Simulator air battles improvement thread

A collection of ideas that could potentially improve simulator air battles & discuss further or competitive ideas.

Mine: AI overhaul to improve sim battles against AI air & ground targets.
Map optimization & overhaul to fit the 128x128km standard for jet brackets.
Improved front line movement & more dynamic battles; tied to AI overhaul.

Uzunelendil’s ideas:

I personally disagree with reducing playercount, but it would be an insult not to include his thoughts here.

This thread is to focus exclusively on constructive feedback that could potentially improve air simulator battles.

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-Replace spawn costs with repair costs or give us the SL back, when we leave the game on the airfield or win/loose undamaged. Players don´t want to spawn when the game is almost finished and loose SL for nothing.
-make convoys attackable again, not the death trap it is now.
-Bring some new missions. E.g.:
-destroy a bridge to prevent ground forces from crossing a river
-destroy a cargo plane (slow but crosses the map in a straight line, so only one chance to intercept.
-destroy a train
-shoot down a spy ballon (no, we don´t need F-22s for this^^)

-Make the AI report enemy positions from time to time. Not permanently, but when a bomber attacks a base they could call for help.
-Give the surveillance plane a surveillance function, making it a valuable tactical target.

Just a few quick ideas.
I think a dedicated developer could find way more… ;)

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First off some overall ideas for EC in general

  • Give ground attackers more fun things to do than bombing a stationary tank or base that’s just gonna respawn before they even get back to base. Maybe add some ammunition depots to blow up, destroy a bridge. Make the “bases” larger, with more stuff inside it to blow up, kind of like airfields work with their 4 modules.

  • Give surveillance planes a function, like exposing nearby planes to the enemy team through giving away rough locations as air alerts or as targets on people’s radar’s through datalink.

  • “Add road bases” that planes can land on and rearm, similar to carriers where only capable planes can utilise it (in the case of road-bases - the Viggen, Draken and Gripen, I’m sure there are others as well.)

  • Make the bomber formations a player activated event, on the runway you get the option to start a ‘side mission’ where you will take off together with a number of bombers and you have to escort them to their target, for a nice SL reward.

  • Add the ability for people to join “squads” mid game where they can VC with players - similar to early battlefield games. This will MASSIVELY improve the entry barrier for new players as it allows better communication, people in sim are generally nice and helpful to anyone trying to figure stuff out, and it will allow that noob to get help learning the basics.

  • Make missions more dynamic
    “Destroy bridge”, this could possibly stop a convoy in its tracks?
    “Destroying radar stations” these radar stations might give out plane locations in a radius around it to the enemy team?
    “Destroy cargo planes” maybe they replenish tickets or road bases for the enemy team? Not only making it a high value target, but also a high value asset to protect/escort for the other team - allowing for fun engagements.
    “Recon Missions” A mission where you bring out your plane photograph large sections of land at a very high altitude, then RTB to have the “film processed” which will reveal targets you can destroy, like radar stations. I’ve seen something similar in DCS.
    "Capture points with a meaning" Instead of just awarding some tickets, maybe have a captured point unlock an extra road-base or small airfield for your team to land and re-arm on?

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Regarding AI placeholders

I’m not a fan of having AI placeholders flying around unless they are a part of a clear objective/purpose, like bombers or surveillance planes (Both of which need to be greatly improved on, as mentioned by AlvisWisla). Nothing worse than getting a kill and it turns out it wasn’t an actual player you were fighting, ruins the immersion. If they would just give sim some love and a good rework we won’t be having this issue with the lack of players and low player retention. We honestly don’t need a large portion of the total player base (80-200k concurrent players at any given time!) to have enough of a playerbase in sim to keep lobbies consistently topped up. Filling up lobbies and replacing our players with bots only compromises the game mode as a whole, and it doesn’t even solve the problems that cause the player-count to be so low in the first place.

There are tons of super important improvements we need in EC sim, that will fix the player retention problem - such as improving the learning curve, MUCH better default controls-setups, make objectives more dynamic, fixing the broken CAS targets for our bomber/fighter players. Once we’ve fixed those very important issues, we’ll have tons of players to fight in the lobbies which are infinitely more engaging than an AI ever could be.

Getting to the root of the problem - Why is player count/retention so low?
We have to reduce the learning curve for new players.

