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    Thread: Need help with Input Devices and Strafing

    1. #1
      TXU New Member thrustmasterd's Avatar
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      Default Need help with Input Devices and Strafing

      Hello everyone,

      The last time I've played a Space/Trading Sim was back in the 80's. The game was Elite on Sinclair ZX Spectrum. It was an amazing game and I spent countless hours wondering around the vast universe. I decided to try X3 Terran Conflict to get the enjoyment I had 20 years ago. The first question that I have is about controls. I am using a keyboard and a mouse for now. I find that it is very easy to use a LMB to select objects and navigate the menus. I do not hold the LMB to steer the ship and I was trying to remap LMB for Bore sight fire but it did not work. LMB still functions for steering and I could not find anywhere in the controls to unmap it. I tried the "classic controls", but it was even worse, because I was forced to steer my ship with the mouse. Is there a way to assign LMB for Bore sight fire?
      My second question is about strafing. I started the game as a Terran Defender and when I press and hold WASD keys I see no result when flying or dogfighting. I only see the ship strafe a little when it is at complete stop and I am facing a spacestation (I am flying the Sabre M4 ship). I use Pitch up/down , Yaw right/left to steer the ship and dogfight. I tried Roll left/right, but it is very hard to do on a keyboard. I have played a lot of flight simulators in the past. As an example: in order to change direction in F-16 Falcon you use a joystick to roll and to pitch up/down. The strafe, which is yaw right/left or rudder is only used for minor adjustments, to steer on the ground, and for landing. I have been reading in forums that strafing in X3 is an integral part in dogfighting. This brings me to the fact that in X3 there are 3 ways to turn your ship to the left for example. That is Yaw left, Roll left, and Strafe left. I think it is a little excessive. In a flight sim, you cannot make fast, full turns by just using Yaw left/right. You need to roll and pull back on the stick. I was thinking of getting a joystick, but I do not see an efficient way to map 3 ways of steering to the left to any joystick. Moreover, I do not see a way for not using the mouse while flying and dogfighting, because it seems that it would be very hard to select objects in space by using just a joystick and a keyboard. In addition, I do not see a way to use "cursor fire" for big ships without using a mouse. This brings me to the conclusion that I always need to use a keyboard, mouse , and a joystick, which is not fun. Any ideas on using a joystick? It is not fun to dogfight by using a mouse and a keyboard. I've had so much fun 20 years ago when dogfighting in Elite just by using a 2-button joystick.
      My last question is about the game itself. I know that the game is not about missions and story line, it is about the space exploration and trading. To be frank, I am not looking for a story line or missions. I am looking for a great dogfighting space sim, where exploration, reputation and a trading model with not too much micromanagement. I can also see that too much emphasis is placed on manual trading and trading in general. I do not see it to be too much fun for an extended period of time. I see a lot of unnecessary micromanagement, that distracts from observing and exploring space. it is about pressing "J" all the time and getting to the next station and loading cargo, instead of looking at the beautiful universe and changing direction and flying to find out "what is there, or what is that?".
      I have never played Eve-Online or Jumpgate. I know that there is an upcoming Jumpgate Evolution might be worth checking out. Has anyone played those MMOs before? Does the universe feel more "alive"? Is it more fun to just float around and look at the nebulas and stars? How are the flight controls in those games?
      All in all, my biggest complain about the X3 is the over simplified flight model, where developers added unrealistic "strafe" to the mix , and made Yaw right/left commands so effective that they rendered Roll right/left obsolete.
      I really want to give X3 a try. Could anyone help me out with the controls? I really want to go and buy a joystick and experience the same Elite game feel.
      Thank you very much to all!

      Last edited by thrustmasterd; 12-05-2009 at 03:19 AM.

    2. #2
      TXU's resident chatbox text fiend....... Tritous's Avatar
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      Remember the entire reason for a roll and pitch manoeuvre is because the moment force in an atmospheric flight are small compared to aircraft momentum. The ability for a control surface to change the direction of flight is minor. This is why a roll manuvre is used, as the lift vector is used to change the direction then, a much more powerful force.

