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The Sheriff of Oosterbeek – A Scenario Design DAR/AAR


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That sounds like a great idea Repsol! My only concern though would be to make sure the reinforcements definitely have arrived /before/ the player's units can get there, otherwise you can end up with all sorts of weirdness. Even that can be explained with something along the lines of enemy troops emerging from cellars, but like a joke: once you have to spend too much time explaining it, it stops being funny.

I've seen a similar technique used to protect units from opening artillery bombardments, or to prevent opening artillery bombardments. If artillery is provided as a reinforcement that arrives at 5 mins, then the player can't use it for any opening bombardments. Similarly if units arrive or 'appear' at 5 or 10 minutes they avoid any opening bombardment (which is more-or-less the effect you're aiming at).

Jon

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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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Thanks for your answer, JonS

Yes...The timing will need to be checked and maybe not to 'over-use' it.

I've seen a similar technique used to protect units from opening artillery bombardments, or to prevent opening artillery bombardments. If artillery is provided as a reinforcement that arrives at 5 mins, then the player can't use it for any opening bombardments. Similarly if units arrive or 'appear' at 5 or 10 minutes they avoid any opening bombardment (which is more-or-less the effect you're aiming at).Jon

Yes...I feel that this might work good with trenches and bombardments also...

Maybe mentioning in the briefing something like "the enemy have had ample of time to prepare their defences to include blastproof shelters among their trenches. This will severly limit the effect of any initial bombardments"...

And to have the trenchline defenders arrive as reinforcements prior to a likely player assult...(maybe with some reduced headcount).

By the way...Thanks for making this DAR !

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BANTER TIME!!!

Jon thinks he is ready for the editor?

Perhaps he just needs some "Dutch courage" hardy har har.

Anybody up for a quick survey? OMG related...

10 posts +/- if you are interested in sharing.

Q1. What part of OMG are you most looking forward to playing?

a. 1st British Airborne up in Arnhem.

b. The US Airborne divisions

c. Hell's Highway battles

d. other, please expound

Q2. If you've seen the movie "A Bridge Too Far", what was your favorite scene?

I'll go first.

Q1. What part of OMG are you most looking forward to playing?

a. 1st British Airborne up in Arnhem! (I read "It Never Snows in September" and look forward to trying to manage the ad hoc defense the Germans scraped up)

Q2. If you've seen the movie "A Bridge Too Far", what was your favorite scene?

I often pop in the DVD just to watch Grabner's assault. I am not praising it tactically but it shows the insanity of war quite clearly. And I love Horrock's speech in the theater.

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Q1. What part of OMG are you most looking forward to playing?

Oh, the British Airborne for sure. Although having said that I'll have fun with it all.

Q2. If you've seen the movie "A Bridge Too Far", what was your favorite scene?

Wow, I just realized how long it has been since I watched that movie. I like the scenes of the desperate stand at the bridge.

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5 - The Map Pt.2: Elevations and Roads

"Just drive down that road, until you get blown up"
General George S. Patton, on the delicate art of reconnaissance.

We’re on the road to nowhere
There’s a city in my mind

Talking Heads

When crafting a map I think the best way to approach it is to first create a ‘civilian’ map, then modify it – if necessary – into a ‘battle’ map. By this I mean have a mindset that you’re creating a place where civilians would live, work, and play. I believe that this gives the most natural and pleasing overall results. Battles are an exceptional and rare event, which means the environment around us is primarily driven by civilian use of it in peacetime, and not by soldiers and their battles.

It’s also useful to have a general plan for how the map will be built up. I usually start with elevations and roads because they’re fairly easy to do, and because once they’re in I have a general framework around which to ‘hang’ all the other map elements.

Let’s start with the elevations. For this I need the file [sheriff 1944topo elevations special_editor_overlay.bmp]. So, that get’s copied out of the overlays folder, down into the z folder, and the file name truncated to [special editor overlay.bmp]. Then fire up CMBN, go into the editor, and start a new scenario. I usually add some bare-bones details like the name of the scenario, then head into the Map section of the editor. The overlay I’ve chosen is now visible, but horribly distorted because the map size is square and far too small.

