Silent Hunter III Page 17

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AI – Artificial Intelligence

Having just torpedoed, but not sunk the battleship King George. The seven escorts were quick to swing into vengeful hunter mode. Using the ‘external view’, I was able to see how the Escort AI behaved. I was impressed. The Escort AI worked well together and shared contacts. That is, when one had a good contact on me, or thought that they did, then some of the other escorts would come over from afar and join in. At times when I had crept away, I would see the escorts continue to depth charge my last known location, at other times, they would spread out again and each escort would be off searching and/or depth charging in their own area well away from me.

The escorts all weaved in and out between each other for over 2 hours.

After a period of not finding me, the escort headed off, leaving the battleship King George. I moved about 1000 metres from where they had lost me, come to periscope depth and let the King George have another two for good measure. The King George quickly succumbed to my onslaught and as she slid below the waves, the escorts made a turn around and came back to the last location that they had known me to be.

At what time the escorts give up and depart is more of an issue compared to that of leaving the battleship. Currently the Escort AI will cease the hunt if they have lost contact with you for fifteen game minutes. You can surface take a pot shot at the escorts to get them to come back. Again, after having lost contact for fifteen minutes, they will leave, surface take a pot shot at the escorts to get them to come back, again, after having lost contact for fifteen minutes, they will leave, and so it will go on until you get bored.

In the King George exercise above I experienced the Escort AI at its best. Unfortunately, in and around a convoy the Escort AI shows many failings.

I have sunk ships within a heavily escorted convoy and the escorts have continued as if nothing occurred. I have reproduced this many times, once even sinking three ships.

I have seen the same behaviour when I sank a lone ship. It was ablaze with a plume of smoke and an escort passes by not more than 2000 metres and continues as if nothing has happened.

One of the AI’s good points is its ability to avoid crashing into other ships. Even in large convoys when it all gets a shambles, the AI will not crash into each other. In a self-fulfilling situation, the reason for the convoy being in a shambles is the way that ships avoid crashing into each other. As mentioned in the previous ‘sailing model’ discussion, the AI ships can accelerate and stop in a most unrealistic manner. The AI uses this ability to stop on the spot to avoid crashing into another ship. The ship behind then has to avoid the ship that stopped, and so does the one behind that one. Shortly the convoy looks like a freeway pile up but without any ship actually having hit another.

Even though “The escorts all weaved in and out between each other for over 2 hours” there were several instances where two escorts would avoid hitting each other only to sit there for a lengthy period doing nothing before then resuming their journey. This issue is more likely to occur in and around a convoy.

From the above exercise involving the seven escorts I got the distinct impression that the Escort AI is able to ping right up to and when directly over my U-Boat and that the ADSIC was not impeded by the disturbance of the depth charges as they exploded around me. This apparently is not the case; I am however not fully convinced.

I also noticed that the Escort AI kept making ‘fine’ adjustment all the way up to when it dropped the depth charges in response to attempts that I made to evade the Escorts depth charge run. This tends to indicate that when the Escort AI has found me that it can ‘see’ me a little too well and for too long.

Even when the aim was off, the Escort AI was always 100% accurate on my depth, no matter how often I changed it.

The AI has no ability to navigate in or around land. The AI will always take a direct line towards you and cannot travel 100 metres around the end of the land mass.

I set up a test in Scapa Flow with several escorts in the channels. Each Escort was in no way blocked from engaging me. All had direct routes to engage my position. All the Escorts ships managed to end up land bound. Most of their own free will, that is, they ended up land bound after spotting me several thousand metres away and as they made a direct line to me they ended up land bound.

The other escorts that did not become land bound by themselves because there was no landmass directly between them and myself, did become land bound after I went around a landmass with them in pursuit.

The escorts do not run aground; they just stop right up against it. They then seem unable to function after that. That is, after I had circled around submerged and then surfaced behind the escorts they did not reverse away from the land and pursue me.

The Merchant AI is very basic. The Merchant AI will not run from you after your U-Boat has been detected. It will veer away a little, but nothing more. To be clear on this matter, if a merchant ship’s plotted course is to take it within 400 metres of a surfaced U-Boat, it will follow that course to within 400 metres of the surfaced U-Boat.

This makes attacking a merchant ship a simple process of charging in like a bull and firing. The Merchant AI does a nice job of swerving left and right to make a torpedo attack difficult, but it is predictable and not difficult enough for a skilled manual TDC user to miss. Nor will the Merchant AI attempt to ram you. If you do get rammed it is simply a case of you getting into its path when it was zigzagging.

The Airplane AI is very basic. The Airplane AI flies in drops its depth charges and leaves. Only the bomber style Aircraft AI uses their machines guns, aircraft such as the Hurricane fighter do not.

The “fly in drop the depth charges” is all the Airplane AI can do. When responding to my presence as ‘reported’ by the Escort AI, the Airplane AI will fly in and very precisely drop depth charges where I am meant to be and fly off. I saw ten aircraft do this in succession.

As a side note, the planes have a very generous flight model.

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