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Author Topic: Tiny Combat Arena, a simulation-lite, yet fun polygon-shaded flight simulator  (Read 6353 times)

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Offline Frankie

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Tiny Combat Arena
A sim-lite flying game with customizable loadouts by Why485

Tiny Combat Arena (TCA) is a flight sim game with lots of potential and nice funky and crisp retro graphics. The visuals run silky smooth on my old 2014 Dell Latitude 3440 laptop. The polygon-shaded graphics of the game remind me of Graphsim's F/A-18, Parsoft's A-10 Attack! and A-10 Cuba! and Eagle Dynamics' 1995 Flanker 1.0/1.5. Such classics! Maybe also a bit of Skyfighters 1945. Imagine if Digital Integration had actually developed Tornado 2.0 with the graphics of TCA.


This flight sim can only get better with time. I am looking forward to it!"

The sense of speed of Tiny Combat Areana is great, and there is more than enough depth-cueing thanks to a more than liberal dose of shadows, and polygon trees and bushes at ground level. The animations of missiles streaking towards their targets, mid-air explosions and flare releasing are impressive. This is work in progress. Demo Day 30 Release v0.4.0 was released on Monday 6th January 2020 and has since been updated to version 0.4.1. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the size of the download. A mere 27Mb! I have three words to say about Why485's project - WATCH THIS SPACE! (Frankie Kam)

In Why485's words, TCA "is a mechanics heavy playground for fixed wing aircraft from a different time. There are many weapons to find and experiment with, and planes to discover. The weapons and flight modeling are at a sim-lite level, inspired by real life, but not meant to be a 1:1 recreation of it.










"It is realistic enough that the real mechanics and tactics are in play, such as the concept of running a missile out of energy, but streamlined such that it's a more accessible and fun experience than a hardcore flight simulator."










"This is still in a very early stage. Many mechanics, such as the flight model, weapons, menus, and methods for unlocking remain to be done. It's currently in a state where the foundation is being built out. I intend to keep this page updated as major updates are made available."










Rapid fire Q&A
"Campaign: No campaign in the sense there won't be a story with connected missions
Scenarios: I have thoughts, but I don't feel comfortable commenting beyond that
First person: HUD only first person view will happen, no cockpits
Release date: \_(ツ)_/
G effects: Definitely"









Links 
Main Website and Game Demo Download (Demo Day 30 Build - v0.4.1- only 27Mb!)
FAQ
Devlog
Comments
Discord Channel








Youtube Playlist



Credits
Images and text by Why486 from https://why485.itch.io/tiny-combat-arena


Change Log
For more details see https://why485.itch.io/tiny-combat-arena

0.4.1 - Demo Day 30 Hotfix 1

Bugfix
- AI should be less likely to stall themselves and fall out of the sky when out of combat
- Jaguar spawns should be more likely (MiGs were spawning in place of them)
- AI protecting areas (e.g. airfield defense fighters) return to the airfield if led away
- Persistent aircraft no longer fly around in 3D when the player is not on a sortie

0.4.0 - Demo Day 30 Release

New Features
- Camera can be zoomed in with a toggle button on Z or D-Pad up on the gamepad
- Airfields and aircraft groups appear on the map
- Visual on map for which airbase is selected as home base
- Group system for dynamically spawning aircraft formations and drawing them on map
    - Groups can spawn based on parent airfield
    - Groups can be manually placed and persistently destroyed
    - Area spawners for groups will dynamically create groups every sortie
    - Aircraft outside of "player bubble" are aggregated and abstracted
    - Aircraft will loiter around anchor point (e.g. airfield they are protecting)
- New CAPTURABLE airfield on the island
- Destroying the priority targets around the airfield changes airfield to yours
- Cannot sortie from or re-arm on hostile airfields
- Capturing Hori Airfield will provide several defensive fighters
- Updated Rewired to 1.1.29.U2019
- Updated Unity to 2019.2.15f
- Added AGM-65 Maverick (single rail) to F-20
- Several buildings added
- Fuel tank building is destructable

Improvements
- Total rework of map rendering visuals
- Moved sun so that it would move east/west if it moved instead of north/south
- Beefed up defense for Ibis to be 2 planes + Reimu
- AS30 missile can be carried on Jaguar centerline hardpoint for 3 total A-G missiles
- Message ticker easier to read while in flight
- F-20 hardpoints slightly spaced out to prevent clipping of weapons
- Renamed "MiG-21F-13" to "MiG-21"
- Longer wing trails

Bug Fixes
- Missile lock warning should not play after death
- Removed obsolete Label message when K is pressed

0.3.0 - Demo Day 29 Release

New Features
- Brand new, much larger, island map with mountainous terrain
- Added F-20, meant to represent the capabilities of the best fighters in the game
- Aircraft sensors
    - Situational Awareness: Anything within a certain range gets a marker placed on top of it
    - Basic Air Radar: Used on MiG-21 and F-20, detects aircraft at long range
    - Targeting of objects to get more information of them
    - Different sensors have different rules for detection/tracking
- Omniscient IMGUI labels replaced with markers generated by the Situational Awareness sensor
- AI fighters along with very basic (read: prototype) dogfighting ability with guns and missiles
- Heat signature and IR seeker system
    - Aircraft generate heat
    - Apparent temperature depends on distance and aspect angle
    - Missiles now use IR seekers to detect and track targets
    - Each missile has unique parameters for its seeker
- Flares (for player and AI) to spoof IR missiles by creating bright heat sources
- Ability to cage/uncage missiles to see exactly what the seeker is tracking
- Flyby sound effects
- Material system affecting how well planes can move off-road
    - E.g. Jaguar can easily roll and take off without a runway
- "Scatter" system to provide map clutter such as trees and grass
- Right mouse button can be used to pan the map by clicking and dragging
- Missile warning when a missile is fired at the player
- Pedals should automatically bind to yaw

Improvements
- Banked planes will induce a yawing moment to the ground
- Sound effects for bullet impacts
- Rolling when using Mouse Flight is more precise and should not overshoot anymore
- Visibility dots easier to see and applied to more units
- Replaced AIM-9M with AIM-9L
- All AIM-9 models recolored
- Double rail AIM-9 launcher for F-20
- Landing gear touchdown effects
- Effects for when taxiing off-road
- Built in 32 bit for slightly broader compatibility
- Panning around the map screen significantly smoother
- Photo mode camera and MouseFlight camera no longer clip through terrain

