Report 047: Grunts and Aces

This time the update is to announce something different.
As it was hinted before, it is about the AI.

It has the expected improvements in making the AI more effective in killing the player; this update is also introduces something in a completely different direction.

But before that, let me confirm, the AI is now smarter with a more fine tuned logic that also fixes one noticeable bug the would result in the AI not avoid crashing to the ground, now if that happens is by their own mistake and not due to bug in the logic.

Also the AI players will now dynamically chose between the special and main weapon by considering the battle condition, ammo and each weapon characteristics, but like everything else, the personality may affect the selection, so it is not really a matter of always selecting the most effective weapon.


And that’s it, now we have an even more lethal AI. Awesome!
But in other hand, this also becomes a problem.

Veteran players or anyone that is skilled enough will probably be able to deal with them on even terms. But what about the players that jump into the game for the first time?
They are almost certainly jumping into a world of pain.

Something I also noticed with the existing AI, it actually does not work well in highly scripted missions, they are too unpredictable and engage the player in their own ways, it is great to create an emergent gameplay, but not so much if you want to create a sequence of well coordinated events.
This is also an issue, as the VT wants the players to create their own campaign, this could limit some scenarios.

For both of these reasons it was made new and alternative type of AI, that from here on it will be referred as the “Grunt type”, and the AI type that was here from the start it will be referred from now on as the “Ace type”. And this new grunt type was made to be used mostly on campaigns and normal missions.

But how different is the Grunt from the Ace type?
Right from the start, this new AI is the complete opposite of the Ace; it is bland, predictable and easy to shot down.
To have a better idea, the grunt type is the regular AI you will probably find in other similar flight games.
They rely on numbers and while they can still harm the player, their lack of skill is used to make the player feel like a true ace always in control of the battlefield.


In short the Grunts are best used for easy levels, large numbers, or heavy scripted levels.
Aces are best for bosses, or dynamic battlefields.

But that is not everything that is added in this regard.
To help the level design it was added two small tricks that can be applied to any unit and both AI types.

One that was inspired by the older Ace Combat, if you played them you probably may have noticed that some aircrafts on the global map simply do not move unless you get too close them. Although this not very accurate, this is very helpful in the level design, otherwise these enemies would simple move away from the area they were supposed to be protecting.
But to better fit VT this trick was been slightly changed from “The AI will only act if they are in the player’s view range.” to “The AI will only act if they are in the enemies’ view range.”
So if you have an AI partner the meets these agents they will fight properly without the need of the player intervention.


Another trick, is the hidden state, this makes any unit even if they are non stealth, hidden from the global map until they have been spotted once. This is great for ambushes, surprise attacks or even eater eggs.

Both these tricks are very simple, but open a lot of possibilities of making missions, something that should be explored not only in future missions, but also to be implemented in all that have been done before.


Something also to be revised/updated, the weapons loadouts.

The new idea is to make conceptual special weapons more likely to be found on conceptual aircrafts, prototype weapons and prototype aircrafts and fictional weapons on fictional aircrafts.
This is not golden rule, is more a guide line for arranging the loadouts for the aircrafts.

Let’s use this as an example, the UA-10D.

The ucav version of the A-10, a conceptual design evolved from the A-10C.


And it will be equipped with the AGM-124 Wasp
This weapon is like a real micro missile pod, it was made to engage multiple tanks at the same time.


And an example of a fictional weapon, it is not noticeable from this screen, but it is armed with a Gatling gun that starts to fire when is close to the target.
Despise the novelty it may have, it is only useful against large targets.

And finally something you will probably hear more from me in the future.
We need more ships!

The problem is not much about quantity, is more about their role in the missions.
Due to all the weapons systems some ships contain, each are like a small boss.
The problem lies in that most modern ships have very advanced Anti-air systems that can track aircrafts beyond visual range, this created a situation where one side we have completely inoffensive ships and the other side highly lethal ships.

So the real problem is that there is very little in between, as a result what is really need is more ships that serve as point defense with different characteristics to help bridge between the both extremes of difficulty.

To ease the content creation the new ships you will see added in the future will likely be either conceptual/speculative or fictional designs.

Here is a preview of you can expect to see in the future:

The STAC is a conceptual Trimaran carrier design; part of the “Avpro project”.

Also, all the ship units will be revised as well in other to have their own sub subsystems be independently targetable and destroyable like a regular boss.
And that’s everything for now.

Stay tuned, more reports will follow.

Report 046: Back from GDC

As promised this is report is to announce that I came back from GDC and into active development again.

I took a day off to rest, but I still feel that I’m recovering from the jet lag.

Also this report will be divided in two parts, the first is about the development that I manage to make in the last week just before going to the GDC, and the last part is my thoughts about that trip.

The followings are very small changes that have a significant visual impact.

The main one is the tweak of overall aesthetic, now the terrain and overall look have more vibrant colors.

Here is a comparison shot of the old and new version:


The idea was to too advantage of the cel shaded look and have a more distinct bright colors

The other one was on effects; it has been tested before but now has been fully realized; now all missiles and rockets have more noticeable flares.

New explosion effects have been added:

The last change that was added was to improve the aircraft’s visual feedback, especially for units that don’t have an afterburner. This new change makes the engine slightly glow red as the as the throttle increases.


Also as a correlation, the aircrafts no longer instantly afterburn, now each aircraft has a short period where the acceleration gradually increase.


Let’s start off with what was probably my own issue, because I never went to the GDC before, but I was expecting more a games festival, but the business aspect is the main theme of this event, so it was a bit disappointing in that regard.
But this is more of my impression, because I actually spent little time inside GDC.

