Aircraft Types/Usage Gameplay flow

Germany

Reconnaisance Squadron - Aufklärungs Staffel
2 x Fi 156 Storch reconnaisance planes

Interceptor Squadron - Abwehr Staffel
4 x Bf 109K light fighters

Superiority Fighter Squadron - Jager Staffel
4 x Fw 190A fighters

Jet-Fighter Squadron - Jagdverband
3 x Me 262a jet fighters

Ground Attack Squadron - Schlact Staffel
3 x Ju-87G Stuka attack planes

Fighter-Bomber Squadron - Jagdbomber Staffel
2 x Fw 190G fighter-bombers

Attack Bomber - Schlachtbomber
1 x Ju 88A medium bomber

USA

Reconnaisance Squadron
2 x L-4A Grasshopper recon plane

Interceptor Squadron
4 x P-38G Lightning heavy fighters

Escort Squadron
4 x P-51C Mustang fighters

Attack Squadron
3 x P-51D Mustang attack fighters

Fighter-Bomber Squadron
2 x P-47D Thunderbolt fighter-bombers

Attack Bomber
1 x A-26B Invader attack bomber

Britain

Reconnaisance Squadron
2 x Auster AOP Mk V recon planes

Interceptor Squadron
4 x Spitfire Mk XIVe fighters

Air Supremacy Squadron
4 x Tempest Mk V fighters

Ground Attack Squadron
3 x Typhoon Mk IB attack fighters

Fighter-Bomber Squadron
2 x Spitfire Mk IXe LF fighter bombers

Attack Bomber
1 x Mosquito FB Mk VI attack bomber

Soviet Union

Reconnaisance Squadron
2 x Po-2 recon planes

Interceptor Squadron
4 x Yak-9D fighters

Fighter Squadron
4 x La-5FN fighters

Attack Fighter Squadron
3 x Il-2 Shturmovik attack aircraft

Light Bomber Squadron
2 x Pe-2 Peschka light bombers

Attack Bomber Squadron
1 x Tu-2 medium bomber

A discussion of generalization of aircraft usage in terms of gameplay flow.

Interceptor: As the name suggests, primary role of intercepting enemy planes. Usually lighter, quicker, less durable fighter types. Examples: Bf-109K
Interceptors will arrive at the battlefield sooner than other fighters, though their effectiveness in the air will usually be more or less limited to combating enemy attack and bomber aircraft, as they have neither the performance or the appropriate weaponry to take on enemy superiority fighters. Interceptors will also have less fuel than superiority fighters, as their role is to mainly get into the air, shoot down enemy attack aircraft, and return to base.

Escort/Superiority: The “dogfighter”, born and bread to duke it out in the skies with enemy fighters for air dominance. Examples: P-51D, Spitfire Mk XIV, Fw-190
Superiority fighters will form the mainstay of the air combat arm of your nation’s armed forces. They are more durable and usually better armed than the less versatile interceptor aircraft and are able to stick around longer thanks to added fuel. Germany will have access to an advanced Superiority fighter, the Me-262 jet aircraft, which will have a higher cost and arrival time than other planes.

b Attack[/b]: Armed with high-ordnance, mainly anti-vehicular weaponry for seeking and destroying mobile enemy assets, namely tanks. Can also be used with limited effectiveness against buildings. Examples: P-51D w/ Rockets, Typhoon, Ju-87G
When a flight of attack aircraft are called in, their first priority will be to head towards their assigned location and attack any targets of oppurtunity in the vicinity. After being called in they can be selected by the player and given specific orders, such as to patrol a specific route or destroy a specific target. Attack aircraft are often (but not universally) of lower performance than standard fighter-sized aircraft and are susceptible to interception (an exception is the P-51D which is fully capable of duking it out with enemy interceptors after unleashing rocket barrages onto ground targets). The Ju-87 inparticular is ill-suited to surviving hostile engagements with enemy aircraft.

Fighter-Bomber: Armed with small number (1-2) of medium-range bombs for use against larger, stationary targets. Used for attacking specific enemy buildings. Can be used against mobile (vehicle) targets with limited success do to their somewhat inaccurate nature. Examples: Spitfire Mk IX, Fw-190G, P-57/P-49
Fighter-bombers, when they arrive, will proceed to the target destination and unleash a bombload there. Like all other aircraft they may be selected and given specific orders. Fighter-bombers’ main use will be bombing important enemy structures such as supply piles, barracks and yards. They can also be used to bomb vehicles and stationary defenses although their lack of accuracy may mean they miss the target entirely.