Bug Fixes
- Super Gunboat turrets no longer fire after being destroyed
- MouseFlight camera initializes in the same direction as the aircraft
- Flight controls now inactive while the game is paused (e.g. fire a missile while paused)
- Mouse sensitivity for MouseFlight should no longer be sensitive to framerate
- Map cannot be scrolled while flying

0.2.0 - Demo Day 28 Release

Features

- Brand new art style built from the ground up
    - New models, effects, and shaders
- New flyable aircraft: MiG-21 and Jaguar
- New weapons
    - Jaguar: AIM-9L, AIM-9M, AS30
    - MiG-21: R-3S, R-60, Kh-66
- New Wake Island inspired map with runway and airbase buildings
- Map screen to select where to start your sortie and what plane to sortie with
- Escape menu to pause the game, access photo mode, and end the sortie
- Enemy turrets can now fire on and kill the player
- Collision damage proportional to speed
- Player hitpoints percentage shown on HUD
- Animated airbrakes for all flyable aircraft
- Turrets become more accurate the longer they fire on the target
- Rudimentary support for gamepad and joysticks, each using a new camera system optimized for direct control of the aircraft
- All weapons are always available (disbled inventory tracking)
- Support for 4k and ultrawide resolutions

0.1.1 - Demo Day 27 Patch 1

Features
- Hold R key to reset the plane if it gets stuck on the ground
- Ground handling should be smoother and more responsive
- When landing gear are raised, there are no more invisible wheels under the plane
- Landing gear cannot be lowered if there is no clearance

Bug Fixes
- Boats now turn and stay in their spawn area instead of sailing off into the ocean
- Corvettes near spawn no longer sail under Sabre Island
- Wake effect on some Gunboats no longer renders above the boat

0.1.0 - Demo Day 27 Release

Features
- Initial release
- Island demo map
- Three aircraft
- Customizable loadouts
- Inventory system

« Last Edit: January 12, 2020, 12:33:33 AM by Frankie »
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Offline Asid

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I have seen this before. It is very interesting.

The developer is very passionate about it. It also has a high level of fidelity. I am looking forward to this.

Thanks for posting this Frankie  :thumbsup
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Offline Frankie

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One year later and the developer has done so much more stuff. It will be released on Steam...when it is released.


Blackout/Redout from G forces - 26 Mar 2021



An extremely poor quality video of a ground battle (recorded on a smartphone) - 24 Mar 2021



Vehicles in Instant Action Missions - 20 Mar 2021



Vehicle Armor System - 20 Mar 2021



Simple Formation Battle - 9 Mar 2021



Full 32 Aircraft Dogfight (Instant Action) - 7 Feb 2021



4v4 Instant Action Dogfight - 28 Jan 2021



More Instant Action UI work - 20 Jan 2021



Fishbed AI Aircraft Development - 4 Dec 2020



SAM Installation Prototyping - 16 Nov 2020



Getting shot at by Shilkas - 22 Oct 2020


All videos here https://www.youtube.com/user/Why485/videos?view=0&sort=dd&flow=grid

The developer drew inspiration from A-10 Cuba! and many other flight simuators of the past. Single player. No plans for multiplayer. Instant action. Badly needs a dynamic campaign. Stay tuned.
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Offline Frankie

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Focuses on 1970s-1990s era dog-fighting.

Myriad of planes, tanks, AAA and SAM vehicles. Nice retro, but fluid and detailed, A-10 Cuba! (1996, Parsoft Interactive & Activision)  and F/A-18 Korea (1997, Graphic Simulations)-type graphics. Hope it comes with a Dynamic Campaign. That would be the icing on the cake.

Cheers
Frankie Kam
« Last Edit: June 18, 2021, 03:25:48 AM by Frankie »
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Offline Frankie

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Offline Asid

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0.9.0.4 is on the Tester's branch!
Tue, 30 August 2022



I deleted ~3700 lines of old vehicle code and it felt great

Hello! The patch notes for this one are short, but there were some substantial under the hood changes.

Instant Action functionality has been restored. In particular, the Strike mode. The new vehicle code changed some pretty fundamental assumptions on how vehicles should work, so the Strike code needed to be adapted to work with these new systems. From a feature level, it should be identical, though the vehicles will pathfind a bit now, as opposed to before where they drove in a straight line to the target.

With this patch, the new vehicles are now on par with, or exceed all the features of the old vehicle code! If testing of this build goes well, it'll be pushed to live soon.

Changelog:

New Features:
- Instant Action is functional again

Improvements:
- In instant action, groups of vehicles are spawned in based on the faction defined formations
- Removed ~3700 lines of old vehicle and vehicle adjacent code (no game change, but I'm really happy about it)
- When a strategic target has negative MaxSupply, the UI will not show supply at all

Bugfixes:
- Fixed group icon sometimes appearing at the origin for vehicles marked important (i.e. AAA)

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Offline Asid

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Version 0.9.0.5 is available on the Tester's Branch!
Fri, 2 September 2022

Targeting algorithms are really hard!

Hello! The finished version of the old prototype targeting work is finally in. I wanted to get this into the patch before it goes live, since the difficulty in targeting high threat targets is one of the game's most common criticisms.


The new Targeting




As you move the targeting crosshair around (hidden when looking forwards), a selection of 6 targets will be specially highlighted. Pressing the target button, the radar will cycle between these targets. Most importantly, this selection is prioritized by threat, so AAA like Shilkas will be targeted before a tank that is not a threat.



Anti-aircraft vehicles also now have a unique targeting icon to make it easier to pick them out.



It's worth mentioning again that the targeting is based around the screen center, allowing you to target by looking at something. When off-boresight, a small crosshair will appear in the center of the screen to give you a reference point to aim with.

Changelog:

New Features:
- Added key (Shift-H by default) to toggle visibility of Arena symbology while flying

Improvements:
- Targeting logic creates a group of selectable objects
- Target button cycles between this group of objects
- Selectable objects are prioritized by type so that threats are targeted first

Bugfixes:
- Fixed bug where errors could be thrown by bullets when leaving Arena mode
- Strela classified as SAM instead of vehicle
 
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0.9.0.6 is available on the tester's branch!
Tue, September 6, 2022

Hello! This is a small patch to get ready for the public release.

