“Air Grid”

No set of viable, good, realistic solutions presents a workable or meaningful alternative to a grid system for giving a “sector-presence” indicator (sometimes, erroneously, called ‘radar’).

Pilot’s can’t find each other, but they can find stuff on the ground, so they quank the ground war, they skirt the map to bomb factories, fighters can’t be bothered to fly escort because it rarely results in action and bombers rarely bother to form up. All of which bleeds off pilots just as surely as fog did.

This system has to not let you fly under, over or around it. It needs to be simple and it needs to be crude. There won’t be a GPS-accuracy blip giving away your position, but there might be be a grid of 16 or 20km squares with ews-style dots in the corner – a black dot with a red border = enemy planes, a red dot = lots of enemy planes. That’s all the information the client will have, I’ve no idea how the client folks will decide to display it.

Maybe there’ll be separate dots for fighters/bombers, I don’t know. Maybe we’ll be able to put some kind of range constraint so that you don’t appear on radar 600km away from enemy territory, again I don’t know at this stage.

Tying it to destroyable radar facilities would give an overpop side an advantage as well as rendering the system pointless, unless you want to find yourselves imposed with some rather unpleasant realism elements – like limited numbers of sorties and much smaller airforces – to prevent both sides from decimating each other’s radar facilities and then flying around unperturbed.

I think if you take a look at the map and size out 20km wide/high squares, you’ll see it’s absolutely not GPS. Bandwidth alone says that we don’t make it update in real-time, but probably every 30 or 60 seconds or something.

35 Comments

Starting to sounds like a workable plan.

Not radar, more like observer-core reports plotted on a centeral map table, giving the defending forces a rough idea where the enemy are and where they may be heading.

Seam to think I might have seen such a table in the odd documenty & film! ;-)

How about, instead of a small dot in the corner, a shaded overlay for the entire grid square. Make it darker/less transparent for more planes in the grid, in however many steps you choose to implement (I’d suggest troll arithmetic – “1, 2 many, lots” :) ).

That way at a wider zoom the map gives you a nice (low resolution) population density of aircraft, so you can see it at a glance. Toggleable, of course, because you wouldn’t want it on all the time. And it might help conveying the “this is not a raider” vibe.

Ah – yes, I made an error in my post by suggesting I knew how it was going to look. I should have included the words “like” or “for instance”.

I agree with horse – I like the shaded overlay concept.

Is the base terrain logic in hexes or in squares? I thought I recalled something from RickB talking about it being hex-based…. Terrain octets (which would sound octagonal… I can’t even keep track anymore, brain is fried).

Fundamentally, though I agree that this is a better concept than full-on radar, and also helps fight the “ZOMG not realistic!!!” crowd. You just tell them that it’s a hybrid of report sources; ground spotters, air reports, and primitive radars, all factoring in to a final “Here There Be Dragons^WSpitfires”.

;)

Hexagons are a contrivance of physical gameplay medium, there’s nothing convenient about them in a real 3D space, infact they are computationally expensive and akward.

Octet = square 800m on a side. And yes, that does evidence that someone didn’t understand the power-of-2 concept.

That’s what I understood, which is why I always thought it strange that WW2OL would have hexes for data storage. Good to know I wasn’t confused on that, but rather misinformed on the backend.

hum this grid system remember me something … warbirds ? ;)

Another thought on the implementation (I know, far too early to be that concerned about it, but I thought I’d toss it out there).

If it’s a “hard edged” grid, then you’ll abruptly see the overlay shut off when a flight leaves one square and enters another.

However, if you had overlapping squares, such that any point is actually in 4 squares at once, then you have a smoother, blurred intelligence and no more abrupt snap as they move from one grid to another.

I realize this is kind of hard to explain… graphically it’s a lot easier to understand. I could also express it mathematically given a bit to write it up.

CRS has a knack for overcomplicating things. The game has an existing ‘GPS’ system, don’t re-invent the wheel. Solution:

Take the aircraft GPS coordinate and add to it a randomly generated deviation bounded by some limit and plot it on the map. So if the aircraft is at 0,0 the system would add +/- 0-to-15km to the value and then plot it on the map.

And for pete’s sake don’t aggregate the aircraft symbols. If there is a lot of aircraft, then show a lot of aircraft. The whole point is to excite players into the fight. A “hornets nest” guarantees a human visceral response. And that’s what fun is all about for players and that is what this game needs to remember.

This may even put players into the frame of mind to work in wings.

Can we herald this as the end of AirQ? Or is that too soon?

Do you want to work out for yourself why that’s a really terrible idea, Zheriz, or do you need some help there? You’re looking for a minimum of 5 reasons.

1. Bandwidth – now you are receiving positional updates for every aircraft in the game rather than 18 bits for every 400km2 that has changed state since the last update.

