Jump to content

MAKING OP NEPTUNE SPEAR – A SCENARIO DESIGN TUTORIAL (CONTAINS SPOILERS)


Recommended Posts

I am back again, to recap my previous post, here is a summary of the things I’m going to add to the mission:

 

Platoon-sized Pakistani Army QRF.

CIA Handler and Agent plus possibly one or two family members.

Property defending residents.

Armed private security guards.

Pakistani Police road block and patrol and possibly a SWAT team equivalent.

 

Now because I want to do a bit of testing as I add these elements I’m going to deal with the Agent and Agent Handler group (known henceforth as ‘Agent Group’ in this narrative) first followed by the Property Defending Residents (henceforth known as ‘Property Defenders’).  Initially I just want to test that the Agent Group can be seen and attacked by Property Defenders so I’m just going to pick a few and plonk them on the map and then see at what ranges the Property Defenders start spraying and praying.  I may need to fiddle around with hard and soft factors to make this work so be prepared for some testing and adjusting.

 

First off the bat then, let’s look at the Agent Group and here is where I introduce a little known trick in the CM engine because of course the Blue Force pick does not have agents.  To enable Blue to pick from the Red force pick you have to go into the ‘Data’ screen and change the mission from ‘Blue vs Red’ to ‘Red vs Red’.  This then gives you the full suite of Red units to pick from.  Once you’ve picked your units you then go back to the data screen and change it back to ‘Blue vs Red’.  The screenshot below shows where this is.

Changing to Red v Red.jpg

 

Starting with the CIA Handler who will be called ‘Tom’.  The image below shows how I’ve set him up and renamed him from IED Cell to ‘CIA Handler’ and called the triggerman ‘Tom’.  For hard and soft factors you can see the choices I’ve made.  I won’t dwell on them but suffice to say I’ve chosen them based on what I think would be right.  Importantly now that I’ve changed from ‘Red vs Red’ I must remember to use the ‘Purchase Blue’ screen otherwise ‘Tom’ becomes a double agent!!!

Creating the CIA Handler.jpg

 

Next the Agent and his family – I’ve opted not to bother with the family – just because I don’t think they’re going to add much value.  I don’t want the agent to be armed so the Force Element will be the UNCON ‘Spy’ unit.  I am going to pick one of these to replicate the Agent and I will give him pretty poor hard and soft values to reflect the fact that he has no military training and that he will be frightened and unfamiliar with what is going on and won’t have been hitting the gym every day.  This is part of my rationale for including the Agent Group as it means that the player will have to shepherd a slow and unpredictable person around the battle space.

 

Finally as part of this segment I want to deal with the ‘Property Defenders’.   In reality these are civilians who will fight tooth and nail to defend their property but may not have military training, will not have the best equipment etc so I will give them fairly poor hard and soft values too.  The property defenders need to be armed so I am going with a similar solution to ‘Tom’ by picking an IED unit, stripping out the IEDs leaving me with an AK-47 armed individual.

 

As I mentioned earlier on, I want to run some tests to see how these elements react to each other and if necessary test and adjust.  So with my ‘Property Defenders’ I initially went with the lowest experience value of ‘Conscript’ which would be reflective of their ability but unfortunately in testing I pretty much had to move my Spy Group virtually on top of them to provoke a reaction.  However they did react to the SEAL team from a slightly greater (but still really close) distance.  So following further testing I manipulated what I think are the two important factors in this calculus.  The first one is obvious which is to increase the experience level of the ‘Property Defenders’.  The second is less obvious but I touched on it in one of my earlier posts and it relates to the ‘Civilian Density’ setting within the data menu.  This was originally set as ‘Sparse’ and as a result I have changed it to ‘None’.  Is it reflective of the environment … no, however it has a direct impact on how UNCON units are spotted.  In simple terms, the greater the civilian density the harder UNCONs are to spot so by dialling down the values I can increase the likelihood of them being spotted which is the effect I want to achieve.  Additionally, unless the player reads this thread or cracks the scenario editor open, they will never know what the values are.

 

My overall reflections on this testing is that I can’t really get the exact results I wanted to achieve which were to make it possible for ‘Property Defenders’ to be able to spot out to about 4-5 action spots.  However things are what they are so rather than brood about it, I will stick with my final settings and lay out the ‘Property Defenders’.  No need for details here because I have shown you the mechanics but the art/science of laying them out requires a bit of what the military call ‘Red Teaming’ and/or Intelligence Preparation of the Battlespace.  If you look at either my planning thread on the CMRT board or anything that @Bil Hardingberger has done in his many AARs you get the idea.

 

Put simply, I don’t want to put ‘Property Defenders’ all over the map, just in those places that I think will sit close to likely exfiltration routes that the player will take.  Remember the effect is just to generate thought and planning in the mind of the player.  However what is important is that I record the numbers of ‘Property Defenders’ that I pick and deploy in case I decide to set an ‘Enemy Casualty’ parameter as a victory condition for the Blue Player.  The magic number is 15 for those that are interested.

 

Now on to the Private Security Guards (PSGs) and as with the ‘Property Defenders’ the intent here is to create problems in the battle space rather than make them something that the player has to kill.  If you recall, I had identified two areas on the map that looked like business premises that would be likely to employ PSGs.  The complexes both have two entrances so it is logical and plausible that they would have permanent guards at those entrances.  In addition, they probably have a mini QRF or patrol force to check the perimeter.  The other part of the PSG narrative is to ‘Red Team’ their likely response to the sound of helicopters and gunfire in the area.  Realistically they would probably hunker down initially and then when the gunfire subsides would patrol the perimeter of their premises.  They absolutely aren’t going to go charging around the countryside hunting Navy SEALs … as everybody hears in the workplace ‘not my job mate …’

 

Having established that I need a unit pick that will give me the option of permanently placing people on the gates and a small patrol force.  The patrol force will of course require an AI plan but I’ll deal with that later.  Despite my earlier disparaging comments about Ninjas, for variety I have decided that the Private Security Company will be called ‘Black Pathan Security’ which now allows me to use the Fighter (aka ‘Ninja’ black uniform) pick.  As I have covered off previously on the force pick mechanics I will not spend any time on the detail save to talk about hard and soft factors.  A typical PSG profile would involve basic weapons, limited ammunition, average to poor leadership, average fitness, low to average motivation and some form of training so I’ll go with settings that reflect that profile.  I don’t intend to fiddle with the settings too much as I now have a pretty good idea of how the lower end settings work from my previous test with the ‘Property Defenders’.

 

Picking these was a bit fiddly because weapon allocation throws up some randomness – as I said what I wanted was basic weapons and my first picks gave me sniper rifles in the mix.  To get around this I had to delete and pick again using the same settings.  In the end I had to do this four times to finally end up with two groups that had no sniper rifles.  While I’m not going to create an AI plan yet for my proposed patrolling groups, I have used the ‘Rename’ feature in the force selection menu to name the patrol groups so that I can easily identify them later which will save me some faffing around later trying to find them.  Also, as with previous Red force picks, I have made a note of the headcounts and the sum total of the PSGs is 24 men.

 

Next Force Pick is the Pakistani Police checkpoint and this caused me a few difficulties which inevitably involved some form of compromise.  Ideally I wanted to pick a unit from the Special Forces Pick because of the uniform colour which is at least gives me a black coloured top and a helmet of the right pattern.  However this proved unworkable in realism terms because Special Forces units come with NVGs which is not something a standard police patrol would have and it would unrealistically increase their spotting capabilities.  In the end I had to park my aspiration to have them look like the Pakistan Police and focus on capabilities and effect.

 

The end result of this was to pick a Militia Battalion which have plain green uniforms.  I then looked at the unit in the ‘Deploy Red’ screen to find elements that would resemble a Police patrol and ended up with the Bn HQ comprising 5 x guys armed with 2 x pistols and 3 x AKs, A Coy HQ comprising 3 x guys armed with 2 x pistols and 1 x AK and finally the A Coy Command Team comprising 6 x guys armed with 5 x AKs and 1 x RPD.  The plan is to have the two HQ teams static on the checkpoint and the Command Team as the satelliting patrol.  As you can see above I have already taken note of the numbers (14).  Hard and soft values are subject to change based on later testing, for now they are Experience – Regular, Motivation – Normal, Fitness – Fit, Leadership – 0, Ammo – Scarce, Equipment – Poor and Vehicles (not that it matters) – OK.

 

It’s been a while since we’ve had a graphic so I’ll now construct the Vehicle Checkpoint (VCP) using flavour objects in the map editor.  Another solution would have been to use MG bunkers in the Red Force Pick but these have limited FOV and I want to give these guys the best chance of spotting any SEALs or Agent Groups transiting the vicinity.  So I’m going to use drums and I want the stripey ones.

 

Flavour objects can be a bit fiddly because you don’t have any reference to what the numbers ‘1’, ‘2’ and ‘3’ mean.  Community members have produced reference guides but bottom line is that I just prefer selecting one of each and placing them on the map in different action spots.  I then go into the 3D preview and actually look at them so that I can see which one I want.  I can then delete the unwanted ones in 3D view by hitting CTRL-CLICK with my cursor on the unwanted item.  Manipulating flavour objects is handily explained in a panel on the bottom LH corner of the map editor once you select ‘Flavor Objects’.  This image shows the interface.

 

Creating the VCP.jpg 

 

 

So after some SHIFT-CLICK activity in the 3D Preview to line up my oil drums and then going to the ‘Deploy Red’ screen to put my recently picked VCP team, this is the finished result.  I have to think about the satellite patrol when I get to programming the AI but that is a ‘later’ task.

 

Finished VCP 3D Preview.jpg

 

The Police SWAT or Special Commando team is next.  This made for a fairly easy pick in terms of finding something that looks like the real thing because of course the Special Forces Company is clad all in Black.  Given that the intent of this force is just to add another factor to consider for the player and I think we are really pushing credulity by having it a part of the mission I don’t want to overcook this force.  I may actually delete it later but we’ll see about that.  So I picked a Special Forces Company and stripped everything out of it apart from the Coy HQ and associated UAZ-469 utility vehicle.  This gives me a lightly equipped team of six guys armed with 6 x AK variants and an UGL (and NVGs).  This should be more than enough because all I plan for them to do is to arrive at the top LH corner of the map and then move to the Compound to ‘secure the crime scene’.  In my view if the player even sees them then the mission is really going downhill.  Hard and soft values chosen were:  Experience – Crack, Motivation – High, Fitness – Fit, Leadership - +2, Supply – Full, Equipment – Poor and Vehicle Condition – OK.  A slight nuance to note with this force pick is that the UAZ-469 does not have a dedicated driver so when the unit dismounts, the vehicle goes nowhere.  This may be relevant when I think about AI plans.  Anyway, here is what they look like in their entry area.

 

Police Special Commando Team Deployed.jpg

 

Now for the Pakistani Army which of course is not modelled in CMSF.  This pick will inevitably involve compromises and the suspension of reality.  Originally I was looking at a BTR mounted Mech Inf platoon mainly because the type is in very limited service in the Pakistani Army and Mech Inf uniforms look similar to Pakistani Army uniforms.  However in the end I went for the BRDM Recce Coy as, although it is named as a company in terms of dismounted strength I get 27 dismounts which is about platoon-sized.  Those numbers are just about right and I have the added advantage of getting 7 x BRDM-2s and I have two separate manoeuvre elements which gives me flexibility when designing AI plans.  As to hard and soft factors I went with Experience – Veteran, Motivation – High, Fitness – Fit, Leadership - +1, Supply – Full, Equipment – Poor, Vehicles – OK.  As with previous picks I may fiddle with these later if testing requires it.  Overall headcount for this unit is the 27 dismounts plus two crewmen in each vehicle (2x7) = 41.

 

I then went hit ‘Deploy Red’ and put them on their likely entry point at the top RH corner of the map.  The image shows part of this unit, note that I have made sure that they are all facing in the correct direction – one of those many little touches that add polish to your mission.