Besides enjoying a city that I haven’t been before and be able spend a few days without touching the development of the game, something that I wasn’t able to do in ages, which was also great to step a bit back and see things in a different perspective.
But what really mattered and I think it was overall the most valuable experience I gained with this trip, was to be able to hear other developers’ stories.
In the last week, I spend the whole days with other game developers that iceberg is also publishing, namely Start Drive, Star Lords and Star Port Gemini 2. They are all great guys and besides enjoying my stay I used that opportunity to hear everyone own stories.
It ranged from their development priorities, missteps and stories of best and the worst moments and actions of their own community.

I also noticed that I was making a mistake, my priorities was to develop the game, then talk to the community and much later when I had time, talk a little with the press.
They told me that no matter the quality of the game I’m making, if I don’t leave my cave to spread the word no one will know or care what I am doing.
So, learning from what they said, from here on, that the main priority should be to talk to any press whenever I have the chance because, they combined with the community, are the most important factors that will determine if a game relevant or not.
This should not be translated in the time invested, but for example at the start of the day, which should be done first.

But besides all that, I have to say, I was very positively impressed by the Icebergs, I was already grateful for their support, but meeting them in person I saw that they are really great.

So I can say this trip was absolutely positively, made me grow as a person and as a professional, it also inspired me to immediately jump into to the development and make VT even better.

Before closing this report, I took a lot of pictures in this trip, but they were more about hanging out with these guys and probably not very relevant to this report.
But I’ll leave here one picture of me with the Icebergs and Star Lords and Star Port Gemini 2 developers in the last day of my stay.

Stay tuned, more reports will follow.

Report 045: F-35

This report has finally arrived.
This one took awhile, I feel this report was probably the toughest to make. Not by its own fault, but the production was always interrupted other matters.

One of them is, as some probably already know, but I’ve been invited by the Iceberg to go to the GDC next week.
And the preparations for the trip and the event, made it more difficult to find time to finish this report

But now thinking back, this made me realize, a report per month is not a good flow of information, especially if we want to build anticipation for the release, so in the future I may have to see alternatives or use help to add faster reports.


This image was already shared in the forums but as there may be others that do not know it here is the mock up of the final HUD:


The final HUD has some revisions from this mockup, but this is what you can expect how it will look.
I feared that the cyan color could be difficult to read, but in actual gameplay against multiple lighting conditions everything worked fine so far, still it can be change at any time in the configurations.

Also in this Hud is now customizable, I won’t say “fully”, because unlimited customization won’t be possible as some of the UI elements are placed and moved dynamically to adapt to every aircraft and game mode, but it is possible to completely reskin the UI elements.


As for the family that will be presented in this report, the F-35, this family is somewhat unique as it main aircrafts are is still in development and there are already lot of speculative designs.
While some appear to be more credible, it’s safer to assume that this in a special family composed mostly by fictional units.
But something I always wondered is why, besides the significant amount of fictionally designs that popped up in the last years, the F-35 doesn’t seem to share the same amount of popularity of other modern aircrafts.
Also this family has a lot preproduction designs, much earlier than the X-36, but at this point there were skipped and only to be added on later date.

So let’s start with the main unit:

The F-35A is your run of the mill Fifth Generation multi role fighter. Conventional Takeoff and
Landing, something noteworthy in this family, this variant has internal cannon.


Intended to replace the F-16 in capabilities, this first variant of the F-35 is reasonably the smallest when compared to its descending variations further down the line.


The next unit is the F-35C, very similar to the A variant, also a multirole, but with much larger wing spawn that allows it to fly at lower speeds.
However it does not have a gun installed by default.


The F-35C variant is capable of dealing with operations expected on carrier deployments, thus leading to such features such as its ability to fold its wing and the capability for catapult launches. Its larger wings built for slower landing speeds also speak to a larger payload and range.


Similar with the A version but with no gun and two seats, the F-35D is for training proposes.


As usual like most trainers it offers better capabilities against ground units, at the cost of additional weight.


The F-35E, a fictional multirole, it was heavily inspirited in the YF-23 wing layout, making this variant the most easily identifiable of the entire family.


The F-35E, besides the new wing designs, it is oriented on stealth, ECM, and solo capabilities. Ideal for deep strikes in enemy territory, this is perhaps one of the most advance aircraft the player is able to fly.
Coveted by regular air force pilots and well-to-do mercenaries alike, the F-35E’s capacity for the art of war is only kept back by its pilot’s ability.


The F-35M a delta winged attack variant, much like the FB-22 and its own variations. Increased
wingspan and payload size at the cost of mobility.


While still capable to engage fights, his forte is against ground units


The F-35U is a strike variant with is a revised version of the M variant with larger wing spawn.


Although at first impression it may look like it is more agile than the last one, but this variant actually loses some mobility in comparison to the F-35M due to the additional weight.
But on other hand it allows it to fly at lower speeds and higher altitudes.


Another functional design, the F-35X is dedicated fighter that follows the trend of adding reverse swept wings in conventional aircrafts.


The F-35X is a fighter variant with FSW to enhance maneuverability like it is usual for this wing design, but also gains all the typical disadvantages of this type of wings.
Even without the TVC engines of the Su-47 or the lightness of the F-16 FSW, this is actually the aircrafts with the highest pitch rate in all the game at the moment, making it the beast of the tight turns.


The FB-35 is the ultimate Strike variant, perhaps a design inspired in the FB-22C.


Very specialized in attack ground targets, but has very poor mobility. However to compensate that, the FB-35 has the lowest frontal RCS in all the family.

This is not the final list of F-35 variants, so don’t be surprised if you see another F-35 variant on the battlefield.

Also you may have noticed that there is no B variant, the reason is because there is no VTOL nor landing mechanics at the moment, so this variant will be postponed until this feature has been added.


This was something I was interest in fixing for quite some time ago
In the alpha, all the performance specs of the units were given based on what was the most popular perception of the capabilities of that aircraft. In a way it was great since it made as most of the units performs as what people expected of them.

