Commander’s Briefing 6

Right. I hope you’ve all had your caffeine fix and sharpened your wits and your pencils.

I’ve had a request from the floor to run through setting up the buttons. I’m going to tell you how I’ve got them set up for my own ship. I’m not going to tell you how something different to mine is set up in the same way as I wouldn’t ask you to teach me how to dance the Tango. Or juggle swords. Or sword swallow.

I’m using the same setup as in the simulators. Saitek’s X52 Pro. It’s a grand name, makes you sound like you’ve bought something sexy. I also have a keyboard console and some voice command software.

The keyboard is for those functions I don’t mind using when I’m not being shot at. I can take my hands off the flight controls for a second and am not going to end up testing the remlock. The voice control is for things that I desperately need when I’m murdering Anacondas. Or escaping from you when you try and test out your rail guns on my hull.

To start with. Select the X52 from the ship’s configuration console. These are standard controls. They’ll do. Not brilliant, but they’ll do.

Yaw, pitch and roll are all under your right hand. Throttle is under your left.

You want to be setting the throttle to be forward only on the left. I’ll tell you why later. If you’ve fallen asleep by that point, you should have had more coffee.

In the engineering panel for the X52 – not the one in your ship, the one you see on the computers once you’re docked, you want to find the pinkie. Tell it not to be a clutch. Make it a button.

Go through the other buttons. Make them behave like buttons. You don’t want them activating the in flight hair dryer. Or the vibrating massage flight seat. That’s just wrong.

Fire 1 – put this on the fire button
Fire 2 – put this on the pinkie

This means that you can split your weapon setup so you’re not firing everything all at once. If you put the secondary fire on the buttons at the top, you won’t be able to do it whilst busting a move on the dance floor and “throwing shapes” out there in space.

Next, look at the top of your right hand controller. Shedloads of buttons.

What do you need?

Bottom hat. The one that looks like some space aged pyramid with an inverted glowing nipple in the middle. That’s your thrusters.

The top hat. That’s your targeting computer. Left and right to go through targets. Up to select whoever is attacking you. Down. I can’t remember. Pick one of the others.

The one marked “A” – that’s “target whichever poor sap is in my line of sight”.

The one marked “C” – boost button. it’s far enough away from your thumb that you won’t be hitting it accidentally

Under the flappy SAFE thing is your heatsink deployment. You don’t get many of them and you don’t want to be ending up with frostbite.

B? Anything you like. I use it to chatter to other pilots. Push to talk. If you’re busy poking the other buttons, you’re too busy to chat.

Right. The flappy ones at the bottom. Flick up for power to weapons, systems and engines. One flip, one pip.

Down on those ones – balance and macro up some well used configurations. Like “Oh, manure, I’m being shot by something bigger than me, I’d better put power into my shields and engines” and “Die, pirate”.

The macro is easy. Balance, shields, shields, engine, engine, engine.

Moving on to your left hand. Hold your hands up in front of you, palms away and thumbs sticking out. The one that looks like an L – that’s not your right hand.

The one marked “i” under your thumb – flight assist off. We’ll talk about that later. Good for turning and leaving skidmarks in space.

D. Switch to reverse thrusters. This is why the stick is “forward only”. You can switch to reverse and leave it at 50%.

“E” – go cold. It’s not the easiest to hit and that’s a good thing. Too many pilots in the bar are complaining that their ship “just blew up all on its own”. Here’s a hint. If you get too hot, that’s exactly what happens. Put a lid on a saucepan full of potatoes and boil it hard. What happens? It all gets messy and you need to clear up.

The slider. That’s your radar range.

The hat – that’s for subsystems and weapon loadouts. Left/right for loadout, up down for which buttock you’re spanking.

The twiddly knobs? You choose.

The little dial on the back? Once again, whatever you choose. You can double up as a balance power, shields and engines if you want.

Right. Someone has asked a sensible question – There are only two options under each button as to things that will control them – how do I allocate them so I can use macros, or more than two controls to use them.

Allocate them to a keybind on the keyboard you can see when you glance left and down. Then allocate those keybinds to buttons on your controller – or a macro.

2,2,3,3,3 (If you don’t know what that means, you should have been taking notes earlier).

I can see puzzled looks now. Where are the lights, the landing gear, the supercruise and the hyperdrive? Where is the deploy hardpoints button? What about the scoops. How do I look left and right? What about menu options?

Looking left and right involves neck muscles and a HUD head tracker. TrackIR is a good one, though I understand that an industrious commander has designed his own from bits of dismantled ship cleaning robots. He is to be applauded. They’ve spent months stealing my socks and laughing at me in binary.

How to skim through the menus when looking left or right? Left hat for the panels, right top hat for the sub selections, D for select. Why? Think about it. When you’re looking at menus, you won’t be wanting to select subsystems to hit, change target or go into reverse. That would be silly. “Oh dear. I was asking for docking permission and instead reversed into the nearest Lakon.” is NOT a sentence you want to be uttering. People will laugh. Your children will hide their heads in shame. You’ll be made to wear a pointy hat at the next pilot’s meeting. With a D on it.

If you want to put the views on other buttons, feel free. You can use the “down” flappy options on your right hand controller instead of for complex power setups. Put them under voice control. Put them on buttons.

If you’re not paying attention to where you’re going, you’re going to crash. Don’t go to your menus when you’re in combat. That way lies death, destruction and a large salvage bill.

For the others, put them on keyboard buttons. They are “leisurely” controls and aren’t needed mid combat unless you’re very, very foolish.

Once they’re on keyboard buttons, you can use your aftermarket voice controls to shout instructions at your computer. Make them as colourful as you wish. Use references from old earth films if you want. Prefix them with the word “computer” if you so desire.

Right. Now we’re on the same page with all the controls…..

When you’re docked. Go to the maintenance terminal. Log in to the console and look for the custom.binds control file. Save it somewhere you can’t lose it.

Take screenshots of your setup. Snap a picture on your phone. Write them down.

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