Ground Attack/Fighter Bomber combined: Combined the roles of Attack and Fighter-Bomber aircraft, capable of attacking with both anti-vehicle weapons (rockets/cannons) and bombs. Examples: Il-2
The Il-2 is armed with both bombs and rockets for use against large stationary targets or smaller vehicles. Like other aircraft they will head towards their target destination when arriving on the battlefield and will attack targets of oppurtunity, preferring to use bombs against statonary targets and rockets against mobile targets.

Tactical/Attack/Light Bomber: Light, usually twin-engine bomber used for tactical bomb runs. Can carpet bomb large areas. Main use in devestating large tracks of enemy bases or (if their timing is right) hitting large concentrations of enemy infantry/tanks. Though incapable of pinpoint attacks the fact that they drop a dozen or so bombs usually ensures destruction of target. Examples: Fw-189, A-26
Tactical bombers are usually armed with an array of bombs, from 4-12 depending on the model, which will be unleashed in a carpet bombing run at the target location. Once their bombloads are expended, they will immediately leave the area, as there is no purpose to them staying longer.

Reconnaisance/Observation Planes: Very light, usually unarmed reconnaisance planes, usually biplanes, with large ground LOS distance for strategic “icu” uses. Examples: Fi-156, L-4
Recon aircraft will have relatively large ground LOS range. When called to the battlefield they will approach the target location and fly around, providing LOS coverage. Like all other aircraft they can be controlled by the player to patrol different areas.

7 different types of aircraft, atleast one of which is unique to a single faction (Russia). Some factions may not have certain aircraft types (ie maybe US won’t get fighter-bomber and/or interceptor, Britain will also probably not get one; both rely heavily on the all-purpose Mustang and Spitfire).

Preferably, aircraft would be called in by special LUA buttons present somewhere on the HUD (as Soviets get no HQ, and destruction of HQ for other factions would mean no more aircraft). Depending on the faction you would have up to 7 different aircraft call-in buttons. Aircraft should use basic Command points/metal for their costs, and be quite expensive. They will have no “build-time”; if you try to select an aircraft when you do not have enough metal nothing will happen – the function will only work if you have enough metal at the time (which will be instantly extracted). However, when an aircraft is called there should be a short wait-time as the aircraft “flies to” the battlefield. This wait-time should be determined by the aircraft type. In this way, CP cost and arrival time will be the main factors for balancing availability. Likewise, because of issues raised about the “kamikaze” nature of such aircraft, there should be some incentive to use aircraft intelligently and not just suicide them. Thusly, if possible, an increase in arrival time and/or cost if the previous flight of the same aircraft (or any aircraft) was destroyed. If you want to be more complex, the increase in time/cost could be based on the exact number of aircraft destroyed from the last sortie (so if only 1 was destroyed, you wouldn’t get as much of an arrival time/cost increase as if they all were destroyed).

When its button is pressed, it should basically be an order; for instance, clicking on the Interceptor’s button will produce an “Attack Move” order which you then click somewhere on the battlefield and the Interceptors, when they arrive, will perform an Attack Move to the target location. Certain types of aircraft however should have actual attack functions. Namely, fighter-bombers and attack bombers should default to a bombing attack on the target location (thus an attack order rather than attack move).

When aircraft are called in and arrive they should spawn somewhere off-map; preferably off the map edge closest to your start position (that information is saved all game right?). The exact number of aircraft arriving will depend on the type; Fighters and Interceptors will come in standard squadrons of 5; attack fighters in squadrons of 3; fighter-bombers in squadrons of 2; attack bombers either individually or squadrons of 2; and a single recon plane. The reason they should spawn off-map (as opposed to right on the map edge) is so that a) they are able to build up momentum and actually fly onto the battlefield rather than appear unmoving at the edge, b) it provides more time for players to select the aircraft if they want to give it new orders. Preferably, it’d be nice if aircraft “spawned” this way already had the orientation towards the player’s HQ and flying at speed to prevent any ugly incidents of floating, hovering aircraft.

