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#1392231 - 08/29/04 06:39 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
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I think AI is essential online for one very simple reason, you've got to make sure there's plenty of army cooperation aircraft to replicate the WWI aerial arena.

No matter how many people say they love multi-seat aircraft, there's not many people who will continually look forward to taking Be 2Cs, or Harry Tates over the lines to be the fighter fodder...........the AI will end up be tasked with most of these arduous but essential missions!

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#1392232 - 08/29/04 06:39 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
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I would have to agree with Tailgunner about an ai being a no-go item. When I played RB3d, I did far more offline than online. Some of the best furballs I have ever been in were with RB3d, hell's angels addon, glide wrapper and someone's (I forget who, but bless him all the same) ai enhancer. Once, me and my 2 ai wingmen bounced a Harry Tate and were in turn bounced by 3 RNAS Tripes. A 15 minute adrenalin dripping battle occurred. Finally, alone and out of ammo, I made it home with a smoking engine and left the tripes, minus one, to make their way to their base. It was a fantastic time-I would still be playing it if the upgrade to xp had not been so tramatic on RB3d. I cant believe an ai can't be programmed economically to use its crate to its best performance without exceeding it- ala IL2FB. I would not consider a sim/game/way of life without an ai. A non-thinking boob is not a consideration; I already have that base covered.

#1392233 - 08/29/04 06:46 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
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Tailgunner I think Wall-dog is leading to another path were maybe a newbie doesn't need to know that the artificial world around him is actually real people online. With real seasoned vets, real novices etc.

Imagine in a few years when most people have an always-on internet connection, they fire up the game, start a campaign and find a real world battle like WW2OL there.

However if they are real people or AI the newbie woulnd't necessarily know? If things like "chat" etc are excluded from the novice pilot who chooses an offline campaign?

Maybe you put all the newly registered players in their own zone? Who knows.

The troops movements, the squads flying past maybe they are real people in an online battle?


Regards,

Polovski,
OBD Software, developers of immersive flight sims;
Wings Over Flanders Fields and Wings Over The Reich
http://www.overflandersfields.com
http://www.wingsoverthereich.com
#1392234 - 08/29/04 06:55 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  

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I don't think the average consumer really cares whether they are 'online' or 'offline' when they play. There are certainly charactersitics we think of when we think of 'online' play, and there are different characteristics we think of when we think of 'offline' play. Whether a particular plane is being piloted by another person or by the computer isn't really important though. What is important is that we understand the difference between the elements of play generally considered as either 'offline' or 'online' and that we create those same seperate experiences based on the preferences of each consumer.

There would be some challanges with such an approach. Some players might for example go out and try to shoot-down the other planes in their flight. I think there are ways to deal with issues like this though.

I don't believe it is necessary to draw concrete lines between being 'offline' and being 'online.' Current technology makes it possible to start blurring those lines.

If you can draw enough new players into the genre, that will give you a steady stream of rookies. If you can't draw them in quickly enough, then you throw lower-skilled AI planes into the mix. Ideally you would have a mix of skill levels that accurately represents the mix of people playing the game. Yeah - that means new pilots will sometimes get their heads handed to them on a platter by an experienced pro. That is how most kills were achieved in real life too! But if you have a large quantity of new players they will have a tremendous amount of fun playing each other. And not knowing the skill of a plane you are approaching adds a whole new level of anticipation to newbies and veterans alike.

Having some purely offline training aids would also help. You could offer training similar in quality to what real pilots had during the war.

You are correct that there are some purists out there who have pre-conceived notions of how a flight simulation should work and who will make blanket statements like 'I won't play anything unless it has a real online/offline mode' or 'I won't play anything that has setting X'. I don't think there are that many people out there though that would not be willing to try something new if it works. I think some of the 'purists' would complain, but I think most of them would buy the game anyway.

I look at it this way.. Is it possible to create an environment that pilots today would consider 'offline' but to create that environment using elements from an online war? Can I link someone into an online dynamic campaign environment but still create the appearance of an offline campaign for those players who do not want to fully embrace the perpetual online war? Yes I can. Not only that, but by blurring the lines between what is 'offline' and what is 'online' play, I can start to offer some intersting crosses that use elements from both styles of play. How about an offline campaign with real chat? How about being able to see how your offline squadron compares to online squadrons in the same war? Traditional techniques that completely seperate offline and online play can't do that.

Imagine it this way - player 1 wants to fly an online campaign as a member of an online squadron. He meets on Friday nights with his squadron buddies and they form up into a formation. They fly. They have registered their squadron as a part of the online war, and their progress is tracked as a part of the online war. They get all the bells and whistles of pure online play as a part of a big multiplayer re-enactment of WWI.