 

PAKMIL QRF Setup.jpg 

 

We’re really making progress but things are about to get more tricky because after a bit of housekeeping it is time to delve into the object of many fears …. the AI.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, MOS:96B2P said:

Wow, lots of good information.  I hope you are able to PDF this.  If not I will just copy & print it and put it in my CM three ring binder.  Actually I will probably print it out even if you do PDF it.  Old school with some things :D.  

I will PDF it mate - but probably not until I get back home which will mean that this will be my Christmas present to you all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now for the slightly challenging bit … the AI. So I won’t deny that this can be tricky and I have seen heated arguments and discussions about how various bits of it work.  I can only show you what I know and how I get things to work using the AI in the context of this mission.  Whether my method is the right way or the best method is another discussion, all I can say is that I can achieve tolerable results.

 

First off though I need to do some housekeeping in terms of my earlier unit picks because most of them I have only picked and placed but not set them up as reinforcements.  I need to do this now because the AI works to a timed script.  I have already shown you the mechanics of setting reinforcements so I won’t go over that ground again.

 

What I do need to do is remind you of timings and narratives and although I have said it before, the narrative is really important.  For me it is half the battle to programming the AI because if you know what you’re trying to replicate and what you want the AI to do, it allows you to script the AI more efficiently.

 

First a recap on timings.

 

Compound clearance takes no more than 10 minutes.

Moving to the top LH corner of the map after clearing the compound takes 17 minutes

Moving to the ‘river’ line takes 35 minutes.

Moving to the bottom of the map takes 39 minutes.

Moving to the exfiltration zone in the bottom RH corner of the map takes 45 minutes.

The Pakistani Army QRF could realistically arrive any time after 15-20 minutes.

The Police Special Commando Squad could arrive any time in the 20-30 minute window.

The Agent Group will arrive IVO the safe house at about 15 minutes into the mission.

The remainder of the Blue Force is about 30 minutes flight time away

 

So as part of my housekeeping I need to (initial rough cut settings):

 

Set the Agent Group as a reinforcement arriving at 15 minutes.

Set the Pakistani Army QRF as a reinforcement arriving at 20 minutes.

Set the Police Special Commando Squad to arrive at 25 minutes.

 

With the remainder of the Blue Force, I’m still not sure whether I will use these or not so I’m just going to set their arrival time to 3 hours just to get them out of the way for this initial batch of AI programming and testing.

 

AI programming can be fiddly and it looks daunting but once you find systems that work you should be able to knock up workable AI plans without too much difficulty.  First of all there is the AI screen which is shown in the following image.

AI Menu Overview.jpg

 

The first important thing to understand with the AI is that it defaults to ‘Plan 1 (Blue)’ when you enter the editor.  So every time you go in there, make sure that you click on the plan that you are working on.  This mission is only going to have one Red AI plan so first off I need to select ‘Plan 1 (Red)’.

 

Once I’ve done that I need to tell CMSF how frequently I want it to use this plan.  The options are:

 

Used Frequently

Used Sometimes

Used Rarely

Not Used

 

These settings mean pretty much what they say on the tin.  JonS advocates ‘Used Frequently’ for all plans based on the rationale that all plans should be of equal quality and therefore it shouldn’t matter which plan CMSF selects when it loads.  This is a viewpoint I pretty much agree with so my advice would be to default to ‘Used Frequently’.  Here’s how it looks.

AI Menu Plan 1 Red Frequently.jpg

 

Conversely you might be thinking ‘Well why have a ‘Not Used’ option’.  This actually is really useful for testing where your scenario has more than one AI Plan.  Let’s say you have two AI Plans ready to test.  By setting AI Plan 2 to ‘Not Used’ it means that you know that when the scenario loads that you will be testing AI Plan 1.  When you want to test AI Plan 2, all you do is set AI Plan 1 to ‘Not Used’ and AI Plan 2 to ‘Used Frequently’.  Of course you need to remember to reset both plans to ‘Used Frequently’ before you release your scenario.

 

The next thing to understand is that the AI works on what CM calls ‘Groups’ and these are numbered 1-8 with Group 1 being the default.  The limited number of groups can be pretty restricting when you start designing large missions or missions with lots of moving parts because you’ll either run out of groups to assign or you have to rein your ambitions in.  For this mission I should be able to achieve the required results without too much difficulty because in broad terms I have the following ‘Groups’

 

Pathan Security Group #1 Patrol Squad

Pathan Security Group #2 Patrol Squad

Pakistan Police VCP Patrol Squad

Police Special Commando Unit

Pakistani Army QRF.

 

The rest of the Red Force is just going to sit in place so I don’t really need to do much with the AI for them if anything at all.  From the above then, you can see that conceptually I need 5 Groups.  However the Pakistani Army QRF is quite a large unit and has a mix of vehicles and soldiers so in AI terms, it will probably be at least two groups and possibly more.

 

To start with then

 

Non-moving units will be ‘AI Group 1’

Pathan Security Group #1 Patrol Squad will be ‘AI Group 2’

Pathan Security Group #2 Patrol Squad will be ‘AI Group 3’

Pakistan Police VCP Patrol Squad will be ‘AI Group 4’

Police Special Commando Unit will be ‘AI Group 5’

Pakistani Army QRF will be ‘AI Groups 6-8’.

 

Now, just because I have used all 8 groups, it doesn’t mean that you have to use them all but as you can see from the above, a small number of units/moving parts quickly uses up those 8 AI groups!

 

So the broad church represented by ‘AI Group 1’ includes:

 

Osama Bin Laden

Compound Guard Units

Static Pathan Security Group Units (eg the non-patrolling ones).

Static elements of the Pakistan Police VCP (eg the non patrolling groups).

The civilian ‘Property Defenders’

 

As you already know, these are deployed all over the map and I want them just to stand and defend in place.  I have already set their alertness through their soft settings in the unit pick and I have put them where I want them to be.  The net result is that I have to do nothing in the AI for ‘Group 1’.  The added bonus is that ‘Group 1’ is the default so I don’t have to take any affirmative action in identifying these elements as ‘Group 1’.  See …. Who said that AI planning was difficult??!!!!

 

Ok so it is more complex than that and ‘AI Group 2’ will demonstrate this.  So step 1 needs you to identify the unit as ‘AI Group 2’.  To do this you need to go into the Unit Selection Screen and find the relevant unit.  Once you’ve found it (this where naming units as you pick them helps) you select it and hit the ‘F2’ key.  Once you have done this, the text ‘A2’ will appear next to the unit.  Here’s how it looks …

 

Identifying & Naming Group 2.jpg 

 

An important point is to ensure that you select the exact unit.  By this I mean that if I had selected the higher HQ of the unit, all of Pathan Security Group #1 would become AI Group 2.  This would mean that the whole unit would follow the Group 2 AI plan.  That is not what I want, I want the other elements to remain where they are ‘guarding’ the commercial premises while the patrolling group conducts perimeter patrol.  Another point to note is that when I selected and named my patrol element with the ‘F2’ key, in addition to the text ‘A2’ appearing next to that unit, the text ‘A*’ appeared next to the higher HQ.  All this means is that elements of units under command are in more than one AI Group – it does not mean that the whole unit is AI Group 2.

 

With that done I now have to have a concept of what I want to do and timings before actually scripting the AI Group 2 plan.  The narrative is that on hearing helicopters and gunfire at the target compound, the chief of security has alerted the patrol group and ordered them to patrol the perimeter.  The magic time for this to occur is 10-15 minutes and is based on the fact that I already know that the Compound takes no more than 10 minutes to assault and then a ‘fudge factor’ of 5 minutes for the decision-making and the guys getting their sh1t together.  The other factor is that this group is closest to the Safe House that the Blue Agent Group will arrive at in the same timeframe.  Part of the reason for having this unit is to cause problems for the Blue Player so it meets the design effect.

 

Of course I could just have them patrol from the start but that just creates more work in the AI Editor and I am inherently lazy and my laziness will be invisible to the player.  The other ‘lazy’ element of this plan is that because I have an idea of the timings I know that there is no point in extending the ‘patrol’ timings much beyond 30 minutes because the Blue Player will be long gone.

 

Back to the AI menu then and remembering to ensure that you are working on ‘Plan 1 Red’, select the ‘Group’ drop down and click ‘Group 2’.  Once you’ve done that select the ‘Order Sequence’ drop down and you’ll be presented with a list beginning ‘Setup’ and then a series of order numbers from 2-16 (the maximum) which are currently greyed out.  This is what it looks like …

 

AI Programming Order Sequence.jpg 

 

It is worth saying a couple of things about orders.  First up, orders do not have to have map zones painted on the map.  If there is no map zone, the unit will stay in place and action all the other components of the order such as their combat stance and suchlike.  The second important concept is that painted zones are the end point of the order not the start point.

 

So for my patrolling group, I already have them placed on the map where I want them.  I have no need to paint a setup zone so I can move on to the other factors.  The setup order is slightly different from the numbered orders in that it doesn’t have all the other factors available which is all fine and dandy, no real need to dwell on it.  Here are the factors you have …

 

What I call ‘Building Status’ and these are pretty much what they say on the tin …

 

Rooftops

Upper Floors

Mixed (this is the default)

Lower Floors

 

I have left this at the default of ‘Mixed’ but to be honest as the unit is already placed this will have no effect.  It would only come into play if I painted an order end zone in a building and then the unit would try to occupy whichever floors you specify.

 

The next is what I call ‘Unit Posture’ and these are pretty descriptive too ….

 

Active – is described in the manual as ‘shoot early and shoot often’.  I use this most of the time because it means that the moment a unit sees an enemy they will open up … and this is a wargame, not peacegame after all!!!!

 

Normal – Somewhat unhelpfully there is no description of ‘Normal’ in the manual – I take it to mean that contact with the enemy is not expected but people are covering their arcs.  It is the default setting and for this group, it is the setting I will use for the setup order.

 

Cautious – is described in the manual as shoot only when a clear target presents itself.  Possible uses might be in scenarios where the group wants to conserve ammunition or is trying to infiltrate.  I have used it but I think only rarely.

 

Ambush – This order has settings for 1000, 600, 300, 150 and 75 metres.  Again, this is pretty self-explanatory in that units will only open fire when enemy units close within that distance.  This is a good one for setting up AI ambushes.  I’m pretty sure that the rule is not absolute though – if the AI Group is engaged by an enemy unit, the Tac AI will often kick in and allow it to return fire.  Soft settings in the Unit Pick will also no doubt have an impact.

 

Hide – Again what it says on the tin.  The group will hide and avoid attracting attention.  If the group is engaged it may return fire but other units not engaged will continue to hide.

 

Finally there is what I have called the ‘Dismount or No Dismount Status’.  Fairly obviously this only applies to units mounted in vehicles.  If the unit has no vehicles or dismounts the AI ignores the order.  The options are ‘Dismount’ or ‘No Dismount’.  There are some nuances here in that a ‘Dismount’ order is enacted before the group reaches the painted map zone and once dismounted a unit cannot remount their vehicles.  For my AI Group 2, this is irrelevant because the unit has no vehicles so again the AI will not take it into account.  I have left the setting at its default of ‘No Dismount’.

 

I’ll deal with the ‘extra’ unit postures found once you get to the numbered orders when we get to them.

 

The next component is time.  As I have previously stated, you have to have a good appreciation of time and space to put together a decent AI plan because the AI works on a ‘timed script’.  Timings count from the start of the mission in the AI Editor.  This can be confusing because of course in game, the timer counts down whereas under the AI hood the timer counts up.  So in a 1 hour mission, when the player has played 10 minutes, the game clock will say ’50 minutes remaining’ while the AI clock reads it as 10 minutes elapsed.

 

In the AI editor, there are two time choices of ‘Exit Before’ and ‘Exit After’ and I have seen, and participated in, more heated discussions about how these work in both the Beta and main forums.  As I said at the very start of this section of the tutorial, I will tell you how it works for me.

 

According to the manual ‘Exit Before’ means that the group will try its best to get to the next order before the set time.

 

According to the manual ‘Exit After’, means that the group will not move until that time is reached.

