The following wall of text is an imho. It has no weight, and is probably written by monkeys.
I played a lot of Descent when i was a kid, so some things i can’t remember how i learned them. By crashing into a lot of walls. I was terrible in FPS, I liked strategy games. But I understand that for some the fast paced stuff can be disorientating, because I fought with that, since I also loved to do it. Which is actually a good sign, since it means, you are getting immersed, and all you need is to train desorientation away!
strafe builds have significant downside to rotation builds in dogfights, well at least to a degree and mastery, and if ping allows both perform in them; i suggest to use a double vernier build at least and only fly it mainly when you have good ping (<70ms); so different fits for different purposes. Not every CO wants to dogfight, and some are concentrating more to kill fighters or large ships off.
If you have medium and steady ping (~110-200) you can use the dogfight fit aswell, but above that it is useless, you should fit less rotation to keep the ship steady. with higher ping you have to fly much more precalculating, and avoid close knuckle fights with hit and run attacks, or play more Aikido style using your team like a tower defense for your prey to be killed by bystanders, even if that is somehow a bit of a coward move, you do your job
You can still win fights, but they will slowly move away from what some call dogfighting. But 1on1 isn’t so important 99% of the time; usually planning your approach and exit, and being aware of other dangers like tacklers, ecms, long ranges, positron or phaser snipers, gauss gunships, mass driver frigates, … you get where i am going … is much more important on the long run anyway. So while performing, you can always try to improve and exercise; even superb pilots have bad days, don’t expect some mechanically achievable mysterious epeen.
as for the disorientation, sometimes i fall into that too, when my pilot gene turns off, for various reasons.
in this time i have to rely more on technique than intuition, and try to execute “learned” manouvers, while if i am “in the zone”, usually, i just know where stuff is, without looking, and describing what i do there is sometimes really hard, since i am just… one with my ceptor, in the flow, somehow even along for the ride, because i do stuff surprising myself, and i can concentrate on landing good shots planning how to fly the next curve, and use my modules. Which is where the fast flight becomes really nice as experience, because I can follow it without getting disorientation.
And then there is moments, where you just move your mouse like a crazy person, roll your face over the keyboard, and better tell nobody, that this was the skill you seem to have.
Reaching the zone needs a collaboration of “feeling your ship”, so good immersion and knowledge of your controls, and a mix of enjoyment of the fast movement, and not too many complicated thoughts. as long as you are struggling with any part of this, reaching the zone, which is what usually creates a monster dogfighter, is hard: it is not the time to experiment how to aim and shoot, how to use modules, or how the ship behaves, why suddenly that rock is in your way, that all should already be past you.
If this is hard, I think a methodical approach would be to fly the maps and learn them, and try exercising movement where you give yourself microtask, just to train orientation, or dedicate yourself to it, like an astronaut in a gyrowheel. Why fly straight if you could do a crazy manouver through that tiny hole… and then baaam you fail. And you do it again and again, and at some point you see that it improved your flight by 0.0045% or so.
Once your ship has a fit you feel is strong enough and good for you, you should exercise it - a lot - until moving with it becomes so natural, that you can basicly fly that thing into a huge inty ball and still dodge and dominate.
For this, familiarity with the ship (so how your game-object is moving, under different ping circumstances) is absolute key. And also keep it in exercise, since well, can’t stay on top without moving your butt, right.
In the beginning you will fall out to disorentiation more often, which just means, retreat, take a breath, review what just happened.
Make sure you got high fps, even if you turn down beauty, because you want to have a fluid gameplay, so your brain can immerse better.
You can also train general aiming, movement, etc. by playing other games, or watching good players on youtube; knowing many games helps adjusting to random situations aswell, since you know how to solve them in an abstract way. I am talking about really miniscule microtasks here, like, how will I fly through that next tunnel, or what does it mean, that you just suddenly got ecm’d. Dynamic stuff happening to you all the time. Microdecisions. The more they are intuitional, the more you can spend thinking about everything else, and this area of relaxed, but concentrated attitude is what you want to have.
Play your own strenghts. If the next fight is in your favor, try to play more on manouvering, play with your prey, so you exercise what movements you can use that are good, even if it gives the other pilot the chance to kill you. If the next fight however is hard, concentrate on killing or at least surviving, without forcing yourself to come to the desorientation part.
Play 1on1s with friends who are good, or definitely better than you see yourself, but have no problems with a fun fight. Not for hours, but just as long both have fun.
For Fighter play against Ceptors, I like flying backwards combined with up/down/left/right strafe, constantly trying to flank them in their rotation. You try to keep your nose to the ceptor, defending, instead of attacking him, forcing him to retreat from your vicinity. Works on most weapons, but I prefer Ions or Gravis, or Phaser. Well, except you sit in something like a BubbleRotation gunship, which can go head on.
For this kind of movement (backing and rotating to the ceptor) you have to be around your team, start the movement back early enough (you need to get to full speed) so this is not a 1on1 suggestion; With a team around you, the Interceptor has to retreat at some point however, or might even be surprised and fly head on in your overdrive/aim overcharge.
Also make sure to drink plenty of fluids. It can never be a mistake to be properly hydrated. I asked the Doc on Voyager about this.
These were all the ideas i had. If you can use some of them, pick em up, otherwise, maybe i just have no idea anyway
Having fun is the biggest part, you play better if you have fun. Which is why sometimes complete soloing with ceptors only and some loud music is maybe also a good tip. Ignore the world, shoot the red stuff.
As long as you do your job in the game mode. Coz ruining others’ fun isn’t fun. It is evil, and will lead you to the path of arrogance and self delusion, and you will just stop improving at some point because you are thinking you are the best and stuff and be an easy kill for the rogue squadron, no matter how large your epeen grows. Don’t choose the dark side of the force, Lukefefay!