Floating a new balloon system - (beta test?)

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Floating a new balloon system - (beta test?)

Postby SYN_Matthias » Thu Jun 20, 2013 5:00 pm

So after BAIII and lots of subsequent thinking I came to the conclusion that the balloon spotting system that we see used in many ROF missions leaves a lot to be desired. I've been working on a much more complicated but much more versatile balloon "system" which could be rubber stamped into missions via copy paste. Basically I'm thinking provide the community with a template on the ROF forums and then let the mission builders integrate it from there without having to build it from the ground up or take it from other subsequentr missions that other developers make.

The current prototype of this system is up for testing and feedback from J5. Once that's complete (next week) I'd like to know if there is a Syn mission builder interested in getting their hands on it who wouldn't mind dropping it into a VM or something for a larger scale community beta test.

Assuming that went well, we could then present it to the ROF community as a new "standard" for realism in terms of the balloon mechanics.

Looking forward to your feedback on the idea,

J5_Matthias

---details below---

Here's a rough outline of what this system does:

1. 270 degree directional signaling of incoming enemies at a distance = to the last 2/3rds of the balloon's observation radius.

The balloon observer is looking towards the front and his head's not on a swivel. Therefore long range flaring does not occur for targets behind the balloon (relative to the front) The directional signaling occurs in a traffic light pattern relative to the side of the front the balloon is on. Left = red, Straight across = yellow, Right = green. The balloon cannot flare for two directions simultaneously, and flare reload and respotting takes at least 20 seconds to avoid "fireworks" effect. During that time between flares, no other directional spotting takes place.

2. 360 directional "emergency" spotting

A plane that enteres a distance inside the 1st 3rd of the balloon's spotting range in any direction triggers an immediate white flare and the balloon begins being winched down in 10 seconds. Enemies leaving this emergency zone sends the "All Clear" signal and begins the balloon being winched back up. The balloon CANNOT flare in the winched down position or if it's destroyed.

3. Spotting integrated+controlled AAA fire based on flares.

Each balloon controls 3 AAA guns and 1 MG/flaming onion fpr close in protection. An enemy entering one of the long range zones of the balloon signals one specific AAA gun to engage targets in that zone. When the target leaves that area or is neutralized, the gun disengages. If the balloon fires the emergency flare for a close range target then all 3 batteries and the MG are directed to converge on the close threat until it is neutralized or leaves the area.

I feel this is a massive upgrade to the current "standard" method of AAA guidance which generally leaves massive gaps in coverage because all guns converge on the "closest" target allowing other nearby enemies to slip through unnoticed. Having 3 seperate batteries spaced out and independantly tasked with tracking long range contacts relative to their individual zones of engagement but also providing a coordinated defense of the balloon when needed should provide better spotting and tracking on incoming threats. Low flying bombers will hate it because there will be more decentralized batteries to avoid. Tough noogies. They should know to avoid balloons anyway.

4. AAA accuracy penalty for balloon loss.
AAA batteries operating without the fire direction of their balloon (because it has been destroyed - not winched down) are reduced in accuracy/effectiveness until another balloon is launched to replace it. Note: This does not immediately take effect - the plane(s) which took out the balloon are not suddenly "safe" from retaliation - it's an effect that take place after a certain amount of time goes by without observation reports/gunnery input from the signal corps.

5. The balloon provides no map visibility. (this could obviously be changed easily though) Once the balloon observation radius is used to build the signaling/sighting system in the mission, the "RADAR" of the balloon is removed - because this is designed to be is a more realistic system with the integrated directional signalling the balloon provides.
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Re: Floating a new balloon system - (beta test?)

Postby SYN_MrWolf » Fri Jun 21, 2013 6:50 am

Sounds very interesting. Did you already make this template?
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Re: Floating a new balloon system - (beta test?)

