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Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/17/2019 3:34:36 PM   
DWReese

 

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I've played this game for a long time, but I find one thing puzzling regarding air missions: Sending fighters on an Air Superiority mission. I would like to explain what I am talking about, and I would love to hear how you all handle this:

Situation:

1. Side A is send a group of bombers (along with fighters to gain air superiority) to attack Side B's base.

2. Side A has loaded their bombers. I could assign the fighters as escorts to the bombers, but that means that the escorts usually stick around only as long as the bomber itself. So, as soon as each bomber departs, so does the assigned escort. In my mind, this isn't an Air Superiority mission, although it does accomplish some of the things that I want. Often the escort departs while still armed with ATA missiles, while other escorts with other bombers are running low on missiles.

3. I could assign some fighters directly to an Air Strike mission. To do so, I would have to have specific designated targets. I suppose that I could add the "known targets" to my list, but what about the ones that take to the skies later, or ones that I can's see? If the mission is being handled by AI, then there are no additions to the target list, so as soon as the designated targets in the original list are destroyed (or landed), then the Air Strike Mission is essentially over, even if more enemy fighters begin to appear.

4. Finally, I could use reference points, mark off a certain area, and send my fighters to that specific area on a Patrol Mission looking for enemy planes. I can have them stay for a certain amount of time, and then head for home. The downside is that they could be remaining in the area longer than they have to, and they could get shot down by SAMs, etc. unless I have some exclusion zones. Often, the SAMs are located next to the ground targets, and I usually can't do that because the bombers need to enter the area to drop bombs on it.

So, how do you handle these Air Superiority missions? Which method is best, and why? I have tried all of them. All seem to have some beneficial aspects, but also some glaring weaknesses.

Thanks in advance.

Doug

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RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/17/2019 4:17:18 PM   
Clockmaster77


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You are right! If I remember well in the old Harpoon every squadron in fly can be assigned to escort any other fly (from bombers to other fighters) with a simple command. Am I wrong or this feature disappeared? Ok we have ref points for patrols and a very advanced mission editor, but your questions seems absolutely correct for me too: +1

(in reply to DWReese)
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RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/17/2019 4:53:26 PM   
SeaQueen


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quote:

ORIGINAL: DWReese
So, how do you handle these Air Superiority missions? Which method is best, and why? I have tried all of them. All seem to have some beneficial aspects, but also some glaring weaknesses.


I rarely use close escort missions. The reason is that in the era I tend to play (near future) weapons ranges have gotten sufficiently long that a close escort is way too close to really be effective. They don't get there fast enough. Also, the AI doesn't handle aircraft originating from different bases well.

Instead, I tend to use option 4. Will there be a person in the loop or will it be run by the AI?

The SAM problem suggests you need to put no-nav zones around the SAM known sites, have a SEAD patrol shortly ahead of your fighters, and spend a lot of time plotting SAM sites with some sort of ELINT aircraft then let loose with a ton of cruise missiles and decoys targeting radars and SAMs where your successive waves follows right behind them. The idea is that the combination of SEAD, cruise missiles, decoys and air superiority aircraft will blow a hole in their defenses long enough for the bomber train to fly through it and get away before the enemy can backfill their fighters and plug the gap.

The SEAD patrol needs to consist of fighter-bombers with air to air missiles in addition to whatever weapon you want to strike the SAMs/AAA (ARMS? glide bombs? CBUs?) with so they can fight back long enough for the dedicated fighters to catch up with them. This is where the real art of it comes in. If you put too much time between your SEAD package and your air superiority package, then they can't support each other effectively. If you put too little, then the air superiority aircraft (and the bomber train if you do REALLY bad) might take a lot of losses.

If there's a person in the loop, they can send the aircraft home or pull them back whenever they want. If it's the AI you have to rely on a mission end time. You could probably do something clever with LUA to do something like set the mission end time to N minutes past when the bombers drop or something like that if you wanted to. I'm not sure its really necessary in this case, though.


< Message edited by SeaQueen -- 1/21/2019 4:07:39 PM >

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RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/17/2019 6:55:20 PM   
DWReese

 

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Thanks for responding.

