Dynamic Campaigns: what do you expect?

Hey y’all!
We have discussed about Dynamic Campaigns (short: DC) in several threads now, especially referencing Falcon4 and possible DCs for DCS and I feel like we are probably not all talking about the same things when we say we’d like to have one in a simulation.

So here I am to talk about what features (minimum and wishlist) to expect and why.

I’ll post my own thoughts on that soon but feel free to post yours before I do. I am posting on my phone right now do this will take a bit of time on my side.

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Let me start with my minimum definition of a dynamic campaign. A set of objectives and resources. Spent resources/damage that persist within the campaign. An automation that plans missions/populates the world with available resources in order to achieve the given objectives.


Some nuggets from previous related threads:

“A system of meaningful choice.” When I crank up the plane or helicopter… No actually BEFORE I hit the starter, I want to be faced with meaningful choices. Choices that are imbued with fog and doubt but which come with a modest chance of survival. Scripted campaigns that sometimes take the title “dynamic” rarely fit the bill even though they are being technically honest. Battle conditions may be carried forward from mission to mission. But they lack…

“A strategy game with a flight sim overlay” This and only this is what has come to mean “dynamic” to me. I want to accept or organize missions within the context of a larger battle. Ninety-nine percent of what is happening across the battlefield is outside my knowledge or understanding unless I bother to peak under the hood.

“Under the hood” Playing with the strategic viewers and ATO lists are a large part of the joy in Falcon. It makes me feel that I am part of something bigger than me. I don’t know why but it touches a little endorphin pump. Sorry for the analogy but it is like foreplay. After that bit of effort, I am thrilled to be in the jet regardless of what happens over the course of the mission.


I see we already have an interesting distinction. Whether the war (the strategy game) is run automatically or by the player.

Personally I am satisfied with playing a simple pilot and being assigned a mission, as long as this mission is reasonable. E.g. it has a realistic chance of success, or at least not be suicidal, and comprehensibly work towards the objectives of the campaign. For example it should be apparent that the DC first tries to open up a hole in the SAM network before striking deeper targets. For this to be the case, the automated ATO needs to be of a certain sophistication. The ability to create my own sorties and prosecute my own strategy higher up in the chain of command I consider an interesting and desirable addition, but I do not consider necessary for a flightsim. In any case a good automation needs to be present, as I absolutely not want to have to create every mission for every aircraft on my side. And for the opposing AI side, an automation needs to be in place anyway.

With regards to detailed planning of the mission I have been assigned automatically by the ATO, again at first an automation is absolutely necessary for all the AI sorties, as well as to provide a template for player sorties. The ability to replace this plan with one of my own making, as as by adjusting loadouts, routes, timings etc., is highly desirable.


We ran a Dynamic MP campaign for IL2. The map changed to reflect the front lines etc. Probably less applicable in modern scenarios but for sure it would need to have properly matched missions depending on airframe, a positive or negative effect on the overall campaign depending on success or failure. For example a pair of A-10s clearing an insurgent element along with helicopters lifting in troops to take the area and secure it. This would enable a convoy of supplies or an extra X number of ordanance into the warehouse.
Along those lines anyway. Until finally your left with a defeated enemy whose existance is obliterated in the final mission of the campaign :wink:


Those two are very important and it is also a delicate balance to also have an “effectiveness multiplier” for YOUR actions that do affect the outcome of a campaign. By that I mean, sure it is cool to be a tiny part of a big machine helping to accomplish the goal - but I DO like for my successes and failures to have a greater proportionality of bearing on the overall progress of the campaign. I mean, it would suck to pull of 50 straight successful missions but still see the map icons move until you lose the war. That just means you were a shining star in the sea of morons (AI). LOL

That’s a good point. I’m not familiar with how Falcon generated the missions in the DC and am not sure if there is any bias toward that. I think there were some mission sliders though that sort of helped the mission generator tilt missions toward your preference. But I don’t know if that affected the overall assignment of AI missions too.

Totally agree.

EECH did something similar in structure. A recon mission was generated, then an attack, another recon, then insertion. In between those elements, the enemy could reinforce from warehouses (vehicle generator buildings) and infrastructure could also repair via air drops from supply aircraft. It was always cool to find and kill an inbound IL-76 just before it could drop its supplies to a FARP.



Some element of roleplay would be great to have as well. This ties in with the resource management mentioned above. Your pilots are a finite resource, with skills and a fatigue rating. Flying them often wears em out, but increases their skill.