Changelog:

New Features:
- AAA vehicles won't (purposefully) put themselves between the base they're defending and a hostile base

Improvements:
- Vehicles defending a base with adjacent hostile base no longer clump up in one spot
- Strategic Targets don't read "(Idle)" anymore when not building, the idle is implied

Bugfixes:
- Removed some log spam related to vehicle AI
- After a strategic target is disabled, the supply from units in production is also lost
- Disabled bases can no longer build vehicles
- Group counts are accurate now (e.g. no longer shows 8/2 groups)
- Fixed NRE caused by Strategic Targets not correctly keeping track of their spawned units

Balance:
- Murasa Shilka build time increased 15s -> 30s
- Toramaru Shilka build time increased 15s -> 45s

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0.9.0.7 - Vehicles, Pathfinding, and Supplies!
Fri, 9 September 2022

Putting this post together took so long.

Hello! The 9.0.X patches are now public. This is the biggest patch the game has had in a while. In late June, I started working on IR SAMs. However, I quickly ran into many snags with regards to the performance and inflexibility of the current code. The bad news is that IR SAMs still aren't in. The good news is that the game has made some major strides forwards and cleared the worst roadblocks that used to keep me up at night.

For the moment, the Arena UI is really busy. I've added a shortcut to disable it, defaulting to Shift-H, while in flight, but this is all subject to change very soon.


Vehicle Overhaul




The central feature of this patch are the new vehicle mechanics and optimizations. The previous vehicle code struggled to scale any larger than what was presented in the Arena Demo mission. They also could not pathfind around obstacles, nor were they aware of terrain beyond that it existed below them. This critically lead to many limitations in the map design. For example, vehicles would be completely unaware of water, roads, mountains or bridges. The old vehicle code was also fundamentally quite performance intensive, even with many hacked on optimizations that made the code harder to understand and work on, to the point where I was simply not comfortable having more than ~100 active vehicles.


Pathfinding and its Implications




About 1800 lines of code later (and ~3700 deleted lines!), the vehicles have been massively overhauled, based on a proper pathfinding solution. It's hard to overstate how important this is to the game. From the beginning, I've wanted Tiny Combat Arena to be about strategically applying your own plane and weapons to influence a simulated battle on the ground. Your flights should be in service of a larger goal and mission, about more than just dogfighting in a context-less void. With this change, that goal feels totally within reach.

Vehicle behaviors are much more advanced now. They follow roads (and speed up when on them). They can travel through cities and around buildings. They will even try (try!) to avoid runways and drive around wreckages of other vehicles. This adds so much more depth to flexibility to how maps can be designed. The new code has been tested with hills, roads, canyons, and even tunnels. Vehicles will drive around bodies of water, and drive over bridges when available. Expect more interesting terrain soon!

If you'd like more detailed information, check out this news post about the vehicles.


Bullet, Gun, Turret, and Targeting Optimizations



In addition to all of this, the new code features greatly optimized code for bullets, guns, and turrets. The algorithms are efficient to the point where all vehicles can now compensate correctly for bullet drop, the targeting is much more accurate, and they can fire off many more shots than before without lagging the game. Vehicles can even support multiple turrets now (a forward looking feature). To show off this feature, the M60A1 is now able to use the commander's cupola machinegun.

This rewrite also gave me an opportunity to expose the bullet code to moddable JSON. Previously, guns could be edited, but the bullet definitions were hardcoded, optimized for the old gun system. The new guns were designed and optimized from the ground up to function with loaded data. However, be aware that these optimizations apply only to ground vehicles. Aircraft are still using the old gun/bullet system, but will converted soon enough.


Groups and Supplies



Vehicles are now spawned in groups
rather than the gigantic and cumbersome formations. This gives more flexibility to how they move around the battlefield, and helps to spread the units out a bit more. Battles are a lot cooler to watch now!

Strategic Targets now have supplies
and scenario defined group limits
. Each base can support a certain number of groups of certain vehicle types. Strategic targets will automatically "build" new groups to hit their unit cap, and will replace groups that have been destroyed. Building is not instantaneous, though for the moment it is very quick.

Building vehicle groups costs supplies!
Each group has a cost associated with it and if the strategic target expends all of its supplies it can no longer build units. Destroying units matters way more now that bases have supplies. If you destroy enough of their vehicles to run it out of supplies, those vehicles are gone forever. It makes vehicles much more valuable than before.

This system is something that will be expanded in due time, but for the moment, be aware that when a base is captured, it is automatically replenished up to 30 Supply. This is a feature I'm really excited about because it opens up many new avenues for mission design!


Revised View System




In order to expand the things that the camera can look at, there's been a slight rework on how views are selected.

External (F2), Chase (F3), Flyby (F4), and Weapon (F6) now only function to select cameras on the currently viewed object. Pressing F1 will always take you back to the cockpit of your plane and reset the viewed object to yourself.

Meanwhile, Vehicle (F7) and Aircraft (F8) can be used to cycle between all active vehicles and aircraft, setting them as the new viewed object. All the external cameras work on anything viewable, though the Weapon camera applies only to aircraft.

You can do the flyby camera on vehicles too, even if it looks a little silly.


Improved Targeting




The difficulty in targeting high threat targets is one of the game's most common criticisms, and something that's finally been addressed with this patch.



As you move the targeting crosshair around (hidden when looking forwards), a selection of 6 targets will be specially highlighted. Pressing the target button, the radar will cycle between these targets. Most importantly, this selection is prioritized by threat, so AAA like Shilkas will be targeted before a tank that is not a threat.



The targeting is based around the screen center, allowing you to target by looking at something. When off-boresight, a small crosshair will appear in the center of the screen to give you a reference point to aim with.


Flying Below Radar




Surprise new feature: you can fly below the radars of the Shilkas to avoid fire. This is probably temporary for this specific Shilka variant, since they are supposed to be horribly scary to try and kill at close range, but this is now a feature that can be applied to anything with radar. Keep in mind though that for the time being, this feature is only in use on the AAA radars. A pass on air to air combat, which will include refinement of the radar mechanics (and missiles), is still upcoming.


