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Please improve ground AI


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Hey, I know this has come up before and not just from myself!

 

In a regular flight sim, ground AI isn't that big of a deal. You're mostly looking at the air battle including some ground to air missiles and AAA. However Blackshark and the A-10, the two aircraft being modeled, are both air assets with the primary mission of engaging ground targets. Due to this, I believe the ground AI should be focused on and improved.

 

Here are some quick suggestions, and obviously i'd like input from all sides regarding this.

 

First off, please fix the infantry. Perhaps I'm not using them right however when I put an infantry unit on the ground it doesn't fire unless it sees the unit it's shooting at. The worst part is they don't bother to face the units shooting at them. This means scenarios involving infantry are very hard to create. I can't just plop down some units by the woodline and have them light up a convoy rolling by, yet the convoy will happily kill the infantry. This in turn makes scenarios based around convoy escort through areas with insergents (rebels, whatever term you wish, local light fighters) difficult to create.

 

Second is the problem of no units reacting to contact. This has been brought up a few times. A convoy rolls down the road and takes contact from the KA-50. It doesn't react at all, it just keeps going. Yet in the military there are procedures for this scenario. The one that comes to mind immediately is the 'fishbone', where units will pull off the road, space out, and return fire. Similarly dismounted infantry will react to an air threat. If they are in the open they'll get down and machinegunners will open up with everything they have. Once they can they're going to move to cover as fast as possible. I don't know if the AI can detect woodlines (I hear that trees have some detection problems caused by the engine), however if they can detect the infantry should run into the woods and hide when engaged by an air threat they can't counter (most units don't have AA capabilities). I'm not sure how armor reacts.

 

Third, and this is a future consern, is marking targest with lasers. I think there should be two methods; infantry that lights up targets in a manner similar to shooting at them (they shoot a laser rather than a weapon and swith targets when the previous target dies or another becomes a greater threat) and a trigger effect to aid in targeting buildings. The trigger should have a parameter for which infantryman or vehicle will be providing the laze.

 

In the end I think it wouldn't take too much time to make some simple AI adjustments which could add a lot to the immersion of the sim. I don't know how the code looks, nor would I even know where to begin I'll admit (still learning), but my small bit of knowledge of code leads me to believe that some of the tools are already here. For instance a check when rounds land to see if units are within a certain radius could set off the reactions I've mentioned above. With a waypoint system already implemented, things like the 'fish bone' and running to the woodline should be fairly easy to code in. With the addition of a threat system, so the unit could judge if they are still being shot at, it would allow units to continue to move on their course after the air assets have left.

 

Sorry for the mispellings, I'm sure this is full of them. I don't have my spellcheck on this system (buddies). In any case I hope that what I'm saying comes off correct, as a helpful suggestion. If i could I'd gladly help, though at my level of knowledge of C++ (been using C#) I don't know how much use I could be. I've also been out of the Army for a while so I'm prob a bit too foggy to really be a good reference. Still my stance remains; I think improving the ground AI, especially given we're engaging ground targets, would go a long way.

 

Edit: Forgot to add my appreciation. I saw Wags say something about it being hard to see bitching all the time on the forums and wanted to say that in no way is this meant to be a knock on the sim. I very much appreciate the work the ED team has done and hope to one day program simulations to the same caliber as they have. I'm currently going to school (I know I'm too old for school) in hopes of being able to get a job doing such excellent works as the DCS series.


Edited by My Fing ID
Forgot to add my appreciation
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It seems like making convoys react wouldn't be too difficult, though it really could be. I'd think it would just take a check on each round as it landed to see if a convoy was near, then sending the vehicles to new waypoints or even just create a new formation for them to go into and stop for a period of time, like a minute after they last saw the attacking aircraft. The infantry would be difficult but it would really increase the immersion IMO.

 

However I must say you are right, the wingman needs to be fixed first. Currently all they will do is return to base. I tell them to engage air defense right after they tell me they just spotted air defense and they tell me no. Same goes for anything else I tell them to engage. They used to work, I guess they just got broke during the patch. The new sound engine is pretty cool though!

