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Old 08-23-2016, 06:43 AM   #1
emolina
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Default The Interesting Missions Generator

This could be an interesting flight!

The 'Interesting Flights' system is a generator of sort-of-random missions aimed at making sure you never have to fly the same mission twice. They are interesting because you don't know what's going to happen in them. Every mission is different. The flight plan for each mission is generated just for that mission. There is no combat but there IS scoring.

The flight plan is complete, well annotated, and can be found on your kneeboard. The aircraft radios have the required frequencies loaded.

Below you will find the download link, there are 100 missions in the 'annotated' directory. Their filename gives you some clues about what will happen during the mission (format explained in the next post). There are 400 missions in the 'interesting' directory, they don't tell you anything except their difficulty.

'Interesting Missions' are currently available for the :
  • F-86 Sabre
  • MiG-15
  • FW-190D9
  • P-51D and TF-51D
  • Bf-109K4
  • Hawk
  • A-10C
  • L-39 (C and ZA)
  • C-101
  • MiG-21
  • Mirage 2000
  • F-5E
  • UH-1H

You will not experience or see any combat during these flights.
'Interesting Flights' uses the MOOSE scripting framework and Open Maps.

The post below this one explains the system, its goals, and what you will find in each mission. It's fairly long! I hope you enjoy it.

Mission Briefing

Look at the weather forecast on your kneeboard, then checkout the flight plan details.

The aim of these missions is to get the aircraft safely back on the ground, sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's hard, sometimes you shouldn't even fly.

Make sure there isn't anything wrong with your aircraft during startup.

You are not supposed to complete all the 'Interesting Flights', for many, you shouldn't even take off! A lot of the higher numbered flights are just not safe.

Make sure the weather and your aircraft are suitable. If not, download another flight. Or download a bunch of them in the first place so you can go trough them quickly.
There are plenty there, no reason to ever fly one twice. So don't, they are a lot more fun if you don't know what's going to happen.




Fixed Wing Notes

During the flight you can use the 'F10' radio menu to find out:
  • Your score for the mission so far.
  • What you are expected to do next.
  • Get a helping hand by seeing your ground speed and the elapsed mission time down to the second.

The closer you are to the take-off and landing times the better your score will be.










Rotary Wing Notes

Helicopter missions are a bit more involved than the fixed-wing ones.

They are either personnel transport or sling loads with sling loads having random weights.

The difficulty of the mission you pick (the D number in the filename) will affect the KIND of missions you get too. Low difficulty missions have simple tasks, and as the difficulty ramps up so does the mission complexity.

The difficulty also determines WHERE the missions go to. At the lower difficulties you will get shorter flights to low-altitude destinations. At the higher difficulties flights can be longer and high-altitude destinations are a possibility. Difficulty still also affects weather, time, failures etc.

All the usual 'interesting missions' warnings apply, make sure you can do the mission given the weather conditions, because you have multiple destinations you will need to check the visibility at your different landing points. Use the provided NDB if needed. Landing point altitudes are provided in the flight plan.


PLEASE READ THE PDF PROVIDED IN THE UH-1H directory! It provides a backstory for the operation and explains procedures. I've tried to make it short and useful.








WHERE TO GET THE MISSIONS FROM

Please read the next message down if you don't know what this is all about! You can download the missions from a shared DropBox folder here:


https://www.dropbox.com/sh/mzic1uoxn...qpmqUy5oa?dl=0


Go into the 'Published Missions' directory, then pick an aircraft.

Once you pick your aircraft you will find two directories, one called 'Annotated' and the other called 'Interesting'.

The 'Interesting' directory contains a long list of mission files, at the end of each filename there is a 'D' followed by a number. That number is the difficulty level of the mission. That is all you will know about it until you load it.

There are 400 missions in the 'Interesting' folder.

The 'Annotated' directory also contains a long list of mission files but this time the filename for each mission is annotated with information about the flight it contains. Here are some examples:

Code:
Flight-0009 D02 1100H 15C CLD2-10 AT5200 WND10 FRM140
This is the ninth flight generated on this run, the difficulty is 2 out of 10. The flight starts at 1100H local time, the temperature is 15 degrees Celsius, cloud cover is 2 tenths, base at 5200 feet. Wind is at ten knots on the surface coming from 140 degrees (you feel it on your face if you look to the south east).

