The perfect landing

I've been playing DCS A-10 since release, and I can feel myself getting incrementally better at it. Understand that being better at DCS A-10 is much less about split second decision making, and much more about understanding and applying protocol, and as such the learning curve is somehow both boring AND exciting. Boring because you are repeating long, drawn out tasks with little immediate feedback, but exciting because as these repetitions become second nature, you realize you've learned something directly applicable to a real world context you would otherwise have no chance of messing about with.

I'll echo Drew's statement and multiply it by two; Put me in a maintained A-10C, and I can start it up and get off the ground, and I won't need a checklist to do so: This is just something I can do now.

But landing... As a friend of mine said "So what you're saying is you're dead anyway". Don't get me wrong. I could align with a runway and touch down just fine, but landing at the right speed has been a huge problem for me. Until yesterday, I'd never carried out a landing I felt was anywhere near acceptable, with way too much emergency break and nail biting tension as I'm coming in too low and too fast, and finally rolling off the end of the runway. In a game like DCS, not only have you failed at the task, but it just leaves you there, looking like an idiot. Like a play where everybody but you is doing their part perfectly, you desperately want to fall in line and perform.

The landing fundamental that I've struggled with, specifically, isn't aiming the HUD TVV indicator (a small airplane-like indicator on the heads up display that shows where your plane is headed) at the end of the runway and keeping your airspeed down with gear, flaps and airbrakes. It's the fact that once your airspeed goes down to the acceptable level (around 120 knots + so and so much for every extra ton you're carrying, or something. I never remember this. See? Horrible.) you start having to pitch up to maintain lift, and *increase* throttle to *maintain* speed. It changes, or accentuates, the rules you otherwise follow in flight, and not too far removed from piloting a helicopter, where you are gaining speed with pitch and have to maintain lift with throttle. As you come in for your final landing approach, you are coming in facing a direction you are not actually flying in, and the transition between the two "modes", and doing so gracefully..

I made my very first by-the-book perfect landing yesterday, and I was practically dancing afterward. It's typical for DCS; It's a combat simulator, but combat is not Top Gun, and in the end, you're just doing stuff as you've been taught to stay alive. Dropping a GPS-guided cluster bomb on a convoy is much, much simpler than landing, and as such, ironically kind of like Top Gun on the NES, the landing becomes the "level boss". Finally beating the boss on a single life, so to say; You feel like a god.

I realize this kind of game isn't for everyone. But I can't help but think of it as a counterpart to Dark Souls, another game where repetition and routine is absolutely necessary for progress. Ask any Dark Souls veteran about what makes their character effective, and it's not stats or equipment, it's skill and practise. This is what makes Dark Souls a fantastic game, and it's why DCS is fantastic. Actual mastery. What an amazing gaming experience.

9 Comments
10 Comments
Posted by Sunjammer

I've been playing DCS A-10 since release, and I can feel myself getting incrementally better at it. Understand that being better at DCS A-10 is much less about split second decision making, and much more about understanding and applying protocol, and as such the learning curve is somehow both boring AND exciting. Boring because you are repeating long, drawn out tasks with little immediate feedback, but exciting because as these repetitions become second nature, you realize you've learned something directly applicable to a real world context you would otherwise have no chance of messing about with.

I'll echo Drew's statement and multiply it by two; Put me in a maintained A-10C, and I can start it up and get off the ground, and I won't need a checklist to do so: This is just something I can do now.

But landing... As a friend of mine said "So what you're saying is you're dead anyway". Don't get me wrong. I could align with a runway and touch down just fine, but landing at the right speed has been a huge problem for me. Until yesterday, I'd never carried out a landing I felt was anywhere near acceptable, with way too much emergency break and nail biting tension as I'm coming in too low and too fast, and finally rolling off the end of the runway. In a game like DCS, not only have you failed at the task, but it just leaves you there, looking like an idiot. Like a play where everybody but you is doing their part perfectly, you desperately want to fall in line and perform.