Closing Thoughts



What started as "I'm going to get SAMs working" ended up exposing the worst technical debt the game had. What's come out of the work, is a far more robust vehicle system and ground game that clears what was the biggest road block I feared. Maps are no longer extremely restrictive in design, vehicles are no longer the dramatic bottleneck of the game, and all the new mechanics create the building blocks that Arena needed to capture the feeling I was looking for.

Next up

Changelog

New Features:
- New navmesh driven vehicles
- Vehicles will prefer roads when out of Combat
- Vehicles can navigate around fixed obstacles such as buildings
- Completely new turret code for vehicles
- Vehicles can now have multiple turrets
- Completely new bullet code (used only by vehicles at the moment)
- Bullets created and loaded through JSON data, exposing them for editing
- Bullet constants file defines pools for different types of bullets and effects
- Bullets and their visual effects pooled in a new, less disruptive way
- Sensors are added to the vehicle, not the turret
- Individual turrets can now be linked to specific sensors on the vehicle
- Added error messages when spawning vehicles with invalid weapon or bullet names
- Added error messages for invalid barrel and firepoint subparts, or turrets with no barrels
- Navmesh support for "Sand Island" map
- Buildings have built in "no go" navmesh option
- Bridges default to "road" navmesh
- Vehicles now operate in "Groups" instead of massive formations
- Strategic Targets can support a scenario defined number of Groups
- Groups are "built" one at a time, and require supplies to build
- Strategic Target icons show group and "construction" related information
- Strategic Targets can be run out of supplies to prevent spawning of new vehicles
- When a strategic target is destroyed, its supplies are destroyed with it
- If a Strategic Target has <5 supply on capture, it will get 5 supplies for free
- Vehicle groups in combat will slow down to fire on the move and try to avoid roads
- Vehicles further from camera run at reduced tick rates to allow for higher vehicle counts
- "IsImportant" flag used on vehicles that require full fidelity regardless of distance (e.g. AAA)
- Vehicles can be viewed using F7 and Shift-F7 (See Improvements)
- Vehicles will avoid and drive around wreckages
- Small cross is visible in view center to help with targeting
- The next object to be targeted has its target box enlarged
- Minimum altitude mechanic under which a radar cannot detect a target, or will lose a lock
- Shilka/M163 have a minimum detection altitude of 50 meters/~150 feet AGL
- Added defensive mission for vehicles
- Defensive vehicles will position themselves between an adjacent hostile strategic target and their own
- Support for named vehicle groups
- Added key (Shift-H by default) to toggle visibility of Arena symbology while flying

Improvements:
- Vehicle movement has been significantly optimized
- Vehicles no longer clip into and overlap each other
- Bullets and their visual effects should no longer produce intermittent stuttering
- JSON: Renamed TurretBase->TurretAzimuth and Barrels->TurretElevation
- JSON: Explicitly defined Barrel data now required for turrets
- Significantly optimized targeting calculations allow for all vehicles to use bullets with gravity
- Tank cannons now named after their real cannons
- New visual effects for all machinegun impact types (Hit, Penetrate, Water, Grass, Explode)
- Crater counts adjusted (Small 175->100, Medium 75->150)
- Machineguns can not be heard from as far away
- Cannons can be heard from further away
- Bullet flyby SFX completely redone
- Longer tracers
- Targeting priorities are now specified on the turret level
- Max range and targeting priorities of a vehicle moved to the turrets in the Database
- Dust trail effect tweaked for performance
- JSON: BurstLength now refers to how many shots per burst rather than a time interval
- Vehicles wiggle a bit when off-road to simulate suspension
- Aircraft guns use new impact SFX
- Garbage collection optimizations for the old style bullets (still in use by aircraft)
- Capturing of Strategic Targets now happens in smooth "real time" versus one second "ticks"
- Experimental incremental garbage collection enabled
- Vehicles will avoid airports a little more (but will still drive over them if they think its quicker)
- Default cockpit horizontal FOV is now 75 degrees at 16:9
- Vehicles are more spread out and will try not to clump up as tightly
- View system redesign to allow for more robust cycling between objects
- External, Chase, Flyby, and Weapon are view types and do NOT cycle between viewables
- Next/Previous Vehicle (F7/Shift-F7) cycles the viewed object between vehicles
- Next/Previous Aircraft (F8/Shift-F8) cycles the viewed object between aircraft
- Removed bindings for Previous Externa/Chase (Shift-F2/Shift-F3)
- External/Chase camera can't look under vehicles
- Database shows statistics for multiple turrets (see M60A1) in a nicer format
- Bullets are initialized only once on game startup
- Drastically improved performance in the main menu
- In instant action, groups of vehicles are spawned in based on the faction defined formations
- Removed ~3700 lines of old vehicle and vehicle adjacent code (no game change, but I'm really happy about it)
- When a strategic target has negative MaxSupply, the UI will not show supply at all
- Targeting logic creates a group of selectable objects
- Target button cycles between this group of objects
- Selectable objects are prioritized by type so that threats are targeted first

Balance:
- Fixed scaling options not applied to wreckages
- M60A1 has a functional machinegun turret on top of its main turret
- Machineguns no longer use thick bullets
- Tank shell velocity more closely matches their real stats (1500-1700 m/s depending on gun)
- M68 mounted on M1 is more accurate than the standard one mounted on the M60
- T80B has its own more powerful gun and projectile (2A46-2, 125mm)
- M163/Shilka max range reduced 4km -> 3km
- M60s from Kogasa and T80s from Ichirin are now defensive
- Murasa Shilka groups reduced to 1 and now defend the base
- Added 2 groups of defensive Shilkas so Toramaru

