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Falcon 4 Tutorial
Falcon 4 Tutorial( no experience necessary)
What is Falcon 4?
Falcon 4 is a military jet simulation of the American F-16 fighter jet. This jet has been the work horse of the US Air Force for decades and still is. It was made by Microprose in 1998. Various modification groups made free modifications. A new commercial version of the game was released in 2005 called Falcon 4 Allied Force. This is the version I am going to recommend that you play.
The game of Falcon 4 is a military jet simulation with a realistic cockpit, missile physics, and aircraft flight physics. Falcon 4 Allied is not the Falcon 4 version with the most realistic aircraft flight physics, but it is the game I'm going to recommend for beginners. Make no mistake about it, however. It is just about as complex as the other versions.
The gameplay of Falcon 4 involves doing just about everything a real fighter pilot does does in real life and simulates it in a videogame. If you remember the 1991 Gulf War, you watched black and white videos of bombs precisely hitting buildings. You get to do that in Falcon 4. In fact, the whole cockpit of the real F-16 is created as a clickable cockpit. It is very close to the real thing. The cockpit gauges, displays, and the radar looks and operates much like the real thing.
Furthermore, when you do something in falcon four with the aircraft such as destroying enemy aircraft, target and bomb a vehicle or building, the way you do that in the game is very much like it is done in real life.
But that's not all. The game is not just a collection of missions. The gameplay involves playing something that are called dynamic campaigns. This is which in the game dynamically generates missions depending on what is needed to win the war. The missions will be interdiction of enemy vehicles, strikes on enemy airbases , and enemy aircraft sweeps, and also suppression of surface-to-air missiles. You can track whether you are winning the war by looking at graphs showing the total amount of enemy aircraft, and vehicles on the battlefield and how much and how fast they have declined. This will tell you the strength of the enemy and the threat it poses to defending allied territory and capturing enemy territory.
Campaigns can take 2 weeks of 24 hour days to complete. The game takes place in real time, although you can time to accelebrate through the slow parts. If you don't time accelerate, one day of the game clock equals 24 playing hours. Completing a campaign can take weeks or even months. But don't feel overwhelmed yet. Much can be accomplished in a few hours of the game clock. In this tutorial, you will not need to worry about the campaign. You would just need to worry about completing missions and improving your rank of your pilot character in the game.
Is Falcon 4 a replica of the real thing?
No. It should be thought of as a realistic simulation game. Notice I use the word game.
The dynamic campaign engine that generates missions to win the war is not as smart as human planners. It generates the wrong missions often. Also some of the missions are busy work. Even a person on the original Falcon 4 development team said it was imperfect and that some missions should just be scripted and not generated on a dynamic basis.
The artificial intelligence is limited. The wingmen( the planes that fly with you on a mission) have obedience issues and are not even as close to as good as a human player.
Therefore, Falcon 4 should just be played as a realistic game and not taken too seriously. It should be played and thought of as if it were game. Its quirks and indiosyncracies should be found out through trial and error just like any other game.
Don't get too caught up in the appearance of it being totally realistic. Get to know its gameplay and play to win, as you would any other game. But it is realistic enough to appreciate and simulate what a real pilot does-at least in essence.
What does the game look like when played?
Here is a video that shows what the radar and displays look like when you fire at an air to air or target, drop a laserguided bomb on a target, and fire a maverick television guided surface-to-air missile at a vehicles. [see video
1. Purchase Falcon 4 Allied Force if you do not have it.
Amazon.com is a good place to buy it. You can buy a new or used. I recommend that you buy it used- as the price is much lower. You only need the disc. The manual is included on the disc. An Amazon.com link is below.
2. Install the game and patch it to the latest version.
Install the game from the disc. Then run the game. Press a key to bypass the introductory video. Once you reach the main menu, exit the game.
Download the latest patch. Choose the latest patch that is the full version, not an upgrade from an earlier patch. It is called "Patch 1.0.13 EXE format".
Run this file that you just downloaded. It will patch the game to the latest version.
Steps to playing the game:
1. Learning to fly and learning to turn:
Here is how controlling a plane works. The wings of a plane generate lift and will keep the plane from falling to the ground provided the plane is moving fast enough. The wings will also make a plane climb if it is moving fast enough, like when a plane gets to a certain speed and then takes off from the runway. The lift of the wings can also be used to turn the plane. The wings will turn the plane in a direction that is opposite the direction the wings stick out. If the plane is facing upside right, then the direction the plane can turn is straight up or straight down. Speed effects how much lift the wings generate and thus the speed at which a plane can turn- but speed will be covered in a later section.
To make the plane maneuver in the way that you want it to maneuver, requires understanding of the concepts of yaw,roll, lift vector, and pitch.
Yaw is the plane rotating around the z-axis by means of a rudder and is used by twisting the joystick left or right. The plane stays facing the same direction up and down as it spins. If it is facing flat to the horizon then it spins flat to the horizon much like a top or a pointer on a board game.
