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Rescue 193 Wish List

Rescue 193

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A wish list

I can’t remember how long I’ve been playing Harpoon, but if I tell you the first version I bought came on 3.5 inch disks (remember those?), you’ll appreciate that its been quite sometime. I’ve continued to dabble (and buy at least 2 or 3 more versions  - on those new-fangled CDs -over the years). So, I’m not a newbie but I am a techno-peasant and I'm woefully out of touch with the way the game has been developed.

I have memories of things that appear to have “come and gone” through various generations of the game. I’m sure, for instance that there used to be a ‘hot key’ to jettison weapons before making a carrier landing (not that it had any bearing on the success of the subsequent trap). Plus, when IFR was first added to the game, there were a whole series of of scenarios (now lost in the mists of time I fear) where the PO used the capability to spring a whole bunch of unwelcome surprises.

Most of my “wishes” duplicate Donaldseadog’s “condensed wish list” but, I hope, one or two have a spark of originality. In an effort to avoid confusion when referring to, and trying to distinguishing between, the Human Player (HP), the Programmed Opponent (PO) and the role of the artificial intelligence (AI) plays in handling functions for both  HP and PO I’ve used these abbreviations throughout.

I’ve no idea if some, or any, of the things listed below might be possible within the parameters of the game. However, I think some might be reasonably ‘doable’… but… it is a wish list so here goes:

Setting Aircraft course from take-off:

The ability to set a multi-leg course, more complex than straight line from A to B, for an air group from take-off to a patrol point, or the initial point for launching a strike, would be handy feature to have.

It would be particularly useful for PO assets operating from airfields, enabling them to pop up in interesting and unpredictable places and for PO combat aircraft to make attacks using off-axis lines of approach fixed targets. It would pose more of a challenge for the HP in terms of placing a CAP because the ‘obvious’ tracks to and from PO bases wouldn’t necessarily be the direction from which the threat was coming.


Air Group Post-Attack RTB:

Currently, post-attack, the Staff Assistant dialogue box reports: “Air group ABC has completed intercept of the target ZYX and is loitering in the area” along with the standard “Show” and “Select” buttons. Could a “Return to Base” button be added to the dialogue box? I realise this would merely save a few clicks of the mouse but when things are “busy” in a large scenario I think it would be a good thing to have.


Air-to-Surface Gun Attacks:

Following on from the above, when an air group has fired/dropped its main ordnance could the Staff Assistant pop-up window to prompt whether the air group (if capable) should proceed with a “gun attack” as part of the intercept? It isn’t always advisable or desirable for, say, a pair of F16s to follow-up a stand-off (SEAD) strike on a SAM site if it happens to be just one site in a whole field of nastiness!

I’m thinking something along the lines of a Staff Assistant box with “Group ABC has completed its intercept of ZYX should it proceed with gun attack?”, with “Proceed”, “RTB” and (maybe) “Loiter” buttons to speed things along? I’m not sure how, or even if, the AI could cope with this option for the PO but I think its still worth having for the HP.


Breaking-off/Avoiding combat:

This AI function would for the PO enabling air and surface groups to break off attacks when a certain threshold is reached. I’m thinking the parameters might include:

  • Loss/damage tolerance
  • Weapons expenditure (by type, range and/or effectiveness)
  • Threat level : probability of success ratio
  • Detection : availability and effectiveness of counter-measures ratio

If such a feature could also enable, PO Recon, AEW and other similar aircraft, to make an escape from a detected threat, rather than simply sitting on station awaiting inevitable destruction,. it would make life more interesting and realistic, as it stands the HP has a clear advantage over the PO in this area.

On the same theme it would also be good for the AI to enable PO combat aircraft to manoeuvre at optimum speed and altitude when engaged. Similarly, it could enable a PO air group to make best speed home (depending on fuel and threat state) when returning to base on completion of its mission. I can’t imagine a Backfire strike doing anything other than running for home, at high altitude and military throttle setting, having completed an attack, let alone stooging around in the target area or sauntering home like it was a Sunday afternoon stroll, but this is what the PO air group does at the moment.

Its often possible for the HP air group to climb and sprint on after-burner for a few seconds to persuade the programmed pursuers to break-off but its nearly always possible for human controlled fighters to catch and engage a PO strike package because it just dawdles way at cruising speed no matter what the threat and no matter how much fuel remains.


Conditional Attacks:

A function, other than straightforward detection, that prompts a reaction to hostile forces approaching a designated zone or installation to be defended.


Aircraft working with a Surface Groups:

The ability to add an air group (perhaps a fighter group acting as CAP over an installation that is remote from an airfield, or a land-based ASW asset escorting a convoy?) and then have that group detach and RTB when it reaches bingo fuel. This would work well for bot HP and PO if the AI can hack the problem.


Runway vulnerability:

Separate damage points allocation for runways to make strikes against airfields using dedicated anti-runway munitions worthwhile. Along with this feature a ‘runway repair’ function could be added so that any given runway could be returned to service over a given time unless, say, the damage level reached 100% in which case it would be damaged beyond repair.