Bugfixes:
- Planar shadows render correctly for scaled buildings (i.e. bridges)
- Bullets fired from AAA will no longer disappear when the vehicle is destroyed
- Looping gun audio works correctly for vehicles (affected M163 and Shilka)
- Ocean shader uses same depth offset as terrain
- M1A1 has a proper barrel submesh for recoiling barrel animation
- Potential fix for the elusive CAP null reference error that would shut down a flight of jets
- F2 camera no longer cycles to ground vehicles
- Fixed invalid vehicle spawn after Kogasa Arms Fort was captured by USSR
- Vehicles ride rougher when off-road and smoothly when on-road (logic was reversed)
- Groups of 1 no longer get stuck and unable to issue commands
- Target location for vehicles when moving will be in the correct formation
- Armored units will move to a new location when their target base has been captured
- Armored units should no longer cluster around the center of the target base
- Vehicles no longer change target every second
- Vehicles correctly prioritize targets again (e.g. tanks targeting tanks)
- Added missing barrel to M1A1 that was preventing it from spawning
- Missile turreted vehicles don't error check for barrels
- SA-9 and SA-2 can spawn without errors again
- Performance no longer sharply degrades after every level load
- Bullet effects no longer play a SFX at the origin on game start
- Fixed group icon sometimes appearing at the origin for vehicles marked important (i.e. AAA)
- Fixed bug where errors could be thrown by bullets when leaving Arena mode
- Strela classified as SAM instead of vehicle

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0.9.1.1 Now Available! Features updated fire/smoke effects and bugfixes.
Fri, 23 September 2022




Just small stuff because I didn't want to start something huge so soon

Hello! This patch was mainly for fixing bugs, but there's a few notable new features.


"Build Speed" lowers with the HP of strategic targets



This one was a suggestion that I think was pretty good. A base goes from 100% effectiveness to 0% effectiveness when it's destroyed, with nothing in between. This kind of binary state of a base made it feel like you weren't doing anything when you damaged a base, and further discouraged players from damaging a base if it was a target of opportunity. As before, a base has its critical structures restored when captured.

This goes both ways! Preventing your own bases from being damaged will make them harder to capture by virtue of being able to replace units quicker.


Visual refresh on smoke plumes in the battlefield




Another important change is the visual language for the smoke plumes. The original fire/smoke plume from damaged vehicles was a holdover from when much less of them were around. However, with the new and much more numerous vehicles, this old effect was causing huge smokestacks all over the map, often over inconsequential wreckages. Spammed like that, the effect lost its significance.



Now, big fire/smoke plume are reserved for damaged bases. It's a visual cue that a base is safer to attack, tells you exactly where the base is without needing any UI elements, and can't be confused for vehicles. Skirmishes between vehicles will still create smoke/fire, but it's more "smoldering field of wreckage" than "oil fire".


Changelog

New Features:
- When structures are near destruction, they sometimes get set on fire
- When a vehicle is destroyed, it enters a critical state before being fully destroyed
- How long the vehicle is in the critical state depends on how much damage was done to it
- After a vehicle has been critical for a short time, it will explode into a semi-permanent wreck

Improvements:
- Strategic Target critical damage affects production rate of new groups down to a minimum of 10%
- Vehicles have a new set of smaller fire/smoke effects when destroyed
- GAU-12 fire sound (also used by Shilka and M163) has a more seamless loop
- Shilka empty shells now in world space (won't turn with the turret)
- Added chihirobelmo credit to the credits.txt for the smart scaling algorithm
- Vehicles will defend closer to base radius (should prevent vehicles from driving to random beaches)

Bugfixes:
- Many changes to FMOD audio stealing logic to prevent audio overlap and cutting out
- Firing sound no longer persists after a Shilka stopped firing
- Fixed bug where there was exactly a 1% chance that a vehicle could fail to spawn a wreck effect and NRE
- Multi-barreled guns no longer create multiple unused audio sources
- Friendly AV8Bs no longer error and get their logic stuck when encountering a Shilka
- Running ther weapons camera on a munition which self-destructs no longer creates an error

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0.9.2.2 is now available on the tester's branch!
Tue, 25 October 2022



These navmesh bugs are very difficult to track down.

Hello! This one is a simple one, and contains mostly bugfixes to the reported problems with the previous tester's patch. However, I do want to talk about a feature that was recently (re)implemented.

For those that were seeing errors related to vehicle spawning, I'm most interested in hearing how it's working now. The vehicle spawn bugs were something I wasn't able to reproduce, but I do
think that the changes I've made have improved it, hopefully enough to have fixed the problem.

Vehicle Inaccuracy



While mentioned in the patch notes, I forgot to call out that the vehicles have their "error" parameters reimplemented. In 0.9.1, following the vehicle rework, all vehicles became perfectly accurate regardless of what their accuracy was set to in the files.



This resulted in APCs and machineguns taking more than just pot-shots at passing planes, and anti-aircraft fire being dead on if you didn't jink or change speed. With this feature back in, only dedicated anti-aircraft weapons are accurate, and even those are no longer perfect unless you get close to them.

When taking fire from AAA, you should have a short warning to react to it before the distance is closed to the turret's effective range. This is back to how it was originally intended to work, and can be used to further differentiate different vehicles of the same type. E.g. a newer Shilka can be more accurate than a manually aimed older one.

For reference, this is how the system works:

    Leading:
    Affects how far ahead or behind the AI can lead a target. Turrets which lack fire control software (e.g. machinegun turrets) will lag behind a moving target.
    Effective Range:
    The range at which the turret will fire accurately onto a target. At ranges beyond this, accuracy falls off, and the turret will have some error applied to its targeting solution simulating an inaccurate solution.
    Falloff Range/Error:
    At a certain range, the maximum amount of error that can be applied to a target. E.g. if set to 500m error at 1500m, this means that the most the targeting calculation will be off is by 500 meters when the target is 1500m away.
    Min Height:
    Used mainly to prevent vehicles from firing into the ground when aiming at aircraft. For most vehicles this is irrelevant, but the ZSU-57-2 uses this to create the "flak floor" effect which prevents it from (purposefully) detonating flak too close to the ground.