2. Randomness triangulation. On average 4 of your updates will give away your exact position.

3. Clutter.

4. Performance – you now have to update/render information for every single aircraft.

5. Reporting requires the GPS system – which is “unrealistic” for the time.

6. Server performance – much harder to manage.

7. Server performance – vastly more updates to generate/send/communicate.

8. Don’t reinvent the wheel. The GPS system is a derived, representative system. Internally, the host uses a series of “grids” (cells) to track where people are, as does the client.

9. Don’t reinvent the wheel. The world is divided into cells and supercells, none of which have anything to do with the GPS co-ordinates sometimes displayed by the client.

10. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Making the system much like EWS allows the re-use of pre-existing systems.

Krenn: Remember, the updates aren’t “real time”, they probably won’t be more frequent than once every 30 seconds – so edge transitions aren’t going to be nearly that bad.

I think the biggest problem with the system described earlier on the game forums is that it allows tracking flights deep in enemy territory, which seems rather gamey to me. (Yes, there was the hint of possible range limits).

The second biggest problem with an EWS-like grid system is that it will not give directional information and only very crude information of numbers.

Perhaps the system could be enhanced by also adding a textual reports from “ground stations” (in the middle of each grid cell on non-frontline friendly ground). One textual report for each flight of aircraft entering a cell, giving approximate direction, approximate altitude and type (single-/multi-engined). These textual reports could be posted to a predefined side-specific chat channel, called “EWS” for example.

(A flight is up to N aircraft that enter the cell within K seconds, with bearings up to L degrees apart)

This would approximate a ground observer core fairly well.

It looks pretty much like the British Ground Control worked in the early days of WWII.

And still leaves room for Radar and destroyable radar towers.

Radar would give you exact location, altitude and number in real time.

Ground Control (ground observers reporting by phone to a coordination command) it’s what this plan looks like. Gives you a Grid Position and average numbers (Historically it was +20, +40, +80…. altought this could be adapted for WWIIOL).

KFS1,

I’m not going to pretend that I know how the infrastructure of WWIIOL works. What I knew is that the game has a ‘GPS’ system and from the outside that’s how it looks like the game tracks position. Ok, so it uses cells & grids, in which case I agree, no need to re-invent, just use the system you have. Not re-inventing was the point and it’s good to see that is what you’re doing.

As for the other things you mention, I did consider some of them (the more obvious ones, like bandwidth). I would disagree on several things, but I won’t get into it.

The one point that is worth fighting for is that the radar mapping shouldn’t be watered down. A noob looking at the map should quickly understand ‘hey cool, there is a hornets nest there’. Make the map look alive, the game look exciting.

Since you don’t want to put a dot for every aircraft, then may I recommend not using the current system of two-laid symbols. I would suggest a symbol that includes a number inside it. So if there is 5 aircraft the map would show a (5) icon. Add a slight randomization to it if you feel the need to keep some fog of war. Or ’round up’ within a range. If there is 1, show (1). If there is 2 to 5, show (5). 6-10 show (10). Like in the original post, the purpose is to excite players into play. This would do it better that the two-laid symbols currently used.

Personally, I think radar should have been added long ago. This is one of the important game-play generating features that is more important than strict realism. The best sim in the world is meaningless if players have to spend a lot of time just to find each other to fight; exactly the problem many players have had with WWIIOL.

Respectfully,

They could implement a ‘missed plot’, so sometimes the report never arrived and so the EWS isn’t kicked. Would give a little back to fog of war, while still giving pilots the ability to find each other without beelining to towns to cut grass.

Anyone here ever play AW or WB? The grid system was great. You could (sort of) track targets, move to intercept them, but you still had to work to make contact.

I remember we used to spread out our flights to increase the chances of interception – it required the right amount of teamwork and communications – lots of fun.

CRS deserves some credit for not going overboard with this (as they have sometimes done with other features, like the TT crane!)

Trout

The problem without this BS thing is that you just got a community full of LAZY players and game doesn’t have real TOOLS to set up flights.

That will just make impossible to do anything at air. Breaks the SA and immersion, for good.

Sucks big time.

I agree with wizard about “what if noobs still try and fly alone, they’ll be meat for the grinder, which could drive them away?”

How about making it so that planes have to spawn into “wings” of a minimum number of aircraft? Maybe that minimum number could be based on the server pop so to reduce the wait?

Ever since I started playing this game its disappointed me that people spawn in one at a time and fly off alone. Its hella unrealistic, which is odd considering the extremes you guys go to to make things realistic.

I personally think the enjoyability of the whole game would increase if people had to spawn into groups of some kind, even if a small number. The best way to keep it from making a player wait too long would be to base it one the type of unit spawned and and the server pop.

There won’t be a GPS-accuracy blip giving away your position, but there might be be a grid of 16 or 20km squares with ews-style dots in the corner – a black dot with a red border = enemy planes, a red dot = lots of enemy planes.

16 or 20 means 4*4km or 4*5km areas. Way too small. That would be overkill against RDP bombers. Fighter can check few grids size of those in no time.

Pfft.. Group like JG52 dudes can scan a area of 40*40km easily with current EWS with holes in it…

can’t frakin wait for this.