But the problem started when it were added units that never appeared before in any media.
They didn’t carry any preconception like the others, so how good would they maneuver? To avoid this issue, the performance of these variants was mostly a variation of any existing similar unit.

The result was ok, but I wasn’t completely satisfied, because this made that some of the crazier variants feel not so different than the original.
Other idea I also wanted to debunk is the mobility of the aircrafts is higher as the technology advances; this idea is very common on other games of the genre, but not very accurate.
This idea meant that an FB-22-5 would be more maneuverable than a smaller and lighter F-5.

So my idea to fix this was to make a formula that can generate the performance values by imputing known attributes, like volume, engine thrust, wing aspect ratio, surface area, etc.

Since we are dealing with a lot of obscure aircrafts, there are some of the values are guesses by what it’s available, for example weight is determined by volume, using a similar ratio of weight/volume of another known aircrafts with similar shape and era.
It is safe to assume that this formula is far from being scientifically correct, but it actually follows the aerodynamic principles of how these elements affect each other. Still, the point is not to make an accurate simulation, but more a coherent and proportional representation of each aircrafts attributes.
But to my surprise, actually some attributes that some aircrafts had before are quite close to the new ones.
Also, with this you can expect that lighter fighters like the F-16 with relative low weight and fly by wire technology to be much more agile than other more modern and heavier aircrafts.
This is also great because these results are completely unbiased, and while they can still be refined they already display far more interesting characteristics than before.


Before closing, as it was mentioned above, the next week I’ll be attending the GDC the whole week, so if you are going there too I hope we have chance to meet.
But for those that will unable to be present I’ll try to make a report after this week, to share everything that was relevant.
In that week I’m not sure how available I’ll be to reply to comments or forums post, but I’ll try to stop by whenever I get the chance.

As for the future report there is still a lot of aircrafts to make the official reveal, some have been already hinted, other appear in screenshots, but future reports may probably be a little differently, they could be either directed to mechanics, weapons or other types of units.

Stay tuned, more reports will follow.

Super Aircraft Contest Winner


The Super Air contest ended almost exactly a month ago.
For those who don’t know, it was a contest for the community to submit their own designs for a super aircraft to be added in the game.
The contest itself was widely successful and congratulations to all the participants for sending such awesome designs.
For anyone that missed this contest, I highly recommend you to take a look at these great pieces in the forum.

But as for the entries, it was very hard to select a winner. If possible I would simply just add them all, however to follow the rules of the contest and to not impact the development schedule, only one will be selected to be included in the release.

It was mentioned that the winner would be thanked in the game credits, however after seeing such great results I believe all al the entries should be thanked. (Everyone that participated, please send me a private message with your real name, or I’ll contact you later)

However, while all the designs would have been very interesting to have in the game, it is unfortunate that it will not possible to add them in time for the release, but don’t worry, their addition is something to look forward in future.

Also before announcing the winner, (if you haven’t looked down already), the contest was so interesting that I’m considering the possibility in the future make other contest for other type of units.

Now the winner, this was tough, but thanks to the Iceberg staff in helping by sharing their opinion, the following result was decided by choosing the design the most votes.
And it this one:

If you haven’t guessed already it is the S-24A Nigthhound made by KnX

Thanks KnX for submitting such interesting design, here is in the usual reveal:

And this was the submitted entry:

Also thanks to everyone who participated as well.
But for everyone else, what do you think of the winner? It was your favorite? Or you were betting on other design?
Stay tuned, more reports will follow.

Report 044: F-22


As the contest is over, and very soon it will be announced the winner, so it’s time to share more news.

While some of you are patiently waiting to other news that aren’t aircrafts, I ask you to wait a bit more, at this state the game is being polished for the final aesthetics, (UI and HUD included) so it probably won’t be any video until then

This post will be about a new family. And speaking of aircrafts, the reason as the usual aircrafts news have been a bit slow is because, as probably has been mentioned before, multiples aircrafts are being developed at the same time, so each family takes longer to be completed. However, like when it was in alpha funding, I was waiting for a family to be fully completed first before sharing it here.

But on second thought, I find it useful to post an incomplete family.
For those o have seen the Su-25 news post, I announced that aside from the campaign mode, all aircrafts must be unlocked in the Challenge mode before they can used. These challenges consist in completing a small number (3~7) of quick missions and after completion it will be reveled more aircrafts to unlock if they are a direct evolution.

So considering this, it is better not to disclose all aircrafts to maintain a certain degree of exploration and surprise, otherwise some players can be laser guided to unlock the branch that leads to variant they are aiming to. (This can still happen if you have some knowledge of the evolution of that family in reality)

Also something to note, although the aircraft counter as reached 200 in the last days, After seeing their presentation in the challenge mode, with their structured evolution, at least in my perspective, made them appear that suddenly aren’t that many after all, and it would have been more interesting if it had even more aircrafts to have countless braches that lead to a completely different evolution. But what is available it is already an interesting experience.

But now onto the aircrafts, as promised it is the F-22. But like it was mentioned above, this is not the complete list that will be present in the game.


This time we start with the most well know variant that in this case it was the only mass produced in this family.


I believe the F-22 doesn’t need any sort of presentation. The only part worth to point out is this is a fighter aimed only at the air superiority role.
Meaning that his attack capabilities are very lacking, but something that latter variants will try to improve.

 


This is the very common B variant that was also considered to be made for the F-22. Following the tradition, the B variant adds two seats to the base model.


As usual, the two seats are for flight training; maybe the cost of an each unit was decisive in abandoning this idea, so it is only a concept.
Something to be aware is that two seated variants usual have more defensive awareness than the single seated version, also in the game, the use trainer aircrafts help unlocking other variants faster.


The F/A-22 Spiral 5 is almost identical to the F-22A, the biggest difference it is in the avionics where it adds air to ground capabilities



With new upgraded electronics this F/A-22 Spiral 5 as become a true multi role variant. Since most of the changes were internal, it doesn’t have any significant change in performance.


