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VonBeerhofen

Advanced AI maneuvering

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A new filter was programmed which allows more diverse maneuvering for the lower AI skill levels. Expert planes remain unaltered by the new filter. The lower skills now have a 10% chance to do expert moves when the enemy is within 2000 feet. Expert planes are programmed to enter this phase when the enemy is closer then 1000 feet, simply because they react faster then lower skills. Additionally, the lower skills can still optionally follow the original game's maneuvering phases when not selected by the random routine. This essentially seperates rookie pilots from the more skilled and asigns them to their own maneuvering phases with a newly added phase for the greenest, which wasn't there previously.

In short, the lowest skill, which in v1.2 was set the same as medium, now has it's own maneuvering phases and criteria for carrying them out and with the medium skilled they have an additional random option to do expert moves if the enemy is closer then 2000 feet. An additional benefit of this is that planes are less likely to get stuck in a repetitive or endless loop, like endlessly flying circles around each other because the game only allows that one option for a particular skill level under certain circumstances. The random expert moves will make em do something entirely different.

Another benefit is that these lower skill levels are more likely to react sooner when an enemy gets close, i.e. within 2000 feet. This behaviour changes real time and makes it much less predictable as to when the none expert planes will start using expert maneuvering or when they stop doing that. The routine doesn't influence the preprogrammed reaction times for each skill level, so inspite of being able to detect the enemy sooner their moves will remain as sluggish as in v1.2. You can't become an ace pilot in a single battle but you can occasionally do the right thing either by accident or by learning from mistakes.

Furthermore the criteria calculation now also allows higher skill levels to be introduced (Advanced Criterium Emulation or ACE for short, :D), EAWPRO already has many provisions for this but it's only partially active due to a limitation in the cofiguartion screen to select only 3 skill levels. I hope full implementation will follow.

How this will play out in the end is beyond my prediction but anyone with advanced knowledge on AI behaviour is welcome to write an essay about it, :)

VonBeerhofen
 

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Can't grasp it all VB  But it seems to make a more challenging bomber intercept..

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It changes a lot of things Russ, but it's effects are hard to describe on a single page. One thing which I was after was to keep the bombers together in human controlled missions but differentiate between bombers and planes carrying bombs. I've flown escorts in heavy bombers but the game doesn't really have mission types for such and it is quite useless when your group of heavies start attacking the enemy fighters only using their defensive guns. You can't aim or shoot yourself as these planes have no offensive guns, except for the B26.

Now you can fly missions in which you must try and remain with your escorts to enlarge their and your combined defensive fire poser, while controlling your own group and try to keep em out of harm's way. They will follow you where ever you go and if you fly a bit evasive they will do too. Still you need to stay with the escrtees and the fly very slow (app. 100Mph in the approach). The new routine allows AI in your group to get away from harm on their own, AFTER they dropped their load or when they don't cary any.

You can try to regroup them as such will improve your defensive capabillities but they sometimes get hit and slow down. Your option is to also slow down to help them but more often it's a lost case. The AI will NOT engage enemies and for now the attacking command has no influence because of this new bit of programming as far as I can tell. The AI want to get back to base asap but may get drawn into a squirmish where they try every trick in the book to get rid of their attackers. Their defensive guns can still bring the enemy down and when the coast is clear they head back again following the programmed waypoints.

It just makes more sense to fly the heavies this way, it gives the missions a purpose. For the other bomber types, invaders, divebombers, attack-bombers and fighter-bombers things have changed too, they're more free to engage the enemy since they have offensive weapons but when things quiet down around them they will still head to the target, drop their bombs and try to get back to base, as those are it's main objective. After dropping their bombs they're free to do whatever the game has programmed for them, if necessary fight to the death.

These are just initial observations with a few planetypes, and I'm sure there are a few surprises in store, perhaps a B17 trying to loop out of trouble and finding out that it can't do it, that's not new behaviour when flying heavies in v1.2 and I kept all of that just because it looks awesome when they try and fail. Mind you they're very good at getting back in control after a stall, :)

Here's a picture of my escort of B17's in a B26, notice that the enemy in twins (410's and 110's) are all over us, but my group remained calm, except me as I was keeping an eye on enemies closing in and lost contact with the B17's. I had to find em again to stay protected but one of my planes got seperated and had to go it alone. There's another routine for seperated planes and it did what it had to do, try to get back in formation and get thell out of there after delivering it's payload.

VBH

]http://rabartel.home.xs4all.nl/BomberMixUp.jpg

 

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Everything makes sense to me VB...One question about your post  " Now you can fly missions in which you must try and remain with your escort " I always thought it was the escorts to remain with the bombers ,,Don't think a B-17 can keep up with a P-51,,didn't the Germans have problems with pilots who preferred to free hunt to clear a path and those who wanted them to stay tight with the bomber formations

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Although I read everything about this new Bomber AI routines that you (VBH) have supplied I'm still sorta confused at what its going to produce for results.

