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Learning to Fly in VR


jflatto
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I have what may be a different question in playing DCS with VR.  😊  The question is more VR related than DCS related.

 

I have a variety of DCS modules, I have a good computer, I have a Thrustmaster T1600 and throttle, I have Voice Attack, and I have a Quest 2 using Side Quest so wireless VR.   

 

How do I learn to use DCS while also using VR?  With my Quest 2 on, I can not see my physical keyboard or my Thrustmaster.  While I can use Voice Attack, there are so many commands that I refer to my printed cheat sheet.

 

So how do I put all the pieces together? Do I learn to fly DCS in 2D until I am very comfortable with the controls (Thrustmaster, Keyboard, Voice Command) before adding in VR?  Is there a way while in Quest 2 to see the keyboard, Thrustmaster, etc. inside of the Quest 2 as I learn and crash a lot😀?  (I know how to double-tap the Quest to see the “real world” but that appears to work only while I am not running a VR game.)  Another approach that I am not even realizing?

 

How do folks with VR juggle all the pieces?  What have folks found to help or hinder?  Any tips are welcome.  My question applies to other VR games such as Elite Dangerous, Evochron, etc.

 

Thanks.

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Are you using a plane that has clickable cockpit? If so, why do you need the keyboard at all? I think I only use the keyboard to hit "Esc" when I'm done.

 

Edit- and sometimes Spacebar when asked for in a campaign. But that's easy to find.


Edited by unlikely_spider

Modules: Wright Flyer, Spruce Goose, Voyager 1

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Basically you solve these by throwing money at the problem. There are additional peripherals that you can buy that mitigate, but not completely solve, most of the issues you are listing. One such peripheral is Pointctrl. Another is a virtual kneeboard that you can write on, (I think it is called VKR) which is useful if you need to remember things. It's basically a Ipad like device+program that copies whatever you write on it to a blank kneeboard page in DCS. You can also try looking into the captogloves. I'm sure there are additional VR tools in development or been release that I am not aware of. Should take a quick search for them.

 

Additional physical button/switch boxes also help for controls and functions that you will either need in a hurry (so you're not forced to look away during a dogfight to flip a switch or push a button in VR, you just do that with a physical switch or button that you should have muscle memory for over time and practice) and perhaps for functions that force you bend uncomfortably to access in VR (like Ejection seat arming for the F14B, oxygen switches, which are usually somewhere behind the hip.) That will save you some annoyance. 


Edited by WelshZeCorgi
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I have removed the nosepad on both my rift-s an reverb, so i can still glance at my keyboard from time to time. I'm in a pretty dark room so i dont get bothered with light coming trough. 

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I always play in VR, and have a *lot* of buttons. Putting bump dots in a pattern on the keys helps me find the right key. Then it's just been practice and memory. Plus I configure the buttons to be close to where they are in the cockpit.. so part of it for me is just looking around the cockpit to remind myself where the buttons /instruments are. For planes I know well, it's nice to not have to look around at all and be able to hit any control in the cockpit. Or sometimes I practice doing things like engine starts with my eyes closed. Press key on 3rd in on 3rd row for left rear console? Feel for corner of that device and then bump dots to locate.

 

You could put your cheatsheet in as a custom kneeboard page?

 

bump dots: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=bump+dots

 

and my button rig, for reference:

 

flight.png


Edited by Monkwolf
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19 minutes ago, unlikely_spider said:

Are you using a plane that has clickable cockpit? If so, why do you need the keyboard at all? I think I only use the keyboard to hit "Esc" when I'm done.

 

Edit- and sometimes Spacebar when asked for in a campaign. But that's easy to find.

 

 

At least for me, it's more immersive. I don't like holding the mouse in my right hand to then look to my left and click on a control on the left rear console, for instance. It's also more effective imo, because I don't have to look somewhere first. Able to keep my head up more and focused where I should be instead of using my eyes to look for a control..