Player 2 wants to fly in an 'offline' campaign without joining an online squadron or doing any of the things generally considered a part of 'online' play. A virtual squadron is created on their hard drive and the progress of this squadron is tracked on their hard drive independantly of the online war. They run a mission and take off with the same virtual pilots they always fly with and fly a mission that in every way would feel to them like an offline campaign. The fact that each plane they see has a human behind the scenes would be completely transparent to them.

Player 3 just wants to hop in and fly. They don't want anything resembling a campaign at all. So they hop in and fly. They don't have a virtual persona at all. Again - the fact that all the planes around them are controlled by real people who DO have personas would be transparent to them.

The only difficulty to this would be balancing the right mix of skill levels. If you have to throw in some AI such that you have enough 'rookie' planes you could do that. You would however never have to worry about not having any pilots who were very good!

I'd like to ask the purists to step back from any preconceived notions of 'realism' and I'd like to ask them to do the same thing with regards to what is 'offline' and what is 'online' play. Consider for a moment of those notions really are all that important. If you could fly something that Chuck Yeager says feels just like the real thing, would you be willing to look at it with an open mind?

#1392235 - 08/29/04 07:03 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  

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S! FlyXwire!

You are correct that some elements of the war would have to be AI. I don't mean to propose that there would be no AI at all. I just mean that you would minimize the need for AI, using real people as much as practical.

#1392236 - 08/29/04 07:33 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
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You need no difficulty settings in a flight sim.
People want to get into something wquickly and have a success quickly. OTOH, I want to operate every switch and pump that had to be operated in RL to get the engine working. These two requirements can not be met without settings.

You might say you have air start for the newbies to get around it, but that is a setting as well and unrealistic as well.

Just a few days ago, on the newsgroup, someone asked for a sim with not too many keypresses. I can understand him, when I see the keycard of a new sim, and if I did not have a programmable stick I would ask myself how much time it will need to learn it. Many people do not even have a joystick at all.

Most hardcore (including professional) gamers I know do not fly flight sims at all, although they have a big pile of different games from different genres.

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You need historical era flight sim training planes and a deep manual and game interface that leads the flight sim Newbie through basic flight training and into combat training. This requires programming effort, not watering down realism as suggested here.
For many people, a deep manual is a turn off in itself. *I* would like such a thing and have already started gathering literature on the Tiger Moth and the SG38 so one day I can create right that. But this is no substitude for settings. I read "first light" about WWII, when planes were still easier to handle than today. On one evening, frustrated, the author went to a pub. He was later chewed out - not for being off base, but simply that he had lost a few hours to learn. This was at a time when training took months. IOW, they used probably 12+hours probably 6+days a week for months. Almost noone has that time. If you make it shorter, it will not be realistic training. Most things they learned are boring to the average gamer out there.

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A wider zoom cockpit view, at least 120 degrees maximum like LOMAC, and with zoom in view possible.
I agree with that one. I programmed it into BoB and enjoy it a lot. However, you have to realise many people will think it is a bug and think it shows that testing was super shoddy.

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And I don't mean the Sloppy LOMAC zoom controls that are slow but instant zoom in view like FB provides
Yes, that's how it is now in BoB.

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Pilot Lean. I agree with Wall Dog that we need pilot leaning control, but then Wall Dog states we can't have it yet (we can).
BoB has leaning. It is nioce during landing. I would not use it during a fight though.

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I could go on with more, but the pattern so far shows that everything here all depends on programming code to make it happen,
True. However this is a matter of man power, both for freeware where most projects have less than 3 people and for commercial games where simple the money misses. To do a AAA title costs about 70% more than 5 years ago. Flightsim budgets have not risen that much, if at all. I recently heard on a game dev forum about a buggy new fps "They had no chance to make it good quality - they only had 30 devs for 3 years".

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bizzare debates about flight sims being too realistic or too hard. There can never be such a thing.
There can. I once heard of a British bomber pilot that flew a lot of night missions. He was asked in an interview how many German planes he saw. He said he might have seen one - he once saw a twin on a divergent course that might have been a 110. I do not think it is fun for most people to "just" fly through FLAK and bomb and maybe hear their tailgunner shooting at someone and almost never see an enemy plane. Sure, you can have it as option, but do not force this onto the user. The people who flew in the bomber offensive at the time, who had all the sensations of flight and who knew it was a matter of life and death to look out, said it was "hours of boredom and minutes of sheer terror". Teut Weidemann recently said that games often do not compete for the money of the customer, but for the time. I simply have no time for a game where I spent hours each session.