      In space...there isn't an atmosphere (although we seem to use rudders). It takes more fuel to chance the direction of an orbit than it does to completely escape orbit. That's why we do have a strong yaw. There are times for a roll, however, get to know your ships and you'll find they are not equal in each direction, some have a superior pitch to yaw, some have better yaw and weak roll, etc.

      For controls...I have to say it's joystick all the way. What you need is a 3 axis joystick: pitch and yaw as you are used to it, roll controlled by the twist of the stick. Also a stick usually has a throttle, and these days 8 buttons is a nice amount (more is silly), and a POV hat for the strafe. Stick for flying, keyboard for management and autopilot.

      A Keyboard has a weakness that you can only input 3 keys at once so I'm impressed you've managed to last with it so far :P You also can't do fine movements, you'll find with a stick you are several times better at pilotting.

      Don't underestimate strafe either. On some ships they can (unrealistically) strafe faster than they can go forwards, and using the strafe effectively can close to double their speed when intercepting. It also is a lot faster turning if you know how. Strafe into the turn to get an intensely tight turn, good for keeping track of that blasted m5 trying to pester you. Strafe out of the turn to open it out and fall neatly directly behind your enemy. Strafe while rolling for an evasive corkscrew. Balanced right you can make a nice head on charge while dodging shots, just nip out of the way of a collision, and without being more than 30m from them drop behind them for the finishing burst. Strafing is the absolute key difference between a decent fighter and a true veteran. EG: In my Hyperion (not the most nippy ship in the world) I took on a P, a J and a K in a dogfight without taking a single hit. without strafe or with keyboard that would be impossible.

      Good joysticks...I know you'll ask :P I swear by the Microsoft Sidewinders. For all their bad software MS are exceptional at hardware. The Sidewinder Pro, Sidewinder Precision, and Sidewinder ForceFeedback Pro all share the same technology: rather than compression sensors like most sticks (which break with time) they use a simple LED laser dot in the handle and point at a sensing grid in the base. Their key characteristic is they just don't break. They've not been produced in about 8 years now, and people are selling 10 year old ones on Ebay which work just as well as they did when new. They also tend to be fairly comfortable, enough buttons, good accuracy etc. I'm yet to see ANY joystick that has the same degree of reliability though.

      If it's a good space game you want then you've definately found the right series. The trade is more dynamic than nearly any trade game I've seen and while I'd prefer Newtonian model the fighting has got all ends of the spectrum in it.

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    3. #3
      TXU Hero Scorch's Avatar
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      Although I see the advantages of a joystick as in Tritous's case, do not rule out the keyboard and mouse just yet. I find that minimising the keyboard usage to strafing and rolling (if you have a mouse with extra buttons) allows you to be very effective with a bit of practice. I have been using a keyboard and mouse for both X3R and X3TC and I don't lose in a combat situations (that i choose) very often. In fact I can't remember the last time i did.

      My setup is to have the target next/previous enemy keys mapped to my scroll wheel, target nearest enemy to scroll wheel click, missles and missle selection on the fourth and fith buttons on my mouse (my Razer Diamondback makes using these very comfortable), and i use the mouse to control the yaw,pitch etc. rather than the click and drag approach. To counter the problems that arise from using my mouse to steer (not being able to click to select menus,targets ect.) I map the classic control scheme button to my space bar, so i can quickly change between modes to select targets and such quickly.

      imo i find that strafing (in the case of fighters and other smaller craft) is quite realistic, considering the setting. Having small thrusters to make ajustments (or to allow dodging of heavier fire, ppc comes to mind) to the trajectory of a small space craft is a very sensible thing to do. Although i do think it can be quite rediculous to be able to use a strafing drive in a m1 capital ship to travel faster than the main engines will allow. I wish that egosoft would have thought of that in this game but unfortunatly its still possible.

      oh BTW heres how to change the controls: once you change the control you have to click apply then when you exit the menu, select yes to save the control scheme. I made the mistake of not pressing apply in reunion when changing controls a long time ago, and i definitely felt like an idiot after wondering why my fire missle button didn't work and immediatly being met with game over on my screen after a dozen m3's blew me away.

