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Offline Asid

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0.13.4.1 is now available on the main branch!
Fri, December 22, 2023



The 3D model for the second cockpit is complete.

Hello! All the major features from 0.13 are now available on the public branch, along with a couple extra features.

New to this patch!

Nav Lighting

https://clan.akamai.steamstatic.com/images//40742388/8b9130d4a2bfa4d24d3df61f907989c06336d9cd.gif

The final feature that was needed for night time environments was the lighting on the aircraft themselves. This is a feature that I've been iterating on behind the scenes for quite some time, with this final version being by far the best. It re-uses the scaling and display tech created by the tech artist for the street lights and various other environment lights. Features include:

When viewed up close, they are little "bulbs"
When viewed from afar, they turn into small point lights that are always visible (prevents flickering)
The lights are directional, so the correct nav lights are seen from the correct aspects
Blinking is supported
Each light can be configured individually for each aircraft (no presets required)

Even better, all these features are built right into the shader, which means that they have essentially no CPU-side cost. On TCA, the CPU is basically always going to be the bottleneck, so being able to move computations off to the GPU when possible is always a win.



Nav lights are toggle on/off by whether or not the HUD is in NAV mode. Basically, when out of combat, they are on, when in combat, they are off. Most important, this applies to the AI as well. Especially at night time, AI aircraft can be visible from quite some ways away while "idle" and out of combat. However once they enter combat, the lights go out and it's all business. I really like how this gives a clear "out the window" tell for whether or not you've drawn the AI's attention. Expect mechanics like this to play an important part in the future!


M48 Infrared SAM



A minor addition, but one that was a long time coming. Replacing, the placeholder US SA-9 is the M48, an M113 descendant adapted to fire AIM-9 missiles from a very "Mech" looking quad rail launcher. The M48 can be found in the dev test Arena mission, as well as a selectable formation in the Strike test.


Tester's Build Highlights
Check out this past news post on 13.3.1.1 for more information. https://store.steampowered.com/news/app/1347550/view/5940872360627653802


AI Firing IR Guided Missiles



This is will be an area of ongoing work that will have pretty sweeping effects on most parts of the game. As such, this is only the first part of a much larger revision to air combat, which will eventually include radar guided missiles and new tactics by the AI.

For the time being, the AI is restricted only to firing IR guided missiles. Until chaff is functional (which will come with radar guided SAMs) I wasn't comfortable with allowing the AI to fire radar guided missiles since there'd wouldn't be much in the way of counterplay yet.

NAV Mode



The Arena map symbology isn't meant to be overlaid while flying, but it was a convenient hack at the time. NAV mode is meant to clean up and declutter the HUD, and to give a non-combat "strategic" view of the map while flying on it. This update is just the first part of this


Changelog

New Features:
- NAV Marker system to replace Arena symbology for bases while in flight (NAV mode is WIP feature)
  + When in NAV mode, strategic targets have faction-colored HUD elements with their names
  + Arena symbology (big wall of text) is no longer shown while in flight
- AI have the ability to fire IR guided missiles
  + How often missiles are fired depends on skill level (Rookies rarely fire, Aces will spam missiles)
- Wave system added to dogfight instant action
  + When waves >1 all aircraft of a faction respawn when shot down
  + Endless waves option added
  + New incoming waves spawn randomly within a 10 mile radius of their mission defined spawn
- Added "Random" option for aircraft type in Dogfight
- Added 1x, 3x, and Unlimited countermeasures gameplay setting
- Nav lights added to all aircraft
- Nav light state tied to whether or not aircraft is in Nav mode
- AI will enter/leave nav mode based on what they're currently doing
- Added M48 and MIM-72C
- M48 can be selected as part of US instant action strike formations

Improvements:
- Tweaks to text rendering to make it more reliable at lower resolutions
- Optimized show/hide code for vehicle group icons
- Proximity fuzing ignores friendlies
- Dogfight lowest starting altitude raised to 3000ft
- Wings in Instant Action Dogfight/Strike spawn at 3000ft AGL or MSL, whichever is higher
- Instant action dogfight respawned waves now appear relative to the player
  + They also respawn in the original specified configuration, with some random offsets
- F-5E model has added fuselage lights
- Renamed "Vulcan" in Strike formation selector to "AAA - M163"
- Added Tactics text to the SA-9 database entry
- US SA-9 in the dev test mission has been replaced with M48