Changelog

Improvements:
- Tweaked empty shell color
- More responsive radar/threat warning display auto ranging
- Added 2 and 8 mile ranges for the displays

Bugfixes:
- Delayed sounds waiitng to be played after scene has changed no longer crash
- Fxied rare crash caused by bullet exploding the vehicle it was fired from if it impacts on its first frame
- NavMeshAgent enabled only after initialization (should reduce log spam and make for cleaner vehicle spawning)
- Simplified NavMesh spawning, and it now checks through a wider radius (hopefully reduces errors from spawning...)
- Vehicles now avoid disabled/destroyed vehicles in addition to wrecks

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0.10.1.1 Is Now Available on the tester's branch!
Sat, 24 December 2022

onlytheharrierisflyable
Hello! This update has taken a lot longer than I planned. In hindsight, I should have released a new build after finishing the map controls, as that build would have included a couple nice features on its own such as the pre-flight loadout menu in Arena. However once I got started on the campaign UI, one thing led to another, and now the game has the full campaign framework the 1.0 final game will need.


Campaign



The "Arena Demo" button has been replaced with the proper "Arena Campaigns" menu option.

Campaigns are a string of missions, each with their own objectives. Missions are unlocked as you progress through the campaign, either by completing a previous mission, or achieving a total number of stars across the campaign. Stars are awarded by completing objectives, with secondary objectives awarding bonus stars. As mentioned in the roadmap post, campaigns are one of the big features required before the game can be considered 1.0.



At the moment, the only campaign available is a quick one I threw together to test that the progression and saving functionality works. This is a very critical function that is difficult to debug or fix once it goes live.

I've done a lot of testing myself on the system. Finding and fixing errors that could put the persistent progress into a weird state has been where a lot of the delay and development time went. However, I didn't want to push this build to main branch until enough people have had time to bang on it that I can be reasonably sure it'll work. If all else fails, I've added a button to clear the persistent data in the syste settings.



The old Arena Demo mission can still be found under a separate campaign. It may still get used for testing future features in isolation, but will be removed eventually. A pseudo-tutorial/introductory campaign will be the first released, and will be released in parts.


Map Camera



Also on the roadmap post is improvements to the Arena map screen. The first step of this is a proper RTS style camera, the camera type that was always intended for this screen. WASD can be used to pan the camera, or the mouse can be dragged while the right mouse button is held. This is only the first of many improvements to the map screen.


Selectable Loadouts for Instant Action



A small change, but a welcome one. Loadouts are now selectable before a flight in both the Arena map screen, and the instant action screen. This allows for more intuitive loadout selection in Arena, and the ability to use the loadouts you want in Instant Action rather than the ones hardcoded to the mission type. I frequently use this to test and practice with different weapon types.


Missile Lofting



After getting pretty burned out by the campaign work, I wanted to do something quick and fun that I had been meaning to get around to for a while. A new navigation mode for missiles has been added, currently in use by the anti-tank missile AGM-65D. After launch, the missile will try to gain a little bit of altitude before coming down on the target. This extends the range slightly, and also gives a higher trajectory to help fly over terrain and other obstacles.


Cheat Codes



A couple cheat codes have been added to the game. Cheat codes are meant for easier debugging of issues. Typical video game cheat codes like unlimited ammo and invincibility are simply gameplay options, and have been available for some time.



One of the cheat codes allows for all AI aircraft to be selectable through the updated loadout dialogs. This is not
an officially supported feature. As the name applies, AI aircraft were not meant to be flyable by the player so they will be janky and/or strange. Flying the AI planes is something I often did to test various features of the game, and this was one of the most commonly modded features of the game, so I figure I can get two birds with one stone by making this easily accessible for those that are looking for it.


Changelog

New Features:
- Aim time variation added (again)
  + Vehicles will take a minimum amount of time looking at the target before they can fire (typically ~1 second)
  + This value has a spread (e.g. 1-3 seconds) so that vehicles don't all fire synchronously at a target
- Loadout screen can be accessed in the Arena map
- Mouse driven camera for the map view
  + WASD by default to pan camera
  + Hold right mouse button to pan camera
  + Scroll wheel and QE can be used to zoom the camera in/out
  + Bindings can be adjusted in the bindings screen
- Pre-flight loadout screen now supports selection of aircraft if >1 aircraft is defined as playable
- Loadout info now displays selected aircraft
- When an aircraft has no cockpit, the camera near clip plane adjusts to show third person cockpit
- "Arena Demo" replaced with "Arena Campaigns"
  + Mission selector for arena campaigns
  + Dynamic text for start time, pilots, and selectable aircraft shown in mission description
  + Campaigns are a string of Arena missions
  + Completion of a mission + clearing objective earns stars
  + Arena missions unlocked throughout a campaign through either unlocking missions or earning stars
  + Locked missions show their pre-requisites when selected
  + Campaign progress persistently saved on Steam Cloud
- Added button to clear campaign save data to system settings (nuclear debug option...)
- Map category added to input binding screen
- Lofting navigation type for missiles (currently used by AGM-65D)
- Loadout screen now available in the arena map menu, and in the instant action menu
- In instant action, player spawns with the loadout specified by the loadout dialog
- Added cheat code system
  + "onlytheharrier" : Allows all AI aircraft to be selectable in the loadout dialogs
  + "surrenderbelisarius" : Unlocked all missions in all campaigns for the current play session

Improvements:
- Decreased muzzle velocity variation to decrease longitudinal spread of flak
- Mouse sensitivity slider range changed from (0.1-0.8) -> (1-32) to work better at higher resolutions
- Continuous mouse mode sensitivity now defaults to 10 (equivalent to old 1.0)
- Clouds are hidden when in map view
- Strategic info billboards when in map view instead of facing the camera (prevents awkward rotations)
- Whether tickets are used as a mechanic or not is set by scenario (defaults to off)
- Initial camera position in Arena is now defined by the scenario
- Updated UI borders to be more consistent with each other
- More verbose logging for Steam Cloud functionality
- Main menu buttons are reactive in size
- Modal dialog is a bit wider
- Updated Rewired 1.1.38.3 -> 1.1.44.U2020
- Tweaks to the quick mission builder visuals
- Campaign/mission loader will check subfolders of their respective directories

Bugfixes:
- When non-aircraft are destroyed mysterious, they are now "destroyed" rather than "crashed"
- Selecting previous weapon on the map screen no longer causes NRE
- Adjusted spawn offsets/rotations for all AI aircraft
- Fixed mission and map loaders not correctly reporting as loaded
- Button sounds can no longer be heard if the player is not in control of an aircraft (e.g. menus)
- Removed legacy press build stuff (no visible changes)
- Pre-flight loadout menu (e.g. as seen on map) shows correct store counts

Balance:
- AV8B roll rate increased 100 -> 140
- AV8B slightly more responsive to input (AngularDrag 120k -> 150k)
- MiG-23/F-4 are more durable 120 -> 200 usable HP
- MiG-21/F-5 are slightly less durable 175 -> 150 usable HP
- Destroyable aircraft part HPs generally made tougher to ensure loss of essential parts (e.g. entire wing) results in loss of plane
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0.10.2.1 is now live on the Tester's branch!
Wed, 11 January 2023



The loadout/stores/fire control is more spaghetti than I want to admit.