The F-22V, with a more radical design improves the maneuverability of the aircraft with the expense of stealth.



The F-22V is a pure dogfighter and a fearful foe thanks to the asymmetric thrust vectored nozzles. Also while it lost some performance in the stealth department it remains as stealthier as other aircrafts of the same generation.

 


A natural evolution of the F-22 in expanding the multirole capabilities
Also something to note, this variant and most of the following aircrafts in this list are usually labeled as “FB-22”, to avoid confusion, variants with similar names were given alternative names. In this case this variant was renamed as F-22U.


The F-22U a multirole variant, it focuses more in the ground capabilities rather than air. But is still is one of the most balanced FB variants in this list.

 


F-22UL, a fictional variant tuned for high speed interceptions. It can be distinguished by other variants by the high sweep angle in the wings.


The F-22UL is, as stated above, a High speed interceptor; this variant’s avionics also has been tweaked to also maximize BVR engagements.


Another the FB concept, this variant can be easily recognized by some players, it can identified by the delta wings and new intakes that are very similar to the standard F-35.


The FB-22A is a strike aircraft, suited for supersonic flights. While still competent against other fighters, the greatest strength is really against ground targets.


A lesser know variant compared to the one above, but usually referred as the “Tailess FB-22”, on first impression is identical to the FB-22A, but without tail, however if you look carefully the layout for the moving parts are completely different to compensate the lack of a tail.



The FB-22C is another supersonic strike variant, without the tails to generate drag, this variant has slightly higher top speed than the FB-22A variant.
Also thanks to that subtraction, this variant is one of the stealthiest around, making it suitable for supersonics interdiction strikes. There is no mistake in perceive this variant as 5th generation F-117.


The FB-22-1 is also one variant that can be mistakenly identified with other if not looked carefully. On closer inspection it can be noticeable some elements that reveal that this units is overall larger than the standard F-22A.


The FB-22-1 is a multirole variant, and while this aircraft has a FB designation it not really more effective against ground targets than the Spiral 5.
Something notable is that this aircraft has tougher armor and carries more weapons in the weapons bay, however is has the same drawbacks as any heavier plane.

 


The FB-22-2 instead of going for the same direction as the -1, it has gone back to the base model stretched the length and added delta wings.
This variant is the easiest to identify from the back as it is the only in this with LO engines.


The FB-22-2 is a subsonic strike variant, differently than the FB-22A and FB-22C, the change in width and large wing spawn make it more suited for subsonic speeds. Also thanks to the more compact engine and enlarged body, it can carry more weapons in weapons bay.

 


The FB-22-3 as regressed again to the base model and this time it just adds a large wingspan. Besides improvements in the avionics, this aircraft has support to wing mounted weapon bays.


Like the one before, it is from here on, all the following variants, included the FB-22-3, focus exclusively in subsonic attacks. The large wing spawn it has creates a significant drag to lower the standard maximum speed.

 


The FB-22-3 finally solidified the path to take for the following iterations of the FB-# variant. With this, the FB-22-4 is a direct continuation of the ideas of its predecessor. The best way to identify this variant, besides the large width is the end tips of the wings being parallel with the body.


The FB-22-4, like the one that came after, is a subsonic attack aircraft. And thanks to the very large wing area it can reach a high service ceiling, this combined with the stealth capacities, it allows it to evade some defensive system by just sating high in the sky.


And the final variant of the FB-# line, the FB-22-5 takes the ideas of his predecessor, and tweaks them to the extreme. With the exception of the flying wings, it is very rare to find a fighter with a larger wingspan than this one and this is the widest of all F-22 variants.
This variant is also easy to identify thanks to the prolonged nose that was added to offer better visibility for the WSO.



The FB-22-5 is what it should be expected of the result of successive experimentations and iterations towards a specific goal.
This variant is a pure subsonic strike variant, it was made to perform exceptionally well in that regard, but is far from being suited to any other use.

 

And this is all the existing F-22 variants currently in the game. But don’t be surprised if you end you seeing more in the release of after it.
While these units have been reveled, it will not be show how the evolution braches are organized; this is to incentivize your experimentation with unknown variants.

Also, after seeing all these aircrafts, what is your favorite variant in this list?

Stay tuned, more reports will follow.

Super Aircraft Design Contest

This time there is something different to talk about.
You all know VT already offers an insane amount of aircrafts right?
But sure, we still want more, or would have preferred if some families were added instead of others.
But this time the issue is different. Some days ago I came to a realization.

A game with such large selection surely will have a few overpowering super aircrafts, right?
Well… no.

Ok, even if is not a wicked design, I bet there is some special aircraft that can be unlocked after clearing a campaign, right?
Errr… no.

And that’s the issue.

While the game as a large quantity of aircrafts, it has very few original ones and those are quite balanced will all other aircrafts making them almost indistinguishable from the rest.

For a game like VT is like almost mandatory to have at least one super aircraft.

To address that, new aircraft could have been quickly conceptualized and added to the game, but that is the standard procedure.

Instead of that, I want to keep the tradition of VT hearing the community, so I prepared a contest that allows all players to submit their own design:



Here are the rules in simple text:

  • The Design can be computer drawn or hand drawn and scanned.
  • The design can be posted on either facebook or in the dedicated forum thread.
  • It must be submitted two images of 3 view of the design, one in black and white to show the shape and the panel lines and other in color with the default skin applied.
  • In the submission, it must be stated the name of aircraft and a description of performance.
  • The submitted design can be created by making a montage of existing blueprints.
  • For weapon loadouts it must use real world weapons for main and sub weapons slots, but it can be added up to 3 fictional special weapons. If is that the case for each weapon must be submit their one design, description and capabilities.
  • The submitted idea is more important that the visual presentation, however the presented design must necessarily be clean and easy to read.
  • Perspective views are not necessary, but that can be included to better portrait the design.
  • The contest ends on December 31.
  • The winner will be announced the following month after the contest is over.
  • The author of the winning design will have is name engraved in the credits.

