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kbluck
11 Jul 03, 16:04
Well, I'm back from Ukraine. I had some fun showing your game to a number of Ukrainian army officer aquaintances, a few of whom served in the military of the USSR before independence. They were all universally impressed by the detail and the training possibilities afforded by the game, and wondered if there was a version translated into Russian or Ukrainian. I doubt that's very high on your list of priorities, and truth be told I wouldn't look too hard in that market direction because for them money is scarce and piracy commonplace, but for what it's worth, your game gets several ex-Commie thumbs up. I'd also like to say that ATF makes a 10-hour flight feel like a mere commuter hop, if you have the batteries.

I brought back a few presents for you. I had a fair amount of downtime to tinker with the game in some detail. I'll give you the best one first.

*****

I think there's a significant problem with target aspect selection. For the first example, refer to savegame "Javelin". I have a Javelin team approaching the T-80 in the OPFOR platoon ambush position near PL Steve from the back. However, when the Javelin fires, it attacks the T-80's *front* aspect, not the rear as you would expect. (Actually, you'd expect Javelin to attack the top aspect of ground targets regardless of the angle fired, but that doesn't seem to be implemented. No matter; it can be simulated with pKs.) I verified this by fiddling with the pKs after getting suspicious due to exceptionally poor kill performance in this otherwise ideal setup. I found that setting the front pK to 0 prevented the Javelin from firing at all, and setting front pK to 100 and all the other aspects to zero resulted in a guaranteed kill following a hit.

Initially, I surmised this was an issue specific to this situation of having a T-80 in a hole facing south and attacking from the north. As you know, the "default" orientation of a unit at rest is north. We've probably all seen the orientation "flip" as we dragged a resting unit into a hole during setup. I thought maybe the game wasn't accounting for the hole orientation and was still treating the T-80 as facing north during pK resolution.

But then, a second example showing almost exactly the opposite effect presented itself. For this second example, refer to savegame "Svir". You'll see a lone M1A2 making a valiant charge into OBJ Texas. Before he gets too far, he's going to get whacked by a Svir fired from the northernmost surviving T-80. It will almost always kill him, because it seems to be hitting the *rear* aspect, even though the M1 is clearly facing directly towards the T-80. Again, I determined this by playing with the database. If pK for the M1's rear aspect is set to zero, the Svir never fires. If pK is set to 100 for the rear aspect and 0 for front and everything else, the Svir fires and kills the M1. So here, we have a target not in a hole, not facing north-south, but getting hit in the rear instead of the front. Curiouser and curiouser.

*****

The second issue is a mere oddity. Refer to savegame "UnseenACE". In this situation, Javelins are in a position to engage some vehicles near the enemy infantry strongpoint by PL Steve. They will attack an Enemy M9 ACE and probably kill it, but that icon is not visible, at least not on my system. So, for some reason a valid target is not being displayed on the map as an icon, even though it is apparently in LOS.

*****

The third issue may be a misunderstanding on my part. It seems to me that weapons are not respecting "Time to Fire". Refer again to savegame "Javelin". Notice that when the clock is running and you remove "Hold Fire", the Javelin team fires *instantly* and any weapons effects are also applied immediately. The database states, however, that Javelin has a 20-second "Time to Fire." To my mind, that stat is intended to reflect target aquisition, aim time, and typical time of flight, which can be substantial for ATGM weapons. Given that assumption, my interpretation of "Time to Fire" would be that the clock starts ticking as soon as a team not in Hold Fire acquires a red LOS and/or selects a target, and the team must maintain a line of sight unbroken for the entire "Time to Fire" before the weapon actually "fires" and its effects, if any, are applied. That would certainly simulate one of the major disadvantages of wire-guided ATGMs, i.e. that the gunner must hold the crosshairs on the target for the entire flight of the missle in order to score a hit. If the gunner loses sight of the target while the missile is in the air, and fails to regain it promptly, the weapon will almost certainly miss. Admittedly, Javelin isn't the best example here, since it is actually a fire-and-forget, but I don't think you've simulated that in the game.

You can see similar effects when LOS goes red. If you track some unit with the info dialog, you'll see that the instant a target LOS goes red, any ready weapon goes off immediately, regardless of time to fire stats.

At any rate, as I said I don't know what you intended for time-to-fire. I though it was worth mentioning, though. I will say that if this sort of "insta-fire" is in fact the intended effect, it gives defending units a substantial advantage to be able to pop advancing enemies at any range if they appear out of cover even for a mere second, and (IMHO) unrealistically buffs the ATGMs and other missiles which already largely dominate direct fire in the game.


Regards,

--- Kevin

Pat Proctor
11 Jul 03, 20:10
Welcome home! I trust you enjoyed your trip.

Good catch on your first bug. It has been corrected and will be released with version 1.03.

We were unable to recreate your missing Enemy M9 bug. We submit that it may be lag on your system (that is the vehicle gets shot before the screen refreshes). Do you experience the same effect whether you are displaying NATO icons or vehicle icons? This info would go a long way toward solving the problem.

Your last bug is not really a bug but an abstraction. We currently do not replicate tracking time for ATGM's. We also allow units to load and track targets while in hold fire (because there are not discrete acquire and fire times in the time to fire figure). The result is that, regardless of the weapon, if enough time has elapsed since the previous firing, when the unit is taken out of hold fire, it will fire immediately.

We do hope to add tracking of ATGM's and time of flight to the next generation of the engine.

kbluck
11 Jul 03, 20:47
We were unable to recreate your missing Enemy M9 bug. We submit that it may be lag on your system (that is the vehicle gets shot before the screen refreshes). Do you experience the same effect whether you are displaying NATO icons or vehicle icons? This info would go a long way toward solving the problem.

I only use NATO. Yes, when I switch to picture icons, the ACE appears. Then, when I switch back to NATO, it's gone again. The same thing happens on two distinct Win2000 systems. It's not lag; I see the detection in the spot report and leaving them on hold fire so they don't kill it doesn't help. Its something about the NATO icon.



We also allow units to load and track targets while in hold fire...The result is that, regardless of the weapon, if enough time has elapsed since the previous firing, when the unit is taken out of hold fire, it will fire immediately.

But, its not just hold fire. That situation was just the easiest to test. In my experience, they don't need to have a target at all for the time to fire to expire; for example, when there are no targets at all in LOS, and then one suddenly appears, boom, insta-fire.

You already have a "reload" time. I would expect that to occur regardless of target aquisition. I can see allowing tracking during hold fire, as well. But, it makes no sense to allow aim preparation to complete when there is no target in view. That's what I'm seeing happen. In that case, is there really any reason to have two times at all? Simply lengthening the reload interval would have practically the same effect.

You might argue that they're tracking "yellow" targets ahead of time. But, if that were the case, then they could kill them before they turn red. To my understanding, you can't kill an unidentified target with direct fire, which implies they can't really aim at it.

I submit for your consideration a potential algorithm: The "time to fire" timer starts only when a target is positively spotted and selected as the "next threat". If the target goes out of positive ID during the interval, the fire is aborted and the next priority target selected if available, starting the timer over again. In the case of hold fire, the time can "hold" once expired, but it starts over yet again if they ever lose positive ID while "locked on".

I'm curious: In the database, what is the "discreet time of flight" (sic) attribute all about with regard to direct fire weapons?

Regards,

--- Kevin

Pat Proctor
12 Jul 03, 13:11
The time of flight attribute is a 'place holder'. The capability is currently not implemented.