 

Points to note are that in my experience you don’t need to use both ‘Exit Before’ and ‘Exit After’ for each order so choose the appropriate one for the effect you want to achieve.  In the context of my ‘AI Group 2’ I want it to stay where it is until 15 minutes have elapsed and then start patrolling.  This makes ‘Exit After’ with a setting of 15 minutes as the solution to the problem.

 

To set the timings it is a just a case of clicking the ‘+’ and ‘-‘ keys until the clock ticks over to your desired time.  If you just left click, the timer moves in 30 second increments.  If you do ‘SHIFT-CLICK’ the clock will move in 5 minute increments.  So three ‘SHIFT-CLICKs’ later on ‘Exit After’ are all I need to do here.  As a failsafe I always set the ‘Exit Before; setting to ’00:00’ in these instances.

 

Once I’ve done that I click the ‘Add’ button which sets the order up.  Doing this activates the ‘Order 2’ option allowing you to set the parameters and timings for that order.

 

On then to ‘Order 2’ and once you have got to ‘Order 2’ an extra option is available in the interface which I call ‘Movement Stance’ but is called ‘Order Type’ in the CMSF manual.  These are the options …

 

Max Assault - Max Assault tells the Group to stop and engage with maximum firepower whenever each unit sees an opportunity to do so.  Now this might seem an attractive order type but the nuance with this order type is that you can only use this with units that have the ability to split squads.  This therefore replicates the command in the normal game interface called ‘Assault’.  Basically, because so few units in the Red Force Pick can split squads, if you are programming a Red AI plan you are unlikely to be using it often.

 

Assault – (from the manual) this order emphasises combat over movement. Units ordered to assault will generally interrupt their movement when facing the opportunity to engage the enemy, but will not remain stationary for too long.  Or as I put it this is similar to Max Assault only with a bit less shooting.  The same rules about split squads and the lack of them in the Red Force pick apply.

 

Advance – this is the default setting and probably the most commonly used AI movement order (I pretty much use it exclusively and it is the order type I am using in this instance).  The manual describes the behaviour as ‘Units instructed to Advance decide what they should do, but generally it is to keep moving after taking some shots at spotted enemy units’.  Now this may not be exactly what you want but if you can’t use ‘Assault’ or ‘Max Assault’ due to having un-splittable squads it is the only show in town.

 

Quick – I think this pretty much is an exact replication of the ‘Quick’ order type found in the normal game interface so it means that units will cover ground quickly, not tire out quickly and will ping the odd shot back at the enemy.  As my AI Group 2 is a patrolling unit, it is not appropriate here but it is a useful order type nonetheless.

 

Dash – I think this order type is an exact replication of the ‘Fast’ order type found in the normal game interface so the group will move at maximum speed, become tired very quickly and be very unlikely to fire.  I rarely use this order type.

 

So those are the order types, now the only thing to do is cover off on painting the order end zone.  This is quite simple and just involves clicking on the area of the map that you want the unit to end up at.  The nuances are that you must ensure that you paint a large enough zone for the unit to occupy and that the zones do not represent an orders path.  What does this mean? 

 

With regard to the zone size in this instance it is a fairly moot point because my AI Group 2 unit is a single squad so painting a single action spot more than suffices and it allows me to paint exactly where I want the unit to end up.  However, if my AI Group 2 comprised say a platoon with a platoon HQ and 3 x squads I should paint an area of at least 4 x action spots.  Now the Tac AI will make some adjustments so it is not an absolute rule but I can guarantee that if your AI Group is a tank company of 10 tanks and you paint a single action spot as the end zone, the AI will either ignore the order or will do something that you don’t want it to do.

 

The second point about an orders path is adequately described in the manual … ‘The TacAI determines, based on a Plan’s Orders and tactical Commands, how to get from one Map Zone to another. A Group will NOT follow a long and skinny Map Zone; it will simply move all its units onto it and stop before moving onto the next Order’s Map Zone. If you want to influence the path a group of units takes, issue several orders as you would waypoints’.

 

So those are the mechanics and the next screenshot shows the painted ‘Order 2’ for AI Group 2.

 

Painted Order 2 Group 2.jpg

 

I’m not going to go into a detailed narrative about all of the orders so I’ll just summarise the settings I have used to achieve the effect in this schematic ….

 

Group 2 AI Patrol Path Schematic.jpg 

 

Setup – Mixed, Normal, No Dismount, Exit After 15:00, Exit Before 00:00

Order 2 – Advance, Mixed, Active, No Dismount, Exit After 16:00, Exit Before 00:00

Order 3 - Advance, Mixed, Active, No Dismount, Exit After 17:00, Exit Before 00:00

Order 4 - Advance, Mixed, Active, No Dismount, Exit After 19:00, Exit Before 00:00

Order 5 - Advance, Mixed, Active, No Dismount, Exit After 21:00, Exit Before 00:00

Order 6 - Advance, Mixed, Active, No Dismount, Exit After 22:00, Exit Before 00:00

Order 7 - Advance, Mixed, Active, No Dismount, Exit After 23:00, Exit Before 00:00

Order 8 - Advance, Mixed, Active, No Dismount, Exit After 24:00, Exit Before 00:00

Order 9 - Advance, Mixed, Active, No Dismount, Exit After 26:00, Exit Before 00:00

Order 10 - Advance, Mixed, Active, No Dismount, Exit After 27:00, Exit Before 00:00

Order 11 - Advance, Upper Floors, Active, No Dismount, Exit After 00:00, Exit Before 00:00

 

Order 11 is not shown on the schematic but basically involves the unit returning to its start point which is the 2-Storey building where the first arrow comes from.

 

So that was all nice and simple but does illustrate how quickly you can burn through your 16 Order limit because as you can see I used 11 just setting up a two cycle patrol.

 

I have done similar with my other Black Pathan Security patrol and with the Police VCP using the same mechanics but different timings.  As I’ve shown you the mechanics there is little point in going through it all here.  That covers off on basic AI planning, in the next post I will deal with some more advanced AI planning.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As promised this thread will deal mainly with more complex AI planning and should take us to the point where the AI plan (Plan 1 (Red)) is complete.

 

Of the eight AI Group slots I have available I have already used four as follows …

 

AI Group 1 – All of the static elements (Compound Guards, Property Defenders etc)

Group 2 – Black Pathan Security Patrol #1

Group 3 – Black Pathan Security Patrol #2

Group 4 – Pakistan Police VCP Patrol

 

Group 5 will be the Police Special Commando Squad which leaves me Group 6, Group 7 and Group 8 to allocate to the Pakistani Army QRF.  Potentially this creates a problem which is why I think this falls into the category of complex AI planning.  The reason it creates a problem is because of a combination of what I want the QRF to do, the structure of the QRF (HQ, 1 Platoon, 2 Platoon comprising a mix of vehicles and dismountable squads) and the fact that I only have 3 AI Group slots.

 

So first off what do I want the QRF to do?  The schematic illustrates the broad plan.

 

PAKMIL QRF AI Plan.jpg

 

In essence the plan above represents a plausible response to an attack on the Compound based on the assumption that the Pakistani Army knew of its significance and had a contingency response.  The plausible part of this is that they are going in blind so it is reasonable to assume that they would head for the compound first because that is where gunfire has been reported from and they know the significance of the compound.  However they’re not going to just charge in so they will dismount and advance the last few hundred metres tactically.

 

Once at the compound they will notionally assess the scene and question any survivors to gain information and intelligence about the attackers so that they can hunt them down.  They will also secure the scene until the Police arrive and hand it over to them before actively hunting the attackers.

 

For the purposes of the scenario it makes no odds whether any intelligence is gained because as the Designer I know where the Blue Force has to end up (bottom RH corner of the map).  However if they gain no intelligence, the next logical and plausible step would be for them to go to the VCP and speak to the Police Force there to see if they have seen/heard anything.  They would then either go firm there or if they’re lucky follow up on sightings of the SEAL Team.

 

So that is the bones of the narrative and they are plausible enough.  However the structure of the unit and the limited number of AI slots potentially causes me a problem.  The obvious solution is to make the HQ AI Group 6, 1 Platoon AI Group 7 and 2 Platoon AI Group 8.  Now you might think – so what’s the problem?  The potential problem comes from the need to dismount and how the AI behaves with mixed mounted and dismounted groups. 

 

So as before I need to set up the AI Groups by going into the Purchase Red screen, selecting my unit and hitting the correct numbered ‘F’ key.  In this case F5 for the Police Commando Squad, F6 for the QRF HQ, F7 for 1 Platoon and F8 for 2 Platoon which is shown in the following image.

 

Setting up the Remaining AI Groups.jpg 

 

Then it is a case of sequencing the orders to achieve the desired effect and, because AI Group 7 and AI Group 8 each have three vehicles and three dismount elements, ensuring that I paint large enough zones on the map to ensure that they will fit into their movement zones (so a minimum of 3 x AS when mounted and 6 x AS once dismounted).

 

Time for a test and with any luck it will look alright which is the main objective of the test.  However I am also looking to see that the units can move without too much difficulty particularly given the complex urban terrain that they initially have to traverse.  I also want to check that the units arrive and move in the right sequence so that for example the Police Commando Squad doesn’t arrive at the Compound before the Pakistani Army QRF.  As with all tests you need to make sure you’ve got a notepad and pen handy to record your observations. 

 

Finally with this test, because the focus is on how the Red AI performs I don’t want Blue Forces to impact on the execution of the plan.  To avoid this I have two potential solutions, the first of which involves making all Blue Forces ‘reserves that never arrive’ by giving them arrival times of 3 hours.  The second is just to move them to an area on the map where I know they won’t see the enemy and to be doubly sure give them tight cover arcs.  I’m going with the second option because I want to orchestrate a battle between the SEAL Team and the QRF once it has executed its full AI plan.  The purpose of this first of all is to see whether the SEAL Team can overcome the QRF but also to get a feel for how many casualties it will take.  Remember that in my previous test there was no QRF involved so this is my first chance to capture this data.

 

In terms of execution of the test, a handy little tip is to run it in WEGO mode as this allows you to click through turns where nothing happens really quickly and will save you a lot of time.  The other advantage is that you can replay the turns if you missed something at the first look.

 

So what did I learn from my test?

 

AI Group 6 (The QRF HQ) arrived at the Compound too early.

AI Groups 7 and 8 struggled navigating the built up area.

AI Group 8 did not dismount at all.

All dismounted units moved at ‘Quick’ speed.

The AI generally moved Groups 7 and 8 by alternate bounds

There was a traffic jam IVO the Police VCP.

 

So now I have to go back into the editor and tweak some timings, try ‘Normal’ as a stance for the patrolling elements to see if this stops them moving at ‘Quick’ speeds and investigate why AI Group 8 did not dismount (likely problem is that I forgot to give them a ‘Passenger Dismount’ order).  Incidentally I was right about the reason for AI Group 8 not dismounting – I had forgotten to give them a ‘Passengers Dismount’ order.  Other tweaks I made were to change the routes taken by Groups 7 and 8 to avoid initial pathing issues.  Otherwise no other changes were made.  Obviously once I’ve done this I need to test it again.

 

The next test was done using the same methodology (ie Scenario Author mode WEGO) but I didn’t bother orchestrating a battle with the QRF at the end as I have the data I need and I am beginning to think that pitching the whole QRF against the SEAL Team will prove too much of a challenge so I may make some changes later. 

 

This time around passengers dismounted successfully but the sequencing of arrival at the Compound of the QRF is still not right (ie the HQ still arrives first) and I still have a traffic jam at the defile where the Police VCP is located.  Changing the patrol group stance to ‘Normal’ had no effect on their movement.  So time to make some changes to the timings and run another test using the same methodology.

 

This time around the sequencing worked a lot better and I have eliminated the worst of the traffic jams so I’m happy that I’ve fixed the AI to the point where it functions in a tolerably realistic manner.  It is now time for another test to see how this plays out ‘for real’ because I have yet to pitch the Blue Force against anything other than the Compound Guards and Osama Bin Laden.  This clearly is an important test so like all tests I need to be clear about what the ‘right’ result is and be aware of things to look out for.  In simple terms these are the sorts of issues I’m looking for …

 

I want to ensure that the Blue Force can navigate the map.

I want to ensure that the Blue Force can get to the HLZ in reasonably good order.

