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Thread: [Distant Worlds] Easy landings using an analog control for your vertical thruster axis

  1. #1

    Easy landings using an analog control for your vertical thruster axis

    Here's a tip to ease landings. It's particularly relevant for Distant Worlds, because it hugely reduces the chance of taking damage on landings, even with minimal shields.

    When you're landing with flight assist on, your thrusters will normally will try to keep your ship in a stable hover in the absence of other thruster control input. Most people fly with their vertical thrusters mapped to some sort of hat on their joystick, which means they're either all-on or all-off. The combination of these can be deadly on high G worlds: If you apply down thrust, it not only nudges your top thrusters, it kills your bottom thrusters, which is what leads to that "dropping like a stone" maneuver. This is why a lot of people recommend things like descending vertically (so you can control your descent with your main drive) and using flight assist off for your final drop (which effectively just kills your bottom thrusters). There's a better way, though.

    If you have a spare analog control (knob, slider, etc), you can map it to the vertical thruster axis in your control settings. This lets you exercise fine control of your vertical thrusters, setting (and holding) ascent and descent speeds very accurately. This works in concert with the normal up/down mappings, so you can continue to use the hat for normal thruster operations. The neutral point for your thrusters will be halfway along the analog control, so this works best with a control that has a detent (like the knobs on an X52 throttle). Because analog controls can have some noise in them, you'll want to set a bit of a deadzone in the mapping for your vertical thruster axis.

    On my X52, for instance, I have this mapped to the top knob:
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    And you map it in your settings here:
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    I don't have an Achenar permit, so I played around with this on Epsilon Hydri 1 (3.85G). With 7 landings in a shielded Cobra, I never lost a single ring of shields. I also did a series of 4 shieldless landings, so that I could gauge the impact of landing by looking at hull losses, and I was able to average about 1% hull loss per landing. So I still wouldn't recommend a shieldless fit for landing, but this seems to be well within the capacity for extremely light shields to handle.

    The strategy I ended up settling on was:
    • Perform a normal approach from orbital cruise, aiming to come to a hover at 100m
    • Use the analog control to set a descent rate of about 4 m/s, coming to a hover at 10m
    • Use the analog control to set a descent rate of 1 m/s until touchdown.


    The one potential gotcha with this is that you need to remember to zero out your analog control after landing, or you will take off with the same thruster settings. Again, this is where a control with a detent in the middle comes in handy. Taking off without the thrusters zeroed out isn't fatal, however, since you can override the analog control with your vertical thruster hat, or simply let the thruster setting re-land you.

    Here's a video showing this technique:

    "I have loved the stars too fiercely to be fearful of the night"
    Explorer with the FGE and member of the Colonia Citizens Network.
    Avoid crashing! Easy landings with one control remapping!

  2. #2
    Good idea. I've only done low-G landings so far so I haven't had too much trouble, but I do have a spare slider on my throttle I should remap as you suggest.

  3. #3
    Vertical thruster axis won't doo much good. Even the slightest push will mean several km of altitude loss on a high G world.

    Instead, leave the vertical thrusters and just push down your nose, the ship will start moving forward and loosing altitude.

  4. #4
    Originally Posted by Zelos1983 View Post (Source)
    Vertical thruster axis won't doo much good. Even the slightest push will mean several km of altitude loss on a high G world.

    Instead, leave the vertical thrusters and just push down your nose, the ship will start moving forward and loosing altitude.
    Actually the analog ones(binding) do work, the digital ones drop you like a stone.
    I have both bound to my throttle and tested them on a "3.something" G planet and the difference is huge. I will try it on a 6G soon but I doubt I would risk a landing on something that high G if I am in deep space.

  5. #5
    I hate to contradict you Zelos but, I just tried this on achenar 3. If you Just crack the knob out of neutral (down thrust axis) and then re-neutralize, you lose about 30m per bump on achenar 3 (6.5 g). I landed there with out scratching my shields with this technique.
    Death is just nature's way of telling you to watch your airspeed.

