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VonBeerhofen

Making selections and user choices

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EAW has got a number of user options in the .INI file relating to AI behaviour which are obviously quite usefull for beginners, intermediate or advanced players. To improve the game further and make the game harder and the AI tougher, there's obviously a choice to add more options to the .INI or to change how the game deals with these entries in the AI routines themselves. As a diehard player I'm ofcourse more interested in more skilled AI and more dangerous events have researched and changed both options. I find it however near impossible to change all level choices and have therefore concentrated on changing the highest selections only.

Fact is that as these choices are used in real time, it's not a great idea to add more choices and decisions for the AI, as well as users, which will slow down the game considerably. However there are jump tables which won't cost anything extra, since they simply load an offset value and then jump to the routine in question. It's mainly these tables I'm targetting when adding more options and where an .INI might have an extra useer choice I prefer to implement multiple choices which are automattically made by the game itself.

The clarify this, a user can select skill level 1 or 2 but I for instance will give that choice to the game where possible. What I've done however doesn't relate to skill level 1 and 2 but to level 2 (expert) only, giving the game an extra level 3 choice in real time. This affects AI behaviour throughout the game without having to change any of the AI routines themselves. Ofcourse I did mess around in those routines too but those are just minor changes, like the aim moment or the moment to fire weapons or when to start moving etc. which are usually based on enemy distance and position.

I hope you will understand that taking away the benefit of an extra user choice in the .INI gamespeed is not hampered in any way but the AI are more unpredictable in their choices and responses. I also noticed that some routines didn't handle all .INI skill levels, in that they for instance set skill 0 and 1 being the same for certain decisions. Where possible I changed this to make the so called dumbest AI pilots in the squadron a little dumber then level 1 or in other words, I gave em their own level as should be.

Now since the introduction of the ACE level in the parameter selection screen activates the extra skill levels but also allows the lower skill levels to use the skills of one level higher it should essentially compensate for this extra dumbness of the lowest level and make level 1 sometimes as skilled as a level 2 AI, in real time ofcourse.
As I wrote previously, this elevated level has no influence on the decision making speed of the default AI's skill level, meaning they will make better choices at times but not as quick as the higher skill level it's temproraily using.

I hope you can still bare with me but the Betatests have shown that occasionally the slower reaction time, while performing a higher skilled action, is sometimes not fast enough to perform the move successfully, causing more areal accidents, like the one's I usually make myself when flying online, like misjudging approach speed or not noticing another plane by my side going for the same target. Planes may accidentally fly into a bombergroup and collide with one of em, because they're usually large planes flying at low speed. Such accidents can trigger adjacent planes in the group to explode too, sometimes killing 3 or 4 planes at once.

The chances for this are set pretty low so it doesn't happen too often, perhaps one plane in 100, exact numbers are hard to give as it's subject to a randomness calculation, so sometimes it may not happen for weeks and sometimes you get 5 in one mission. I haven't seen any fighter collisions but they have an equal chance if it wasn't for the fact that they occupy less 3D space and are usually chasing eachother, but with intercepts planes may come from all sides.

Since the skill levels also control the speeds at which the AI are flying (dumb AI usually fly slower) there's the same possibillity with ground impacts, however previous changes prevent AI to start new moves when under 500 feet and start pulling out of any dive they're in to avoid ground collisions. Now this has worked beautifully well, even in very mountainous areas, but this new behaviour will change things, I just don't know by how much. Thusfar I haven't seen any abnormal ammount of ground collisions but one is not always aware of these happenings when the battle area is app. 100 KM2.

I hope this will give you an idea as to what to expect with the next release of EAWPRO in terms of more visble AI changes.

VonBeerhofen

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Having read your comments carefully, and while being no EAW/EAWPRO expert, I have always believed that the game user should be, by default, given the widest amount of choices possible, as long as the choices/individual selections are provided with a useable/intuitive GUI.

There are two alternatives, one being an experienced player, who will endure a certain amount of hassle in configuring the game, and a newbie, who will likely give up in frustration when presented with a GUI that is confusing or very difficult to master.  EAWPRO, being based on the fairly decent GUI of the original game, benefits form a good, intuitive GUI. 

MarkEAW's Help Site is invaluable in teaching the newcomer how to modify the INI once the game is installed.  I know I found it so when configuring my (long-since standard) 8-position hat switch on my HOTAS, not to mention getting EAW running in the first place.  Thanks Again, Mark!

So, my  suggestion is to favor the newcomers, and keep the user GUI fairly simple and easy to use.  If a new user becomes enchanted with the easy-to-use game, then they can be provided with detailed instructions  as to how some of the initial settings can be modified.

As far as dumb AI planes, that strikes me as somewhat time-related.  For example, there were very few "dumb" German fliers in 1940, but many in late 1944/early 1945.  As contrasted to the Germans, there were plenty of "dumb" Brit/Allied pilots on 1940, but very few in late 1944/early 1945--and many more of the good Allied ones, since they were rotated-out to train the fledgling pilots.  There were many reasons for this switch-over in pilot quality, most of it due to training and experience.  We all know the story, so no sense repeating it here.  

So, I suggest the "KISS" (Keep it Simple and Stupid) for the benefit of the newcomers, and allowing everyone the option to configure the game as they choose.  If the GUI can be modified to accomplish this, so much the better, as long as it is done in an easy-to-use manner.  If this is not feasible, then may I strongly suggest providing easily-understood READMEs, appropriate labeled as to their intended use, be provided for the benefit of all?

 

Respectfully submitted, RIBob 

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With some extra work I was able to influence the lower skill levels in the .INI to perform the same way, so players aren't immediately thrown into the deep end but can train lower skill levels first before entering the major league. It just seemed a bit silly to stick to the original AI behaviour in these lower choices after all the hard work done and I found a switch which allowed me to call my new routines in the same way without impacting FPS at all and making this uniform behaviour throughout the game. It's not something I'm going to test extensively though with 30 planes and all possible mission types and skillsettings, it would simply take too much time. Instead I'll just keep playing the game a lot as always and keep an eye out for anomalies. It's unlikely that it will cause problems though, since only higher skill levels are used which can not exceed the lowest or highest possible AI values. It will influence AI behaviour for all planes except the ones which were already attributed with the highest level.

An additional note, ofcourse the flightmodels also influence the described events, but their influence is somewhat tempered by the program itself in most situations, to prevent enormous differences between planetypes which might lead to inbalanced battles.

VonBeerhofen

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RiBob,

I think v1.26 is the perfect game for newcomers and when they master that version then there's plenty of choices to move on to something harder. The new AI skill levels still have 3 user selections in the INI and configuration screen. All 3 are tougher then the highest skill level in v1.26 which makes EAWPRO the perfect addon to take it to the next level without needing to learn a new user interface, the transition is seamless.

VonBeerhofen

Edited by VonBeerhofen

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3 hours ago, VonBeerhofen said:

RiBob,

I think v1.26 is the perfect game for newcomers and when they master that version then there's plenty of choices to move on to something harder. The new AI skill levels still have 3 user selections in the INI and configuration screen. All 3 are tougher then the highest skill level in v1.26 which makes EAWPRO the perfect addon to take it to the next level without needing to learn a new user interface, the transition is seamless.

VonBeerhofen

Sounds good, VB.  It's gratifying that newcomers can be easily accommodated, whilst simultaneously accommodating the more experienced players.  Best of both worlds.

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