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.



2013-03-18 ArmA 3 Alpha support Zoom

With the new Arma3 alpha being released, here is the ability to generate Arma3 single-player missions right from your browser.

PlannedAssault supports infantry teams (including diver teams starting at sea), AI teams mounting and dismounting transports, AI mortar units, AI gunships and transport helicopters. Infantry teams are available in different sizes, and customized differently (plate armor and helmet carrying assault troops as well as cap and backpack wearing light patrol units).

Automatically generated briefing (Arma3)

Attack at dawn (Arma3)

Heli insertion (Arma3)

But... All of this comes with a big warning: Arma3 is 'alpha' for a reason: it needs testing, bug finding and -fixing. Currently in need of improvement are the automatic vehicle placement (trucks rolling over upon spawning in 'formation' on a slope) and vehicle AI (trucks getting stuck, helicopters not progressing to next waypoints).

MH-9 carrying infantry fire team (Arma3)

Ifrit and team leader scanning (Arma3)

Frogmen insertion (Arma3)

I'm supporting Arma3 this early to help test Arma3 thoroughly. I'm trying to keep up with the development branch. If it is your purpose to test Arma3, then PlannedAssault will help you. Otherwise, you're better off with PlannedAssault generating missions for your Arma2 or Iron Front while Arma3 gets rid off its rough edges.

AI diver team ingressing stealthily (Arma3)

AI crewed mortar with hostile gunship overhead (Arma3)

OPFOR hit by AI mortar strike (Arma3)

As the screen shots above show, there is a lot to like in Arma3: the weather, the infantry animations, kit customization, the built-in configuration viewer, and the use of well understood file formats for terrain (I just need help parsing the new road format).





2010-07-27 Takistan's Feruz-Abad area added Zoom

Takistan's Feruz-Abad area is now available for mission generation. The Feruz-Abad area is hillier than the Nagara Oilfields area and restricts vehicle movement to the shallower hills and valleys. The area is best suited to infantry units and less suited to large armored formations.

I've updated the terrain representation for Takistan (and for other Arma2 / Arma2 OA worlds) to make the planner better avoid steep hills in planning its maneuvers. As a result, maneuvers shouldn't cover terrain that is too complicated to traverse for the Arma's AI.


In addition, there's a problem I myself cannot avoid. For the time being, the Arma:OA AI has troubles moving around large rock objects. For example, the AI might get stuck trying to pass the road side rocks north of Falar. I've filed a bug report for this problem at dev-heaven's Arma2 community issue tracker. You might want to check that bug for progress and availability of a solution in a beta version if you run into the same problems.

M1A2 TUSK and SF HMWWV move up

US Army soldier on the run in Falar

Army fire team and SF HMWWV advancing together

Web front-end and planner have been updated to versions 1.31 and 1.14. Problems with incorrect class names for the M1A2 Tusk and BTR-90 also have been fixed.



2010-06-02 Even more units... and experiences from testing Island Panthera and Helmand Valley Zoom

More changes and additions to the unit database: Dutch special forces (KCT) and marines (MARNS) arrived with Aeneas2020 update of the Dutch Armed forces mod. The Bundeswehr units were strengthened with BWMod team's 1.7 release, adding a Wiesel air defence vehicle, and AMT's beautiful ATF Dingo 2A2 infantry fighting vehicle. Finally, from SchnapsdroSel's 'Desert Mercs and Black Ops'), Middle East freedom fighters and armed pickups have been added.

As usual, custom unit designations, manned vehicles and mortar units have been added through init-line scripting where appropriate.

Dutch KCT units in mixed camo advancing

Middle East freedom fighters manning a 'technical'

AMT's Bundeswehr Dingo 2A2 from the inside

Troubles testing Island Panthera and Helmand Valley.

Great battles require great terrain. For that reason, I'm looking into user-created maps that offer great looks, believable environments and enough space to host large maneuvers. Recently, I've tested IceBreakr's Island Panthera and Kinno's Helmand Valley.

Sadly, both maps seem to trap and topple vehicles so frequently that any generated mission featuring vehicles is doomed, with units waiting for stuck units to catch up. Helmand Valley lacks a bridge that the AI understands, and features a river with river banks so steep LAV-25's risk getting stuck in the river.

Island Panthera is based on the geography of NW Slovenia, but 4x down-sized. This down-sizing causes unnaturally steep hills, and ArmA's vehicle behavior suffers heavily: it apparently chooses to climb and descend these steep mountains but isn't able to prevent toppling.


My aim is not to blame the level designers (although less steep mountains, fordable rivers and proper bridges would help), or Arma (although more robust vehicle behavior would help) or myself (although a mission structure with less rigid synchronization between the units would help). I'm simply explaining why Island Panthera and Helmand Valley won't be supported anytime soon.