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Beta testers for new mission a la classic "Tanks!"


MDF
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So, I had been working on my own take on the classic "Tanks!" mission a few months ago, and this past weekend finally got around to putting the finishing touches on an "beta" version. Here's the mission description:

With a single tank, you must destroy the 9 enemy MBTs prowling your 5 x 5 km area of operations ("AO"). Principal differences from the classic version are:

-- REDFOR is scripted so as to provide a more dynamic and adaptive foe.

-- You may choose your vehicle from among the following:

M1

M1IP

M1A1

M1A1(HA)

M1A2(SEP)

Leopard 2A4

Leopard 2A5

Leopard 2A5-DK

Leopard 2A5A1-DK

Leopard 2A5A2-DK

Leopardo 2E

Strv-122

Challenger 2

T-72M

T-72M1

-- You also may choose to receive artillery support and/or UAV support.

-- You may choose whether REDFOR is equipped with Western or Soviet/Russian MBTs. REDFOR's equipment varies with the capability of the BLUEFOR vehicle chosen by the player. The Soviet/Russian-equipped REDFOR ranges from a mix of T-64A, T-72M1, and T-64B at the low end, to a mix of T-72B, T-80U, and T-90A at the high end. The Western-equipped REDFOR ranges from Leo 1A2, Leo 1A5, and M60A3(TTS),at the low end, to Leo 2A4,Leo 2A5, and Leo 2A5A2-DK, at the high end.

-- The terrain is more heavily wooded than that in the original Tanks! mission.

-- If you exit the AO, you will receive a text warning and will have thirty seconds to reenter the AO before you are destroyed. There is a safe lane to an ammunition resupply vehicle northeast of the AO. The lane is only approximately 50 meters wide, so take care not to stray outside of it. Furthermore, the safe lane negates only the penalty zone effect; you are not protected from enemy fire. The resupply vehicle is functional, and will replenish your ammunition within normal timelines.

-- Unlike you, REDFOR is permitted to move outside the 5x5 km AO. Therefore, unlike the classic scenario, you will be unable to fire into the AO from the high ground on its periphery secure in the knowledge that there is no threat to your flanks and rear.

Before starting the mission, activate the appropriate trigger ("Triggers" menu in F5 view, or "File/Triggers" menu from other views) corresponding to your main battle tank ("MBT") of choice and REDFOR's equipment. Do not activate more than a single MBT trigger, or the mission will immediately end in failure upon beginning the Action Phase.

In addition to your MBT, you may (if desired) select the trigger(s) for UAV and mortar/howitzer support during the Planning Phase. You may choose *either* 3 X M109A3 with smoke/HE/ICM *or* 4x120MM mortars with HE/smoke. You may not choose both. You may select UAV support either by itself or in conjunction with the choice of mortars/howitzers. The UAV is computer-controlled and flies a zig-zag pattern across the AO. You may employ its EO sensors (F2 view) and laser designation capabilities. Selection of each of these kinds of support assets, however, means that REDFOR will receive extra vehicles, which you must also destroy for mission success.

All vehicles carry the default ammunition types and quantities.

There is no scoring. To win, you must destroy all nine REDFOR vehicles before they destroy you.

FORCES UNDER PLAYER CONTROL: Single vehicle

COOP: Yes (single vehicle multi-crew)

HEAD-TO-HEAD: No

VISIBILITY: Daytime/clear

TERRAIN: Woodland

MAP: Wolfsburg, GE

MAP VIEW: Yes

MAP UPDATES: Friendly & Enemy

OBSERVER VIEW: Disabled

ARTILLERY: Optional

I'd be grateful if anyone can give this a try and let me know (1) whether it works on a technical level, and (2) your general impressions.

There is quite a large number of conditioned routes for REDFOR, so keep an eye out for Red vehicles that stop and do not resume movement for the rest of the mission. (If you could give me a 4-digit grid on any such vehicles it would be much appreciated.) Note that I had encountered an error whenever loading a plan, where the player receives penalty zone warning messages even when clearly inside the AO (or receives multiple such messages in immediate succession). Let me know whether you do or do not encounter any such problems.

More generally, this is a challenging mission -- even more so than the classic version. I have not come anywhere near mission success in numerous test runs (although I did not really work up any detailed mission plans; perhaps with more effort, the outcome would be different) Let me know if you think it's too difficult or, alternatively, whether the addition of resupply, artillery and UAV support options tilts the balance too far in the player's favor. Also, I'm a bit concerned whether the closer terrain (relative to the original mission) will make it a chore to hunt down the last remaining vehicle or two. Hopefully I've addressed that, but only the broader community can say for sure.

And, of course, any other observations or suggestions would be appreciated

Thanks!

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Looks interesting and pretty handy with the triggers to set up the encounters, good job!

As for nitpicks:

The UAV doesn't work because it's set to computer controlled which excludes the player from the commanders position.

Also, I didn't get a message indicating I destroyed all the targets, possibly because there was a enemy car sitting down in a forest outside the AO to the south.

