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Features of Gunship! reviewed for BS


MBot
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Recently I have fired up Gunship! again. While this sim had many shortcommings and problems, it featured a realy impressive battlefield. The imersion is very deep, you realy feel like you are operating over a modern armour battlefield, are part of it. Ultimatley, the shortcommings of Gunship! prevent you from realy enjoying it, but the simulation of the battlefield is worth looking it. Here I will write down some things I think Gunship! did particulary well and that are worth evaluating for the BS editor. Feel free to comment and add your own wishes of what you would like to see in the new editor/AI/ground enviorment.

 

 

Waypoint Options for Helos

 

Gunship has some nice waypoint options specific for the helos. Rather than giving an overall task to the helo, you can configure every single waypoint in great detail. It also features more general settings in regard to altitude and speed, rather than lomac where every aircraft sticks to every knot and feet. Here is a list ( not complete ) what options are available. Perhaps these can give some inputs on what would be nice to have in the new BS editor. Things marked with "//" are my own additions and not present in Gunship!.

 

Waypoint Type:

 

-Checkpoint

This is the the standard waypoint as we know it.

 

-Assembly Area

//This waypoint lets the helo wait for a) a amount of time b) until a specific time c) for a go command/trigger

 

-Battle Position

This waypoint lets the helo search a covered position in the imediate area. From his choosen battle position the helo will conduct pop-up attacks and slightly change battle positions from time to time. //This is done a) for X amount of time b) until a specific time c) until all targets are destroyed d) until he gets a trigger, after that he continues to the next waypoint.

 

-LZ

Land to drop off/take on troops, for transport helos.

 

 

Speed Setting for each Waypoint

 

-Slow

30-50 kts, depending on altitude an terrain.

 

-Tactical

50-80 kts, depending on alt and terrain.

 

-Sprint

Maximum speed

 

 

Flight Profile

 

-NOE ( Nap of the Earth )

The helo tries to stay bellow 60 ft. It will adjust flight route to take maximum cover and avoid obstacles. Can reduce speed to keep NOE.

 

-Contour

The helo tries to stay bellow 100 ft but will stay on direct flight route.

 

-Cruise

Stays above 100ft.

 

 

Combat Mode

 

-Search and Destroy

Between waypoints the helo will actively engage dedected targets.

 

-Engage

Engage targets that will not delay the missionplan for more than one minute.

 

-Avoid

Tries to avoid contact while flying to the next waypoint.

 

 

Priority Targets

 

Determines what target types have priority. Options are: Armour, Air Defense, Artillery, HQ, Helos.

 

 

 

 

Waypoints for Ground Units

 

A simmilar, altough simplified approach to waypoints can be taken for ground units.

Here are some Gunship! specifics for the Combat Mode of ground units:

 

-Attack

Simmilar to Search and Destroy for helos, attack will make ground units to actively engage hostile forces.

 

-Engage

Units will open fire on enemys, but keep driving for the next waypoint.

 

-Avoid

Units try to avoid enemy units while reach the next waypoint.

 

-//Recon

This is my own idea. I don't know how good this is covered by Avoid, as I haven't realy taken a deep look at the ground AI of Gunship!. The idea is that in recon mode the unit tries to stay undedected while keeping an eye on the enemy ( a bit of the "attack"-logic ). It will only open fire when being fired upon and retreats once dedected. Recon might be of small use for lomac right now, but could be a powerfull tool combined with the SpotRep system and new artillery ( see below ).

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AI of Ground Units

 

Generaly the AI of the ground units is not particular smart in Gunship!, but you wont realy notice it. There are some nice small features that might be worth looking at:

 

-Standing units turn to face a threat with their front ( better armour and smaller shape ).

 

-Units generate smoke when under attack in order to break lock of FLIR/TV systems.

 

-Units scan the horizon with their main weapon/sight.