I’m concerned that that the Blue Force may run out of ammunition.

I’m concerned that the VCP may cause too many problems.

I’m concerned that the QRF will get to the VCP too quickly.

I’m concerned that the QRF presents too much of an overmatch.

 

This test was conducted in Scenario Author test, Real Time mode and was pretty interesting.  The key points were:

 

Compound clear @ 52 minutes.

Patrolling units behave as intended.

The Blue Force can navigate the map and arrive at the HLZ in reasonable order.

Ammunition is tight

 

All anti-tank natures were expended

Most units were in the red for small arms natures

MG Teams had 344 and 345 rounds respectively

 

Blue casualties were 2 x WIA during the compound clearance and 3 x WIA during the extraction.

Red casualties were 48 x KIA, 22 x WIA and 6 x BRDM-2 knocked out.

 

Overall then it was a pretty successful test although of course this must be tempered by the fact that I was playing in Scenario Author mode and I know the Red plan.  Most surprising is that the QRF was despatched with not too much fuss.  However, despite it being pretty successful there are some tweaks that I want to make because I feel that the two red response forces really do snap hard at the heels of the Blue Force.  What I’m going to do is simply rollback their arrival times/movement sequence times by a few minutes.  I’m also going to pull in the patrol patterns of the two ‘Black Pathan’ security elements from a 50m radius to a 25m radius which is probably more reflective of the distance they would patrol.

 

This time around I think I’m pretty much there and despite fighting actions in different parts of the map I’m getting consistent results

 

Compound clear @51 minutes

Patrolling units behave as intended

The Blue Force can navigate the map and arrive at the HLZ in reasonable order.

Ammunition is tight but less so than first time out:

 

In terms of Anti-tank ammunition this time I had 2 x LAW and 1 x AT4 left

Most teams were between amber and red for small arms natures

MG teams had 150 and 356 rounds respectively

 

Blue suffered no casualties and Red suffered 44 x KIA, 31 x WIA and 5 x BRDM-2 were knocked out with one immobilised.

 

Still a couple of changes to make though.  First off I’ve decided to widen the defile by the VCP because I’ve had a couple of BRDMs go into the trenches which just doesn’t look too clever and I need to check the arrival time of the QRF reinforcement Group because I didn’t have the reinforcement group arrival sequenced with the initial move timings out of the setup zone (25 minute reinforcement arrival time compared with initial moves in the AI Plan of 23 minutes for the HQ (AI Group 6) and 21 minutes for the two platoons (AI Groups 7 and 8)).  I have now reset this reinforcement group arrival time from 25 minutes to 20 minutes.  You may think that this is an unnecessary change because the AI generally performed as intended in my last test.  However I think it is best to fix it just in case it throws up something untoward down the track and I also think it may have had an effect on the dismount orders down the track.

 

After making the changes I tested the plan again and this time around I’m happy that everything is performing as intended.  Respective results this time were:

 

Compound clear @52 minutes.

Blue casualties = 2 x KIA.

Red casualties = 40 x KIA, 39 x WIA and 6 x AFV destroyed.

Blue again had reasonable ammunition states at mission end:

 

Atk natures = 2 x LAW remaining.

Small arms natures were variable with two teams in the amber zone.

MG team #1 = 250 x rds, MG Team #2 = 121 x rds.

 

So with everything working, it is time for some graphics to illustrate what I’ve done.  As this is a tutorial I’m not going to show you the whole plan.  The following sequence of images shows 1 Platoon of the Pakistani Army QRF which comprises 3 x BRDM-2 and 3 x dismounted teams.  Points to note on the images are the location of the painted zones and the settings on the panel in the bottom left of each orders screen, noting that after the initial screenshot there are two AI orders per image.

Setup Order Screen.jpg

 

Orders 2 and 3.jpg

 

Orders 4 and 5.jpg

 

Orders 6 and 7.jpg

 

 

 Orders 8 and 9.jpg

 

Remember I had some misgivings earlier about how the AI might behave with dismounts and troops in the same group and whether I might need to reorganise my groups? Well as you have seen, apart from a few tweaks here and there I was able to get the thing working fairly easily after my tests. Creating AI plans is not particularly hard but, if you forgive the pun, it helps if you have a plan to start with, based on a supporting narrative.

 

You’ll be pleased to know that we have now conquered the sum of all fears that is the AI.  My next post will deal with objectives and victory conditions.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We are nearly there now but not quite because we now have to think about objectives and victory points.  I always think that a bit of psychology is required for this part of the process in addition to translating your all-important narrative into player intent and mastering the mechanics.

 

I’ll start with elements of the narrative which you’ve heard before but bear repeating.  In essence, the core mission concepts are:

 

Assault the compound and kill the occupants.

Extract the SEAL Team, the CIA Handler and the CIA Agent from the HLZ at the bottom RH corner of the map.

Suffer minimal casualties.

 

From those simple concepts above, I can derive some basic victory conditions/objectives which I can fine tune as necessary.  These are:

 

Award VPs for securing the compound.

Award VPs for killing the occupants.

Place a premium on Blue casualties.

Award VPs for reaching the HLZ.

 

Time now to examine objectives and how they work.  There are three basic types of objective as follows:

 

Terrain Objectives.  These are available in four types:

 

Occupy – to gain VPs for the occupy objective type, the player has to put troops in the painted zone and needs to ensure that there are no enemies in the zone.  Unfortunately due to a reported but unfixed bug, ‘Occupy’ objectives do not work for the Red Force.

 

Destroy – what it says on the tin.  The player has to destroy the painted structure to gain the points but will gain a subset of the points for partial destruction.  So if I had a building that I’d 50% destroyed worth 50 VPs, I would expect to get about 25 VPs.

 

Preserve – what it says on the tin and is the exact opposite of the ‘Destroy’ objective type.  This is designed to replicate Rules of Engagement (ROE) and collateral damage considerations.

 

Touch – again what it says on the tin.  The player only has to touch the objective to gain the points even if the enemy is still present in the painted area.

 

Unit Objectives.  These come in three types:

 

Destroy – the player gets points for every element of the designated ‘Destroy’ unit objective.  The more elements KIA or WIA means more points as a proportion of the overall total.  So if I have a Red unit set as a Blue ‘Destroy’ objective which (conveniently) is comprised of 100 x blokes, is worth (conveniently) 100 VPs and Blue kills 50 x blokes then Blue will get 50 x VPs.

 

Destroy All – this type of objective is binary and is exactly what it says on the tin.  So in the example above I would have to kill all 100 x blokes to get the 100 x VPs.

 

Spot – the designated unit objective fairly predictably has to be spotted and identified for the points to be awarded.

 

Parameters.  These are binary but potentially offer a number of options to the Scenario Designer.  They are:

 

Friendly Casualties – the player has to keep casualties below the specified percentage so if I have a 100 x bloke sized force and a Friendly Casualty Parameter of 50% then I gain points if I have more than 51 x blokes left at the end.

 

Enemy Casualties – the player has to inflict casualties at a level higher than the specified percentage.

 

Friendly Condition – this parameter deals with wounded, incapacitated and routed soldiers.  Again it works on a less than condition.

 

Enemy Condition – as above but the player has to inflict wounded, incapacitated and routed solders on a greater than condition.

 

Friendly Ammunition – requires the player to expend less ammunition than the stated percentage.

 

Enemy Ammunition – requires the player to force the enemy to expend more ammunition than the stated percentage.

 

Friendly Bonus – when used, this condition automatically awards the bonus no matter what happens in the scenario.  As the manual says, this is useful to ‘balance uneven scenarios’.

 

So the above is pretty dry but it is relatively straight forward.  The artistry (or trickery!!) is to make these options work for you to achieve the result intended.  Another point to remember is that you don’t have to use all of the above options or balance one with the other.  By that I mean that just because I may make the Compound an Occupy objective for Blue, I don’t have to (I can’t anyway due to the bug) make it an ‘Occupy’ objective for Red.  The same goes for all of the parameters – one does not have to balance the other.

 

With the basic descriptions out of the way, I’ll talk a little about the psychological aspects and of course this is the World according to Combatintman but so far this approach has worked for me.  For me the psychology is about encouraging or discouraging behaviours as well as giving the player satisfaction in playing the scenario.

 

One of the analogies in this whole process I find useful is thinking as it like a tax code.  You want people to stop smoking – you increase the taxes and scare them half to death with pictures of diseased lungs.  You want people to stop buying big SUVs, you tax petrol and make car parking spaces smaller etc etc.

 

In terms of satisfaction, I feel that the player needs to feel that they’ve earned their objectives (eg had to fight for them or overcome lots of problems to get to them) and the player needs to understand why they’re going for an objective.  As an example I’ve seen many scenarios which tell you to go to ‘Objective #1’ for say 50 x VPs and I’ve got there without too much difficulty and thought ‘what was the point of that?’  JonS captures the essence of this well whenever he talks about mission design which is to just let the player get on with the game.

 

Of course setting objectives with VPs are not the only means of incentivising the player, another method is to convey the information to the player in the orders or to make the enemy behave in such a way that if they ignore their orders they will get punished through the simple expedient of getting wasted.

 

That is probably all I need to say about the psychological aspects, you will see some of these come into play as I describe how I’m going to construct the final elements of the scenario.

 

Aside from the psychological factors, the other key element in design is to ensure that your objectives are achievable.  There is no point in telling a player to destroy all enemy armour (and making it a ‘Destroy All’ objective if they have no anti-tank capabilities in their ORBAT.  With that out of the way, the next thing to talk about is Victory Conditions.

 

Somewhat unhelpfully, the way that CMSF calculates victory levels is not explained in the manual and I for one, because I didn’t know the formula, just could not get my early scenarios to award appropriate levels of victory.  However, manuals for the other CMX2 titles (which can be downloaded even if you don’t own the game) have the formula.  This is it …

 

So where ‘V’ = victory step one is to determine ‘V’.

 

V = (A+10) / (B+10)

 

In this equation ‘A’ is the side with the most victory points and ‘B’ is the side with the least victory points.

 

This means take the VP score of each side, add ten and then divide the higher score by the lower score.  The result is ‘V’ or victory

 

Step two is to determine the level of victory and is determined by a combination of percentages and objectives achieved according to the following levels:

 

Draw: V less than 1.25.

Minor Victory: V less than 1.75.

Tactical Victory: V less than 2.5 and 30% of potential VP earned.

Major Victory: V less than 4.0 and 55% of potential VP earned.

Total Victory: V equals 4.0 or more and 80% of potential VP earned.

 

The losing side achieves the opposite result so if one side gets a Total Victory the other will get a Total Defeat.

 

Example: At the end of a mission, the Blue side receives 700 Victory Points out of 1,000 VP possible. The Red side receives 150 VP out of 1,000 VP possible.

V = (A + 10) / (B + 10)

A = 700

B = 150

V = (700 + 10) / (150 + 10)

V = 710 / 160

V = 4.44

 

The Blue side receives a Major Victory, and the Red side re­ceives a Major Defeat. Although V was over the 4.0 requirement for a Total Victory, the Blue side only achieved 70% of the potential total VP, while a To­tal Victory requires at least 80 of potential VP be earned.

 

Clearly understanding the above (and I hate anything to do with mathematics) is critical to getting your mission right.  However, as stated before, the process requires blending it with the other previously mentioned factors which I will delve into in my next post.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So more on objectives and victory points … and another recap on the core concepts I talked about …

 

Assault the compound and kill the occupants.

Extract the SEAL Team, the CIA Handler and the CIA Agent from the HLZ at the bottom RH corner of the map.

Suffer minimal casualties.

 

Award VPs for securing the compound.

Award VPs for killing the occupants.

Place a premium on Blue casualties.

Award VPs for reaching the HLZ.

 

To take the first concept of securing the compound, potentially I am slightly restricted by the Red ‘Occupy’ objective bug and if I make it a Blue ‘Occupy’ objective it means that I have to keep troops there until scenario end which is not what I want.  Another option would be to create a series of hidden Blue ‘Touch’ objectives to simulate searching the objective.  However my actual solution is based on the reasoning that in order to kill the compound occupants, the Blue player pretty much has to cover all of the compound so in many respects the proposed ‘touch’ are redundant.

