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Offline Asid

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FSCAI: Flight Simulator Combat Artificial Intelligence FSX/P3D


Compatibility: FSX, Prepar3D
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The A.I fire back!


What is FSCAI?
Dutch Owen

FSCAI stands for Flight Simulator Combat Artificial Intelligence. It's a separate program that adds "intelligence" to regular AI SimObjects in the simulated world so that they can function as combat units. You can think of it as an offshoot of the more benign "living world" simulation... but with a more hostile intent. :) In particular, the configuration of the FSCAI program gives weapons to objects, which they can then use to shoot at each other - or at you, the pilot.

Right now FSCAI is in development. It's far from complete. But even in its state now its first application is to support the Assignments/Missions environment of FSCaptain. There, it provides intelligent opposition to the pilot/player in a hostile scenario. It's even used in the "Special Mission" scenario available in two stages from KOLM in the sample set of assignments. (I won't tell you how it's used, but if you get too curious about the shady activities going in the the remote location you're assigned to fly to, you just might find out!)

We realize that some simulator pilots would like to use FSCAI for purposes outside of FSCaptain, and ultimately, when finished, it's intended for that purpose. But right now during development we are making a separate stand-alone version available that can be installed on any FSX, FSX-SE, or Prepar3d system (including Prepar3D version 4).

We hope you enjoy the "game changing" nature of FSCAI, and that you'll report back to us here with bugs or suggestions as the program develops.

This board here is the place to do that, and to communicate with us - the developers of FSCAI.


Dutch


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Offline Asid

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Re: FSCAI: Flight Simulator Combat Artificial Intelligence FSX/P3D
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2019, 01:07:07 PM »
A few thoughts: why bother?
Dutch Owen 01/08/19

Although I've seldom heard it spoken or seen it written, I know a question prople who know what this project is about have to be asking: why bother?

Why work to create a combat simulation environment inside a flight sim that wasn't designed to support it? There are several highly detailed and realistic combat flight simulators out there already and have been for many years under constant development and improvement. They have great graphics and detailed aircraft with realistic flight models. They were designed from the ground up to be combat flight sims, and therefore can do things we can never do in the FSX/Prepar3d world (for just one example damage modelling for aircraft and buildings.)

What is the "market"? Anyone interested in shooting and being shot at already has at least one of these installed and play them. Why does one want to have such a thing in the civilian world?

I can only answer from my personal perspective.

All the alternatives available (and I've tried most of them) are missing two elements I think are essential to realistic military flight operations: Global scope and realistic weather. They also are quite narrowly focused on an era and a location. They offer content only as it applies to that narrow focus. They have a revenue model that requires constant selling of new content, so they have no incentive to expand to a global scale, only to continue to sell (often for a premium price) more aircraft and maps and scenarios.

With the ESP/FSX/P3D world of flight simulation (hereafter just "FS") there's only one map and you get it with the base package: the entire world. And there is the unlimited capacity to alter scenery to suit any particular local requirements - and with a huge base of products and utilities to help you do just that.

As for weather, it's usually at best an afterthought in commercial combat simulators. I think the reason is that so many are dedicated to multiplayer aerial dueling, and people who are into that just don't want the weather to get in the way. It's true you can design missions that include adverse weather, but it's not dynamic or realistic. Real weather has always been a huge factor in military planning. The ability of FS (with a good weather add-on) to replicate real weather is a game changer. If you fly in "real weather" like I do it adds another enemy to the game.

With FS, we get a huge selection of pre-built aircraft, with the potential for more to be added all the time; both payware and freeware. You get a wide choice.

And the final area I will mention is free flight. Outside of multiplayer servers, none of the commercial combat simulators I know offer a true free flight mode. All rely on canned pre-built mission scripts. The missions are fine, but somehow limited. You have an objective and if you do the right things at the right time, you win. And move on. But seldom is there is feeling of flying towards a general objective but not knowing what will happen along the way or when you get there. Each time should be different, not because the mission designer went to a lot of trouble to "randomize" his mission, but because of the inherent nature of the way things are simulated.