About AI - most people fly offline, even in sims biased towards online game like Il2:FB. Also, I am sure many beginners want to start off offline.

#1392237 - 08/29/04 07:54 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  

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S! Osram!

Regarding your last statement..

Do you believe it would be possible to blur-the-line between what is 'offline' and what is 'online' play? Or do you believe that everything must be 100% one or the other?

#1392238 - 08/29/04 08:27 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
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Interesting question, I will have to think about it.

My stomach feeling is, yes you can blur it somewhat, but not completely. It is important to people whether they fly against humans or "robots". For example, if you are a newbie and do not want to "embarras" yourself, you might want to fly offline.

OTOH, progressing internet technology helps and it blurs a bit by itself. For example, many people now have a flat rate and do not need to be careful how long they are online.

#1392239 - 08/30/04 03:03 AM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  

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Why doesn't anyone buy flight sims anymore? Because they are no longer fun.
SPOCK! Wall Dog

I don't follow the discussion about "mechanics" vs "feel" in flight simming. For one thing, we are opposite type of flight simmers as I think flight sims are still Fun (at least Forgotten Battles and original MSDOS Flanker 1.0) -- the only 2 flight sims I play until Oleg releaces BoB+ with Battle of Poland and France addon packs...

~~> http://www.france-simulation.com/

Mentoring the Newbies would be cool, as testified by many internet squads. Alot of merit to online war simming if internet gamers actually behaved like real life wartime air crew in history. But then real life aircrew had to follow orders and if they didn't they got server kicked FOREVER--I mean court martialed (or executed).

Wall Dog::
Quote:
Do you believe it would be possible to blur-the-line between what is 'offline' and what is 'online' play? Or do you believe that everything must be 100% one or the other?
Pay very close attention here. Wall Dog has stated [last page] he/she wishes all flight simming to move 100% pure online and abolish all AI.

\:D \:D ...just poking hard here...I am really into your more recent idea [this page] of mixing humanoid and AI in an online war server...Offline simming needs AI, Online simming gets a huge immersion boost with AI available to fill out the ranks and with that comes the gut wrenching Question "is my target AI or humanoid?" I wonder if flight sim AI is programmed just enough to let the game be put on sale without more serious programming efforts. I agree with Wall Dog that AI is not as good as it could be.

Then make it better! That is the solution for the Re~Birth of the Flight Sim Genre. We have succeeded [this page] in getting Wall Dog to claim that Online flying needs AI programming, so lets make Online flying even better with better AI programming. What ya say Wall Dog? \:\) \:\)

To answer the Question, I think flight simming should target both offline and online, but can't give percentages because both share at least 90% (pure guess) of flight sim coding and modelling.


Recall the basic goal of Artificial Intelligence is to make the computer indistinguishable from a humanoid. I make the [apparently] wild claim here that offline World War 2 AI--or any given era AI--can be made far more realistic than any online simming involving humanoid internet players (look at teh dogfight servers). The catch here is that flight sim developers either don't have the desire or don't have the resources to do such extensive AI programming. It can be done. It will be done if we push for it. It will never be done if we just give up and say AI is not needed because it does not work well. Many have said the same thing about new aircraft design ideas not working well so just give up. \:\(


---------------------


Thanks Osram, you are correct about some parts of flight simming being "too hard" but I was thinking only of Flying The Plane part. The faulty visual aspects of flight sims of course result from lack of programming effort--or resources given the low budgets. Better programming can be found, but not always by higher budgets--Microsoft for example lol.

Making flight sim visuals and view system easy to use is NOT the same kind of programming goal as programming a Sopwith Camel or MiG~3 to be "easy to fly."
Quote:
mig what?
MiG~3 in Forgotten Battles proves that flying a flight sim plane is far easier than real life flying. Don't anybody here be fooled by this assertion that flight simming is "too hard." What is too hard is the simulation of the pilot him/her self...view system, aircraft grafix system especially at long ranges (thinking FB again here), all the 1st person pilot stuff is what makes flight simming seem very hard. Indeed, one may think of cockpit view as a 1st person narrative which is always harder to write than a 3rd person narrative, where the 3rd person narrative corresponds with our "easy" External View. Lets try a little harder to get that 1st person view done well.


This is an interesting point I would like to bring up again for potential discussion...I could be wrong...