Hello, this is a small patch that if it goes well in the next couple days will be pushed to live. Compared to the last patch, the only major feature is the addition of the new munition options. However, these new options touched some pretty low level code that could have effects in unintended areas, so I want to be sure it runs fine before it goes live.


X1, X3, X5, and Unlimited Munition Counts




A new option for adjusting the munitions carried on the plane has been added. X1 is the default, and uses the loadouts as they currently work. Unlimited, as it sounds, makes it so that you never run out of bombs or missiles. The middle options, X3 and X5, allow you to carry an exaggerated, but still limited, number of munitions. For some peoples' play styles, especially since there aren't wingmen, I think this will hit a good middle ground.

Worth mentioning too is that spamming cluster bombs like crazy caused the volume to get so loud that it was just totally unacceptable. The game's audio now has a compressor built into its final mix so that if something ever gets so loud that it would blow out the game's volume (and your eardrums) the volume gets reduced to safe levels.

Changelog

New Features:
- Added X1, X3, X5, and Unlimited munitions option to the gameplay settings
- Gun has new 3X ammo option in gameplay settings

Improvements:
- Floating origin generates less garbage
- Added sound compressor to game so the game volume won't clip like crazy when lots of loud SFX happen at the same time
- Lofting calculation adjusted for less aggressive lofting when the missile has just launched

Balance:
- AGM-65D tweaked for more predictable performance at close ranges
  + Motor delay reduced (0.5 -> 0.25)
  + Seeker delay reduced (1.0 -> 0.5)
  + Loft angle slightly reduced (15 -> 12)


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0.10.2.3 is now available!
Mon, 16 January 2023



onlytheharrier

Hello! This update has taken a lot longer than I planned. In hindsight, I should have released a new build after finishing the map controls, as that build would have included a couple nice features on its own such as the pre-flight loadout menu in Arena. However once I got started on the campaign UI, one thing led to another, and now the game has the full campaign framework the 1.0 final game will need.


Campaign



The "Arena Demo" button has been replaced with the proper "Arena Campaigns" menu option.

Campaigns are a string of missions, each with their own objectives. Missions are unlocked as you progress through the campaign, either by completing a previous mission, or achieving a total number of stars across the campaign. Stars are awarded by completing objectives, with secondary objectives awarding bonus stars. As mentioned in the roadmap post https://store.steampowered.com/news/app/1347550/view/5032215335985456872 , campaigns are one of the big features required before the game can be considered 1.0.



At the moment, the only campaign available is a quick one I threw together to test that the progression and saving functionality works. This is a very critical function that is difficult to debug or fix once it goes live, but results on the tester's branch have been very promising with no issues reported. However, if something catastrophic happens to campaign save data (and for my own testing purposes), I've added a button to clear the persistent data in the syste settings.



The old Arena Demo mission can still be found under a separate campaign. It may still get used for testing future features in isolation, but will be removed eventually. A pseudo-tutorial/introductory campaign will be the first released, and will be released in parts.


Map Camera




Also on the roadmap post is improvements to the Arena map screen. The first step of this is a proper RTS style camera, the camera type that was always intended for this screen. WASD can be used to pan the camera, or the mouse can be dragged while the right mouse button is held. This is only the first of many improvements to the map screen.


Selectable Loadouts for Instant Action




A small change, but a welcome one. Loadouts are now selectable before a flight in both the Arena map screen, and the instant action screen. This allows for more intuitive loadout selection in Arena, and the ability to use the loadouts you want in Instant Action rather than the ones hardcoded to the mission type. I frequently use this to test and practice with different weapon types.


Missile Lofting




After getting pretty burned out by the campaign work, I wanted to do something quick and fun that I had been meaning to get around to for a while. A new navigation mode for missiles has been added, currently in use by the anti-tank missile AGM-65D. After launch, the missile will try to gain a little bit of altitude before coming down on the target. This extends the range slightly, and also gives a higher trajectory to help fly over terrain and other obstacles.


X1, X3, X5, and Unlimited Munition Counts




A new option for adjusting the munitions carried on the plane has been added. X1 is the default, and uses the loadouts as they currently work. Unlimited, as it sounds, makes it so that you never run out of bombs or missiles. The middle options, X3 and X5, allow you to carry an exaggerated, but still limited, number of munitions. For some peoples' play styles, especially since there aren't wingmen, I think this will hit a good middle ground.

Worth mentioning too is that spamming cluster bombs like crazy caused the volume to get so loud that it was just totally unacceptable. The game's audio now has a compressor built into its final mix so that if something ever gets so loud that it would blow out the game's volume (and your eardrums) the volume gets reduced to safe levels.


Cheat Codes



A couple cheat codes have been added to the game. Cheat codes are meant for easier debugging of issues. Typical video game cheat codes like unlimited ammo and invincibility are simply gameplay options in Tiny Combat Arena, and have been available for some time.



One of the cheat codes allows for all AI aircraft to be selectable through the updated loadout dialogs. This is not
an officially supported feature. As the name applies, AI aircraft were not meant to be flyable by the player so they will be janky and/or strange. Flying the AI planes is something I often did using my own somewhat awkward to maintain dev tools to test various aspects of the game, and this was one of the most commonly modded features of the game, so I figured I could get two birds with one stone by making this more accessible.


