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The Sheriff of Oosterbeek – A Scenario Design DAR/AAR

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I recently had an experience which some scen designers might find instructive, and which I thought I'd share.   I've recently been re-reading John English's Canadian Army in the Normandy Campaign. Tow

While I'm reading your document and examining the map in the Editor, I've noticed I did a battle scenario called < The Sheriff of Oosterbeek - small >where there are no British SUZs and the map

Hi folks, Creating a scenario in the Combat Mission editor has been described as the-game-within-the-game. I know a number of people who’ve spent more time playing with the editor than they have

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Fall Blau....thanks!

"Always sit next to the smart kid in class..."


Road signs are flavor objects correct?

Do we get some new "Dutchy" ones for OMG?

Do they replace and bump out the French ones or or does it expand the available types?

There is no preview so I always have to use all and then just delete the ones I don't want.

If you know...yet...

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Road signs are flavor objects correct?

Do we get some new "Dutchy" ones for OMG?

Do they replace and bump out the French ones or or does it expand the available types?

There is no preview so I always have to use all and then just delete the ones I don't want.

If you know...yet...

Road signs are flavor objects and you will be able to choose between French or Dutch ones, but not both. In the editor if you pick Holland as the location of your scenario the road signs will all be Dutch, you don't need to worry about that.


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So it actually really was more of a Wolkenschau than a Wochenschau.

Sometimes I wish that Steiner14 would still be with us. He would set you straight on implying that the Wochenschau is something else than a first class source of reliable information!


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During the heat of the previous battle, the newly invented MK 1 Mod 0 Airborne Potty had not been used, but seeing the opportune chance, LT Reynolds decided to give it a quick field test, another example of a British officer making sure all was well for his men.


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"Sir, I know I am bloody well knackered but Smithers and I could swear we done heard a loud series of clicks, and blymie!, that entire blokin' building across the street there instantly swiveled anti-clockwise, the roof disappeared and the shrubs turned into trees...."


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4 - The Map Pt.1; Working with Overlays

”The British Army always fights its battles uphill, in the pouring rain, at the junction of two map-sheets.”
Field Marshal ‘Bill’ Slim

First up is the map, but I can’t get cracking in the editor just yet. First I have to prepare some map overlays, and a bit of time spent here can save a lot of time later on.

In my refined concept, I figured the map would be about 1.5 x 1km, stretching from the railway embankment to the church, and from the Rhine to somewhere in mid-Oosterbeek. What I want to do now is be very specific about where exactly the boundaries are going to be. The best way I’ve found to do this is to lay up the relevant mapping into Google Earth, and use that to select the boundaries. The layers I’m going to use are the 1944 topographical map from the Library of Congress (this provides the best view of the terrain at the time), the 2011 topo map from Wikipedia (very clear and detailed information, and the contours especially will still be perfectly valid), a map of the perimeter from Middlebrook’s book (which has detailed dispositions of the British forces), and the partial coverage offered by the 1944 aerial photos (the top left corner is missing from the photo coverage). It takes a bit of jiggering about – especially with the overlapping aerial photos - and the overlays never quite line up with each other, but ultimately you can end up with a series of overlays that show how different elements relate to each other.

I then often add landmarks and special features to give a rough overall sense of the map. In this case I’ve picked out some prominent features – like the Church, Kate ter Horst’s house (familiar to anyone who’s read “A Bridge Too Far,” or seen the movie), the Oosterbeek Laag (where the road passes under the railway embankment, and referred to by Middlebrook as Arnhem’s “Menin Gate”), and the location and orientation of each of the six 4-gun troops in Thompson’s regiment.* I’ve also added the unit deployment areas from Middlebrook’s map as filled polygons, which means I can get rid of that overlay but still apply the information from it to the others. I’ll probably add other landmarks and features as time goes on.


4.1: Screenshot of Google Earth, with landmarks shown.

Now I want to define my map boundary, using an unfilled polygon. There are three primary considerations here. Firstly, the map must be big enough. I don’t want the players to feel unnecessarily constrained, and given the size of the forces I’m thinking about using, the map will need to be decently sized.

Secondly, and conflicting with the point above, I want to be as brutal as possible and cut out anything that isn’t going to be used. There are lots of good reasons for this. A smaller map is faster to make, faster to load, and smoother to play on. It also restricts unrealistic manœuvre. In this case, I don’t want to extend too far to the south because it opens up a big flat open area that – for whatever reason, neither side used much throughout the battle.

Finally, I want to ‘frame’ the battle. By this I mean I want to create clear, logical boundaries that tell the player why the map stops where it does. It’s the same idea as framing a photo; the player’s focus should be concentrated inside the frame, to prevent them wondering “what’s over there?” In this case I’m quite lucky – the Nederrijn to the south and railway embankment to the east provide really good boundaries. Neither of them run exactly north-south or east-west, but that’s ok. Like framing a photo, the map frame doesn’t have to run along the entire boundary - hinting at its presence on map is enough to communicate its existence off map. Lastly, the key terrain for this battle is the Benedendorpsweg, a road running E-W from Arnhem along the southern edge of Oosterbeek, and away to the west. This was the primary axis of advance for KG Harder, and so I want it central to my map.

Middlebrook’s map with the gun troop positions provides me with a rough location for my western boundary. I want to include the western-most position, and include at least a little manœuvre room further west of it. To the north, I’ll go about as far north of Benedendorpsweg as the area to the south.

