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2010-09-18 New video: Troop transport Zoom

To better explain the battlefield troop transport, I've created a 5 minute video demonstrating multiple pickups and riding on top of vehicles (via the RHS's cargo system).

The video is created from a single mission and recorded in one single take. I'm really happy how much I felt part of a large meaningful attack on the town of Nur (as opposed to getting involved in some randomly generated small engagement).

Youtube video explaining Battlefield Troop Transport

PlannedAssault generates these missions for you to play or, if you're skilled with Arma2's mission editor and mission file, for you to build on. To support you with the latter activity, the generated missions come with comments in the mission file and script files, explaining the purpose of waypoints and triggers / sensors.

 

The mission shown in the video is available for download here.


William

2010-09-12 Battlefield transport planning, RHS cargo-system, Russian IFVs and infantry Zoom

Today's update to PlannedAssault is devoted to battlefield transport of infantry. Mod-team Red Hammer Studios (RHS)'s new add-on 'cargo system' was the main trigger and inspiration. RHS's cargo system adds exterior (roof top) seats to a select set of infantry fighting vehicles (BTR-70, BTR-60, BRDM-2), so infantry can be carried both inside the vehicle and on top of it.

Infantry in desert digital camo riding on top of BTR-70

Russian motorized infantry in desert camouflage

BTR-70 with designations and external stowage

To use the cargo-system in missions and carry infantry on top of vehicles, some scripting is required. I've updated PlannedAssault to generate for you all scripting necessary to make the AI mount and dismount exterior positions on the IFVs while using standard mounting and dismounting animations. This is in addition to PlannedAssault's support for mounting an infantry group across multiple vehicles of the tranporting group (by-passing the Arma2 limitation of loading an infantry group onto one single vehicle only). From now on, PlannedAssault generated missions detect the additional seats offered by RHS's cargo system and have soldiers mount on top when necessary (by default, infantry is loaded inside the IFV first).

 

The next transport improvement is the ability for a transport unit (a platoon of trucks or IFVs) to perform up to four pick-ups of infantry groups on their way to the form-up area or position tod defend. This is an improvement from the old situation where in generated missions a transport unit would only load one infantry unit.

The main benefits are twofold. First, being able to transport multiple units with single transport unit enables more efficient use of the (current) maximum of 8 units per mission since fewer transport units are required. Second, there is need for large infantry units that match the cargo capacity of vehicle platoon, resulting in smoother infantry behavior (Arma2's movement of groups larger than 10 men is slow due to the group AI's habit of continually maintaining a formation).

Takistani infantry and BTR-60 on the attack

The unit database has been extended with the RHS BTR-70 pack (Russian and Takistani units), and the RHS BDM-2. These vehicle additions are paired with infantry additions: SLAYER's Russian infantry units featuring the new digital camouflage uniforms (RF Motorized Infantry in Digital Camo and RF Mechanized Infantry in Desert Camo), and the Russian Airborne VDV (SARMAT Studio's VDV Commando Assault Unit Airborne).

For the Takistani forces, specific variants of the BTR-60PB and the BRDM2 with exterior seats were added to the unit database. As discussed above, this requires the RHS cargo system.

The final add-on is the Mi-28N Havok gunship.

Takistani infantry in and on top of BRDM2

Russian Mi-28N Havok gunship

Enjoying Takistan from the top of a BTR-60PB

In the web-based mission editor, I've further clarified the planning steps: mission generation or mission planning involves some 5 to 10 minutes of waiting (for you, and number-crunching for my computers). The 'continue' button originally present on the Planning step screen proved confusing and I have removed it..

 

With this update, PlannedAssault is at version 1.35 (web front-end) and 1.16 (planner).

 

William

2010-05-29 Units, units, units and manning vehicles with a different crew Zoom

A large update to the unit database: additional Bundeswehr units, Taliban fighters, China's People's Liberation Army, and more Russian aircraft. In total, the database for ArmA II now features 29 different mods/sources of units, and 542 different sections, squads, or platoons along with unit icons, description, camouflage indication and initialization if required.

Bundeswehr desert units with ISAF signs

Taliban units with (civilian) transports

PLA infantry and IFV with digital camouflage

I've added the Bundeswehr units that came with BWMod team's 1.6 update: infantry in 'steppentarn' camouflage, and vehicles in desert camouflage, both with and without ISAF markings.

 

On request of, and with help from folks in the PlannedAssault thread on BI's forums, Taliban units have been introduced (from SchnapsdroSel's 'Desert Mercs and Black Ops'). In addition to Taliban fighters, I've figured out the initialization and scripting to add a mortar team, several 'technicals' (armed 4x4 trucks) and transports based based on civilian cars and trucks. More on that below.

 

Another set of great OPFOR (red) units is offered by Fromz' 'PLA'. These Chinese People's Liberation Army units are available both through ACE2 (as ACEXPLA) and as a stand-alone mod (Operation Halfmoon PLA mod). The PLA units contain infantry, vehicles, IFVs and tanks with beautiful digital camouflage, and gunships. Additions scripting enables additional mortar and howitzer artillery units.

 

Gnat's Su-33 Flanker D carrier operations variant of the Su-27 Flanker and Rstratton's Ka-50 Hokum-A make up the final additions.

PLA artillery unit in action

Russian Ka-50 Hokum-A in desert camouflage

Su-33 Flanker-D in desert camouflage above Quesh-Kibrul

Manning vehicles with a non-standard crew.

The convention in Arma (II) is that a vehicle specifies, in its configuration, what crew it has. The upside of this is that you can drag and drop a working vehicle with matching crew in the game's mission editor, and it will look and work fine. The downside is that if you need that same vehicle with a different crew, for example a HMMWV manned by special set of 2005 US Rangers, you have a problem: the game's mission editor doesn't allow you to specify substitutions for the crew.

To create a HMMWV manned by US Ranger soldiers in your mission, you need to spawn empty vehicles, a separate group of soldiers and add a waypoint with script for the soldiers to man the vehicle. Things are even more complicated because Arma doesn't automatically 'formation place' empty vehicles in safe spots (so you risk placing a vehicle on top of a tree, roof or rock). Another problem is instructing soldiers to man a vehicle with multiple turrets designated as 'gunner' position.

 

Obviously, many things are possible in Arma and ArmA II with a good amount of scripting. And once the required scripts have been developed, the problem can be automated away, for example in a mission generator such as PlannedAssault. Hence the addition of Taliban armed pickup units in the database (SchnapsdroSel's addon solely provides armed pickup units for the Middle-east fighters, not for the Taliban).

 

The idea to use empty vehicles and man them with a matching crew was developed early in PlannedAssault's development. For example, the Arma1 database features UK Jackal units from one mod with matched with Stalkers's infantry. What I didn't get working until this update was proper handling of transport units. I could get a crew to man the truck or car and I could get another passenger group to mount the truck. However, everything would grind to a halt when the vehicle and passeners reach their waypoint to unload / get out. Both crew and passengers would not leave the vehicle.

This week I got lucky. When testing the Taliban units I took another look at vehicle assignments in the BI Wiki. And there it was: 'addVehicle'. Apparently, if you use 'joinSilent' to add vehicles to the group, vehicles still aren't completely part of the group. Replacing 'joinSilent' by 'addVehicle' removed the problem...

 

William