The claim that we have become too "nitpicky" about FM is false. Only a loud vocal minority of simmers post on flight sim internet webboards that Whine about FM so loud. Did anybody here at the sinhq stop to think that in the quiet "old flight sim days" there were no flight sim webboards for these dozen or so FM Whiners to advertise themselves as the total community? Indeed it is possible that we at teh sinhq let ourselves become confused by the Whining of a very few and the silent majority of flight simmers out there.


oh, and Wall_Dog, just what online wars really need now is checking six with External View. ;\) Lets start thinking about more programming for our cockpit view system that benefits both the silent 95% offline simmers we so easily ignore and the 5% online simmers--from who's meager ranks are drawn the FM Whiners we just talked about.

And Wall Dog, don't s! or SPOCK! me like a trekkie at a convention \:D

#1392240 - 08/30/04 05:02 AM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
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AI is good to practice against learn to fly just like shooting at a pulled behind target and to fly bombers in a online game . But online is the only reason people I know get into these games .5 of them newbies that wanted to fly againtst myself and my brothers . Guess it helps if you can talk to the people in person you fought against or with the night before.

But in the long run offline is just for practice . None of these people would of spent the money to buy the game and a joystick just to play with themselves. I bought B-17 ME but none of us ever played it cause it didn't have the online aspect.

To me shooting down a comp plane just isn't the same . The comp ai can't ever have all the personalities ,moods etc that you find in a real opp.

One of the reasons they have Red Flag etc. in addition to real hands on you fly against real people . If that wasn't diff they could just use the simulations more often.


scott hill
#1392241 - 08/30/04 07:43 AM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  

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Agreed. Everybody and their brother wants to play dogfight and score internet brownie points on teh dogfight servers.


Actually, only about 5% of simmers fly online primarily. More do both online and offline. The majority do offline only. Mixing AI and humanoid players may help to increase that number cos if you need a number of planes but can't find the play dogfighters than you have to set up some AI to mix with them. I like the comment earlier about the bombers being "boring."

This is why AI are the more realistic opponents than amatuer internet gamers, but the AI needs much more programming effort.

#1392242 - 08/30/04 08:35 AM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
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Lexx_Luthor's main point is that more money/time should be spent on programming than it is now.

Then he writes

Quote:

the only 2 flight sims I play until Oleg releaces BoB+ with Battle of Poland and France addon packs...
That's exactly the reason there is not more money available, especially for hardcore features:
Too few buyers.

#1392243 - 08/30/04 08:43 AM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
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Originally posted by fearlesslds:

But in the long run offline is just for practice . None of these people would of spent the money to buy the game and a joystick just to play with themselves.
You are thinking all people are like you, but they are not. I fly 95% of my time offline and if I buy a sim, it is to fly offline. So, together with Tailgunner, we are two in this thread alone. And a forum of course is THE place to find onliners.

#1392244 - 08/30/04 09:26 AM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
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Let us assume, for a moment, that you can 'blur' the barriers between online and offline, and that I don't know who I am flying against.

You still need good AI. If there are not enough people online, in the same timezone as me, with free time when I want to fly, then the AI will have to do a good job of pretending to be a human... Thats the purpose of AI!

As Osram pointed out...those who fly online, with friends who do it too, are risking a blinkered approach to say that EVERYONE wants what they want. That is going back to the old 'death of flightsims because' problem. To sell, a sim must appeal to ALL potential buyers, not just a hardcore, online flying simmer. There are not enough of them to justify the work and money of developing. For those who want an online only experience, there are already several options.

Personally, I don't enjoy flying online much. I don't have the time.

Why? Simple. First, find a server...then find one flying the sort of mission/ planes/gametype I want....then go find one that has enough people in it...then go find one without misbehaved children in it...then find one with pilots who are at my level of skill...then

You see the problem \:\)

To sell to as many people as possible, a flightsim needs to cater for as many people as possible.

This means:

LOTS of scalable options for difficulty
Good AI that flys planes like they should be flown, with varying levels of skill
Offers stable online play for those who want it
Offers scalable detail to allow average PC owners to play
Lastly..Gives the player the chance to ENJOY THE GAME THE WAY THEY WANT TO ENJOY IT.

Cutting back to the title topic....

I think the main reason for the 'Death' of flightsims is the steady move away from that list, capitalised statement.

The IL2 series got closest, but sims like LOMAC show how wrong you can get it. Only those with super PC's and real flight experience need apply...


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#1392245 - 08/30/04 09:30 AM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  

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Not exactly Osram, BoB does not interfere with better programming for AI, unless you are talking about purely for the IL~2 series of flight sims. I am thinking flight sims in general. Before there was any IL~2 sim, Maddox Games had no flight sim, so using your logic implies creating IL~2 would interfere with creating AI for IL~2. Not good thinking. I see what you are trying to say though, but its the same mistake that we see made by the internet dogfighters who claim adding more planes means less "accurate" FM--for their own favorite airplane of course lol.