 

Another nuance might be to make the Compound a ‘Preserve’ objective and punish the Blue player for destroying it.  However I don’t really think that the US Government would shed too many tears about destroying it and I also know from the Blue ORBAT and testing that the Blue Player does not have the resources to inflict the damage required to get overly penalised.  It goes without saying that this factor rules out making it a Blue ‘Destroy’ objective.

 

So the actual solution (although I may go back later and create a series of ‘Touch’ objectives depending on testing to simulate the SEALs conducting compound searches/sensitive site exploitation) is to do nothing.

 

The next concept is that of killing the occupants.  This is really simple and I think is what the ‘Destroy All’ victory condition was expressly designed for.  If I just made the occupants a ‘Destroy’ objective then theoretically the Blue Player could still get a win if they killed most but not all of the units in the Compound. I want to be brutal and make it a ‘Destroy All’ objective which is unusual in my scenarios as most of them use the ‘Destroy’ unit objective type.

 

The mechanics of this are pretty simple but fiddly because similar to the AI Editor, you have to flick between a couple of screens.  This becomes obvious as soon as you hit the ‘Mission’ and ‘Unit Objectives (Blue)’ screen because there is a dialogue which helpfully tells you what to do which is to go into the ‘Purchase Red’ screen in the ‘Units’ menu.  The dialogue also tells you that you need to hit ‘SHIFT-F1 – F8’ to identify your unit objectives with ‘F8’ being not an objective.  This is good as a default, none of the units are objectives which means that you don’t need to hit SHIFT-F8 against all of the units that aren’t objectives.  However if you make a mistake and designate a unit as Unit Objective 1 when you didn’t mean to, all you need to do is hit ‘SHIFT-F8’ and it will go back to the default.

 

In the instance below I have gone to the ‘Purchase Red’ screen and found my ‘Osama Bin Laden’ unit (another reminder of the value of naming units as you pick them) and hit ‘SHIFT-F1’.

 

Creating Unit Objective 1.jpg

 

With that done I can return to the ‘Mission’ and ‘Unit Objective (Blue)’ screen.  Now if I click the ‘Unit 1’ button I get a series of options as follows:

 

Objective Type.  If you click the drop down you get the various types of previously discussed objective types, namely ‘Destroy’, ‘Destroy All’ and ‘Spot’.  This is going to be ‘Destroy All’.

 

I can also nominate which side the objective is ‘known to’.  This is in the context of whether it is known as an objective rather than meaning that if I set Osama Bin Laden as ‘known to’ the Blue player that the unit is automatically spotted on the map.  So how you set these is very much a design decision but in this instance it is pretty simple.  Osama Bin Laden is THE objective in this mission and this scenario is designed as a Blue vs Red AI only which means it would be stupid (and would annoy the player) if Osama Bin Laden was not known as an objective to the player.  So I have set it as ‘Known to Player’.

 

The next thing is a box in which you type your desired Victory Point value.  For the time being I have set the value as ‘26’.  This value will almost certainly change but I do like to put numbers in there early to check that the objective is functioning.

 

The last box allows you to free type an Objective Name for your unit objective.  As it is a free text field you can put what you want in there but it can be good practice to try and keep your naming consistent for housekeeping purposes.  Also, make the name short so that it fits in the text box and make it relevant because this is what will appear on the final Victory Screen at Game End.  So call your objective ‘Ermintrude the Cow from the Magic Roundabout’ if you like but the chances are that it will not display in the Victory Screen because there are too many characters and the player will think ‘????????’  Here is what it looks like …

Adding values to Unit Objective 1.jpg

 

On to other Unit Objectives and I won’t dwell on the mechanics.  I need to sweep up the other compound occupants which are split into a number of groups due to the nature of the TO@E pick.  However that does not stop me making them one ‘Destroy All’ Unit Objective.  All I need to do is to find them in the Purchase Red screen and (because this will be Unit Objective 2) hit ‘SHIFT-F2’ next to each entry.  Again I can do this easily because I named them as ‘Compound Guard’ or similar when I picked them.  Once I’ve done that I go back to the Objectives screen and set ‘Unit 2’ as ‘Destroy All’, ‘Known to Player’ with a VP value of ‘24’ (which will likely change) and called them ‘Compound Guards’.

 

Now from the Red unit laydown and the AI plan and most importantly my testing, I know that there are other elements that the Blue player will come into contact with (ie ‘Property Defenders’, Security Guards and the Pakistani security forces).  I could make these Unit Objectives but I’m not going to because the mission narrative is to smash the compound occupants and then extract with as little fuss as possible.  If I were to make these other elements Unit Objectives for Blue, it will incentivise the player to actively hunt these units to get the points which is not in keeping with that narrative.  It fits the psychology in that so long as the player gets a decent victory, they will be satisfied by their dead enemies and burning BRDMs alone without giving them points for it.  Some will grumble for sure (particularly if they don’t get an acceptable victory) but the risk of not perverting the narrative is worth the odd gripe.

 

I’ll now look at the extraction to the HLZ part of the narrative.  This clearly can only be dealt with by using a Terrain Objective and of course the ‘Exit’ objective type available in later titles, which would be ideal, is not available to me here.  So it boils down to either ‘Touch’ or ‘Occupy’ both of which are valid but I’m going for ‘Occupy’ because it best suits the narrative/realism.  In reality, the SEAL Team would have to secure the objective to ensure that it was safe for the helos to land.  Added to this, I want the Blue player to earn the objective and as ‘Occupy’ is harder to achieve than ‘Touch’ it makes it a more appropriate choice.  Another factor is how the overall Victory Points will play out which will likely mean that this objective is going to be one of the major factors in achieving a victory meaning that it will probably have a high points value.  If I made it easy to grab then the mission has little difficulty associated with it.

 

Fortunately the mechanics of Terrain Objectives are less fiddly.  You just need to go into the ‘Mission’ ‘Terrain Objectives (Blue)’ screen.  Once there just start painting the objective area on the map and the associated dialogue, which is similar to the ‘Unit Objectives’ dialogue, will come up.  As you can see from the following screenshot, I have set the values as ‘Occupy’, ‘Known to Player’ with a VP value of ‘50’ (which will likely change) and named it ‘HLZ’.

 

 Setting Terrain Objectives.jpg

 

Now with this image you might be thinking ‘wow that is a big objective’ and you’d be right.  The decision to make it that size comes in a three parts.  Part one is that the Player has to ‘earn’ it because of the likely points weighting.  Part two is that in reality, to ensure the safety of the helos, the player has to ensure that there is nothing that can fire on them as they come into land which means pushing the distances out from the relatively small area required for the helos to land.  Part three is a combination of the above … I have deliberately extended the zone to ensure that it covers the final movement orders of the Pakistani Army QRF which means that the player has some choices to make.  Of course the final movement orders of the QRF are not known to the player but, if they have not dealt with it early, then they have to deal with it towards the back end of the mission.

 

Another short post I know but this is a natural break before getting the slide rule out and doing another of my least favourite activities …. Arithmetic and other mathematical tortures associated with achieving workable victory conditions.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So stand by for sums because the final part of the initial concepts that I have to deal with is that of keeping Blue Force casualties low.  Just to illustrate how flexible the Mission Editor is, here are the numbers of ways I could do this:

 

Set a Friendly Casualty’ parameter as part of the Blue Force mission.

Set a ‘Friendly Condition’ parameter as part of the Blue Force mission.

Set an ‘Enemy Casualty’ parameter as part of the Red Force mission.

Set an ‘Enemy Condition’ parameter as part of the Red Force mission.

Make Blue units a ‘Destroy’ or ‘Destroy All’ Unit Objective for the Red force.

Various combinations of the above.

 

First of all I will rule out both of the ‘condition’ parameters and this is really just down to personal preference.  I don’t get a warm and fuzzy feeling that these give me the results that I look for so rather than waste time in testing seeing how they work, I’m just not going to bother.

 

In this scenario I can also rule out setting the Blue Force as a ‘Destroy All’ objective.  Firstly because the scenario isn’t designed to be played as Red or H2H and secondly because my testing to date has shown that Blue suffers only up to about 5 x casualties and I need to the Red Player to pick up points as the scenario plays out.

 

A good question to ask at this point is ‘why does the Red Player need to pick up points as the scenario plays out?’  The reason is simple and it is one of those nuances that help to polish up a scenario, keeps the player in the game and motivated and adds to the challenge.  In short I need to discourage the player from hitting ‘Cease Fire’ early in the mission and getting a victory.  Achieving this can be tricky and it is a pertinent reminder that, as a scenario designer, you need to know how VPs are calculated.

 

So before we work out how we create a mechanism for Blue Casualties, I will quickly add another related factor that I haven’t covered in detail which is the safety of the CIA Agent and the HUMINT Source.  It is related because it is all in the mix of Blue Force casualties.  One of the reasons that I want to make these elements a special case is fairly predictably back to the narrative.  Part of the key tasks will be to extract the Spy Group and it is also a challenge because the Spy Group has no body armour or NVGs, only ‘Tom’ the CIA guy is armed and the agent is in poor physical condition.  My intent with this group therefore is to weight the VPs so that losses here will almost certainly mean victory or defeat for the Blue player.

 

What I have to do now really is, with the narrative in mind and a rough idea of a ‘fair victory’, play around with the numbers to ensure that Blue remains motivated and challenged and cannot gain a victory by surrendering early.  I could of course have done this right at the start of the Victory Points/Objectives process but I didn’t touch it until now because I have to address it now to work out how I’m going to work the Blue casualty angle.

 

While I hate sums, at least I have made the process easier for myself by recording things as I go.  So I know for instance how many men are in the Blue Force, meaning that I have the figures needed to work out parameter percentage objectives.  I also know from my recorded test results how the battle is likely to flow and how many casualties are likely to result.

 

On to the sums then …

 

Presently Blue will get 26 VPs for Bin Laden, 24 VPs for the Compound Guards and 50 VPs for the HLZ objective for a convenient total of 100 VPs.

 

I know from testing that the compound and its occupants can be knocked over in no more than ten minutes and that Blue has suffered between 0 KIA/WIA and 2 KIA/4 WIA in doing so.  In fact this is pretty much the range for the whole mission.  This information allows me to firm up my ‘fair result’ criteria which I will initially set as 5 x Blue Force casualties.

 

You may remember this table from many moons ago ….

 

Blue Force Table.jpg

 

I have highlighted the Assault Element and you will see that they add up to 26 x Soldiers and Agent Mohammed is 1 x individual and ‘Tom’ the CIA guy is another individual so I have 28 x individuals.  Although I’ve not entirely ruled it out, based on testing so far it is extremely unlikely that the QRF will come into play in this mission because the logical place for them to arrive is the HLZ and I know that they can secure it easily and totally dominate any enemy approaching it.  I’m not going to delete them yet because I know that if I do Murphy’s Law will come into play and as soon as I do delete them I’ll find that I need them again meaning starting from scratch with the force pick.  However I have to factor in the elements that ‘never arrive’ due to how the Force Pick system works if I am going to use percentage-based parameters.  These are the elements highlighted in Red and amount to another 6 x individuals.

 

With all of that established I can now start doing some sums and I am already starting to lean towards making the respective Blue Elements a series of Red ‘Destroy’ Unit Objectives and balance the whole thing out using a Red Friendly Bonus parameter.

 

So if I make the Blue assault element a ‘Destroy’ Unit Objective where each casualty gives Red 5 x VPs I come up with a figure of 130 x VPs.  If I make Agent Mohammed a Red ‘Destroy’ Unit Objective worth 10 x VPs and CIA Guy ‘Tom’ a Red ‘Destroy’ Unit Objective worth 10 x VPs the sum of the parts is 150 x VPs for Red.