I am primarily looking at this situation from the perspective that I am building for the other side, so AI is going to be controlling it.

Like you, I'm in love with decoys, and I use them a lot. I'm also very familiar with trying to put it all together, as you said. A nice integrated plan works great.

What is troubling is that with some many long-shooters, the actual escort option that I mentioned doesn't really work for the reasons that you listed.

Assigning fighters to a specific Ait-to-Air Strike mission doesn't work either, because the CAP units that you are trying to eliminate are constantly changing, and you can't update the target list for the AI as the game is being played.

That leaves assigning the units to a Anti-Air Patrol in a designated area. That's tough because you have to designate specific areas to stay away from. What's troubling here is that some of your aircraft have to travel in this area, while others should stay away from it. (Note: It would be nice to have a specific unit navigation/exclusion zone for situations like this, rather than an all-inclusive generic one.) As you concluded, the only way to terminate the mission properly is through the use of time. So, you either have to guesstimate when you believe that the attack would be over, or you can use one of those Lua scripts which are tied to a time marker. (This sounds very complicated now.) I know that some (like Gunner98) have used this method before, but it may be over my pay grade. <g> It would be interesting, though.

Thanks again.

Doug



< Message edited by DWReese -- 1/17/2019 6:58:00 PM >

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RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/17/2019 7:10:37 PM   
Whicker

 

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I spent a long time optimizing an AI bombing mission in Red vs Blus Battle for Hispanola I posted a few months ago - it was tedious (though kind of fun), and in the end I think I managed to get a decent SEAD mission to go along with an AAW patrol then followed by the bombers that then also had their own escorts - both sead and aaw.

It was difficult to get it all to work as they were coming from different bases, but I think it worked fairly well and if the player was not paying attention they could get pretty well walloped.

So I found a combination of #4 before the attack along with # 2.
Hardest part was the SEAD stuff, very finicky on if it could target the radars/sams when they were needed.

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RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/17/2019 7:39:53 PM   
SeaQueen


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There's more than just decoys, though. Cruise missiles are even better if you know where the SAMs are. Why is there not a fairly robust SEAD mission of some kind in front of the fighters and bombers if they're going to fly into unlocated SAMs? You want something up there which can pick up radars as they light up and shoot something at them. If there's not, then the problem isn't the software, it's that you're trying to do something that's fundamentally a bad move. You need something up front to clear out those unlocated pop-up SAMs that can also fight back against fighters.

If you want to see how I planned a strike mission, take a look at my Poland scenario, and notice the notes in the Red side briefing. I actually included my plan in there so people could see my thinking, experiment and adjust it more easily. There's a lot of different moving pieces in there, but it's robust enough to beat most everyone who's played it (including me).

The way I think about the AAW / SEAD patrol area (I usually make them overlap), when I'm doing this kind of plan, is that I'm clearing out a lane for the follow on packages to fly through. The longer the range of the enemy's air to air missiles and SAMS, the wider I need to make the lane. REALLY long missiles (e.g. SA-21, SA-5), that cover large swathes of the enemy's country, are strategic SAMs, and have to be taken out early or you can't go offensive without too much risk.

To have a LUA script make a mission end M minutes after the bombers drop isn't hard. The first step would be to make an event that fires at a regular interval (I'd use every 30 seconds) with a LUA condition. The shorter the interval the smaller the potential timing error, but the greater the potential performance hit. The LUA condition would look roughly like this:

local bombsDropped = false

if ( bombersHaveDropped() ) then 
  bombsDropped = true
end

return bombsDropped


Then, you'd create a LUA action which uses the ScenEdit_SetMission() function to set the mission end time to five minutes after the current scenario time. It's not complicated. I'll help you if you'd like. I've done something similar where a submarine would plant some mines, and then, when its got no more mines on the magazine switched missions and went to do a ASuW patrol.

