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Info on recent stress test mission

Prangster is the Resident Expert on Battle of Stalingrad mission designing and building. He will impart his great wisdom within the hallowed halls of this room.

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Silk
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Info on recent stress test mission

Post by Silk »

Gosho was asking what the recent stress test was about and what it may mean for future missions, so I thought that I would try and explain what I'm doing, what I'm trying to achieve and how I'm attempting to get there, all without (hopefully) boring you too much.

The test itself was to see whether recent advances in the way the game handles AI units and in the graphics would now allow us to place more AI units into missions without seriously affecting performance. As we are currently using separate servers for the two squadrons, the test was specifically to see whether we could handle 30+ enemy single-seat aircraft spawning into the game when it was already coping with a full squadron of player aircraft all in 4k skins. I also wanted at least some flak units to be active, so I based the test on mission 1 of the current Bodenplatte RAF 1 campaign.

In the test I got us to fly to a specific point where the trigger started a process of spawning eight groups of four enemy fighters with five seconds between each group of four. Furthermore each group of four was split into two pairs, with each pair interlinked so that if one of the pair was damaged beyond 10-15% both aircraft would attempt to head home.

As you will by now know, the test was successful and while there were some minor frame rate drops and/or stutters on the whole the server ran smoothly even though I was simultaneously playing in VR on the same device.

Why is this important? Well we know that historically both allied air forces and the Luftwaffe would attempt to create conditions of local air superiority when conducting missions in North West Europe with flights of thirty to fifty aircraft being used on many occasions. This will also come in very handy for if/when we actually simulate the Unternehmen Bodenplatte attacks themselves.

Okay, great. So now to the part about how this may or may not affect individual missions.

Firstly you will most definitely NOT be seeing regular large formations of enemy aircraft sweeping in all set to Ace AI level with the intention of slaughtering you all (Vicious Carrot productions excepted of course). While it is a useful tool for mission designers to be able to bring large enemy formations into the battle space, there are several concerns still to be addressed about this. Chief among those is the fact that generally our Tangmere Pilots virtual aircrew have far, far more hours logged in combat than any pilot during the war itself and the fact that we are virtual pilots without the possibility of actually getting killed or injured seriously affects our tactics, aggressiveness in combat and way of flying. Combine this with the stated goal of reducing overall claims and you can immediately see a conflict. I'm pretty sure that if the mission builders were to be able to spawn enemy flights of sixty aircraft, the average claims on that mission would be for well over forty. You guys are like terriers and would rather chase an enemy aircraft half way to Berlin (or Birmingham if playing Axis) than let it get away out of the combat area.

So where does this leave things just now? Well, I haven't had much of an opportunity to talk to Tom, Bunny and Bigbyte as the three main Squadron Command officers for the current campaign, so I don't know yet exactly what their thoughts are on introducing larger enemy formations into our missions. Personally I can see that if you guys want that, then we may all have to accept a little more self discipline in terms of how we fight those groups. Maybe something like 'if it's heading away from the combat zone you leave it and only claim a damage'. Definitely more trying to stay in pairs and fight together.

We mission designers can also bring other tricks to bear such as only having the enemy Attack Area command active for a short period. Generally we make this something like ten minutes or so so that we have enough time to dogfight, but it may be more realistic to have periods of only three to four minutes and then the enemy will attempt to break for home. Doing so may even allow for more than a single large enemy formation in one mission.

Anyway, maybe this may help you guys to see where I'm trying to take groups and mission design at the moment as well as to see why we as a squadron need to be careful about how we implement some of the new things we can do.

I welcome any feedback as always.

T

Gosho
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Re: Info on recent stress test mission

Post by Gosho »

Much appreciated, Silk - great explanation.

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Re: Info on recent stress test mission

Post by Hatter »

Sounds exciting!
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Eddie
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Re: Info on recent stress test mission

Post by Eddie »

Silk wrote:
Sun Feb 23, 2020 12:55 am
You guys are like terriers and would rather chase an enemy aircraft half way to Berlin (or Birmingham if playing Axis) than let it get away out of the combat area.
Having the attack area command shortened would drastically lower this problem, I don´t think there were that many long dogfights at this stage of the war anyway. If our pilots wont follow them of course, but that is about discipline.
Silk wrote:
Sun Feb 23, 2020 12:55 am
Maybe something like 'if it's heading away from the combat zone you leave it and only claim a damage'. Definitely more trying to stay in pairs and fight together.
Indeed, if it is flying away damaged and you can´t shoot him down in the next 5 seconds, leave him be, you are just wasting ammo (conserving it would be much more important if there are 30 109s around)

I just want to see 30 dots appearing on the horizon and the panic in BBs voice as he realizes that we are outnumbered 3 to 1 :student
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Re: Info on recent stress test mission

Post by TP_Andy »

I thought you are the residing expert on panic voice (or more like panic screaming), Eddie 😀
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Re: Info on recent stress test mission

Post by Tom »

Silk wrote:
Sun Feb 23, 2020 12:55 am
I don't know yet exactly what their thoughts are on introducing larger enemy formations into our missions...
If it happened during an op that we're running then put them in.