Rather, BoB may be the engine that Oleg uses to create more in depth AI programming--mmm we shall see mmm. IL~2 was his first sim. Not a bad start, and he seems comitted to eventually covering all of WW2 theaters, while Microsoft retreated from that market and abandoned 4FSC.

#1392246 - 08/30/04 09:48 AM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  

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Tailwind::
Quote:
There are not enough of them to justify the work and money of developing.
TargetWare charges money to fly online, and I dunno but that could work if the product is popular. More important for hardocre flight simmers right now is that charging money may keep out the brotherhood of brat dogfighters--the brownie point gathering tribe, as TargetWare seems to be leaning more to online WAR over many missions rather than internet dogfighting. That is my theory anyway, but have never tried TargetWare for example to find out. Basically the cost of an ATI 9200 video card each year, not bad given that many of us upgrade to the latest most expensive Public Beta Test video cards each year. \:D

Quote:
I think the main reason for the 'Death' of flightsims is the steady move away from that list, capitalised statement.
Tailwind you missed a point for offline play that is missing at least in Forgotten Battles. This is a deeply immersive frontline battlefield environment, or at least the ability to use the sim as a basic tool to easily create in your home an air warfare environment of choice. Right now 3rd Party FB campaign makers have to bend over forwards to create something useful, as the methods of talking to the game and talking to the maps is totally lacking. The only saving grace of FB for me is text mission files, but that is useful to the hard core simmer only such as myself.

The average simmer should not have to go out and buy 3rd Party campaigns that cost as much as the sim itself. Indeed, if Oleg were to invest in programming the ability to make your own immersive gameplay at home word would spread and all Profit would goto Oleg and not the 3rd Party campaign makers (bless their souls though, they do have a very diffiuclt job getting FB to do what they want).

#1392247 - 08/30/04 10:44 AM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
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Quote:
Originally posted by Osram:
Quote:
Originally posted by fearlesslds:

But in the long run offline is just for practice . None of these people would of spent the money to buy the game and a joystick just to play with themselves.
You are thinking all people are like you, but they are not. I fly 95% of my time offline and if I buy a sim, it is to fly offline. So, together with Tailgunner, we are two in this thread alone. And a forum of course is THE place to find onliners.
This is exactly right. Most people fly offline, and a lot of them try it online, but not as many as you might think, for the reasons as given by tailgunner.
I used to fly EAW on the Zone some years back. I enjoyed it when flying with particular online friends, but not furball things with strangers.
I just had a go with WoW and into a server with planes going every which way, not smoothly all the time, and the sky full of icons and names.
( I know that is part of online by definition ).
To me it was not as satisfying, or as immersive as offline. So I am not keen to repeat the experience, however good the AI is \:\)
I would like to do online with two or three mates only- that would be good.
There are many like me, I should think, just as there are some like Fearless - but not all are like any one of us.
Just to finish on this, and not meaning to troll at all - It is my personal opinion that the dogfighting AI in IL-2 was changed for the worse, from the original, because of the online-fliers influence on Oleg. Oleg's decision and entitlement I know, but a major cause for my deflection to BOB, where the offline AI is good.

cheers


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#1392248 - 08/30/04 01:57 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  

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S! All!

My point must not be clear enough. I think we are getting too caught-up in the terminology. Let us try to be more specific - 'online' and 'offline' are too generalized.

What is 'offline' play? What specific elements define it? The ONLY one I'm talking about doing away with is the reliance on AI. And even then, I'm not talking about eliminating AI, but just delegating it to a supporting role. You use human players where they are available, and you use AI to fill in where human players are not. You could also use AI to add more less-skilled players if you find that the environment isn't friendly to newbies. I would do that both with 'online' AND 'offline' play.

The reason I would do this goes to the heart of Lexx Luther's argument regarding better programming for AI. Just what would it take Lexx? When you consider that chess is exponentially simpler for AI to handle and then consider that to simulate a single 'grand master' level chess player you need the single most powerful computer in the world using every single processor cycle on that one task - without any graphics or sound or anything else - what do you think modern computers can do for flight sim AI? If the most powerful computer in the world can't simulate a single AI plane that can compete with a really good pilot, how exactly do you expect to fill the skies with them on $400 computers?

The problem with Artificial Intelligence is that the 'Intelligence' part is artificial. Computer's can't think. Without the ability to think they can't easily recognize even basic maneuvers. If you program a computer to recognize a basic half-loop for example, it will look for the specific things you program it to recognize as a half-loop. If I vary my half-loop just a tiny bit such that it doesn't fall into your parameters, it will not recognize my maneuver. Plus a good human pilot thinks several moves ahead. How are you going to program a computer to recognize complex maneuvers like 'Walking the Dog?'

