From: MN, USA
Quite right Brad.
The system works quite well but fits best in typical Cold War blue water engagement with fairly long range SAM systems. In a more confined geographical area the existing model does some unexpected things like firing SAMs at an enemy aircraft that wouldn't be a danger until it has travelled another 100nm toward the target.
In HCCE you will also occasionally be frustrated by a distant Tico firing SAMs at incoming ASMs that are a much better candidate for a closer escort to handle. Brad and other database designers also use some tricks in platform development to help make sure a proper weapon is chosen.
The limitations tend not to be a big deal in most scenarios but that hasn't stopped me from wanting to improve upon the situation. Back when I was a programmer for HC I began writing a new SAM employment model, still automatic but smarter. Perhaps some time after HCCE release when I get back into being a HC programmer we'll be able to flesh out the new model. Some of the emphasis of the new model:
- Platforms are selfish, the in the utmost protect themselves, secondarily their own group, and neighboring groups only when the firepower can be spared. This is different from the current HC approach that every ship is as important as my own ship.
- Platforms will not bother with sending SAMs against an incoming where the SAM cannot hit (imagine triangle setup, Tico in upper left, target at bottom, incoming ASM upper-right). The SAM in this made up case would hit the target before the Tico could get an intercepting SAM to the ASM. The obvious thing is not to fire the SAM at all. The current HC model in most cases will fire that hopeless SAM.
- Platforms will use the optimal weapon for intercept. Broad statement, what I mean is if the ASM is already in ESSM range, the platform won't fire a 75nm ranged SM-2 missile at the ASM unless only SM-2 are left. HCCE currently engages with the first weapon in the mount list that matches the range need, here is where the smart database editor adds weapons to a platform in a certain order to get the benefit in HCCE without changing the game code.
- Intercepts will factor in the speed of the incoming ASM, so that 1650kt monster will get the priority it needs, in front of the 450knot slow ASM. The current model pretty much leaves them treated equally, often with explosive results.
The new model does not aim to:
- Order threats by type (such as noticing that that airplane far away is a Tu-22 with long range ASM and should be shot down before the closer Yak-38 with iron bombs). Maybe some day, but I'm all for modest improvements that happen vice extreme improvements that never happen.
There is always the possibility of adding a manual engagement capability but it almost certainly won't happen unless and until the AI gains at least the capability listed above. We should for the most part have the same smart or stupid ship's complement that the AI does to keep the game somewhat 'fair'. Architecting AI improvements will be a constant side-project once HCCE is released. Improving the AI is terribly painful but otherwise we just give improvements to let the player bludgeon an AI that doesn't know to use nor how to use the improvements.
Harpoon (HC, HCE, HUCE, Classic) programmer HarpGamer.com