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"I'd think it would just take a check on each round as it landed to see if a convoy was near"

 

So I come in with my A10, release a little GAU-8 salvo, and my computer explodes violently when the AI engine suddenly finds itself having to do ~200 checks in coordination with the terrain engine.

 

Same thing for aerial combat - I merge with a bandit up at angels 25, get onto his six and release a quick salvo. A quick salvo with the M61 is a lot of rounds. 60 seconds later my computer dies as said rounds start hitting the floor...

 

...now extrapolate that to a combat mission where you have a lot of units, or a multiplayer mission with up to 64 players, and you just ensured that none of us will have the hardware to run the game. ;)

 

Now, there are better ways of getting the effect you are asking for that do not kill computers, but they're not easy to implement and even harder to optimize for performance.


Edited by EtherealN

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I don't think the terrain engine would have to be involved, a simple check to see if there was a unit within a set radius of the explosion would be enough. You wouldn't have to worry about weapons in the air either, just tie the check in with the check to see if the round impacted with the ground. I think it could be done a bit better than what I'm saying, but it shouldn't bog the system too much. If you already have to check each round to see if it hit the ground, then adding a bit to check for units within X once it did hit the ground shouldn't bog the system too much. I don't know though, I could be way off.

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"I'd think it would just take a check on each round as it landed to see if a convoy was near"

 

So I come in with my A10, release a little GAU-8 salvo, and my computer explodes violently when the AI engine suddenly finds itself having to do ~200 checks in coordination with the terrain engine.

 

Same thing for aerial combat - I merge with a bandit up at angels 25, get onto his six and release a quick salvo. A quick salvo with the M61 is a lot of rounds. 60 seconds later my computer dies as said rounds start hitting the floor...

 

...now extrapolate that to a combat mission where you have a lot of units, or a multiplayer mission with up to 64 players, and you just ensured that none of us will have the hardware to run the game. ;)

 

Now, there are better ways of getting the effect you are asking for that do not kill computers, but they're not easy to implement and even harder to optimize for performance.

 

I got plenty of unused cores :music_whistling:

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But the location of the unit is on the terrain.

 

Weapons in the air eventually hit the ground. ("What goes up must fall down" etc.)

 

If I were to design a system that does roughly what you want, what I would do is to just implement a signal into the routine where a unit takes damage - say tell the AI engine to set dispersal to 1 and then execute a dispersal routine using the normal movement AI. This would have some issues though (f.ex non-reaction to "near misses"), but allows minimum-intervention into other systems.

 

Now, I don't know how exactly the various parts of the simulator talk to each other, so I may also be way off, but introducing a new check for each round that impacts the ground just screams performance bottleneck. And there's issues with it as well - what happens if friendly fire lands (and would technically be expected to land - "danger close" etc) just within the "check radius"? Now we have to introduce a system to check for nationality of both round and unit. If we do that, we might end up with units not taking evasive action if they get mis-identified by a player and he attacks them instead of the enemy.

 

My wet dream would be some piece of logic that allows units to discern whether they are under attack or preferably even likely to come under attack, but I am unsure of how to implement that in a resource-friendly manner. Granted though that if we were to get a fully multithreaded engine we would get a lot of new headroom to expand into for such routines, whereafter it is possible that my performance concerns for any of the concepts we have discussed would completely disappear - who knows, maybe we could get a combination of them all.

 

But not knowing exactly how it works in detail it becomes hard to say. I just react whenever someone says things like "wouldn't be too difficult" and "it would just take". It very seldom is as easy as it first looks. :)


Edited by EtherealN

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I got plenty of unused cores :music_whistling:

 

I refer you to the five billion pages of threads talking about multithreading, often they also include the notion of it being "simple". If only it was as easy as flipping a compiler flag... ;)

 

Though technically, if you are running a 4-core system you have 2 unused cores, since the sound engine is already separated and running as a separate thread, and one of your cores (at least) is doing windows work. So your maximum of fully unused cores would be 1 or 2, depending on whether the sound engine shares space with the system on one core.


