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Air Superiority Fighter Competition Continued


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Hey everyone, since BDA 1.2 for KSP 1.4.2 came out, you know I had to do some tests. So here are three exhibition battles, where I've discovered new and interesting things! Also inadvertently 'declassifying' some (a lot) of my projects...

These dogfights were all done with default hitpoints and 0 armor added. Oh yeah, and I left all the visual mods on, so it's running at about 75-50% real time.

 

This battle was done real quickly and lazily when I didn't yet know what to expect. Both teams started from the runway and were launched to a 15km start.

Immediately, you'll notice the flight AIs have done something very interesting and different- they don't fly towards each other right away. Instead, the teams travel indirectly towards each other until about 10km, and only then will they turn in to combat. This seems to have the effect of assisting the AIs in keeping tighter formations when entering combat.

Next surviving missile hits. And survivability in general.

Wew. Yeah, that's an interesting one. While the rebalancing done in 1.2 (if any) seems to have alleviated some of the 'flying tankiness' of aircraft, the guns still seem way underpowered. However, missile hits do seem to be reasonable in their effect on targets. (Also, my structural rearranging on the PEGASys pays off.)

And the dogfights- they're so much more action-packed, though probably partially attributed to aircraft surviving longer and after taking hits. Also, the AI seems to have been improved in behavior. Also, from BDA 1.1, they don't seem to be as liberal with afterburner usage, which seemed to be a bug, which brings us to the next point.

For being action-packed however, it costs a lot more flight time. No more emptying your tanks as much as possible guys. Quick and dirty, at least with default hitpoints, is no more. Even me, fueling up my planes pretty conservatively (15m flight time according to Kerbal Engineer), and margins were tight. This is especially an important consideration for my own series, ASC Light Drones, as both aircraft featured here are valid for that class. Also- using Big-S Wing Strakes as fuselage- you see what happens here is that if they're a major fuel tank, you lose one, and that's a fairly significant hit to fuel load...

Lastly- weight of fire matters. It mattered before, but it matters even more now because of damage through hitpoints instead of thermal. In the thermal system, heat could 'bleed over' to other parts, from what I observed, and that's the cause of aircraft exploding spectacularly upon being hit with any weapons fire. However here, because parts have their own hitpoints, they rather disintegrate as parts are depleted by more-focused damage. You'll notice that the 2-gun Lynx IIC struggles to down the PEGASys, but the 4-gun PEGASys can actually get kills- and it's a difficult task. Again, hitpoints need to be rebalanced for air combat with the DCK hitpoints tool (probably to 50-30% of default hitpoints).

So pretty much, excessive firepower is still probably a valid solution.

 

Cool, so that was just the first match. Then I got curious, so I did a 'standard' match from the Island.

 

This time, I tried seeing if competition start distance had anything to do with the 'turn-in', but apparently not. Still 10km. So anyone starting matches from the default 8km will probably not get this effect (though I have not looked into it). However, aircraft seem to be far more compliant and don't seem to experience 'first takeoff glitch' anymore, holding good formations right from takeoff, and aided in flight by this new 'delayed turn-in' feature.

There is also one other new feature that I discovered, however, and it's that because of the 'delayed turn-in', aircraft continue climbing. So what that means is that, by default, the teams will begin combat at higher altitudes, instead of just above the minimum altitude setting.

Again, weight of fire matters. But guns on target also matters. 6 guns should be pretty devastating, and they give enough of an edge in this fight it seems.

Again, fights seem to be a lot tighter now, especially with hyper-drones that have absolutely ludicrously small turning radii.

So, I decided to test the Weapon Manager's gun range setting to see if that was made more effective, and lowered gun range to 700m on all aircraft...

Yeah... no. It didn't do anything at all; guns are still used at max programmed gun range on the guns themselves. Though it may be worth looking into sub-1200m gun ranges now, and loading up with more Sidewinders. But again- I've also not tried  dogfights with reduced part hitpoints, which may alleviate the plane tankiness.

What else is proved here though is that (with default hitpoints extending combat time), matches seem a lot less decisive between planes now. With no more one-look-insta-kills with guns, fights have a greater chance of going one way or the other. Also, plane survivability is pretty cool. And again, fuel may be a concern.

 

Okay! So, the takeaway. Reducing craft-wide part hitpoints to 50% to 30% of default values using DCK's hitpoint tool should be looked into for aircraft. That will improve gun effectiveness; however, that may mean more immediately lethal missiles (post-battle inspection of aircraft hitpoints suggest this may not be the case though, hopefully). Something to consider. But, right now it does feel like I'm playing War Thunder Air Battles at Battle Rating 1... except that the I-153 Chaikas actually absolutely disintegrate other fighters that they can keep their guns on for even just 2 seconds. Like, seriously, these Vulcans firing 20mm High Explosive rounds are just... kinda pitiful.

Speculation from that point on- potentially more of the same that we've been having in ASC, but a little more drawn out and a little more exciting.

