A Simple Scenario From Concept To Completion

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(Submitted by Poker ~ 03/12/04)


In this exercise I will try to show you the steps in practice of making a small simple scenario (click here to download).

Since this is as an example only, the end result will be a little skewed for game play, since I will try to incorporate as many examples of scenario design as I can think of.

Specific comments about decisions and options will be in Blue.

Specific comments about risks of scenario design will be in Red.

The Basics:

Well, the scenario making can be outlined as simplistically as this:

1/ Concept

2/ Map - Height

3/ Map - Terrain

4/ Plan

5/ Units

6/ Routing

7/ Extras – Conditions/Events

8/ Scoring

9/ Briefing

10/ Testing

OK, let’s begin:

1/ Concept – let’s make this a scenario where blue will assault an area held by red (Blue - Assault/ Red – Static Defense), but let’s throw a little curve ball into it and have Red mount a counter assault about halfway through (Red – Assault/Blue – Hasty Defense).

I think we’ll have this set in Europe, so desert terrain is out. We want some hills so Blue can have advantage at first, but we want blue to be in a compromising position when red counters, so we’ll probably want something flat just in front of the red defenses.

Why do we want blue in a compromising position? Well, if you were Red commander, wouldn’t you hold your counterattack until you had Blue in that position?

As scenario designer you have to be both impartial and an advocate for both sides.

It is a double-edged sword that is easy to slip off to one side with. In our case, we are going to favor one side more than the other, but that is in order to show more and varied parts of scenario design.

OK, we’ve got our basic concept, so let’s go and look at height maps for the right kind of terrain for our purposes.

2/ Map (Height) – Choosing the right elevation terrain can be as difficult or as easy as you want it.

You can take anything between picking elevation terrain at random and making the scenario adapt to it, or picking a very specific type of elevation terrain layout - It mainly depends on your familiarity with the height maps as to where to look.

If you are familiar with them, you’ll know that certain maps have large elevation changes (hilly), and some are relatively flat.

If not familiar with them, and you’re looking for specific elevation terrain, be prepared to spend hours opening the height maps and poring over the elevation contours in every corner and square inch of those maps !!

In out case we’re going to use the DEEPRIVERCT.raw height map.

We’ll select a portion of it that we want to use, and begin laying out our terrain proper.

3/Map (Terrain) – Using the Map Editor can be complex. It can also render your scenario unplayable !

If you create a realistic map, you’ll pay for it with lower framerates.

Remember, simple is sometimes better.

Realistically, most woods would have thinner trees around the edges, but the only way to simulate this on the map is to place individual trees around the woods edges – this will lower framerates, therefore, just use the "woods" button to place woods, rather than the "trees" button.

Adding bushes may be aesthetically pleasing but remember that the computer must draw each individual bush that you place – again, lower frame rates.

I tend to skip bushes in wooded areas, and only add them in desert scenarios where there are much less numbers of trees.

Roads should be placed with the terrain in mind – think about how roads are laid in real life – usually they wind around a large obstacle or sharp slope, do this in your map too.

Lastly, houses (really barns) – place enough to make it plausible, but not so many that it affects frame rate.

Draw small villages rather than big towns/cities.

OK, so let’s begin with making our terrain map:

Here, I’ve added trees and roads:



And here, some houses (barns):


NOTE: you can move objects by clicking "Select", and then clicking on the object – note in the picture I have highlighted a barn and can rotate it or move it as needed:


We can add ditches here to simulate BP’s for the defenders.:


OK, now our map is ready, we can go on to the next step, the Scenario Editor !!!

So, save your map – give it a title that helps remember what you’ve done – how about "Small Village"

The Scenario Editor – Parts 4 – 9.

4/ Plan

5/ Units

6/ Routing

7/ Extras – Conditions/Events

8/ Scoring

9/ Briefing

Plan – Here’s where you put in the graphics for the scenario.

Set your phase lines, text entries, deployment zones, etc…..

Here’s what I put in for Blue:

Note the deployment zone for Blue – it’s fairly large allowing them flexibility in their starting position.


Inserting the Deployment zone – Select your region, for deployment zones I usually use rectangles, then set as a deployment zone and change color to what ever you like



The boundary lines denote their playable field, and we’ll reinforce that by placing penalty zones just outside of those boundary zones.


The graphics give a general concept at a glance but leave the majority of the decision making to the player.

We will set this scenario up as Blue player vs. Red AI, so there is no routing to be done for Blue, but we will script everything for Red.

We’ll preplot some arty for Blue so they can assault from behind a smoke screen – we’ll link this to a trigger also so you can see how triggers can be used in game.

First set your trigger – select Control Logic from the top menu bar, then select Triggers,then select the trigger you want (we want Trigger 1) then click on it – it will enable you to rename the trigger (we’ll call it Smoke)

OK, your trigger is set.

Let’s select where we want to drop the arty – right click on the spot and a menu appears:


Now, let’s select the type of arty (smoke) and the options screen appears:

We’re going to use a simple option of "if Trigger Smoke is set.


