I'm pleased to announce that with this weeks release of version 5.0d - Naval Bombardment, a long awaited new feature, is finally available. This is an entirely new behavior for the LOUD AI and brings with it a complete overhaul of most of the naval and amphibious routines for LOUD.
It's been a very long road for this feature, first specified back in 2016, that would give the AI some ability to co-ordinate his naval operations with his overall goals. In the end, it turned out to be a rather broad new idea, involving not only work on the naval behaviors, but new work for our mapping folks, a new category for naval units. Along the way it revealed a number of shortcomings in the existing naval and amphibious functions.
Unlike most AI behaviours, Naval bombardment is the first that does not point units at a specific target. Instead, this behavior will direct a platoon to a position that will allow the units to engage a high priority goal that the AI is working towards. So, it was necessary to look at how naval units move from place to place, how they engage targets, which targets they don't chase after, and the composition of each factions platoons. So, as you can see, quite unique.
The work is by no means complete, as it will take some time to see how LOUD deals with the highly varied unit compositions posed by the factions. In short, any unit that has a range of about 100 grids is technically a bombardment vessel. For some, that capability comes early, in particular, for the UEF and the Seraphim, at Tech 2, but for others, only at Tier 3. This means training LOUD to recognize when the conditions for suitable bombardment targets exist, and how to reorganize his production to accomplish that. For now, we'll be watching how he makes use of this new capability and I expect there will be several 'tunings' in the near future.
New Map Marker
Over the next few months we'll be updating our water maps with a new 'old' marker - the Naval Link marker. While this is not a new marker, having always been present, it's never had a purpose in any AI code before - but now it does. Map makers can use it to specify unique bombardment positions that normal naval markers might not cover. The idea here is to allow bombardment platoons access to positions which are not usually suitable for the much larger naval flotilla to transit thru - especially close to the shore, where naval movement can get kind of odd.
As usual, 5.0d includes a wide variety of tweaks, corrections and minor improvements, but nothing of real significance. There will be a unit review towards the end of this month that will address a number of minor unit issues, including fuel time for transports, AOE for T2 artillery, Black Ops ACU, some revised and updated artwork for certain mods, and most importantly, the first stage introduction of the BrewLAN mod, which will bring a host of new units, features and game modes to the LOUD world.
I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to respond with their observations, both here and on our LOUD Discord (link found in the help tab of the launcher).
We look forward to hearing more. Thanks for your interest.