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Belmakor

Air Combat Movement and Targeting

17 posts in this topic

So after a few months away from the game (due to Desura issues). I decided to come back at it hopefully with a fresh view on everything.

The first thing that struck me was how boring Air Combat was/is (something which when I previously played I quite enjoyed).

I realised that in every engagement, the only way to actually win is to move your aircraft towards the enemy. I don't mean that you can't do all sorts of different manoeuvres during the combat but in order to actually shoot the enemy down you have to physically stop whatever you are doing and actually reselect and move toward the enemy.

The effect of this is that instead of having two fighters pass by on either side of an enemy aircraft - they have to physically play chicken with it (with no contact obviously).

Would it not be possible and desirable to have one button for selecting move orders and the other for selecting targeting orders. This would allow you to move in the rough general direction of the enemy and still target them without actually having to vector in directly towards them?

Now I know some of you will argue that you can do this manually, but really you can't because of the current missile locking system. As soon as you deselect the target your missiles will revert to their locking cool down times. This means you are actually at a tactical disadvantage as soon as you try and do something other than directly move towards and target the enemy.

A slightly modified targeting/move order combination would open up a whole host of new opportunities. For example, the MiG could actually be useful as a stand-off fighter, speeding around the edge of the main engagement and dispatching avalances and other long range missiles.

I would propose that the targeting system have the same locking cool-down system etc but be wholly independent of your aircrafts movement and a function of direction only (perhaps a 120 degree arc to the front) - with the missiles failing to lock outside of this front arc.

Does anyone else agree?

Is there anything physically stopping such a system from being in place?

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Well, let's consider your proposal and how it would affect combat. The key point, I think is that you propose to decouple targetting from vector for human aircraft only, meaning that while human aircraft have a variety of strategies that can be employed against UFOs, UFOs in turn do not, and are wholly restricted to the form of strategy that you so despise in human aircraft. The problem with doing thiis that by granting human aircraft more latitude than UFOs, strategies which ensure the minimum of risk for the maximum of impact can be better implemented for human aircraft. Once tried and tested strategies are in place, air combat becomes boring - again.

You need to reconsider this in terms of risk and reward.

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he never said this should be for human aircrafts only! I like the idea and I like the way Belmakor stated it: first identify the problem then point to a possible solution.

This doesn't mean that this is the perfect solution but I don't know a better one right now.

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You'd think the human pilots would prefer to attack from above and behind (boom and zoom), but maybe in the missile age that's not as important. One good thing about this type of attack is you have a lot of speed to use if you need to escape afterwards. For the MIG-32 it would be very advantageous as once the missiles are away there's really no point in sticking around. Of course, all air combat is two dimensional in Xeno.

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Well modern missiles don't even need to be fired "locked". You can just launch them and then they acquire their targets mid-flight so in theory you could target something at 120 deg arc. The locking is probably pretty accurate for 1st gen heat-seekers.

I think as it stands the MiG just isn't really a very good aircraft. I mean it is necessary in large engagements because of its 4 hard points but its reliance on flying straight at the enemy aircraft means it takes a lot of damage in most cases and often just gets shot down. Having a separate locking system would immediately make it a desire-able as a long-range hard hitter. You know that even then though it will still be able to get hit by the long-range Alenium the enemy fighters fire and also the corvettes cannon but at-least it has a fighting chance of surviving if it is performing circular movements (and firing) as opposed to vectoring in (and firing) or plain running away.

I personally think Air combat is more fun if you manually edit the F-17s to carry dual sidewinders (4 in total) but lower their damage. It just adds to tactical diversity if you can load up with 2 sidewinders and a single alenium warhead on an F17 or 2 side, 2 alenium and an avalance on a MiG.

I'd be all for buffing the enemy ships too. Make the light scouts and scouts much more maneuverable so they are equal to an F17. Make sure the alien fighter is better than an F17 in all aspects (so it has to be a 2 on 1 or some nifty micro-ing).

I just can't think of any reason why not to split the movement and locking. It gives players who like to micro the chance to use more tactics and those who don't like that can just keep on doing it as it is now.

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I personally think Air combat is more fun if you manually edit the F-17s to carry dual sidewinders (4 in total) but lower their damage. It just adds to tactical diversity if you can load up with 2 sidewinders and a single alenium warhead on an F17 or 2 side, 2 alenium and an avalance on a MiG

You have to remember that you'll be getting higher tech aircraft later on anyway (though I don't what their specs will be admittedly).

Well, let's consider your proposal and how it would affect combat. The key point, I think is that you propose to decouple targetting from vector for human aircraft only, meaning that while human aircraft have a variety of strategies that can be employed against UFOs, UFOs in turn do not, and are wholly restricted to the form of strategy that you so despise in human aircraft. The problem with doing thiis that by granting human aircraft more latitude than UFOs, strategies which ensure the minimum of risk for the maximum of impact can be better implemented for human aircraft. Once tried and tested strategies are in place, air combat becomes boring - again.

The thing is it is already possible right now to to as he says but it's very fiddely as you can't see the missile lock-on arc and can't chose which target. In large engagements, it's near impossible. The system he proposes...

I would propose that the targeting system have the same locking cool-down system etc but be wholly independent of your aircrafts movement and a function of direction only (perhaps a 120 degree arc to the front) - with the missiles failing to lock outside of this front arc.