Code:
Flight-0075 D10 0300H 25C CLD4-10 AT4300 WND18 FRM200 PRECIP FG1300 FAIL_HYDRO_ALT
This is the 75th mission generated in this run, the difficulty is 10 out of 10. The flight starts at 0300H local time, the temperature is 25 degrees Celsius, clouds at 4 tenths coverage with base at 4300 feet. Winds are 18 knots at the surface coming from 200 (you feel it on your face if you look to the south west, but don't do it because it's raining). It's raining. There is fog to 1300 feet. During flight the aircraft will experience a failure of the alternate hydraulic system.

There are 100 missions in the 'Annotated' folder.

I've provided the annotated directory in case you want to try out particular features of the generated missions, but the way I intend for the missions to be used is for you to pick random files from the 'Interesting' directory. Find a difficulty you want to try, scroll down to where the missions at that difficulty are and just pick one.

You will find the weather information on your kneeboard briefing, as well as your flight plan and the radio frequency settings. In the kneeboard you will also find a flight map. It's very much like all the other ones in the kneeboard but the one generated by my system also has the waypoint numbers next to them.

Ok, now you know where to find the missions and what's in each of the directories.

I would like to ask you to do something for me. Have a look at the 'Annotated' directory, get a feeling for how the difficulty ramps up. Maybe try a few of the missions if you want to experience those conditions.

Then try a few of the missions in the 'Interesting' folder and let me know what you think. Did you have fun?

Last edited by emolina; 12-13-2016 at 01:27 PM.
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Old 08-23-2016, 06:45 AM   #2
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Hi everyone, I want to tell you about a project I've been working on.

This is going to be a bit of a long post but please bear with me while I explain where I'm coming from.

For a while now I've been wondering, how interesting can a super-simple mission be?



START OF LONG RAMBLE

So let's say we are going to be flying between two airfields, how interesting can that be?

Because let me tell you, if I could go down to the local airport right now and jump into a ratty old Cessna and fly it around for a bit I would think that is SUPER interesting.

If I load up a mission in DCS and fly a Sabre between Batumi and Kutaisi, well, that's not as interesting.

Notice that I am not talking about fear here, I would be much more scared in the Cessna than in DCS because the Cessna flight is REAL. I would be scared in a roller coaster, but a roller coaster isn't very interesting once you know what's going to happen.

So what is it that I personally would find interesting about a local flight but I don't find interesting in DCS?

Well, in a real flight there is a lot of uncertainty. I may get bad weather and have to climb above the clouds, then I may have to descend through those clouds and worry about icing. Maybe when I go to the airport it's foggy and I have to taxi around in low visibility. Or maybe it's dark and I have to think about how to fly the aircraft at night, maybe I have to fly through cloud layer again but now it's pitch black in there. And now the generator warning light comes on.

I read a book about Warthogs in the gulf war. At the start of a book an author will normally write about something REALLY exciting in the book, something to hook the reader. This book started with a story of a flight of A-10s ferrying in to the theatre in the middle of the night, huddling close to a tanker, they fly into a thunderstorm and a lightning strike hits one of them. All the electrics on the plane fail and the pilot loses track of the rest of his flight, thrown up and out of the thunder storm he has to bring up the electrics for his plane one at a time in the dark and then find his flight again. It was riveting, and there was no combat.

That guy had a really interesting day.

One of the factors that makes a flight interesting for me is not knowing what's going to happen. Let's say I make up a mission to replicate the Cessna flight I described above, an F-86 flying between two airports, I set up fog, I set up an overcast, start the flight in the middle of the night and set the generator to fail in the clouds.

It just got boring for me, I know exactly what's going to happen.

Pretend someone else makes that mission and gives it to me, they say 'have fun! it's real interesting'. The first time I fly the mission it really is. But the second time? not at all.

Some uncertainty can be approximated in DCS. You can have random failures, but to make failures interesting they have to tell a story.

If you lose the utility hydraulic system in a Sabre, the alternate system can take over so it's not an issue. A totally random failure system stops there. The real interesting part is if you know that often, not always, but often, when you lose the utility you also lose the alternate after a while. Now you're looking at that pressure gauge like a hawk, where is the nearest runway? do you divert or continue on course? It's probably going to be ok, but dammit, that alternate does fail a fair bit too.

What you can't randomize in a normal DCS mission is weather, or the starting time, or the start and end locations for a flight.

So that's one of the factors that make a flight interesting for me, I don't want to know what is going to happen. I would like to sit down and get given a flight, I may want to chose how difficult it will be, but I don't want to chose the weather, departure airport, time, destination etc.

Do you know what else I find interesting about the Cessna flight? I have to know my plane, and use it fully, to get to my destination.

