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Sensors, Scanners, Stealth and A.I. Perception

How would the A.I. go about identifying the location of the player or other NPC's? Especially in the case where the player is purposefully trying to hide from a non player character? For example, the player is attempting to hide from a particularly
nasty NPC pirate who will blow him up and steal his cargo if he is seen. Or reverse the roles and the player is attempting to sneak up on a merchantman to get a heavy, sudden, barrage of firepower into his engines before he can flee.

I don't know how this works in a space game, basically. In other games, I know it goes by the position of the player, whether he is in light or shadow, how much noise he is making, or whether he is in the line of sight of the A.I. But how would this vary for a spaceship hiding from a spaceship. Obviously the player who is hiding knows he is hiding from someone, but how do they get the advantage?

Would it have something to do with dust? The position? Line of sight? Certain distance? Cover? Sensor ability?

How do you implement the ability for a player to be stealthy without making the A.I. overly ignorant? I'm not sure. Thoughts?
“The impact of space activities is nothing less than the galvanizing of hope and imagination for human life continuum into a future of infinite possibility.”

Re: Stealth and A.I. Perception

It would work like any games I suspect, There is certain variables and a factor of chance.

Variables that I can think of are;

*This is from the perspective of the player ship hiding from a AI.

- View Distance, How far a AI would be able to detect. The closer they get to the player the higher chance of detection.
- Players ship power levels. Like if they have engines, weapons, lights all powered down then the chance of detection would be reduced.
- Size of players ship. If it is a large ship then the chance of detection would be higher with it increasing as the AI get's closer.
- Natural Cover, If the player is in a field of asteroids or inside a dust cloud the chance of detection would decrease. And the same would happen if the AI was in a dust cloud since their visibility would be reduced.
- Ship camo, Plating that reduces detection from sensors. Cloaking would drastically reduce the range of detection.
- Sensors on the AI ship. Depending on how strong and accurate the sensors are the chances of detection would change.
- Movement of player. If the player is moving it is far more likely they will be detected.
- Line of sight. Very important, if the player is behind a asteroid then the AI ship should not be able to detect them unless they have sensors that penetrate the asteroid.

You would give a percentage to all these and then it would be calculated whether the AI detects the player or not. At least this is how I think it works. :D
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Re: Stealth and A.I. Perception

Lanfranc wrote:Realistically speaking, stealth in space is not possible unless you're physically hiding behind something, such as an asteroid. The energy profile of a space craft (especially from heat) will always be too high compared to the background.
This is probably the best answer in regards to this. Unless you either have some sort of jamming device or IFF spoofer, the enemy will more than likely 'see' you. At that point, it becomes more of a "how likely is the enemy wanting to go after/seek you".

If the enemy is already trying to seek you, they'll probably continue to seek you within reason (not too far away, no reinforcements, how much of a threat you pose, etc). All of that can be controlled via a small number of variables from 1%-100% and then just dice roll that (where % is how likely the enemy is to seek and/or chase). If you pose some threat, the variable may be from 1%-80% instead, and if you have reinforcements and are far away, the variable may end up being 1% - 15%. Add in a random number generator and you see that 85% of the time, the enemy won't even bother with you.

When it comes to jamming and/or IFF spoofing, another variable based on how likely the enemy will be able to 'see through' your facade. Same scale, 1-100%. Like this, it handles the majority of AI when it comes to detection and stealth. Now the actual implementation of that? No clue.
Early Spring - 1055: Well, I made it to Boatmurdered, and my initial impressions can be set forth in three words: What. The. F*ck.

Re: Stealth and A.I. Perception

Masterofjumping wrote: Wouldn't shutting the ship down help reduce the energy levels?
Theoretically yes, but you still need power at least for life support, such as generating oxygen and definitely heating at least a part of the ship to a survivable temperature. That in itself would be sufficient to detect it.

There are some other techniques which theoretically might give you some degree of stealth for a while, such as dumping your heat in a direction away from the enemy, but they're all rather questionable in practice. As DWMagus suggests, you're much better off assuming that the enemy will find you sooner or later and instead work on either deception (making him think you're supposed to be there) or some form of jamming (making it harder for him to find out who you are and target you).

