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Writing Scenario Briefings

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Greetings all,

I've begun collecting information and putting together an article on writing scenario briefings for Combat Mission, and I would like the help of CM players on the forum.

The article itself is going to be broken up into sections. The first will be on the basic characteristics of a "typical" briefing, and the second will be some more general thoughts on ways to write briefings - these are intended to be more of use to those who are relatively new to scenario design. The third section will include a number of historical examples - thanks to valuable assistance from John Salt and Michael Dorosh, among others - so that I hope to be able to demonstrate what an appropriate Combat Mission-level written field order would have looked like in the U.S., British, and German armies (any detailed help on Polish or Free French would still be appreciated). I plan to add an appropriate CMBB section to this last part in a month or so, if possible.

The fourth part is where this post fits in - I'm interested in hearing what the general public is looking for in a briefing. I considered posting a poll of some sort but I think that the "why" is as or more important than the "what," and I can get that better from a good discussion on the board. So with that in mind:

What are the most important elements in a good scenario briefing?

What are the major "do's" and "don'ts" in CM briefings, in your opinion?

I'm interested to hear thoughts on what things people are interested in seeing "up front" in the joint briefing, whether they actually read the briefings, etc. And by all means if you can think of better ways to ask the above questions let me know and I'll edit this post! smile.gif


Scott B.

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A good briefing can make or break the scenario. Besides "Setting the mood", so to speak, there are a couple of items that I find very valuable in the Initial briefing that both sides can read.

1. Display the best way to play the scenario.

eg. Allies or AXIS Against AI, PBEM or TCP/IP, addition men or bonuses if playing against the AI.

2. Terrain, weather, date or any outstanding features in the game.

3. Scenario version. This is not a must, but I have found this as good a place as any to show the version number.

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I don't like:

Misspelled words

Bad grammar

Lack of a briefing

Not telling me what side to play

I like:

Conversational Briefings

To the point without being long-winded

Historical background (if historical scen)

Date, time, weather, ground condition,

scenario name, revision number, turn number, type of scen (ME, Assault...)


[ August 28, 2002, 06:44 PM: Message edited by: Panther G ]

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Good briefings can increase the immersion immensely. Thus, I prefer it when the Allied and Axis briefings are written in a conversational tone, as though the player really is commanding his or her troops.

As Ryan mentioned above, spelling and grammar are important. If the designer doesn't take the time to spell check the briefings, what is the actual scenario going to be like?

If applicable, the briefing should also tell the player whether the AI should stick to default.

The thing I dislike most are briefings that are too complete, leaving nothing left to surprise the player during the actual game. Tactical intel. was rarely that good in WWII.

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I really like it when the briefings are written with a story line. One that not only gives you a feel for the situation, but immerses you in the situation surrounding the battle or op that you will be playing.

Too much information is not good, but statements like; "American recon units have been probing our positions near the crossroads" or something in that vein give you a realistic feel for the battle and also a hint as to where contact might commence.

Due to the fact that battles and ops in CMBB are planned to be in a larger battle area, a good briefing that immerses you in the situation will be all the more important.

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Thank you very much for your replies so far. Really, all I'm looking for is opinions, so there isn't a wrong answer, but running themes ought to be a strong clue in, so to speak.

What are some of the techniques that you've found lead best toward immersing the player in the scenario?

Any specific examples?


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Since I do not really do 'historical' scenarios, but prefer the sort of 'Anyday, August 1944' approach, I usually insert a bit of background in the general briefing on the actions of the real unit in the area portrayed in the scenario.

The actual briefing for each side is then usually a short story-telling approach to help immersion, in varying styles, depending how I feel any given day.

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My own personal preference is to not read fake-German, especially if the actual terminology is lost on the writer. ie A briefing starting out with "Good Morning, Herr Commandant" looks REALLY stupid if you actually know something about German Army rank structure and terminology. I agree with the others about setting the scene but not being too long winded.

It is a matter of personal preference which route you want to take - a detailed listing of forces in the briefing (as per the ones on the CD) or the use of deception or outright false information, even regarding friendly forces. Some feel it depends on the scenario itself, and how much a real commander in that position would be likely to know.

I would say that certain basic info should be in the first couple of lines, as per the ones on the CD, to include historial location, date, time and weather, and type of battle (meeting engagement, assault, etc.) though the last two are optional.

Oh, and Scott, I was going through my emails in the last week, and of all the people that promised me Australian and Canadian operational orders, no one has yet come through. :(

[ August 30, 2002, 09:22 AM: Message edited by: Michael Dorosh ]

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I am not as sprung on briefings as most, I tend to barely scan them as I really hate reading on the screen. Anyhow, this is what I like, and what I tend to do:

Overall Briefing: Keep it short and sweet. In no case should the 'meat' of the overall breifing go to page 2. Definitely get the best played as, etc., in there as well as all the standard info. It is basically advertising copy, IMHO, I want to put in 3 sentances to make a player want to play the battle.

Side Briefings: Keep it short and sweet here too. No more than 1 page if possible, definitely not mroe than 2. I dont care what the protagonist ate for lunch, I want some intel, my mission and my forces. I am not a big fan of the OOB in briefing, prefering the "XY company" style of relating forces.


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  • 2 weeks later...

To me, a briefing should give me, in brief, what information / intel the commander on the field would have at the time, and what the goals of the mission are.


1) Has the area in front of me been reconed?

2) How lond ago, by whom, to what result?

3) Am I tied in with other units on the flanks?

4) Why is this engagement important?

5) Is there armor in the area?

6) Are reserves available?

The briefing may turn out to be correct or incorrect (just as field info would), but it sets me up in a grounded situation from which I can make decisions, not just on a random field somewhere.

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