I remember in Falcon 3.0 going to red flag and grinding out a strike mission over and over to get at least 8 pilots with an excellent a/g rating. Then i would grind another 8 pilots at a/a so the other guys could rest. Going to war with those guys was awesome. They had names and faces and picking who would go on what mission was a very meaningful choice. Losing them mattered a whole lot.

So to make a game out of a sim needs elements of an RPG (dudes with stats that matter and change), and several types of strategy game; logistical, tactical and perhaps even strategical. Do we take our last four LGB’s on this run? Do we go straight in, or do we bypass the SAMs by going the long way thru the valley? Do we attack the airfield, the ammo dump or the SAM site? Those are questions the game should ask the player. Flying the mission then becomes that more poignant because the player is implementing his choices and dealing with their consequences.

For me, EECH is a perfect example of the logistical/tactical/strat game. Driving deep into enemy territory to have a go at one of the helicopter generator buildings was sooooo satisfying :smiley:
Falcon 3.0 and B17 the Mighty Eighth are perfect examples of the RPG flight game.


Ex-girlfriends always get SEAD. (I think it was Jane’s F-15 or F-18 that you could rename all your squadron-mates)…


I named my squad after my classmates. Falcon 3.0 was highschool for me :smile:

Actually a lot of these games allowed names and even faces to be altered. the XCOM games are famous for doing that too. Its a (codewise) very cheap way to generate player attachment to these units.


I would like to add that some theaters are more prone to this amazing way of giving players the “meaningful choice”.

The way you described those scenarios brought my mind directly to the Falklands- although I admit it’s a lateral sort of thing as there was never the need for such deep strategic reasoning behind British interdiction on the island; but I guess I made my point reach across, or is it?

On the other hand probably a conflict like the 1991 Desert Storm would probably feel more “right” if our missions were sort of fixed as the higher ups would have probably sorted the target list for the day with the rest of the Alliance leaders/nations forces.

Please, tell me I don’t sound exactly like a raving mad… :confused:

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That is exactly the train of thought I took with my DC engine for DCS. Some guys in a dark room deep within the pentagon (= the campaign designer) have put together a huge list of stuff that should be destroyed. As such it is outside the sphere of control of the participants of the campaign, commanders and pilots alike. The local commander (= the campaign engine) then has the responsibility of putting together the Air Tasking Order by assigning the available aircraft to the targets as smartly as possible, until every target is scratched off the list. The pilots (= player) influence this process by their success/failure, creating an ever changing environment to which the ATO is being kept adapted.


Wow, wonderfully worded!
+rep, my man!

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There is a lot of repeat information and opinion in this thread. So I will rehash a little more of my sense of the situation. I’ve had a few fun missions in DCS over the months in the Buddyspike (Blue Flag) server. The experience has been dynamic-ish. All players could look at the online map (or “widget” as they call it) and see the state of the battlefield. The mission rotates roughly every 4 hours and the end state becomes the opening state after rotation. That feature made me care about the outcome. And I cared enough to fly helicopters for hours just to drop assets to wherever I was asked to do so. It’s an example of how humans took the place of a DC engine with some similar results. Still, even at its most intense, the experience was dry when compared to the shear volume of activity that happens in the player’s bubble with Falcon. Tactical Air War over at IL2 is better simply because players are concentrated around a smaller volume of space. The flip side is the lack of variety in WWII flying. So to me, a DC in older genres is less important.


Ok let’s see…
A few of y’all have mentioned some stuff already that I also think is important for a DC. Note that some of the stuff I mention is already present in DCSW or similar games, I’ll mention it anyway. Some of it may be rather easy and some of it may be almost impossible.

Here are my first thoughts on it:

  1. Battlefield. A Battlefield is not only the map, but also regions of the map of significance for either or both sides. That significance might be strategical or tactical.

a - Territories
I’d like to see a function in a dynamic campaign editor for marking territories and front lines. Think of it like areas in Cities:Skylines or similar games. You take the map and draw colored (blue or red or whatever) polygons on it. Those are the territories. An airfield for example might be controlled by either or none of the sides.
An area counts as under control of an army if at the end of a mission there are more units (or certain types of units) in the area.

b - Terrain types
The simulation should know what a mountain, a forest, or a river is. I don’t need a “destroy tanks” mission somewhere a tank cannot drive, like on the slopes of the Elbrus or something.

c - Areas
An industrial area and a residential area might - or might not - be different. Counter-insurgency missions might happen in both, others probably won’t.
A target for a strike is more likely a factory than some random building somewhere in the city.

d - Infrastructure
Destroyed roads/railroads/stations/airfields will damage supply lines.
Destroyed power plants may cause a blackout in the city.
The creator might get to place radio towers and command posts in the area, and the simulation will place appropriate air defenses around those, depending on tech level and campaign type.

d - Persistent damage
You might start off with destroyed roads, buildings, airfields and so on, and if something is destroyed in a mission it should stay like that unless there is a way to repair it (which might be triggered by time or by a certain mission type) This should be easily editable as well. Choose a region and a percentage of city damage, click OK. That’s what you start with. That status might change throughout the game.