 

Based on testing so far I have come up with my ‘fair result’ of 5 x Blue Force casualties, and in fact in one test ‘Tom’ the CIA Guy got zapped, I can come up with the following permutations …

 

Outcome #1

3 x SEALs KIA = 15 x VPs

Agent Mohammed KIA = 10 x VPs

Agent Tom KIA = 10 x VPs

Total = 35 x VPs

 

Outcome #2

4 x SEALs KIA = 20 x VPs

Agent Tom or Agent Mohammed KIA = 10 x VPs

Total = 30 x VPs

 

Outcome #3

5 x SEALs KIA = 25 x VPs

Total = 25 x VPs

 

Using those figures as a basis, I also need to think about how this plays out over time.  I’ll work on the premise that 2 x SEALs will get whacked in the compound clearance and the remaining 3 x casualties will get whacked during the exfiltration phase.

 

Based on the above and the other VPs already allocated, if the Player hits cease fire at the moment the compound is clear, the total will look like this:

 

Blue

Osama Bin Laden = 26 x VPs

Compound Guards = 24 x VPs

HLZ = 0 x VPs

TOTAL = 50 x VPs

 

Red

US Navy Seals = 10 x VPs

Agent Mohammed = 0 x VPs

Agent Tom = 0 x VPs

TOTAL = 10 x VPs

 

So using the VP formula the result would be something like this

 

V = (50 + 10) / (10 + 10) = 6

Because the HLZ objective (worth 50 x VPs) has not been achieved, Blue has got 50% of the available VPs.  The result therefore would be a Blue Tactical Victory which is both too easy and not the result I want to achieve.  So it is now a case of either tinkering with the figures above or adding other elements such as creating a Red ‘Friendly Bonus’ Parameter.  So let’s try that going with a figure of 25 x VPs for the Red ‘Friendly Bonus’.

 

Blue

Osama Bin Laden = 26 x VPs

Compound Guards = 24 x VPs

HLZ = 0 x VPs

TOTAL = 50 x VPs

 

Red

US Navy Seals = 10 x VPs

Agent Mohammed = 0 x VPs

Agent Tom = 0 x VPs

Red Friendly Bonus = 25 x VPs

TOTAL = 35 x VPs

 

V = (50 + 10) / (35 + 10) = 1.3

 

Because the HLZ objective (worth 50 x VPs) has not been achieved, Blue has got 50% of the available VPs.  The result therefore would be a Blue Minor Victory which, while closer to the desired effect, is still off the mark.  Clearly more work is needed on the numbers and I have to think about how the scenario will develop fully.  So it is time to develop the scenario until the end working on the assumption that Blue suffers another 2 x SEAL casualties and the HLZ is secured.  Note I have upped the Red Friendly Bonus now to 30 x VPs and used the original HLZ setting of 50 x VPs.  Here’s how this looks …

 

Blue

Osama Bin Laden = 26 x VPs

Compound Guards = 24 x VPs

HLZ = 50 x VPs

TOTAL = 100 x VPs

 

Red

US Navy Seals = 25 x VPs

Agent Mohammed = 0 x VPs

Agent Tom = 0 x VPs

Red Friendly Bonus = 30 x VPs

TOTAL = 55 x VPs

 

V = (100 + 10) / (55 + 10) = 1.69

 

Although this time the Blue Player has grabbed all of the objectives, the value of 1.69 means only a Blue Minor Victory and I have deemed this to be a ‘Fair Result’ and should attract a victory of some description  For the time being this could suffice but, as I hope you’re starting to see … this is a tricky process to get right because I haven’t factored in either Agent Mohammed or ‘Tom’ the CIA Guy getting zapped or accounted for the (albeit unlikely) outcome of the Blue Player not killing Osama Bin Laden and his Compound Guards.  Just taking the latter as an example we could come up with a scenario where 5 x casualties are suffered and Blue secures the HLZ …

 

Blue

Osama Bin Laden = 0 x VPs

Compound Guards = 0 x VPs

HLZ = 50 x VPs

TOTAL = 50 x VPs

 

Red

US Navy Seals = 25 x VPs

Agent Mohammed = 0 x VPs

Agent Tom = 0 x VPs

Red Friendly Bonus = 30 x VPs

TOTAL = 55 x VPs

 

V = (55 + 10) / (50 + 10) = 1.08

 

This would be a draw despite the fact Osama Bin Laden is still alive!!!  Now you’ll be pleased to know that I’m not going to keep throwing calculations at you, but I did want to demonstrate the point that getting the VPs right is tricky and requires more than just pulling some numbers out of a hat and hoping it will work.

 

Whichever way I tweak this using the parameters and Terrain/Unit objectives already discussed I cannot get the balance right so I need to do something else to get this to work.  I will probably have to make some compromises and I may still not end up with a ‘perfect’ figure but I need to try to get close enough.  So what I’m considering is using a Red ‘Friendly Casualty’ parameter.  The reason I’m using a Red parameter is I don’t want to go encouraging the Blue player to chase around the map zapping Red Forces so the only time they become aware of it is when they hit ‘Cease Fire’ or the game ends.

 

15 x Property Defenders

1 x Osama Bin Laden

24 x Compound Guards

24 x PSG

14 x VCP

6 x Police Commandos

41 x QRF

50 x ‘Never Arrive’ group

TOTAL HEADCOUNT = 175

 

First I need to calculate the percentage represented by Osama Bin Laden and his guards (headcount = 25) to give me a rough idea of what the number needs to look like and the magic number is 14.2% (ie the percentage represented by 25 of 175).  What I’m trying to do here is to create a figure just over this to generate some Victory Points.  The potential flaw in this of course is that the Blue Player doesn’t bump into any other Red Elements but this is mitigated by testing which indicates that this will be difficult for the Blue Player.  Working on that assumption, the Blue Player needs to kill 27 x Enemy to hit 15% which effectively means all of the Compound occupants plus two others.  This is achievable and if my assumption about it being impossible for Blue to evade without a firefight is correct it should help me balance the VPs better.  So the solution would be a Red ‘Friendly Casualty’ parameter of 15%, remembering that it is a ‘less than’ construct meaning that if Blue hits ‘Cease Fire’ after clearing the compound, Red will still grab the points.  However, I also know from testing that the Blue Player is likely to bump and probably zap one of the ‘Black Pathan’ Security Patrols shortly after sorting out the compound.  This group has a headcount of 4 x guys.  My new figure would therefore be 29 which is 16% of 175.  If I add one to that figure, meaning that the Blue Player would have to wipe out the compound occupants, the patrol and one other I have a figure of 30 which is 17% of 175.

 

So, after a couple of hours with the abacus and slide rule, I have come up with the following values …

 

Blue Objectives

Osama Bin Laden (Unit Objective 1) = ‘Destroy All’ 50 x VPs

Compound Guards (Unit Objective 2) = ‘Destroy All’ 25 x VPs

HLZ (Terrain Objective 1) = ‘Occupy’ 150 x VPs

 

Red Objectives

CIA Agent (Unit Objective 1) = ‘Destroy’ 60 x VPs

HUMINT Source (Unit Objective 2) = ‘Destroy’ 60 x VPs

US SEAL Team (Unit Objective 3) = ‘Destroy’ 130 x VPs

Friendly Casualty Parameter = Less than 17% 30 x VPs

Friendly Bonus = 30 x VPs

 

Now anybody with a calculator and nothing else to do will work out that these values are far from perfect but they are the closest I’ve arrived at without spending all day hunched over a calculating device.  The bottom line is that they are close enough to give me the desired outcomes based on the assumption that most people will not be satisfied with anything less than a Total Victory.

 

Finally, as I haven’t shown you how the parameters screen works, here is a screenshot of the inputted values.  Put simply, it is easy to use because all you need to do is input your desired values by clicking on the box and typing in the numerical values.

 

Adding Parameters.jpg

 

Now I need to test this to make sure that the values work.  This time around I’ve gone for Scenario Author Test Mode in WEGO because it is a long time since I’ve done a WEGO test.  While I will recommend playing it in Real Time, I know there is a hard core majority of CM players who won’t touch Real Time with a barge pole so I need to cater for this market.  Here are the scores on the doors:

 

Ceasefire at the point all of the Compound units were wiped out with 51 minutes on the clock.

 

Blue Minor Defeat 0 VPs vs Red Minor Victory 60 VPs.  Blue suffered no casualties while Red had suffered 17 x KIA and 8 x WIA.  Red achieved both the Friendly 30 VP bonus and the 30 VP Friendly Casualty parameter.  Note that although none of the Red Compound occupant units remained on the map, Blue did not get the points at this point because some of the casualties were WIA and both units were a ‘Destroy All’ objective.  To get the points Blue just has to wait until the WIA expire and to guard against buddy aid. I (fortunately) don’t have any Red units entering the Compound until after they should reasonably expect to die.

 

Ceasefire with 34 minutes on the clock after one security patrol had been engaged.

 

Draw with 75 Blue VPs to 60 Red VPs.  This time Blue got the full 75 VPs for the Compound occupants and Red still gained both the Friendly 30 VP bonus and the 30 VP Friendly Casualty parameter. Red had 22 x KIA and 6 x WIA

 

Ceasefire with 32 minutes remaining following other engagements with another security patrol and the VCP patrol.

 

Blue Tactical Victory and Red Tactical Defeat with 75 VPs to 30 VPs.  So this is the same as above apart from this time around Blue has inflicted enough casualties to deny Red the Friendly Casualty parameter.  Red had 27 x KIA, 11 x WIA and 1 x MIA.

 

Ceasefire with 13 minutes remaining with the Blue force on the HLZ.

 

Blue Total Victory with 225 VPs versus Red Total Defeat with 40 VPs.  Blue had suffered 3 x WIA, all of which were SEALs so not the high VP Spy Group and had inflicted 28 x KIA, 24 x WIA, 1 x MIA and 1 x BRDM-2 kill.  Blue achieved all objectives and had gained all of its possible VPs so with a ‘V’ value of 4.7 was well across the line.

 

Finally, the Objectives and Victory Point marathon is over and I can put away the abacus and slide rule!!!!  We’ll now move to what for me is the one of the more enjoyable bits of mission making – orders and mission graphics.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

With my closing comments about objectives and victory points you will have worked out that I am very pleased to be at this point.  Although I think that this is a more enjoyable part of the process it goes without saying that some due diligence is required.  I say this, not because it is key to how the scenario plays out or how CMSF works but because this is where you really convey your narrative and (albeit indirectly) interact with the player.

 

The preliminaries to this step (from my point of view anyway) are:

 

Narrative, narrative and narrative.

A solid understanding of timings.

A solid understanding of the AI plan(s).

A solid understanding of objectives.

A solid understanding of the geography.

 

As you can see there is a lot in the mix if you stick to the points above and this is why I never even think about writing the details of the orders and the graphics until I have a solid grasp of them.  If you have been following the steps up to now you will have worked out that I am fairly on top of these elements.  Predictably there is a bit more to it.

 

The bit more involves how you convey things to the player and I think this (in) famous quote from Donald Rumsfeld illustrates some of the considerations:

 

‘Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones’.

 

Strange you might think but actually not so strange because remember as a mission designer:

 

You know all the ‘known knowns’, the ‘known unknowns’ and the ‘unknown unknowns’.  So the trick in your briefings is to decide which are which for the player and how you convey these elements.  You also have to apply a degree of realism to how you convey that information in order to immerse the player in your scenario.

 

Fortunately, Battlefront has provided a formatted orders template which loosely replicates the standard military orders format.  Although it isn’t perfect, it does help you to structure your thoughts in a logical and comprehensible format.

 

Before we delve into that, first of all it is time to do a little preparatory housekeeping and the reason for this is that you can only import graphics and briefings from within the CMSF file structure.  By that I mean that if you save them in say your ‘My Documents’ folder, you will be unable to access them using the game interface.  To get around this problem then, I create a named folder in my CMSF Game Files folder.  Note this is done using your standard operating system interface (in my case Windows) and not via the CMSF game interface.  This will be where the mission brief and the graphics will get saved so that I can import them into my scenario at the appropriate time.  This screen shot shows what mine looks like and as you can see the mission is named Operation NEPTUNE SPEAR which was the actual name of the operation.