Beg to differ. The size is more or less right. A square 2D box area of 20km is pretty large. You need to remember the altitude component. The aircraft can be on the deck strafing squishies or up at 30,000ft cruising to bomb a factory; so from 0K to 9K. That’s a 3D search area of 4 x 5 x 9 = 180km search area. Add to that a viz limit of a few K, cloud layers to obstruct visibility, and ground clutter to hide against and it’ll be a good balance between finding a fight in a reasonable — fun — amount of time and still having a chance to hide and evade.

Adding radar will have a predictable effect, based on past experience with WBs, etc, it causes/forces players to fly higher. That 0K to 9K of altitude will be used more heavily with radar. The box will have to be “small” (which it isn’t at 180km).

Btw, S! guys …I’ve been away a bit. :)

I just hope that this radar doesn’t show fighter type planes… all that would do is to maybe move the furrballs away from the AOs and then you trap those who doesn’t want to fly in those out of AO furrballs.

JG52 has ~4 active flyboys atm. and a half assed radar won’t increase that number… so I’m hoping it gets done the right way so we can convince more people to start flying again.

See what I mean?

sniff, what gives you the right (as a fighter) to completely avoid detection?

why should ‘only’ the bombers be visible?

BTW KFS1, if you put any radar limits, like minimum AGI or speed, please make sure they’re low enough that players can’t ‘game’ the radar. The limits should be such that only a parked/taxiing aircraft are not visible on radar. Last thing we need is a bunch of boobs flying around at stall speed to dodge radar.

How far behind enemy lines should the radar see? From what I’ve read, WWII long range radar was up to 300km, but the average looks to be about 190km.

Site about German radar:
http://www.baermann.biz/pauke/index.php?catid=9&blogid=1

If I was running the show, I wouldn’t get so ‘historical’ about it. Just slap on a 150km detection limit from the front line and just get this feature out the door because it’s badly needed.

Respectfully,

We’re talking about a series of grids where each cell is 16 or 20 km on a side Each square will represent 400 square kilometers of 2D space. Att to that 5km of altitude and you have 2000km3 of volume in which to locate that aircraft.

Add to that a 30 or 60 second update rate.

Its also likely to be something you have to pull up separately – like a special map toggle, because the client is going to be responsible for cueing the host as to when to send updates and for which area.

I can personally envision it as either a map overlay with a grid system labelled “000-999” across and “AA-ZZ” down which either shades map squares or an extra map tab which shows a zoomed out map with small colored squares where color or brightness indicates present/level. Or maybe they’ll be diagonals to indicate fighters/bombers.

Then again its quite likely it will be like like one of the 7 other games with a similar system (AW, WB, AC, VF, etc…) and it’ll be a simple corner-of-square dot marker.

I’ve got no say, no hand and no insight on the look of the thing.

so, what you’re saying is we’re actually going to get larger areas of ‘detection’ than we have now and less accuracy.

iirc EWS for bombers right now is 8km. it’s fairly quick/easy to determine roughly where the bombers are just based off the towns their flying over. just picture the 8km circle and fly to there.

these grids are actually a good deal larger. the main difference is, they’re everywhere vs just over friendly territory.

detection everywhere (based off whatever kfs1 comes up with for exclusions) with less accuracy.

Will the grid show planes deep in friendly territory? This would make bombing runs/ fighter sweeps visible as they form up, probably too much of a disadvantage.

Would it perhaps be possible for a grid square only to be active if it is a given distance from a town under your control, giving you radar penetration to a point past your front line but also leaving a blind area deep behind?

^Random il-informed brainstorm

Surace wrote:
Will the grid show planes deep in friendly territory?

Ahem.

kfsone wrote: (in the original post)
Maybe we’ll be able to put some kind of range constraint so that you don’t appear on radar 600km away from enemy territory, again I don’t know at this stage.

Madrebel: Fairly accurate. Really the deal is detaching it from towns so that it can extend out beyond the map to diminish map-skirting etc.

when you detatch EWS from the towns can we rid the map of this scourge once and for all (towns)? frankly, i find towns to be evil. towns have prostitution, alcohol, and general scum and villany. i think you could drop the ESRB rating if you get rid of towns.

Think of the fun if bomber groups are shown forming up. The opponent forms up a fighter group to attack the bombers. The attacker sends up a fighter group to intercept the enemy fighters. The air war takes on an entire new dimension

Large bomber missions were an absolute hoot in Air Warrior. I really miss them.

One of the reasons they were successful is that people were not as paranoid about spys and operational intel. It was pretty much common knowledge WHEN the large operations were scheduled for, but nobody knew the target.

Over the years I’ve read the most absurd things in the playschool forums about “secret” stuff, and its REALLY hurt the game. So whats my point?

Strat bombing missions should be regular, scheduled events ONLY. Laugh if you want, but you would be amazed at how this would breath new life into the air-war.

Trout

I think strat missions should be brigade missions, and kinda like AO’s for the air war, with the option of only OIC, ML, and HC knowing the target. I also agree that they should be either scheduled or they should start on specific times only, such as on the hour.

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