  • BAD default controls for new players.

This is by far the biggest issue facing sim right now. Right now they fly tunnel visioned, likely don’t know SAS mode is a thing at top tier and stall themselves in the first turn, they probably don’t have a convenient keybind for looking around(View axis), and certainly have no chance whatsoever at keeping track of a plane they are trying to engage In a dogfight and constantly get blown up from things they never even knew were there. 5 deaths later and they are in serious SL debt, not even counting TK penalties for people who have not been taught IFF - not exactly something you’d want to stick around for. This is a major reason why you’re seeing a ton of players in your lobby that left the game after 1-4 deaths after achieving nothing.

  • Economy

Pretty self-explanatory. Not only are new players greeted with having to pay the ‘repair’ cost up-front to be able to even play, they are also racking up serious SL debt whilst trying to learn the game-mode from having to pay all those repair costs.
And in return, they earn roughly half? of what you’d earn in Air RB when It comes to RP, and are consistently having their earnings capped by the useful actions system. (I have no issues with the useful actions system in itself, but earnings needs to be increased!)

  • Boring objectives

The objectives are just boring, and don’t work well for new players. At some points in the game there aren’t even any ground battles / convoys spawned in, so you have to wait around for them to appear, which is doable in a multirole aircraft, but a dealbreaker for our CAS players… Also add some objectives that makes it easy for new players to earn some SL. So they’re at least earning something.

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Changing surveillance planes to actual surveillance aircraft would be neat as well. Seeing an F-16C at the top end, or a F-6C or Fw 189 at the lower end props would be nice.
Granted, AI need to abide by the plane’s airframe limitations so we can stop having mach 2.5 AI.

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Improved bomber gameplay:

  • Something - anything - more realistic than the current CCIP which is as, or more, accurate than the systems on modern aircraft. The bomb sight doesn’t have to be a perfect representation of a WW2 bomb sight, but something that requires at least a little skill to get the best from would be welcome.

  • Area targets which could be attacked effectively with the less accurate bombsights mentioned above. Industrial areas which provide the resources to repair airfields or to generate the convoys which start ground battles. Make a complete economy/resource chain which can be attacked at any point: factory, rail/supply lines, front line.

  • Better AI gunners. If Gaijin can’t be bothered to create each gunner position for every bomber and don’t wish to allow players to join a bomber as gunner (they say they have no intention of doing that), then let the AI gunners open up at something more than the current max of 200m - maybe 400m. Accuracy is probably ‘about ok’, but the bomber player should be the captain/pilot (if you’re not going to allow the player into individual gunner positions) and the captain ought to be able to rely on the crew to do their job and open up on an approaching fighter before said fighter has shot down the bomber. Mouse-aim in sim is an arcade, ‘space invaders,’ abomination, but players really shouldn’t be forced into manning the hive-mind gun turrets. Better, more realistic AI gunners - let the player be the captain.

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yep

quick note. there should actually be two different EC’s. one ww2 and one cold war - just like the combined sim tank battles

Side note: would like to see the bf109 k4 put back the way it was before they nerfed it, but with its br raised to 6.7. So the p51 wouldn’t be the only prop at that br

On the AI topic, I would like to see a system that Gaijin already has for their own servers used for lower population BR brackets (eg 7.0 - 8.3,) where bots fill up the team to a certain level until more players join. At the moment people seem to populate two major areas in sim: 2.0 - 6.3 and 10.0 - 12.0. I’d like to see some more early jet matches, especially for jets like the Me-262 and the F-80A, but the population at the moment just does not let this happen as often as I’d like. As someone who isn’t a fan of the long range missile meta at top tier, it’s sad to see the more dogfight-centred jets be left in the hangar so to speak. This would obviously need to have an AI rework to make the flight models far less cheesy and unbalanced (ever seen the Sabre AI outspeeding your Mach 1 capable afterburning jet?)

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I’d love to see era-separated EC modes. Back when RB EC was still an occasional event, I remember flying out in the Stalingrad event and loving the focused battles consisting of Yak-1Bs, early La-5s and 109 F-4s. I wish we had something like it in simulator, would certainly help a lot with target identification (looking at you, captured planes…) Another thread I was in earlier mentioned how in IL-2 1946, server owners would limit planes depending on how powerful they were (for example the Spit Mk V vs Fw-190s, but only a few 190s could be active at once,) I’d like to see something similar in sim where you have to actually work up to the more powerful planes (kind of like the old spawn point system), and if you drop below a certain point amount you’re back to using the less powerful planes, giving more of an incentive to stay alive.