And you might want to route more enemies near the starting location, and from different directions. I took a hit at the beginning which damaged a wheel and the suspension, so I sat near the starting spot and waited for the repair and ended up taking out all but three of the enemies before the repairs were complete.

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Thanks so much for your input.:drink:

The UAV doesn't work because it's set to computer controlled which excludes the player from the commanders position.

Ahh...the problem is that in the mission editor test mode, you can employ the optics from the F2 view even in computer-controlled units. I didn't realize that this did not carry over into "live" play outside the editor.

The UAV (and arty) were last-minute additions. My thinking on the UAV was that the user might get a bit overtasked having to deal with the tank and flying the UAV. So I figured I'd put the UAV under computer control on a reasonable route over the AO and allow the user just to use the optics whenever he deemed fit. Oh well. Easy enough to fix.

Also, I didn't get a message indicating I destroyed all the targets, possibly because there was a enemy car sitting down in a forest outside the AO to the south.

That's because I'm an idiot. I set the Red end-game condition to count "forces" instead of "AFVs." And I'm not good enough at SB to actually win this mission and detect this particular error.

And you might want to route more enemies near the starting location, and from different directions. I took a hit at the beginning which damaged a wheel and the suspension, so I sat near the starting spot and waited for the repair and ended up taking out all but three of the enemies before the repairs were complete.

It's always fascinating to get someone else's perspective. I actually had adjusted some of the original REDFOR spawn positions AWAY from the starting point: I was getting killed so quickly, I figured other users would get discouraged if they didn't have at least a bit of breathing space at the beginning. :bigsmile:

Also, the REDFOR starting positions are highly randomized. Every vehicle has five possible starting locations, each of which is distributed around the map. So, it may just be the case that they all happened to start far away (except for the one that hit you in the beginning).

REDFOR is scripted so that they will actively move toward you once you are detected. I'm a little concerned that it took them that long to find you. But the scripted "AI" doesn't kick in unless at least one REDFOR vehicle detects you. So, I suppose it could have taken that long before one of them stumbles across you and manages to survive long enough for his teammates to begin closing in.

It also sounds like you had a fairly easy time picking them off as they came after you, though. Compare to the original "Tanks!" (assuming you have played it), would you say this new mission was easier or harder?

Which vehicle/REDFOR opponent did you select, by the way?

A new version incorporating the UAV and (hopefully) the Blue win condition is attached for anyone else who cares to take a crack at it. Note that, unlike your MBT, you don;t get a warning if the UAV exits the AO (i.e., enters 100% destroy penalty zone).

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I went with the M1A2(SEP) vs. Eastern plus the UAV. If you've scripted the routes for the enemies to generally converge where the player has been spotted, I wonder if it's getting confused by the UAV?

I can't really judge the difficulty yet since, if the locations of the enemies are randomized as you mentioned, I quite possibility just got lucky. I'll play around with it for a while, and with different vehicles, and see.

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Downloaded it. Tried it. Major improvement over the original (nice as it was/is). Much more of a challenge, and a definite training aid for the CC/TC position. Had a bit of a lag problem with the binoculars, but that might just be my computer system. Made five hits, got two kills, and then the OPFOR got one and it was game over. I like it. Congrats! :luxhello:

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Devil's Advocate question.

What is to prevent someone hiding the tank in some gully, switching the engine off and then stalking the enemy tanks with the UAV and calling in ICM as and when targets are found?

Do you have to kill enemy units with main gun fire for them to count as kills for victory purposes?

I know its against the spirit of the mission but that may not prevent some in their quest to win. :)

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I went with the M1A2(SEP) vs. Eastern plus the UAV. If you've scripted the routes for the enemies to generally converge where the player has been spotted, I wonder if it's getting confused by the UAV?

The spotting logic uses an AFV criterion, so it shouldn't go after the UAV. <insert emoticon for "fingers crossed">

I can't really judge the difficulty yet since, if the locations of the enemies are randomized as you mentioned, I quite possibility just got lucky. I'll play around with it for a while, and with different vehicles, and see.

OK, well I appreciate any feedback you care to give based on replays. By the way, I just tried it again and managed to kill 8 REDFOR before I stumbled into a penalty zone and failed to get out in time.

Edited by MDF
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Downloaded it. Tried it. Major improvement over the original (nice as it was/is). Much more of a challenge, and a definite training aid for the CC/TC position. Had a bit of a lag problem with the binoculars, but that might just be my computer system. Made five hits, got two kills, and then the OPFOR got one and it was game over. I like it. Congrats! :luxhello:

Thanks for the feedback. :) The original, for all its merits, had nothing in the way of "AI" scripting. The opposition vehicles just traveled on a closed loop of "engage" routes and relied solely on vehicle-level AI. Here, I tried a rather different approach. Plus, on this map, there is much tall grass and shrubbery, and the terrain is relatively flat. This means, unfortunately, that enemy vehicles are often obscured from human view but can see through the obscuring vegetation. I may have to lower the height of much of the vegetation in the theme editor.