Of course there are drawbacks to FS to balance these benefits. The flight models are optimized for civilian flight and this can only partially be overcome with great effort. Most combat aircraft sold or provided for free have no weapons and usually even the weapon switches are not animated (the exception being the small number that have been designed for Tacpack). While it's possible to design a combat airplane with a damage model in FS no one has because there's been no standard to adhere to and no program to supply the information to implement it.

Combat in FS has never really "gotten there", despite efforts, because of the limited interest - and the limited interest is mainly because combat in FS has never really "gotten there".

FSCAI is an experiment to see if we, together, can break out of that loop of futility and see what can be done.

Thanks for supporting this project.

Dutch



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Offline Asid

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Re: FSCAI: Flight Simulator Combat Artificial Intelligence FSX/P3D
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2019, 01:09:20 PM »
A Deeper Look at the New Features of Version 3
Dutch Owen 15/08/19

Greetings Captains,

The new FSCAI release is still cooking. Documentation and packaging, plus more debugging to try and reduce the number of stupid things AI pilots do is ongoing and picking up pace. While we wait, here's much more detailed information on the new features:

A PDF describing New Features: here

Regards,
Dutch

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Offline Asid

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Re: FSCAI: Flight Simulator Combat Artificial Intelligence FSX/P3D
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2019, 02:51:07 PM »
"The only thing remaining to make FSCAI a comprehensive combat simulation is ground targets engaging one another, and that will be coming in a later release."

Dutch Owen 15/08/19

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Offline Lusik

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Re: FSCAI: Flight Simulator Combat Artificial Intelligence FSX/P3D
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2019, 11:09:56 PM »
This is quite impressive and a good indication of this sim engine's flexibility. I'm just wondering if the devs are slightly concerned about FS 2020 announcement. It seems to be a completely different engine so all these add-ons may not work in the new but at the same time a very impressive environment.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2019, 12:38:43 AM by Lusik »
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Offline Skoop

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Re: FSCAI: Flight Simulator Combat Artificial Intelligence FSX/P3D
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2019, 12:08:53 AM »
None of the addons will work I bet, you'll have to by a new version.  It'll take a while for the addon market to get going.  By the looks of the graphics engine, most will want to get all their favorites in the new sim.
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Offline Asid

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Re: FSCAI: Flight Simulator Combat Artificial Intelligence FSX/P3D
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2019, 11:06:59 PM »
Status and some Observations, Aug 17.
Dutch Owen 17/08/19

"Captains,

Right now, this weekend, I'm working on flaws in the ground attack multi-pass logic. Once that's done, and some touchup work is done on the vehicle and weapon editors in the IU, I think at least a "preview" version will be ready for release; so that all of you that are interested can try out and offer your comments and bug reports.

Remember, this is really a co-development effort. We're counting on your feedback. We are all going here where no FSX-P3D simmer has ever gone before - into the realms of air-to-air and air-to-ground combat for AI opponents. These early alpha releases are to find the flaws and add capabilities to the small initial set that's already implemented.

A short list of major things still to be designed and implemented:

   Radar. The only radar we have now is the special-purpose radar on some AAA objects and all that does is allow them to detect and track you BVR and to shoot at you even if they can't see you. The whole concept of ground based early warning and intercept radar and airborne detection and missile guidance radar is not yet implemented. We need to think about how to do this in the FSCAI environment without making it too complex - yet realistic in effect and capabilities.

   Installable RWR (radar warning receiver) gauges in user aircraft. This is tied in with the Radar problem. It's not fair to give radar guided missiles to your opponents without you being able to get warning, like in the real world.

   Defensive ACM. Right now this is only very basic. AI units don't have countermeasures (chaff, flares, jamming) and don't try very hard to get away from you.

   Offensive ACM. AI has only a few basic maneuvers to get on your six. We need more. But it's hard to get civilian-trained AI pilots to execute vertical ACM for example. (If they have all-aspect missiles it's a different story - they are very good at getting the first shot the instant you are within range.)

