With the recent Burke class destroyer lurking around in YouTube videos, we know that players are excited and many have asked us questions. I have compiled the most frequently asked questions and provided answers below.
Q: How will ships work in game? Maps are too small.
A: Indeed, maps are small and as a result, ship-to-ship combat is not exactly something meant for WiC. However, the idea behind adding DDG to game is to provide a rather stunning "off-map" support element, similar to the scripted USS Missouri animations in single player (Pine Valley) mission.
The Burke class destroyer will only be available in certain select maps (so far Canal and Seaside are coded for pathfinding, more are being added). Each supported map will have a unique spawn location and pathfinding maps that define constraints at which the ship will move.
Because the Burke destroyer is being modeled as "off-map support" element for gameplay reasons, players will NOT have direct control of the unit. The unit will spawn in a scripted location out in the water; players can influence unit's movement by using the new "Request Naval Support" Defensive Ability button that will be added to the Forward Operating Base (FOB) unit. When "Naval Support" ability button is pressed for the first time, ship will enter the battle space at its prescripted spawn zone. When Naval Support button is used again while ship is active in the map, the ship will attempt to move toward the location clicked by the player, within its defined pathfinding constraints for the map. For example, if you click a ground location, ship will move to an area in the water that is geometrically closest to the point of your mouse click, but will not move any further to come in contact with land.
Q: So it's a massive support ship on far edge of the map, great! Do I get score/TA for any hits made by the ship? It seems OP.
A: Yes, it would be OP. Any hits made by the ship will not return any score, nor TA. But on the flip side, the very presence of the ship itself would act as a massive force multiplier for the existing defensive and offensive systems.
Q: Will the Aegis system be added?!??
A: Short answer: Yes, but not yet. Long answer: Due to the intense amount of coding, regression testing and animation work that will be required, we're currently planning to release the ship combat elements in phases over multiple mod version releases over time. The initial release of the ship will be added to the upcoming MW Mod 6.0 for select supported maps.
Unfortunately, Aegis Combat System is not expected to ship for the initial launch release of MW Mod 6.0. The scripting and software work required to add 'awsd' (Aegis Weapon System Daemon) to EX-WCC runtime environment is expected to require a massive amount of work. There are three major development works that we will need to complete to ship Aegis for World in Conflict:
The first challenge surrounding awsd development is the new SARH Scheduler routine that is responsible for directing and animating each individual AN/SPG-62 fire control radars for target illumination. The automation algorithms required to determine how to best time-share each SPG-62 and slaving of watch sectors (heading/azimuth coverage) are particularily challenging to design properly.
The second major design challenge surrounding Aegis is code concurrency for command & control (C2) and target deconfliction with Patriot/IBCS system in game. Given the small map size and for game performance reasons, it is not ideal for us to have both Patriot and Aegis fire multiple missiles into the same target without coordinating and deconflicting targets between each other. So we will need to essentially link the IBCS/Patriot radars and Aegis system together to work off of the same sheet of music.
To that end, we've begun coding 'nifcd' (Naval Integrated Fire Control daemon; borrowing name from US Navy's "NIFC-CA" acronym) code for EX-WCC runtime system. Instead of both Aegis and IBCS running their own radar routines, Aegis will let the IBCS system run the radar and sensor routines in game, and essentially "slave" into IBCS as downstream program. 'nifcd' program will act as a "translator" to convert Patriot/IBCS messages back and forth with Aegis system. The 'nifcd' program will also have a ground-attack mission element for controlling Tomahawk missiles outside of Aegis.
The final design challenge surrounds the missile uplink/downlink messages for Aegis system. The current mid-course update code for Patriot is very old (based on same logic from 2011 pre-FLINT scripts). Because of this, Patriot mid-course updates are run directly from EX-WCC runtime under a monolithic blob of code known as 'ecpd'. Missile fly-out and cruising flight characteristics are obviously different between SM-6 and Patriot, so we can't just re-use the existing code either. Moreover, 'awsd' attempting to directly write into _ecpd class will result in EX-WCC ap_kernel killing the awsd process for segmentation fault/access violation, which would then result in all outgoing missiles prematurly detonating in mid-air for loss of downlink. To address this, we will need to write a brand new uplink/downlink message handler and have 'nifcd' provide translation between IBCS and Aegis systems for outgoing interceptor status updates.