  6. #6
    This technique has been mentioned several times before, but it is well worth having a separate thread to highlight it. Using an analogue vertical thruster control is 100% safe for every landing I've tried it with (many more than 100 landings with a 5D thruster, no boost, 3D shield Anaconda. Max Achenar 3 so 6.7g but no reason to believe it won't work with higher gravity planets). You can descend at exactly the speed you want and adjust it perfectly as the flight assist computer will make sure your set speed is what you get.

    It does rather beg the question as to why digital controls for the vertical thruster are so dangerous. Briefly using keys to thrust laterally doesn't immediately set them to 100% but that's what seems to apply for the vertical thrusters. Although it's something I can benefit from, I do think this is somewhat of an unfair advantage which should be equalised by making digital vertical adjustment much more graduated.

  7. #7
    I have the vert thrusters set to an analogue lever (using Xbone controller so it's even a big analogue lever).
    On very high G worlds like Achenar 3 you must be carefull. After you are 150m from the ground, you can touch your analogue lever but you don't want to go down faster than 1m/s. That speed is enough to stop the fall pushing vert thrust up even without boosting, and you can hope to hoover before or crash or crash inside shields. 2m/s can be done but i don't feel safe. To be honest even with 2m/s and 3D shields you will stay inside shields.

    My suggestion is to set deadzone to 0, becouse near the dead zone is where you achieve 1m/s speed.

    My second suggestion is to try to vert down at 1m/s in low G worlds, so you'll get used on how much you have to push your lever. I personally put the thumb under the liver and gently push down with first finger or how it's called in english. If i push too much the lever is going to be blocked by the thumb.

    FAoff is worst IMHO, especially on achenar 3. I've macroed a button to set FAoff for 0,125 seconds but it looses few dozen meters every click and uses much mopre time to stop and hoover.
    I wish I had a device to set vert thrusteing down at 1m/s, that would do the last 20 meters of landing EVERYWHERE ultrasafe, but I wouldn't feel the achievement sense when I touch down with absimal 3D shield dmg on a 540T ship in 6,7g world.

  8. #8
    Originally Posted by Allitnil View Post (Source)
    It does rather beg the question as to why digital controls for the vertical thruster are so dangerous. Briefly using keys to thrust laterally doesn't immediately set them to 100% but that's what seems to apply for the vertical thrusters. Although it's something I can benefit from, I do think this is somewhat of an unfair advantage which should be equalised by making digital vertical adjustment much more graduated.
    I think the reason digital controls are dangerous is because when you're hovering, you're doing so on the strength of your bottom thrusters. Hitting "down" thrust both kills the bottom thrusters and adds the extra acceleration of the top thrusters, multiplying the effect much more than seems reasonable.

    "I have loved the stars too fiercely to be fearful of the night"
    Explorer with the FGE and member of the Colonia Citizens Network.
    Avoid crashing! Easy landings with one control remapping!

  9. #9
    I thought this was common knowledge for landing.

    I bind one analog for roll and pitch and the other for lateral thrust controls.

    Digital is full on, analog is just a little bit at a time.
    No matter what, 2+G worlds you need to be very careful as your decent can rapidly become out of control.
    I would go with this check list from most to least...
    What is the G of the planet?
    What is it made of?
    How traversable is the terrain?
    What elements can I plunder?
    Can I take off again?
    I have a plan for this ^ one but do not dismiss ship. Land on the edge of a crater and go hunting local. When taking off forward thrust over
    canyon/crater edge, retract landing gear and boost to the sky. Well that's Baldricks cunning plan anyway.

  10. #10
    I've added a video showing landing with this technique on a moderate gravity world.

    "I have loved the stars too fiercely to be fearful of the night"
    Explorer with the FGE and member of the Colonia Citizens Network.
    Avoid crashing! Easy landings with one control remapping!

