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Updates Intel Report #018: Dev News for September 2023
Intel Report #018: Dev News for September 2023

Folks,It's been a month since our last dev blog, and we once again take a quick break from working on GROUND BRANCH V1034 to give you a generous glimpse into development over the last few weeks. This is Intel Report #018, and today we'll be jumping straight into it.⚠️ This report is not an exhaustive list of V1034 features!For the most up-to-date list of expected V1034 and later features, see our {LINK ENTFERNT}roadmap. You may also want to check out our Intel Reports for June (#015), July (#016) and and August (#017).AI developmentOne of the most anticipated areas of development in V1034, enemy AI continues to be built on by programmer Chris with more realistic and varied behaviors. Today we'll be taking a look at the new target acquisition system, as well as two new abilities: looking and shooting from windows and grenade throwing.Nerfing the enemy aimbotIn a way, programming AI bots sometimes involves more removing than adding. As a crude example, once you program a bot to visually detect the player, the bot will do just that — it doesn't matter if it's bright or dark, if there is foliage in the way, or even if the model is looking in the right direction. You need to actively program the bot to account for things like environment brightness, different types of visual obstacles, and field of view — essentially "removing" its über-detection abilities — so that it better emulates human vision.? The first pass on the AI light detection system currently in V1033 is a good example of the above.Getting 180-no-scoped by a bot 200 meters away has a similar root cause: once you tell the bot to point and shoot at the player, it'll act like a sentry laser cannon until you add further programming to nerf it to a human level. Though the current release of GROUND BRANCH (V1033) has a configurable period where bots will intentionally miss shots as a way to give players a better chance to react (the Deliberate Miss Time, which varies with difficulty level), once that period is over they're very unlikely to miss.The new target acquisition system aims (no pun intended) to mitigate this issue by defining an "accuracy plane" — an area where shots may randomly land — around the target player/character. Over time, as long as bots maintain contact, the accuracy plane reduces in size until any shot fired will definitely hit the player.The system is being built with flexibility in mind, allowing for different sizes of the accuracy plane (as well as different amounts of time for it to collapse) depending on difficulty level and other conditions that will be expanded on, such as distance, movement and weapon type.The AI guy taketh away, and then the AI guy giveth a littleIf you bought GROUND BRANCH or are considering it, chances are you're looking for a challenge — it's just no fun when most of the challenge comes from superhuman accuracy. And since we're working on improving that aspect of the game, it's only fair that we also bump up areas where the AI's abilities fall short to provide a challenge that feels realistic.In addition to better cover usage and contextual stances (such as going prone when too far from cover), bots are also being programmed to use grenades. We asked Chris to do a little dive into the detail on this, because some of you tell us you like the detail:The targeting system for the grenade throwing works different than for bullets, since they travel more slowly and are thrown in a pronounced arc. The grenade is thrown by the AI with a specific velocity. To make sure it lands at the desired target location, we have to take into account the horizontal distance and the vertical distance, e.g. when the target is standing on a hill. To determine at which velocity the grenade needs to be thrown to hit the target, kinematic equations need to be solved. To make this problem a bit easier, we say that the grenade will always be thrown at an angle of 45 degrees.The equations below are used to determine the necessary velocity (v) to throw a grenade at 45 degrees so as to hit the target location. Implementing this formula into the game now lets the AI throw a grenade at the player:Yes, you're still reading the GROUND BRANCH dev blogWe know 99% of you skipped the math entirely, so here's what you're really here for (minus the animations — they still need to be hooked up!):GB PLAYER: pls improve AI?GB TANGO: *throws frag*GB PLAYER: not like th--?V1034 will also give the enemy AI the ability to contextually look and shoot out of windows.You might be thinking that enemies are already sometimes positioned by windows and will shoot out of them in V1033, and you would be right. The difference is that, in this upcoming release, any enemy that happens to be indoors can run up to a window to check outside if they hear something, and then shoot out of it if they spot a target. Whereas in V1033, window bots would be specifically positioned by windows and set to a "guard" state, while other bots would simply rush outside in search of players. Here's a quick demo:? Window usage by the AI will present a unique challenge once bullets start flying, as any window might be hosting an enemy ready to take you down.AI tracers and VFXIn addition to being visually updated, optional tracers will be added to enemy shots at lower difficulty levels to help identify the source of incoming fire. The system allows us to easily set the color and frequency of AI tracers.Here's a quick WIP demo with yellow/orange tracers every 3–4 shots:? As with most AI settings, the use of tracers will be player-configurable.Charles is also updating the bullet impact VFX for various surface types, as seen in the video below:Callsign patches coming to headgearJust as the title says, callsign patches will now be applied to the rear of all headgear that has an adequate spot for it. At this time, that includes all helmets and the NVG Head Mount.This is an idea we had been mulling over, suggested a few times by players (and most recently by {LINK ENTFERNT}Discord member Otoramaru). One cool feature is that the patch will automatically apply to the NVG counterweight pouch if NVG are attached:This addition is sure to be of great help when stacking up and regrouping, as identifying your teammates can be tricky with no HUD.❓ Should the rear velcro of the Ball Cap also host a callsign patch? How about the big velcro on the Ball Cap (Reverse), since it's worn backwards? Useful? Goofy? Let us know what you think in the comments or anywhere in the community.While we're talking patches, we're happy to announce that the normal maps for the arm and chest patches are getting fixed. They're still decals, but the normals help add a little bit of depth as currently seen on the headgear.If you're wondering about that US/UK Friendship Flag patch, that's one of a set of new patches that will be coming to V1034. They'll also include:Europe Czech Republic Greece Estonia Ireland Lithuania Macedonia SwitzerlandAmericas Bolivia Chile Colombia Cuba Peru VenezuelaAfrica and Middle East Algeria Egypt Iran Jordan Libya Morocco Saudi Arabia Syria UgandaAsia Thailand VietnamWe might also include these in-game brand patches as examples for modded patches: Ramjet SCOPETROLLevel designMap work continues behind the scenes, with John having recently started changes and additions to City that we hope to be able to showcase soon.As teased in earlier reports, The Farm has received a small makeover — most notably in the outdoor range area — with a visual tie-in to Small Town. Here are a couple sneak peeks:Tracer goes PEW? In other map-related news, Hideout has been pushed back to V1035 to be better fleshed out, while new map Ranch (also V1035) continues to be carefully crafted by Elliot.MiscellaneousHere are some smaller new features and bug fixes that will be coming to V1034: Pressing N for Night Vision in Spectator Mode will cycle through green and white phosphor modes (thanks to Special Ed Forces for the suggestion!) Fix for the quick Resurrect admin option not working ResurrectAtMe and SuperKick (for kicking admins) options added to quick admin menuThis has been Intel Report #018!Thanks for keeping up with GROUND BRANCH! We hope you enjoyed going through these news and previews, and we'll see you on the next one in about a month.Cheers!
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