You can find the dedicated forum page here:
Moddb.com

Tip: consider that this super aircraft may be eventually used against you, so it must be beatable.


And here is an example how to submit a design to the contest

S-32

Mobility: 5/5
Stability: 2/5
Defense: 4/5
Air-to-air: 5/5
Air-to-ground: 2/5
Sub weapon: GSh-30-1
Main weapon: R-60
Special weapon 1: R-77
Special weapon 2: R-60M
Special weapon 2: Kh-29T

And that’s all, good luck for all interested in summiting their designs, and I look forward to see your creativity.

If anyone has any question related to the contest, it can be asked here in the comment section

Report 043: Mirage F1


Since the last update, a lot of new aircrafts have been done, a few of them have already been revealed in some way, however not all these new aircrafts have they family fully completed, so that is why they are taking some time to be present.

And that is where the Mirage F1 comes in, as it is one of those families that is entirely completed and already in the game.
For those o know, in the list it was present some time ago about which aircrafts will be in the game, it was stated the mirage family was in. What didn’t specify, was which unit it was, the mirage family is too big to be grouped in a single collection, so it was divided smaller groups. The Mirage 2000 is the most common in games and is guaranteed that will be in, but besides that one, the Mirage F1 also fits perfectly in the timeframe that game tries to focus and is far less usual to be present, so it was selected to be in as well.


The first version of the Mirage F1, this version was developed for flight testing. It uses the Mirage III radar; it can be identified by the shorter rounder nose.


This is a fighter version with the most basic package for air combat and as expected it has weaker avionic from the rest of the family.

 


The main and most known version of the Mirage F1 is the C variant with the latter C standing “chasse (fighter)”. This version has the finalized design that will be very little changed over the next variants.


As stated above this is air superiority fighter but it is far from useless against ground targets.

 


It follows the Mirage 1C variant and adds more internal improvements; it can be identified by the stretched nose to accommodate a refueling probe.


It maintains the air-superiority fighter role but adds new avionics to improve protection with better early warning capabilities.

 


After the success of the C-200, this variant born this as reconnaissance role, it can be identified by the added cameras installed under the nose.


As stated above the Mirage F1CR is a reconnaissance variant and it is fitted with a new radar capable of terrain mapping, as a result it the boosted ground attack capabilities while retaining some capabilities of previous variants.


The Mirage F1CT evolves from the CR and replaces some avionics and cameras and fits instead a laser range finder under the nose.


The CT version uses some elements that were applied to the CR to make a full-fledged ground attack variant, with improved avionics to fill that role with the capability to use laser guided weaponry.


Evolving from the C-200 the Mirage F1E remains very similar to its predecessor.


It is with the Mirage F1E that there is finally a element in this family that is a multirole aircraft, this is noteworthy because since this aircraft was initially design with that possibility in mind. As a result there was no need to make any drastic change in the airframe.
An important note is that this variant uses Sidewinders instead of Magic and Super 530 AAM missiles.


Following the evolution of the F1E, it has applied one last modernization to increase the service life of the aircraft, the Mirage F1M it is very hard to distinguish from other variants, but very often is fitted with chaff/flare dispenser just above the ventral fins, something that other units didn’t had as a built in package.


The Mirage F1M continues to be a multirole variant and the improved avionics and with the addition of built-in countermeasures, this makes it one of the best variants in this family.
This variant also uses sidewinder missiles.


The Mirage F1AZ diverge from the main branch, this is one of the easier variants to distinguish, it has a rangefinder and an antenna under the nose.
While all produced units use the normal engine, this variant in the game went ahead realized the idea of fitting a RD-33 engine (a mig-29’s engine).
It remains with the “mass produced” label because this variant really exist, however with the RD-33 engine it should be really considered as “concept”


This variant is a ground attack variant, similar to the CT variant, but it uses different technologies. The Mirage F1AZ is very good attack aircraft but it has much weaker capabilities as fighter than the CT.


The Mirage F1_M53 is a variant completely unrelated to the M variant, it born from the original C to become a evolved variant capable o carrier operations.
It has slightly stretched fuselage and refueling probe is stored inside of the right side of the nose.


The Mirage F1 M53 has been fitted with all the avionics in order to be the multirole aircraft. It also has a new engine capable of higher performance with little cost in additional weight.


The mirage MF2000 another branch diverging from the main family, this one evolves from the E variant to become what some considerer as the “Super Mirage F1”.
Although visually there’s no significant change besides the laser designator below the nose.


The MF2000 is a multi role aircraft; this variant uses the latest avionics with combination of some of the Mirage 2000. While derived is an older design, these changes make it a viable fighter against early 4th generation fighters.

And this is all for the Mirage F1 family, on contrary to some families, this one is more sober with no exotic variants in it. The downside is the variants are very similar to each other with only a few having a really noticeable feature. But regarding to that, visual variety will be compensated with the aircraft of the next report.

Stay tuned, more reports will follow.

Report 042: Su-25 Frogfoot

Another report it’s here, this time is to focus only in one single family, the Su-25.

At the moment, the development is already at full speed, however the lack of recent reports is because of the fact that current the development pipeline is quite different from what it was while alpha funding stage.

While in the alpha it was important to maintain a stable build, the development was forced to always be made in small steps and tested before release, but now the development can be progressed simultaneous in multiple features, and it is possible to only finish a features after all the other interacting mechanics are equally completed.
Which this makes these features take more time to be considered completed.

To avoid the reports presented becoming an empty promise, I prefer only to talk about features in report after they are mostly done, so this new development method is less useful to generate a constant stream of reports that the previously used.
The same applies to the aircrafts in the game, they only will be presented where when the all the family is done.