Another good illustration of yaw is a spinning of a frisbee. If you post your index finger straight up towards the ceiling, and rotate the frisbee on it, this is what rotating around the z-axis, or yawing would look like. While rotating the frisbee, you have can it tilted up or down, or left or right while spending it on your finger. Put wings on the frisbee and this is what what a plane looks like when yawing. Unfortunately, because yawing takes forever to make the plane do a full rotation, it is not practical to demonstrate it with an in game video.
Take note that the rudder is mainly is used for yawing to make fine corrections in the heading. It only turns the aircraft a small number of degrees per second. If you want to change direction more quickly than you need to pitch, which is explained later. However, the rudder is useful when used in combination with rolling and/or pitching for dogfighting or other military maneuvering, but that is way beyond the scope of this tutorial.
Roll is rotating of the plane around its axis that is facing straight ahead(y-axis). Here is what it looks like to roll a plane. [see video 2
Where a plane is rolled can be measured in degrees. If a plane is rolled zero degrees, it is facing straight up. If a plane is rolled 90 degrees, it is rolled to one side. If it is rolled 180 degrees, it is upside down. And if it is rolled 270 degrees, it is rolled on its other side. If it is rolled 45 degrees, it is rolled diagonally up. If it is rolled 135 degrees, it is rolled diagonally upside down to the right. If it is rolled 225 degrees, it is rolled diagonally upside down to the left. And it was rolled 315 degrees, it is rolled diagonally up to the left.
The lift vector shows the direction the wings of the aircraft will turn it. It is perpendicular to the direction that the wings are facing. It is also perpendicular to the seat and floor of the aircraft. In other words, the lift vector is directly above you. Rolling the aircraft could be analogous to rolling your chair around an axis that is pointing straight ahead of you. If you hold your hands straight out to the ceiling, then that will be the lift vector. As the plane or your chair is rolled around its axis, the lift vector will change direction accordingly. If it is rolled to 0 degrees and facing straight up and down, the lift vector will be pointing straight up. If it is rolled to 45 degrees, the lift vector will be making a diagonal line straight up towards the ceiling. If it is rolled to 90 degrees, the lift vector will point horizontally sideways to the wall. If the plane is roll 180 degrees, the lift vector will point straight down towards the floor.
Lastly, there is the concept of pitch. Pitch is rotation along the aircraft's y-axis and is used by moving the joystick down or up. It moves the plane in the direction of the lift vector.
A good analogy is to draw or imagine drawing a circle on a two-dimensional piece of paper. Make that sheet of paper for the edge on side point straight ahead of you so that it is not tilted up or down or left or right. Make the face on side point to the side of you. Imagine the sheet of paper is much larger to correspond to the actual radius a plane turns at. As the plane pitches, it will change direction indicated by the lift line and traverse along the circle in 2 dimensions along the circle. In other words, it will sweep out a 2 dimensional circle which will be facing directly in front of you and behind you
Continuing to use the sheet of paper illustration, suppose you rolled 45 degrees. Then you would make the sheet of paper point diagonally towads the ceiling. Then that sheet of paper would indicate the circle the aircraft would traverse around. It would traverse a 2 dimensional circle facing diagonally in front of you.
The second question to ask is how do you measure pitch. Aircraft pitch could measure a full traversal around a circle of 360 degrees. But the aircraft displays is only interested in measuring 90 degrees. This is because it is only interested a measuring the degrees of the climb or dive of the aircraft. When a climb reaches 90 degrees pitch, it counts down to 0. This is because it has resulted in changing the planes horizontal direction. A dive is measured in negative degrees pitch with -90 degrees being straight down. Again when the pitch reaches -90, it counts up from -90 to 0 because the change in pitch has resulted in a change in direction.
How the pitch is displayed in the aircraft is via a pitch ladder. It is displayed on the heads-up display. The heads-up display is a transparent piece of glass that sits in front of the pilot and displays vital flight information such as the pitch ladder. If the plane is not rolled left or right with respect to the horizon, then it will be displayed in horizontal lines for every 5 degrees of pitch up to 90 degrees. These horizontal lines are called the pitch ladder. They will rotate left or right as the plane is roll left or right with respect to the horizon. The horizontal lines can be used to determine the degrees you rolled at. If you are rolled at 45 degrees, the pitch ladder lines will be diagonal. If you are rolled at 90 degrees, the pitch ladder lines will be vertical. If you are rolled at 180 degrees, the pitch ladder lines will be upside down. If you are at a pitch of less than 0, the pitch ladder lines will be dashed.
B. Applying What You Have Learned
Let's apply the concepts of yaw, roll, and pitch.
Here is how to turn the aircraft. You can turn the aircraft in fine amounts by using the rudder, or in larger amounts by rolling the aircraft to the left or to the right. Twist the joystick to the left or to the right to turn the aircraft very slowly to the left or to the right.[see video
Roll the aircraft to the left or to the right to make the aircraft turn faster leftward or rightward. The aircraft will still turn in fine amounts but turn faster than yawing.