'Better Programming' is a cop-out answer. No matter how good the programming is or how strong the AI is, you can always say that if it was 'better' then things would be 'better.' That's a circular logic that just can't stand on its own. Current technology doesn't support 'better' as you envision it, Lexx.

'Online' simply means that your computer is plugged-in to the Internet. That's it. I've got cable. I'm always 'online' even when I'm doing 'offline' things. Some programs have been using that to their advantage for years. Real Player for example will give me album and artist information whenever I play a song. It does that by looking the information up on the Internet. Does that detract from my 'offline' listening experience?

What if I had a really strong campaign engine that ran on a server across the Internet, but when you actually flew a mission it was AI only and tailored completely to your 'offline' campaign? Would the fact that your computer had to connect across the Internet to get the mission make it an 'online' experience? Would you boycott the game because it used your Internet connection to enhance your 'offline' experience?

The idea that programs must define themselves as either being 'online' or 'offline' is outdated. Programs shouldn't think in such disparate terms. Programs - including flight simulatons - need to think in more specific terms. What elements are going to be 'offline' and what elements are going to utilize the Internet? If we think more grainularly about when to use the Internet we can make a more involving environment both 'online' and 'offline.'

If the ONLY thing that my computer used the Internet for was to use human pilots rather than AI in an otherwise fully offline campaign, I'd call that 'offline.' In fact, based on what everyone except Lexx Luther is saying as long as I could match the people you are playing against to the skill level you were looking for you would have to agree with me.

One of the things that makes great games special is 'vision.' A game developer who takes modern technology and re-hashes the same old concept is never going to 'get it right.' All of the really great games had 'vision.' When you tie the hands of developers by saying that they can't try to use technology to blur traditional lines and try to enhance experiences, what you do is tell them they can't use 'vision' to make new games, and thus you prevent them from making anything new or unique.

We need to encourage flight sim developers to innovate. If that means blurring the lines between 'online' and 'offline' play such that the differences are toggle-able switches where it is really hard to determine where the exact line is, that's great. But the answer CAN NOT be to keep doing what has already been done over and over again without anything new but the graphics.

Why simulate things when you can use the real thing? Why simulate a dynamic environment when you can create an environment that really is dynamic? Why simulate intelligence when you can use something that really is intelligent?

The time has come to take the Internet and see what we can really do with it. Traditional lines defining 'online' and 'offline' need to be discarded and replaced with more specific phrasing that defines the actual experiences players want. As long as a sim gives the experiences that the players want, who cares how it does it?

#1392249 - 08/30/04 05:29 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 3,751
McGonigle Offline
Emeritus Motorius
McGonigle  Offline
Emeritus Motorius
Senior Member

Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 3,751
Copenhagen, Denmark
In some sense, Im glad Koe got delayed. If it had not, we might never have had these discussions.

Blurring offline and online play: Once I was in a PTA league race, racing in Nascar Racing 2003 Season. One of the guys seemed to be in a bit of a determined mood, because he was driving hard and fast.

He didn't respond to our greetings, never uttered a word. Oh well, perhaps he was having difficulty with the chat and we don't chat much either, when qualifying and racing.

Afterwards it turned out that the computer had fooled three guys into thinking that this driver was human, while in fact it was a bot. It chose a car from the roster that belonged to one of our regular racing mates. Now, if the bot had been capable of uttering a few well-chosen remarks, the Turing test would have been passed with flying colours. Rofl!

Regarding the mix between functionality, or features that are available, either on the users PC and on one or several servers, its certainly an idea that boggles the mind, if taken to the extreme.

Im not sure if I understand RAD74_Wall-dogs ideas, but the way I see it you can have;

-Offline only,
-Online only
-Mix of offline/online

The online part could be;
-IP-IP
-Server-client TCP/IP, involving a server, which could be operated by the company that published the sim/game
-peer2peer

If you discuss the Server-client and peer2peer situations, thered be the necessity of a boss server, some CPU to ensure all are playing according to the same clock, same settings etc.

Next to discuss is how much of the game/sim information should be transferred over the internet and it could range anywhere in between just the basic coordinates and manouvers of the remote a/c to just about everything that would be available in a sim: Individual skins, Terrain, a/c, AI etc.

If you choose to transfer information about relatively few objects, say the flight manouvers of the a/c and the AI, well couldnt you just offer updated AI in a patch?