Initially I had a map that was 1920m x 1144m, but with a bit of care that’s come down to 1808m x 1040m. That doesn’t seem like much of a difference but it’s saving about 15% in size, which means almost 5,000 tiles that don’t have to be attended to. I’ve kept a bit of ground east of the railway line as this is where the Germans will be coming in – the rail embankment will conveniently provide them with cover and concealment behind which to sort themselves out. There is only the barest hint of the Nederrijn in the southwest corner, while to the west the map cuts off just past the westernmost gun position. To the north, the edge runs through the middle of Oosterbeek, leaving the Benedendorpsweg running roughly through the middle of the map.

Pulling that all together, this is what I have:


4.2: Screenshot of Google Earth. Yellow line shows boundary of map to be built in CM editor. That pond in the lower right corner doesn't show up in any 1944 imagery or accounts, and seems to have been created post-war.

Next, I tweak and adjust the polygon so the sides are perfectly N-S and E-W, and so that the overall dimensions are a multiple of 16m (which is the minimum step when changing the CM map size in the editor). Then it’s a simple matter of zooming in as far as possible and taking multiple screen shots with the different layers, with and without the landmarks turned on. Finally, in a picture editor the screen shots are cropped down to the yellow border.


4.3: 1944 topo map overlay ready for use in CM editor. Yellow line around the edge is the same boundary shown in previous image. if you look carefully, you can see that someone has makred the gun positions near the church in red chinagraph pencil.

In this case, the topographical contour lines are reasonably clear, but when they aren’t I generally overdrawn them with lines in Google Earth, then take a screenshot of that, saving each as a BMP. This comes in really useful when setting contours in the editor. Incidentally, if you look carefully you’ll notice that the grid of that 1944 map isn’t quite square with the frame, even though the frame itself is set up to run N-S, E-W in Google Earth. The difference is explained by changes in the mapping grid over the last 70-odd years. Cool, huh?

These are the overlays I prepared for the Sheriff of Oosterbeek:
1) 1944 topo, with and without landmarks and force-location polygons.
2) 2011 topo, with and without landmarks and force-location polygons.
3) Google Earth, with and without landmarks and force-location polygons.
4) 1944 topo with heights of elevations annotated
5) 1944 Aerial Photo with and without landmarks and force-location polygons.

To use an overlay in the editor it must be named exactly special_editor_overlay.bmp, and in the Data/z folder. Now, this is a problem, because for this one scenario I’ve prepared nine overlays, and other scenario will have their own sets.


4.4: Store all the images related to a single scenario in a named folder nested in Data/z.

All five files are named consistently and obvious way and placed in their own folder to keep them out of the way. When I want to change the overlay being used, the existing overlay is deleted, the one I want copied (not moved) down into z, and the file name edited down to what it needs to be. That way all nine original overlays are retained, and the one I want is active.

I don’t expect to use them all directly as overlays in the editor, but preparing them has helped me become really familiar with the terrain. It’s also handy to print the overlays out on A3, if possible, to refer to, mark up, and annotate. Printouts will also be really useful when planning out the AI’s scheme of manœuvre later on.

Right, now am I ready for the editor? I think I am.

Overlays Quicksteps:
Step 1: decide exactly what area your CM map is going to cover.
Step 2: crop and save an image (from Google Maps, Google Earth, some map you found somewhere, an aerial photo, whatever) to exactly those dimensions. If you add the originals as layers in Google Earth, the ruler tool to help here.
Step 3: name the overlay image from Step 2 special_editor_overlay.bmp and place it in your Z folder
Step 4: open up CM, go to the Editor, go to Map
Step 5: you will see your overlay on top of the map square, but it'll be compressed. Use the + buttons to stretch your map to the desired dimensions, and the overlay image will stretch right along with it. Once you get to the right size map, there should be no distortion in the overlay image.

* Actually, 5 x 4-gun, and 1 x 3 gun. One of the guns was lost on the fly in, but I haven’t been able to find out which battery it was from yet.

Back to start of thread Edited by JonS
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The overlay feature seems to be extremely handy. Currently i am making a CMSF map from satellite images and what i had to do to be able to place all buildings and everything with satisfying accuracy is to draw an x-y grid on a print out of the map (actually i am having several print-outs lying in front of me), then take a set square and manually measure the landscape and the contour lines. It works really good and i am absolutely satisfyed with the result i am getting in the scenario editor, but it is horribly slow.

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Hi !

I have just got started using the editor to build scenarios. My intial goal is to try and make a few simple scenarios using some of the QB-maps as the 'battlefield' and add troops for both sides with the defenders being set up and ready for the player to attack.

I thought i would check here what you think about an idea i have...

- Is it considered OK to have a number of enemies set as reinforcements to arrive at a later time and not being on the map from the scenario-start...Like this...?

For example...If i want a number of squads and maybe a machinegun or two in a village

to 'not be there' from the start of the mission to avoid likely long-range enemy recon by fire targeting those buildings...And instead have them set up as reinforcements that arrive one or a few minutes before the the first possible time the players units come close to that location. (even though the approaches to these buildings are visible to the player meaning that he would se if the AI would move troops into these at a late time)

This could simulate the troops being hidden in the cellar until the last moment before an enemy assult for example or troops defending from a strongpoint (building with heavy walls).

Would something like this be considered a big NO-NO ? Could it be considered cheating, boring or overly tricky if a 'reconed (by fire)' building that by all signes are empty suddenly contains enemy troops without anybody entering that building..?

Regards, RepsolCBR

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