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Since i kind of just talk(ed) about that, i realized there is something really important that is completely missing in DCS:

 

Collateral damage.

 

I would really love to see what we call "collateral damage" - the destruction of civilian infrastructure and the harm and death of civilians - being implemented in DCS.

 

Whenever infrastructure (houses, industrial complexes, bridges, civilian ships, harbor warehouses, power lines...) is hit with a weapon, two things should be calculated based on various factors:

 

- "infrastructure" rating (translating to how important that piece of infrastructure was. A small bridge on a secondary road would have 3 points or so vs. 15 points or so for a bridge on a main road. A hospital would have 500 points or so probably).

 

- "casualties" rating (based on residential/industrial building type/population density, small/multi-story house building size, warhead size) that roughly estimates how many people would have been harmed by that hit.

 

(if one would want to go even further, one could penalize low level and especially low level supersonic flights over populated areas with infrastructure hits because windows break, people get injured by this...)

 

(Having blast radius and secondary effects later on would be awesome)

 

Both ratings could be dynamically used in missions (and even the dynamic campaign!) with reading these variables via script and decide about if the mission was a success or not or even let the mission fail prematurely because collateral damage was to be avoided at all cost.

 

Campaigns could have a certain threshold for infrastructure and casualties that tells how much collateral damage would be acceptable over the campaign duration (in war it always happens sooner or later, sometimes it's even inevitable, so you try to minimize it at least). One could bomb a (civilian) harbor to cut the enemies supplies on oil (afaik dynamic campaign will factor supply and logistics?), but would accumulate collateral damage ratings and maybe lose the war due to excessive CD. Strategic decisions would have to be made what is acceptable (cost/benefit in regards of collateral damage vs. cutting supplies) and what not.

 

I think that (the general implementation of those ratings) would be a relatively small change to the gamecode (at least i hope so), but the results would be a real game changer.

 

Pilots now would really (not just roleplay it) need to consider when they attack, where they attack and which ordinance to use.

Should the convoy be attacked in the city or should one wait? Use CBUs or better go in with rockets? If one had to attack a civilian building in a city, one would have to plan the attack vector so there isn't any other infrastructure on the glide path or close to. Is that a hospital next to what i plan to blast with a GBU-31?

 

This would also make the whole world we fly in feel way more real, because you are reminded there's people down there every time you are about to pickle. That's something that is really missing so far. There are zero consequences for dropping the boom on someones roof.

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+1

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The idea is nice, but these targets, as well as the acceptable collateral damage, are rarely the decision of the pilot. And campaign/mission makers can already implement such things, by virtue of triggers and actual mission targets.

One easy way is to have a large trigger zone on top of the city, with condition "Bomb in zone" and another zone on top of the target. If 1 is true and 2 false, the mission fails, if 1 and 2 are true, the mission succeeds.

I do like the idea of a persistent CD score for the dynamic campaign, though. The campaign can continue, but the ending can be influenced. The mission still continues if you hit a house, in addition to your target, but do it too much and the entire role of your coalition changes. Or you can't fly anymore, but that wouldn't make much sense in DCS. Maybe you'd be forced to skip missions.

One problem, however, is that the AI is wildly inaccurate with dumb bombs. If they're taken into account, then just a couple of missions might ruin the campaign because of the AI. But if they're not, you'll be there, trying to be accurate because you have CD in your mind and then you'll watch the AI happily blast a kindergarten that happened to be 100 m away from the target.

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2 hours ago, Harker said:

The idea is nice, but these targets, as well as the acceptable collateral damage, are rarely the decision of the pilot.

 

Sure targets and acceptable CD are usually dictated by high command, that would be solved via rules of engagement mentioned in the briefing. That way the mission designer would define the mission goals and success criteria for the player.

 

What IS the decision of the pilot, is if he can prevent said CD at all or at least minimize it depending on the situation (if there is no way around per design, designers of course would need to factor the inflicted damage into the success criteria and write the briefing and ROE accordingly). Usually there is room for that. Lots i think.

Like with the convoy example: there is no need to blow that up immediately in the middle of the city with bombs. You can let the convoy pass until it reaches some open ground within the city or left it altogether, use guns and rockets instead if possible to minimize splash. All up to the pilot in that very moment.

 

No need to blow up that convoy right in the city. Lots of space over there after the bridge:

image.png

 

Imagine an allied assault on some enemy held town (chose Palmyra here).

 

assault.jpg

You'd probably be ordered to avoid CD if possible in the briefing, but looking at the importance of that assault, you've got some room to decide if the success depends on it (in game terms, you've got a certain amount of CD points at your disposal you can "spend". But you would not know the amount of your "credit" nor the cost of each CD you inflict. Like in real life. You'd REALLY have to judge if it is REALLY necessary and take the risk. Would require the designer to balance of course but would be a powerful tool).

 

You could blow up that AAA piece on the rooftop, but that would hit the house too and (without you knowing the numbers, inflict say 3 points of infrastructure and 1 civ casualty and you got 5 infrastructure and 3 civ casualty "credit" at start by mission design). You could also decide it's too much of a risk and rather evade AAA fire and leave it for the ground forces to handle later. A realistic mission would not require you to eliminate everything, just to soften the front so the ground forces had an easier advance and good chance for success.

