TheDog

[1.3.1] BDArmory Continued - FOR MODDERS - Public BETA of v1.0.0 (Update: Preview 2)

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Note: the information below is targeted at modders who create/maintain part mods for BDArmory Continued

As announced on our release thread, our next release for KSP 1.3.1 will contain, among other things, our Radar & Stealth redesign features.
This will impact not only the end-users, but also all parts mods which contain radar parts, either as individual new parts or as ModuleManager patches for existing parts.

This development thread here is intended to be used as an "open beta" for this feature, aiming to:

  • get you on board for these new features and give you a chance to experience them hands-on before our release,
  • give you the chance to adapt your parts/patches to the new radar system before our release (so you could be BDA 1.0.0 ready even before we release, if you want),
  • assist you with adaptation and balancing, if you desire, by having an open discussion here in this thread,
  • and of course to receive your feedback on these new features, and most critically if you encounter any bugs / problems / weird behaviours etc.

Since our next release will be labelled as "1.0.0" we strive to make this one of the best releases ever, and for this we need and want your involvement! :)

 

1) What to expect from this feature:

We have extensively rewritten & redesigned the way radar works in BDA. Our goals were to:

  • Balancing/Differentiation: provide more variety of how different radars can be configured and perform in-game, giving different radars a purpose
  • Make stealth possible: support of 1st generation stealth (building with angled surfaces to scatter radar returns), and also 2nd generation stealth (radar absorbent material coating defined for certain parts).
  • Performance and code cleanup: improve performance of the current radar code and clean-up the codebase

To achieve this, we are to introduce a number of changes to the current radar implementation:

  • providing a new reflection shader which evaluates the RCS (radar cross section) of a craft.
    It works similar to the previous "count black pixels" approach, but is more sophisticated and calculates real reflections, making angled surfaces actually work in reducing a craft's rcs.
  • Range and sensitivity will become a thing.
    While sensitivity actually is already a thing, the fields "minSignalThreshold" and "minLockedSignalThreshold" and their (somewhat) arbitrary values seem to be little understood, making it difficult to balance a radar part to actually behave different from others. These fields are now deprecated and are replaced with a FloatCurve, which defines the exact ranges at which a radar can detect and/or lock/track a specific size of cross section. Discussed in detail below.
  • RWR (radar warning receivers) can receive a radar's ping at twice the maximum detection distance of that radar.
    Hence, a radar announces its presence to an approaching craft long before it can even detect that craft, making "passive listening" and switching radars (or sonars) off a viable tactical possibility.
  • There is a new guideline how to setup ECM jammers which behave either as traditional "lock-breaking jammers" (break radar locks, but increase(!) your detectability while in use), or as "radar absorbent material" which simply reduce a craft's overall cross section (basically a "misuse" of ECM jammers to achieve stealth effect. While this feature has been in BDA ever since, it was not really documented yet.)
  • To aid a player in designing his craft for stealth, and to evaluate how it is detected/tracked by different radars, a new in-editor plugin window provides a static cross section analysis with visual feedback.
  • finally, some changes to active radar homing missiles, chaff and ECM to balance it in this overall scheme.

Quick peek how it'll look like in-game: https://imgur.com/a/XwGzm

 

2) Changes required to existing radar parts:

The previously used fields minSignalThreshold and minLockedSignalThreshold are now deprecated. Your radar needs to define 2 new FloatCurves to define at which range what minimum size of cross section can be detected (or tracked). These new fields are:

radarDetectionCurve, and radarLockTrackCurve

We DO NOT provide default values or try to infer values from the legacy fields, hence: Your radar part (or MM config) NEEDS an update to work properly with this new radar system!

Dont worry, it is relatively easy to do that:

  • we have documented developer guides how to configure your parts. -->See section 3 "Resources" below.
  • we have, as an example, already provided a couple of MM patches for 3rd party mods which you can use as a template. -->See section 3 "Resources" below.
  • we are also here in this thread to assist you with the task

 

That having said, one word of caution: To our mind, the difficulty (or "meat") in this task is not in the DOING, it is in the DESIGN & BALANCING of your radars!
We have created this new system so that we can have very different radar parts with very different strengths and weaknesses.
Please, carefully choose the capabilities of the part you want to create. Not all radars excel at everything in real life. Dedicated air volume search, target illuminators, multi-band radars, etc. all have their purpose and niche.