   An easy-to-use Missions builder. This is crucial. We won't start to build up a big base of good missions until it's easy to do for users. Right now it's hard because the only editor is Notepad!



In regards to the ACM issues I really need some help from professionals or knowledgeable amateurs. I understand air-to-ground combat pretty well, but I can't dogfight worth a damn and never have been able to. I theoretically understand basic ACM but when I try to take on AI pilots in other combat games I get destroyed quickly. And I can't program what I can't really do.

So far I'm the only one to try this in FS, you will be one of the first very soon. We face some serious flaws in the FSX/P3D environment that probably mean that no matter what we do we'll never really get to a top-notch air-to-air combat sim. At least it will be a hell of a challenge. I see two big roadblocks so far:

Problem #1: getting the FS AI to fly combat type maneuvers is very difficult. Right now they are just too slow and leisurely about it - which they are programmed to be in FSX/P3D because it's a civilian sim. I have programmed what I call "assists" which are using SimConnect to force unusual bank and pitch angles on the AI as they turn, climb, and descend. It's even possible to get them to go inverted using those tricks, but they fight against it; always trying to re-establish the safe parameters of "normal flight". This is because of my initial decision to use the Sim's AI. There's another option called "Slew Mode" which lets us completely take over all flight dynamics. That might be the solution but it's also a big challenge in and of itself: being fully responsible for all AI flight dynamics is a very tall order.

Problem #2: the developers of typical AI combat aircraft in FSX/P3D rarely put much effort into accurate realistic flight dynamics in the aircraft.cfg and .air files. They don't have to; it's enough to get them to take off, and fly from point to point at a reasonable speed on a flight plan and land. Of course no one considers the possibily of combat, it has never existed before. Typically, AI for combat aircraft are just copies of generic flight dynamics from already existing airplanes. What this means is that they all basically fly the same except for speed and mass. For just one example; an AI spitfire is no different from an AI ME109 even though in real life they are quite different, each with its own unique advantages and disadvantages which the knowledgeable pilot will try to exploit in his enemy and avoid in his own airplane. A dedicated combat sim will implement these differences but with FSX/P3D all this goes away - they are basically all alike. The only way to fix this is to carefully pay attention to the flight dynamics of AI aircraft and that would be a massive project. (Keep in mind that using "slew mode" to solve problem #1 would make this everything-is-the same problem even worse. We'd then have to have completely new and separate flight dynamics definitions for each AI aircraft.)

Even with these problems having potential single-player AI opponents in the air is a game-changer for FSX/P3D. No longer can you count on perfect safety in enemy airspace until you get near your ground targets. Fighter sweeps and CAPs take on real meaning now. Even if we don't rival dedicated combat sims in the end, it's still worth the effort to try.

Anyway, on to some debugging. I really need to get this out I have other major projects to attend to.
Dutch"

« Last Edit: August 31, 2019, 01:47:25 PM by Asid »
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Offline Reds

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Re: FSCAI: Flight Simulator Combat Artificial Intelligence FSX/P3D
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2019, 11:47:31 PM »
I hope Dutch sorts the annoying P3d 64 bit installer bug !

I had to install FSX steam edition purely to trick it to install for P3D .

Unfortunately Dutch seems to go missing alot and I can imagine alot of people had problems getting FSCAI to work in P3D 64 bit . I had to work it out on my own ,  alot of people would give up .
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Offline Asid

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Re: FSCAI: Flight Simulator Combat Artificial Intelligence FSX/P3D
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2019, 12:01:44 AM »
I hope Dutch sorts the annoying P3d 64 bit installer bug !

I had to install FSX steam edition purely to trick it to install for P3D .

Unfortunately Dutch seems to go missing alot and I can imagine alot of people had problems getting FSCAI to work in P3D 64 bit . I had to work it out on my own ,  alot of people would give up .

