Months ago I asked the question:

>>Has anyone written a primer on how to use the commands in OFF (or CFS3, I suppose)? I haven't figured out how to find wingmen the way <tab> finds bogies and I don't want to use invisible cockpit. Formation flying is a real challenge without some way to keep them in view. I can deal with sight obstruction caused by my own plane - in fact it helps me stay oriented some. The problem is the lack of a way to readily find what I'm looking for and (again) padlock it if needed. Snap view is fine for routine flying and landing, but scroll view is awkward without TrackIR.>>

Months later I have played around with the game to the point where I think I can address the above issue myself. I am posting this in the hopes it may help another newbie catch on with less effort. Feel free to add or correct anything I write. I'm still learning:

Use of the TAC screen to select contacts (instead of "N", "E" & "F" in Red Baron 3d):

Instead of using an "N", "F" or "E" key as one does in RB3d, in OFF, you move from friendly blip to friendly blip (the blue ones) with the "Next Friend" command and from enemy to enemy (the red blips) with "Next Target". There are also white blips when the contact is farther away and the contact is unknown, kind of like the Red Baron "N" key working when "F" and "E" won't yet pick up the contact.

Toggling "Brackets" on is an easy way to quickly tell which yellow TAC screen blip is which contact in the air. Tabbing to the next TAC screen blip and following the brackets to indicate which aircraft is the yellow blip, allows you to situationally aware. As you move the yellow from blip to blip on the TAC screen, the brackets jump from aircraft to aircraft in the sky. Both the brackets (and where the padlock is pointed if engaged) jump to the contact indicated by the yellow blip. That makes it much easier to tell if that blip moving behind you (for example) has a altitude advantage or not - a critical thing to know.

Sometimes the padlock view will jump, but you won't see the brackets (especially common when the contact is behind you somewhere). I'm not sure, but I think this happens when the view of the contact is obscured by your own aircraft. At any rate, you can find find them by toggling the "invisible cockpit". I don't leave it on because I need to see where my own aircraft is as a reference point, but quick peeks are helpful. It also seems one has a slightly better span of vision with the invisible cockpit (ie: can twist the head a little further to see the contact).

Use of views to see the contact (like "F8" in Red Baron):


Target ID is greatly simplified if you use the "Player/Target" toggle to see the contact in the foreground. The label at the top of the screen will changes for each view. Hit "Next View" until you get to "Player/Target View". Then hit "player/target view" toggle and you will to see the other aircraft. You should only have to do that once -after that just hit "Next View" until that view comes up.

Once in "Target View", you can use "Next Target" to cycle through the view of each target aircraft, as you cycle through the blips on the TAC.. This is an easy way to see how many of each type there are, similar to repeatedly hitting "N" in Red Baron when in F8 target view.

You may find it necessary to pause the game when doing this because it's hard to fly when you're not in the cockpit.


Making it more realistic (and Harder)

It occurs to me that one could tailor the amount of help the game provides in identifying contacts. On the one extreme you could use all the above, plus enable labels that tell you what it is you are seeing. Steps along the path to reducing the help include 1) reducing dependancy on the TAC screen by dragging it nearly off screen, then using the brackets and padlock view just to watch the sky while tabbing from contact to contact; 2) losing the brackets and just trust that you are looking in the direction of a contact, and 3) you could even rely solely on visual ID. I suppose with TrackIR, you could 4) go entirely "au naturel" and constantly scan for pixels to turn into aircraft. It is a lot harder to have to pick out a tiny dot that is a contact rather than using the brackets which track the contact like police helicopter FLIR locks onto a pursued vehicle, and even harder to visually ID it as friend or foe. You might need a different type of help, if that's you idea of fun, such as a silk scarf to reduce friction and Ben Gay liniment for neck muscle aches. 8^)

Last edited by LE Heureux; 05/30/09 04:47 PM.

Au revoir en l'air...S!
Hex