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Bullethead

What's Not to Love?

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So there I was, leading a flight of 5 Strutters when we were bounced by about 15 Huns before crossing the lines. Egad! This is still 1916! Don't they know we don't start to get that serious until next year? Anyway, a desperate battle ensued, twisting and turning from about 9000 feet down to treetop level with planes and tracer going every which way. Great fun!

 

Early in the fight, I latched onto an Albatros, the 1st one I'd seen so far in this career. He'd just overshot one of my wingmen and didn't see me as he pulled up steeply to do a hammerhead reversal. I closed right in on him, firing about 50 rounds from very close range, and damn few missed. The Hun staggered, smoked, and then went right down in a vertical spinning dive to explode on impact. "Huzzah! That'll be an easy claim", I thought.

 

The fight continued. Little by little, I got fairly well shot-up. While desperately dodging bullets and trying to maneuver for a shot, I caught occasional glimpses of my wingmen also fighting for their lives. We were doing quite well, all thigns coinsidered. Most of us were still flying and there were noticeably few Huns. But obviously this couldn't go on much longer. We were all shot up, just about out of airspeed, altitude, and ideas, and low on ammo. I was already starting to look for a nice field to set down in while I still could.

 

Then the cavalry arrived. Out of nowhere, a herd of green Nupes appeared and piled into the remaining Huns. Those Huns weren't in much better shape than my flight, so the Nupes made short work of them. I quickly rounded up the Strutters I could see, counted noses (only missing 1--amazing!) and landed on a field conveniently just below us. I looked at my clock: exactly 20 minutes had elapsed between the start of the fight and switching off my engine.

 

I was totally drained. I figure I spent only a few minutes leaving the scene so that was about 15 minutes of pure adrenaline. There had probably been 30 planes at the height of the battle, the biggerst furball I've ever seen so early in the war. Woohoo!

 

So I filled out my claims, then watched the replay. Much to my surprise, the game didn't give me credit for that 1st Albatros, the one I'd really plastered before I thought anybody else could have touched it. But that's OK. I got credit for 2 other Huns that I thought I was just finishing off for my wingmen. Such things STILL bring a smile to my face, no matter how many times I've seen it happen before :).

 

Damn, that was a fun sortie. I wonder how WOFF can surpass such things?

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Egad! This is still 1916! Don't they know we don't start to get that serious until next year?

:rofl:Mmuahahahahahahaaaaa!!!!!!

 

Then the cavalry arrived. Out of nowhere, a herd of green Nupes appeared...

These are such great moments indeed! Not only in Westerns!

 

Damn, that was a fun sortie. I wonder how WOFF can surpass such things?

Yes, you can very well wonder how - but I bet they will do! :bb:

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I wonder how WOFF can surpass such things?

 

Better human vs human play online. Even the best AI (and OFF has the best I've seen so far) can't match the challenge of duking it out with a thinking, adaptive opponent.

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Yes, you can very well wonder how - but I bet they will do! :bb:

 

I just hope they don't tinker too much with the claims system. Maybe I'm sick, but I rather enjoy the impenetrable archana we currently have, where the game will sometimes give me credit for putting the last nail in the coffin but not for making the coffin necessary. This is a fine simulation of military bureaucracy :). My only problem is that sometimes the game burps and forgets the whole mission happened, losing hours, claims, and all. That's what I hope they improve on.

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Bullet, I'm not sure if this was the reason for the sim dropping my victories occasionally,

but since I got more memory (from 2 GB to 4 GB) I hardly had that happening anymore.

It happened, when I had longer missions with several events, and then also took the time

to make paused screenshots. But now this problem seems to have gone.

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Better human vs human play online. Even the best AI (and OFF has the best I've seen so far) can't match the challenge of duking it out with a thinking, adaptive opponent.

 

Yes and no....

 

I flew online almost exclusively for nearly 20 years (it's been available for close to 30 years now) and only stopped because I had to get lag-ridden satellite internet. I have literally thousands of hours of experience with it, from DOS Air Warrior to Aces High 2, and I used to have to pay anywhere from $2-5 per hour to get it. So I think I'm fairly well qualified to opine on this subject.

 

First off, in real life, they only let smart people fly warplanes and you see why every day online where the skies are open to all. It didn't used to be that way. When I started, only people smart enough to have good jobs, and thus able to afford top-end computers, fancy joysticks, and the hourly fees to play, were online. This was the High and Far Off Days of Gods and Heroes, when nearly everybody was a highly experienced, highly competent killer and the learning curve was vertical. In those days, Robert Shaw, author of Fighter Combat: Tactics and Maneuvering, was an active player, came to game conventions, and everybody had him autograph their copy of his book.