Bugfixes:
- Lines no longer draw between strategic targets when not in Arena
- Fixed NRE caused by AI running out of missiles
- Missile launch notification no longer appears for AI fired missiles
- Incoming wave message time reduced 600s -> 15s
- Fixed instant action dogfight friendly waves not respawning
- Fixed bug where mission failed when instant action dogfight allied planes (but not player) were destroyed
- Fixed bug where respawned waves could appear only at 1800m AGL
- Selected loadout preserved between instant action missions
- Animated parts stop updating if their parts become null
- Missile trails and wing trails no longer glow at night
- Objects hidden on destroy are null checked before attempting to hide them

Balance:
- 9M31 (Strela) increased CountermeasureRate 1.0 -> 1.2

JSON:
- In Arena definitions, StrategicTargets can have a "HudName" for NAV mode display
- "Flyables.json" file added to root of mod directory
  + Defines which aircraft are flyable (should allow mod aircraft to be flyable without cheat)
- Renamed "CountermeasureResistance" to "CountermeasureRate" to reflect its actual usage


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Offline Asid

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0.13.4.3 New Years Bugfixes
Tue, 9 January 2024

The Blender file for the island map is 233 MB.

Glad to be back into things after the holidays! There are lots of things that I'm really excited about in the coming months.



Changelog

Improvements:
- Start button on gamepad is rebindable
- Pressing the keyboard escape key, or the "Escape Menu" bind, will close the escape menu while open

Bugfixes:
- Restored the hills to the east of Nazrin
- Fixed select previous weapon logic

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Offline Asid

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0.13.5.1 Available on Tester's Branch
Wed, 24 January 2024

Hello! This past month I've been knocking out bugfixes along with continuing pre-production work on the next map. This includes more work towards moving all the Arena missions to the updated Sand Island terrain. Most of the bugfixes included are small, but there are two very important changes with not so obvious effects and hopefully (crossing my fingers!) no side effects.


Revised cockpit rendering



Now that I've been working on cockpits again, I finally did a long-overdue change to how cockpit rendering works since. It doesn't look much different from the player's perspective, but the plane exterior is no longer duplicated in the cockpit model. Instead, when in first person view, JSON specified meshes get hidden. E.g. the third person canopy frame is hidden, because the cockpit model contains its own version of that geometry. Previously, the hiding third person geometry was done through a pushed out near clip plane, cutting off the third person model geometry near to the camera, but this is a very inflexible way to handle the problem and doesn't always line up the way you'd like it to.

To compensate for things not always lining up correctly, the whole front of the plane was included in the cockpit model, which caused some annoying issues and visual glitches, and it was annoying to keep the two models perfectly in sync whenever something minor changed.



This is all gone now. The intended workflow is now much more straightforward and robust. Simply model the cockpit, and just the cockpit. This cockpit model is always drawn on top of the third person geometry. Then, on the third person model, mark objects to be hidden while in first person that would look strange since the cockpit model includes a high res version of them. Things like the third person instrument cluster, canopy bows, etc.

The pilot model is now automatically hidden while in first person as well. For modded planes, this should make cockpit rendering a little nicer and more convenient.


Vertical floating origin



For very legacy reasons, the game's floating origin worked only in the horizontal. If I recall correctly it was a quick hack to get over something related to either spawning or ground handling. Over time, as systems have been reworked, they've been written with a vertical floating origin in mind, to the point where I think it's feasible to finally make the jump. This should solve all the jittering that was visible as planes got higher in altitude, particularly in the cockpit.

The AI in particular had to be gone over with a fine tooth comb and while I think I got everything, if you notice any oddities with altitude reporting or the AI acting strange (more so than usual) then please let me know either here or on the MicroProse Discord server.


Changelog

Improvements:
- Cockpit design changed so that ONLY the cockpit is in the cockpit model, no more duplicated geometry (e.g. fuselage in both models)
  + "Third person" parts of the model such as the canopy bow are hidden when in first person
  + First pilot automatically hidden when in first person
  + Cockpitless planes no longer require special h andling regarding camera clip planes
- AV8B model updated for new cockpit modeling workflow and removed unused vertex colors
- AV8B no longer uses unique shader
- Near clip plane for ALL cameras is now 0.05 (most were 1.0)
- Far clip plane for ALL cameras is now 100k
- When escape menu modal dialogs are open, escape will close it
- Floating origin now applies in the vertical