Im probably going to be proven wrong by the development of the relationship between PC and internet in the next few years, but I dont think well see the extreme case, where a lot of the content is downloaded as we play, in the foreseeable future.

I just dont think the philosophy of a semi-dumb terminal downloading gamecontent, live, and as the game progresses, is a very good idea in terms of fast and constant frame rates. You have to have at least decent physics- and AI- modelling, and lag free-environment to please simmers. Imagine the equipment needed: 20 GHZ CPU and 10 GB/s internet connections.

Did you know that GTR, the latest racing simulation, to be released shortly I hope, is supposed to support 20 25 cars during online racing, but it requires a server bandwidth of at least 1 Gig?!

OK, we know that theres something called Massive Multiplayer games, but how many of these could deliver a lag-free, credible 50 a/c furball? And is 150 better than 50??

Transferring bits and bytes over the internet in order to ensure a lagfree experience is hard enough, how many flightsims have absolutelty perfect IP play? How many simultaneous a/c do they support, and how many bytes do they transfer?

Besides Im not so sure if were not just projecting our aspirations for future sims on to a new technology. Wasnt the consoles supposed to give the user better products? Here we are with at least two major consoles and we havent really seen anything new yet.

Did 3GHz CPUs and internet really give us better sim experiences than 500 MHz?

Who will pay for server cost? The company providing the server, of course, but will they put a server up if theyre not willing to shell out another 150.000 to finish KoE?

Like I said, I may be totally wrong, but I think focusing on technology could be sidestepping the real issue, and I think that it has got a lot to do with programming, and delivering satisfying gameplay for newbie as well as seasoned campaigner.

Personally, I do like a fully reserved offline environment to train in, as well as "kicking some bot". Sorry about that joke :-/

Anyways, I'm not always up to multi, sometimes it's nice to just play around with the AI for 10 minutes and then go and do something else. It's not always I can spare the time and energy for longer duration multiplay. Yeah, theres flat-rate, but who earns the money? Telcos and Ciscos.

Despite some UFO-like stunts at times, the AI in BoB is behaving rather intelligent too. Those ME-109's do gang up on you and put you in their cross-fire.

Have you seen the trailers for Silent Hunter III? The sub is now manned with moving people and it can be played (or simmed) at different levels of "difficulty" and it will be possible to give commands directly to the boat, or through the correct crewmember. So if it turns out well it should be a Sub-Commander sim, as well as a Sub-sim.

In a previous post I hinted at something clever that could be done with a post-op debriefing, in terms of enhancing gameplay, and in this thread we're currently discussing the merits of a training-part of a sim as opposed to throwing newbie pilots into the lion's den against AI or human pilots.

Now, here's my idea for something which to my knowledge has not really been done before in the history of flight-sims; You become the pilot.

For this to work you will control a person, much like the way you control a person in a FPS WW sim/game.

Start off by reporting to OTU or basic flight school. We'll do away with some of the more boring subjects like endless hours of written tests, drills and developing mathematical skills, and concentrate on the flying part. But basically you are being collected by the Staff Sergeant or whoever was sent by the CO to get you off the bus or railway station and to the training facility.

You have to get to learn the training facility, where do you bunk, where's the mess, the officers' readiness-room, the CO's office etc.

You have to report to the instructor at the right time and place, First time round the Training instructor might tell you to report the day after at crack of dawn, but for future reference, he will tell you where such announcements can be found, and he tells you to check that out for yourself in the future.

Once you've reported for the first flight lesson, you start learning how to fly; dual instruction, later, if you've shown enough aptitude, you'll fly solo, and when the time is right you'll be posted to your first squadron.

This training part of the sim should be optional, i.e. you can jump into a Camel or SE5a, Dreidecker or whatever suits you and enter the Great War within 2 seconds of installing and configuring the sim (yes, you can choose between several options of "difficulty", even one that will let you survice your first dogfight).

The really kewl part of my idea, at least I think so, is that once you are in a squadron, you will experience a helluvalot more than just flying missions. You'll be a part of squadron-life.

Go talk with the mechanics, go meet the met man, go the the mess and chat to your fellow aviators, go just about everywhere you like as long as you keep reporting for the missions that are assigned to you.

You'll start out as Flt. Sergeant or some comparable low rank. If you survive long enough, you may be chosen to lead a flight, and this will mean you have to take on new responsibilities (at least by now you know you should have taken the navigator's course in the training-part of the sim).

If you get lost during and op, you might have to chance it and land near some friendly trenches and aske where the heck you are.

If you get called to HQ youll comandeer a vehicle from the pool.

And it will really shine during online play.

