Fast pace cellshading flying action. Soar the skies as you take on the most vicious enemies above the ground. Experience an airborne adventure in an all new art style that will take you to something different and exciting. With the possibility to add just about anything you can imagine into the game, the sky it's not the limit. It's just the beginning.

Post news Report RSS Report 029: AI evolved

This update brings more human and natural AIs and as an extra a really big unit.

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This report contains the changes of the 0.2130 update.

It has become noticeable last updates are breaking the routine of (almost) weekly updates.
In order to prevent bigger delays between updates, this update was initially proposed to be a quick improvement by setting up to date some details in the AI.
However, the list of desired improvements quickly grew, resulting in this update missing the intended release date.

Just to warn , before start to talk more about this update, most of the improvements are related to code, so this report will rely a bit more in text than usual.

Also, a quick context to these improvements and about the AI in general..
As it was mentioned before, one of the design goals is to make the AI be able to accomplishes any mission just like the player, this with the flexibility of being capable of adapt to any unit and weapon regardless of the specs without the need for any additional tweaking.
In the addition to this, the AI should follow the same game play rules as the player, behave as natural as possible with a reaction time similar to any human and more importantly, never use any 100% accurate calculations.
But all this requirements should be accomplished while computation required should be light as possible to the CPU, allowing to be used many AI units as possible in a low specs PC.

There is a lot more to talk about the design philosophies and goals regarding the AI development, but explaining it all here would probably divert the attention from actually matters, the update.
Sometime in the future it can be made an article explaining in detail the thoughts, steps and goals of the development of the AI for those who like to read articles about game design.


But going back to this update. What was improved in the AI? Here are some examples:
-Now when engaging a group of enemy units that greatly outnumber your team, some of them may not take your team seriously and drop their guard, other however, may be more moralized than if they were facing a equal number, as result they will pilot with more confidence.
-However,if you kill many, you see they will start to be more cautious when engaging you.
-Some of them may flee to regroup with their allies.
-Others will provide assistance to any team member in need.
-Some may like to face head on while may pass trough you to later flank you.
-Other are more interested in pursuing targets, but ignore them if they are too fast to catch up.

This are just some examples, but this is best to be experienced, so I’ll refrain from telling all what they can do, so you can be surprised by some unusual behavior.

Also, while the AI before this update was ok, in scenario where it was 1-vs-1 it behaved too mechanically to be interesting, now the AI will try different approaches to catch the player.

Just so you can be aware while this is a significant improvement, currently the AI is only roughly 40% of the development done
Also, these changes do not affect the difficulty in a noticeable way, while they are more intelligent and more effective in some situations, it may actually have become a bit more easy because they have now a less mechanical and not always use the optimal behavior.

As soon the update becomes available, I look forward to hear your opinion about these new AI improvements.

As for other changes in the game code:

-Improved collision avoidance routines
As mentioned in the last preview, the collision mechanics have been improved and it is a more evolved than it was previously showcased, but is still possible to AI to crash, although now that situation is more related to the AI personality than the actual coded script.

-Fix bugs
Several bugs that could result in game crashes were fixed; these bugs were more prevalent in Campaign and Battle Scenario mode. An additional attention was given to the testing; all the bugs encountered during the development of this update were fixed.

-Descriptions in external files with multi language support
Thanks to the MyHatismyFriend’s descriptions packs, it raised awareness to an issue related how the descriptions were being managed. Because this information was contained in the same file as the game play information, anyone that downloaded MyHatismyFriend’s packs and then updated the game, could potentially lose this custom pack due to the overwriting of files. To prevent this, is now possible to add the descriptions and other informations in an external file and also link them to an aditional language, so now it is possible to custom weapons/units descriptions for other languages.
In future updates, the same method will be used for missions and campaigns to allow custom translations of future missions to other languages.

Also, regarding to the MyHatismyFriend’s descriptions, they were integrated in the default version.

-Fixed electronics not working the exact same for AI players
A little detail, but to make the gampleay more even, now the AI players follow the same rules as the player, before this update the there some new mechanics that not properly affect the AI players

-Show blur effect only at a relevant damage
Another little detail, but before this, the radial blur was used even with very light damage, it was even more awkward when it was use due to stress damage. It has been fixed, so now it is used in accordance with the relative damage received.

-Adjustable Camera Shake effect
Yet another simple detail, but it really helps anticipate when it is about to reach the point it starts the stress damage.

-Configuration option for radio chat
There were quite a bit suggestions regarding to this, some of them actually had opposing views, so the best way to make everyone happy is to add in the options menu the possibility to configure the way they like.

Also thanks to BAF staff for providing their own voices to the game, with this update was added ten new voice packs.

-Save Last skirmish configuration and the option of adjustable AI skill level
This improvement is only a matter of usability, but now it is automatically saved the last configuration in the skirmish menu. And also, it was added the option to configure the skill level for the AIs.