  11. #11
    Thanks for the reminder.
    I re-assigned forward analog thrust to vertical analog thrust for landing (right stick on ds4 in my case), now it's just a matter of remembering it in time when trying to find a flat parking spot with the landing gear deployed I normally only use the forward analog thrust for hyperspace jumps since it works like a 'deadman switch'. Always arrive with zero throttle.

    Edit: Tried it out on a 3.15g landing. Still very dangerous, the slightest touch on the analog stick still makes it plummet the last 50 meters, as if the ground is a big magnet. The thrusters seem to lose their lift right above the ground, reverse ground effect. I lost 2 rings of my 3D shields, with 5D thrusters on my Anaconda. But it's down, and the view was worth it.

    The autopilot took off like it was nothing. I guess I weigh a couple hundred ton in the game...

  12. #12
    Originally Posted by CMDR AKIRA MASAKARI View Post (Source)
    I have the vert thrusters set to an analogue lever (using Xbone controller so it's even a big analogue lever).
    On very high G worlds like Achenar 3 you must be carefull. After you are 150m from the ground, you can touch your analogue lever but you don't want to go down faster than 1m/s. That speed is enough to stop the fall pushing vert thrust up even without boosting, and you can hope to hoover before or crash or crash inside shields. 2m/s can be done but i don't feel safe. To be honest even with 2m/s and 3D shields you will stay inside shields.

    My suggestion is to set deadzone to 0, becouse near the dead zone is where you achieve 1m/s speed.

    My second suggestion is to try to vert down at 1m/s in low G worlds, so you'll get used on how much you have to push your lever. I personally put the thumb under the liver and gently push down with first finger or how it's called in english. If i push too much the lever is going to be blocked by the thumb.

    FAoff is worst IMHO, especially on achenar 3. I've macroed a button to set FAoff for 0,125 seconds but it looses few dozen meters every click and uses much mopre time to stop and hoover.
    I wish I had a device to set vert thrusteing down at 1m/s, that would do the last 20 meters of landing EVERYWHERE ultrasafe, but I wouldn't feel the achievement sense when I touch down with absimal 3D shield dmg on a 540T ship in 6,7g world.
    I tried your method with the lever, L2. It works except my old fingers aren't that precise anymore. They failed me at hovering while trying to find a parking spot, just the slightest twitch is enough to slam down :/

    As alternative I drifted down by pushing the nose down about 10-15 degrees while slowly going forwards. The ship struggles to get back to level and you have to be careful not to gain too much speed, but it's easier to control a steady descent that way. The nose hits the ground at about 3m, level out, extend landing gear and it's touch down. Except I forgot L2 was still controlling vertical thrusters so the ship took off again... It's not pretty. Perhaps tilting the ship and using the sideways thrust to go down slowly works too for an even more ridiculous landing method

    Edit: Haha that works rather brilliant. Float down like a leaf. Tilt right, slight thrust to the right, tilt left, slight thrust to the left. Very easy to control the descent and no fighting the ship trying to get level or gaining too much speed. Never touch the vertical thrusters.

  13. #13
    "... Haha that works rather brilliant. Float down like a leaf..."

    I like that - will try it as I only have a single analogue control on my ancient joystick.
    +1 rep
    I remember 'Journey into Space'

  14. #14
    Just wondering if anyone has done this with a CH joystick and Throttle. I've currently got vertical thrusters axis mapped to the ministick on the throttle which is analogue but may not be as fixed as the slider refered to on the CH stick. There is an analogue "throttle" on the fighterstick that I've currently got mapped to sensor range so could use that, but it doesn't have a central indent - so would be difficult to set to zero.

    Just bought them both and learning to fly - tried a few times in the training section with mixed results - I'm in the middle of the C3E and don't really want to pancake my anaconda into anything - suppose I can always use the tilt technique that I used successfully before when flying keaboard and mouse:-).

  15. #15
    People use their hats for lateral and vertical thrusters? What do they use for pip management then? I thought most people used the hat for that.

    Personally I use a second joystick for vertical and lateral thrusters and the hat on that for thrust.

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