Controlling AI with Voice Commands.

Using Speech Recognition To Control An Arma II AI Squad.

For single player gaming, nothing I’ve encountered compares to commanding a squad of Arma AI using voice commands. When things get hairy its good fun and rather immersive to start yelling out commands and have your squad perform as directed (hopefully).

Microphone

Image via Wikipedia

Software for Arma 2 Voice Recognition

To setup your computer for voice recognition with Arma you will need a decent microphone. A better quality microphone will make the speech recognition more accurate, but you don’t need professional grade hardware. I use an old pair of mid-range Altec Lansing head phones with a built in microphone. The software you will need depends on your operating system. At a minimum you will need to grab a command application program that maps your speech to Arma keyboard sequences.

If you have Windows XP

piLfluS command application – free
Shoot is also a good free alternative.
VAC
– not free, 30day trial

In addition to one of the above you will need the Microsoft Speech recognition engine if you don’t already have it.

If You Have Windows 7

VAC – not free, 30day trial

If You Have Vista

piLfluS command application – free
Shoot is also a good free alternative.
VAC
– not free, 30day trial

If You Have Mac OSx

???? (I looked but my ignorance of things Macish is astounding. Anyone have any suggestions? )

Speech Recognition Profile For Arma 2

The profile file maps your recognized voice to the appropriate keystrokes for Arma. eg. you may say “select team red” and the profile maps this to the keystrokes 9 9 1

You can either build a profile from scratch or grab an existing profile and customize it to your liking.

piLfluS profile
Shoot profile
VAC profile

Video Example Of VAC and Arma 2

Arma 2 Kiawa oh-58 addon

Kiawa oh-58

I threw together a quick mission using the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior addon with an AI AH-64 Apache. I dropped in the Secondary Operations Module (SOM) and Ambient Combat module to generate some targets. HQ (via the SOM) then radioed a request for me to provide Close Air Support for an outpost under attack. This is where the video starts.

Note how the tone of my voice changes when my AI copilot calls out contacts right underneath us while I’m looking at the map.

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db’s Twitter Digest for 2010-09-06 to 2010-09-12

Why I Suck As An Arma 2 Pilot.

Some Serious Maneuvering
Image by The U.S. Army via Flickr

Improving My Arma 2 Piloting Skills.

It’s a hard admission to make, but my piloting skills are lacking. Now that I’ve upgraded my computer, I can no longer blame slow hardware for my poor piloting performance. So I’ve decided it’s time to upgrade my piloting skills.

My weak areas are:

  1. Landing
  2. Combat
  3. Everything Else
arma-ch47-ramp-hover

db's arma ch47 ramp hover

Improving Landing In Arma 2

My Arma landing problems are basic – I can’t land where I want to. Or to put it another way, I crash near where I want to land. With fixed wing aircraft I had gotten to the point where I didn’t play the missions at all or just quit in frustration. With helicopters I’m not quite so bad. Give me a large enough field and I can usually land ok. Any landing that requires precision or in a combat situation and I usually tense up and blow it.

So I fired up the search engines and went looking for resources to help improve my fixed wing landings. I found an article called 25 Tips to make you a better pilot written for real pilots of real world aircraft. Still it addressed one of my chronic problems; over shooting the runway. Here is what they suggested:

For accurate landings fixate on the runway numbers in the windshield.
The runway numbers … are constantly telling you where the airplane is going to touchdown on the runway. If the numbers are visually moving towards you (down the windshield), you are going to go over them. If they are moving away from you (up the windshield), you’ll be short. The goal is to keep the numbers stationary in the windshield or drifting down slightly. If you keep the numbers stationary, you won’t actually hit them, which isn’t the goal anyway, but you’ll come over them at a reasonable height and your flair will carry you no more than 500-700 feet past them (if you’re on speed). The goal here is to know where the airplane is going to touch down and control that touchdown point, rather than just accepting what happens.

So I gave the advice a try and … I landed. I was very happy. So happy I tried it again, then again. I’ve gotten to the point where I can land 9 out of 10 times. Granted my approaches are still a bit shaky, but now I have hope.

Arma landing practice

db's Arma Landing Practice

With rotary aircraft my search wasn’t as productive since I couldn’t find any tutorials. I may just have to repeatedly practice until I get proficient. Last year I had built an Arma mission with random landing zones. I practiced for a few hours and that helped, so I may have to build something like that for Arma 2. (See screen shot for my practice results in Arma)

Additional Reference

Learning to fly with Flight Simulator in particular the section entitled Setting Up for an Approach
Dart’s Page: 31MB Movie How to Land On A Carrier

Improving My Arma 2 Air Combat Skills

Embolden by my improved landings I set out to improve my air combat skills. Now I was realistic and didn’t want to dampen my new-found enthusiasm by jumping into the art and science of air to air combat. I figured I would start out with improving on my ground assault technique; something I considered simpler and applicable to both fixed and rotary winged aircraft. I found a 26MB movie tutorial from Dart’s Page called How to Attack Ground Targets. He uses IL2 (I think) to show how to attack ground targets using guns, rockets and bombs. My previous ground attack efforts usually consisted of me spending too much time flopping about trying to lineup my target, missing and then plowing into the ground. One tip I picked up from the movie is to not use your rudder to lineup the target; something I had been trying unsuccessfully to do. I’ve been practicing a bit doing strafing runs with guns and rockets and I have improved – again not perfect, but a definite improvement.

Additional Reference

Dart’s Page Instructional Videos
Formation Flying
IN PURSUIT: A Pilot’s Guide to Online Air Combat
Jet Fighter School

Other Suggestions

If anyone has any other resources, tips, tricks or hints on how I can improve, please comment or send me an email. Any help would be appreciated because yes, my flying does suck that much.

db’s Twitter Digest for 2010-08-30 to 2010-09-05

Upgrading To Play Arma 2 Operation Arrowhead.

Finally after much patient waiting I got my new computer parts yesterday.

Nvidia EVGA GTX 460

1GB Nvidia EVGA GTX 460

I yanked everything out of my old box and stuffed in the new parts. As I thought when I first started contemplating upgrading my computer, I needed to replace my power supply as well. Here is what I ended up buying:

  • EVGA Nvidia GTX 460 1gb video card
  • Asus P6T SE LGA 1366 Motherboard
  • ANTEC 750Watt Ultra Power supply
  • Kingston RAM, 6GB 3 piece kit
  • Intel Core i7 920 2.8 Ghz

I installed the 64 bit version of Windows 7 then the Arma 2 Operation Arrowhead demo and ran the benchmark mission.

My resolution was set to 1650×1050 and with the video settings on Very High my average was 44 FPS. With the settings on High my average was 59 FPS.

I was very pleased. Now I just have to pay for it.