 

I will post up the Re-Continuation of the ASC thread for KSP 1.4.2 and BDA 1.2 tomorrow or Thursday! Despite Kerbal Konstructs not updated yet, I think these new changes to the BD AI will have enough 'fairness'-effects to satisfy my requirement for equal circumstances, and that the new battlefields I've created aren't necessary for starting the new thread (though since they're all basically done, it will be used anyways once KK is updated). As aircraft are not transferable directly from BDA 1.0 / 1.1 to BDA 1.2, designers will have to re-arm/re-equip their aircraft, replacing all BDA parts, with 1.2 versions in 1.4.2 (however, I may make an exception for the leaderboard and do it myself on them, that point is reached).

As for the KSP 1.3.1 BDA 1.0 queue which will be finished, it looks like this:

1 PEGASys-D3
2 Vampire Squirrel
3 Gunbrick
4 TFD Mod A
5 Viper ASP MkIIc

 

KSP 1.3.1 BDA 1.0 Queue:

  1. @[INDO]dimas_1502 KF-XIF-X-C-100
  2. @prgmTrouble X-15 Exoneratis Hirundo
  3. @Earthlinger Berzerker 2.1
  4. @ZLM-Master V-TEK 
  5. @53miner53 P-5 Flash
  6. @Wolf5698 Lynx
  7. @Wolf5698 Cheetah
  8. @GillyMonster Dart II
  9. @dundun93 TFD 2.1
  10. @Box of Stardust Basilisk -C3
  11. @Box of Stardust CShRAID
  12. @goduranus Vampire Squirrel B
  13. @dundun92 Du-5Rs
  14. @dundun92 Du-6S "Diode"
  15. @dundun93 A26
  16. @dundun92 Du-8C
Edited by Box of Stardust
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New official match.

@[INDO]dimas_1502 KF/XIF-X C-100 vs Viper-ASP MkIIc.

 

Spoiler

Analysis:

Three things.

1) The C-100 can't control its roll; that's an AI tuning problem. Therefore, it struggles to point in the direction it wants to.

2) BD AI doesn't seem to register the bomb bay part as a weapons bay, so it can't use its missiles. I even checked if the missiles were set to 'inside bay', and they were.

3) For having no flares, it did a surprisingly good job of not getting whacked by Sidewinders as it should be.

 

To give it more screen time, I went and turned the damping up on the AI to see how much it would help and set up an exhibition match.

 

 

 

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And one more:

@prgmTrouble's X-15 Exoneratis Hirundo vs Viper-ASP MkIIc. It's like Gunbrick, but with 2 more guns. It should amount to interesting results, right?

 

 

 

Spoiler

Analysis:

Well... not really.

Like the X-14 to the Cookie, the X-15 is missing a few essentials that made Gunbrick work.

The primary one is that it runs too fast and too hot. A merge-killer, 'air jousting' craft flies slow and 'cold', to keep the enemy under gunfire as long as possible, while not being routed itself by Sidewinders.

The other is that, compared to Gunbrick, the X-15 is truly a brick in flight, hardly able to turn or maneuver. Even if the goal for merge-killers is to inflict most damage during the merge, Du-3, Cookie, and Gunbrick all retained a capability to turn and engage immediately following the post-merge stage.

 

 

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And finally, to close off this thread, what better way than to end it with a veteran that once held a place in the skies of ASC.

@Earthlinger's Berzerker 2.1 takes to the skies against Viper-ASP MkIIc.

 

 

 

Spoiler

Analysis:

Yes, I did 3 matches. Though hilarious, I wanted to see more from the Berzerker instead of the berserk aggro being focused on a flying set of engines (lol).

Unfortunately, even an attempt at a 3 out of 5 doesn't help, as the Berzerker is just a little too unsteady to get those split-second windows needed to gun down the Vipers. It's also tuned in the old style 2500m gun range, meaning it doesn't get much utility out of its Sidewinders.

On top of that, it too, runs too hot, allowing the Vipers to open up on the Berzerkers with Sidewinders first, routing the Berzerkers and giving the Vipers the advantage.

However, I do have to note this: the Berzerker has, so far, been the most compliant aircraft in terms of staying in formation after takeoff!

 

... And now, the real last battle of the thread, a Berzerker exhibition match in a non-standard location. No where to run except up, maybe this will help equal the field?

 

 

Spoiler

It's close, but no.

No crashes into terrain seemed to happen in this match, meaning it was just a plain full-on dogfight.

 

I've actually been working on a version of this location with AA guns and SAMs at the top of the canyon, to... 'enforce' the theme of the location.

 

Related announcement: with this non-standard location match, I've been considering a new system to make the leaderboard more dynamic and to actually give these locations a purpose other than 'visual variety'. The idea is that, after a number of victories/defending their place on the leaderboard (e.g., #5 spot defends its spot against 4 other aircraft), a competitor may challenge the next place in the leaderboard (e.g., #5 challenges #4) in special combat.

The concept so far is an 8-plane reserve, with 5v5 sorties, at the location of choosing and spawn point of choosing by the challenger. What this means is that the challenger gets the advantage in choosing location, if they feel that there's a specific combat zone that complements their aircraft's abilities/reduces its weaknesses. For example, there's two locations that have mountains between the spawn points, rendering all merge scenarios nonexistent, even with pre-routing devices (e.g., Vampire Squirrel MLRS).

And with that, I declare this the final battle of this thread. I'll finish the few remaining things of the setup later and the new thread should be up by tomorrow.

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