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SC's New Flight Model - Citizencon

MaxBaconMaxBacon Member EpicPosts: 7,278
edited October 2018 in Star Citizen

For those who care about the actual game and not just hyperbolic drama-llama... Here it is the full presentation and display about one of SC's hot topics, the Flight Model.

The new Flight Model is scheduled to release in 3.4, this December, it overhauls many aspects of the game, and in a tl:dr version: It approaches more model of Elite Dangerous for those who played. As if, it's being simplified.

This Flight Model was already playable on booths on the game's conference last week and next post will paste the in-depth feedback of what to expect.
Post edited by MaxBacon on


  • MaxBaconMaxBacon Member EpicPosts: 7,278

    Not technically flight mechanics but I have to explain it for reference. Here's a picture.

    Here are the noteworthy changes (I will explain after this what some of these mean):

    • Longitudinal speed tape replaced by combined IFCS target speed setting / longitudinal speed indication / SCM limiter carots (left side)

    • Addition of “acceleration limiter gauge” (right side)

    • Return/revamp of g-meter (bottom middle)

    • Replacement of IFCS setting indicators (Coupled, G-safe) with icons (lower right)


    One of the most notable changes is to how the throttle works.

    Previously the throttle worked sort of like “cruise control” - your throttle position told the IFCS what forward velocity you want, and the IFCS would automatically apply thrust (often close to as much as was possible, depending on ramp up/down) to accelerate to that value. When you turned, it would automatically thrust to reduce your previous vector and get to your new desired vector depending on your new orientation.

    The IFCS still does this, but the way the physical throttle delivers your “target velocity” to the IFCS is done more indirectly. Essentially, when your throttle is at zero, whatever speed you currently have becomes your desired speed, and this speed is represented by a yellow dot on the new left side of the HUD. Your throttle, whether it is a physical throttle or just your W / S keys, will now apply acceleration if you take it out of the neutral position or press the keys, respectively.

    • Physical throttle: the amount of thrust applied will be proportional to your throttle position but also dependent on your acceleration limiter (which I will explain shortly). You can press a button to switch to retro thrust.

    • W / S keys: the amount of thrust applied will be dependent on your acceleration limiter (which I will explain shortly).

    • Forward/back analog strafe: this works as before, with your deflection setting a proportional target velocity.

    • Lateral and longitudinal analog strafe work as before as well.

    • Lateral and longitudinal binary strafe: unsure but I expect that they work as before as well. If anyone has any more information, please let me know!


    CIG hasn’t settled on a name for this yet, but it’s on the right side of the HUD. It essentially limits the amount of acceleration that can be commanded by the IFCS at any time, in any direction. In the panel, CIG labeled it “acceleration control”, but I do not think that is specific enough because technically your throttle controls acceleration as well. I believe “acceleration limiter” is an appropriate name because the mechanic is consistent with the SCM limiter in functionality, just applied to acceleration instead of velocity.

    The acceleration limiter gives omnithrottle control to players, a concept that I’ve discussed before. Essentially, with strafe keys, strafe axes or the new throttle, you will command your desired direction of motion (as well as change your target velocity in the case of the new throttle); with the acceleration limiter, you will be able to control how quickly those velocity changes occur.

    So think: direction with strafe or throttle, magnitude with acceleration limiter.

    The only caveat to this is the analog strafe in decoupled mode, and the new throttle with a physical throttle like on a HOTAS. In these cases, both have a range of input, so along with direction they also command acceleration. According to one of the developers I asked, the two magnitude inputs will work together, with the strafe/throttle trimming the acceleration limiter. For example, if your acceleration limiter is at 50%, and you move the HOTAS throttle 20% of the way forward, your ship will accelerate forward at 10% of the maximum acceleration possible (0.2 x 0.5 = 0.1 = 10%).

    I think the most useful attribute of the acceleration limiter might be that it applies in all six degrees of freedom. Remember the issues folks had when trying to land or takeoff with mouse and keyboard? Even with precision mode, remember that binary strafe inputs at either 0% or 100% - this meant that there was no way to ease down or up off a landing pad. What the acceleration limiter gives you is a customizable precision setting. This way you can reduce acceleration gradually as you near a landing pad, even with binary inputs, like you’d have with a keyboard.