< Message edited by SeaQueen -- 1/17/2019 7:58:16 PM >

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RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/17/2019 7:43:16 PM   
SeaQueen


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Whicker
It was difficult to get it all to work as they were coming from different bases


This is why it's nice to do this kind of planning with a spreadsheet. That way you can backwards plan and say, "For these guys to arrive on time from B he needs to start at time XX:YY.."

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RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/17/2019 7:46:37 PM   
Gunner98

 

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when setting up the AI to be on a non player side you need to use a combination of all these methods.

1. Set defensive air patrols to secure your area
2. set defensive air intercept (strike) to reinforce the patrols when they are threatened, make sure you set the range limits
3. Close escorts for bombing missions but again adjust the range that the escort can wander from the bombers
4. To set up OCA (Offensive Counter Air) is tricky and that is what your getting at here

What I do is:
1. Set a SEAD patrol with the prosecution zone covering the target area, and with jammers
2. Set an AAW patrol zone protecting the SEAD patrol
3. Set AAW patrols between the target area and any probable areas where the player will intervene with fighters: i.e. blocking approaches from player controlled fighter bases.
4. Set the strike mission on a time, with its own close escort
5. Set an AAW patrol zone with a PZ over the target area on a timer to activate shortly before the bombers mission and set to deactivate when you want. If you need to you can lua the RPs around and gradually approach the target zone

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RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/17/2019 8:38:18 PM   
DWReese

 

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I'll check out your scenario. It sounds like there are some good ideas for how to accomplish this in there.

Doug

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RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/17/2019 8:40:56 PM   
DWReese

 

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SeaQueen,

Thanks for the info on your Poland scenario. I will check it out. I am fascinated how others (such as yourself) accomplish these tasks and I am always looking for different, and more efficient ways to accomplish a task.

Thanks.

Doug

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RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/17/2019 8:48:37 PM   
DWReese

 

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Gunner98,

I was thinking about your excellent Cold War scenarios as I was writing this initial message. They are so detailed.

So, OCA is what I was talking about is called. Thanks for providing the steps. I believe that you use a timer with many of your scenarios, such as your Korea conflict, so I will review those to get some ideas, as well.

It's amazing that a few tweaks to these missions/doctrines can make such a huge difference in how things work.

Thanks again, Bart.

Doug

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RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/18/2019 2:56:47 AM   
DWReese

 

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SeaQueen,

I just ran a multi-faceted attack on a very well-defended bases, with many SAMs, radars, and lots of CAP. The closer the attacked get, the more CAP units are scrambled. I spread out the attackers, approaching in sections. I assigned the Air Superiority units (or OCA, as Gunner98 said) to a patrol mission, and I pretty much followed everyone's advice.

The result: It was good. All of the attackers did what they were programmed to do, and the defenders were still very good. The only thing that I now see to do is to go into the doctrine and adjust the number of missiles fired, and the distance at which they are fired as many of the units fired off a bunch and were soon empty. I never got to my "timed RTB" because the OCA aircraft were all RTB because they were out out weapons.

I'm not saying that it was perfect, but it was certainly something that could be lived with. It was realistic enough, and will be better when adjusted.

I had a Israeli/Iranian scenario that I have worked on a and play with often. I have given Natanz a S-300 and then watch it in use as the Israeli F-15Is approach the target area. Instead of allowing the S-300 to open up from a huge distance away, thereby wasting many of their missiles on long-range, low percentage shots, I tried something different. I withheld the S-300 from firing until the F-15Is were really close. The Israeli HARMs couldn't do too much to knock out the S-300 because they were now running from missiles themselves. I did keep some HARMs way back, like in an Over watch mode, and they did fire at the S-300, but their missiles took a real long time to get to the S-300. And, because the S-300 was so close to the enemy, the percentages were higher, and new attacks could take place quicker. The Israelis still accomplished their goal, but they lost many more planes than before, therefore going from a Major Victory to Average.

Using the strategy that I just mentioned, I wonder if it is better to shorten the distance on some of these long-shooting SAMs, like the HQ-9A. Not only does it disrupt the attack by sending attacking planes flying all over the place on Defensive Maneuvers, but it heightens the kill percentage, and it increases the number of engagements.