Edited by Monkwolf
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Thanks for the responses so far.  I am old enough to have the ability to throw a little more money at the issue and old enough to have a problem trying to memorize and find all the buttons on my joystick😀.  My plane and copters are all clickable but as some others have said, if I have to find the button on the cockpit and click with the mouse then I will be crashing even more than now. 

 

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I have the T16’k too, I have a small kb on my lap for certain functions, mostly for comm. E.g. for F/A-18C, I map all the buttons and use a button on the throttle as a mod button so I have double set of buttons available. I cannot see any of these button during flight, I have to memorise what every button does, and feel for it when I need to.

 

I have yet to use any knee pad.

 

As for mouse, somebody mentioned  adding mouse buttons and scroll wheels to the POV stick, e.g. mod+POV-left is left mouse button, mod+POV-up is mouse scroll up and so on.

 

My £0.02

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I have been using VR in DCS for about two months, being new to both.  For me a godsend was the VaicomPro used with VoiceAttack.  The paid version is less than $30 dollars and includes interactive kneeboards.  These kneeboards automatically switch to whatever element you are communicating with, such as ATC, Air refueling, crewchief, JTAC, etc.  The kneeboard automatically writes down all transmissions you receive, it has a notepad you can dictate on, and best of all the kneeboards have the voice commands listed on them.  For instance, I give the voice command "kneeboard" and it pops up.  I then say "texaco" and the kneeboard switches to the air to air refueling page with all the relevant voice commands listed.  When I call texaco its response is written down on the kneeboard for me...no memorizing!

 

Add to that some basic kneeboard editing, that you can do for each aircraft, and will not have a need for pen and paper in DCS anymore.  The only other issue you might have is not having enough buttons on your controllers for some aircraft.  Again you can either use VoiceAttack to fill in the gap or consider different controllers.

 

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3 hours ago, jflatto said:

I have what may be a different question in playing DCS with VR.  😊  The question is more VR related than DCS related.

 

I have a variety of DCS modules, I have a good computer, I have a Thrustmaster T1600 and throttle, I have Voice Attack, and I have a Quest 2 using Side Quest so wireless VR.   

 

How do I learn to use DCS while also using VR?  With my Quest 2 on, I can not see my physical keyboard or my Thrustmaster.  While I can use Voice Attack, there are so many commands that I refer to my printed cheat sheet.

 

So how do I put all the pieces together? Do I learn to fly DCS in 2D until I am very comfortable with the controls (Thrustmaster, Keyboard, Voice Command) before adding in VR?  Is there a way while in Quest 2 to see the keyboard, Thrustmaster, etc. inside of the Quest 2 as I learn and crash a lot😀?  (I know how to double-tap the Quest to see the “real world” but that appears to work only while I am not running a VR game.)  Another approach that I am not even realizing?

 

How do folks with VR juggle all the pieces?  What have folks found to help or hinder?  Any tips are welcome.  My question applies to other VR games such as Elite Dangerous, Evochron, etc.

 

Thanks.

 

I make good use of all my buttons/switches on my HOTAS, learning what does what through repeated use/muscle memory.

Then I use Voice Attack with Vaicom Pro for my comms.

 

I never raise my headset to look at anything whilst flying my missions.

I have spent the last few months going through learning process with the Hornet, and all in VR.

Now I am flying campaigns with it.

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Don B

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Use a plane with a clickable cockpit and then use the mouse to interact.  Start with a simple plane like the F5.  I use a mouse on the right and a trackball on the left and some controller buttons to open up DCS menus.  It's really easy to enjoy DCS without a keyboard and in VR.  In fact, you should never touch your keyboard in VR since the mouse, HOTAS and button controllers should be doing the job for you.

 

Good luck!


Edited by DerekSpeare

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OP: This is a great question, and as you might already see there are many answers. For me personally currently flying the F-16, I have the Cougar HOTAS which covers the stick and throttle precisely. I then have a Kensington trackball right by my side stick that I can effortlessly reach with the VR headset on, and use it to click any cockpit controls.