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exactly. if airplanes are extremely OP it would make sense to give these airplanes SP…or a similar solution…

I would like to have the old SP and timer system back completely. but I am one of the very few on the forum who wish for that. most people here obviously love the rotation even though it was just a emergency solution. meanwhile everyone has gotten used to the rotation. I admit that a return to SP and timer would probably be radical. but it was just a better time back then.

it’s quite difficult to write about historical accuracy here in the forum. I often get answers like: “Sim isn’t historical anyway!” or “We don’t need history blablabla!” these are the kind of RB people who want to turn Sim into RB.

back to some more historical accuracy is one of my biggest wishes for Sim. and the events you are talking about were really a great thing!

Sim was only designed for ww2 back then. it would be important to add more features to the jet maps.
there should be a clear separation between ww2 and cold war in the nation sets and also in the maps.

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We already had this conversation, but in the off-chance any devs are looking at this thread I might as well answer here too.

When it comes to SP, I’m personally not a fan of anything that forces you to wait on a timer to play the game, or even limit what plane you get to fly, that’s just bad game design in my opinion, and doesn’t fit EC in my opinion.

I actually love the BR rotation as it is. Everyones favourite plane gets a few days every rotation when it’s down-tiered, it allows for everyone to have a few days to enjoy their planes. It also gives a nice sense of variety since it lets you play different planes / BR’s during the rotation.

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I’d support all or at least most of those previous suggestions, but add a few of my own:

  • Find a solution for CCRP equipped aircraft that have no indication of direction/distance of CCRP target in their 3D cockpit

  • Implement a method to select mission targets (for CCRP) directly from map, or at very least mark selected CCRP on the map

  • Correct cockpit reflection issues of certain aircraft (Phantoms and more…)

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Yeah, I totally get where you’re coming from, but I personally don’t think we should ask for AI placeholders to be added to the game when WarThunder AI isn’t even slightly good enough. Heck they even have AI sabres flying around at mach 2.5+ (over mach 3 one time, measured by a friend of mine), if they can’t get that right I doubt they will get AI acting as players right, especially for more advanced aircraft 9.0+. Let’s vouch for an AI rework first, see if that happens and then ask for them to implement it into sim. Gotta be careful what we wish for. I feel like the AI placeholder thing is just putting a band-aid on the problem without actually fixing the fundamental issue (why player count/retention is low in the first place.). Let’s get the more important changes in, so we don’t have to settle for a bad compromise.

I still think current AI can vastly improve sim though ;

I already said that a complete reversion to timer & SP overnight would be too radical. the players of today would also reject something like that.

but I remember a really good time with my squadron (between 2016 & 2021) when Timer and SP were accepted and worked well. I can’t deny that either.

and more ground targets for everyone.

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in essence, what you say is true. but remember, we are only interested in placeholders. we don’t want to replace players, we just want to make battles possible. to start. at best with heavily reworked AI

my old buddies and I want to fly together again this month. 8 men. like in the good old days. in EC sim it’s of course not possible because the game doesn’t offer any flexibility and any enemy AI for such a case. so at best it will be a hangar/lobby party because we will never find a battle where we can all play as a team.
…I guess we will all play DCS. because there it is possible to play as a big team against AI and/or against humans without any problems.
but only mentioned in passing.

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I’ve discovered that there’s a world of difference between the generic AI and the named player AI. The generic AI without the generated names have really bad flight model issues, but the ones that fill in for players are far more competent, the only issue there is that they don’t really use missiles since their loadouts don’t allow them to. Fly out a top tier jet in the Test Flight Mission Editor against the nameless enemies and you’ll find that their flight models are really messed, I was watching F-16AJs pulling like 30 G turns and zooming off at Mach 2.5, but then if you go into custom battles and use AI there, they actually make an attempt to dogfight you, albeit with guns only, and their performance is much more in line with our own planes. With some tweaks to player AI, it can be a formidable opponent and a good alternative to waiting for lobbies that may never start.