What do you think would be a reasonable distance number as a general rule? The maximum distance, against top line aircraft is almost a total waste of ammo.

I'm going to try it again. I'll adjust things and add some more fighters so that I can at least get to the timer marker. I'd like to see if that work correctly since I'm not very food at Lua scripts..

Thanks.

Doug



< Message edited by DWReese -- 1/18/2019 2:57:10 AM >

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RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/18/2019 1:03:11 PM   
SeaQueen


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OCA - Offensive counter air, in contrast to DCA which is defensive counter air. There's OCA Sweeps - which are the air superiority missions you mentioned, and OCA Strikes, which would be attacking air bases.

I would experiment with different ranges and shot doctrines. You're trying to balance making your shots as effective as possible versus making yourself vulnerable. The further out you engage a target, the safer you are, but the less effective you're likely to be. Ideally, you engage them far enough away that you keep the first shot advantage but not so far away that your missiles are unlikely to hit. It also depends on how many I want to shoot. Maybe, if I have a lot of missiles, I'd be willing to shoot more missiles at a lower Pk, or shoot fewer closer in.

The other thing to do is build up your air defenses in layers. I've noticed people here seem to focus on the long ranged SAM systems (e.g. SA-21) but there's lots of different systems with lots of different ranges for a reason. The shorter ranged systems can protect the longer ranged systems and vice-a-versa. You might have one very long ranged SAM system that covers most of the country, and then several shorter ranged SAM systems surrounding it with overlapping range rings, and then at the target itself there might be even shorter ranged SAMs, MANPADs and AAA. Clustering SAMs together ensures they can protect each other just like warships at sea.

< Message edited by SeaQueen -- 1/18/2019 1:06:41 PM >

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RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/18/2019 2:25:00 PM   
DWReese

 

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Thanks again for the clarification.

I have tried the scenario/attack a few more times. It worked much better using a less-than-max range shots for the long shooters.

I have laid out a very tough defensive situation whereby it doesn't initially look very ominous,but after you get going it's the equivalent of smacking a hornet's nest with a stick and suddenly dealing with a bunch of flying pests.

I'll play around with it some more.

Thanks for your help.

Doug

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RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/18/2019 2:54:48 PM   
DWReese

 

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Gunner98,

Since you are the king when it comes to scenario creation, I have a question for you:

In the scenario that I am working on, this group of SEAD-assigned planes are approaching the target. It is imperative that they knock out this large and effective HQ-9A SAM site.

I've noticed that if I place the units on a STRIKE mission with the HQ-9A listed as a target, then the attack works perfectly. As soon as the SAM units lights up, the strike units attack it. But, is that realistic? Since most of these SAM units are mobile, is it proper to make it a known-target Strike mission?

The flip side is that if I assign them to a SEAD PATROL mission, then the attackers tend to fly around in the patrol zone, sometimes aimlessly, firing off a few HARMs every now and then I can't guarantee any success at all. I don't want to indicate to use ALL of my HARMs on the target, because my attackers may then shoot ALL of their HARMs at a lowly radar unit rather than the SAM site.

I am bothered because I'm not sure that the location of a mobile SAM sites is necessarily known. But, at the same time, it's definitely not working well the other way, either. I could say that the SAM site is known to be there from satellite surveillance, and that could justify me making it known, but that see,s like a cheap way of approaching the problem.

Do you have any suggestions, because the SEAD Patrols just don't seem to be that great me? Are there any of your scenarios where SEAD Patrols are used that I could take a look at?

Thanks.

Doug

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RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/18/2019 7:48:50 PM   
Gunner98

 

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Doug

I'm not sure I could claim the status you send my way but here are some thoughts

I don't see any issue setting up your SEAD Strike missions for a couple reasons, one reality and the other a practical reason.


1) I think it is realistic that you set the most dangerous SAM as a strike mission: a) you know they have them, b) your plan depends on neutralizing them and c) once you find them those resources will engage, not before.

2) The practical reason is that you are setting up the AI for a non-player side - and it sometimes needs a bit of help or coaxing. The aim is to give the player an agile, effective opponent. Whatever works to do that should be fair game. That is one reason why it is harder to set up a good two sided scenario where a player can chose either side.