An aircraft leaves when one of two things happen: it runs out of ammo or runs out of fuel. Ammo should probably only be taken into account for planes with special weapons, such as bombs or rockets. Fuel is universal. When it comes time for a plane to leave it will fly to the same point it spawned in and disappear.

When aircraft arrive there should be some notification to the owning player. This can simply be a voice saying “aircraft sortie has arrived”, or some notification dealing with the UI buttons (ie in the corner of each button could be a number signifying the number of aircraft/wings of that aircraft type currently present).

Likewise, the enemy should have some way of being informed that enemy aircraft are on their way. We could simply use a radar/air defense building (or HQ upgrade) which will simply spot aircraft on radar as per normal. However, given the power of some aircraft, particularly those with bombs, to destroy things very quickly, I’m leaning towards having rather advanced warning. This advanced warning could take several forms; whenever the enemy requests aircraft a sound and/or notification plays (this gives maximum time to call in interceptors and prepare); whenever enemy aircraft spawn onto the map (this gives moderate time to prepare); whenever enemy aircraft is physically spotted on radar (can be very short time, also necessitates radar coverage). I’m leaning towards the middle option, notifying whenever aircraft spawn in. This gives the opposing player some time to prepare (ie quickly calling in a flight or two of interceptors), but not too much time. It also makes the role of interceptor much more useful – if you’re notified when the opposing player first calls in aircraft then you have ample time to call in any aircraft you like (assuming attack bombers take longer to arrive than basic superiority fighters). Interceptors with shorter arrival times wouldn’t be necessary. I’m also leaning towards both sound and visual notification; sound simply in speech declaring the arrival of enemy aircraft in the area (“Enemy attack bombers have arrived!”, “Enemy fighters have arrived!” etc) as well as a visual notification (a little flashing button near the Aircraft UI saying “Enemy aircraft arriving!” which blinks for 20-30 seconds when activated). The combination of voice and visual identification will allow players to quickly learn that “screaming German voice + blinking UI = enemy fighters”.

So, thoughts? Does this sound like a stable final plan for aircraft?

Well, now that starts to sound exactly like Blitzkrieg air system. Which is like so:
Aircraft are called in using 5 buttons (located on the main UI near the minimap, always visible). The types available are observation, fighter, bomber, ground attack and transport (paratroopers), individual missions can have limited air support (not all types) or none at all.
When the button is pressed, cursor changes into the shape resembling the chosen aircraft type (or bomb/parachute icon if appropriate), and you have to specify the orders (waypoints for scout/fighter/ground attack, drop points for transport/bomber). When done, the planes arrive (player sees the notification like ‘BF-109e fighter: heading for specified location’ AND hears the pilot voice speaking some random ‘acknowledged’ phrase). The enemy players hear the warning siren and see ‘Warning: Enemy Aircraft Spotted!’ message. All aircraft are constantly in LoS for all the players regardless of distance, so they see where the planes are headed and can call in interception.
Once in air, the planes cannot take orders and so cannot be redirected (which I think is a bad Blitzkrieg devs idea).
Recon planes provide large ground LoS, bombers and ground attack planes provide very small LoS directly under them, fighters and transports provide no ground LoS at all.
Once the bombers/transports drop their load, they immediately turn back and leave the map. Other types remain on the map for as long as their fuel lasts, patrolling the specified area (and attacking any appropriate targets).
When a plane is about to turn back, player sees the notification like ‘BF-109e: Returning to base’ and hears the pilot saying some appropriate phrase. The enemy is not notified of aircraft leaving the area.
Maps can have weather which changes randomly (or not so randomly on scenario maps). When the weather is ‘bad’ (rain/snow/sandstorm, depending on actual map), air support cannot be called in and any planes currently in the air turn back immediately (aborting their missions and ignoring any potential targets on the way).
Player has a limited number of each aircraft type, and if he loses that many, he loses access to that type for the mission. Each type has a map-defined ‘group size’, that is how many of the type arrive at once (you can get less if you don’t have enough remaining for a full group).
After air support is called, the airfield has some cooldown time (map-dependent), during which no other aircraft can be launched.

We could easily tie group size to map size if deemed a good idea

Sounds like a good idea Flozi.