 

Especialy the last bit sounds interesting for BS. Right now ground engagements are very artifical in lomac. As soon as line of sight has been established, units open fire. A more in depth sensor modeling for ground units will add more realism to the ground war. I am thinking about the commander and gunner of the vehicle scanning the surrounding visualy, with a certain probability that a object gets dedected by such a "visual sweep". This probability would be influenced by visual conditions, day/night, quality of optics, FLIR/NVGs and skill of the commander etc. Sounds complicated, but there is no need to actualy model all that. It just generates a value that dictates probability to detect objects within the scan zone. More complicated might be to determine how well visible a unit is ( hidden in trees, partialy exposed, fast movement decreases stealth etc. ). Such a in depth simulation for the ground war might sound like overkill but without that, stuff like recon would be impossible. Also we should not forget that such a in depth simulation of sensors is necessary for the helo(player)-ground interaction anyway. Just like the fighter drivers need AI aircraft with a good radar model, the helo drivers need ground units with a good sighting model.

 

 

 

 

Symbols in the Editor/Briefing

 

Gunship! has some nice and imersive briefings. What is realy well done is that there is lot of stuff drawn on the map to explain the mission. Phase lines, arrows, circles, etc. Also it uses the standart NATO symbols to display units ( http://www.historyofwar.org/Pictures/pictures_natomap14a.html ) wich is cool.

 

So what I would like to see for the BS editor as the ability to draw various geometric symbols, military symbols and text freely on the map in order to better illustriate my briefings.

 

 

 

 

SpotRep System

 

One of the great things of Gunship! are the SpotReps. These are reports of units that make contact with the enemy. They sound something like this:

 

"This is Hammer, SpotRep, hostile armour, grid references uplinkes, out"

 

When operating over the battlefield you hear those SpotReps over the radio all the time. This is great for battlefield imersion, as it keeps you informed on what is happening around you.

This would be a great addition for BS, as it should be quite easy to implement. Every time a unit spots a new hostile unit, a spotrep is triggered. This reports include the type like tanks, armour, infantry, vehicles, air defense or helos etc. In Gunship! every report correspond to a platoon sized unit, wich sound adequate also for BS. Such reports would also be great for missions where the player ( or any helo ) is tasked to provide support for a sector of the front, as it quickly tells him where hostile units have been spotted and where his presence is needed.

In Gunship! those SpotReps are displayed on a map. Since it might be against realism to display such radio infos on a map ( certainly on the ABRIS ), there might be the need for a position reference in the report itselfe. Like coordinates or a grid number. Since true coordinates are way to big for such a report and the map of lomac is too large for 1x1km grid coordinats ( grid AABDEA-729327 anyone ? ), I guess there would have to be another solution. Perhaps the ability to define a smaller grid on a certain part of the map trough the editor ?

 

Anyway, I think SpotReps would be a great and relative simple way to give the player a better feeling of being part of something bigger. It will create the illusion of radio comms while actualy it is just a simple scrip that is running and playing some .wav files. A good substitute until real communication and player interaction with ground forces is possible.

 

 

 

 

Artillery System

 

Gunhsip! as a realy cool artillery system. Rather than being independet units like in lomac, artillery is organised into batteries. All platoons on the map have access to these batteries and can call for artillery strikes. Once a batterie is in action, it will take some time for it to complete its task and be available on call again. This artillery system is realy great for imersion, as you keep hearing what is going on. Calls on the radio go something like this:

 

"Thumper this is Flail, fire mission, fire for effect, grid transmitted, VT 4 rounds, over."

"This is Thumper, fire mission, fire for effect, grid receved, VT in effect, 4 rounds, out."

 

And once the batterie is ready again:

 

"This is Thumper, artillery now on call, use at your discretion"

 

There are various sorts of artillery in Gunship! with different ammo or tactics. There is fire for effect or imediate surpression, ammo include VT, ICM of smoke for 155mm guns and MLRS batteries. I have no idea what are the finer differences between all that stuff, perhaps some arty guy can come in and give some clarification.