I had no problems installing and running it in P3DV4.5  :thumbsup

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Offline Asid

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Re: FSCAI: Flight Simulator Combat Artificial Intelligence FSX/P3D
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2019, 03:05:21 PM »
Status and some Observations, Aug 17.
Dutch Owen 20/08/19


Using the C++ that FSCAI is written in I have access to SimConnect which gives the ability to detach any AI from ATC control and to give it one or more waypoints (LLA) to fly to - and I can specify the speed for each waypoint. This is how I control the AI maneuvers - for example a basic turn fight is constantly issuing waypoints to fly to a point in space about 1 KM directly behind the user aircraft. Vary the altitude and location and you can manage the basics of any basic combat maneuver.

The problem is making the AI pilot do it right now and not after he reads his checklists and gets all ready. For that I use the functions to force pitch, roll and yaw on the AI airplane as it executes the flight to the programmed waypoint.

"Slew mode" is something different. Placing an AI in slew mode means you give up all sim control of it, you have to program pitch, roll, thrust and yaw at all times - you're 100% responsible for where it goes and how it gets there 100% of the time until you take it out of slew mode. You are the pilot, not the AI inside the sim. Much more power and freedom, along with much more responsibility.

After things settle a bit the first experiments with Slew mode will be to use it just while they are in formation, and copy the user airplane's parameters to the wingmen. IF that works well we can try and replace the "fly to waypoint" sim function with one we write in Slew mode.

Thanks for your offer I'm sure you can be a big help!
Dutch


« Last Edit: August 27, 2019, 11:54:03 AM by Asid »
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Offline Asid

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Re: FSCAI: Flight Simulator Combat Artificial Intelligence FSX/P3D
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2019, 12:09:13 PM »
Air-to-Air demonstration video - FSCAI
Dutch Owen 27/08/19

Captains,

Here is a short video showing two air-to-air engagements with the F-5 Freedom Fighter jet by Tim Conrad.

I know it's been quiet here for a couple of weeks but FSCAI ALPHA version 3 (0.9.1) is about ready to post - in the next few days.

I'll post this and some more videos to help you get ready as we wait.

Instructional Demonstration: FSCAI Air to Air Combat




More to come shortly, showing wingmen, air-to-ground. and user interface basics.

1. FSCAI will give weapons to and enable combat for any aircraft in the sky that is listed in its database with weapons attached. It doesn't have to be spawned from FSCAI it can be on a regular MSFS flight plan or spawned by anything else such as a mission script. When it detects an enemy (based on the team setup in FSCAI) it will attack. (I have to say I haven't tested this with FS mission scripts, so I can't say that for sure yet - but it should work.)

2. Yes, FSCAI weapons can be used in multiplayer by users or AI. They work the same either way.

Dutch
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Offline Asid

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Re: FSCAI: Flight Simulator Combat Artificial Intelligence FSX/P3D
« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2019, 12:12:50 PM »
FSCAI Demo video Number 2 (with bonus)
Dutch Owen 27/08/19

Captains,

This video shows off more of the capabilities of FSCAI - including a wingman, ground strikes, and 2 on 2 air combat.

FSCAI A-10A Airfield Strike Demo



At the end of that video I talk about another run of the same mission with a different outcome. This video is the record of that event:



The same Mission with a different result - and an FSX crash at the end.



(The last one includes bonus footage of me fumbling and failing to arm the missiles before engaging and somehow surviving anyway.)

Best,
Dutch

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Offline Asid

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Re: FSCAI: Flight Simulator Combat Artificial Intelligence FSX/P3D
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2019, 12:33:48 PM »
Q/A
Dutch Owen 27/08/19


Question/Idea #1: FSCAI keeps a log of your flights with lots of details but the standalone version doesn't extend that into a career. However, an interface to FSCaptain will update the standard FSCaptain career log with your FSCAI flights, so that your career is built there. No plans to simulate beyond a personal log at this time.