Some other notes: Random weather might become interesting far, far into the future, with a complete and total weather system included with S44 which can change many factors (for instance, dense fog lowering LoS and accuracy; rain decreasing unit speeds; heavy snow/freezing conditions harming units slightly over time) etc. The entire thing being a modoption for easily turning on/off (and clear normal weather would by far be the most common).

Anyway, as for aircraft points… it’s funny how similar that is to my idea (I’ve never played Blitzkrieg or any other game which uses aircraft anything like what I’ve described, except WiC but that’s still a long ways off). Except, of course, our planes would be controllable, and air LOS wouldn’t be global (though sounds would be I’d think).

So it comes down to, who calls planes in? Or rather, what unit activates planes? A Radio Tower that you have to build? HQs? Or will planes always be available?

Should there be a cooldown time? I’m actually against the idea of cooldown time; though I’m all for having aircraft fairly highly priced CP-wise so that calling in more than a few at a time will deplete your CP entirely and you’ll have to wait a bit for your CP to go back up.

I’m all for radio towers. HQ’s are basically the same as always available except the extra issues for the soviets.

HQs can also be destroyed and aren’t rebuildable (at the moment).

Edited the first post with a list of aircrafts per type, w/ numbers

So I see Hs.129 is dropped? Could have been a ‘classic’ ground attack plane, somewhat similar to Il-2 - faster than a Stuka, and not quite that useless in air combat (because of armor). Of course, keeping that role USSR-only can be interesting as well.

True, I’d rather see Hs 129 with bombs than Ju 88.

If Soviets can have Pe-2’s and Tu-2’s, surely Germans can have Hs129 and Ju-88

Then we should cut Pe-2 or Tu-2. There aren’t enough different roles for bombers in the game right now to really justify having one being cheaper and dropping smaller bombs vs one being more expensive and dropping larger bombs - their usages are close enough that I don’t think the game will suffer from not having them.

I agree with Nemo. Less is more, particularly since it’ll no doubt be me texturing the buggers.

I’d personally go for the Pe-2. In universal terms the Pe-2 is more like the Bf 110, Mosquito and Lightning in that it’s primarily a heavy fighter rather than a light or medium bomber (like the Ju 88 and A-26). I’d also suggest that unlike other factions two spawn for the Soviets. The Pe-2 doesn’t seem altogether too powerful (only, what, 4 x 50kg bombs each?) but two of them should put a ruinous dent in anybody and also be more of a hassle to take down, as opposed to a single larger bomber.

I’d also suggest the Hs 129 for the Germans because it’s just a cooler, sexier plane, more of a close-support heavy attack aircraft than a medium bomber high-level bomber, with very good armour.

To follow up, I think the role of heavy bomber/attack aircraft could fall to two distinct possibilities:

Hs 129B-2: Armed with two 20mm guns, one 30mm with armour-piercing round, and possibly four 50kg bombs. Heavy-duty airframe, good armour, made specifically for the close support role.

Fw 189 Uhu: Armed with light defensive machineguns and four 50kg bombs. Light airframe, good speed, excellent maneuverability for its size. The 189’s role was as a recon-bomber, and was one of the most important reconnaisance aircraft in the Luftwaffe. It had a wide cockpit with excellent visiblity, and its small bombload allowed it to attack targets of oppurtunity.

Both planes could fulfill unique rolls; the 189 inparticular would be unique to Germany in that it combines observation with light bomber. The 129 would be something of a merger of the Stuka and a light bomber. It would also have a much longer airtime than the Stuka (more fuel and lots more ammunition). It would be able to attack armour with its 30mm gun (not as efficient as the 37mm cannons on the Stuka, but much faster firing rate and probably better at lighter/medium armour because of this) as well as bomb stuff with its four 50kg bombs, giving it a duel-role.

The 189 on the other hand is light, fast and maneuverable, and would come with a large LoS coverage because of its recon nature. Its four 50kg bomb armament is rather light but is a balancing factor in its duel-role capability.