At the moment there are several aircrafts and features close to their completion, so you can be assured that very soon there will be a lot to talk about.

Also, about the promised last update for the alpha funders while waiting the game to be completed, I must apologies for that. That build is already finished ready to be released, but the respective content that would be featured in that last build is not fully ready yet.
The problem comes from that in this “closed” development the schedule is very tight and demanding milestones, at least in these first months, so there has been very little time to fulfill those goals.

But to address this issue, one solution that can be releasing that last build and everything that has been initially planned and it isn’t been done yet it will be uploaded later.
The only thing you need to be aware is that this last update will not reflect the present state of development in either content or features, but it will include the mission editor now PROPERLY tested and fully working, as it was in that build that were made several missions that will be available in the final build.

But now going back to the main topic of this report, the Su-25, this is actually first family to be fully completed after the game become in closed development, as I said above, there are some other are near their completion, so they will be shown very soon as well.

So, now onto the family:

First about this family in general, the Su-25 was an aircraft developed initially to be a day time light attack fighter.
But due to its shape, which is quite similar to the YA-9, its very often compared to the A-10 and regarded as a CAS aircraft, whoever the main role of this aircraft ground attack while as for the A-10 is primarily for Close air support.
This distinction may appear to be insignificant, but in reality the A-10 is more suited against armor, while the Su-25 is intended for other types of targets similar to some aircrafts like the Jaguar and F-1.

With that said, let’s start as usual with the initial prototype, the T-8, sometimes also referred as SPB.

The T-8 shape already resembles the mass produced version, whoever it has some noticeable differences overall.

This version can already carry a significant payload and it is compatible with laser guided weaponry. But the combat capabilities as expected lower than the mass produced version.
But due to the simplicity and traditional wings layout it can be a considered a pleasantly maneuverable aircraft.

The Su-25, a sub sonic attack aircraft and this version already features the shape we are more used to know.
It has the distinctive pitot probes in front of the nose and the air brakes on the tip of the wings.



This version is most common and basic variant, whoever differently to some of the following aircrafts, it features built-in chaff dispersers on top of the engine in addition to the more common flares.

 


The commercial version of the Su-25 with very slight changes visually.



The su-25K is downgraded version compared to the original SU-25 regarding to avionics, it also lacks in chaff dispensers and uses a less powerful engine, however these changes led to a lost in weight which it gives bit more maneuverability.

 


The Su-25KM a largely improved version over the Su-25K, it is visually almost identical to his predecessor, with the exception of the shorten tube in the tail.



The Su-25KM, nicknamed ‘Scorpion’ is a fairly recent update of the venerable series, introducing a glass cockpit, digital map generation software, helmet mounted display, and other modern technology in an attempt to maintain the Frogfoot’s performance in a modern battlefield.

This variant is also capable of using NATO armament like the MK-80 bombs and other laser guided weaponry.


Su-25SM is the most modernized variant in the whole family, directly derived from the original Su-25. Although, it may not be as technologically advanced as the T and TM variants, but it features extensive improvements.
Visually it can only be distinguished by the reshaped tail and new airbrakes.



The Su-25SM’s modification package upgrades the Su-25’s engines with anti-surge technology, as well as a new HUD and vastly improved fire control systems, tripling the accuracy of navigation and guided munitions.
This variant also allows the addition of external radar which grants the capability of firing BVR missiles against air targets.
All these changes will allow this aircraft to be viable beyond the year 2020.


The Su-25UB is twin seat trainer version; it has an higher the dorsal bump to allow room for the instructor pilot.
As derived from the original, it maintains the chaff dispenser on top of the engines.



The Su-25UB sacrifices some fuel carriage for the addition of the second pilot’s seat. However, the aircraft does not suffer much reduction in aerodynamic performance and remains fully combat capable.


The Su-25UBM features the same improvements of the SU-25SM but in lesser degree applied to the Su-25UB airframe, it also has the improved airbrakes but also adds a heat disperser rod in the engine nozzles.



The Su-25UBM has been upgraded with additional electronic capabilities, allowing it to undertake reconnaissance, electronic command and target designation roles in a battlefield environment.
Like any other two seat attack aircraft, the presence of a second pilot reduces the workload of the primary and increases the situation awareness in the cockpit, resulting and higher effectiveness against ground targets.


The Su-25U3 born from extensive modifications to the Su-25UB, the changes include cockpit layout and nose to allow three pilots seated in tandem.
Whoever, this change forces the elimination of the IR target designators in the addition to the removal of the airbrakes.



The Su-25U3 is an experimental concept for a three-seat trainer variant of the Frogfoot to increase the efficiency in training new pilots.
As for actual combat, this aircraft can perform recon and tactical data sharing to other friendly aircrafts. However is far less combat capable that other variants as it can’t use laser guided weaponry.


The Su-25UTG features an arrestor hook and reinforced undercarriage to be able to operate in aircraft carriers with ski-jump.



This navalized version of the Su-25 the improvements applied to the SU-25UBM like the improved brakes and newer electronics.
The weapons compatible with the Su-25UTG are also wider the past variants, allowing it to use anti ship missiles.


The SU-25T is a highly improved version derivates from the Su-25UBM, but removing the second seat to store more avionics. This version is actually the one that should be compared to the A-10, as it shares the same primary role.
This version also includes a passive infrared jammer in the back of the tail, a reshaped nose with the gun moved to outside of the mainframe.