I would recommend a two pronged approach, have a SEAD Patrol to engage all targets and a SEAD strike to engage the HQ-9A. I don't think that is unrealistic at all.

Some of the early Norway scenarios or Kef Capers I think have this setup.

B

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RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/18/2019 9:02:33 PM   
DWReese

 

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It's funny that you mentioned the early Norway scenarios (some of your best) because I was just reviewing them for some ideas.

I have run it again and again the way that you suggested, and it just works best like that. I do believe that the game player will have more inherent knowledge than his AI opponent, so it might be a way to even the playing field a little bit. I like the concept of creating a challenging, yet fun scenario, as opposed to a walk-over, so I do believe that it is important to nudge some help toward the AI just a little bit. <g>

Thanks again for responding.

Doug

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RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/19/2019 12:13:52 AM   
SeaQueen


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quote:

I've noticed that if I place the units on a STRIKE mission with the HQ-9A listed as a target, then the attack works perfectly. As soon as the SAM units lights up, the strike units attack it. But, is that realistic? Since most of these SAM units are mobile, is it proper to make it a known-target Strike mission?


It's completely realistic and proper. Would the Rebel Alliance consider the Death Star to be a "pop-up" threat? No, they'd devote assets specifically to taking it out as quickly as possible, arm and support them accordingly. Similarly, one of the main tasks would be locating these kinds of very capable long ranged SAMs early so that they can be targeted and drawn down as quickly as possible, opening up the air space to follow on strikes. Suppressing and hopefully taking out these kinds of air defenses is a good task for ballistic missiles and cruise missiles.

< Message edited by SeaQueen -- 1/19/2019 1:13:40 PM >

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RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/19/2019 1:48:08 AM   
DWReese

 

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Thanks, once again. That makes me feel a little better about applying some competitive balance to the scenario.

Doug

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RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/19/2019 1:12:50 PM   
SeaQueen


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quote:

ORIGINAL: DWReese
Thanks, once again. That makes me feel a little better about applying some competitive balance to the scenario.


Balance? Meh... Only suckers fight fair fights. If I'm going to attack you, I want MORE than enough to beat you.

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RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/19/2019 1:28:27 PM   
DWReese

 

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I want MORE than enough to beat you.

Another excellent point. In the tests that I have been running I have noticed that sometimes I win this particular battle, and sometimes I end up a few weapons too short. I keep think that if I had only had one more group of planes, or one more missile then it would have been a success. While I know that it might make the battle more dramatic, I'm sure that most commanders would say that they don't want drama at all, they want to win. So, if X-number could get the job done, but X-number +1 would likely get the job done, I'm sure that most would choose X-number +2 to definitively get the job will get done.

Thanks again for you help.

Doug

< Message edited by DWReese -- 1/19/2019 1:29:28 PM >

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RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/19/2019 1:33:43 PM   
Gunner98

 

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quote:

Balance? Meh... Only suckers fight fair fights.


Very true, but close fights make for better war stories


Train hard - fight easy

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RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/19/2019 2:40:36 PM   
SeaQueen


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Gunner98
Very true, but close fights make for better war stories


That's also why deterrence is boring. When two closely matched opponents threaten each other, it mostly tends to end up with just threats because neither can muster enough to make sure they can win, and who wants to risk losing? Losing stinks.

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RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/19/2019 6:02:08 PM   
DWReese

 

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Gunner98,

While I can see the point of overwhelming the OpFor, there is little drama witnessing the slaughter of the other side. One of the variables that I'm sure can create some drama is applying some kind of time restraint. Sure, our carrier's air wing has enough fire power to completely destroy the OpFor by using repeated attacks, but what if you put a time constraint on them? Now, they still have to accomplish the same thing, but now they have to do it uin a very limited, and restricted amount of time. That adds to drama, and suspense.