  1. Assets and resources
  • Prefabs like air defense groups, infantry, air defenses and so on.
  • aircraft, pilots and weapons.
    Some of those might be not in theater at the beginning but - for example - be available once an airfield is secured.
  • Assets might be limited
  1. Mission creation

a - on start
The first thing is building the battlefield. The user would make inputs like the number and tech level of air defenses, infantry or tank bataillons, and/or choose a basic type that determines such stuff. In “border conflict” most troops will probably be near the border and have fortifications and tanks and artillery in place, while the “civil war” scenario will focus on smaller forces and more infantry spread over the whole battlefield, with the territories much more scattered.

The main objectives (victory conditions) might be chosen from a dropdown list (survive for some time, capture all airfields, destroy or air fields, destroy some number of other assets, control an certain percentage of the map)

The first few missions might be chosen by just looking at those above victory conditions.

b - based on events/assets
If an own plane was shot down in an earlier mission that can create a CSAR/SAR mission, which uses one or more rescue helicopters that might or might not be directed by a AFAC and might or might spawn an escort mission. That greatly depends on the distance to enemy/own territory and/or airfields.

If the enemy in the target area is mostly infantry there will probably be more AFAC missions.

The mission creation algorithm will take a look into air defenses and not send A-10Cs into an area where there are high tech air defenses, if possible. It might take the risk if it is an area with hills to hide behind and advice to fly low and/or send some SEAD mission.

c - based on territory control

  • If one side controls an industrial area and infrastructure there can be convoys with resources moving to another area of the same side. If an enemy area is within a certain distance that might create infantry groups attacking/defending those convoys and that might create BAI/strike/CAS type missions.

The factories in those industrial areas are also targets for strikes.

If the enemy side doesn’t have any airfields there probably will be no CAP missions.

If the own side has no airfields that might create a mission to conquer one.

After each mission the engine will try and place assets for both sides in a place that allows it. It takes into account if convoys made it through the mission and if areas controlled by the own side are adjacent to own, or enemy territory. There is a rule set that says which kinds of units might be placed there. Small infantry units might sneak through and “spawn” in such areas, a tank division probably won’t.

If an area is isolated the AI might decide to pull out troops, or reinforce it by creating transport/paratrooper drop missions (+ AFACs and/or escorts by helis/fighters) or by letting a tank company attack the area in between.
It is possible to create a ruleset for such situations that will - at least in the majority of cases - make a not-too-bad decision.

Now these are only thoughts, and many of those are pretty advanced and MUCH more than what would be sufficient to make me a happy simmer. I will elaborate on that a bit more, soon.

Thanks for reading and for the valuable replies we have in this thread already. Now reading through all of your thoughts. :slight_smile:


A question on your experience on the Blue Flag server, as I haven’t played there yet. Does it include activity by AI aircraft?

For me it is absolutely essential that the world needs to be populated by AI activity. Obviously from a single player point of view, but also for MP COOP.


I’d actually suggest to add this to the Original first post and to update it, if and when you can, to the latest findings.

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I absolutely agree that AI behaviour should be controlled by it. In fact a dynamic campaign for me is more important for SP than for MP.

I want a world to fly over, not an empty map.

The civilian stuff like cars and so on we have in DCSW is much better than nothing but nowhere near what would be desirable IMO. They hardly react to anything that happens around them and they are randomly placed.

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Good idea. I’ll edit some stuff into my first post in a while.

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It does but it isn’t well implemented. I think it is a very linear process that goes something like:

Human flys Hawk (Blue) or L-39 (Red) “Recon” type over enemy airfield close enough and long enough to collect “intel”. He RTBs and after a certain delay B-1s or similar AI bombers spawn airborne at high altitude some distance from the target airbase. An early warning text is sent to the team about to be bombed so that they have just enough lead time to intercept if already in the air.

To my knowledge all other air assets are human flown.


I like the recon idea and I think there should be a system allowing the player to report stuff by taking pictures with a camera or a TGP or just look at some point and use a circle-menu, like in Battlefield to talk to the AI and other players.

And another thought about assets: if you don’t have many Amraams or GBU-38s that might get you interested in those Aim-7 and Mk84 so that’s something I consider to be important.

Then having missions that allow you to acquire some Amraams…