-Delayed action
This improvement is more related to the mission creation, but as the game editor is coming soon, the more features the game has before the Editor development, the better.
This feature allows setting a timed delay for action to be played. It is useful when a single trigger may activate multiple actions that the creator does not wish to be activated at the same time.

-Random actions
This one was requested in the forums some time ago. It is the ability to trigger a random group of defined actions. If used it can add replay value as the mission maker can for example, define it to randomly spawn different squads or spawn in different positions.

-Improved campaign/battle scenarios menus
Both game modes menus had some slight improvements

And that’s all for code improvements, as more additional content. In this update it wasn’t added much, just a single big unit.

In the last preview it was shown this picture:

Now it is time to reveal to who belongs that big shadow in the ground:


For quite some time there was a big interest in adding some huge unit full of turrets and special weapons, something that could be used as a really interesting boss.
While in theory this was already possible to do that right from the first release, it was never tested, so it possible could had some unforeseen issues.
Because of that, it was decided that someday this type of unit had to be created to properly test this idea.

And that is way is the reason this unit was created, the EOS-01 Ziz is the prototype fictional unit and it will be used to help the development of colossal type units.
It is already planed several variants to test different mechanics, this version is unarmed and it was used to test the fight behavior of this kind of aircraft.


A comparison picture so you can have the awareness of his humongous size.
The units in the comparison are Karen doorman, B52H, Su-47,F-16.



After the success of the first unit, it was created the first variant, the EOS-01T Ziz, the “T” stands for turret type, as this variant has multiple turrets of various roles scattered around the upper section of the aircraft.

Like it was stated above, this unit was created as a proof of concept, to be a weapon test bed and finally to be used for the development of other large type of units.
But with this said I’m sure that most of you don’t really care and are more interested in fighting against this unit, for you, it was added a new battle scenario mission where you can face off against this monster.

But other thing to be aware, because it was developed as the primarily objective to be used as a test, there are several gameplay elements that require tweaking.
To mitigate some balancing issues, only just a few turrets are enabled for now, otherwise it would be too overkill and deadly.

And that’s all for this update, the next it will bring the promised Jaguar and the addition more weapons that was not possible to include in this update. There were also some improvements that were requested, like the gun aiming system and some issues with the bomb drop that can be addressed in the next update.

And after that it will be rereleased the initial version of the game editor.

  • Improved collision avoidance routines
  • Improved AI
  • Improved campaign/battle scenarios menus
  • Fixed electronics not working the exact same for AI players
  • Fixed show blur effect only at a relevant damage
  • Added descriptions in external files with multi language support
  • Added adjustable Camera Shake effect
  • Added configuration option for voice chat
  • Added auto save last skirmish configuration and the option of adjustable AI skill level
  • Added delayed actions
  • Added random actions


  • Added EOS-01P Ziz
  • Added EOS-01T Ziz

Special thanks to :
MyHatismyFriend for the aircrafts and weapons descriptions.

And also to:
Kilel (Kyle "Kilel" Quibel)
Mannie (Emanuel Dowell)
Cayce ( Cayce "The Baron" Grissom)
FlyAwayNow (Matthew "FlyAwayNow" Nguyen)
Laz (Francis-Santo Viola)
Barns
Cid
Raz
Skull2
Tuga
For providing their voices to the game.

Stay tuned, more reports will follow.

Comments
SpootKnight
SpootKnight

Everyone, get Last Refuge in your custom playlists ready for this update.

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Kilel
Kilel

:3

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Nergal01
Nergal01

sorta stupid question: Is the EOS can made playable?

And all what we need now is SWBM/MPBM/Nimbus launcher/TLS/Shock cannon on it.

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timeSymmetry Author
timeSymmetry

Yes, you can make it playable. That unit is located in the Bomber folder. But if you copy a duplicate to the Aircraft folder the game will consider it as a playable unit.

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timeSymmetry Author
timeSymmetry

I played just now with the EOS, it was pretty cool, I recommend testing it in the level were you attack an air base.

The biggest challenge is maneuvering the beast, but you just need to circle around the target like if it was an AC-130 and it will rain destruction.

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Nergal01
Nergal01

Still though, it better doesn't instantly die when touching the ground (read: crashing).

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mittsommerschnee
mittsommerschnee

I just created a map inwich all what spawned was EOS-01T's guess how many was on the feild of battle at once before the game crashed. 47 of them and I was piloting one too.

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SpootKnight
SpootKnight

I assume you exceeded an engine limit? I showed the update page to a friend who had the idea of having 50 of them in the field.

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bornloser
bornloser

I still haven't managed to kill one of them. I completely disarmed it one time but it got away before I could destroy the hull.

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mittsommerschnee
mittsommerschnee

Yeah I think so or my PC just had enough. I only managed to destroy one though.

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MyHatismyFriend
MyHatismyFriend

AIRBORNE COMMAND CARRIER, AWAY!