So, first up, we need to stretch the CM map to the same size as the overlay. Press the + and buttons to stretch the map in width and height, and when it gets to the correct size the overlay will look right. Holding down the SHIFT key while clicking +/- will increase/decrease the map in 80m (10 tiles) steps rather than the standard 16m (2 tiles).

PROTIP: expand the map equally to the right and left, top and bottom so the original 320m sq map is in the centre of the newly sized map. The default 320 x 320m map can only be increased on any one side to 2160m. If you want a map over this size you need to increase it in the other direction. Increasing the map on both sides at the outset will prevent the problem of wanting to add just a few more metres to one side of the map, only to bump up against the 2160m max. While you can, at this time, add metreage on the other side you can't move the map features

After resetting the map’s size to 1808m x 1040m the overlay looks as it should, and I’m ready to go.

PROTIP: press o (little ‘oh’ for ‘overlay’) to alter the transparency of the overlay to make it much easier to see what you’re doing. Depending on what you’re working on you’ll find a sharper or dimmer overlay image more useful

Now it’s a simple matter of tracing over the contour lines on the overlay at the correct elevation. The 20, 30, and 40m lines are all pretty straight forward, but the intermediary lines require a bit of guesstimation because they’re at 2.5m intervals. Also, the polder area between Benedendorpsweg and the Nederrijn is a bit tricky, because while it is mostly very low lying (around 9-10m above sea level), it is criss-crossed by dykes and the railway embankment. Careful reading of the contours on at the slope/cutting markings suggest the railway is set at 22m. The dykes are trickier, but fortunately the legend on the full map is pretty good at explaining how high each is. That, plus a careful look around in Google Maps’ Streetview, provides sufficient information.

The contour engine in CM is pretty good, but it can sometimes use a little help. I almost invariably use ‘Direct’, and whenever possible set the map altitudes to be the same as the real-world altitudes. CM doesn’t care – you can set the base altitude to be whatever you like, and work from there, but I find it a lot easier to keep track of things – especially when coming back to a map in the future – if the map and real altitudes match. The Oosterbeek area is pretty flat, too, so there’s no real need to be too definite about exactly where each contour goes. I usually plonk down one ‘black tile’ elevation every three or four tiles, and let the engine interpolate the rest. The railway embankment, though, and the dikes will have to be more directed, because I want to closely control how wide those things are, and also because I want the tops to be quite flat. Those require tile-by-tile placement of elevations.

5a-1dyke_zpsb547359f.jpg

5.1: A section of the Rosander Polder with the elevations set. Because this area is so flat it’s difficult to see the changes in elevation on the otherwise naked 3D map, but by looking at the edge of the map the rise of the dyke can be seen. On the 2D map a number of dykes can be seen, matching the ones on the overlay map.


Roads are even easier. Using the same overlay, and the ‘autocomplete’ tool it’s simply a matter of clicking start and end points for each section of road and the editor fills in the rest. As far as I can tell (from the map and period photos) the roads in this part of Oosterbeek were either cobbled or dirt tracks. The auto complete tool attempts to draw a straight line between the two points selected, so wherever a curve is called for a large-ish number of short straights can be used.

5a-2autocomplete_zps06aee495.jpg

5.2: Select the ‘Roads’ menu, select a road style, click on the auto complete tool, then click on the tile you want the road to stat on, and again where you want it to end.


Unfortunately the ‘autocomplete’ tool isn’t great at using the right road pieces, and it doesn’t handle intersections all that well. That means there’s usually a quite a bit of tidy-up needed to get the roads looking nice. In particular, there are two specific pieces that should be used for bends in the road which autocomplete completely omits.

5a-3roadcorner_zpsdb172cae.jpg

5.3: The autocomplete tool creates ‘jaggy’ corners. By using what I think of as the ‘tick’ or ‘flared’ piece and the ‘corner’ piece, road curves are smoothed out.


Using the right pieces means the road will end up looking smoother and more attractive.