      Last edited by Scorch; 12-05-2009 at 08:24 AM.

    4. #4
      TXU's resident chatbox text fiend....... Tritous's Avatar
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      It's very unrealistic. A small reaction thruster? Consider the difference between a 300N attitude thruster and a 300+kN main thruster. The only reason control thrusters work is they are not trying to add any direct motion at all but work usually in pairs to create angular momentum. A well designed craft will have a very low moment of inertia in the main axes it is planned to rotate about.

      On really small craft they don't even use thrusters, just reaction wheels, magnetic alignment, even the ridiculously small gravity gradients across something a couple of metres across.

      Strafing I think was balanced to be useful in manoeuvres, but it is a little ridiculous when travelling normally.

      btw scorch, it sounds a lot like you set yours up like a FPS layout. I'm not sure that works as well on bigger ships. Since I consider anything smaller than an m6 to be disposable (and therefore useless) I still prefer a stick and probably always will do.

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    5. #5
      Spammy the (spacefl)Eye in the sky... stemardue's Avatar
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      I'm not a fan of bare sight fire myself... better get the fight software mk1 (and mk2) and press 'k' until your target viewfinder looks like a *, that way you have 'assisted aim' on, and you will hit much more likely when you shoot a small, fast target. Also weapons choice makes the difference: shooting M5s with PPCs is a waste of time, energy (and nerves)

      About strafing: you can see the visual effect if you point at a fixed target that is close to you, the faster you fly the less it's visually appreciable, yet you are strafing (and you can tell that by the missing shots of your enemies). I prefer to use the joystick for pitch and yaw and the keyboard for strafe and roll (my z-axis sensor is bad and i had to disable it for avoiding sudden unexpected rolls... giving me the sense of piloting a washing machine).

      About controls: if you assign 'target next enemy' to one of your joystick buttons and when enemies are spotted hit the 'home' key, your aim will default to next enemy as soon as your current target is lost (having the next enemy command handy is good because you may want to force another target if your current one bails or if you just want to change it). I don't find 'target nearest enemy' useful in a dogfight because (for me) it takes too long to get a lock-on.

      my biggest complain about the X3 is the over simplified flight model, where developers added unrealistic "strafe" to the mix , and made Yaw right/left commands so effective that they rendered Roll right/left obsolete.
      Hm... ok phisics are not the peak feature of X3... nonetheless they make for an enjoyable experience. Try flying a discoverer maxxed out in an asteroid field or a kestrel... - And last, i think you'll find rolling quite useful once you start going one on 5 against pirate or Xenon patrols in an M3.


      About plot and storyline: i keep on saying those are mostly a good 'tutorial' to follow for knowing the possibilities of the game. I suggest you do it, at least for a bit: there are some valuable 'prizes' that can help you getting stronger. The sabre is a small ship and will not get you very far. If you want to 'visit' the universe, get a discoverer and a jumpdrive (so you can quickly get out of trouble if you enter a sector you'better not get in...), get all engine and rudder maxxed and have fun! A triplex scanner is also very useful.

      Last edited by stemardue; 12-05-2009 at 09:54 AM.
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    6. #6
      TXU Hero Scorch's Avatar
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      @Tritous
      By 'realistic' I meant within the bounds of gameplay. Remember this isn't a 'real space' simulator. Sorry, my fault for not making more sense

      Funnily enough, in my lesson of phyics today, we talked about the difficulty of changing the acceleration (as a vector) of alpha particles compared to beta particles, so i get where you are coming from in terms of an angle change that 'thrusters' allow to enable the main drive to create a small change in direction, but by themselves they would not be able to physically move a craft (talking realistically here).

      Yes my setup is very useful for smaller craft, as the op wanted (since he is flying a M4) and i'm still flying an m6 (skiron), but i have used keyboard and mouse in larger ships and in this instance it's a simple enough to change the buttons to allow for larger ships m7 and up. Funny thing is though, even though i still fly an m6, I have taken on 4 m6's and take down pirate destroyers without much fuss.

      Last edited by Scorch; 12-05-2009 at 09:53 AM.