 

 

For Black Shark I can envision a very simmilar artillery system. When adding a group of artillery guns in the editor, we first have to specifie who should have access to them. Like in reality artillery can be attached to different levels of organisation, from divisions down to companys. What I see for BS would be two options. First, simply adding artillery to the mission would not change much from they way arty currently works. It would be given specific coordinates in the editor and the be used to pre-planed bombardements in the mission. The other option would be to assign artillery to a open number of other groups of ground units. The artillery batterie that is asigned to other units is on on-call duty and waits for fire mission requests. All units that have a artillery unit attached to them can request a fire mission. Once the batterie is commited it is unavailable for further requests until it anounces it is on call again. There could be multiple batteries assigned to the same unit or single batteries assigned to multiple units etc. Basicaly there would be various communcation networks and in the editor you can select on wich networks every unit has access to.

The decision when a unit requests a artillery strike would be quite simple, just some values that have to be met:

 

1. Visual on the enemy.

2. Certain concentration of enemys ( x units within area y )

3. Enemy is stationary or slow moving

4. Some indicator of the force ratio between the two sides. If the enemy is so weak that it is expected to beat him fast and without losses, no artillery is needed.

 

 

This system would make artillery operations much more realistic than the way we have it now. Artillery is a important aspect on the modern battlefield and would deserve a more realistic representation in a attack chopper simulation like BS is one. Trough the radio output it would also give the player a deeper insight into the enviorment he is operating in ( imersion ! ). On a further step you could add the ability of helos ( and the player himselfe ) to call artillery strikes. Altough this would need more work on the player-ground interface.

 

 

 

 

Wow, this turned out a bit long than expected, as usual :) Nice you are still with me, now happy discussing.

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Those are some nice ideas Mbot.

 

I think LO AI will need huge revising to 'get there' though ... while AI has been worked on for BS, I don't think it is or can be brought up to this level at this time. It is, however, on list.

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Great post MBot, as usual.

 

While ED aims for a very powerful and flexible tool with the new editor, the first priority is to ensure its backward compatability with the current editor and AI. Everything else comes after and depends on time available before release. Considering a new ME has not been officially added to the LOBS feature list yet, I would expect most of its advanced features only in the "next project".

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Nice suggestions!

 

Speed Setting for each Waypoint

 

-Slow

30-50 kts, depending on altitude an terrain.

 

-Tactical

50-80 kts, depending on alt and terrain.

 

-Sprint

Maximum speed

In accordance with Brazilian (and French) Army aviation TTP (i don't know these procedures at Russian Army):

 

1st Group of Speed: less than 30 kt (low lift, high torque and power)

 

2nd Group: 30-80 kt (high lift, medium torque and power)

 

3rd Group: more than 80 kt (high lift, high torque)

 

 

Flight profile:

 

-NOE ( Nap of the Earth )

The helo tries to stay bellow 60 ft. It will adjust flight route to take maximum cover and avoid obstacles. Can reduce speed to keep NOE.

 

-Contour

The helo tries to stay bellow 100 ft but will stay on direct flight route.

 

-Cruise

Stays above 100ft.

- NOE: 10-15 ft

 

- Contour: about 50 ft, direct route

 

- Low level: 100-200 ft above the highest obstacle, max speed

 

Cruise is not a terrain flight.

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I just read the following articles on Wikipedia and recommend them:

 

 

Some general stuff (history, ammunition types)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artillery

 

 

MLRS

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M270_Multiple_Launch_Rocket_System

 

 

Some of the content resembles me to the way, field combat was described in Tom Clancy's "Red Storm Rising". Especially things like counter-battery fire.

 

But that's overkill for any flight sim, I guess ;)

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http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/fm/1-112/fm1-112.pdf

 

This is the US Army field manual on Attack Helicopter Operations. I am now about half way trough it and it is very interesting ( although quite a dry read :) ). Of special interest so far is the chapter 3 covering the employment of AHs. Has a wealth of infos for all future ( sim ) chopper pilots, but also for the developers about what is needed for a realistic environment/employment of attack helos. Can't wait to implement some of that stuff in MP :)

 

Unfortunately this document is about the US Army doctrine of the attack helicopter. Anyone has similar lecture about the soviet/russian doctrine ?

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Mbot if you watch the Abris movie you will see that the KA50 can have waypoints added inflight as well as other important data such as FEBA and threats etc. Nice idea for the Artillery M1 tank platoon had a similar feature it would be very cool to use Artillery to destroy tgts.:thumbup:

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