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2014-03-09 AIGameDev interview, Arma3 aircraft add-ons Zoom

Tonight, Alex Champandard (AIGameDev.com) and myself will be talking about the type of planning used here at PlannedAssault, in a interview broadcast by AIGameDev.com.

As usual, the interview will be recorded and made available to AIGameDev members for viewing at a later time.

AIGameDev interview on Planning at PlannedAssault

A Sukhoi Su-35S just took down an hostile aircraft (Arma3)

F-18F being taken down by a Su-35S (Arma3)

Deadly skies above Altis (Arma3)

The F-18F (Arma3)

An A-10C Thunderbolt riddled with bullet holes (Arma3)

As the screenshots above show, I've spiced up the PlannedAssault unit database with a few Arma3 aircraft add-ons. This will enable you to create lively skies in your Arma3 missions, regardless whether you play a ground-hugging armor commander, a Stinger equipped air defence specialist, or a fighter pilot.

New are the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Su-35S 'Flanker-E', both by John_Spartan & Saul, and the A-10C Thunderbolt II by Peral.

 

William

2013-10-27 Mechanized attacks: dismount on contact, behind smoke screens (Arma2*, Iron Front, Arma3) Zoom

Ever played a mission as a soldier, boxed into a claustrophobic APC/IFV, without seeing where you go? And then being ordered to dismount, disembarking into confusing situation with bullets flying and smoke obscuring much of the situation?

Now you can! And with your favorite units in any Arma2, in Iron Front:Liberation 1944, and in Arma3.

AI commander orders to dismount from Stryker (Arma2)

Covered by the Stryker's smoke screen, infantry dismounts (Arma2)

Armor advancing behind an infantry screen into town (Arma3)

Until today, PlannedAssault offered one flavor of ground attacks: dismounted attacks. Infantry might have traveled with trucks, APCs, or IFVs to the form-up point, but they always would continue on foot, advancing to the objective and attacking through the objective.

 

Panzergrenadiers riding their panzers for speed and protection (IF44)

Wehrmacht tank riders disembarking, throwing smoke grenades (IF44)

Wehrmacht tank riders advancing after disembarking (IF44)

Now, a second flavor of ground attacks has been added: mechanized attacks. For teams with with sufficient space in the armored personnel carriers (APCs, IFVs) to transport the infantry, PlannedAssault will now prefer to mount the infantry early in the mission and start the attack with infantry still mounted. This will result in faster, more exciting missions, and in engagements that start quicker and more violent.

The infantry will be kept mounted all the way to the objective, unless threats are spotted within 400m (RPG range, 300m for WWII). When close-by threats are spotted, the APCs/IFVs will order their infantry to disembark and the infantry will screen ahead of the armor to suppress anti-tank teams / guns.

Once at the objective, the infantry will disembark if it didn't do so already. The infantry and armor will continue to attack abreast.

A grenade smoke screen concealing infantry dismounting (Arma3)

A vehicle smoke screen concealing infantry dismounting (Arma3)

Modern Russian Federation MSV infantry dismounting at dusk (Arma2)

When the infantry is ordered to get out on contact, they will be given a smoke screen to conceal their dismounting. When the APCs / IFVs are equipped with smoke launchers*, the vehicles will provide the smoke screen. When the APCs lack smoke launchers, the first infantry men disembarking will throw smoke grenades to conceal their fellow dismounts during the dismounting.

These smoke screens add a lot to the battle.

RHS's Armed Forces of the Russian Federation MSV BTR-70 (Arma2)

MSV infantry and their BTR-70 advance together (Arma2)

Mechanized infantry disembarking under smoke in an ambush (Arma2)

The Arma2CO unit database has been updated with armor and MSV infantry for the RHS Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.

 

William

 

*: At this time, Arma3 vehicles are still very prone to getting stuck, halting the movement (and mission).

**: Many APCs / IFVs in Arma2 and IF44 lack the configuration to use their smoke launchers: you can see the launchers on the vehicle models, but you cannot fire them (and neither can the AI). Specifically many of the P85, BWMod, RHS APCs lack functional smoke launchers.

