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Author Topic: Combat AI  (Read 3871 times)

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Pursuivant

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Re: Combat AI
« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2017, 08:11:56 PM »

Basically the flight leader would bounce the enemy, and the rest of the flight would stay above and only engage if the leader was in trouble.

This is typically because the leader's gunnery skills were better, which is a good advertisement for why you want to have different areas of competency, rather than/in addition to an overall skill rating.

This is why some pilots claimed so many kills while others got nothing.

There's far more to it than that. The fraction of 1% of combat pilots who made ace did so due to superior eyesight, spatial awareness, gunnery skill, piloting skill, and most of all a form of homicidal aggression which allowed them to overcome fear and natural distaste for killing to attack the enemy in the most efficient manner. Obviously, being a flight leader who got to be the shooter helped boost scores, but you can bet that for every Johnny Johnson or Stanford Tuck, there were 100 flight leaders whose names are mostly forgotten to history because they didn't have the "killer instinct" and skills required to get a confirmed kill rather than a probable.
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Stainless

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Re: Combat AI
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2017, 02:25:38 AM »

Yes, I agree with you. Personality traits make aces, not flying skill alone.

However the German philosophy of the "Teutonic Knight" was all encompassing in the Luftwaffe, and it severely limited the efficiency of the air force.

To the extent that bombers sometimes went into action without fighter cover because flying bomber cover gave the fighter pilots no freedom to attack the enemy.

Stuka's particularly suffered as a result. Even when the fighters were given the unpleasant job of escorting bombers, the British tactics meant that they were pretty ineffective.

On one raid on Gosport, despite a fighter sweep ahead of the raid, and a large number of 109's on escort duty, the Stuka's suffered terribly.

One squadron of Spitfire's engaged the top cover and kept them busy preventing them defending the bombers. (The spit's had a very good day shooting down 8 109's without losing a single pilot)

A second squadron of Hurricanes arrived just as the Stuka's changed formation to line astern prior to the attack. They shot down 10 Stuka's from a single squadron in a single pass.

Then a third squadron of Hurricanes and a small contingent of Beaufighters arrived as the Stuka's were at low level trying to get back to France.

Overall the German's lost 45% of the bombers , with a further 10% damaged so severely they were scrapped. The 109's fared better, but still lost many aircraft and pilots.

In contrast, on one fighter sweep, the flight leader (I can't remember his name, but it was one of the famous ones) got in position behind a formation of Hurricanes. He bounced 5 aircraft before the flight leader noticed and the formation broke up. He did not even follow the fleeing aircraft, he knew his advantage was gone and turned back to France.

I am going to have to write a tool that allows you to design AI's I think.
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Mick

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Re: Combat AI
« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2017, 03:57:35 AM »

... another very big improvement would be to deprive AI from their current stock advantages, such as:

They can see at night like in daytime

They can see even when facing the sun

They can see inside and through clouds/fog (which prevents you from hiding in the clouds like in RL to escape your enemies ...  :-X)

Regarding AI skills there are currently 4 levels in stock game in scripted missions/campaigns, ranging from noob to ace (skill 0 to skill 3)
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Stallwarning

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Re: Combat AI
« Reply #15 on: June 28, 2017, 05:39:41 AM »

Hi,

I'm just looking in the book of Donald Caldwell: The JG 26s war diary 1939-1942. On the 18th of August Gerhard Schöpfel spotted a Hurricane formation below him above Canterbury. He ordered his Gruppe (the III./ JG 26) to stay high and he alone bounced the last Hurricane. Seeing that the flight didn't respond he continued to shoot them down, but the last Hurricane's radiator was damaged by his attack and oil sprayed on his windshield. His victim was 501th squadron, one pilot was killed, three injured. If we could do that in your simulator it would be just simply wonderful. :)

Cheers,
Stallwarning
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Dimlee

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Re: Combat AI
« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2017, 03:33:57 PM »

Do you mean stock IL-2? if I'm not mistaken they did lost (at least part of) those capabilities in 4.11 or in 4.12. It should be mentioned in one of readme files.

... another very big improvement would be to deprive AI from their current stock advantages, such as:

They can see at night like in daytime

They can see even when facing the sun

They can see inside and through clouds/fog (which prevents you from hiding in the clouds like in RL to escape your enemies ...  :-X)

Regarding AI skills there are currently 4 levels in stock game in scripted missions/campaigns, ranging from noob to ace (skill 0 to skill 3)
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Pursuivant

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Re: Combat AI
« Reply #17 on: June 29, 2017, 03:00:56 AM »

However the German philosophy of the "Teutonic Knight" was all encompassing in the Luftwaffe, and it severely limited the efficiency of the air force.

This had more to do with Goering's craptastic abilities as a strategist and the popular misconception that close escort was the best way to defend bombers. The USAAF suffered from the restrictive "close escort" mindset as well, until fighter pilots finally got permission to detach a few units to go on fighter sweeps (the German equivalent was "freijadg"). The BoB might have been very different if Luftwaffe fighters had been given the same tactical freedom as the 8th AF Fighter Command in 44-45.

