Adding Maneuver Kills for Aircraft (and how to implement it)

It’s really frustrating when someone you are dogfighting crashes into the ground as a result of your pursuit (or even better, they crash while trying to chase you), but you get zero credit for the kill because no weapons damage was done. Maneuver kills have been awarded to pilots historically in many situations like these, so I would love to see a system for awarding maneuver kills in-game.

I understand this is a lot easier said than done, since deciding when a crash is actually a maneuver kill is usually fairly simple for a human being, but teaching a computer to make this distinction with code is not exactly straightforward. Here is my suggestion for a reasonably simple framework that I think should cover most of the bases.

TL;DR: most non-weapons damage to aircraft like terrain impacts and wing rips (stuff like head-on suicide ramming does not count) should be attributed to the enemy aircraft who has recently been closest for the longest period of time, as if that closest player had done the damage directly with their weapons.


Some Background Assumptions

You can skip this bit if you like, the actual meat of what I’m suggesting here is in the next section. This is intended more for folks who want to understand my reasoning behind how the maneuver kill attribution system works.

Background Assumptions Wall of Text

First, I’m operating under the general assumption that a maneuver kill is the result of two general criteria being fulfilled:

1. An aircraft is lost due to damage sources other than hostile weapons fire, i.e. the aircraft was not directly shot down.
2. Said damage was sustained via indirect means during an engagement between two hostile aircraft, even if the aircraft is not destroyed during the engagement.

If these two criteria are met, then a maneuver kill should be awarded to the primary enemy participant in the engagement during which the damage occurred. In other words, a maneuver kill should be awarded to a player in obvious cases like causing their adversary to slam straight into the ground and explode, as well as in perhaps less obvious cases such as causing a propeller strike which does not immediately destroy the enemy, but still forces them to ditch in a field later. This happens to work nicely with the existing kill attribution system, as the propeller strike can simply be treated like a critical hit dealt by the enemy combatant.

Second, I’m assuming that if multiple teammates are simultaneously engaged with the same enemy aircraft when “maneuver damage” meeting the criteria above is dealt, then one of those teammates will have contributed most towards that damage, and therefore that teammate deserves the attribution for that damage.

This should seem self-evident - we need to pick one player to be awarded with a maneuver kill when one occurs, and that player should be the one who put in the most “work” towards the damage which resulted in that maneuver kill.

Third, a reasonable approximation of how much “work” a player is currently contributing to a dogfight can be made using the distance between enemy aircraft and whether or not weapons are being fired, even if they miss their target. Critically, “work” accumulates over time during the length of an engagement, and dissipates once two players disengage from each other.

Enemy aircraft which are closer together are more likely to be actively fighting each other, whereas aircraft which are further apart are more likely to be paying attention to someone else. Additionally, shots being fired, even if they miss, are an indication that two aircraft are engaged in a dogfight.

However, if a player not involved in a particular dogfight at all happens to be closer to the enemy at the moment they crash, the maneuver kill could be misattributed. Thus, “work” towards a maneuver kill should accumulate over time while two enemies are still close to one another, and should only reset to zero once the two players remain sufficiently far apart that we can assume they have disengaged.

Obviously, this is not a perfect assumption, and is most likely the source of any problems with this system, but as far as I can think of this should work just fine in 95% of cases.


How to Implement Maneuver Kills

In summary, the major technical hurdle here is identifying whether or not a player is engaged in a dogfight when a crash occurs, and identifying which enemy is the primary contributor towards that crash. To that end, my suggestion is to add a hidden “dogfight engagement” variable for every pair of two aircraft on opposite teams. In essence, the purpose of this variable is to measure how much the corresponding pair of players have recently been attempting to dogfight each other, and thus if one of the players crashes in some manner, it will approximate how much “work” the other player did to force that crash to happen. In the event of such a crash, the corresponding player that did the most work should be awarded the maneuver kill.

A note before I begin in detail: any specific values for distances, etc. I suggest here are roughly geared towards mid-tier prop combat through very early jets (let’s say BR 3.0-7.0) where prolonged turning dogfights are most likely to occur. Obviously things will need to be balanced differently for reserve tiers where engagements will be closer, as well as for jet combat which happens at longer distances and needs additional considerations for guided missiles.

Now for the nitty gritty:

Measuring Engagement

As mentioned above, every pair of players hostile to one another should have an “engagement” variable corresponding to whether those two players are currently engaged in combat with one another, and if so, how much cumulative effort has been put into that dogfight.