Postby SYN_Bandy » Fri Jun 21, 2013 11:41 am

Yes, overall concept sounds interesting, looking forward to seeing it in action.
J5_Matthias wrote:...
4. AAA accuracy penalty for balloon loss.
AAA batteries operating without the fire direction of their balloon (because it has been destroyed - not winched down) are reduced in accuracy/effectiveness until another balloon is launched to replace it. Note: This does not immediately take effect - the plane(s) which took out the balloon are not suddenly "safe" from retaliation - it's an effect that take place after a certain amount of time goes by without observation reports/gunnery input from the signal corps. ...

If I may provide a minor critique of point 4., I don't think AAA would suffer any reduced accuracy or effectiveness just because the balloon is not providing fire direction. AAA batteries were relatively autonomous and had their own aircraft spotters. Remember, these guys were looking up all the time and it is likely easier to spot distant aircraft 'specks' from a solid vantage point than from a shaky balloon in the wind.
Just a thought.

Often wondered though, can AAA take out its own balloon? May become an issue with so much defense spaced around it. Please don't get me wrong, I am all for realistic balloon defense with multiple AAA and AAMG targeting enemy...
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Re: Floating a new balloon system - (beta test?)

Postby SYN_Matthias » Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:01 pm

SYN_MrWolf wrote:Sounds very interesting. Did you already make this template?


Yes the template is done with 4 balloons. My squad mates have been helping me test and make sure the system is bug free before I pass it on to you guys or anybody else.
2 entente - (I could make one french just for kicks), 2 german - (1 with a flaming onion as opposed to an MG for close defense)
so the mission maker can just drop in the one they want based on the area/timeline

Then you't just:
- copy/paste the balloon in
- ground the AAA defenses

(Optional tweaking for terrain elevation changes)
- set the low WP for the balloon to ground height +50m
- set the high WP for the balloon to low WP +1500m (or whatever other height you choose to use)
- set the balloon to the same height as the low WP. (balloon raises automatically to high WP on mission start/respawn)

Done.

SYN_Bandy wrote:If I may provide a minor critique of point 4., I don't think AAA would suffer any reduced accuracy or effectiveness just because the balloon is not providing fire direction. AAA batteries were relatively autonomous and had their own aircraft spotters. Remember, these guys were looking up all the time and it is likely easier to spot distant aircraft 'specks' from a solid vantage point than from a shaky balloon in the wind.
Just a thought.

Often wondered though, can AAA take out its own balloon? May become an issue with so much defense spaced around it. Please don't get me wrong, I am all for realistic balloon defense with multiple AAA and AAMG targeting enemy...


So this is a good point, the AAA would have it's own fire directors. But I didn't see a good way of modeling them so that the AAA could be damaged without killing the batteries and I thought the AI dropping would be a good incentive for people to go for them. However, my testing with this yesterday left me underwhelmed with the AI accuracy, but happy with how the fire direction works/stops.

So tonight I'm going to try two things:
1. tweaking the AI in the opposite direction - when the enemy enters that ranged in area round the balloon, the AI level will increase to represent the ranged in area (as long as the balloon is alive). This I think will compliment the historical accounts I've read of a "flak wall/curatin" that batteries would put up by concentrating all their fire at a certain distance from the balloon in an attempt to force the attacking aircraft to break off the attack or fly through heavily concentrated fire.

2. just repositioning the batteries to make them work better and removing the AI level change idea entirely. Their current distance from the balloon makes them ineffective on "normal" AI as a deterrent.

As for your other musing, I've never seen a balloon get hit by friendly AAA. Had I stacked all the guns directly under the balloon, perhaps this would have been an issue because they'd have to shoot through the balloon to hit me.

But usually it's friendly planes behind the target that find themselves in the line of fire of the AI so in this case I think you'd have to hold an exact position in a dive so that the balloon looked like it was chasing you as it descended relavtive to the AAA guns and since there are 3 of them spaced out at 90 degree angles a good distance away only 1 gun would really be in danger of hitting the balloon at any time. Highly improbable imho.
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Re: Floating a new balloon system - (beta test?)

Postby SYN_Bandy » Fri Jun 21, 2013 5:53 pm

Good stuff! Curtain of AAA bursts sounds intimidating to extreme.