 

These days, however, everybody has a computer, joysticks are cheap, and there are no hourly fees. Thus, the virtual skies are filled with paint-huffing high school dropouts. If they've ever heard the term "energy management", they lack the mental capacity ever to grok it. They are and always will remain total dweebs. The bottom line is that while the online population has gotten much bigger over the years, the average talent level has nearly hit rock bottom.

 

So, IMHO, these days you really have to qualify the statement that "no AI can match the challenge of fighting another thinking, adaptive opponent." You only get a challenging fight if your opponent has a skill level comparable to your own. Now, for the vast bulk of online players, this is no problem because they all suck equally at ACM. But somebody who knows what he's doing will have to look far and wide for a worthy adversary. Thus, the people who most desire to test their skills are the least likely to have a chance to. For them, it's just another day at the office clubbing baby seals.

 

I honestly think that today, most AIs are better than most humans. Certainly, in the old days, AIs totally sucked, which is why I started flying online. But these days, most AIs have Shaw's teachings hardwired into their brains whereas most humans have never even heard of the man. But people who've slept with Shaw's book under their pillows for decades will always be able to beat AIs, and nearly all humans, too.

 

Personally, I'd rather fight OFF's AI than any of the last few thousand of my online opponents.

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Just think about you'd feel with live ammunition!

 

I fly this game because it brings back fond memories of being shot at. There's no bigger rush than having bullets JUST MISS you :)

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BH - another scenic and enjoyable short read. This sort of AAR 'style', if you will, fits you well; apparently it fits me too. I look forward to more.

 

I also understand your comments re: the online thing; I agree with your very qualified observations. I do not enjoy such a history myself, only getting into sims around the RB days and no online at all until much more recently. If the new WOFF supports online activity as well as things seem to suggest, I'd be pleased to have you kick the crap outta me any time.

 

But I do have to say, in fairness to VB, I think he probably assumes you have a worthy opponent of your choice, opposed to the (*heh*) larger paint-huffing public...(still chuckling about that line). While I agree with your points, I think decent adversaries are out there and I think VB means the human opponent can be a far more challenging foe. I'd have to say I agree, just that it also sucks you have to go through the dropped-out masses to get the decent opponents.

 

Hopefully, WOFF will be geared more toward 'arranged' contests, rather than the open pool concept which I think invites the type players you describe.

 

We'll all see, won't we? Here's to the future!

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I just hope they don't tinker too much with the claims system.

As far as I know, the claims system will be improved in that way, that it will recognise more key data,

and wether your listed witnesses were close enough to witness your kill.

I am masochistic enough to say, I'd like it, when all exaggerated claims would get rejected.

That might make the victory numbers a bit more realistic.

And if they stll leave that button in the "Workshops", you could switch realistic claims off,

if you don't like it.

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If the new WOFF supports online activity as well as things seem to suggest, I'd be pleased to have you kick the crap outta me any time.

 

Well, by the time WOFF finally ships, who knows? I might finally have broadband on a landline by then, in which bet your ass I'll be doing MP again. And I'm sure you'll beat me up badly because I'll have years of rust in fighting other people :doh:

 

But I do have to say, in fairness to VB, I think he probably assumes you have a worthy opponent of your choice, opposed to the (*heh*) larger paint-huffing public...(still chuckling about that line). While I agree with your points, I think decent adversaries are out there and I think VB means the human opponent can be a far more challenging foe. I'd have to say I agree, just that it also sucks you have to go through the dropped-out masses to get the decent opponents. Hopefully, WOFF will be geared more toward 'arranged' contests, rather than the open pool concept which I think invites the type players you describe.

 

Yup, formal dueling is the only way for knowledgeable and skillful sim pilots to face hale fellows well met these days. Sure, once in a while you might meet such an oppenent by chance in the general melee, but the multi-bogey context then often prevents you from really getting the most of such encounters. The enemy ace is just another face in the crowd. But when you can arrange a duel, it's a fight to remember all your life. I still can tell you all the details of most of the dueling ladders I competed in dating back to the mid-90s.

 

However, my point, as you perceive, is that IMHO saying that online is better than offline because you're fighting humans instead of AI is no longer a valid argument. Online, in general you have about zero historical immersion; the usual fair is what I call "Quake with airplanes". It's all played with the same mindset as FPS deathmatch. The only escape from this is pre-arranged special events intended to recreate historical battles.