To make the aircraft turn fast, roll the aircraft and than use pitch. To make the aircraft turn right, roll the aircraft 90 degrees, and then pull back on the stick (move the joystick down). The further you pull back on the stick, the faster you will turn. Pulling back on the stick is also referred to as pulling G's. A G is a measure of the acceleration times that of gravity. The F-16 can do a turning acceleration a maximum of 9G's or 9 times the force of gravity. It can turn no tighter or faster than a 9g turn. Note the amount of G's on the heads up display in the following video.[see video
Now let's say that you spot an object in the air or on the ground and want to move the nose of the aircraft so that sensors can lock onto it. You can do that by rolling the aircraft until the lift line is over it. The lift line is not to be confused with lift vector. Lift vector shows where the aircraft will move to. Lift line is a line, real or imaginary, that tells you where to roll the aircraft so applying pitch by pulling back on the stick will bring the nose of the aircraft on to it. The lift line appears to be located on the ceiling of the aircraft that extends from the nose to the tail.
To see an illustration of the lift line, see the following video. [see video a
Speed has mostly been left out of the discussion on maneuvering a plane. But is a very important subject. Speed is the measure of the forward rate at which the plane moves. It is controlled by the thrust of the jet engines in the back. They generate force that acts to propel to the aircraft forward. There is one very important point to note, however. Speed is harder to control in an aircraft than in a car. In a car, you can control your speed by stepping on the gas pedal and then mostly releasing it when you get to the speed you want. Additionally, it is easier to maintain the speed around turns then maintaining a speed doing turns in an aircraft.
To get to the speed you want in an aircraft is a more complicated process. But before we talk about how to get to a certain speed, let's talk about controlling speed in general. Speed is controlled by controlling the thrust in an aircraft. Thrust is controlled by means of a throttle. The throttle is moved forward for more thrust and backward for less thrust. If using the keyboard, press the plus key for more thrust and the minus key for less thrust. The cockpit indicators for thrust are the RPM indicator and the nozzle position indicator. The RPM indicator indicates how fast the blades of the jet engine are going. The cockpit displays a percent, but this is just an indicator. It is not clear whether it is a linear 1 to 1 relationship. However, 100% show the engine blades are going as fast as they can go. And a reading of 70 percent means the engine is idle and is going as slow as it can go.
The second indicator for thrust is nozzle position. If you increase the throttle beyond the point where the RPM indicator says 100, the jet engines will apply afterburner for additional thrust and the nozzle gauge will increase from 0 to 100. 0 is no afterburner and 100 is full afterburner. This uses a lot of fuel and should be only used for a short duration of a time. The third item to be concerned about for speed is fuel flow. It shows how much fuel is being used in pounds per hour (PPH). The F-16 carries about 7 to 8 thousand pounds of fuel without external fuel tanks. Afterburner can use as much as 60,000 pounds per hour of fuel. This shows that afterburner can only be used for very few minutes. [see video
Now that we got the concept of thrust out of the way let's return to the topic at on how speed is controlled in an aircraft. To make the plane go faster the pilot increases the throttle to make the plane accelerate. As the plane goes faster and faster, wind resistance will increase until it reaches a point where it equals the thrust pushing the plane forward. Once this happens, thrust and wind resistance will reach an equilibrium and the plane will move at a constant speed.
To get the plane to reach a constant speed that the pilot wants, the pilot will first increase throttle to accelerate. Once the speed gets close to what the pilot wants, then he will gradually lessen the throttle to decrease the acceleration. Once the speed gets real close to what he wants, the pilot will lessen the throttle a bit faster until the plane stops accelerating. This may be a bit of a hit and miss process. If the pilot overshoots the desired speed, he will then decelerate down to that speed. If the plane undershoots the desired speed, he will then accelerate it to make a correction.
This is for getting to the speed you want in level flight. Getting to the speed you want during a turn is more complicated. When you do a turn in an aircraft, it produces additional drag which will slow down the aircraft further. It introduces an additional variable to maintain speed. It is for this reason it is much more difficult to maintain the same speed during a turn than when flying straight ahead. For a car, the driver does not have problems maintaining the speed during a turn. When doing a turn, most pilots just apply maximum thrust and hope you don't slow down too much. But skilled pilots are able to control speed during turns through careful manipulation of the throttle. You see that during your shows, a group of planes are able to maintain tight formation during a turn. This is evidence that speed control during a turn is possible.
See the following video for a demonstration on how to get the aircraft to get to a certain speed in a straight line. [see video
The previous section shows how to get to a certain speed. But why does speed matter? It matters because it effects turn rate. A certain speed will maximize aircraft turn rate.
2. Learning to navigate- getting to the mission target and back to base:
3. How to use the air to air radar.
4. Detecting threat aircraft along your route and defending yourself against them.
There will often be many threat aircraft along your route. You often cannot destroy destroy every one of them. To figure out which ones are a threat, you need to know which ones are targeting you. And the cockpit instrument to do this is the radar warning receiver.
5. Using the air to ground radar to locate and destroy a target.
A. Destroying the target with bombs.
B. Destroying the target with laser-guided bombs.
C. Destroying the target with mavericks(recommended especially for vehicles).