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2010-01-08 Arma II support: new task assigned Zoom

Another large update: PlannedAssault now supports Arma II in addition to Armed Assault. This post details what is supported, what's been added to the mission generator, and what is left for future updates.

 

The following areas were picked for mission planning.

  • 'Vybor': The smooth and rolling hills surrounding Vybor make great tank country, and are ideal for large armor maneuvers.
  • 'Chernogorsk': the city of Chernogorsk and the hills north of it offer opportunities for infantry to sneak up on armor.
  • 'Utes main island': the island isn't big, but still great for infantry fights.

I've experimented with Chernarus' northeast area (Krasnostav - Olsha - Guba bay). The ArmaII AI isn't successful in finding paths from Guba bay to Krasnostav for vehicles, probably because of the dense forests. Missions in that area are likely to dissappoint, so I've not added Kranostav area.

 

Parsing the ArmaII maps wouldn't be possible without Mikero's work on PboDLL. The PboDLL source code and adapted LZO library provided all the information necessary to adapt my ".wrp" parser for OWRP24 files. Great job!

Vybor's rolling country side

Chernogorsk city between the sea and the hills

Utes island

ArmaII offers the player a more structured briefing and details the tasks towards mission completion for the player's group. Especially these tasks are a great means to instruct the player on what is expected of his group, as part of a larger coordinated attack. I've extended PlannedAssault's mission generator back-end to generate tasks for all the groups on the player' side, and update the current task based on waypoint progress. The briefing and tasks also reflect team switches, which is illustrated below.

Briefing in ArmaII's diary format.

New task assigned to Bravo on dismounting Delta's LAV-25s.

Tasks for Bravo USMC infantry squad.

Tasks for Charlie USMC LAV-25 IFV section.

Tasks for Echo USMC M1A2 tank section.

Tasks for Foxtrot USMC Avenger air defense section.

An example mission showing the use of briefings and (dynamic) task assignments as part of the generated mission can be downloaded here.

 

For Armed Assault (Arma I) missions, PlannedAssault uses 'Mando Bombs Arma' scripts for fixed wing ground attacks, and Viper's artillery mod for artillery missions. For Arma II, at this time of writing there are no means to make aircraft perform one or two CAS runs before returning to station. The standard 'seek and destroy' OFP/Arma/ArmaII waypoint behavior makes aircraft linger above the hostile forces until all threats have been taken out, even if the aircraft has run out of its main weapons to engage ground targets. That's not a sound way to deploy multi-million dollar aircraft.

 

To address this (and the absence of Mando bombs for Arma II), I've added a small script that supervises aircraft on a 'seek and destroy' task and sends them back to station after a given number of bombs and/or ATGMs have been fired.

 

Artillery support is now integrated in Arma II via the module system. I've post-poned supporting modules for this update (but look forward to dealing with modules soon).

 

The planner and web site now run versions 0.99 and 1.0.3 respectively.

2009-11-21 Multi-pronged and flanking attacks Zoom

After an upgrade of the AI attack advisor, PlannedAssault creates multi-pronged attacks including flanking attacks. Choosing a two pronged attack, flanking or straight, is as easy as picking the corresponding type of 'Clear' objective.

For a two group attack, the planner looks to the positions of ground combat units and transports in order to determine the groups. You control group assignment by placing units close to those units with whom it should form a group, and far from other units.

 

Fire support units, such close air support and artillery units, are not split across the two groups and thus can freely be placed on the map.

With the groups chosen, the planner splits the objective into just as many objective areas as there are attack groups. For each group, the planner will construct multiple avenues of approach into the objective area, taking into account formation width and attack direction relative to the main attack. Finally, the planner will evaluate the combinations of each group's avenues of approach, and pick the most optimal one, based on criteria such as separation (we don't want the groups to run into each other during the attack) and relative approach angles.

Technically, the AI attack advisor is capable of N-group attacks, with multiple direct and flank attacks. For the time being, the advisor is locked down to N = 2, thus just two prongs. Three and more prongs consume more compute power, and offer little benefit for 8-unit missions.

 

A zip file containing the three variants of this mission (with the player being an observer) is available here. Vanilla Arma suffices to run this mission.

 

The planner and web site now run versions 0.97 and 1.0.2 respectively.

2009-08-09 British Forces Added (with Preview Mission) and the Unit Database Explained Zoom

Although PlannedAssault for me is primarily about planning attack and defense, there simply are no interesting missions without interesting forces. Luckily, the Armed Assault community has fostered many great models for soldiers, vehicles and aircraft.

The screen shot above shows the database entry for a Jackal manned by british infantry.

 

PlannedAssault's unit database turns these individual units into sections, squads and platoons as follows:

  • first it lists all relevant individual units, sometimes along with 'init' modifications to create a missing configuration such as a Javelin equipped soldier
  • second, it lists all groups (sections, squads, platoons) and the units they are composed of. The groups are described with additional properties such as unit icon, camouflage pattern, and tags indicating the group's capabilities to the planner.

Things get a bit more complicated when trying to combine infantry from one mod and vehicles from another mod (for example, to man a British Jackal MWMIK 'jeep' with British infantry). If the vehicle comes without a dedicated crew (which is the typical case), ArmA mans a vehicle with the default crew for the vehicle's side. For a 'BLUFOR' Jackal, that would be the default 'BLUFOR' crew consisting of US Army grunts. To prevent ArmA from manning a vehicle with incorrect crew, the vehicle should be spawned empty in the mission, and subsequently be mounted by the right crew (using a scripted waypoint).

 

PlannedAssault is handling all of this, supporting 'empty' vehicles in the unit database and generating matching scripted waypoints as part of the mission. The results is shown below:

British units have been added to PlannedAssault's unit database for StalkerGB's British Infantry mod, UKF Team's Jackal MWMIKs, and RKSL's Westland Lynx helicopters.

 

A preview mission is available here (42kB), putting you in the role a forward positioned British sniper section.

 

As part of the update, the versions 0.96 and 1.00 of the planner and web server have been installed.

2009-08-04 Armed Assault 1 maps, a domain and a quad-core planner! Zoom

Finally, I've been able to parse Arma 1 maps and generate a corresponding terrain database for the AI mission planning. Now available are the Cayo and Somato areas on South Sahrani (one of Arma 1's official maps). Also supported is Opteryx's map Afghan Village; it's a beautiful map but very small (2.5km squared). The small size makes it less suitable for fixed wing aircraft (which cannot be spaced out beyond visual range), but hey, feel free to create the mission YOU like!

 

Support for 'vanilla' Armed Assault has been improved are additions to the unit database, with large dismounted platoons, Javelin equipped US Army grunts and correctly sized Russian armor formations.

 

Thanks to Mikero for documenting the OPRW17,18,20 file formats at Bohemia Interactive's wiki, and thanks to Bohemia Interactive for being this open about their game and technology!

In addition, the website and planners are now run by a dedicated quad-core server (after first being hosted from on Amazon's EC2 cloud). This move should result in shorter planning times.

 

The planner and web server have been updated to versions 0.95 and 0.99 respectively.