Edited by EtherealN

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Daniel "EtherealN" Agorander | Даниэль "эфирныйн" Агорандер

Intel i7 2600K @ 4.4GHz, ASUS Sabertooth P67, 8GB Corsair Vengeance @ 1600MHz, ASUS GTX 560Ti DirectCU II 1GB, Samsung 830series 512GB SSD, Corsair AX850w, two BENQ screens and TM HOTAS Warthog

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Hi Guys,

Conjecture aside, Wags and EB have , on more than one occasion, indicated that AI improvements are allways on the cards, and that they are definately looking to improve it..the example I can remember reading is ground unit defensive dispersal ... Wags has definately mentioned that they are investigating this behavior.

 

If there are to be any improvements / changes in this area, we won't see them for quite some time yet though, as I very much doubt there will be any releases for a number of months (DCS modules or patches).

 

Keep the faith, and remember that the guys making this sim probably want this stuff in more than you do !

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Honestly I am bit suprised why AI in this game is so stupid. I understand it can be power eating process however even old games had simple scripts what to do if.

 

Don't know maybe some of you have played Total Annihilation RTS. There are simpel scripts which tell what to do. If unit is attacked they do NOT stay in one position but do circles around.

 

Probably creating simple script like this:

 

if UNIT attacked and area allows then

move 10 meters around and

fire smoke

end;

 

somehow is difficult to implement in LO :S

 

Anyway I want to say games from 1997 (!) had so good scripts!

Reminder: Fighter pilots make movies. Bomber pilots make... HISTORY! :D | Also to be remembered: FRENCH TANKS HAVE ONE GEAR FORWARD AND FIVE BACKWARD :D

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This is it though, the product was allways intended to have the mission designer give the units intelligence with good mission planning and building.

 

AI, allthough necessary, is still a bit of a cruch for poor mission design...especailly now with triggers.

 

...still, good things come to those who wait, I'm pretty sure.

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This is it though, the product was allways intended to have the mission designer give the units intelligence with good mission planning and building.

 

AI, allthough necessary, is still a bit of a cruch for poor mission design...especailly now with triggers.

 

...still, good things come to those who wait, I'm pretty sure.

 

Not having the ability to make an AI respond is not the same as intended. They worked with what they had is all.

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I refer you to the five billion pages of threads talking about multithreading, often they also include the notion of it being "simple". If only it was as easy as flipping a compiler flag... ;)

 

Though technically, if you are running a 4-core system you have 2 unused cores, since the sound engine is already separated and running as a separate thread, and one of your cores (at least) is doing windows work. So your maximum of fully unused cores would be 1 or 2, depending on whether the sound engine shares space with the system on one core.

 

Hey I didnt ask for excuses :)

 

And playing FC2/BS I always have less than 50% CPU usage.

 

Now I am not saying the solution is easy. But I think that a flight sim is one of the types of games that is perfectly suited to multithreading.

 

Sensor thread, flight dynamics thread, hydraulics thread, weather thread, AI thread. From my extremely limited knowledge of software and coding it just seems to me that flight sims could be compartmentalized.

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Please add a script for :

"if bridge is broken take alternate bridge as mentionned in the mission editor"

and another script for :

"if dead unit on the road, quit the road for 50 meters and rejoin the road again"

or

"if road is blocked by too much dead units = return to previous waypoint"

Proud to be a [sIGPIC][/sIGPIC] :joystick::pilotfly::book:

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Тут достаточно много изменений. Появились более разветвленные и гибкие инструменты планирования маршрута и реакции юнитов на угрозы. Сейчас для точек маршрута можно будет задавать различные виды поведения и реакции. Можно будет останавливать группы на заданное время и другое.

 

Появилась новая система движения. Юниты научились форсировать небольшие речки и объезжать преграды, например разрушенные мосты. При авианалете колонна разбегается по сторонам дороги.