 

There's a few things that are on the keyboard, ESC and the map key. I don't use those often but for those I just press on the keyboard. ESC and the map key can be found with the VR headset on with some practice.

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In my fantasy world with DCS I pretend that flying 2D to learn the aircraft is the equivalent of flying a simulator whereas VR is real life flying!

 

As other said with  Hotas + Vaicom Pro +Voice attack mouse and keyboard is needed very rarely.

Ryzen 5900X, RTX 3080, 32GB Ram, Oculus Rift S, Thrustmaster Warthog Throttle and Stick.

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I had no idea about the Viacom tool.  I will have to check it out.  Thanks!!

 

For me, VR is a game changer ... and its only getting better with DCS updates and the hardware vendors pushing the technology.  The feeling of "being there", for me, blows away the 2D experience - even with the higher fidelity resolutions.

 

For the OP, I use VoiceAttack exclusively.  If you haven't already done so, find Bailey's Voice Attack profile for your aircraft (https://www.digitalcombatsimulator.com/en/files/search/?tags=Bailey).  I fly the Hornet.  His VA profile is outstanding.  I've been using it for 5 months and found very few opportunities to add/change.  The profile is daunting, so it will take time to absorb and get used to...

 

As for training yourself around HOTAS button layout, I put together custom kneeboards for quick access.  Although the images have changed for me since I originally put together, it gives you an Idea of what I initially mapped and how the kneeboard looked.  Whenever I needed a quick reminder on buttons, I simply said "KNEEBOARD" and my cheat sheet appeared.

 

 

 

image.png

image.png

 

When I built the Kneeboard, I put the entire HOTAS layout on a single page.

 

 

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Thank you for all the responses.  They are greatly appreciated.  I will definitely look at the items mentioned.  The kneepad looks especially useful.   If I focus on just the HOTAS, I realize that I need to gain experience with the button locations and over time, will start to build muscle memory.  My issue has been while wearing the Quest 2, I can't see the HOTAS so am fumbling to find the right button and that is not helping to build any sort of memory.  😀  In particular, the HOTAS and Voice Attack both greatly reduce and even eliminate the need to use the keyboard but add their own set of complexity.  My flight preference is more air to ground so prefer the A10 and Blackshark.  Can't wait to crash the Apache when it comes out.  I had LongBow and Apache vs Havoc a long time ago.  😀  I will need to check out Bailey's Voice Attack profiles.  I wish there were HCS voicepacks for DCS.  If not familiar with HCS, check out HCS Voicepacks but these are mostly for Science Fiction games like Elite Dangerous. 

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You may be surprised at how quickly you will develop that muscle memory for those buttons on HOTAS.

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I realize that this question is more individual taste but figured I would ask.  Blackshark versus A10 which would be easier to learn HOTAS, VoiceThread, etc. in VR?  Blackshark has the advantage that as a helicopter, I have more time to fumble and learn the controls if I am flying very slow and not loo low but at the same time my understanding is that learning to fly a helicopter is much harder than flying a typical plane.  While the A10 is rugged, it doesn't skip off the land too well. 😊

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No HCS packs for your pilot or Jester.  Vaicom does have the option to mute your pilots voice (while still showing your response in the upper left corner.  Somewhat similar to the HCS voice packs is VaicomPro's "chatter" function.  This can be turned on or off via keyboard or just say "chatter".  When it is turned on you will hear background radio chatter that is consistent with the mission you are flying (carrier ops, WWII, etc.).  Flying solo missions it adds to the immersion.

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23 hours ago, Monkwolf said:

I always play in VR, and have a *lot* of buttons. Putting bump dots in a pattern on the keys helps me find the right key. Then it's just been practice and memory. Plus I configure the buttons to be close to where they are in the cockpit.. so part of it for me is just looking around the cockpit to remind myself where the buttons /instruments are. For planes I know well, it's nice to not have to look around at all and be able to hit any control in the cockpit. Or sometimes I practice doing things like engine starts with my eyes closed. Press key on 3rd in on 3rd row for left rear console? Feel for corner of that device and then bump dots to locate.