The Su-25T is a specialized variant geared specifically towards anti-tank combat, with an extended nose containing guidance systems for both laser and TV control. It also boasts an expanded inventory of guided weapons for use against armored targets.
This variant, as it is dedicated to anti-armor and it features all-weather and night attack capability, with this specs, it can be more correctly compared to the YA-10B N/AW (Night/Adverse Weather) of the A-10 family.
The changes made in this Su-25 allow it to operate in heavy smoke and low light our while accurately delivers a board range of ordinance,


The final and ultimate variant of SU-25, adds back the chaff dispenser in top of the infrared jammer and includes higher performance engines to achieve greater speeds and climb rates



The Su-25TM (or Su-39) is a direct upgrade of the highly successful Su-25T, with further upgraded weapons capability allowing it to strike naval targets as well as limited support for more advanced air-to-air munitions.
Although the SU-25T and SU-25TM are considered mass produced, they only were produced in very short number due to their high cost compared to the also very capable Su-25SM.


With all variants presented, let’s talk about the family evolution. This is something that it wasn’t mentioned extensively until now, but the aircrafts’ evolutions will be very important in the final version.

Differently from the alpha builds, in the final version only a limited amount of aircrafts will be available to use as soon you start the game for the first time.
If you if you want to be able to use more aircrafts in all modes besides the campaign, you have to unlock them in the challenge mode.

More details about how the challenge mode will work will be provided latter, but I’ll share here the most important ideas for now.

In the challenge mode, every aircraft will have a set of conditions and specific challenges to that unit that must be cleared in order to be able to be used freely.
Also the unlocking of the units must follow the progression if the evolution of that family.

Using the Su-25 as example, the evolution it will presented this way:

If you met the conditions, the first playable unit will be the T-8, after completing the challenges and requirements you will be able to play with it in any game mode, and with that, the Su-25’s challenges will become available,
After unlock this one, it will be possible to try to unlock the Su-25K, Su-25SM and Su-25UB, each with different requirements and with their own set of challenges with varying difficulties.

These challenges can be from, destroying a base as fast as possible using only guns, make the fastest lap in an air race, or even collect as many “coins” as possible in a fixed amount of time.

Also, in the actual game, you only be able to see if the aircraft you are trying to unlock has any following variant. So you can consider the image above as a little help you to choose your unlock route the final version.
In alternatively anyone that knows the evolution of that family will surely be able to go focus in a specific branch to be able to reach the desired variant faster.

One last tip, trainers will have a significant role in this mode, as every plane will have some requirements in form of accumulative points dispersed in several categories, with one type of points is family points, which they are earned by playing with specific aircrafts.
And for this, the trainers will be very helpful as they give more family points than any other variants.
AN in this case, the Su-25U3, will give more Su-25’s family points than any other.

But this will be explained latter in more depth when the challenge mode is implemented.

Stay tuned, more reports will follow.

Report 041: Electronic warfare


This time, this news post will be not to talk about a actual update, but to talk about the latest development progress.
I’m still not used to this new phase, so I was waiting to all content to be ready to show it all at the same time, but there really no need to do that, if far better to smaller posts and report how it is has been progressing.
In this case, this report will be about electronic warfare.

A lot of thought has been given to make this system.
The idea was to make something unique that could impose interesting challenges to the jammed aircrafts while retaining balance in the gameplay. Of course this has been thought with the multiplayer in mind as well.


First let’s start with buffing, most of you are already aware of its existence since it was mentioned a couple o reports ago and already in the game, although for now, only a few units in the game are actually using of this system.
The Su-30 is one of them.


The buffing will be used to help allied units by giving them a boosted electronic performance in some specs, this boost will be enabled for an unlimited time while the respective units is still present in the effect range.
The players should use this to their advantage, like if they are close to ground radar they will have boosted range.

Or if they within a EWAC range, it will increase their missile detection range.


Then we have debuffing, similar to the last one, but this is to be used against enemies to reduce their electronic performance.

Whoever for debuffing, every units has a resistance value, the debuff will not be applied if the resistance is higher than the effect strength.

To be implemented:

The data sharing will enable teammates from the same squadron to compile all the targets by all the squadron and share to each individual member. This only will be possible if there is at least one aircraft in the squadron has this capability. but the receivers must be modern enough to be able to obtain and use that data. So aircrafts like for example F-104 are unable to receive that shared data from their teammates.


One of the usefulness of this ability is to use for stealth spotting. if there is a recon aircraft in squad, or one plane using similar role, that plane can be in the vanguard searching for stealth units, as soon they discover some, the other members from that squad will receive visual identification that will be allowed to lock on them if they have weapons capable of that, so one approach is to use BVR missiles to shoot down those stealth units at long range

Also the aircrafts that have data sharing have a maximum connection range, so if the team is too disperse, these pilots must be sure to be positioned in a way that enables to everyone receives the data.


Then we go to the jamming, before mentioning the different types of jamming let’s explain how it all works.
First a jammer can have one or multiple types of jamming abilities that will be show below.

Then each of these abilities will have their power and range, while all other units will have their own resistant values to that effect.
However that effect is strong near the jammer, but drops as jammer and target get more distant.


As it was exemplified in this image, all tree aircrafts have the same resistance value to jamming, however the closest to the jammer is affected, because the jamming signal in that spot is stronger than in the other units.

A rule of thumb, no matter how good and modern is your aircraft, is safer to just keep your distance to any jamming aircraft, unless you have your own jamming units to back you up.


Also, there is the possibility to some jammers having a very low limit of how many aircrafts they can jam at the same time, one approach of the targets is to rush to the jammer, spamming it with targets and the ones that are unaffected take up the role of neutralizing this unit.


Another weakness of some of the jammers, sometimes they can flicker, this means there is a brief moment where the jamming is not in effecting event if you’re close to the jamming. Use this moments to your advantage if your are having a hard time being the target of those effects.


Another point is that some jammers will flicker more frequently as they affect more units, in this cases the pilot of the jammer must consider how many units he wants to jam at the same time and avoid highly concentrated zones.

With that explained, now we can move on to the jamming types:


Let’s start with the more usual, this one is simple, every enemy within the effect range will be unable to lock to enemies. The pilots can either go with guns, use missiles simply as rockets or alternatively try to get out of the effect range.