Re: Stealth and A.I. Perception

So let's say we have a cloaking device, and using it also distorts the radar in a circle around your ship?

Different strength cloaking devices could have different radar jamming ranges. Fighters would only need it to be a few hundred meters, but for capital ships it would probably be along the lines of a few kilometers, which would allow fighters without their own cloaks to hide under the mask of the capital ship.
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Re: Stealth and A.I. Perception

Hm, I understand the realistic issues that several of you have addressed. But in the terms of gameplay, is it something that you wouldn't want implemented?
“The impact of space activities is nothing less than the galvanizing of hope and imagination for human life continuum into a future of infinite possibility.”

Re: Stealth and A.I. Perception

I would happily throw realism out the window and replace it with technobabble. =)

For instance, you could have an everything-absorbing hull and heat sinks that direct the generated heat aft where the engines are causing an unmaskable signature anyway.

However, if you coast, pointing your ship at the thing(s) that you don't want to be seen by, you have a chance for your stealth gizmos to work.

The nice part about this is that the AI could easily use it.
AI stealth fighters would approach your ship by flying straight at it. Obviously. So their approach is "stealthed".
If you have scouts covering your perimeter, they would be able to look "around" the approaching fighters and spot them.

Also important: the time component. That's when a game of position turns dynamic.
The closer the target is, the faster it can be identified.
Stealth fighters may be able to do a hit & run, leaving the scene before they can fully be identified.
Could also have a "ECM" module installed, which further delays identification by a flat x seconds.
That would be a major bonus ability for fighters.

A working stealth concept with a counter... and as a bonus, the AI would use it simply by doing the obvious.
I hate player-only features. =)
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Re: Stealth and A.I. Perception

Certainly realism should not be allowed to overrule the needs of the game for its own sake, but on the other hand, nor should it be ignored just because it's cool. The thing is that the decision of where to come down on the spectrum of more versus less realism regarding these things does have a significant impact on the flavour and setting of the game that comes out in the other end.

For instance, if genuine stealth is a viable strategy for spaceships, we need to ask why all spaceships that expect combat aren't outfitted with stealth equipment? Are there cost concerns, negative impact on the crew, or reduced combat efficiency? In that case, only a few 'special force' ships will have stealth, but all combat forces will still have to take their existence into account: Outfit at least some ships with sensors that can counter them, as well as develop flexible strategies that make best use of one's own stealthed ships while minimising the efficiency of the opponent's. Effectively, this means the 'feel' of space combat will be quite similar to modern naval warfare, or perhaps as it is in Star Trek.

Or maybe all ships do in fact have stealth – in that case, our space combat is rather going to have the feel of submarine combat, with a number of hidden opponents in a hide-and-seek game of detection and firing solutions, each side trying to get the advantage before the other one does. (I can't remember if this form has appeared in science fiction, although it probably has.)

On the other hand, if there is no stealth available at all, space combat would see larger fleets of battleships and escorts, each with a relatively high situational awareness, with an emphasis on strategy and large-scale set battles, such as for instance during World War I, and also much like it appears in e.g. Star Wars or Battlestar Galactica. So again a different flavour from the two others.

So the point is that, especially for something as important for this type of game as space combat, I think it would be better to first look at the type of flavour and experience you want from the game, and then implement features to support that.

(In this case my personal preference is for the third style. I do like giant space battles. :mrgreen: )

Re: Stealth and A.I. Perception

Gazz wrote:I would happily throw realism out the window and replace it with technobabble. =)
Masterofjumping wrote:There go's my list of stealth variables.
I'm sure all these variables come into play somewhere, but for an overall effect, keeping it simple and straight-forward is desirable. The standard K.I.S.S. is pretty much what you have to live by when you start coding advanced and sprawling things.
Early Spring - 1055: Well, I made it to Boatmurdered, and my initial impressions can be set forth in three words: What. The. F*ck.

Re: Stealth and A.I. Perception

The Hedge Knight wrote:As much as I love me some meaty realism soup, if we applied it to ship design they will all look boring like this:
Not exactly a very nice looking ship is it :D

Realism is only so good as long as it makes for interesting gameplay. And honestly I am not sure whether I would like to try and land that thing or fight a bunch of raiders with it.
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