Question/Idea #2: The ground targets are based on a "generic symbolic name" concept. For example a mission places a ground object named "RED_SAM" for an enemy SAM site. There is a directory of generic/symbolic names in two files named "SimObjects_STD.cfg" and SimObjects_USER.cfg. These are used to translate that generic name to an actual object in priority order. In this case it first looks for an FSX@War SAM SimObject and if found it uses that one, if not, then it looks for a Prepar3d SAM model, and failing that the last selection is one of the standard FSX/P3D vehicles like a pickup truck. No matter what visual model is finally selected, it will be weaponized the same - a surface to air missile like an SA-13.

Visually the different models look different but functionally they are all the same. They live to blast you out of the sky!

Aircraft are treated differently. They are weaponized based on the atc_model defined in the aircraft.cfg file. FSCAI looks for a match between that an air aircraft-type vehicle to determine what weapons to attach to a flying SimObject.

Hope that helps,

Dutch

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Offline Asid

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Re: FSCAI: Flight Simulator Combat Artificial Intelligence FSX/P3D
« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2019, 12:34:54 PM »
Q/A
Dutch Owen 28/08/19


Yep, it is true that FSCAI does nothing to try and restrain its users from wild ideas. You can define weapons with crazy unrealistic numbers, and you can attach virtually any weapon (up to eight of them!) to any SimObject in the game regardless of whether that's realistic or not. You can, if you want, just by tweaking a few numbers in the database, make a baggage cart into a Buk anti-aircraft missile site able to shoot down airliners at 35,000 feet!

It's your simulated world - have fun with it however you want!

Dutch

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Offline Asid

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Re: FSCAI: Flight Simulator Combat Artificial Intelligence FSX/P3D
« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2019, 02:38:53 PM »
Release of FSCAI Third Edition ALPHA.
Dutch Owen 30/08/19


Captains,

Are you ready to take the plunge?

The installers for the Third Edition of FSCAI are here ready for download:

FSCAI ALPHA version 0.9.2 for 32-bit Sims (FSX and Prepar3D Version 3) 18.8MB

FSCAI ALPHA version 0.9.2 for 64-bit Sims (Prepar3D Version 4) 18.7MB

Warning: This software is an ALPHA development release. It will contain bugs. It is extremely unlikely it will do any harm to your system but we can't make any promise that it won't.

FSCAI is being released in this early state for those interested to download and explore. We ask for feedback both in bug reports and as suggestions for improvement. Please read the list of known issues before reporting bugs.

We have no problem if you choose to announce this on other forums in other corners of the Internet where people may be interested. Please if you do this, link back to this announcement rather than directly to the downloads. This forum is open to reading without a login. Thank you.


Major New Features:

   New Missions System built-in from the FSCaptain Assignment System.

   Air to Air Combat: Enemy Aircraft can be assigned weapons.

   "Instant Action" Feature by creating a dogfight opponent easily.

   Air to Ground: AI aircraft can attack ground targets.

   Ability to Summon AI aircraft and pilots as wingmen.

   Ability to use the new AI Weapons in any User Aircraft.

   A Virtual Bombardier to guide you in dropping bombs.

   Revamped effects and sounds throughout.

   Dozens of Missions to support FSX@War Pack 1 and Southeast Asia.

   New Team Configuration System.

   Completely New User Interface.


List of Known Issues:

   Radar Guided Missiles are not implemented.

   AI Aircraft won't use rockets when attacking ground targets.

   Wingmen do not maintain formation very well.

   Air Combat Maneuvers by AI pilots are limited in this edition.

   AI Pilots are rookies and not proficient at air-to-air combat yet.

   The Mission Editor is still under development.

   The "Weapons" key combinations can't be changed from the UI.


Please read the manual, at least page 2 (the Quick Start page) before you try and engage in air combat using the opponent creation feature. Reading the manual is a very good idea anyway. It's in a preliminary state but should give you all the info you need to get started. The manual is located in the Manuals folder inside the FSCAI folder in the root folder of your sim. Questions can always be asked here in the forum.

While this is ALPHA software and is made available for testing it is neither illegal, immoral, or unethical to have fun while testing it. I certainly do!

Thank you for helping develop this program and sticking with us while we go where no one has gone before in Flight Simulator.

Dutch


Original announcement.

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