 

Подробнее расскажем когда это будет доведено до кондиции.

 

"Lots of changes here. There will be more extensive and flexible tools for route planning and reactions to threats. It will be possible to assign different behavior and reactions to each waypoint. It will be possible to stop movement of group for given time and so on.

 

New system of movement will be present. Units will knw how to pass small rivers and obstacles, i.e. destroyed bridges. Column will spread and position itself at sides of road in case of air attack.

 

We will tell more details, when this this gets into good enough state"

 

---

 

This is from A10 thread, so have patience - improvements are coming in A10 (and hopefully in Ka50 via compatability patch).

Wir sehen uns in Walhalla.

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As we've indicated many times in the past, many new features regarding the Mission Editor and ground AI are in development and we hope to be able to include as many of these as possible in A-10C. It's still too early to know exactly what and how will be in, so we are not yet ready to discuss details, but in any case it's safe to say there will be a significan expansion in mission creation tools and in-game AI, in particular ground AI.

- EB

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Nothing is easy. Everything takes much longer.

The Parable of Jane's A-10

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As we've indicated many times in the past, many new features regarding the Mission Editor and ground AI are in development and we hope to be able to include as many of these as possible in A-10C. It's still too early to know exactly what and how will be in, so we are not yet ready to discuss details, but in any case it's safe to say there will be a significan expansion in mission creation tools and in-game AI, in particular ground AI.

 

Good news, I guess we'll have to wait a little while longer until the A-10C news releases are available or development is further along.;)

 

 

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Cool, I'm glad to hear improvements are in the works.

 

For the mission editor bit (AI being a crutch for mission designers) I don't agree. AI can make the combat more dynamic, just as good editing can (random unit spawn/placement, good use of flags to change outcomes, etc). There are things we just can't do in the editor that an AI could. Unit reaction is one of these things. Unless we're going to be allowed to set how the unit reacts under fire there isn't much that can be done. We can't set alternate routes and even if we could we can't predict where the combat will take place when you have moving units. It could be before a bridge, after it, after the units have taken the objective, just no way to know when the pilot will make contact or begin the engagement, especially if you start with ramp-start.

 

Also there's no getting around the Infantry AI. I'm going to try later to see if I can get them positioned just so, but they don't seem to want to face south towards the convoy I'm trying to get them to engage. Current AI works very well for conventional warfare. You can totally put up some tanks and helicopters, run a few fighters/bombers and some artillery and things will go great. Units will engage each other from all over and you really get a sense that you're just part of a big plan. On the other hand unconventional warfare is more difficult to do, mostly due to the infantry AI. Trying to have an IED go off and get some infantry to start shooting is difficult simply because you have to 'trick' the infantry into shooting the convoy. You also can't really make the convoy react, they'll just continue down the road, which is fine. My major complaint though is just with the infantry AI., well that and things like BFVs shooting nothing but T.O.Ws, and a lot of them at that, but that's another issue. As a former infantryman, I have been looking forwards to creating CAS missions involving them, but like I said it's hard to get them to shoot at anything.


Edited by My Fing ID
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Triggers and scripts can only do so much. It's impractical to have a pre-made scripted action for every possible threat at every point along the path. I hope every effort is made to improve the combat environment as the aircraft environment already outstrips it by a couple orders of magnitude already.

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Second is the problem of no units reacting to contact. This has been brought up a few times. A convoy rolls down the road and takes contact from the KA-50. It doesn't react at all, it just keeps going.
What is the convoy suppose to do in the open road? Also, the fact is, every ground unit will engage you if you are within the range. I am not arguing the AI is good. However, what you said is a bit too harsh and not factual. And it is good to hear that developer is working to improve AI.

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Not to be insulting but the IL-2 video above shows even more simplistic behavior under attack than DCS demonstrates. At least in DCS the vehicles go around instead of stopping.

 

If you're referring to the little running guys, that's not AI at all. That's simply a visual animation played when damage is taken.

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