2012-12-23 Iron Front: honorable mentions in mission making competition, 1.05 patch, D-Day DLC, improvements Zoom

Hurrah! I participated in the December 2012 "Iron Front Mission Maker Competition 2012" with a PlannedAssault generated mission with surprising results. I received honorable mentions, a free D-Day DLC for Iron Front, and the opportunity to include the mission in the next Iron Front patch. Not bad for a computer generated mission, is it? And congrulations to the three winners!

Here at PlannedAssault you now have the same means available as I used to create and submit my entry. The mission I submitted was unedited, straight from PlannedAssault. I've now been asked to edit it slightly to support translations (to German and Russian), and to replace Waffen-SS by Stormtroopers.

Waffen-SS infantry mounting Tigers (IF44)

Soviet Lend-lease M4A2 Sherman destroyed near Gagolin bridge (IF44)

StuG-IIIs carrying infantry (IF44)

This week, I've updated PlannedAssault's support for Iron Front with the following. First, the Tiger Ausf.E tank and the StuG-III capability to transport infantry have been added (as introduced in Iron Front's patch 1.05). Second, I've added the Baranow Gagolin area centered around the ponton bridge across the Wisla river. Although crossing bridges isn't one of the Arma2 AI's strenghts, AI units are able to cross the pontoon bridge, albeit slowly and with some losses.

Third, I've added support for SofD's improved explosion effects, one of the few available add-ons for Iron Front. You can select it from the optional add-ons when creating a mission.

Fourth, since all of Iron Front's Wehrmacht tanks were designed with destructible body parts (notably the skirts and fenders, additional armor plating on the turret, and spare track links on the hull), I've added a script that makes those tanks drop a couple of parts at the mission's start, to reflect wear and tear from transport and combat, and scarcity of spare parts.

US Ranger squad advancing from the beach (IF44)

A P-47D Thunderbolt over Normandy's coast (IF44)

US tanks and infantry advancing (IF44)

Furthermore, I've added support for the new units and terrain from the D-Day DLC for Iron Front. The DLC offers US units, two additional Lend-lease vehicles for the Red Army (the M3 White halftrack and the M4A2 Sherman) and almost all of Omaha beach (beaches Dog White through Fox Red and the corresponding in-land area).

For the US Army I've added all units to the PlannedAssault unit database. I've also defined Ranger squads (see screen shot) with the 2nd Ranger Battailon orange diamond markings on the back of the helmets and blue emblems on the upper left arm. The game solely features the diamond with vertical 'officer' stripe, and lacks the NCO and private variants, so all units currently have the 'officer' stripe behind the ranger marking.

For mission generation, solely the in-land terrain is available. This is because PlannedAssault today doesn't support amphibious landings, and the Iron Front / Arma2 AI vehicles struggle to navigate the beach's obstacles.

Mark IV and Tiger E tanks showing wear (IF44)

The ponton bridge near Gagolin (IF44)

Tiger Ausf.E engaging distant threats (IF44)

Finally, I've fixed a number of bugs that arose from planning missions for Iron Front. Unique to Iron Front is that virtually every tank is also able to transport infantry, which generates way more options for the planner to consider. In some cases, the planner hit its limit (1600 steps) and aborted without an explanation. This is now fixed, both with an explicit message and smarter pruning of bad transporter & cargo combinations.

Another bug caused mission planning to fail when static weapons (such as anti-tank guns) were being placed close to the objective to defend. This has also been fixed.