PROTIP: in the 2D Map Editor window CTRL-RIGHTCLICK will cycle through directional facing for the selected terrain type. This means you don't have to go up and press one of the arrows at the top of the UI to change facing, just use the key combo to cycle through them. This works for all terrain that can be oriented (such as buildings), but is especially useful for roads and walls.

Having a map to work to makes laying out roads on a historical map a fairly thinking-free activity. When I’m creating an imaginary map, though, I try and pay attention to where the roads are going in relation to the contour lines already laid out. Historically speaking, roads are usually formalised versions of walking tracks. By that I mean that walking tracks became horse tracks became cart tracks became roads. And that history tends to inform the route taken by any road. People are basically lazy, and like water they’ll take the route of least resistance Instead of chopping down a copse of trees, they’ll walk around. Instead of bridging a river they’ll walk along it to a ford. Instead of walking over the top of a hill they’ll contour around it or go over the saddle. All of which tends to make roads, especially in rural areas, quite meandering. Intersections tend to turn into quite large Y junctions or even diamonds as folk cut the corner instead of going all the way to the intersection. Eventually corner cutting becomes the norm.

Roads aren’t always wriggly, of course. The Romans famously built straight roads almost regardless of obstacles, and major point-to-point routes tend to be straighter. But apart from those few exceptions roads are quite organic, and ‘fit’ into the environment, rather than reshaping the environment to suit the road. I try and remember that, and create my roads with gentle corners and easy gradients.

The section of rail line I want is relatively straightforward, although a design compromise is needed here. The real rail line runs at a bearing of about 20-25°, but CM rail can only be at multiples of 45°. I can either shift the alignment of the rail line, or break up it’s straightness with zigzags in order to more closely follow the original alignment. Because the rail embankment is only over in one corner of the map, and because it runs straight as an arrow, I’ve decided to rotate the alignment so as to keep the straightness as much as possible. I’ve used the point where the rail crosses over the road to pivot around, which means that the location where it exits off the eastern edge of my map is barely affected, but the southern exit – on the way to the blown rail bridge – is much further west than it should be. That’s ok, and minimised by adding a single kink in the line. That corner of the map shouldn’t see too much action, and the range between the embankment and the Church isn’t affected too much.

Creating a map in the CM editor inevitably involves making compromises. I understand the desire to be fully historically authentic, but I also think it's an impossible goal. For starters, linear features in CM are limited to 45° angles, which as we see above means the rail line has been given a new alignment. Similar compromises are often needed for the roads, but because roads generally do sway back and forth it’s generally a better decision to follow the original alignment more closely. The question I usually ask myself is “If I put a switch in here, LOS will be affected. Is that good or bad?” If the real road really was long and straight with clear LOS, then I’m more likely to change the alignment. But if the road is through trees, buildings, or other stuff that might affect LOS then I’m more likely to throw some S-bends and switches in to retain the original alignment. There is a strong ‘design for effect’ ethic at play here.

Secondly, I'm pretty sure that no one actually cares how accurate the map is. It's not like reasonable gamers aren’t going to compare scenario maps to closely with Google Maps, and complain because some building is 15 or 20m east of where it's supposed to be, or some field is only 1/2 an acre when the real one was 3/4 acre. I trust people understand that as good as the editor is, it has limitations. As long as designers create attractive and authentic maps, that should be more than good enough. Also, after creating a ton of maps I just can't be bothered anymore stressing about the exact location of this building, or the exact alignment of that road. I hope you understand!

Getting back to the map, I decided to throw the water in at this point too. There’s only a bit in the corner, and because this is the Nederrijn it’s all just deep water. A bit of dickering around with elevations along the water’s edge produces a nice, steep diked effect. Later on I’ll need to do something about the network of channels that drain the Polder area, but that can wait for later.

I’ve also spent a bit of time working on the rail embankment and especially the area where the road goes underneath the rails. I’ve had to push the rail lines one tile further apart in order to get two adjacent rail bridges, and used lots of fixed elevations to get a nice steep cutting that units shouldn’t be able to climb up out of. Heavy Forest has been used along the eastern side of the embankment to ensure that vehicles can’t get up on top, and gravel along the top because, well, it’s a railway line.