New postings to the squadron would be taken up by an experiecend pilot, "Stick to me like glue", and be given the tips that no training facility could ever give, because at the front and in daily battle, things change from day to day. New, improved aircraft have been deployed by the enemy, so your squadron has had to change tactics.

Imagine us meeting up; FlyXWire, Cas141, Wall-dog or Polovski, on the virtual arodrome, each of us being represented on screen by moving characters or Avatars. The day's flying is done and we head for post-op debriefing. The sim will have saved the latest battle and we can replay it (or rather the guy who's got the Intel job can do so). We can all chat and comment about the battle, how did it go, was the objective met etc. After briefing, we head for the mess and a few tankards of brew!

Note that replaying the battle is not strictly historical correct. To be historically correct all you'd have would probably be a photgraph, perhaps not even that, and it would be several hours later, brought home by a scout plane, but this is where I think we ought to have more and better than the real pilots had available at the time (Or do we have anyone volounteering for a photographic mission?).

The next day, Someone might ask; "Where's McG?", and the answer might be; "He hade some leave coming, he's off to Paris, lucky s*d", or "Didn't you know? Never came back from dawn patrol, bought the farm, saw him auger in myself".

In reality this could be, all rolled into one, forum, flight sim, tactical sim, strategic sim, adventure game-ish. In the online environment, the Intelligence as well as the tactical and strategic elements comes from human interacting with human, not from or with the AI.

For offline, the sim does have to be programmend as a tactical or strategic game. Like I said, it will shine online.

Offline and with AI, this sim will require some clever programming to avoid repetition of 3 standard phrases that are played over and over again, and to avoid bugs the lead to you getting an absurdly wrong answer from the met man when you ask about the forecast for the coming op: "It's quarter to noon".

Nevertheless, the CPU is not being tasked with any complex flight models at this stage, so would it be that hard to give each person you can interact with some 20 or 30 individual sentences + 10 or 20 common to all chit-chat style remarks?

Perhaps the sim could be put together in such a way that pilots I fly with and chat with online, can have not only individualized skins that I can download, but also individualized phrases that can be downloaded too? At least in terms of textfiles that can be displayed on the screen?

Voice chat would have to be an online only feature.

Writing this, I've come to realize that the line between what can be done offline and what can be done online is becoming very blurred: If noone wants to be the met man during an online session, that part could be taken by a bot. The mechanics that send you off in an online mission could be bots too. As has been mentioned, some of your fellow pilots could be bots.

All this sound silly?

Let me round off by going back to the example with Nascar Racing 2003. The computer choose the skin of an existing league driver. If there had been a file containing information about that driver's nationality, and some individual and generic phrases as well:

Us: "Hi mate, how are you?"
Bot: "Hi gents, how are ya doin?" (Notice how direct questions are often not answered directly?)
Bot: "Time to do some flying" (heads out to the track or swings legs up on the wing of the Sopwith)
Us: "He-he, let's go" (really intellingent conversation we're having! :-D)

And then the bot will occasionally offer somewhat sensical remarks appropriate to the situation, in a flight sim I'd suspect that with remarks triggered by the combat situation it would be very hard to determine if it was a bot or a human.

I'm not asking for a lot of intelligent conversation from a bot during combat. In that situation, naturally the CPU cycles should be devoted to the flying skill of the bot.

In terms of programming, I know there's real life limitations by hardware, budgets, time-constrainst, but if the programmers put their minds to doing something like this, I think we'd be pretty surprised by the results, even if we would still be able to Spot the bot after some play. Or would we??


Jens C. Lindblad


Sent from my Desktop
#1392250 - 08/30/04 05:45 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
Joined: Jan 2001
Posts: 677
Tailgunner Offline
Member
Tailgunner  Offline
Member

Joined: Jan 2001
Posts: 677
UK
Walldog..I agree with your basic definition of Online and Offline. The assumption, though, is that everyone will WANT to be connected to the net to play. Also, it assumes that everyone has a permanent, always on connection. Goodbye dialup users.

The need to beef up AI still remains. I don't expect more than we have now. At least not to the extent that Lexx ( thanks for the lukewarm insult by the way...I still spell your name right) wants. I recognise the difficulty of making the AI actually intelligent, but would just like to see it have more than one move. The AI generally attempts to get behind you to shoot. Thats fine in a turn-fight kind of ship. What they do, though, is to fight that way ALL the time. Make them maintain a high speed in a boom n zoom plane, and adopt a slightly different position before making a fast run at you.

I would hazard a guess that there is a degree of scripting to the way AI uses the plane, and I would like to see this vary from plane to plane. That OUGHT to be achievable, yet I have never seen it happen.


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