Bugfixes:
- Page selectors on database mode now work
- Instant action wing selector pages should work correctly when multiple pages are visible
- Pressing escape during the pause menu while settings or bindings are open won't continue game
- Fog and clouds no longer disappear when loading Instant Action after Arena
- AI aircraft flying in formation automatically switch back to nav mode
- Cockpit no longer shakes at higher altitude
- "Investigate" AI behavior correctly accounts for floating origin
- "Idle Orbit" AI behavior correctly accounts for floating origin
- "Climb" AI behavior correctly accounts for floating origin
- Arena icons no longer appear for a single frame near origin when a unit spawns
- Camera text correctly accounts for the floating origin

JSON:
- Warning shown in log when collider is missing
- Added "HideInFirstPerson" list to aircraft definition (see AV8B JSON for example)

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Offline Asid

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0.13.5.4 is now available!
Wed, February 7, 2024



When terrain isn't an island, you have to do something at the map boundaries.

Hello! This patch cycle is once again focused on bugfixes, as a lot of dev attention has been on the next terrain, the new challenges it's creating, and other behind the scenes work.



The major changes this patch, with links to the posts in which they are discussed, are:

-    Revised cockpit rendering
https://store.steampowered.com/news/app/1347550/view/3950287576122204269

-    Vertical floating origin
https://store.steampowered.com/news/app/1347550/view/3950287576122204269

-    New audio sliders and adjustments to the audio mix
https://store.steampowered.com/news/app/1347550/view/4047115602009198492


Changelog

New Features:
- Added real (64 by default) and virtual (256 by default) audio channels to audio settings tab
- Minimum airspeed that can be read by an aircraft is now configurable on a per-aircraft basis

Improvements:
- Cockpit design changed so that ONLY the cockpit is in the cockpit model, no more duplicated geometry (e.g. fuselage in both models)
  + "Third person" parts of the model such as the canopy bow are hidden when in first person
  + First pilot automatically hidden when in first person
  + Cockpitless planes no longer require special h andling regarding camera clip planes
- AV8B model updated for new cockpit modeling workflow and removed unused vertex colors
- AV8B no longer uses unique shader
- Near clip plane for ALL cameras is now 0.05 (most were 1.0)
- Far clip plane for ALL cameras is now 100k
- When escape menu modal dialogs are open, escape will close it
- Floating origin now applies in the vertical

Bugfixes:
- Page selectors on database mode now work
- Instant action wing selector pages should work correctly when multiple pages are visible
- Pressing escape during the pause menu while settings or bindings are open won't continue game
- Fog and clouds no longer disappear when loading Instant Action after Arena
- AI aircraft flying in formation automatically switch back to nav mode
- Cockpit no longer shakes at higher altitude
- "Investigate" AI behavior correctly accounts for floating origin
- "Idle Orbit" AI behavior correctly accounts for floating origin
- "Climb" AI behavior correctly accounts for floating origin
- Arena icons no longer appear for a single frame near origin when a unit spawns
- Camera text correctly accounts for the floating origin
- Radar altimeter and shadows should be handled better when flying "out of bounds"
- Paging for the wing selector and database selector should work correctly for edge cases
- When vehicles fall off the navmesh, they instead report (with error messages) that they did, but also shouldn't call any invalid NavMeshAgents
- Optimized how stores weight is calculated (was an unexpected bottleneck)
- Changes to audio mix to hopefully reduce missing engine sounds
- Afterburner thrust value no longer affects aircraft if no afterburner is available
- AV8B MFD Cruise page minimum speed IAS/TAS now matches the Game HUD minimum speed
- Landing gear can no longer be raised/lower post-ejection
- Terrain raycasting better accounts for vertical floating origin
- Aircraft no longer spawns underground in Arena if a new sortie

JSON:
- Warning shown in log when collider is missing
- Added "HideInFirstPerson" list to aircraft definition (see AV8B JSON for example)
- Added "Avionics" property to aircraft with sub-property "MinDisplayedAirspeedMPS"


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Offline Asid

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0.13.6.3 has been released, official TrackIR support and Steam screenshots!
Sat, March 2, 2024



I've been living with an AMD64 compiler issue from that ancient TIR plugin for years and it's finally gone.


Almost everything I've been working on lately has been back end to support the upcoming training campaign, which will introduce each of the mechanics of Arena one by one and take place on the new island map. The Arena mission handling got refactored a bit, along with a global event system, to handle the basic scripting necessary for the Arena training missions.