Maintenance failures and breakdowns for aircraft:

As far as I can tell, unless they’re refuelling/re-arming, aircraft readiness and availability is maintained at 100%, day and night and in all weathers. None appear to suffer from battle damage or maintenance failures nor are they lost, other than running out of gas or flying at very low level, to attrition through pilot error and/or accidents. These things are hardly uncommon occurrences especially in high-tempo carrier combat operations.

Given that the game ‘understands’ that ships have breakdowns and suffer system failures it ought to be able to cope with the notion that aeroplanes breakdown too! So my suggestion is that some sort of variable and random percentage of “aircraft unserviceability” be incorporated - increasing in probability as the scenario progresses - which would represent the real world a little more accurately. Also some sort of attrition number, say,  X% per 100 sorties could simulate losses from things other than low flying and empty tanks.  


Ship Magazines and Bunkers:

It seems only fair that if the aviators have unlimited supplies of smart bombs and missiles then the sailors ought to have an equally unlimited stock of missiles to shoot the blighters down but they don’t. Is it possible to create - and thus limit the size of -  a carrier air group magazine? With the caveat that, if a surface group or carrier group does have a supply ship in company, it would be possible to replenish both ships’ magazines and air group magazines by, say, X% every 12 or 24 hours.

Another anomaly of the game is that, although ships run out of ammunition they never exhaust their fuel, or the fuel for the fixed and/or rotary wing aircraft embarked. There really ought to be some sort of a range limitation or other restriction, to prevent surface groups from steaming limitless distances at high speeds unless they have a tanker in company.

Okay, I realise that at this point I realise that I’m off the reservation and that such a re-write would render many scenarios unplayable… but… it is a wish list isn’t it!

I was also going to suggest a bunch of stuff relating IFR. However, I’ve just stumbled across the excellent ToolBox DLL (not that I know what a ‘DLL’ is) that seems to take much of the pain out of managing multiple IFR sorties in disparate locations and it also goes some of the way to solving the problem of putting a CAP/ASW/AEW in the vicinity of a naval group or land installation.

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Typing it out is the easy bit, its the thinking about what I want to write that makes my brain ache!

I'm pleased you liked the runway thing (why is it I feel like I've just submitted an essay to the Headmaster?). it's sort of bugged me ever since I started playing the game back in the last century. The few 'crabs' (chaps in light blue uniforms that belonged to a flying club called the RAF - if that means anything to you?) of my acquaintance used to set great store by their ability to make holes in long narrow strips of concrete and I felt I owed it to them to try to mimic, albeit digitally, their efforts until I 'learned' that, in Harpoon, it was easier to flatten the whole airfield rather than trying to crater the long straight bit that ran alongside it.

In terms of verisimilitude my personal favourite would be 'fixing' the "Aircraft maintenance/serviceability/availability" thing. Flying machines are notoriously fickle, temperamental and moody beasts and tend to respond poorly to rough treatment. They also misbehave and become surly and uncooperative when the most is expected of them.  

BUT... yes... that's a big but...  

...If I were to be granted just one wish, it would be  be the addition of the post-attack "Return to Base" and "Gun Attack" buttons stuff on the Staff Assistant pop-ups  (okay...that's really its two things... but in fixing one, surely it wouldn't be too difficult to tweak the other would it?). I can't tell you how crazy it drives me when I have to hunt down an air group to send it home when its work is done or, even worse, scroll through the OOB to find, and stop, the guys intent on committing suicide by pressing home a gun attack against hopeless odds in particularly unfriendly environment.

Having said all that I'm a no "boffin" and I really have absolutely no idea how difficult  such a task might be - although I'm pretty damned certain I'm underestimating its scale and complexity by a minimum of several orders of magnitude.



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On 4/23/2020 at 3:05 PM, Rescue 193 said:


...If I were to be granted just one wish, it would be  be the addition of the post-attack "Return to Base" and "Gun Attack" buttons stuff on the Staff Assistant pop-ups  (okay...that's really its two things... but in fixing one, surely it wouldn't be too difficult to tweak the other would it?). I can't tell you how crazy it drives me when I have to hunt down an air group to send it home when its work is done or, even worse, scroll through the OOB to find, and stop, the guys intent on committing suicide by pressing home a gun attack against hopeless odds in particularly unfriendly environment.


Before the ExportDLL interface existed, making those changes was a herculean ask.  The user-interface challenges made it a fools' errand.  With the ExportDLL the asks range from 'not so tough' to 'a real headache but doable'.  

Air Group Post-Attack RTB: is the easy one.  Since the game knows enough to say the attack is done, it is an already generated event that just needs some different options for dealing with the event.

Your wish list makes two of the other ones easier than they could be.  They could be interpreted as...

If only the loadout had more than gun ammo and only gun ammo is left, add RTB and Attack anyway options after all other weapons are expended.  That gets hairy if you launch your air to ground attack but still have Sidewinders that could attack formation air patrols.  It is easy to over-engineer at that point.  You foresaw that though as it bleeds right into your next one about Breaking-off/Avoiding contact.  If you could get your friendly neighborhood programmer to implement the first rule without diving down the rabbit hole of complexity, it would be a win for the game.


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