...is already in place. Making the targeting and movement system separate would make it easier to use. ( I would also add a faint outline for the missile lock-on arc)

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I think as it stands the MiG just isn't really a very good aircraft. I mean it is necessary in large engagements because of its 4 hard points but its reliance on flying straight at the enemy aircraft means it takes a lot of damage in most cases and often just gets shot down. I personally think Air combat is more fun if you manually edit the F-17s to carry dual sidewinders (4 in total) but lower their damage.
I commented last month the the missile load outs for all aircraft were way too low. The F-17 should have at least 4 missiles, but in a "real" AS role it would probably have 6 to 8 missiles. Probably 4 medium radar homing (Sparrow?) and 4 IR (Sidewinder). While the MIG-32 would probably carry 4 big ass long range radar (like the Phoenix) and couple of IR.

The AMRAAM (fire and forget) wasn't around in those days although it would be an ideal choice.

One of the big problems with MIG-32 is it only carries two CRAPPY "big" missiles and two short range Sidewinders (OK). It really needs more effective long range weapons both in quality and numbers to be as useful as it should be.

Is it possible to change/add missiles and load outs with modding? Change you change the load outs in the hanger between missions?

I know better aircraft come later, but at the start I'm getting a lot of AC killed because I don't have enough quality to deal with anything but single scouts and corvettes. Last night I was barely into the first month of play and was having to intercept a three ship fighter group and three separate scouts all at the same time. We're going to need better AC if that's the usual pattern or a lot more AC for less money.

Edited by StellarRat

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One of the big problems with MIG-32 is it only carries two CRAPPY "big" missiles and two short range Sidewinders (OK). It really needs more effective long range weapons both in quality and numbers to be as useful as it should be.

Is it possible to change/add missiles and load outs with modding? Change you change the load outs in the hanger between missions?

Click on the missiles on the aircraft when in the hanger to change the load out.

On the MIG it's best to use 4 sidewinders when against scouts and 4 avalanches when against corvettes.

I know better aircraft come later, but at the start I'm getting a lot of AC too easily because I don't have enough quality to deal with anything but single scouts and corvettes. Last night I was barely into the first month of play and was having to intercept a three ship fighter group and three separate scouts all at the same time. We're going to need better AC if that's the usual pattern or a lot more AC for less money.

I think that's more to do with balancing, almost no balancing has been done. Hopefully, it'll be around when you get alenium missiles when the 3 fighter groups come.

(Just realised that rhymes (kinda):D)

Edited by Khall

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I think that's more to do with balancing, almost no balancing has been done. Hopefully, it'll be around when you get alenium missiles when the 3 fighter groups come.

(Just realised that rhymes (kinda):D)

Even at that I think the air combat would be more interesting with more missiles on the fighters. To balance they could miss more often or do less damage, etc... The late versions of the Sparrow only hit about 40% of the time, but the warhead was four times the size of the Sidewinders. While the Phoenix was only fired in anger a couple times so accuracy IRL is really unknown, but it carried a massive 135 pound warhead and had huge range (132 miles). These weapons were all available in the time frame of the game.

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Aircraft at the moment can have a maximum of 5 weapon hardpoints.

You can't add any more than that using the files available for modding because the game doesn't know what to do with them and crashes.

You can easily mod the existing missiles values (i.e. number of sidewinders per hardpoint, damage per missile, range etc) or you can fairly easily add new missiles types to fit on the existing planes.

If those are the sort of changes you want to see you are best off modding them yourself and seeing how they affect the game because it would be unlikely that Chris would use members of his team to try things like this, at least for a while.

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Aircraft at the moment can have a maximum of 5 weapon hardpoints.

You can easily mod the existing missiles values (i.e. number of sidewinders per hardpoint, damage per missile, range etc) or you can fairly easily add new missiles types to fit on the existing planes.

Thanks for the info. I'll add that to my "analyze and experiment" list (shotguns and missiles at the moment). Hopefully, I'll be able to make some type of reasonable argument with the devs when the balancing phase starts for real. I'd like to contribute something to the game besides money. Edited by StellarRat

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Hopefully the new UI will allow you to add more ammunition types for things like the shotgun as well.

Always nice to have people working on stuff that can enhance the game.

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Hopefully the new UI will allow you to add more ammunition types for things like the shotgun as well.

Always nice to have people working on stuff that can enhance the game.

Hopefully either way I've doing some research and have a really good idea of how to mod the shotgun to represent buckshot instead of slugs (why carry one if you got a rifle available otherwise?) Should make them a lot more useful and different than the single projectile weapons (in the right conditions of course.)

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I've just realised this is already in the game. Left click moves the fighter and right click selects the target, which is shown in the top right of the fighter HUD (right click anywhere else to deselect target). Left clicking the enemy targets it and moves the fighter to intercept. As long as the target is selected and is in the (invisibile) missile-arc the missiles will lock on automatically. So you don't actually need to left click on the enemy to target it.

I can't believe I never noticed this before!

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I'm all for more missiles carried by fighter (easily moddable, but I'd like to see it as standard)

I was also under impression that the UI can't show more than 4 weapons (and at that, can't show mor than 2 guns) which makes modding problematic in that regard.

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Hopefully either way I've doing some research and have a really good idea of how to mod the shotgun to represent buckshot instead of slugs (why carry one if you got a rifle available otherwise?) Should make them a lot more useful and different than the single projectile weapons (in the right conditions of course.)

Why carry a shotgun at all? Why not just put a grenade attachment under the rifle and have it shoot 40mm shotgun shell/grenade things.

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Because if one gun can do everything, there's no point in managing your forces weapons, beyond giving them whichever is best. It's kind of like the heavy plasma from the original game. (Personally, I didn't deploy it to everyone, but I hear lots of people did) Having the separate weapons adds to the amount of thing one can do, plus I'd imagine that an actual shotgun would be more effective than an underslung shotgun on an assault rifle, as far as continued use goes.

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