I haven't had too many frame rate issues, and it's a relatively small map with just a few units, so it could just be a quirk with your system. Strange that it happens with the binos, though. In past versions of SB, it was the thermal imager that tended to slow my frame rate (that, and looking in certain directions in certain spots on a given map).

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Devil's Advocate question.

What is to prevent someone hiding the tank in some gully, switching the engine off and then stalking the enemy tanks with the UAV and calling in ICM as and when targets are found?

The buried minefields in all the gullies should do the trick.:clin: Seriously, one could only do so much damage with this tactic because the artillery is on-map and has finite ammo. (I should have said this in the briefing.) And selecting these two augmentations will add two more vehicles to REDFOR, further straining the ammo supply.

Do you have to kill enemy units with main gun fire for them to count as kills for victory purposes?

I know its against the spirit of the mission but that may not prevent some in their quest to win. :)

I didn't know that there was any programmatic way to track kills by weapon type. Maybe this is only a feature of the military (non-PE version)? I know this data exists in the html reports, but I just looked through the conditional logic and scoring dialog boxes and I don't see any way to tap into this in-game in PE.

In any event, with a mission like this, which does not represent a real-world operation, I'm content to let people have their way with it. I did publish one earlier, more "serious" mission, and I have a few others in the works. With these, I might take a bit more umbrage if users are violating the spirit of the mission (and certainly would if it were a team vs. team MP mission). With this one, if they want to plink tanks with their own UAV/arty recce-strike complex, it's fine with me.

Edited by MDF
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I guess this is as good a place as any to ask this ( and, mind you, I am definitely NOT trying to start yet another "tank X can beat up tank Y" debate). I placed each of the player-selectable MBTs into one of five groups, representing the anti-armor capability of the vehicle (group 1 being the most capable and 5, the least).

Group 1

Leo2E

M1A2(SEP)

Leo2A5A1-DK

Leo2A5A2-DK

Group 2

Leopard 2A5

Leo2A5-DK

Strv-122

Group 3

Leo2A4

Challenger 2

M1A1

M1A1(HA)

Group 4

M1

M1(IP)

Group 5

T-72M

T-72M1

I'm reasonably comfortable with groups 1-3, but I could easily be mistaken about the compositions of 1-2. I need five groups; otherwise, I have to re-jigger some of the scripting, which is a PITA. I'm inclined to move the two Danish Leos down into Group 2 because I get the impression that the SB community views the 2E and SEP as the top dogs right now (I could be mistaken in that impression, for sure).

And by the same token, how would you order the following Soviet/Russian vehicles from 1 to 7 (not 1-5))? My current ordering:

1. T-90S

2. T-80U

3. T-72B

4. T-72B (early)

5. T-64B

6. T-72M1

7. T-64A

Ordinarily, I would have thought that the T-64s would be superior to the T-72's, given that the former equipped the GSFG and Category 1 western USSR units. In SB, though, the T-72B is significantly better protected and significantly faster than the T-64s, and also carries a tube-launched ATGM. So, unless the T-64 has other less well-documented advantages, I'm inclined to rank them as shown.

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Here's a Leo 2A4 vs Eastern tanks run on v0.51:

AAR & report: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzS6i2JCDwdtdzd2T0V1aXViYW8/edit?usp=sharing

Cool! I feel like a famous Hollywood producer now.

Was this a playthrough using the original version of the .sce I posted? I thought I had fixed the bug where the mission doesn't end despite killing all REDFOR tanks. So, if this is from the revised .sce, I'm going to jump off a cliff.

Also, the fact that you have beaten the mission twice in a row and I can't do so even once is not helping my self-confidence.

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It's the 0.51 version, not the newest 0.52, as I recorded that yesterday evening, before you posted the newest one.

Phew!! Because v.0.52 has a Red end-mission condition of (operational Red AFVs < 1 ) AND ( immobilized Red AFVs < 1 ). So, that should have ended the mission notwithstanding the presence of the automobile. (I'm assuming, without verifying, that satisfaction of the Red end-mission criteria will terminate the mission even if you're playing the Blue side.:confused:)

BTW, the auto is only in the mission because all RED AFVs have a spawn-if condition, and the mission editor requires that every party have at least 1 unit on map at the very beginning of the execution phase.

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(I'm assuming, without verifying, that satisfaction of the Red end-mission criteria will terminate the mission even if you're playing the Blue side.:confused:)

Well, this assumption proved to be wrong. Attached is a new version.

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Thanks! much appreciated.

The scripting was actually more tedious than complicated. This particular project began as a proof-of-concept for some thoughts I had regarding REDFOR top-level command "AI". Once the basic idea was in place, it was just a question of execution with hundreds of conditioned route segments. Watching this AAR, I can already see some REDFOR unit behavior I'm not thrilled about (e.g., in several places, they kept going around the same circuit of routes multiple times). It had sort of a "Pac-Man" quality to it. Not looking forward to fixing those kinds of issues.

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