    Currently dual stick seems not to be affected by the throttle changes. You still command target velocity directly with your inputs. It’s unclear if this is intentional. Opinion: I think it should stay like this. Previously, there was no difference between throttle and forward strafe. Now there is and there’s benefit to using both or deciding which one to use depending on your flight style. Based on some comments David Colson made on The Warships Podcast, it sounds like they want there to be different options available to more experienced players rather than force everyone to use the same control schemes.

  • MaxBaconMaxBacon Member EpicPosts: 7,278


    Like they said in the panel, the previous AB1 and AB2 are gone, and what was once called boost is now more appropriately called afterburner. There’s no detail to go into here. I tested and it’s exactly as they said.


    Cruise mode is almost gone, but the nice thing is that the thing CIG has had the most problems with since early 2.x (transition between SCM and CRUISE/AB2 modes) is gone. Each ship has a high speed limit (somewhere close to their previous AB2 limit), with an optional “SCM limiter” you can flick on to keep you to a more manageable speed.

    There is one additional caveat: at some speed, in coupled mode, the IFCS will start limiting your rotation rate for safety (to avoid massive slide). You can easily override this by decoupling. I asked Andy Nicholson if this transition speed started at the SCM limit and he said that he believed so. He did say that the transition felt abrupt currently to many people and that they would be looking into more gradual transition curves to smooth it out a bit.

    I also asked him if there was a chance that we would be able to customize the SCM limiter setting (sort of like we can with the acceleration limiter), and he said that many had brought that up and that they didn’t see why that could not become a feature given how SCM works now.


    This is going to be a debated issue, but I’ll just give you what my experience is. I only got to test the Gladius. Yes, acceleration is reduced massively. Yes, the acceleration ratio of main thrusters to maneuvering thrusters is very noticeable. And, yes, it heavily impacted what combat looked like during the floor demo. Generally, ships were having trouble avoiding massive overshoots, joust, or ending up in giant, long-distance circling battles. Part of this could have been players not being familiar with their control setups (as opposed to being on their home computer; for example, I couldn’t find the afterburner button), and part of it could have been less practice with the new mechanics.

    I will say this: to me, the acceleration felt the lowest it has ever been, on par or possibly lower than 2.0/2.1. The difference between this patch and those, though, is that a large part of the “driftiness” of 2.0/2.1 was due to very low jerk values. I’m not certain, but this felt more responsive. I suspect that acceleration is what has been reduced, rather than jerk.


    I did not notice ESP but I did not feel like aiming was difficult - it felt natural, though I was flailing about a bit, mostly I think because I was on a control setup I was not used to. This either means that ESP was working so well that I didn’t notice it, or that I was too focused on overcoming the control issues and my own lack of recent practice to notice it.

    David Colson in his interview on The Warships Podcast, 27:01 said that not many changes were made to ESP for this build, but that the changes of the flight mechanics have made it work better. Given my experience playing the build, I buy that. I suspect this is mostly due to the massive reduction in acceleration for the ships.


    I don’t have much to add beyond what’s on the panel, as I didn’t get to test the thruster heat/power mechanics or atmo flight in the floor demo. Watch the demo - many backers have been waiting a long time for a lot of the thruster mechanics they showed off and I don’t think I know of anyone who wouldn’t be excited by this."

  • ArglebargleArglebargle Member RarePosts: 2,921
    Is this what Erillion was talking about earlier in his comments about PTU driven flight model changes?   Will be interesting to hear about the changes in feel once it hits the regular server.  How long has this been in the works?  It seems like a big refactor, real quick.   

    Cross your fingers guys, the new afterburner's kicking in!

    If you are holding out for the perfect game, the only game you play will be the waiting one.

  • MaxBaconMaxBacon Member EpicPosts: 7,278
    Is this what Erillion was talking about earlier in his comments about PTU driven flight model changes?   Will be interesting to hear about the changes in feel once it hits the regular server.  How long has this been in the works?  It seems like a big refactor, real quick.   

    Cross your fingers guys, the new afterburner's kicking in!
    It's a mix of things, it seems to have been working on for a while and now the flight model team s led by new developers too. The large refactor is more on ship collision physics, I think rigid simulation, as anyone who plays/seen gameplay knows the collisions are the biggest kirk impacting the spasmic behavior of ships.

    Making SC more like ED on the flight model is set to piss off the "6 degrees of freedom" defenders, so one side will never be happy about it.
  • ErillionErillion Member EpicPosts: 10,235
    How long has this been in the works?