This type of jamming makes the affected units see multiple false copies of the jammer. These copies are pure radar signals.
This is more an annoyance to BVR players as you have to get close to the jammer to be able to look carefully and find which of those radar signals correspond to the actual unit.


To be implemented:
Aircrafts that use synthetic vision are more vulnerable to the effects of this jamming, since they will interpret those fake signals as real and will add a physical model to those signals.


This is similar to the self copies, but in this case the jammer will make a fixed amount of copies to a limited amount of allies within a restricted range.
This can easily trick the enemy in believing that they are being attacked by a large wave of fighter.


Considering the existing AI, if they are surprised by an overwhelming (Fake) force, they may chose to be evasive and run for their lives when they thing they have no chance of winning.


This may be insignificant if you are a lone wolf, but the most fearsome jamming if you are in a squad. This jamming has the ability to make all the affected units be unable to distinguish between friend of foe.


Whoever, if you know your team well and know which plane they are flying, you can easily advert the effects of this jamming. But, just to be sure, double check before firing. Also avoid using weapons that auto lock to a target on their own when you are experiencing these effects, because they may lock to one of your teammates.


This jamming ability disables the global map and forces all units acquire every target own. So units with weaker radar will become severely affected and non-stealth units but with small RCS, like the MiG-21 will easily go unnoticed in the battlefield.
One of the usefulness of this jamming is to hide tactical movements from the affected units, this way it will be easier to ambush them or make them unaware of the flow of battle.

To be implemented:
This will also make weapons that use GPS guidance to become completely unguided.

To be implemented:
Aircrafts that use synthetic vision will have the scenery displayed in wireframe.

To be implemented:

This ability prevents the buffers and debuffers from using their effect. But for this to work, the buffer/debuffer must be inside the canceller range. If it’s not, they can still buff and debuff any units inside this jammer range.

So this is a weakness, since the jammer must obligatory be close enough to this type of units to be in full effect.


This ability grants the power on hide a fixed number of units from also a restricted number of targets, however this to work the enemies must be the jammer effect range, and the allies must be inside the hiding range as well (which is tighter). This is not a solution to avoid BVR attacks, but is instead actually the opposite, to keep the enemies at distance or to protect the stealth units from close range detection.

This jamming type as a weakness of these units can’t be shielded with their own hole neither with another allied jamming unit. So look carefully for these units, it’s very likely they are hiding something.

To be implemented:

This one is simple; this jamming simply prevents the targets to use data sharing. since this result is easy to achieve by pumping noise signals to the atmosphere, this type of jamming as usually wide area of effect. It can affect a normal squad unit to prevent receiving/sending data, of it can affect the element that acts as a hub, and in this case the whole system goes offline.

One use for this, is that it can be employed to cut the communication line between the recon unit and the stealth hunting team.


This system disables all the information about enemy targets, so you are unable to know who is the pilot, squadron or aircraft name, this more useful in medium/long range engagements since you can distinguish the aircrafts.

Also this jamming appears to be almost inoffensive on its own, but combined with other jamming abilities; it becomes dangerous cocktail to the enemy units. Just imagine combining this with the NO IFF, you’ll become instantly unable to determine which units are your allies unless you get close to them.

To be implemented:
Aircrafts that use synthetic vision will be unable to display a physical model so it will be replaced by a place holder.

These are all the jamming that it will be present in the game, most of them are already been added, they are also being balanced so the jammer that does have an undeniable advantage over their victims, but it has to play smart to succeed. Also if you play with a 4 aircraft team, instead going all offensive, you may consider losing some attack power to add more jamming aircrafts and combining those effects, like creating false copies of the allies and other jammer create a detection hole to include the originals.

But the amount of possible solutions is wide and considering that they are most effective only in some situations, the team must carefully plan their strategy and predict the strategy that will be used by the opposing team.
A bad strategy will completely nullify any advantage the jamming may bring, but a well chosen strategy will completely stomp over any opposition.

Later it will be made several fictional “super weapons”-type units, and each will use one of these systems in various levels of the single player campaign.

 

Stay tuned, more reports will follow.

Important announcement !

I have an important announcement referring to the change in the production that I’ve mentioned before in the forums.

In the last weeks the production already entered in maximum speed because it is intended to release in the first quarter of 2014. (and yes, it will be on steam, yay!)

In the last month VT gained the support of a publisher, this is really great news and I believe this was possible thanks to the support of all of you.

They will provide resources to make the game better and they are not interested in limiting the “artistic freedom” of the game. (they only requested multiplayer mode, but it was already intended to be added if there was a possibility). This and releasing earlier than initially planned tightens the schedule as there is plenty of stuff to add before we can meet the set date of release.

This leads to the only downside I see with this. Because this will be a race to the finish line, and as it was a request from their side, the alpha funding will have to be concluded.
While I’m a bit sad about this, since I was enjoying a lot this style of development, I will respect their request.

However, while the alpha funding will be closed, I’m interest in providing a few more meaningful updates.

I’m very grateful to all of you and I want you to know that even if I couldn’t reveal any information until all was set, I am and will continue to be looking for your best interests.

But don’t worry, all the alpha supporters until now will receive the final copy of the game so that is not really an issue. I will also continue to be present here and I will provide support with tutorials and news, however it will be several months without any playable update.

As for your suggestions, I always enjoyed them and I’ll be grateful if everyone continues to provide them. However like I said before, the schedule for the release is very thigh, there is a lot to do, but if is any free time available it will be used to address some of your suggestions.

Also because of alpha funding will be concluded, I’m very interest in making the mission Editor flawless before the updates end, so all you can keep entertained while there is no more updates.
Since the F-22 is so popular, I believe it’s the best plane to add in the final updates (but it won’t be the only one).

With this said, it up to you if you respect or not this new development. But I’ll accept any of your opinions and either way I still will be very grateful to you all.

But stay tuned, more reports will follow.

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