You often post scenarios for testing. I almost NEVER want to test them. You usually hide various elements of suspense and surprise into your scenarios that I don't want to spil it for myself when the time comes around where I am about to play the scenario for real. Perhaps it's selfish on my part, but I look at these scenarios as if they are a Christmas present, and enjoy being entertained by discovering these hidden surprises. (I do believe that that's the reason that I get tired of my own scenarios, because they hold no more drama for me.)

In any case, keep up the great job.

Doug

(in reply to Gunner98)
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RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/19/2019 6:10:10 PM   
DWReese

 

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SeaQueen,

You mentioned these two powers heading toward one another for an epic battle kind of reminds me of the Spratly Spat scenario where the Chinese are approaching from the north, and the Alliance is approaching from the south. It kind of conjures up a vision for me of two gunfighters about ready to have an epic duel in front of the saloon in the old wild west. You can almost hear the theme music from "The good, the bad, and the ugly" playing in the background. <g>

As you alluded to, there's probably another gunman with a rifle on the roof of the livery to make sure that the gun battle results a certain outcome. Heck, it isn't always fair, is it?

Doug

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RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/19/2019 10:19:33 PM   
SeaQueen


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quote:

Sure, our carrier's air wing has enough fire power to completely destroy the OpFor by using repeated attacks, but what if you put a time constraint on them?


I used to like that idea too. I think I'm moving away from it, though. The reason is that it takes a lot of time to configure strike aircraft. I don't want to feel a time pressure to stick with the original aircraft loadouts. Certain weapons favor certain tactics, and they might not necessarily even be the best tactics. They might say more about the scenario designer's opinions about how things should be done than anything else. Since the game's depth is really in building a plan and executing it, I want there to be enough time to experiment with different combinations of weapons and tactics, rather than be constrained by the scenario designer's vision. I have my own ideas about how things ought to be done, and I want to experiment with them. I assume other players want to do the same.

In many scenarios you can take care of the problem I just discussed by just adjusting the aircraft configurations in the editor. That doesn't work in mine. It'll reset them if you try to reconfigure them that way. Because of the way I randomize which aircraft are in maintenance, you don't get the same number of operational airplanes every time. Aircraft which aren't in maintenance are set to a default loadout. I don't pretend to believe it's the best possible one or even the "correct" one, because when I play my own scenarios, I often change it once play starts. It's just a starting point. If there's a tight time constraint though, I've found there's a tendency to play with the aircraft "as-is" because the scenario will end too soon if you don't. That tends to favor certain solutions to the problem the scenario presents over overs, and amounts to a subtle way of constraining player action in a way I find distasteful.


< Message edited by SeaQueen -- 1/19/2019 10:25:23 PM >

(in reply to DWReese)
Post #: 26
RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/20/2019 12:12:42 AM   
DWReese

 

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SeaQueen,

What you just mentioned is similar to what I am doing now, but in a different way.

I am thinking of basically presenting the game player with options to plan, coordinate, and make one attack on various targets using whatever weapons are normally available as loadouts for the aircraft. Afterward, other things begin to take place, and the scenario becomes more normal. Because the time is very restricted, you only have one shot at it. That's why I keep playing and testing various platforms, and that's why I am trying to get the AI to react well to all.

Do you have any of your scenarios that you would like to share where I can see how you randomize the aircraft, and how you restrict the loadout changes. I'd love to see how you did that.

Thanks again for all of your help.

Doug

(in reply to SeaQueen)
Post #: 27
RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/20/2019 1:20:34 AM   
SeaQueen


Posts: 945
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From: Washington D.C.
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The maintenance state randomizer is in the Poland scenario. I think I also posted the LUA in the "LUA Legion" board.

(in reply to DWReese)
Post #: 28
RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/20/2019 1:30:30 AM   
DWReese

 

Posts: 923
Joined: 3/21/2014
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What is the name of the Poland scenario. I looked for that yesterday and I couldn't find it. It must not be listed as such.

Doug

(in reply to SeaQueen)
Post #: 29
RE: Question About Air Superiority Missions - 1/20/2019 2:05:58 AM   
SeaQueen


Posts: 945
Joined: 4/14/2007
From: Washington D.C.
Status: offline
http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=4529957

(in reply to DWReese)
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