You can easily create a super-radar which is great at detection and locking/tracking, both versus air targets and versus surface targets.
You can also easily make all your radars have basically the same configuration, making them all perform the same.
And since it is YOUR mod, you absolutely have every right to do so.

Note however, that this is exactly not what we wanted to achieve.
We want to give different radars different purposes
- like, a Phalanx CIWS integrated radar is great at tracking, but only at very close range,
- a marine surface search radar may have a very long range, but can only detect large surface targets and is almost useless against aerial targets,
- a phased array 3d volume search & track has excellent range and resolution, but is optimized vs air targets and cannot detect surface targets that well,
etc.

Have a look at our documentation, part configs, and templates/example configs!

 

3) Resources for you:

3.1) Before you even go and download our preview release, please have a look at our updated developer documentation:
https://github.com/PapaJoesSoup/BDArmory/wiki/1.-Developer-Documentation, and particularly sections "1.2.3 Radar configuration (NEW)" and "1.2.4 ECM configuration & stealth". This should already answer a lot of questions.

 

3.2) Our current preview build for you:
(NEW) Preview Build 2: https://github.com/PapaJoesSoup/BDArmory/releases/tag/v1.0.0-preview2

If we update this build we'll let you know via a post here in the forum.

(oh, as always you need PhysicsRangeExtender, ModuleManager, and VesselMover is also highly recommended, but as an experienced modder you sure know that... :))

 

3.3) Additionally, we have already provided example MM config patches for quite some 3rd party mods (including: SAR, MTW, MTA, bluehawk).
File "RADARS_MM_PATCHES_v3.zip" as part of the above download!

We advise you to download them and use them to get familiar with the new system.
WE DO NOT INTEND TO DISTRIBUTE THESE MM PATCHES WITH OUR BDA RELEASE, THEY ARE PURELY FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE AND TESTING!
Do with them as you please - use them as-is, incorporate in your part configs, use as a basis, thrown them away & roll your own, ... - it's purely up to you!

 

We hope you'll enjoy these new features, and looking forward to an interesting open beta phase with lots of insights & discussions!
Your BDAc team

@Papa_Joe @SpannerMonkey(smce) @DoctorDavinci @gomker @jrodriguez @TheDog

 

Edited by TheDog
Update: Preview build 2

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Please excuse the mail spam, but we are specifically paging the following modders which have known parts with radars (or radar MM patches):
@TMasterson5, @Eskandare, @Acea, @LORDPrometheus, @harpwner@Wraith977, @Themorris, @Next_Star_Industries

Please feel free to add/page any fellow modder we forgot to mention here!

Edited by TheDog

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Alright, time to dust off the old weapons mods and finally kick Mk35 into high gear! Stealth time, wohoo!

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Evening all. 

Some little notes on building stealthy parts, based on things i discovered during development (much fun was had)

As a rough guide to stealthy shapes, you can make things, big things, invisible, but there are shapes that do and don't work.

A BIG AND IMPORTANT EDIT

Regarding stock MK0/1 structural parts and tanks and any other constant radius shape (cylinders) They are NEVER stealthy a cylinder typically has a return of 70% approx of that of a similar sized cube .  However from certain angles this cube will be invisible whereas there is only 1 position that a cylinder can reflect a low return, and that position is useless to an aircraft builder,  ( the pos btw is pitched up 10-20deg and in or out the same amount) 

A couple of lovely example below and the explanation

(the first aircraft brought to you by @ScriptKitt3h    and the second by @NotAnAimbot)

screenshot1498.png

Look at these two aircraft carefully, compare the craft to the RCS image for each

Now what are you looking at ? What you are looking at is the simulation of a target being struck by an electromagnetic wave and the reflections returned off the surfaces rendered in realtime, in a monotone image .

Areas with large reflection show as Bright white ( look how much of each aircraft is bright white)  AS reflection angle drops off the color fades from white through to black, with total black showing no signal return, so in effect invisible to radar ( note how although there are a couple a larger areas on the lower craft, there are a lot more smaller NR areas on the upper craft)    Combined with diminished returns from all the angled surfaces, the grey areas, the upper aircraft is considerably more stealthy than the lower.   