Now all we do is set the options on the arty box:


Our general map is ready for Units – let’s look at the overall map:


5/ Units:

Red: Let’s give Red a platoon of BMP-1’s and a platoon of T-72’s to defend the village. We’ll also give them 2 platoons of T-72’s to counter assault with.


Blue: We’ll give Blue 2 platoons of M1’s and a platoon of M2’s to assault the village with.


Blue is placed within the deployment zone, this ensures they can be moved anywhere within that zone – if placed outside of a deployment zone, they would be unmovable at the scenario planning stage.

Red placement – we will place the BMP’s and the 1 platoon of T-72’s within the village, splitting the platoon up to individual tanks really helps with the scripting of a defensive position, however, there currently is no way to reform them through the AI, so remember they will be split for the duration of the scenario.

The BMP’s will be fairly static in hull down.

The T-72’s will also remain fairly static with the exception of 1.

The following is a good example of how to script a relatively good berm drill for an individual tank defending a ridge or network of BP’s such as we have in the town.

By setting 3 different BP’s and routing between them, we can give the illusion of numerous tanks if we interlock them with the BP’s of other tanks – 3 tanks w/ 9 BP’s makes one wonder just how many tanks are there.

Begin with the 3 BP’s and set them on defend orders, like so:


Then create a central waypoint that they will route through:

Now, draw individual routes to the three BP’s from that central WP.


On each route you will pull up the "embark if…" condition, and set the 2nd to last line:

We use the random number because we want a new computation every time the tank arrives at this waypoint.

We set the first route to be => 0 BUT < 35.

We set the second route to be => 35 BUT < 70.

We set the last route to be => 70, but <100.

This ensures about a 33% chance of any route being taken. You can adjust the numbers, in order to favor a specific route more, but the basics are the same.

This takes care of the routing to the BP’s but we must get our tank to return to the central waypoint after it has Been at the BP for a certain time.

This is done relatively the same way:

First we plot a route from each BP back to the central waypoint (make sure it’s in reverse), and set embark conditions on them

The embark conditions is simply that mission time is greater than 1 sec, and that the delay is 6 seconds.


A simple berm drill, but can be quite effective.

OK, we’ve set our tanks and BMP’s defending the village, now let’s set our trap

First we add a region called Trap.


Then we open a condition, rename it to Spring Trap and tie it into the region – we set the condition ton be true if there are more than 3 enemy units in the region.:



Now we route our trap units to embark if "Condition "Spring Trap" is true for at least 1 second:


SO, we’ve deployed our Red units, we’ve set up our trap region and set up our Trap condition.

We’ve roiuted our Red Trap units to embark once the trap is set.

Here’s our red plan as it stands:


Now we’re pretty much done with Red – We’ll give Red some low priority HE/Smoke just as a small helper, but I think Red is ready for its initial testing.

Let’s go back to Blue and refine the Blue tasking:

Since Blue is the player side, we’ll need to add in some radio messages, and some other tweaks to help with the enhancement of the scenario.

First let’s send radio messages when Blue crosses the PL lines

Set 3 regions – one for each phase line – long and thin works great:


Now select Control Logic/Events/event 1 – rename to PL Salt

Enter your radio message "Crossing Phase Line Salt" and save


Repeat for Pepper and Cayenne.

OK, we can call Blue ready for testing, now we can go on to the scoring.

The Scoring can be as complex or as simple as you like.

Remember, the more complex the scoring, the more logic you’ll have to use, and the bigger the chance for errors !

Let’s score this out of 100

Let’s give 4 points for crossing PL Salt – yeah, it’s a gimme, but what the heck !

20 points for crossing Pepper – mostly a gimme, unless blue really messes up !

56 points for capturing Lil Vil – The prize !!

Bonus 20 for crossing PL Cayenne !

100 points Total


OK, let’s see how the scoring table looks after adding these simple scores in:


Ok, now we’re ready to test – Firstly we need to make sure that the trap works, so we’ll put the defending red on hold fire orders, and see if the trap gets sprung by blue entering the trap region.

1 2

3

I set the blue tanks to run straight through to the village – they did so, and the red reacted as planned – I then put the fire control orders back to fire at will.

All seems to be in order – we’ll play test a few more times before it will be completely ready, but you should have gained the basics of a simple scenario from this exercise.

Lastly:

The Briefing:

I usually try and type out the briefing in txt format and import it.

Give the overall concept, then the specifics.

There is no right way to write a briefing, some prefer the military style, some a more stylized version – either way, so long as you convey the intent and the mission specifics, it really doesn’t matter.

Here is what I wrote for the Blue briefing:

Blue is tasked with taking the Village of Lil Vil.

You have 20 minutes to accomplish your mission.

Units assigned:

2 platoons M1 Abrams

1 platoon M2 Bradleys

Enemy resistance expected to be light.

Prep smoke for final assault on Village is available (trigger 1)

Arty available - HE/Smoke - Low priority

Scoring:

4 pts : Cross PL Salt

20 pts: Cross PL Pepper

56 pts : Occupy Lil Vil

20 pts: cross PL Cayenne


The Scenario will be posted as "Village Assault", and you may open and play with it as you wish. In fact I encourage you to look at the set ups and change things and see how it affects things.

Poker