I have to know how to navigate it, what can my communications systems do? what navigational aids can I use?

If we forget about the more modern aircraft in DCS, just getting somewhere safely CAN be difficult. In bad weather or night conditions the only things you probably have are a couple of needles, and you have to really know how to use the boxes they are connected to, otherwise they won't point in the right direction.

To make them work right we need a flight plan, a plan that takes us from point A to B, annotated with the relevant navigation and communication frequencies for the aircraft. Also we need to have the radios set up in the aircraft so that we can use those frequencies. For a lot of aircraft the only way to set up accessible frequencies is in the mission editor.

If we don't have those tools, the flight plan and set up radios, we have to resort to the map view and that can really break immersion. There is nothing wrong with using it but we should have the option to NOT use it too.



THE POINT

So now, after all that rambling, we can get to the point.

For me, an interesting 'fly from A to B' mission in DCS would:

- feel different every time, shuffle weather,time,failures and where 'A' and 'B' are.
- have a flight plan on the kneeboard that gets me from the starting point to the destination using only the aircraft's systems.
- be challenging but fair and won't waste my time.



WHAT I'VE GOT SO FAR


So why did I just write all this? well, I'm a developer for mobile devices and I wanted to learn more about web technologies. I needed a pet project and so I'm making a thing that makes the missions I just described.

It's software that runs on my computer and reads in DCS mission files containing units, paths and triggers. They are used as templates in generating randomized flights.

Lots of randomized flights.

Hundreds.

You see, that's the only way to make sure you never know what you are getting, you never fly the same mission twice. You get one, you fly it, whatever happens, you get another one.

It picks a couple of random locations from the Black Sea map, one's your starting point, the other's your destination. They're about the right distance apart to make an interesting flight.

Then it uses a pathfinding system to build a flight plan for you. It finds the relevant frequencies for your waypoints and puts it the annotated flight plan on the in-sim kneeboard for you.

If the aircraft needs it, it loads up the radio with the correct frequencies.

Then it has a look at how difficult this flight is aiming to be and sets up the weather, time and aircraft failures appropriately.

Finally it sprinkles some other flights around the map.

Easy missions are always relatively easy. You may get a failure but it won't be a bad one, it could be cloudy but not too much, it probably won't rain and it will never be night.

Hard missions can be super hard, or they can be easy. You never know.

You could load up a mission and find it's a flight in the middle of the night, overcast, and you have an oil pump failure halfway there. Or you could get a beautiful sunny day and have an easy flight. You never know. You could have a beautiful sunny day but on the way there you start losing your electrics one by one.

I hope you all enjoy the missions the system generates.

Last edited by emolina; 09-04-2016 at 04:24 AM.
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Old 08-23-2016, 07:25 AM   #3
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Wow, great work, probably this night I will try some of them.

Thanks!
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Old 08-23-2016, 07:46 AM   #4
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Interesting concept and interesting missions, Sounds like a great way to get to know one of my favorite modules better.
Thanks for your effort.
cant wait to give it a try later.
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Old 08-23-2016, 08:09 AM   #5
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Good initiative. Randomisation is the key as you say and i think that was your point. I've written misisons for years and its amazing that the audience needs to be told "something unexpected might happen". Else they don't seem to react well if you are truly random!

But to my point, we are picking a mission from a list of many and that's not great use of technology, we need to randomise on the fly to be truly effective. Depending on the style this is very possible and people are manipulating the inside of the miz with mods as we speak. The other way, is to create all the missions in one, ie all the routes and then just pick one airframe randomly at the start. This would be a more effective solution and save downloads and disk space of course.

If you look inside the mission file you will see the waypoints and coordinates, its just numbers. Perhaps that will inspire you to refine your great work
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Old 08-23-2016, 08:32 AM   #6
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What kind of missions are there? CAP, CAS, strike etc.?
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Old 08-23-2016, 08:46 AM   #7
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Pikey, you are right in that it would be better to randomise in-mission. But as far as I know there is no way to randomise weather and start times, or a way to put images into the kneeboard.
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Old 08-23-2016, 08:47 AM   #8
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Rivvern, none, you just fly between two airports.

My experiment with this project is to see how interesting I can make really, really simple missions.
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Old 08-28-2016, 05:41 PM   #9
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Great idea, it works really well.

Any scope for other aircraft?

Cheers

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Old 08-29-2016, 05:50 AM   #10
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Absolutely! I hope to do the Mig 15 next.
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