In the parallel to this, one of the things that has been on the backlog for a while has been updating the TrackIR plugin and fixing a couple head tracking related bugs.


Official TrackIR Plugin



The absolutely ancient TrackIR plugin I've been using for almost 10 years has finally been updated to the latest, which brings native support for the game in the TrackIR software. The unusual pitch ladder movements when head tracking was used have also been addressed.


Steam Screenshots



Another small line item that was on the backlog for a long time was having photo mode actually take Steam screenshots. This works as would expect, with the default behavior being to take a Steam screenshot if the game is currently being run through Steam. Two new settings have been added to the game to force the old behavior of locally saved screenshots, or disable Steam screenshots entirely.


Behind the Scenes

The new map is quite large, with the base geometry for it now being down. Expect mountains and valleys to fly through. It's still extremely WIP, so keep that in mind with this very WIP preview image.



The first campaign mission is very simple, just taking off and landing in a couple airbases around the island map, but since the game right now only has events for purely "Strategic" stuff like base capture, this has caused some coding fun to expand the event system to make for more robust mission objectives.

The bulk of the remaining work on the game will be on building out the Arena and Arena missions. The training campaign is still subject to re-organization but this is the rough outline of not just the campaign but also Arena's feature-set.




Changelog

Improvements:
- Strategic Target visuals no longer Z-Test
- Updated TrackIR plugin to the latest over the original 10 year old plugin
- Game will be recognized as "Tiny Combat Arena" in the TrackIR software
- Photo mode automatically takes Steam screenshots
- Added setting for local screenshots to be saved only when Steam is not in use, or always
- Added setting to enable/disable Steam screenshots
- Shutter effect in photo mode happens only after a photo has been successfully saved

Bugfixes:
- Occasional freeze caused by TIR on startup no longer happens
- "Use head tracking" setting works as expected
- "Use head tracking" setting can enable/disable TrackIR mid-flight
- TrackIR no longer resets every time settings window is opened
- "Reload TrackIR" keybind works as expected

Balance:
- AltitudeEfficiency set to the following values to make dedicated fighters better at high altitude
  + AV8B: 1.0
  + F-5/MiG-21: 1.2
  + F-5/MiG-23: 1.5

JSON:
- Added "AltitudeEfficiency" parameter to the engine definition for aircraft
  + Value of 1 is normal, >1 mean engine suffers less engine degradation with altitude

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Offline Asid

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0.14.1.3 is now available on the Tester's branch
Thu, 23 May 2024





This patch fixes a couple long-standing issues related to the damage model. The most notable new feature to come out of this, is the introduction of critical parts. To fix some related AI bugs, many parts on aircraft are now marked as "critical". When one of these is destroyed, the AI pilot will attempt to maintain control of the plane, but when they figure out they can't, they'll eject.

Between this change and the rest of the damage model fixes, it's now possible to destroy planes without completely obliterating them or setting them on fire.


In the gif, the AI pilot holds full left stick for a second and it kinda almost works, but gives up, and then ejects.


For modders: For modders: The RCS value in the Control parameter for the DamageablePart has been removed, and replaced with new values. See the changelog below for more details.

Changelog

New Features:
- Added "Critical parts" which trigger ejection from pilot

Improvements:
- Losing a wingtip in AV8 reduces RCS roll authority
- Losing both wingtips in AV8 causes complete loss of RCS roll authority
- RCS damage can be caused to specific control axes
- It's possible to destroy aircraft from pilot ejecting from damage instead of fire

Bugfixes:
- All engine instances can be destroyed by damage
- Right engine is destroyed by right side damage on F-4E instead of left
- Control damage is no longer multiplied by >200X

Balance:
- Most Wings and elevators on all jets listed as critical
- Tweaks to MiG-23 damage model to better match visuals
- Reduced image of wing damage from AV8 elevators 2.0 -> 1.0
- F-4 outer wings roll damage increased 0.1 -> 0.2
- Swing wings

JSON:
- Removed "RCS" as a value for "Control" in the "PhysicsDamage" entries
- Added "RCSRoll", "RCSPitch", "RCSYaw", as values for "Control" in the "PhysicsDamage" entries
- "Control" value defaults to "None" instead of "Pitch"
- Added "IsCritical" to the "DamageablePart" definitions

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