On Part 1 of this article we discussed the process and challenges that led us to achieve a great level of realism in the game. And as promised, below you will find a thorough description of the inner workings of some of the key features on that regard.
AC-130 Gunship systems
- FCO IR Display: The main screen does its best to mimic the real-life Fire Control Officer's display within the limitations of a touchscreen. Many of the cues display the same information as the real one does, like aircraft heading, camera direction and elevation, distance to the ground under the crosshairs and more. It has both WHOT (white=hot) and BHOT (black=hot) modes of operation, as well as fixed field-of-views with their corresponding cues.
- Weapons: The Gunship's weapons sound and act as close as possible to their real counterparts. They overheat if fired at too high a rate for too long. They may experience "HOT GUN" events that may disable them temporarily or for the whole mission, and may jam.
Weapon aim gets better the more you shoot on a specific spot. This is because the crew will adjust the fire control system for wind and distance as you shoot, based on where your previous shots hit. Just as in real life, squeezing off a round, waiting for it to hit, and only then firing the next one will yield better results.
- Crewmembers: Each crewmember in the aircraft has a set of specific functions. You will hire your crew, and they will gain experience as you progress, giving you a better chance of completing your mission successfully. Good crewmembers will give you enhanced abilities such as better accuracy, faster reloading, better missile and AAA threat warnings, higher chance of detecting enemy vehicles, and more.
They can get injured, and they can die if you don't take good care of them.
- Countermeasures: The Gunship is equipped with Flares to confuse heat-seeking missiles that are homing in on your aircraft. We've modeled the effectiveness of these flares on a complex mathematical function involving the distance from the missile to the aircraft, the time since the flares were released, and amount of flares in the air.
This will effectively turn flare-launching into an artform: release them too soon, and they may be less effective by the time the missiles get close. Do so too late, and they may not have enough time to affect the missile's trajectory enough to avoid a hit.
An Electronic Countermeasure system will also be available to confuse radars, thus reducing the effectiveness of radar-operated threats such as the ZSU-23-4 'Shilka' Anti Aircraft Gun.
- Detection systems: Sensors on the aircraft provide a better chance of finding enemy vehicles.
- Detecting the player: With the Gunship operating under the cover of darkness, most enemies will have a hard time knowing you're there. But once you start firing, your aircraft will become visible, and the explosions will alert surrounding enemies. This means that enemies in the area surrounding the hits will start moving faster and erratically, making it harder for you to score hits, or take cover and reduce the damage your attack inflicts. This is also when anti-aircraft systems that may not have detected you before, will try to get a lock on you, and bullets and missiles will start flying your way.
- Character missions and engagements: Characters are not just targets that wander around. Each one of them has a specific mission, with a set of waypoints that change dynamically to suit that mission. They have attitudes that change depending on their situation -like relaxed, cautious, agressive, terrified, etc-. They will engage enemy units if threatened, or if their mission calls for it. And they will organize themselves in varying formations according to each situation.
They share threat information with nearby units to mount a coordinated attack. If overwhelmed by an enemy they cannot engage, they will get down or run for cover while trying to stay somehow organized.
- Vehicles: Vehicles are just that: Vehicles. Things. They will not operate without crewmembers, and even then, different systems require crewmembers manning the proper station. A vehicle without a driver won't move. One without a gunner won't fire. Some can carry passengers around the battlefield.
- Injuries and damage: Soldiers that get hit may get an open, bleeding wound. If so, their health will deteriorate; at a certain point they may start limping, and eventually will die.
Vehicles have several parts and systems that will get individually damaged or destroyed. Trucks may lose wheels and keep running. Or their engine will start smoking and slow the vehicle down. Tanks may have their weapons or radars damaged or destroyed.
Hits on crew or passenger compartments can injure or kill individual crewmembers inside the vehicle, and you may even see some corpses flying off the vehicle doors and hatches. When essential crewmembers die (i.e. a gunner), idle passengers inside the vehicle will take their seat, but if none are available, the function they were manning will stop working. When a driver dies, the vehicle won't move. When a gunner does, it will stop firing.
There are many other features in the game that we hope will make it a worthy depiction of the real AC-130 Gunship. Those, we'll leave it up to you to discover once the game is out.