In realistic terms the 189 was produced in far greater numbers – over 800 aircraft iirc, compared to the Hs 129’s roughly 150-200 or so (numbers vary as usual). The 189 also performed its role “better”. The Hs 129, although heavy and well-armoured, had at best a 30mm gun, which isn’t exactly cream of the crop. Interestingly, the 129 was also experimented with heavier armaments, namely a 75mm recoiless gun (which is vaunted in that it was able to destroy any tank in the world, firing 75mm shells from a high arc), but only 25 of those were built with a few more modified. It was also modified to carry a single 37mm cannon like the Stuka; despite having only one of the guns, it was able to carry loads more ammunition for it and therefore was probably the more capable (plus its good armour and 20mm secondary armament).

If deemed likable it wuold be possible to remove the 50kg bombs from the 129 and turn it into more of a heavy Stuka (the main gameplay differences being much better armour/survivability and much longer airtime (like, double) thanks to its larger fuel tanks and much larger ammo capacity; the 20mm guns would also be of some benefit) while using the 189 as a more traditional light recon bomber (not nearly as powerful as other light/medium bombers of other nations but with the added benefit of doubling as a recon plane). However at this point I’m all for using just the Hs 129 with cannons + bombs. Less work for me in the long run.

The 189 was found to be very annoying by Soviet troops, its cruise altitude being out of range of most AA weapons and it’s mere appearance signalling something bad was going to start soon. Only fighters could remove the “rama” (frame) from the sky. At least this is said in many Russian books about the war. It’s bomb load wasn’t feared, but it’s photo-recon ability was.
I seem to remember we don’t have a model of this plane yet, should I make one?

Not until we decide if we’re actually going to use it…

I’ve started working on the Lua gadgetery. So far I’ve been able to spawn planes in formation with any desired initial velocity and direction. The plane tags are a bit weird, though–you should only use maxVelocity or maxAcc + drag, not both. Most mods only use the former.

Also, a few things I need to know:

  • How are planes going to be summoned? Have we decided on always-available, HQ, or radio tower?
  • Do you want to use the engine’s fuel implementation, or have our own timer?
  • What kind of cost are planes going to have? Command, logistics, or both?
  • Should planes have a cooldown, or should they only be limited by resources?
  • Should planes have persistent XP?
  • Should flights have explicit costs, or should they be calculated from the sum of the planes in the flight?

If you spawn gerflag in the current SVN build, that’s basically it - it’ll be a radio tower with a selection of ‘missions’ to choose from. Ideally you will select the radio tower, click a mission (or missions), click a location (or locations, for multiple missions) on the map, and then hit “go” and they’ll spawn and go after the various targets you gave them (most likely fight commands or attack orders). A most-awesome extra would be giving the radio tower a sidebar (much like the factory sidebar in CA) where each active mission has a buildpic which selects all the elements of that mission on clicking, so you can control them without needing to select the planes directly.

Seems easiest to use the engine’s fuel. I figured we could just have them fly to the edge of the map and disappear at X% of fuel left.

Certainly command; ideally, each mission will have a certain ‘default’ command cost. That cost will increase if your missions lead to downed planes, and decrease back to default on successful missions (and over time).

I’d say only resources: aircraft are going to be an important part of a winning player’s ability to crack open a turtle, and the ability of a defending player to stave off air attacks despite a resource advantage will lead to more porc-ish-ness, I believe.

I wouldn’t worry about it.

Each ‘mission’ has a specific cost; a mission includes several planes. Similar concept to squad spawning.

In the engine, you can make firing weapons cost fuel. Do we want to do it this way, or do we want separate ammo tracking?

I’ll also see if planes are still controllable with zero fuel.

They’re not controllable with zero fuel - they automatically start flying for the nearest aircraft pad. If none exists, they land (I think).

I figured we’d just use the existing ammo system for planes, and add an exception to them for resupply; they just need to run out of rockets/bombs, which the current system can do pretty easily.

I didn’t plan on using fuel costs for weapons; pretty much every ammo’d plane also has MGs or something that it can strafe with once it runs out of the main ammo, so it shouldn’t have an effect on its engagement time.

There are two ways you could impliment how planes arrive on the battlefield:

The original idea, to have the planes appear at the map edge nearest the player’s start position, HQ, or “radio tower”;

or Have the planes appear high in the sky, and “dive” or descend in a circle into the play area.

Having light recon planes (esp. the Russian Po-2 biplane) descend from ‘high above’ would look strange :slight_smile: IMO appearing at the map edge is good enough.