 

So, it used to be that offline AIs were so bad that no amount of historical context could cover that failing, at least if you'd tasted online fighting just once, where everybody was MUCH better. But these days, AIs have improved so much, and human opponents on average have gotten so much worse, that you have both historical context AND better opposition offline than on. That is, if you're just dropping in to fly a little while you have the time. If you know some good opponents and can arrange duels with them, then you'll never find a better fight, although completely devoid of context. But for just day-to-day casual gaming, I'd rather fly offline these days.

 

BTW, RE: "paint-huffing dropouts". I used to call such folks PFRs, for "pimple-faced retards", but then I had an online squaddie who took offense, so I "picked the turd up by the clean end" and changed my terminology ;). In fact, calling somebody a PHD is often taken as a compliment :dance2:

 

[/size] As far as I know, the claims system will be improved in that way, that it will recognise more key data, and wether your listed witnesses were close enough to witness your kill. I am masochistic enough to say, I'd like it, when all exaggerated claims would get rejected. That might make the victory numbers a bit more realistic. And if they stll leave that button in the "Workshops", you could switch realistic claims off, if you don't like it.

 

As long as we can still routinely curse the claims bureau, I'll be happy :).

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Your point about the 'average' online player is taken, BH, but I don't think it applies to our community. The type to which you refer can generally, maybe almost exclusively, be found flying high-powered jets or even X-Wing fighters (if they bother with a flying game at all) where, as you say, energy management is a foreign language and the weapons systems do more real targeting than the player/pilot. Games like OFF/WOFF require...require...more skill, more patience, more dedication than that. The average phd might log onto a server but after finding out how badly he sucks and how hard it's going to be to get good he'll likely give up and leave (after possibly dousing the area with expletives) never to return. Or stay and learn and become the next quality wingman. Or opponent.

 

I started online toward the end of Red Baron's glory and remember the Thursday night tournaments (sadly they folded just about when I felt I was getting good enough to try my luck), but that's pretty much what happened in RB. Then, of course, came the hackers and the fm wars and that was that. But I moved on to Richtofen's Skies, where it was difficult enough just to get the plane off the ground that many gave up over that alone. Now OFF has arrived and its followers are as committed as RB's and RS's ever were. I flew in the first three or four 'Vasco's Volunteers' events (and each event was several weeks long). We were a very dedicated group, many of whom would fly the events with TAC and labels off to heighten the realism.

 

The point is that the quality and difficulty of the game will eliminate the weak or unworthy. And the graciousness and generosity of the core players will teach those who really want to learn and will raise their skills to that of the veterans. But only if the online play can support it. You can't train an Olympic athlete on balsa wood parallel bars. (Devs and moderator, please note here that I refer only to the weakness of the online experience, not OFF itself. Overall, this IS the best WWI sim yet and I eagerly await your next offering.)

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The point is that the quality and difficulty of the game will eliminate the weak or unworthy. And the graciousness and generosity of the core players will teach those who really want to learn and will raise their skills to that of the veterans. But only if the online play can support it. You can't train an Olympic athlete on balsa wood parallel bars. (Devs and moderator, please note here that I refer only to the weakness of the online experience, not OFF itself. Overall, this IS the best WWI sim yet and I eagerly await your next offering.)

 

In an online version of WOFF, you'd probably be right, at least to start with. Like Air Warrior back in the day, an online WOFF has barriers to entry that will keep the community small and skillful. At the very least, the ancient CFS3 engine will continue to deter new pilots, no matter what miracles OBD works with it. Also, as long as OBD keeps true to its main mission of providing the best offline experience possible, the online content will necessarily suffer in comparison to online-only competitors.

 

However, I submit that should OBD ever remove these barriers to entry, then an online WOFF (or whatever the future online version will be called) will be flooded with PHDs just like every other wide-open online flightsim. When this happens, the PHDs do NOT get driven away by an inability to compete because everywhere they look are other PHDs they can fight on equal terms. I've seen this happen many times with many different games over the years, and I've never see it not happen. Why should it be any different in this case?

 

And let's face it; in WW1 sims, knowing your Shaw is not anywhere near as critical as in later periods. The default method of flying for all PHDs in whatever game is bank-and-yank, and in WW1 you can actually do fairly well knowing nothing else. Hell, very few WW1 planes have the horsepower to do much in the way of extended vertical maneuvers anyway. Thus, WW1 sims are particularly vulnerable to PHD infestations.

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