To the extent that bombers sometimes went into action without fighter cover because flying bomber cover gave the fighter pilots no freedom to attack the enemy.

Don't forget that "friction"/SNAFU was a big factor as well. Weather over the UK and English Channel wasn't always the best, dead-reckoning navigation is as much art as science, and during the BoB the Germans didn't have the luxury of extended time to form up. That meant that it wasn't uncommon for fighters to miss their rendezvous, meaning that bombers had to proceed to their target on their own. I hope that this sort of "friction" gets modeled in the game. (Note: Navigation should be one of the skill sets for aircrew, and most land-based day fighter pilots sucked at it. Typically, they just followed roads or railroads, or used other landmarks to navigate. Night fighter and navy pilots were necessarily better navigators. Patrol bomber and night bomber navigators were best of all, but still considerably less than perfect. At least one Luftwaffe night fighter was captured by the British when it mistakenly landed in the UK.)

One squadron of Spitfire's engaged the top cover and kept them busy preventing them defending the bombers. (The spit's had a very good day shooting down 8 109's without losing a single pilot)

For anything beyond single plane maneuvers, IL2 AI isn't very good, and where I hope your sim will do better. To get really solid AI, especially for a campaign like the BoB where so much dependent on ground controlled intercept, you need the Operational Command level. Basically, the Group Commander to Air Marshall level where you push representations of squadrons, wings, and groups about on a map. AI at this level can be quite basic, just covering vector, movement, altitude, mission, and possibly a few other things, like land/take off, refuel, rearm, join/separate, attack/retreat, or relinquish/assume command. Sort of like the commands in IL2 FMB, but for AI in realtime. Combat at this level can be extremely abstract.

Below that, for any air force which has radios and/or AWACS, you need Squadron/Group Command level, where aircraft within a "maneuvering unit" (from section to group) can be ordered around by a leader who's on the scene (typically Squadron Leader or Wing Commander). Commands and AI at this level are a bit more complex, but don't require that much attention to aircraft capabilities. The basic commands are take off/land, attack/break contact, stay still (orbit)/advance/retreat, left/right/straight, ascend/descend/hold altitude, hide/make yourself obvious, verify target, confirm that you've received orders, report your fuel/ammo/damage/oxygen/ordinance/crew injury state, confirm your location, close escort/far escort/top cover/bottom cover/free flight, separate/merge formation, hand off command to [x aircraft], follow [x aircraft/formation]. For aircraft to ground control, there will be a few other commands, like confirm my position/altitude using radar, or give me a homing beacon/airfield lights/weather report/other navigational aid.

There should also be the ability to separate, merge, or rearrange flight elements, order formation changes, and order standard multi-plane tactics like "beam defense," "beam attack," "bounce," "defensive circle," "coordinated attack," or "drag and bag" (with the option of players being able to add other standard formations or tactics).

Ideally you'll be able to give, and hear, radio commands like, "Red flight ascend to Angels 20, orbit over Blue Flight and keep the Jerry fighters off their tails. Blue flight, form line abreast, orbit here until White flight has engaged, then attack Stukas from 2 o'clock high just as they pass Canterbury. Keep plugging away until you've got them all, the Jerry fighters show up, or they retreat past the coast, then duck into the clouds and head for the rally point. White flight, form line abreast and follow me. We'll ascend to Angels 18, use the clouds to stay out of sight, and then bounce the Jerry fighters from 6 o'clock high just before they reach Canterbury. Keep your eye on your leader and don't chase the Huns after they've passed the coast. Everyone, rally point is Angels 15 over Maidstone. Pancake at 1430 hours."
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Pursuivant

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Re: Combat AI
« Reply #18 on: June 29, 2017, 03:47:32 AM »

... another very big improvement would be to deprive AI from their current stock advantages, such as:

It's simpler to make AI all seeing and all knowing. Realistically, the opposite should be true. Realistically, "elite" units are only elite because they screw up less than "average" units. Furthermore, during WW2, the average standard of flying skill, gunnery, etc. was shockingly low, due to some combination of lack of time and resources, or faulty training doctrine. During WW1 it was even worse. For post-WW2 conflicts, things got better, but even well-trained pilots equipped with the latest technology can still screw up, and history has shown that, even with the best training, most fighter pilots are victims waiting to happen.

Aircrew should be blind to the enemy by default. They should be assumed to be lost by default. They will avoid contact with the enemy by default. They will avoid any form of risk to their planes (e.g., breaking off missions due to mechanical failure or bad weather) by default. They will have less than full mastery of their plane/equipment until they reach a very high level of skill.

Regarding AI skills there are currently 4 levels in stock game in scripted missions/campaigns, ranging from noob to ace (skill 0 to skill 3)

Skills should be rated from 1-100%, or some variation like 1-10, with most aircrew having skill levels of 30-50% (3-5). Pilot skill should be expressed in terms of pilot hours and possibly hours in type. Combat experience should be expressed in terms of combat sorties or hours of combat flight. Factors like injury, fatigue, pain, fear, g-forces, and hypoxia should negatively affect skills in most areas.