So long story short, the whole Aegis project is a giant work in progress. We will keep you updated on its development.
Q: What kind of weapons can we expect on the ship on day one, and on its final configuration? Will you add SM-2 when Aegis is developed?
A: For the initial MW Mod 6.0 release, the ship is expected to only fire TLAM (Tomahawk Land Attack Missile) from the Mark41 VLS. Because Aegis is not expected to ship for 6.0, we will also provide Phalanx CIWS at the aft mount (mount 22) during initial release. While Phalanx should provide limited self defense, the ship will have to mostly rely on overhead protection from Patriot/IBCS and aviation units (F-22, F-18, etc) for the time being.
In addition to the TLAMs firing out of Mk 41 VLS, the ship also has a forward 5-inch gun (127mm). The 5-inch gun will join JFSN (Networked Artillery) fire support channel in the game. Its range is somewhat limited (to around 900 meters in real distance; ~9km simulated distance in game), but it will respond to infantry requests for fire via networked artillery, along with ground-based MLRS units.
Once the Aegis system is developed, we will be adding RIM-162 ESSM for the primary air defense missile. SM-2 will not be added to the game, but instead, we'll add SM-6 Dual I to provide long range air defense and terminal ballistic missile defense for the ship. SM-6 provides active radar seeker (fire and forget capability), so it will significantly enlarge the defended battlespace for the entire BLUEFOR team, especially when coupled with existing ground-based defenses.
Lastly, SM-3 Block 2A will be the final air defense missile that will be developed over time, for exoatmospheric interception of MRBMs in game. Introduction of SM-3 will provide (for the first time) a true "shoot-look-shoot" capability in the game for ballistic missile defense. If SM-3 fails to intercept an incoming MRBM, PAC-3 on the ground can then make the final attempt at interception. The SM-3 will be completely useless against short range ballistic missiles (such as Iskander, Tochka, etc) -- for those, SM-6 Dual I will be used (along with Patriot on the ground).
Q: How will TLAMs be used / fired by the ship?
A: Right now in the current development build, the 'nifcd' program listens for BLUEFOR players to launch ground-based cruise missiles using their TA-dropped cruise missile launchers. When a player fires a cruise missile using TA-dropped GLCM launcher, the ship will respond with its own Tomahawk on the target. If the targeted area contains potential units of interest (i.e. air defenses, tactical missile launchers, etc), then the ship will triple the salvo size to completely saturate the enemy air defense on your behalf -- so your TA-dropped cruise missile will have a substantially improved chance of making through.
We're also evaluating other algorithms/mission generating parameters for nifcd's ground attack role. It is possible that ship may also listen into IBCS net for counter-battery fire alarms from TPQ-53 and fire off a Tomahawk to the suspected artillery location, but we haven't considered this thoroughly yet. We will keep you posted.
Q: Will the ship be sinkable? Will REDFOR receive anti-ship capabilities to take it out?
A: Yes and yes. So one of the work that needs to be done is animation for unit hurt states and death animation for the ship sinking once it has been killed. As for anti-ship missiles, the easiest way to add this capability for REDFOR is to program in a new anti-ship attack mode for the 3M55 (P-800) Oniks supersonic cruise missile that is launched by the TA-dropped Bastion launcher. No new art content/3d models have to be sought for this, just need to program the algorithm and migrate the missile script over to FLINT 6.5 codebase.
Once Aegis is added, we're also (over time) planning on introducing 3M24 Bal coastal battery launcher for REDFOR side. Although Kh-35 fired by Bal is only subsonic, it will be cheaper than Oniks, and additionally, the Bal launcher will salvo-fire all 8 missiles in a rapid succession on a single launch order, making it easier to saturate the ship's air defenses.
Q: Can we ever see ship-to-ship combat in WiC?
A: Long answer yes, short answer no. Long answer is that it is technically possible to create a naval-only map which contains nothing but water, and script it so that only ship units will spawn on water. Players would have direct control of those ship units and helicopters for spotting enemy. The short (No) answer is that this will require new mission scripts and maps to be made. Technically doable yes, but manpower wise... may be some other day :p and when we're talking about that 'some other day', I'm not even sure if we are still going to be playing WiC (who knows!? time flies fast).
Edited by: blahdy