2013-10-12 Close-air-support for Arma3 (F-18, Buzzard) and Arma2CO (F-18, F-14, Typhoons) Zoom

This week increases choice in close-air-support for Arma3 and Arma2CO missions. The (default Arma3) FAA A-143 Buzzard and John Spartan and Saul's F/A-18 Super Hornets (USMC and US Navy liveries) are now available for Arma3 missions.

 

For Arma2CO, the Cold War F-14B Tomcat (in US Navy and Iranian air force liveries) and modern day F/A-18 Super Hornets (USMC, US Navy, ADF liveries) and Eurofighter Typhoons have been added (RAF, Luftwaffe, Luftstreitkraefte, Aeronautica Militare, Ejercito del Aire liveries).

USMC F-18F over Poliakko (Arma3)

Close air support from a ground perspective (Arma3)

USMC F-18F launching an Maverick missile (Arma3)

Especially the Arma3 screen shots show the planes in all their beauty, against the backdrop of Altis island.

RKSL Spanish EuroFighter C.16 turning (Arma2)

RKSL Spanish C.16 Eurofighter Typhoon (Arma2)

Iranian air force F-14 Tomcat (Arma2)

Sadly, the Arma3 FAA A-143 Buzzard is very unreliable in hitting its waypoints. At this time, I recommend against using it in missions. Please vote this issue up to get the problem fixed.

US Navy F-14B Tomcat (Arma2)

AAF A-143 Buzzard over Altis (Arma3)

AAF AMV-4 Gorgon unloading dismounts upon contact (Arma3)

On the ground the Arma3 FAA also have been given their AMV-4 Gorgon (Pandur II) IFV. Also, the PlannedAssault unit definitions for the US Military Mod (80s, 90s) have been updated to fix incorrect helmet textures and newly added unit badges.

 

William

2013-09-28 Arma 3's Altis and annoyance at AI vehicles' inability to unstick themselves Zoom

Arma3 has been recently been released as a product. And at PlannedAssault, support for Arma3 and Arma3 community add-ons is increased step-by-step. Today's update contains improved map graphics and terrain understanding, a piece of Altis terrain for mission generation, all new NATO and CSAT armored vehicles, and working AI artillery mortar sections, self-propelled howitzer platoons and missile launcher batteries.

NATO M4 Scorcher mobile mortar system firing (Arma3)

NATO M4 Scorcher firing by night (Arma3)

NATO MLRS firing missiles (Arma3)

Now I have figured out how to interpret Arma3's road data (geodata .shp files), I have improved the Stratis map graphics with roads. More importantly, the mission generator now understand where roads (and corresponding maneuver space) is, yielding better combat plans.

 

A first part of Altis is now available for mission generation: the plains around Poliakko, touching Altis's inner bay. The Poliakko area is famous for its agricultural produce, and offers good mobility for all forces (assuming they are capable of doing so - see below).

 

Just as for Arma2, PlannedAssault generates pre-planned and on-call artillery missions using AI mortar, self-propelled howitzer or missile launcher groups. With a wider range in ammunition, the results are stunning (pun intended). The screen shots above clearly demonstrated Arma3's improvements in rendering, weather, and particle systems.

Runs 1 and 3 out of 4: vehicle stuck at on runway lights (Arma3)

Run 2 of 4: tank stuck on tree (Arma3)

Run 4 of 4: tank stuck on rocks (Arma3)

Arma3 shows less improvements, perhaps even steps back compared to Arma2, in AI vehicle behavior. Even for simple terrain movements, a AI vehicle platoon is very likely to get stuck on a simple obstacle, and remain stuck indefinitely. This "being stuck indefinitely" makes any mission including vehicle movement less likely to play out as intended by the mission designer (be it a human designer or an automatic mission generator such as PlannedAssault), resulting in a poor experience for the game player.

Although there might be mitigating factors (small AI team at BI Studios, the commercial need to launch prior to Battlefield 4), I am seriously annoyed to see a (non-beta) product being sold with these kind of problems. You can help focusing attention to the problem by voting this issue up at BI's bug tracker.

 

William