New in the Market Garden module is so-called ‘Ditch Lock’ for elevations, which can be used to create narrow ditches, small berms and dikes. This is a way to make a narrow ditch rather than a wide "trough" even though the depth is the same. It can also be used to force abrupt and steep changes of elevation – while learning how to use this new feature I created Castle Ditchlock, complete with curtain walls and turrets just for giggles. Ditch-locking is perfect for creating the vertical walls I want through the rail underpass.

To use Ditch Lock, hold down the CTRL key when directly placing elevation markers. The elevation number will show up on a blue (rather than black) background square. The effect created in the 3D map is a slope between set elevation tiles that is much sharper than between two black elevations.

5a-4railcutting_zps60c85b17.jpg

5.4: 2D map showing how the terrain tiles and black and blue fixed elevations were set around the cutting, and 3D showing how it looks. That bridge pier in the middle of the road is visually annoying, but shouldn’t matter tactically.


So, now my framework is complete. But it’s just a framework at this stage, which means there’ll be changes to accommodate other terrain and map features.

5a-5Mapsofar_zps7c2960dc.jpg

5.5: The map with roads and elevations complete, the Nederrijn corner finished, and the railway line and embankment mostly complete.


It’s time for … hmm. What’s next?

Back to start of thread Edited by JonS
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Very nice, and a cool new feature indeed.

I thought this might be right time to throw in a mapping suggestion:

roadtip1_zps016b2675.jpg

Many people tend to connect paved roads and dirt/gravel roads like in this picture on the left, simply with the junction pieces.

The result looks like below and does not look very natural in my opinion:

roadtip2_zpsa450df53.jpg

If, instead you do it like on the right, that is, instead of junction pieces you use a Dirt Lot or Gravel type ground tile (because the roads share the same texture with gound tiles) below the road where the junction is supposed to be, it looks much better to me:

roadtip3_zps292ef969.jpg

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Rokko,

that's a great tip, well illustrated. Thanks :)

You can also use the + or Y road pieces to join dissimilar road types, then underlay the intersection tiles with dirt or gravel. This helps blur the transition from one type to the other.

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Thanks for showing us the new Ditch Lock elevation tool.

I'd be curious if it was driven by a problem you had with this before or just some nice to have that finally got all the code written. These are the little things which fall like ripe fruit and we as the regular smucks don't know the exciting code writer backstory behind it (If such a thing exists).

COME ON LADS, SEVEN MORE SURVEY ANSWERS IF YOU PLEASE...

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In case you're wondering (and I know you are :D ) this is how Castle Ditchlock turned out after all of about 10 minutes "work":

Ditchlock3D_zps2e2568bc.jpg

Notice how steep the walls are, and how narrow the parapets are. This is going to be a super-useful capability.

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terraced hillsides, raised dikes and berms, fortifications

Yup. Ditchlock is a bit of a misnomer. AIUI, the capability was introduced specifically for canals in Holland, but it works equally as well going up as it does down. You could even, with a little effort, assemble your own bespoke hedgerow terrain using it.

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In fortifications, for example, you could place berms raised 1m on either side of a trench object and it would become invisible to the enemy due to the blocked LOS. The friendly side side of the berm would be ditchlocked, and the enemy side normal slope to help disguise it. Defenders could use the berm as a firing step to engage, and drop back down into the trench for cover. Would that work? Or would the ditchlock create a shadow from the stark deformation that would be visible from the enemy player's aerial view?

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In Holland, the ditchlock capability could allow mappers to better re-create the Fort Hof Van Holland, an old rampart that featured in the battles for Nijmegen.

JonS, what happens when you use a stone terrain texture - like cobblestones - instead of grass on your castle?

Does it look reasonably like a building?

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I just had a quick play around. Because the walls of Castle Ditchlock are so high (elev 10 up to elev 32) the texture on the nearly vertical part gets too stretched and is replaced by the roack-and-grass cliff texture. But on both sides of the parapet - which is 'only' very steeply sloped - cobblestone looks fine.