Other points of note from these images, if you want stock stealth , and intakes  the shock cone beats all. (could tell you why, but once you've had a play you'll see :)  )

unknown.png

 

Do note that RCS is totally dependent on the quality of the model and it's colliders,   in fact all the RCS window shows is the collider return .   (one of the unintended side effects of the RCS is that it also shows up messed up normals, those who mod know what I mean).  A lazy collider design will result in a rubbish stealth value

The optimum shape for a undetectable frontal RCS is a 5 sided cone , with the flat face being the reverse/ back side .

The stock flat board wings are horrible , but give them just a touch of taper (ie mod wings) and things change.

Intakes.. Suck, no really, as 90% of intakes out there have a great big fat flat faced collider, the best i've found are B2 style, mounted on the upper wing srf and made so that the fwd face leans back 30deg. or so.

Get somewhere close to 2-5mtrs. stick on a YCSM module and you'll be able to get within 10KM before they'll notice, BUT only if you aren't blasting radar waves and jamming signals toward the enemy. stealth really does in this instance mean sneaky

The permutations are endless and the results can be surprising . For example this ship has a frontal RCS of about the size of a large fighter , retract the missile launchers and that figure drops to 2.97!  

VbKlIzj.png

SO  with all that in mind  don't forget  that stealth  weapons and turrets  can also play a part and contribute to the RCS of the vessel as a whole rather than distracting from it.  Stealth is certainly not the preserve of the small and aircraft only. Every single craft type big and small . 

And before someone says ah well you cheat and do this this and this , and make your craft invisible ,   well the thing is,  that all of the Radar currently configured have a zone of guaranteed detection .  So that even the RCS  invisible will be tracked once it can be heard and seen visually . For sure you can configure the radar however you want, but i'm fairly sure that most mod makers who do produce radar are going  to be looking at real values , balancing them against the game , and not selling their customers short. 

It makes a world of difference to a combat scenario , and my ship combats now end up spread over tens of KM's  rather than barely 10

Enjoy ,

Edited by SpannerMonkey(smce)

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19 minutes ago, SpannerMonkey(smce) said:

Evening all. 

Some little notes on building stealthy parts, based on things i discovered during development (much fun was had)

As a rough guide to stealthy shapes, you can make things, big things, invisible, but there are shapes that do and don't work.

The optimum shape for a undetectable frontal RCS is a 5 sided cone , with the flat face being the reverse/ back side .

The stock flat board wings are horrible , but give them just a touch of taper (ie mod wings) and things change.

Intakes.. Suck, no really, as 90% of intakes out there have a great big fat flat faced collider, the best i've found are B2 style, mounted on the upper wing srf and made so that the fwd face leans back 30deg. or so.

Get somewhere close to 2-5mtrs. stick on a YCSM module and you'll be able to get within 10KM before they'll notice, BUT only if you aren't blasting radar waves and jamming signals toward the enemy. stealth really does in this instance mean sneaky

The permutations are endless and the results can be surprising . For example this ship has a frontal RCS of about the size of a large fighter , retract the missile launchers and that figure drops to 2.97!  

VbKlIzj.png

SO  with all that in mind  don't forget  that stealth  weapons and turrets  can also play a part and contribute to the RCS of the vessel as a whole rather than distracting from it.  Stealth is certainly not the preserve of the small and aircraft only. Every single craft type big and small . 

And before someone says ah well you cheat and do this this and this , and make your craft invisible ,   well the thing is,  that all of the Radar currently configured have a zone of guaranteed detection .  So that even the RCS  invisible will be tracked once it can be heard and seen visually . For sure you can configure the radar however you want, but i'm fairly sure that most mod makers who do produce radar are going  to be looking at real values , balancing them against the game , and not selling their customers short. 

It makes a world of difference to a combat scenario , and my ship combats now end up spread over tens of KM's  rather than barely 10

Enjoy ,

For those who are unaware ... You will find the YCSM (You Can't See Me) parts in DCK

 

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17 minutes ago, dundun92 said:

Were HARM missiles changed significantly? 

The only change to passive radar / antiradar is, that a radar ping has a limited max distance now. Previously it was basically unlimited.