 

The BTR in the open is toast, no need to discuss. This BMP to the right possibly too, but with care. Rockets and guns from the rear if possible.

That BMPs in the middle would definitely be a no-go, probably still lots of civilians hiding in those blocks. Ground forces would have to deal with them but should be possible.

That T-55 on the other hand could really jeopardize the success. If i knew i had some room regarding CD if it was justifiable (without knowing numbers), id blast that tank knowing i inflict CD but keep it there. Minimize CD. After blowing the tank you'd maybe had 4 points infrastructure and 2 civ casualties "used" and 1 left each for infrastructure and civ casualties. Attacking that AAA would have been too much CD since it would have inflicted 3/1 on top of that. Just as an example with fake numbers.

 

Right now, such things are far far out of reach while the logic behind a CD mechanic would be relatively simple.

Recognize a hit on a specific building/if it was in the splash zone -> determine type of building (resident/industrial/power line etc) which should be possible via the internal object ID i guess is assigned to each type of 3D object -> have tables for all types that give warhead size vs a range of possible infrastructure and casualty points that can have some random elements added. So a one story resident building hit by a Mk-82 could (say) have between 1 to 3 infrastructure CD and 0 to 6 civ casualty CD points inflicted. A Mk-84 for sure would inflict 3 infrastructure and between 0 to 6 civ casualty (between "no one at home" and "family hiding there"). Roll some dice, there we go.

 

3 hours ago, Harker said:

One easy way is to have a large trigger zone on top of the city, with condition "Bomb in zone" and another zone on top of the target. If 1 is true and 2 false, the mission fails, if 1 and 2 are true, the mission succeeds.

 

Looking at the above, those scenarios would not really be possible using trigger zones. Trigger zones also don't cover the whole map (like a CD mechanism as a core feature would) if you have dynamic/sandbox-style missions with objectives popping up over time or moving targets like convoys.

Even if you had a limited area you would have to set up trigger zones for every settlement, every power line, every bridge in the area and with the exact outlines (free-form trigger zones are coming iirc? Would be a huge chore to set up) plus exception zones for the static(!) targets. And this still would not account for open space you have within most settlements like the convoy example above and also not factor in blast radius and warhead size to calculate the amount of damage (a GBU-12 would no doubt do less than dropping a GBU-31).

 

For such purpose, trigger zones are really just some messy duct-tape solution that somehow works in a VERY limited range of cases. Checking if an individual building has been hit is way superior to having an area trigger zone. Think big 🙂 so many things possible with that.

 

4 hours ago, Harker said:

One problem, however, is that the AI is wildly inaccurate with dumb bombs. If they're taken into account, then just a couple of missions might ruin the campaign because of the AI. But if they're not, you'll be there, trying to be accurate because you have CD in your mind and then you'll watch the AI happily blast a kindergarten that happened to be 100 m away from the target.

 

That indeed is a big problem, valid point. Some can be avoided by designating specific targets to the AI and order them to use specific ordinance and time that attack correctly (don't order while the convoy is close to a city). But yeah, there is lots of uncertainty with AI that can ruin the mission or even campaign. On the other hand that messy AI can and actually does that right now already very well 🙂

 

Some solution would have to be found on the AI side. Don't think one should put down new features because old features are buggy. Afaik AI rework is in the works right now anyways? So maybe the overhauled system would work fine with CD or have better options to make it work.

 

 

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11 hours ago, Harker said:

The idea is nice, but these targets, as well as the acceptable collateral damage, are rarely the decision of the pilot.

  Good point

 

11 hours ago, Harker said:

One easy way is to have a large trigger zone on top of the city, with condition "Bomb in zone" and another zone on top of the target. If 1 is true and 2 false, the mission fails, if 1 and 2 are true, the mission succeeds.

 

  Oi! That's a great idea! I'm going to play around with that later!

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Make pilots think where they jettison stuff.

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I'm on complete support of this idea, as it would radically change how I (and likely many others) would approach missions. I think this would be particularly useful in the context of the upcoming dynamic campaign, adding a significant layer of depth for how we employ munitions. 

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That indeed is a big problem, valid point. Some can be avoided by designating specific targets to the AI and order them to use specific ordinance and time that attack correctly (don't order while the convoy is close to a city). But yeah, there is lots of uncertainty with AI that can ruin the mission or even campaign. On the other hand that messy AI can and actually does that right now already very well
 
Some solution would have to be found on the AI side. Don't think one should put down new features because old features are buggy. Afaik AI rework is in the works right now anyways? So maybe the overhauled system would work fine with CD or have better options to make it work.
 
 
Ok, you actually make some very good points. I like it and it'll add depth to missions that everyone is going to have to adhere to. I personally already fly with CD (and munitions cost) in mind, but indeed, I'm just roleplaying it.

If they can fix it for the AI, have them not fire when the target is within high CD areas, for example or have an Option setting in Advanced Waypoint Actions, like the ROE now, it'd actually work. And add the option for the player to command an attack heading, that'd be very useful as well.

I think this would work well and be very welcome, especially if it gets introduced as an option. I like realistic limitations, but not everyone does and the idea will face a lot of resistance, if it gets forced on everyone.
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