 

Creating Mission Folder.jpg

 

The mechanics of getting the orders template are pretty simple from here and are illustrated in the following screen shot.  In essence you crack open your scenario, go to ‘Mission’ and ‘Mission (Blue)’ screen, select the ‘Text’ icon and then hit ‘Export’.  This then throws up a dialogue allowing you to save the orders template in your newly created (in this case Operation Neptune Spear) mission folder.  If you are designing a mission to be played as H2H or by either side (not relevant in this case) then I would suggest differentiating between the two by giving them an appropriate name (ie ‘Blue Orders.txt’ and ‘Red Orders.txt’).

Orders Template Export.jpg

 

The actual process of writing your orders is done outside CMSF and the hard way is to type them straight into the template because it is in .txt file format making it really difficult to read because of the lack of format.  So the way I do it is to use my word processing program (in my case MS Word) to generate the orders.  This allows me to read them easily, run spellcheck and once I am done I can then either save the standard word.docx file in .txt format or if this feature is not available in your word processing program, you can copy and paste into wordpad/notepad or any other program that allows you to save as .txt.

 

First thing then is to open the exported file and copy and paste the template into word.  The following screenshot shows you what it looks like as .txt file.  Points to note are the mission headings and the ‘^’ characters.  The mission headings are there to remind you what should be written in the paragraph but can be deleted in your final orders because the headings are hard coded into the game engine.  However the ‘^’ characters act as paragraph breaks and should not be deleted.

 

Blank Orders Template.jpg 

 

Now onto the meat of writing orders and like everybody, I have my own style of writing orders, some people don’t like it and that is fine because at the end of the day what you put in there is entirely up to you.  However for what it is worth, I will give you my views on the subject as we go along.

 

Apart from my earlier thoughts about preparation and how to convey various elements of the brief, my overall philosophy is to closely replicate the military format for orders and this is because it adds to the immersion.  I want the player to think ‘hey, I’m a real life commander’.  Luckily for me, I have served over 30 years in the Army and am still serving so this gives me a bit of an advantage.

 

Otherwise, while I appreciate that not everybody wants to read walls of text, I always err on the side of detail to ensure that the player has all of the information they require to make a decent job of playing the mission.  I do try to balance it as much as I can but I will never sacrifice required detail and my personal view is that if you can’t be bothered to read more than a page of orders then perhaps you should stick with QBs.

 

Populating the headings is fairly simple because they are descriptive enough for you to work out what to put in them.

 

Situation:  Enemy Forces.  Clearly this is where you write about the enemy.  Where possible you should include a bit of background and then talk about the Who, What, Where, When, Why aspects of the enemy and give an assessment of what the enemy is likely to do.  You should aim to support this briefing on one or more of your associated mission graphics (ie the Strategic, Operational and Tactical Map).  Here is what it looks like …

 

‘The target is a suspect compound housing Osama Bin Laden.  The area around the compound has been under constant surveillance for a number of weeks now and the intelligence picture is well-developed.  There are 24 x armed occupants of the suspect compound.  Osama Bin Laden has been identified in the compound and is assessed to be located in the three storey building along with 13 x members of his security detail.  A further 12 x members of the security detail are located in groups of three in four of the single storey buildings.  These are all annotated on the Enemy and Compound 3D Briefing Model on your Tactical Map.  As the Pakistani authorities have not been informed of the attack, other armed actors, although not strictly enemy forces, are likely to react and engage friendly forces.  Potentially the greatest threat will be any Quick Reaction Forces (QRF) from the Military Barracks to the NE and the Police HQ to the NW.  Assessed strengths and schemes of maneuver for these elements are shown on the Operational Map.  In addition imagery has identified three other possible threat locations all of which are marked as landmarks and are shown on the Operational Map.  These are a Police Vehicle Check Point (VCP) on the road over river defile to the south of the AO, a guarded commercial premises to the NW of the AO and a guarded commercial premises to the SW of the AO.  Numbers are as follows, Police VCP total of 14 x personnel of which 6 x personnel patrol the vicinity, NW premises total 13 x personnel of which 4 x personnel patrol the vicinity and SW premises total of 11 x personnel of which 4 x personnel patrol the vicinity.  Finally, you should be aware that gun ownership in this part of Pakistan is high and you should assume that all homeowners will defend their properties.  Constant surveillance of the compound has identified some unoccupied premises which are marked as landmarks, assume all others are occupied and defended.’

 

Situation:  Friendly Forces.  In this paragraph again you should try to include some background to set the scene and then focus on the ‘Who’ and ‘What’ aspects.

 

‘Friendly forces comprise of two main elements.  The main element is SEAL Team 6 which numbers 26 x operators and is split between the two inserting Blackhawk helos.  Blackhawk #1 carries the Assault Team HQ, 1 Squad A Team, 4 Squad A Team and 5 Squad A Team for a total of 13 x Pax.  Blackhawk #2 carries 1 Squad B Team, 1 Squad C Team, 4 Squad B Team and 5 Squad B Team for a total of 15 x Pax.  Blackhawk #1 will insert just to the West of the target compound while Blackhawk #2 will insert just NE of the target compound.  The second friendly force element is an in-country CIA Agent and his HUMINT source.  They will move to a safe house to the NW of the AO and are expected to arrive in the next 15 minutes.  Due to collateral damage concerns, you have no air or other offensive support.’

 

Situation:  Terrain and Weather.  This paragraph is pretty much what it says on the tin – you describe the ground and weather.  Don’t forget that the player can crack the map open so one of the ways to keep your briefing short is to leave out the obvious stuff that the player can work out from the map.  When describing these aspects, the military focus on the EFFECT of the conditions rather than just describing them.  So in this mission rather than saying that ‘there is a stream’ I would say something like, ‘There is a single road crossing of the stream towards the bottom of the AO which will canalise vehicle movement’.  The military use a format called OCOKA to describe the ground:

 

O – Observation and Fields of Fire.

C – Cover and Concealment.

O – Obstacles.

K – Key or Decisive Terrain.

A – Avenues of Approach.

 

I don’t always follow OCOKA slavishly but just cherry pick the key elements as I see them for the mission.

 

Any weather data you include should first of all be consistent with the settings that you have put into the ‘Data’ screen. Otherwise, just talk about aspects relevant to the player so if there is artillery in the scenario it will be useful to tell the player the wind strength and direction so that they can plan smoke missions accordingly.  Likewise if it is going to be hot, you might talk about effects on heavily laden troops.  Here is the example for the mission …

 

‘AO TORCH is on the outskirts of Abbottabad, Pakistan and measures 944m x 992m.  It is a mix of flat urbanized and open terrain with an extensive road and track network.  Urbanized terrain provides excellent cover and concealment and good observation and fields of fire from upper building storeys and roofs.  The key terrain feature is the suspect compound housing Osama Bin Laden and his 24-strong security detail.  This is a triangular compound measuring 152m x 88m and is bounded by high walls.  It comprises 11 x buildings of which nine are single storey, one two storey and the main building three storeys.  Outside of the AO, is a large Pakistani Army barracks approximately 2km to the NE and a Police HQ a similar distance to the NW.  Both are within a 15 minute drive of AO TORCH and connected with good quality roads.  There is a stream (represented by trenches) running generally E-W across the majority of the AO.  This is crossed by roads/tracks at two points and canalise vehicle movement.  It is 0100 hrs with clear skies and a gentle westerly wind.  Temperatures are cool and the underlying terrain is damp.  Overall terrain and weather conditions are favorable to friendly force operations.’

 

Mission:  Overall Description.  This should be a short pithy statement which tells the player what they need to do with a few associated tasks.  I use the standard military format for this with the focus being the Who, What, Where, When and Why.  The US military (which of course is relevant to this scenario) writes theirs in the present tense so, to add immersion, I will replicate this.

 

‘SEAL Team 6 (Who) attacks (What) the suspect compound at grid 43S CT 37992 82306 (Where) no later than 0200 hrs 02 May 2011 (When) in order to disrupt the Al Qaida network (Why).’

 

Crystal clear neat and simple don’t you think?  Note that the ‘no later than’ time in the orders is aligned to the mission end timing.  If you recall I set the mission time as 0100 hrs and this will be an hour long mission (ie it will end at 0200 hrs).

 

Associated with that, you should list some tasks and these will be mission dependent but my rule of thumb goes back to making sure that the player knows what to do and I generally try to align these to the victory conditions.  So for this mission it will look like this …

 

‘Tasks:

Destroy the compound defenders (Destroy All 75 VPs).

Protect the CIA Agent and HUMINT Source (Destroy 120 VPs for Red).

Secure the HLZ (Occupy 150 VPs).’

 

It goes without saying that you need to make sure that the numbers are aligned to the VP values you have set and that you should add clarity to your mission and tasks by using your graphics to support the narrative.

 

Execution:  Commander’s Intent.  This can be a bit tricky to get right because you need to balance out telling the player what to do with actually letting them tackle the mission how they want to.  A doctrinal view on it is this …

 

"The commander’s intent is a clear, concise statement of what the force must do and the conditions the force must establish with respect to the enemy, terrain, and civil considerations that represent the desired end state. The commander's intent succinctly describes what constitutes success for the operation. It includes the operation’s purpose and the conditions that define the end state. It links the mission, concept of operations, and tasks to subordinate units."

 

I try to stick to the doctrine where relevant, but I also need to make sure that I put in some suitable game-specific hints.  Here is what it looks like …

 

‘This will be a three phase operation.  In Phase 1 SEAL Team 6 helo inserts onto the target and conducts a rapid violent assault killing all occupants.  Phase 2 begins with the compound cleared, and is the RV with the CIA Agent and HUMINT source and extraction to the HLZ for pickup.  Phase 3 is the clearance of the HLZ and the extraction via helo.

 

Key to success will be to balance stealth with firepower and friendly forces should avoid combat unless absolutely necessary in Phases 2 and 3.  The safe extraction of the CIA Agent and HUMINT source is key to the success of this mission.  Endstate is, the compound cleared and all friendly force elements safely extracted.’

 

Note that I have left a lot up to the player here – as an example I have not told the player where to RV with the CIA team or told them how to organise the force or what routes to take.

 

Strictly speaking some of the information above would sit in the next paragraph heading but I generally put most of the information that I need to get across before I get to the Basic Plan heading and I will explain why.

 

Execution:  Basic Plan.  As you will have worked out from the above in real life this would cover some aspects I’ve already included.  This is a style/design choice on my part as I want the player to work out their own plan.  However, if relevant, I will include some final hints and tips here.  Here’s what it looks like …

 

‘Your choice commander but you should consider the following factors to ensure success:

 

You have only the ammunition that you carry so only engage in combat when absolutely necessary once you have cleared the compound.  You can use your superior night vision capabilities relative to the enemy to achieve this combined with the use of covered arcs.  Linked to this is steering clear of buildings and compounds as this may draw the attention and possibly return fire from local civilians who will likely defend their homes.

 

The CIA Agent and HUMINT Source are lightly armed and are unlikely to be as physically prepared as your men so you should consider this in your scheme of maneuver.

 

In the event of the Pakistani Army QRF reacting you will need a contingency plan to deal with it.  Ideally you should avoid engaging it in combat but circumstances may force you to engage it at a time and place of your choosing.’

 

Finally, although not a formatted option in the CMSF template, I do like to tack on some designer’s notes at the end.  Actual content is mission specific but I generally cover a brief history of the event (if relevant) and mention some of the design challenges or compromises if I have drifted from actual historical events.  I may also suggest further reading for those interested.  Remember that if your designer’s notes contain spoilers then make it clear to the player.

 

‘This mission is loosely based on the real World events surrounding the successful SEAL Team 6 strike on Osama Bin Laden’s Compound.  The map and compound are derived from the real ground although some design choices have meant that I have had to go with close, but not actual, representations of the forces on both sides.  Some of these design choices are based on what is achievable in the CMSF mission editor.  Overall the numbers of the SEAL Team and compound defenders are close to reality.

 

Because an exact representation of the events of that night would make for a very short and fairly uninteresting mission, I decided to explore the ‘what if’ scenario of a reaction by local security forces.  Whilst not real, it was a possibility that was planned for as early as January 2011 and was reaffirmed at the National Security Council meeting on 19 April 2011 where President Obama directed VADM McRaven to ensure that the team was equipped to fight its way out if necessary.