Maybe I haven't read messages slowly enough yet. I mean I understand you been writing messages as to what your doing at the time with experiments but the outcome is a little hazy.
I removed all text on the FXEXE Help Doc on my site regarding this new AI stuff, cause I was waiting for a more finalized answer. Perhaps I need to re read what you wrote and examine it more closely.

 

My two questions are these:

It seems to me that if your flying a Bomber in a formation you have -some- commands that work on the way to the target, and -some- that work after the bombs have been dropped?
and What about when the Bombers are all AI, how do they behave on the way to the target, and how do they behave after the bombs have been dropped?

 

Hope all is well. I know your excited about these new routines and code.

Edited by MarkEAW
rearranged text

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Mark,

the commands menu in the game remains unchanged thusfar, however it's possible that heavy bombers may ignore certain commands which may conflict with their mission. When you don't want to fly them as fighters the attack enemy command is useless because they can't aim pilot operated guns. In the game anything is possible, in v1.2 they would just behave like fighters and go after the enemy, which is obviously silly.

In EAWPRO they can no longer do this but AI behaviour changes after their bombs are dropped or when no loadout is selected for the mission. They may turn on their enemy like in v1.2 (low probabillity) but when they do their main objective is still to head home when the enemy is killed or looses sight, but most of the time they get damaged and don't make it. In other words they won't go after the fighters but the enemy fighters will be going for them.

As Ribob requested, they will also drop their bombs if the situation demands to do so, irrespective of their location. Usually  it's because they're too heavily damaged. What ever else the AI routines tell them to do is not changed and almost impossible to predict. The command menu may change to give the human player more control over them but I'm not working on it right now.

VBH

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BTW Mark,

I did try to edit in a very elaborate answer as to behaviour in the standard missions but it'became too technical and too long and probably too boring to post too. The short answer is to give it a try and see what you think, if something's not right I'm always willing to try and change things but I can not always do what people want as requests may be too timeconsuming to program or my time is needed for another project. I'll send you what I didn't post by e-mail but I don't think it's very usefull knowledge for anyone

VBH

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All this discussion is far above my knowledge level, but, from my perspective, if it makes the game more realistic, whilst maintaining its' playability, I am all in favor.

Thank you VBH, for doing what you do.

Now, where can I download your latest creation, and please provide explicit instructions.

 

Much obliged, VBH!

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RiBob,

new versions must undergo extensive testing in the Launchpad as well as with a few Betatesters. The release will be announced seperately in due time after testing. Just hang in there my friend, patience is a virtue.

VBH

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OK, and thanks!  

I think the fundamental take-away from this discussion is that it is possible to have the bombers do things that defy common sense--and historical reality, as well as to have the bombers do what they actually did, both regarding common sense and historically relevant tactics.

For example, early USAAF Heavy Bomber formations, regardless of fighter escort, were found to be inadequate, and (then) Col Curtiss LeMay was fundamental in re-arranging bomber formations for increased firepower from defensive guns.  This change was a part of the reason why USAAF bombers suffered fewer losses in the later period.  Of course, there were other major changes, such as the introduction of long-range fighter escort, and the lessening of the Luftwaffe's combat ability.  The introduction of powered dual MG "chin" turrets on later B-17s is a good example of countering the German "Head-On" attack, which was useful prior to that point.

All of these topics require an essay in themselves.  

Fundamentally, I believe that experimentation is all to the good, as it broadens the knowledge base, and sometimes uncovers some aspects of the game that can be further improved.  For example, my Me 262 thread provided some food for thought in that some Modders found ways to replicate some aspects of the proposed historical scenario.  Another step forward, IMHO.  The credit is all theirs, naturally.

I don't claim to understand most of what VBH is saying above; My problem, not his.

I would suggest that any built-in (and so, non-user-definable parameters) be very carefully considered in light of historical accuracy.  Again, as an example, German attacks against USAAF bombers in say, 1943 are going to be very different than attacks made in late '44, for a number of reasons.

So much so that the game changes a great deal, and perhaps a fundamentally different scenario might be justified.  It seems that making a reasonably accurate sim involves a "sliding-scale" of one side's measures versus  the other side's counter-measure--and vice versa.  I think that it's necessary to develop different scenarios, at given points in time, to accommodate the progress of aerial warfare.  Of course, the perfection of a scenario within a given time-frame is a thing unto itself. 

All of these measures and counter-measures require experimentation to make them work as intended.  

What I would ask, from any and all Modders is to at least []]try[/I] to adhere to some reasonable degree of historical accuracy.  Sure, it's a sim, and no reasonable person expects perfect historical accuracy.  But I believe it's a worthwhile goal towards which to strive.

Some people say that EAW is a sort of "cartoon" and to not to expect much from it.  Well, there have been, and still are, a number of Modders trying to disprove that slur.

I wish the best to all of you! 

 

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