The landing fundamental that I've struggled with, specifically, isn't aiming the HUD TVV indicator (a small airplane-like indicator on the heads up display that shows where your plane is headed) at the end of the runway and keeping your airspeed down with gear, flaps and airbrakes. It's the fact that once your airspeed goes down to the acceptable level (around 120 knots + so and so much for every extra ton you're carrying, or something. I never remember this. See? Horrible.) you start having to pitch up to maintain lift, and *increase* throttle to *maintain* speed. It changes, or accentuates, the rules you otherwise follow in flight, and not too far removed from piloting a helicopter, where you are gaining speed with pitch and have to maintain lift with throttle. As you come in for your final landing approach, you are coming in facing a direction you are not actually flying in, and the transition between the two "modes", and doing so gracefully..

I made my very first by-the-book perfect landing yesterday, and I was practically dancing afterward. It's typical for DCS; It's a combat simulator, but combat is not Top Gun, and in the end, you're just doing stuff as you've been taught to stay alive. Dropping a GPS-guided cluster bomb on a convoy is much, much simpler than landing, and as such, ironically kind of like Top Gun on the NES, the landing becomes the "level boss". Finally beating the boss on a single life, so to say; You feel like a god.

I realize this kind of game isn't for everyone. But I can't help but think of it as a counterpart to Dark Souls, another game where repetition and routine is absolutely necessary for progress. Ask any Dark Souls veteran about what makes their character effective, and it's not stats or equipment, it's skill and practise. This is what makes Dark Souls a fantastic game, and it's why DCS is fantastic. Actual mastery. What an amazing gaming experience.

Edited by gike987

I just got the Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog I ordered. So much to learn, the manual is 650 pages (100 of them are only general information and the history of the A-10, but still).

Online
Posted by Ravenlight

I approve of this thread. Pics next time, though.

Posted by Sliced_Bread

Glad to see others enjoying the sim. You said you're using pitch for altitude and throttle for speed, this is backwards. When landing you want to use pitch for speed and throttle for altitude. For instance, lets say you're at a good approach speed but a bit high (all white PAPI lights) pitching down and leaving the throttle alone would drop you down but also speed you way up, instead you want to leave pitch where its at and drop the throttle down. Only then, if you start loosing speed, do you drop the nose a bit. It seems wrong the first couple times you do it, but it works. The rest just takes practice.

I hope this helps, happy landings.

Posted by Sunjammer

I know Sliced_Bread, but I said it poorly ;-) But thanks for the correction anyway.

Posted by Romaniac

Please check the "Multiplayer" forum thread, for DCS A-10C, that you have created. Thanks!

Posted by Ubersmake

Landings are the hardest part of any flight sim for me. You end up back on the ground eventually, right? I'm convinced that doing it right is a goddamn art, so I applaud you, sir.

How is DCS A-10C? I haven't picked it up yet, nor watched the QL, but I remember seeing the game on Steam and fondly remembering all the time I spent in LOMAC.

Posted by Sunjammer

It is freaking cool in every way.

Posted by Maluvin

@Ubersmake said:

Landings are the hardest part of any flight sim for me. You end up back on the ground eventually, right? I'm convinced that doing it right is a goddamn art, so I applaud you, sir.

How is DCS A-10C? I haven't picked it up yet, nor watched the QL, but I remember seeing the game on Steam and fondly remembering all the time I spent in LOMAC.

I haven't picked up DCS A-10C yet so can't speak to the gameplay but you should definitely check out the QL because it is one of the funniest things I've ever watched.

I'm really intrigued by DCS A-10C. I used to play a lot of Falcon 3 and 4 plus other flight sims back in the day. I'm just not sure I have the time anymore and I don't think the Mrs. would approve of me getting a full on flight stick setup. :(

Posted by Sunjammer

Bah maybe I'm a jerk for this but I stopped letting "my other half" decide for me a looong time ago. She should be ashamed not to allow her man the ability to fly.