 

This mission is dedicated to the brave men of SEAL Team 6.  I hope you enjoy playing it’.

 

A little point to note are that, although I am British/Australian, I am using US spelling eg maneuver vs manoeuvre and you will recall that I have written mission statement in the US rather than the British style. These are these little ‘easy win’ touches that add polish and immersion to your mission.

 

So that pretty much wraps up the orders part but not quite.  What I need to do now is populate the template and then import it into the mission.  First off then, I copy the template into word and then paste in my orders under the correct headings ensuring that I get rid of the headings as I go and I make sure that my paragraphs are delineated by the ‘^’ character.  Once I’ve done that I save the file as a text (.txt) file into the folder I created in the first step calling it ‘Blue Orders.txt’.  Once I’ve done that I go into the mission and import the orders as shown in this screenshot ….

 

Importing Orders Text.jpg

 

So that covers off on the briefing aspect – I will show you how to do Mission Graphics next although sadly I don’t know exactly when ‘next’ will be because RL is taking me pretty much off grid for a month or so. Please hang in there, when I come back up I will finish this off and be reassured we are nearly at the end of the road. For those that want to try mission making, I have already covered off on most of the key aspects.

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

This will be an excellent resource.  I am very much enjoying the read.

On 2016-10-28 at 3:57 PM, Combatintman said:

Now anybody with a calculator and nothing else to do will work out that these values are far from perfect but they are the closest I’ve arrived at without spending all day hunched over a calculating device. 

I have found this excellent tool to be very handy for all this:

http://cmmodsiii.greenasjade.net/?p=4236

I personally get tired very fast from entering values in to a calculator and risk not doing a complete job of setting up the point allocations.  @Ithikial_AU's tool takes a load off. I don't know if there are any differences in the way victory points are calculated in Shock Force compared to the other games that need to be considered.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
On 11/21/2016 at 10:51 PM, benpark said:

Great tutorial!

I like the exaggerating elevations tip you used in Google Earth. Very helpful for those areas that look "flat", but aren't. I'll be using this right about...now.

I am honoured that even I can teach a master map maker a thing or two - your maps are awesome already but if it helps then I am glad to have been of assistance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

So I have returned from what was an interesting and rewarding 5 month tour to Iraq, importantly I can now finally finish off this tutorial.

 

This post covers off on what I regard this as one of the more pleasurable aspects of scenario design because, along with the associated briefing, it gives you the opportunity to express yourself, ‘sell’ the mission and add immersion.  I find it quite sad that there are a lot of user designed missions out there that don’t have these graphics and I think one of the reasons, based on comments that I’ve seen on many threads is that people seem to be daunted by the process.  As I am about to show you it is really simple.

 

First off I’ll cover off on the basics as stated in the manual.  In essence the game is configured to allow you to import four different image types.  These are:

 

Scenario Image.  The manual describes this as your advertising pitch and this image will appear as the player scrolls down the scenario list looking for a battle to play.  This (as with all images) needs to be saved in bitmap (.bmp) format.  The image size for the Scenario Image is specified as 170 x 170 pixels.

 

Strategic Map.  As the name suggests this is designed to help the player start ‘dialling in’ to the scenario (for instance it could be a country map with a spot or a box showing where the mission takes place) however what you put here is entirely up to you.  Again this needs to be a .bmp file and needs to be 224 x 224 pixels in size.

 

Operational Map.  As designed, this would be one step down from the Strategic Map as part of ‘dialling in’ the player but again it can be used for whatever purpose you wish so long as it is saved as a .bmp and is 702 x 224 pixels in size.

 

Tactical Map.  This map is designed to be a replication of the playing area but again you can use whatever imagery or maps that you like so long as it is 952 x 350 pixels and saved as a .bmp.

 

So those are the basics regarding map types and their uses.  However, as you will have guessed from the above, you can be pretty flexible with what you do here and, as you will see, I will not strictly follow the Strategic to Operational to Tactical flow.

 

For me, the most important thing with your maps/graphics is to ensure that they support your Mission Orders narrative and help the player to understand the ‘Who, What, Where, When, Why and the How’ of the mission.  It is only once I’ve got this clear in my mind that I will decide how I’m going to organise my graphics.  Another key point is the relative sizes of the graphics and it should be fairly obvious to understand that any attempt to cram a lot of text or detail onto the Strategic Map (only 224 x 224 pixels) is likely to end in tears.

 

Although this is only my point of view, I do think it is good practice where possible to ensure that your graphics summarise the mission and importantly the objectives/victory points.  By doing so you give the player the opportunity to get a quick summary of what they need to do without picking through the briefing.  I generally do this as a side panel in one of my mission graphics.

 

Moving onto the mechanics now, generally you will need the following:

 

Presentation software (eg MS-Powerpoint).

A drawing program (eg MS-Paint).

A means of screen capture.  I’m told that it is possible to do PRT-SCRN in Windows 10 but if you don’t have it then you will likely need a third-party program such as FRAPS (the one I use).

 

That pretty much is it.  Going back to why I think some people put mission graphics into the ‘too hard basket’ is that they think they need some fancy image manipulation program such as Paintshop Pro and tend to back away.  This is not the case because when I tried to use one of those programs I thought ‘too difficult, there has to be an easier way.’  My method I think is easy and works for me just fine and I’ve yet to have anybody come back at me and say ‘your mission graphics are rubbish.’

 

Anyway, let’s get on with the mechanics and, while I’m not going to illustrate all four graphic types, I will show the Scenario Image mechanics first because this sits in a different menu area to the ‘map’ graphics.

 

So, remembering that the Scenario Image is a form of advertising for the mission designed to make the player want to play the mission, I need to use a suitable image to achieve that purpose.  For me, the obvious selling point of this mission is that it deals with the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound and he is a notorious and recognisable figure.  I think an image of Osama Bin Laden would therefore be a great Scenario Image.

 

First off then, I just need to find an image of Osama Bin Laden so that is a simple internet search until I find one I want.  I am going to use this image …

 

Osama Bin Laden Pic.jpg

 

As I am not going to add any annotations to this image, all I need to do is to copy it into my drawing program (MS-Paint), resize it and save it in bitmap format.  It will get saved in the folder in CMSF that I created when I put the mission briefing together.

 

So this is how it looks after pasting.  As you can see I need to crop the white space so that only the image is shown as indicated in the following screen shot.

 

Eliminating White Space.jpg

 

Once I’ve done that I need to resize it to the desired size and as this is the Scenario Image, it needs to be 170 x 170 pixels.  The following image shows you how to do this:

 

Resizing the Image.jpg

 

With the image resized, all I need to do is to save in the correct format and in the right place.  The next screen shot shows you how to do this.  Note that I have called the file ‘Scenario Image’.  In reality you can call it whatever you like but it is good practice to give it an appropriate name.  The key point is that you need to save it as a 24-bit bitmap (.bmp) file.

 

Saving the Image.jpg

 

Now, because this is a Scenario Image, to physically import it into the scenario we need to go into the editor and go to the ‘Mission’ ‘Description’ screen.  Once there, click ‘import’ as shown on the following image.

 

Importing the Image #1.jpg

 

Once you’ve done that, you will see your Scenario Image (or whatever you called it).  All you need to do is to select it and it will preview.  Once you’re done, save the scenario.  The following image shows what this part of the process looks like.

 

Importing the Image #2.jpg

 

So that is it for the Scenario Image.  The process for all of the other graphics (Strategic, Operational and Tactical Maps) is broadly similar.  For this scenario, I have decided that my Strategic Map will be the map I found on Wikipedia which shows where in Pakistan the operation takes place.  As I am not going to annotate that image this again is fairly simple.  First off, all I need to do is to resize the image to the correct size (224 x 224 pixels) and save it as a 24-bit bitmap file.  The mechanism is exactly the same as that I used for the Scenario Image.

 

This time I have saved it under the file name ‘Strat Map’.  The process for importing the three map type images in CMSF differs slightly from that of the Scenario Image because it takes place in the ‘Mission’ ‘Mission (Blue)’ menu rather than the ‘Description’ menu.

 

Otherwise it is pretty simple, all you do is click on the ‘Strategic’ box and the ‘Import’ button.  Once you’ve done this, you will get a menu similar to the one seen for the Scenario Image and it is a case of selecting the correct file and then saving the mission.  This is illustrated below.

 

Importing the Strat Map.jpg

 

In my method of graphics production I mentioned the use of presentation programs (such as MS-Powerpoint) and a third party screengrab program (such as FRAPS).  I use these programs to generate more complex annotated graphics or graphics that employ in-game screen shots.  In this instance I am not using FRAPS at all but if I were to use it all I would do would be to take my screenshot and then import it into (in my case) Powerpoint for further annotation.

 

My preference for annotated graphics is to use military symbology where I can but any graphics are fine so long as they convey the information required.  You will also see that I frequently use silhouettes of equipment or vehicles.  There are plenty of resources out there so I would urge you to find things that are going to make your graphics look good and really add zip to your mission.  They are not hard to find.

 

Now I’m not going to give you a masterclass in Powerpoint so I’ll let you work that out for yourselves suffice to say that it (and other programs) allow you to draw arrows, create text boxes and many other things besides.  The key point with annotations is to ensure that they are legible so use colours and font sizes that are big enough to be seen.  So in the image below, you can see my basic annotated image that I’m going to use to create my Operational Map.

 

Annotated Op Map.jpg

 

All I’m going to do now is ‘select all’ on the slide and copy and paste into my drawing program (MS-Paint).  Once I’ve done that, all I do is follow the steps described previously to resize the image to the correct size (702 x 224 pixels) and save it as a 24-bit bitmap, giving it the name ‘Op Map’.  From there I follow similar steps to those for the Strategic Map apart from the fact that I select the ‘Operational Map’ button rather than the ‘Strategic Map’ button.  Otherwise I import as before.

 

Creating the Tactical Map is the same as the above, apart from the image size (952 x 350 pixels) and the fact that you click the ‘Tactical Map’ button.

 

So, that is all there is to it – it is fiddly in places but not difficult at all and for this small amount of effort you end up with graphics which really add to your mission.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

Just read this thread; many thanks for sharing. I learned a few useful things. 

A couple of random observations:

1. with ops in an urban area even in the wee hours you might encounter a few civilian vehicles driving (parked vehicles would mainly be inside compounds), as well as local vagabonds (Spies) lurking about. Perhaps tempt the CIA agents to board a (friendly) pickup, but then need to deal with the roadblock. Not essential, I suppose a curfew might prevent traffic, but an interesting random factor.

2. For my Ramadi work, I made extensive use of the angled wall segment to create narrower apertures accessible to men, but not presenting a full sized gap for defenders to fire through.

3. Did the raiders black out the power grid in the district? or just the compound? Any ideas on how to account for streetlighting etc.? 

Cheers! 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 months later...
  • 6 months later...
  • 2 years later...
16 hours ago, civdiv said:

Yeah, CM is never going to adequately (not even close) simulate the Bin Laden raid. The raid is FPS stuff, not tactical combat. You can’t simulate alert level, etc. You get your assault squad waxed making a breach it isn’t (usually) really your fault.

The scenario this topic is based on demonstrates that Combat Mission has already very closely simulated the ground phase of Operation Neptune Spear.  The scenario designer invested many hours of research and design to make this scenario.  I've played this interesting scenario and it is excellent and highly recommended.

It sounds like you might have had problems breaching the compound.  There are a few different ways to execute a breach.  The breach can be setup so the breach team does not run through the breach.  Sometimes this "running through" is not appropriate.  The Tactics, Techniques & Procedures (TTPs) for breaching (and mostly everything else) are learned and improved with experience and reading this forum.  Less than optimal TTPs is not necessarily a reflection on the scenario but is often an indicator that the TTPs could be improved.  Which is part of the fun of the game.    

Below is a link to the scenario topic and below that is a link to the scenario download.  Highly recommended.   

 

 

Scenario download:

https://www.thefewgoodmen.com/tsd3/cm-shock-force-2/cm-shock-force/operation-neptune-spear/

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...