    Have fun

  • MaxBaconMaxBacon Member EpicPosts: 7,278
    Q&A on the new Flight Model from discussions with the responsible dev:

    Q: Will we be able to manually set main thrusters for another axis acceleration if they double as VTOL thrusters/can be rotated? In case it is unclear what I mean, here a short explanation:Some ships, like the Terrapin, Reliant, Valkyrie, etc have main thrusters that can rotate relative downwards to be used when flying over gravity wells.Would we be able to manually set those to be "downwards" all the time and with that basically shifting the strongest thrust direction away from "forward" and towards "upwards".

    A: Yes the intention is absolutely to allow you to go into vtol mode separate from landing mode, effectively rotating certain thrusters to a new state, and this will naturally change the ship handling. This is already planned and will hopefully be present in 3.4.


    Q: Is PRE mode gone?

    A: Pre mode is in fact gone, the intention is that you use the acceleration limiter to achieve the same thing.


    Q: Will we be able to keybind a set of settings? Like that I can push a button and then my self-made precision mode kicks in with X% acceleration and X% throttle setting and all thruster overclock off? A bit like a simple macro?

    A: This is something we've definitely discussed, but I don't think it'll happen in 3.4


    Q: Does this mean there is no analogue retro thrust available for hotas and dual stick users? [Was response to: To clarify, the retro button doesn't flip your thrust direction, it simply fires retro at 100% (limited by the acceleration limiter. We tried it as a inverse thrust button and it made you constantly have to move the throttle around and it felt quite bad.])

    A: You can either bind an analog retro control if you like, or the acceleration limiter will let you control retro, which is the default setup


    Q: In the example footage I don't see any speed indicator for the current drift vector. In decoupled mode the longitudinal speed is not the truly interesting one. What I would like is to be able to add a second speed value that shows me my current speed in my current drift direction, disregarding my ship rotation. I would for decoupled even replace it fully with the longitudinal indicator to save HUD clutter. Is something like this in/planned?

    A: This is a cool idea, we'll take a look


    Q: In the current build the function of spacebrake IFCS is based on the ships facing direction, just like the calculations for coupled mode. This has been a issue in decoupled, because decoupled would require a spacebrake that slows the ship down based on the current vector, not on the current view direction. Is a seperate calculated spacebrake also in your build for decoupled mode?

    A: Currently there is no spacebrake in the new model, though it's a hotly debated topic we still haven't settled on


    Q: When 2.6 hit the devs explained they limited the SCM speed to a relatively low value in order to keep combat distance tight, so that we enjoy the awesome graphism of the game. Also all the weapons are designed to be efficient mostly under 500m (because of weapon spread for example). The scatter guns even seems to be designed to work under 300m. By removing SCM and decreasing acceleration, combat distances are likely to increase a lot. So Did the devs have a change of mind, what average combat distance are we expecting in space for an average ship, say hornet vs hornet?

    A: The goal is that combat at high speeds is so inefficient and ineffective that players will need to learn to keep close to be useful. The SCM limiter control is designed to help beginner players stay at slower speeds.


    Q: I wonder how things are gonna work for atmospheric combat too. The weapons we have with the shields and TTK there is currently, would probably not work in a classical atmospheric dogfight game. Would it?

    A: Regarding atmospheric combat, the intention is for it to be a wholly different experience. Weapon balance will happen as well once the the flight model is more stable, and that will help us hone in the atmospheric experience.


    Q: A medium RSI thruster set can be equipped by a cutlass, vanguard, apollo? making the medium thruster all the same across the the medium shipOr only a drake thruster can be equipped on cutlass only aegis on vanguard and only rsi on Apollo, making the thruster set global for all medium ship of the same brand?Or each ship will get a thruster set panel with stats that can be tweaked by dev for each ship?

    A: All thrusters in a certain size category don't need to have the same capacity, but they are in a similar range. We still balance each thruster type on the ship for that specific ship.

  • ArglebargleArglebargle Member RarePosts: 2,921
    Erillion said:
    How long has this been in the works?


    Have fun

    I assume that you think the new version is better, or more interesting, than the previous version, correct?

    Reading the details and explanations made my eyes cross.  But I'll respect your opinion on it....

    If you are holding out for the perfect game, the only game you play will be the waiting one.

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