Yes, was mostly joking about the friendly-fire risk to balloon, but good to know you thought about it... :grin:
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Re: Floating a new balloon system - (beta test?)

Postby SYN_Matthias » Wed Jun 26, 2013 4:14 pm

I've completed testing with Jasta 5 on this new system and shaken out all the quirks (as far as I know). Obviously there is some interest here, so I will provide Syndicate the template files through Vander (email).
If it meets with your approval, you're welcome to test/use it in your Syndicate missions and (if you would like) your upcoming Black September campaign. It was really built with campaigns in mind.

The template map I'll provide comes with four complete balloon setups.
- English (SW) Caquot Type
- French (NW) Parseval Type
- German Late War (NE) AE Type + Flaming Onion
- German Early War (SE) Drachen Type

The template balloons are all built based on a 6km observation range.

The AAA defense has changed a little from what was originally concieved. Basic highlights:
- AAA guns still independantly track up to 3 simultaneous long range threats based on balloon observation
- AAA guns no longer lose or gain AI levels based on approach to balloon/destruction of/ etc. However...
- Directly approaching within 2km of a balloon and mucking about in it's AAA "kill zone" without dropping it efficiently Is likely to get you killed because this zone has stronger defenses that will zero in on you more quickly. So get in, get it, and get out.
- The optimal exit strategy for survival during balloon attacks is no longer a dive to the deck. It's a peel and climb away and then run, run, run. Going to the deck you may go right over AAA guns at close range on your way out! Possible exception to this advice - hitting the balloon from the rear :)
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Re: Floating a new balloon system - (beta test?)

Postby SYN_Bandy » Thu Jun 27, 2013 11:59 am

Here is a thought that others should voice opinion on.

I see you have included 'Flaming Onions' for German balloon defense and that is of course perfect. The British used a 2-Pounder 'POM-POM' (40 mm quick fire) since 1915 (at least according to Wik, I know, I know... :???: ) and it looks remarkably similar to the 37 mm Flakcannone/Flaming Onion. They are both just over-sized maxim machineguns, and have been referred to as such in the literature.

Why not use the 37 mm Flak Cannone as a stand-in for the 40 mm POM-POM???
Just add appropriate British crew. This would maintain balance in-game, and would be as close to historic accuracy as currently possible.

37mm Flakcannone:
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2 Pounder (40mm):
Image[/img]
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Re: Floating a new balloon system - (beta test?)

Postby SYN_Matthias » Thu Jun 27, 2013 1:11 pm

I think that's a brilliant idea. All you'd have to do on the Entente balloons in the template to match the german late war setup is to swap out a single model - the hotchkissAAA MG with the M_flak on just one entity. (I think it is named Emrg MG/FO)

I will say that I find in my testing that the FO is appropriately lethal when the balloon is very low, but unfortunately, the FO as modeled in ROF is not sufficient to provide an adequate defense for the balloon when it is dropping and under active attack over ~500m (as the pom poms may have been in real life) so I'd recommend not trying to take it further and swapping in multiple FOs for actual AAA guns covering the balloon.

Of course if you actually have a way of swapping out the German crew for Brits in game, icing on the cake.
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Re: Floating a new balloon system - (beta test?)

Postby SYN_Haashashin » Sat Jul 13, 2013 9:59 am

Hi Matthias,

I have been reading this since you post it and thougth about using it.
Now that Im working in a new Vintage Mission I will like to try it out. The mission itself is a test of some things so I will be more than happy to incorporate your ballons logic to the mission and make a public test with it, of course I will name you on the credits along with Ankor.

So if you are ok with it please let me know where I can find the files.

Thx in advance

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Re: Floating a new balloon system - (beta test?)

Postby SYN_Matthias » Mon Jul 15, 2013 2:30 am

Haash,

Vander has the mission files for the balloons. Or give me your email via PM here and I'll get them to you Monday.

Also - just so you know you're better off getting ahold of me via pm here here rather than on the rof site forums. I rarely go there.

Thanks,

Matthias.
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