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Tech Tip: Using Entity Control Panels in VR-Forces

VR-Forces has always allowed you to give detailed instructions to entities by issuing tasks, creating plans, or writing custom Lua scripts. These are great tools for defining how you want an entity to behave and then letting it run. But when you need to give simple, immediate commands to an entity to initiate a change in behavior the Entity Control Panel is the tool for the job. This tool is coming in our release of VR-Forces 4.9 later this month. Right now the Entity Control Panel is primarily focused on aircraft, but it provides some capability to ships as well.

How do I enable it?

To enable the Entity Control Panel go to View->Entity Control Panel. A new widget should then be shown on the left hand side of VR-Forces. If you then select an aircraft in your scenario, you will see something like this:

If this takes up too much of the left hand panel, you can grab the widget and drag it off to float it over the plan view display (PVD). This creates a new transparent widget (so you can still see your scenario underneath) with all of the same functionality.

How do I use it?

This control panel shows the current altitude, heading, and speed of the selected entity, and also allows you to control it. The black arrows indicate the current state of the entity and the red indicate what you have ordered. So if I wanted to turn to 270 degrees, I simply click the 270 mark on the left. The aircraft is immediately retasked and will begin turning. (The underlying task this triggers is shown on the top of the panel.)

If the turn rate is too leisurely for you, simply double click instead. This triggers a more aggressive turn. The same controls work for the altitude and speed. And if you are concerned about choosing an altitude that is underground, the small black bar on the bottom of the altitude indicator shows the current level of the terrain.

It also works with multiple entities selected. The panel will no longer show the current state, but it will allow you to issue tasks to all selected entities at once.

 With the Entity Control Panel, you can also:

  • Switch between True and Magnetic heading values (the 'T' button below the entity icon)
  • Specify that turns should always go left or right instead of choosing the closest direction to your chosen heading (the L, D, and R buttons)
  • Switch the speed from Ground Speed to True Air Speed, Indicated Air Speed, or Mach (the drop down box in the top right)

Hungry for more? Let us know and we'll provide more insight into the Entity Control Panel (and other features!) coming later this month.

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