could not see the other aircraft. I banked slightly to the right to adjust my course to intersect the AI and at about a 1nm distance… poof, the AI would appear. If I adjusted my course to the left, predicable results would follow. I removed the mod and re-ran the experiment and, lo and behold I could see the AI F-86 at the start, right away (2nm away).

I have not used the mod since … but I keep the link around in case I start seeing weird view distance issues … well, view distance issues that I think are weird may not be weird for other people :-). It is a tool to keep an eye on but I lost a lot of faith in it working for anything other than a 4k monitor. Plus, I am not sure that the ED guys are not improving the system all the time and this mod may hide or incapacitate those changes.

That’s certainly interesting feed back @Fridge. Time permitting, I’d like to try different scenarios comparing no mod, mod, and no mod with object size increased in the DCS settings. Anyway, I suppose that input from RL pilots should be given more weight than the forumrazzi, and that ED probably has that input already. Worth “watching” IMO.

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