Harm missiles have no changes to how the missile and targeting works.

Edited by TheDog

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Anyone know how to actually pull up the RCS screen in the SPH like SM has in his post a few comments up?

 

Could someone also (briefly) describe the new sonar/torpedoe features?

 

Also, this is awesome thanks a lot for the hard work gents!

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9 minutes ago, TMasterson5 said:

Anyone know how to actually pull up the RCS screen in the SPH like SM has in his post a few comments up?

 

Have you downloaded our preview release linked in the OP? You should have a mod icon in SPH/VAB for the RCS Analysis Window then...

Also, for your parts from SAR and MTW I have already a lot of example MM configs for your radars, its in the file RADARS_MM_PATCHES_v3.zip, also on github for download together with our preview build...

Edited by TheDog

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1 minute ago, TheDog said:

Have you downloaded our preview release linked in the OP? You should have a mod icon in SPH/VAB for the RCS Analysis Window then...

I have I just hadn't loaded it up yet(work, yay) I've just always seen it and assumed it was a Dev only feature that the rest of us didn't know the way to pull up. Thanks though!

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Just now, TMasterson5 said:

I have I just hadn't loaded it up yet(work, yay) I've just always seen it and assumed it was a Dev only feature that the rest of us didn't know the way to pull up. Thanks though!

It was, until now :)

Its now available to you all as a "public beta", so you can get familiar with the new radar system, and have a chance to adapt your parts before we release... :)

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Just now, TheDog said:

It was, until now :)

Its now available to you all as a "public beta", so you can get familiar with the new radar system, and have a chance to adapt your parts before we release... :)

Ah gotcha thanks man! Keep up the good work :) 

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How does one RCS many people might ask? Without a stealth coating 45 degree angles are your friend.

ZenhllD.png

fQbQPRa.png

This is so far the most efficient fighter I've been able to develop. Knocking it down to a 6km lock was a pain. I shared what I know and so far it's dominating in both BVR and Dogfighting combat.

bjaYF7x.png

(EDIT: I forgot to ask, are there plans to do your own 2nd generation systems or are you leaving that to the modding community?)

Edited by Canberra_Gaming

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2nd generation stealth (sort of simulating stealth coating) is also supported, via a specifically configured ECM jammer.

See our developer documentation on ECM for that.

We don't provide an example part in bda, but I have an example MM config for the bda mk22 raptor cockpit, which gives it an rcs reduction effect. 

For an external example part see doctordavinci's DCK mod, which contains the YCSM part, which acts as a stealth ECM jammer.

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8 minutes ago, Canberra_Gaming said:

I think it's borked

vyGTltp.png

That's amazing ... fantastic design :)

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See the thing is that it's not. You place parts at 45 degrees and boom, stealth. 

Case in point.

p782eDz.png

Myself and Canberra both built these with ease.

I just don't think that something like this should outdo other craft designed after actual stealthy planes.

In my opinion a positive change would be to retain some parts of the previous system as to not make the new rule of thumb "everything at 45 degrees". Or like mentioned in another user's post; divide the different directional RCSes into only being used from that direction. 
In front of plane? Frontal RCS. Above? Above RCS. and so on...
This would create a lot more specialization for Bombers, Fighters, or surface craft where different vectors would be more important to cover yourself.

Something else that would be good to see is RCS taken from more angles. As it stands the views from only front, side, and below are easy to exploit as shown by my craft and others on this thread.

Edited by Spartwo

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To add to Spartwo's point, both their planes have wings angled inwards or close to 90 degrees to the fuselage, which irl would make radar bounce around them and amplify the return, something not portrayed in this beta.

Edited by NotAnAimbot

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1 hour ago, Spartwo said:

See the thing is that it's not. You place parts at 45 degrees and boom, stealth. 

Case in point.

[Snip]

Myself and Canberra both built these with ease.

Hehe, Mine's stealthier

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POJgjz6.jpg yeah but mine is stealthier still.

Edited by gag09

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We're not trying to rip on you, quite frankly I like the idea. It's easily exploitable at the moment and the area is averaged, Say I have a 0.03M2 front cross section, I'd still get picked up from 7km even though only the front is facing the radar. It shouldn't be based on total average, it should be based on direction in my honest opinion.

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