The two pavement styles smear out extreme elevation differences (which makes some sense if you think about it), effectively removing the parapets, so they aren't a good choice.

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Anybody up for a quick survey? OMG related...

10 posts +/- if you are interested in sharing.

Q1. What part of OMG are you most looking forward to playing?

a. 1st British Airborne up in Arnhem.

b. The US Airborne divisions

c. Hell's Highway battles

d. other, please expound

I'll be excited to see what changes come to urban warfare with this module, so (a) gets my vote.

Q2. If you've seen the movie "A Bridge Too Far", what was your favorite scene?

What a coincidence! I showed this movie to my kids just this week.

My favorite single moment is the ending, when the wounded and surrendered Airborne troopers begin singing "Abide with Me."

What I *really* love about ABTF is the attention given to the shape of the operation and all the interlocking pieces. So many war movies treat operations as nothing but the set-up for individual heroics, but ABTF really tries to show how the whole plan was supposed to work and what went wrong. Without losing sight of individuals, it maintains a sense of the operation's scale, how it proceeded, and how it mattered to the war. How many war movies can say that?

And I'm always blown away by the sheer number of good actors stuffed into this movie: Anthony Hopkins, Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Gene Hackman, Dirk Bogarde, Ryan O'Neal, James Caan, Elliott Gould, Maximilian Schell, Robert Redford, even Laurence Olivier. I'm probably even forgetting someone.

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And I'm always blown away by the sheer number of good actors stuffed into this movie: Anthony Hopkins, Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Gene Hackman, Dirk Bogarde, Ryan O'Neal, James Caan, Elliott Gould, Maximilian Schell, Robert Redford, even Laurence Olivier. I'm probably even forgetting someone.

How could you forget John Ratzenberger (later to be Cliiff Klavan on "Cheers" and now Tea Party buffoon) in his screen debut performance as an 82nd Abn soldier crossing the river at Nijmegen, and his unforgettable line as the MG bullets frothed the water all around him:

"Arrrrgggggghhhhh!"

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How could you forget John Ratzenberger (later to be Cliiff Klavan on "Cheers" and now Tea Party buffoon) in his screen debut performance as an 83nd Abn soldier crossing the river at Nijmegen, and his unforgettable line as the MG bullets frothed the water all around him:

"Arrrrgggggghhhhh!"

LOL it is fitting that Cliff be in the tea party, maybe he is just character typed :D

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How could you forget John Ratzenberger (later to be Cliiff Klavan on "Cheers" and now Tea Party buffoon) in his screen debut performance as an 82nd Abn soldier crossing the river at Nijmegen, and his unforgettable line as the MG bullets frothed the water all around him:

"Arrrrgggggghhhhh!"

Ratzenberger, tea party..oh dear what would ma Claven say?

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BANTER TIME!!!

Jon thinks he is ready for the editor?

Perhaps he just needs some "Dutch courage" hardy har har.

Anybody up for a quick survey? OMG related...

10 posts +/- if you are interested in sharing.

Q1. What part of OMG are you most looking forward to playing?

a. 1st British Airborne up in Arnhem.

b. The US Airborne divisions

c. Hell's Highway battles

d. other, please expound

Q2. If you've seen the movie "A Bridge Too Far", what was your favorite scene?

Q1. b

The 82nd airborne battles. They did a helluva job.

Q2. The taking off of the air fleet with that optimistic martial music. How magnificent must that sight in Sept '44 have been.. probably as impressive as the D-day fleet.

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5 MORE POSTS FOR THE SURVEY!! COME ON!!

(Sheesh, I sound like those public TV guys trying to raise money.):P

Anybody up for a quick survey? OMG related...

10 posts +/- if you are interested in sharing.

Q1. What part of OMG are you most looking forward to playing?

a. 1st British Airborne up in Arnhem.

b. The US Airborne divisions

c. Hell's Highway battles

d. other, please expound

Q2. If you've seen the movie "A Bridge Too Far", what was your favorite scene?

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