Aviation mode "Escalation" with a 6724 km² ground map, ARM missiles, and tactical Nuclear Weapons

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Alright, I’m recreating my topic for several reasons. First off, my vision for the game mode and some gameplay nuances have evolved. Secondly, the previous thread has peacefully been laid to rest in the “Player Approved” section. Thirdly, the moderators of the English forum initially rejected the thread because it “lacked detailed descriptions, diagrams, maps, and calculations,” and soon after because I “proposed an unforgivable number of innovations in one suggestion.”

Alright, gentlemen, I’ll try to correct myself and take my mistakes into account. Mainly, I will add visual maps, tutorials, and I will also try to implement the idea without adding vehicles marked in red.

I will also label certain proposed elements or mechanics as crucial details, without which the mode will lose its meaning, or as non-essential, which can be added later or not at all.

Very briefly

The proposed mode is an Air RB Confrontation set in the context of an intense, full-scale war. The action takes place on a huge and dynamic battlefield where both sides deploy all available resources and weapons, including nuclear weapons.

To achieve the desired result, the mode uses an extensive, detailed, and well-designed but optimized game map with a large number of objectives, points of interest, and equipment. The map features columns of armored vehicles, long-range air defense systems, stationary radar detection systems, or amphibious assault ships. A session lasts from 30 minutes to several hours and can end either in a tactical defeat from conventional weapons or a strategic victory using nuclear weapons. The mode is proposed to be released in a modular format: initially in a stripped-down version, without many of the proposed equipment models, but with prospects for adding new models, as well as the possibility of introducing 5th generation fighters or even modern submarines and electronic warfare aircraft.

The cornerstones of the mode are the beliefs that:

  • The current Air RB became outdated in 2015 and it’s time to move on.
  • Balancing equipment by BR or years of service doesn’t work; aircraft should be balanced through the map, objectives, and tasks for specific classes of equipment.
  • Modern air warfare is not a head-to-head shootout but a complex confrontation between aviation and air defense systems.

No matter what I say about the skills of the ground locations map designer, who squeezes everything possible out of your prehistoric engine, I can’t say the same about the air locations map designer. And I’m not talking about the maps made in 2016, but very recent ones. A prime example is the new map “Mysterious Valley.” Sure, it looks pretty in screenshots… until you start the game. You see, if you slap trees with script and random urban clutter onto a lousy map with a terrible terrain that wasn’t even touched up in Photoshop, no matter how high-resolution the assets are, the map turns out lousy.

But hey, the valiant mapper(s) spent several dozen “spare” man-hours to let players destroy civilian buildings! And, aside from the ridiculously out-of-proportion dam, they built a radio telescope and added little boats! I bow to your diligence, considering it’s a huge map and the manually created points of interest are way too far from the battlefield. No, I just don’t get it. If the terrain itself is that bad, why pile up so much visual garbage that has zero in-game use? Just for show?

Why not start with creating a proper terrain, without those river-canyons, with proportional mountain ranges and roads that were planned and modeled, not drawn with a spray can?

Why not use more than 3 polygons per kilometer of terrain, why…
Oh right, the limitations of the world’s best Dagor engine. Although the limitations are more systemic than hardware-related because your engine can render an impressive image and tons of visual effects. But this limitation was left intentionally, since why invent something new when there’s the ancient game development technology of heightmaps and terrains? Could a new technology be very complex? Nope, the 90s technology called FBX is much older than yours, but you still manage to lose to it.

Let’s look at an example of a map created by a single developer for his game, which, by the way, our game already loses to in many aspects except for the number of vehicles…
(I drew the 2D map, thanks to the English moderators for forcing me to learn new software)
(Without markings and airfield/vehicle locations for now.)
If the esteemed developer looks at the scale in the bottom right corner, they will roughly understand the size of this map. Namely, 82x82km. Not impressive? Maybe, but let’s not forget that on our 128x128km maps, only a 90x30km strip between airfields is used, but more on that later. What’s important is something else.
(topographical map)

  • The terrain. On this map, the elevation changes every 200 meters, with mountains, lowlands, straits, islands—a whole bunch of natural obstacles.
  • Second, the problem of map size and boundaries is easily solved by the ocean. An island or archipelago is the most effective solution for such a map.
  • Third, there’s the road network, which actually has its own geometry, allowing ground units to travel from one point to another without issues.
    But how to make such beauty? Very simple, use specialized software. For example, Gaea, World Creator, WorldMachine, Gaia, Terragen.
    And don’t say the software is too complex or requires long retraining. For instance, I know for a fact that Nikolai used WorldMachine to create a location. Here’s a file with an example that can be used for proper and even roads with their own geometry.

And how to do this in Dagor engine? Definitely not with terrain, because it’s expensive and very inaccurate. Better use regular meshes with the same shader that the landclasses shader uses. According to comparisons, in this case, such meshes have 30% fewer triangles and do not lose any accuracy at a distance.

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