 

You could put your cheatsheet in as a custom kneeboard page?

 

bump dots: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=bump+dots

 

and my button rig, for reference:

 

flight.png

 

I love your pit awesome nice one. 

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2 hours ago, jflatto said:

I realize that this question is more individual taste but figured I would ask.  Blackshark versus A10 which would be easier to learn HOTAS, VoiceThread, etc. in VR?  Blackshark has the advantage that as a helicopter, I have more time to fumble and learn the controls if I am flying very slow and not loo low but at the same time my understanding is that learning to fly a helicopter is much harder than flying a typical plane.  While the A10 is rugged, it doesn't skip off the land too well. 😊

 

I would give the edge to the Blackshark. It has a very capable autopilot / flight director mode where you can set it to hover or set it to fly to a point, and then focus on systems and buttons. The A-10 is also easy to fly, and I'd recommend it too, but absent using Active Pause it's doesn't quite sit as still as the KA-50 can to allow time for learning. Fwiw, the L-39 and C-101 are both fun and a bit underrated imo!

 

@freehand thanks!


Edited by Monkwolf
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2 hours ago, jflatto said:

I realize that this question is more individual taste but figured I would ask.  Blackshark versus A10 which would be easier to learn HOTAS, VoiceThread, etc. in VR?  Blackshark has the advantage that as a helicopter, I have more time to fumble and learn the controls if I am flying very slow and not loo low but at the same time my understanding is that learning to fly a helicopter is much harder than flying a typical plane.  While the A10 is rugged, it doesn't skip off the land too well. 😊

I'm not very familiar with the ka-50 but in the A-10 I never had issues setting an orbit with autopilot to perform operations in the cockpit. You can also set a repeater in one of the MFDs to keep an eye on your flight parameters.

Modules: Wright Flyer, Spruce Goose, Voyager 1

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I've been flying VR for two years or more in DCS. A good hotas will get you a looong way. Also, flying clickable cockpits (F/A-18 in particular, due to its heavy reliance on OSB arrayed around the three monitors) will make short work of almost all button requirements beyond the HOTAS.

Lately, I've started flying helicopters (Huey), and now I have lots of unused buttons 🙂 - flying helicopters in VR is one step beyond flying planes, and up until a couple of weeks ago, I was convinced that that was the best thing ever.

 


Edited by cfrag
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3 hours ago, jflatto said:

I realize that this question is more individual taste but figured I would ask.  Blackshark versus A10 which would be easier to learn HOTAS, VoiceThread, etc. in VR?  Blackshark has the advantage that as a helicopter, I have more time to fumble and learn the controls if I am flying very slow and not loo low but at the same time my understanding is that learning to fly a helicopter is much harder than flying a typical plane.  While the A10 is rugged, it doesn't skip off the land too well. 😊

 

Just MHO but I think you might fare better with the A-10.

Having said that, Black Shark was the first module I learned to fly - but that was back before DCS World and integration of them.

With a chopper you are having to co-ordinate three controllers together most of the time, with one of the jets mainly just two controllers.

Rudder Pedals not so much.

 

Just be prepared, any of the full realistic modules are going to take some serious time to learn. The rewards though are great.

I have over 200 hours logged now in the Hornet, and still learning. But at least I am able to fly some campaigns now.

Don B

My VKB Gunfighter MK III Pro L Review

EVGA Z390 Dark MB | i9 9900k CPU @ 5.1 GHz | EVGA RTX 3090 FTW3 Ultra | 32 GB G Skill Trident Z 3200 MHz CL14 | Corsair H150i Pro Cooler |VKB GF MK III Pro L Ultimate Grip| Virpil CM3 Throttle | VPC Rotor TCS Base w/ Alpha-L Grip| Point Control V2|Varjo Aero|

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