At the very least, you want to break out Piloting, Navigation, Gunnery, Equipment Operator, and Ordinance skills. If you want to get fancy with the basic skills:

Piloting: IFR, Aerobatics, Combat Maneuvers, Single-Engine, Twin-Engine, Multiple Engine, Glider, Seaplane, Vertol, Autogyro, Low Altitude/NOE, Fuel Conservation, Rotary Engine, Radial Engine, Inline Engine, Jet, Rocket, Turboprop.

Navigation: Dead Reckoning, Celestial Navigation, Radio/GNSS navigation.

Gunnery: Fixed gunnery, Flexible gunnery, Turret gunner, Gunnery computer (e.g., the gun targeting systems on the B-29).

Equipment Operator: Radio, Electronic Warfare/ECM, Sonar, Radar.

Ordinance: Air-to-Air Unguided Rocket, Air-to-Ground Unguided Rocket, Bombardier/Level bombing, Glide bombing, Dive bombing, Skip bombing, Bouncing Bomb, Heavy Cannon, Torpedo, Guided Bomb, Guided Missile, Guided Torpedo, Aerial Mine, Cargo Dropping, Paratroop Dropping.

If you want to get into "role-playing" aspects, you can do things like rate aircrew by things like Strength (necessary to manage heavy controls, force open hatches, etc.), Reflexes, Health/Fatigue, Aggression/Courage, Morale/Stress Tolerance, Eyesight, and Situational Awareness. Possibly have a stat for Luck as well, since there does seem to be an element of luck which explains the survival of certain pilots.
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benson

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Re: Combat AI
« Reply #19 on: July 06, 2017, 04:46:21 AM »

Two great posts there Pursuivant.
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Zoran395

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Re: Combat AI
« Reply #20 on: July 06, 2017, 07:49:35 AM »

Quote
... They will avoid contact with the enemy by default. They will avoid any form of risk to their planes...
Based on what I can read about operations on the Eastern Front, you can see how tactics/mindsets did evolve over the duration from 41 to 45 on both red and blue sides.
So three things to add to the (extensive) wish list:
- Can the AI behaviour evolve over time and depend on the date of the mission?
- Can the parameter "They will only attack if at a definitive advantage" be factored and evolve over time (or the experience of the AI pilot)?
- When considering radio communications, can their absence or unreliability/unidirectional nature be modelled in the AI behaviour? This also evolves over time as tactics and equipment improves.


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Stallwarning

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Re: Combat AI
« Reply #21 on: July 09, 2017, 03:32:45 AM »

Hi,

This idea came to my mind:
-Friendly units reporting enemy formations. Just small transmissions to supply minimal but useful info to the other guys.
 For example: Achtung, Indianer in Sektor AB12, Caruso Südost, Hanni 20. (Attention, fighters in sector AB12, course Southwest, altitude 2000 meters.)
                     etc. ,etc....
                     Also add after the transmission: "Red Flight avoiding fight." or "Red Flight engaging bandits."

Cheers,
Stallwarning
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Pursuivant

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Re: Combat AI
« Reply #22 on: July 22, 2017, 02:45:14 AM »

So three things to add to the (extensive) wish list:
- Can the AI behaviour evolve over time and depend on the date of the mission?
- Can the parameter "They will only attack if at a definitive advantage" be factored and evolve over time (or the experience of the AI pilot)?
- When considering radio communications, can their absence or unreliability/unidirectional nature be modelled in the AI behaviour? This also evolves over time as tactics and equipment improves.

I don't think AI is needed for most of these things.

Basic doctrine, like 2 vs. 3 plane sections, standard formations, and standard attack or defensive formations can just be plugged into "look-up tables" (or equivalent) for various air forces and dates. From there, it's less AI than "decision trees" to determine unit, flight, and section behavior.

For radios, there really are only four categories: no radio/radio > reliable/unreliable (AKA "in range"/"out of range" or "unjammed/jammed") > all planes/lead planes only > send & receive/receive-only. Each of those categories affects tactics. No radio should be default, since even after radios became common, jamming, malfunction or damage can limit radio effectiveness. Unreliable/reliable radio means that aircraft equipped with radios will initially try to use radios, then abandon them if they prove to be malfunctioning. If only lead planes are equipped with radios group tactics depend even more on "follow the leader" than normal. If planes only have radio receivers, they can respond to ground control commands and might be able to use RDF, but otherwise behave as if they have no radios. Again, these options don't require AI so much as look-up tables and decision trees which sort of mimic AI.

The real hassle for this sort of programming is digging through historical training documents, carefully analyzing training films, etc. to get a sense of what air forces used which doctrines, and when they used them. That sort of info doesn't tend to make it into the histories, especially for smaller and losing air forces.
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fallout3

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Re: Combat AI
« Reply #23 on: July 22, 2017, 05:31:58 AM »

IMHO, the biggest missing piece of AI behaviour is AI single-ship/formation Takeoff and Landings that Players could be able to take part in. Current IL-2 AI takeoffs and lands like a sleepwalker, smooth, elegent, perfect, and unaerodymic. Doubt any human player could stay in close formation with any AI in any machine in IL-2 during these phases of flight.
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