    7. #7
      TXU's resident chatbox text fiend....... Tritous's Avatar
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      personally the hyperion is my ideal ship size. I like the majority of the guns under MY control. Consider me a fighter with big dreams :P That and I don't settle for small prey. I have to say I like the reaper too though for it's raw aggression (Had my eyes reopened to it when I capped one while doing a khaak start). That said, I was one of those people who managed to destroy a xenon K with a bayamon on X2 :P I like the feel of some of the m3s, but on X3 they lack the punch compared to bigger ships. You could never take down an destroyer with a lone m4 or even m3, it takes a while even with an m6

      with a stick you can throw a ship around like a ship, you can treat an m6 like an m4 and if you set the stick up correctly you can be prettymuch as agile as one too. A good pilot should be impossible to hit in a one on one and only beatable with mass swarm tactics. In spite of the recommendations, you CAN do the leviathon mission with just a lone Hyperion (provided you dont have improved xenon on and they mass spam you with missiles), you can dodge HEPT fire in a destroyer, you can even keep an M6 right on the tail of an m5...

      but you are going to need a good stick, a POV hat for the strafe, and very touchy throttle control

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    8. #8
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      I am yet to get my hands on a Hyperion in my game atm, but when i do, it will most definitely become my main ship. I dont think it should be possible to destroy capital ships with a lone m3, its just silly to think a ship that size would even sneeze at one, at least by themselves, but its when they are in groups that they would be dangerous.

      The thing i love about my mouse is that due to its on the fly sensitivity settings, i can up the sensitivity in game, and then adjust the sensitivity to the needed level when playing. So when im flying a smaller ship, turn it down a bit, but if i need that extra bit of turning power when in a cap ship, i simply jump it up to max and i can usually do 180 degree turns without having to 'thrash' the mouse at all.

      BUT, simply put, there is no better control method than a good joystick for any type of flying. Its just too bad i dont have one. I still remember the good ol days when Freespace 2 was the game to play. I had a joy for that game and damn it was good fun.


    9. #9
      TXU New Member thrustmasterd's Avatar
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      Gentlemen , thank you very much for all the replies. You have helped me a lot. Tritous, you have provided me with an excellent joystick setup. I am not much into used products. I was doing a little research on joysticks and decided to order CH Products Combatstick 568

      http://www.chproducts.com/retail/j_combat.html

      I was thinking of getting CH Products Fighterstick

      http://www.chproducts.com/retail/j_fighter_usb.html

      but it is more expensive and I do not need the extra features that it provides. I have not placed my order yet, what do you gentlemen think about those joysticks? Which one of those would you get? I am running Vista 64 bit and I hope I am not going to have any problems. Microsoft database does not know, but the CH Products website claims that there would not be any problems. Both joysticks were released in 2001 however.
      Scorch and Stemardue, I also want to thank you very much for your much appreciated input.
      I was reading the 333 page guide today - the Trading section. I do not think that it is a lot of fun. I think there is too much micromanagement involved, especially when it comes to building factories and complexes. I think too much micromanagement distracts from the exploration experience. I work 2 jobs and it seems like i might have a 3rd one lol. I won't be getting paid for the last one though. Did you guys have fun with this huge part of the game?
      Did you guys play Eve-Online? How is it? What do you guys think of upcoming Jumpgate Evolution?


    10. #10
      Spammy the (spacefl)Eye in the sky... stemardue's Avatar
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      hey thrustmastered, glad to be of help...

      I must say i never heard of those chproducts sticks. Looking at the pic and site they look outdated... and 109$ hmmm... quite pricey for such thing. No mention of force-feedback... why do they cost that much? I ve tried some of their links to 'reviews' but they are dead.

      Had a quick look at their community forums... not much to see in there but some trouble and bug reports.

      My suggestion: check some well known firm first - Logitech for instance. They will have updated drivers for sure, compatibility granted with vista (and will tell if also for vista 64). And they are leaders in gaming accessories.


      PS never played Eve online, but reading about it, not my kind of game

      Last edited by stemardue; 12-05-2009 at 09:37 PM.
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