Let me know beforehand though so I can arrange to be "ill".
In selecting the motto... 'all for one and one for all'... I have done so because it expresses what should be the creed to every Fighter Pilot. Never forget that you are an essential cog in the wheel, and if you break or fail it will let down your brother pilots, and the grimness of war allows for no such weakness.

Air Vice Marshal Saul in the foreword to 13 Group's 'Forget-Me-Nots for Fighters'

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Re: Info on recent stress test mission

Post by Bunny »

Good stuff Silk. I expect that we will have many dangerous missions ahead of us :-)
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Re: Info on recent stress test mission

Post by Reggie »

Just out of interest, I thought that historically, the Luftwaffe was never seen in large formations at this time of the war due to shortage of pilots/aircraft/fuel/ammunition (with the exception of Bodenplatte attacks themselves of course.)
I have read many accounts of late war Allied pilots being frustrated that the enemy didn't come up to fight as much as they wanted, as well as many accounts from the Luftwaffe perspective of them having to go into combat hugely outnumbered as they could only get a half dozen or so aircraft airborne from their squadrons.

So, to me, having large formations of enemy aircraft jumping into the fight flies into the face of historical accuracy doesn't it? I am only interested in thoughts here, not criticising, as TP has always been about historical accuracy as much as possible as I remember it.
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Re: Info on recent stress test mission

Post by Paulie »

Silk, how did the test fair with regards to higher number of players? Would it be one day possible to host single server campaigns again? They could be very interesting especially wrt that Reggie said about low numbers of LW in the sky in the final years of the war.
Proudly shot down and killed by Blackjack on my second mission :Thumbup

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Re: Info on recent stress test mission

Post by Silk »

@Reggie

While it is certainly true that the Luftwaffe was on the decline late in 1944, they were not quite yet the spent force that they would become after the decimation of Operation Bodenplatte. Indeed, whenever possible they would still try to operate in Gruppe or even Geschwader strength in order to achieve local air superiority.

Some examples from the 126 Wing RCAF Osprey book follow for illustration.
There was more fighting over Nijmegen on 29 September, despite worsening weather conditions as the day progressed. A low-level patrol
by 13 aircraft from No 401 Sqn ran into a 'gaggle' of 30+ Fw 190s and Bf 109s at 1030 hrs and claimed nine Messerschmitt fighters shot down. Fit Lts R I A Smith (in MJ448) and H J Everard (in MJ565) and Fig Offs J C Hughes (in MK577) and D F Husband (in ML260 each claimed two kills, and Fit Lt R R Bouskill (in MJ300) one. The victories for Everard and Husband gave them ace status, both pilots having joined No 401 Sqn with kills from previous units. The squadron suffered one fatality in return when Fig Off C G Hutchings (in NH404) was shot down and killed by an enemy fighter.

Next into the fray at 1145 hrs were ten aircraft from No 412 Sqn that were performing the second of the unit's three patrols that day.
Some 50+ Fw 190s were encountered east of Nijmegen at 8000-9000 ft, three of which were claimed destroyed by Fig Offs W A Aziz (in PL204) and D R C Jamieson (in NH371) and Pit Off W C Busby (in PL438) - the latter pilot subsequently ran out of fuel and crashlanded near Hacht.
6 October dawned crisp and clear, and patrols were off early starting at 0617 hrs. Most of those flown by No 126 Wing were uneventful, with only a locomotive damaged and a few vehicles left as 'smokers' during the morning. It was not until 1500 hrs when No 442 Sqn was undertaking its final mission of the day that things finally heated up;

'442's last patrol proved to be fruitful and very eventful from the first mix-up with enemy aircraft until in the circuit. They had a thrash with some 100+ Fw 190s and Me 109s from 25,000 ft up to 28,000 ft five miles northeast of Nijmegen. This proved fruitful to the score of three destroyed and four damaged and all our pilots returning. Fig Offs S M McClarty (in NH588) and E T Hoare (in PL207) downed an Me 109 each and Fig Off D W Goodwin (in NH556) got an Fw 190.
So numbers of 30+ fighters could occasionally be mustered by the Luftwaffe occasionally and usually in very localised groups right up until near the very end of the war.



@Paulie
The sad truth is that for now at least I can't see us getting both squadrons together on one server again for the foreseeable future. On a weekly basis we have random disconnects even with the two squadrons split apart and we still haven't definitively worked out why this happens although for sure a part of it is the load placed on some older PC systems by the combination of the map we are using, 12-16 4k player skins in close proximity and the fact that I at least am using the same device to host and to play the game.

it would be absolutely fantastic to have the Squadrons fly together again and I'm sure much banter would ensue, but for now I just don't think it is something we can easily achieve.

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