The “engagement” variable should have a default value of zero, indicating that two players are not fighting each other at all. However, once two players are sufficiently close to one another (say within 1 mile / 1.6 km), the value should begin to passively increase over time, starting off very slow but with the rate of increase getting progressively higher the closer the two aircraft are, maximizing at roughly 350 feet / 100 meters. Additional factors such as weapons being fired by either aircraft, even if they miss completely, should also increase the engagement value. (Though, perhaps hits should count for double the increase.)

However, if the two aircraft sufficiently separate beyond roughly 2 mi / 3 km again, the engagement value should begin to passively decay, decreasing faster as the aircraft get further apart. The value should instantly reset to zero at a distance of roughly 5 mi / 8 km.

This system ensures that a player who spends a long period turning or energy fighting with a given enemy will build up their engagement value over that period, and that engagement value will be maintained unless the aircraft separate far enough apart that they can be assumed to no longer be actively fighting one another.

Damage Attribution and Maneuver Kills

Now, whenever a player receives damage from a source other than an enemy weapon (see my notes below), that damage should be attributed to the player on the other team with the highest current “engagement” value, perhaps above some minimum threshold. This assumes that the player who has been actively dogfighting an enemy for the longest time made the greatest contribution towards forcing that crash to occur. If the damage is either directly or indirectly fatal, the kill could be awarded using the already existing kill award system, because the damage is attributed to an enemy player.

Additionally, attributing the damage to a player at the moment it is dealt (as opposed to when the kill conditions are met) means that even if that damage is not immediately fatal (such as with a prop strike where the aircraft can still maneuver temporarily before being forced to land), the kill will be attributed to the player who caused that damage to occur, even if they use that opportunity to make their escape before the actual crash happens.

Damage which is attributed in this manner should include obvious things like impacting terrain/trees/etc., or ripping a wing due to overspeed/high g-forces, but in my opinion even things like friendly fire or two allied players colliding midair should count as well. (Although, in the case of friendly fire / friendly collisions, the offending players should still be penalized for the teamkill as normal, in addition to awarding the player they were both chasing with the maneuver kill[s].)

However, I’m unsure where to draw the line with enemy-enemy collisions. IMO, head-on suicide rams shouldn’t count as a kill for either player, but tactical ramming is a valid last-ditch method of making sure your adversary goes down with you as they fly by after dealing critical damage to you on a pass. I’d welcome some additional input on this topic.

Bonus: Maneuver Kill Assists / Set-Up Assists

In addition, this same system could be used to award “maneuver kill assists” in the case where an ally swoops in and finishes off someone you have energy trapped over a several-minute dogfight - if one player has a very high engagement value with an enemy, but another ally with a lower engagement value comes in and shoots the enemy down, the player with the high engagement value should be awarded a “maneuver kill assist” for their efforts. The same scenario might also occur if you intentionally set up a enemy on your six for an easy kill by an ally.


Please let me know what you think, and feel free to suggest changes in the replies. Cheers!

[Would you like to see this in-game?]
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6 Likes

Once in a game, a hostile F-4 C phantom rush to us, launching multiple missiles, and of course managed to kill a few, then intentionally crashed himself after I maneuvered to his 6 o’clock and getting my AAM hot. Very cool behavior.

We really need such thing in game.

As much as we’d all love this. It wont happen.
Why?
Because it would give players RP and SL and even a little extra is too much for them.
They want things to be grindy
They want aspects of this game to be unfun and frustrating
They want to push you in hopes you cave and buy GE

I feel like it’s gotten to a point where they don’t even care about the suggestions posted here unless they can see a dollar sign at the end of it.

2 Likes

You say that however there were many times where mechanics that were suggested were implemented. Unsure how old your account is but there are plenty of suggestions people made over the years that were added. Whenever it was stated doesn’t matter since it was there.

vehicle related or realism related? Because there’s a dollar sign attached to those.
Aside from those changes and suggestions, very little else seems to change.

Dude just read the forums or the old. Not everything is a vehicle-related suggestion. Being on WT for 6 years you see a lot. I’m not as old compared to some of the old guards from the start but I can still say, there are mechanics, etc that are added over time.

What happens in a furball where it’s not just a 1v1?

Roughly speaking, the idea behind the mechanics I suggested is that the first player to enter the furball with the enemy will have “contributed” most to the maneuver kill and be the one who gets the award. If two players enter at roughly the same time, the player who spent more time closest to the target gets the award.

1 Like