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DEathgod65
DEathgod65

God damn, not what I expected from the preview image xD

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Chetech
Chetech

Yes but, how did they made it take off? Something I've always asked myself since Ace Combat Zero...

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MyHatismyFriend
MyHatismyFriend

It wasp probably a sea-plane and they strapped 1000000 rockets on it for a RATO.

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Chetech
Chetech

Still, I love the hell out of this.

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ideLOLog
ideLOLog

So, manned units will be more humanlike now. Is it possible to create unmanned fighters which behaviour will be "artificial" and make this difference noticable?
Also, will you introduce an airborne carrier and parasite plane technology sometime in the future?

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timeSymmetry Author
timeSymmetry

Great idea! And it makes sense the UAV or other unmanned units should behave in a more artificial manner, in terms of coding is pretty easy is just set up to the AI in those units fall back to the most primitive behavior.

As for the carrier, a full take off procedure may take some time do be developed, but as for the parasite aircraft, if you mean something like the D-21. It can be implemented really quickly to work as if it was a special weapon.

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Nergal01
Nergal01

Speaking of parasite fighters, can't wait to see someone make this:
En.wikipedia.org

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ideLOLog
ideLOLog

For the parasit aircraft I ment something like this:
Acecombat.wikia.com
Acecombat.wikia.com

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bornloser
bornloser

I thought UAVs were remote-controlled (at least during combat)

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Kilel
Kilel

That's what UAV's are...

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SlyCooperFan1
SlyCooperFan1

I'm kind of new to Desura... how can I find out if the game has updated to 0.2130?

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MyHatismyFriend
MyHatismyFriend

There will be a recycle icon next to the game- it sometimes takes a while because they're all incompetent nincompoops.

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SlyCooperFan1
SlyCooperFan1

Thank you very much :D

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timeSymmetry Author
timeSymmetry

Don’t so hard on them; this is more of my fault. Normally as soon as the new update is finished I start writing right away the report. It is also very frequent that I only finish the report at late night and by that time it is very likely that it wasn't sent in time for a approval. But what is wrong is that I usually only upload the game update after finishing the report.

To avoid delays, the next time I’ll do the other way around; I’ll upload the update before starting to write the report.

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laZardo
laZardo

Hi, just want to let you know you spelled my name wrong (but no biggie, most people mess it up)

It's Francis Santos-Viola.

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MyHatismyFriend
MyHatismyFriend

And my name is Addison Li :I

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Kilel
Kilel

and my last name is Quibell, not Quibel.
Though I assume that's an issue caused by FaN because he's a massive derp :P

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roman9441
roman9441

In the future will there a option to free fly or not ,thank you for awesome update

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mittsommerschnee
mittsommerschnee

Pretty easy to do really you just edit one of the mission files and make it so no AI spawn.

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timeSymmetry Author
timeSymmetry

Other way is by going to the skirmish mode and play a deathmatch with no opponents.

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mittsommerschnee
mittsommerschnee

...Or you could do that... -_-

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redout22
redout22

What's the exact wingspan of this big ol' bird? Anyone know?

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timeSymmetry Author
timeSymmetry

The wingspan is exactly 514,732 meters.

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Kilel
Kilel

500 kilometers is a little large, don't you think?

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redout22
redout22

In US mathematical notation, it would be 514.732m. In many European countries, there is a comma rather than a point to indicate decimals.

So the length is 514m, 73.2cm.

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redout22
redout22

Thanks! I wanted to get an idea for the scaling of the future boss crafts.

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bornloser
bornloser

Update made it sound like the boss was going to just a proof of concept vehicle 2 guns. Turns out it's bristling with SAMs and AA guns as well

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lordarabil
lordarabil

GODDAMN THE EOS IS A BEAST!

also, on a slightly downer note, I was skirmishing with 20 AI skill level, and the 2 enemy F-15J Kai+ and A10 were crashing into the ocean :S Is it because of stalling?

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timeSymmetry Author
timeSymmetry

Yes, ground collisions are not yet completely removed, but the AI development is still not finished. In the following updates there will be more tweaks to improve the collision avoidance.

Stalling may be a factor for the colision, but a good AI should be able to recover from it.

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Kilel
Kilel

If you're crazy enough, TS, you could probably write some code that records a player's flying, and the AI learns from that... then you could record some dogfighting, and have them learn to a certain extent. :P

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SlyCooperFan1
SlyCooperFan1

Z.O.E.

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mittsommerschnee
mittsommerschnee

Yes, Yes, Yes then we could upload Our styles and techniques etc for other people to download and upload into their A.i. folder of some sort to make the A.i. more challenging or some think or am I over thinking things?

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Nergal01
Nergal01

That's reminds me of....

whether adaptive/dynamic AI could be implemented here....?

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Nergal01
Nergal01

Speaking of, no video gameplay involving Ziz yet?

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Red_Hawk
Red_Hawk

Love the Ziz's design :D

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