Changelog

New Features:
- Aim time variation added (again)
  + Vehicles will take a minimum amount of time looking at the target before they can fire (typically ~1 second)
  + This value has a spread (e.g. 1-3 seconds) so that vehicles don't all fire synchronously at a target
- Loadout screen can be accessed in the Arena map
- Mouse driven camera for the map view
  + WASD by default to pan camera
  + Hold right mouse button to pan camera
  + Scroll wheel and QE can be used to zoom the camera in/out
  + Bindings can be adjusted in the bindings screen
- Pre-flight loadout screen now supports selection of aircraft if >1 aircraft is defined as playable
- Loadout info now displays selected aircraft
- When an aircraft has no cockpit, the camera near clip plane adjusts to show third person cockpit
- "Arena Demo" replaced with "Arena Campaigns"
  + Mission selector for arena campaigns
  + Dynamic text for start time, pilots, and selectable aircraft shown in mission description
  + Campaigns are a string of Arena missions
  + Completion of a mission + clearing objective earns stars
  + Arena missions unlocked throughout a campaign through either unlocking missions or earning stars
  + Locked missions show their pre-requisites when selected
  + Campaign progress persistently saved on Steam Cloud
- Added button to clear campaign save data to system settings (nuclear debug option...)
- Map category added to input binding screen
- Lofting navigation type for missiles (currently used by AGM-65D)
- Loadout screen now available in the arena map menu, and in the instant action menu
- In instant action, player spawns with the loadout specified by the loadout dialog
- Added cheat code system
  + "onlytheharrier" : Allows all AI aircraft to be selectable in the loadout dialogs
  + "surrenderbelisarius" : Unlocked all missions in all campaigns for the current play session
- Added X1, X3, X5, and Unlimited munitions option to the gameplay settings
- Gun has new 3X ammo option in gameplay settings

Improvements:
- Decreased muzzle velocity variation to decrease longitudinal spread of flak
- Mouse sensitivity slider range changed from (0.1-0.8) -> (1-32) to work better at higher resolutions
- Continuous mouse mode sensitivity now defaults to 10 (equivalent to old 1.0)
- Clouds are hidden when in map view
- Strategic info billboards when in map view instead of facing the camera (prevents awkward rotations)
- Whether tickets are used as a mechanic or not is set by scenario (defaults to off)
- Initial camera position in Arena is now defined by the scenario
- Updated UI borders to be more consistent with each other
- More verbose logging for Steam Cloud functionality
- Main menu buttons are reactive in size
- Modal dialog is a bit wider
- Updated Rewired 1.1.38.3 -> 1.1.44.U2020
- Tweaks to the quick mission builder visuals
- Campaign/mission loader will check subfolders of their respective directories
- Moved the version number to bottom left screen so it won't get covered by "Development Build"
- Floating origin generates less garbage
- Added sound compressor to game so the game volume won't clip like crazy when lots of loud SFX happen at the same time

Bugfixes:
- When non-aircraft are destroyed mysterious, they are now "destroyed" rather than "crashed"
- Selecting previous weapon on the map screen no longer causes NRE
- Adjusted spawn offsets/rotations for all AI aircraft
- Fixed mission and map loaders not correctly reporting as loaded
- Button sounds can no longer be heard if the player is not in control of an aircraft (e.g. menus)
- Removed legacy press build stuff (no visible changes)
- Pre-flight loadout menu (e.g. as seen on map) shows correct store counts
- Changed rounding to prevent "100% Damaged" on a strategic target
- Increased FMOD virtual channels (256 -> 512)
- Launchers automatically sets ownship on its munitions
- Fixed typo in Mk82 Snakeyes description

Balance:
- AV8B roll rate increased 100 -> 140
- AV8B slightly more responsive to input (AngularDrag 120k -> 150k)
- MiG-23/F-4 are more durable 120 -> 200 usable HP
- MiG-21/F-5 are slightly less durable 175 -> 150 usable HP
- Destroyable aircraft part HPs generally made tougher to ensure loss of essential parts (e.g. entire wing) results in loss of plane
- AGM-65D tweaked for more predictable performance at close ranges
  + Motor delay reduced (0.5 -> 0.25)
  + Seeker delay reduced (1.0 -> 0.5)
  + Loft angle slightly reduced (15 -> 12)
- Increased FMOD virtual channels (256 -> 512)
- Launcher automatically sets ownship on its munitions


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0.10.3.1 is now available. Features an updated camera and bugfixes.
Fri, 10 February 2023



Remember to version control your projects.
This is a small patch to keep up the tempo while larger features are being worked on. Expect an update very soon about terrain in particular! I have some exciting news to announce.





Updated External Camera Motion




Basically it uses acceleration to convey the motion of the jet. It feels really good, and is adjustable. This is on almost max settings. 0% setting would be how the camera used to be. The funny part is that this is based on how the camera used to work in some of the earliest pre-release builds before the game was announced, but it was lost at some point during a camera rework. The camera in those ancient builds was actually awesome and I've been meaning to bring it back for a while.

Another minor issue that's been fixed is that the camera changes its distance depending on the object. I.e. the camera isn't too close now when looking at bigger planes like the F-4 and MiG-23.

Handling of "orphaned" launchers by aircraft
A long-running issue in the game is that when an aircraft lost wings that contained stores, the fire control didn't know how to handle that. This was the source of many
different bugs. I'd been putting off fixing it, because usually by the time any bug happens you won't live long enough for it to matter much, but the pile was getting too big. This item on Trello lists some of the resultant reported bugs https://trello.com/c/MdQMJXdh/257-handle-weapons-lost-from-the-plane-through-damage

Now though, the fire control and stores management reacts to lost weapons and removes them from the plane. This should fix all of the resultant bugs, and also some minor ones that weren't reported like lost stores still counting towards a plane's weight.


Changelog:

New Features:
- Added setting for external camera motion in the camera settings tab
- Added countermeasure firing sound

Improvements:
- External/Chase came adjusts distance based on the viewed object
- New external/chase camera motion that better conveys movement through air
- Terrain scatter colors adjusted
- Terrain scatters (e.g. grass) can align to terrain
- All engines are a little less high pitched

Bugfixes:
- Aircraft no longer report a reversed acceleration to cameras
- More robust spawning rules to prevent failed ground unit spawns
- Tweaked FMOD logging rules to prevent inconsequential error reported when audio devices are removed/added
- External/chase camera transition removed because it was buggy
- "Orphaned" launchers and stores are removed from a plane's fire control when they fall off a plane
  + Should fix a ton of bugs related to what happens to planes after they take damage
 
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