Multiplayer comms ideas
This could apply to more than one air combat sim:
In multiplayer number 1 thing I want to do is find the enemy and shoot them down. Biggest problem I have is I see in the status updates players getting shot down and big fights raging somewhere, but mostly no one bothers to say where. What if you could just press a button to tell your side the grid you see/saw enemy planes?
What ways does player communication help in Multiplayer? It can help to identify where enemy aircraft are and to find them and shoot them down. That is the main thing.
With that in mind, I reckon some basic system that can help in this direction, might be good.
Why not just use Teamspeak and Discord? That is good for squadrons, but its got problems if otherwise.
I believe most players do not want to chit-chat, in multiplayer. I like multiplayer over single player, because 1 reason only: I can challenge myself to fight PVP – non-ai driven aircraft. (This is known as Person versus Person (PVP)).
But in terms of pure quick expression speaking is king, but if that is not an option, then consider that typing is usually too slow and takes focus from the target you are tracking or fighting etc. There are frequent misunderstandings in the typed chats.
Also the techno update messages often show a player is shot down and Id like to know where that was, but they never get on the chat and say. It is a golden opportunity to know where the enemy is. But one who got shot down usually never volunteers “Enemy planes got me in 3456.7” What if you could just press a button to say this?
Some third option is worth exploring. The most important thing that can be said really is:
“There are enemy planes I see them here at this location where I am now”
Could there be a key one can select to say that, and it lights up your planes icon on the map for 5 or 10 seconds for your team to have a opportunity to see that. Or if not your plane’s location, then it’s general location. Ie “near Grid square 3456”.
So rather than just those periodic radar type written messages that flash on the screen saying “enemy aircraft spotted near location xyz”, you could have the opportunity for this data to be player driven as well. You could have one button you press to say I spot enemies in my grid square location.
That would be ideal on servers that already allow GPS player position on maps. For servers which dont have your position on map, you could maybe look at your map and mouse click an area you think bandits are in and then press your message button and it tells your side “I spot bandits here in Grid 4567.8” etc.This last idea may be technologically and economically prohibitive to implement.
Also as far as the radio messages already in the game, they seem to be like “Im wounded” “Out of fuel” What if when you press the button, not only do you get a text message, but also your plane makes a radio message that says the message too?
It would be good to use the radio messages for useful actionable input – sytematic and fairly generic but player directed and timely. So for example: I am flying along in grid 3456 in my P38 Lightning and I spot an enemy Bf109 below, I can press a button and then three things happen: my pilot says a radio message “Frog P38: Enemy spotted 3456”, also this text shows to my side in the team chat and also if my team mates look at the map (I mean press o) they can see a flashing icon at 3456 indicating where the spotted plane approximately is. and it will flash like that for 5-10 seconds or even a minute.
It could be a grid square either general or specific or it could be to the nearest town, ie “I spot enemy planes near Eindhoven” etc.
Im not proposing anything more than what I wrote above. For example, Im not even proposing a bunch of different buttons, for a bunch of different specific things. This is like having twelve different colours for the traffic light. Its gotta be a basic and simple and rudimentary kind of thing. Red, Green Amber. – Maybe 3 buttons total – 4 max.
Motorists on the road, dont speak to one another on a team discord or a team text chat or what have you (Can you imagine what a situation that would degenerate into!) , they look for simple signals like red or green lights etc. This shows there is value in simplistic systems that are applicable to mass participants.
You could decide your server would run either of the following text formats for messages, so the team chat might see the following formats: “Player_Name Player_Aircraft: Enemy spotted 3456.7” Ie
“RuthlessFrog Mustang: Enemy spotted 2901.3”
or a more generic sparse message like:
“Enemy aircraft spotted 3456.7” etc.
If more detail than that basic is needed, such as altitude, track direction, aircraft type etc it can be requested and maybe expanded on in the team text chat.
So what is the overall result of this? Well over time in the air, you would be observing the running commentary from these player directed messages, and basically you would be able to form a mud-map kind of mental picture of where the action was and where it is and to predict where it might be headed, both in location and intensity.
Ie If your at the South of a map and you keep getting player-generated reports of enemies spotted in the North, you know you dont need to waste the next hour flying around in the South waiting for action.
Often you see “666” or “6” in the chat which is someone saying check your six – check behind you there is an enemy on your tail. So the impulse is there in players to help their team mates, but in practice everybody on your side sees that message and I no longer turn my head and look back or break right or left or anything when I see that message, because I dont know who its directed at – and neither does its intended recipient, usually.
You could make every plane in multiplayer have a different ID on its airframe, ie AB1, AB2, AB3 etc, just like real warbirds had, and if you were close enough to a team plane under imminent attack, you could type in the chat “AB1” – That would be enough for them to check six or break or whatever, assuming they read the chat…But also each plane would need its ID on a placard in the cockpit so that pilots knew what their own plane’s ID was. Example, if Im XY9 and the placard on my instrument panel says so, and I see in the chat someone has typed XY9, Id take that as a “6” message to me only to check six or break etc.
Bombers could have a way to set status Unescorted since the most important comms from bombers perspective is: give me a damn escort to the target and back.
Consider that the timezones others play in might mean there are 5 players on a map when they can play, where as others only experience nice full servers with 50-84 players at once. Since the huge maps dont get smaller with smaller player numbers, it gets harder to find combat when theres less players. Spotting alert messages become all the more important then.
Conclusion: I think theres many different ways that semi-automated player directed spotting updates can be implemented in multiplayer air combat sims. This can be most useful to enable a player to find the action and get into combat.