2012-02-18 Reverse slope and concealed form up positions Zoom

PlannedAssault now produces mission plans with much improved attacker form up positions. By forming up out of view from defending forces, the attacker is able to assemble without disturbance and launch a coordinated attack from there more often. This makes defending also more interesting.

Forming up is an essential part of a coordinated attack. Units move to a joint form up area in order to line up with other units. In the form up area, they'll hide and wait until all units are ready to attack. From the form up area, they advance in formation to the objective.

Old: Badly chosen form-up position in full view of the defenders (VBS2)

New: Challenger troop and Warriors in a concealed form-up position (VBS2)

New: US Army mechanized team forming up behind a ridge before attacking Prigorodky (A2)

In earlier versions of PlannedAssault's mission planner, it was pretty random whether attacker units would form up out of view or they would be spotted (and engaged) by the defenders. See the first screen shot above for such an example.


The improvement is due to the planner now trying hard to select form up positions that are concealed from the objective and its (likely) defenders, by identifying reverse slope areas, by identifying areas concealed by trees and or buildings and checking these for accessibility. First results are very promising (see the second and third screenshots from the 'new' planner's missions above).


The diagram below provides some insight in the analysis steps to select form up positions. The situation involves an mechanized team in Chernarus, positioned just south of Kozlovka, tasked to assault the village Prigorodky, some 3km to its east. To do so, the mechanized team will move to and assemble in a form up area some 1.5km west of its objective, shake out in line formation and start its attack.

Tactical terrain analysis to pick a company form-up area

To select the form up area, the mission planner analyzes a larger area for its accessibility. The attacker units should be able to move easily into the form-up area, and easily move out to start the attack, so empty and flat positions near roads are preferred over positions with buildings, dense trees or other obstacles.


The larger area is also analyzed for providing concealment, as seen from the objective. Buildings and dense trees provide concealment. The terrain itself may also offer concealment in the form of reverse slope positions, so the terrain is analyzed for these.

The analysis results for accessibility, concealment and reverse slopes are combined, and from this most suitable form up position can be identified. This is illustrated above, with black dots indicating poor scores, and bright yellow dots indicating great scores.


You can update your existing missions to use concealed form up positions by just re-generating the mission (go to the 'Review' tab, then generate the mission).

US Marines and two AAVs forming up on a reverse slope (A2)

Bradleys and dismounts under fire behind a hastily launched smoke screen

VBS2's Warminster (land warfare centre) map (VBS2)

Also packed into these update are a VBS2 map, and integration with the GCam camera script. For VBS2, the Warminster map is added with one area 'Land Warfare Centre' covering nearly all of that map.

For my personal use (to capture screen shots), and for machinima creators, I've enabled the observer mode to use the Gigan's GCam 2 camera script. It has more options than the standard 'camera.sqs' script, and is less obtrusive than Troopmon 2.



2011-12-04 Canadian Army units (Arma*/VBS2), Sahrani Obregan area (VBS2) Zoom

Today's additions to the unit database are 'Canadian Army' themed. For Arma 2, there are "Operation Northstar's" arid and temperate weather CADPAT infantry. I've added L16 81mm mortar teams.

For Arma 1, there are "Operation Northstar's" arid CADPAT infantry.

Canadian Army soldiers firing L-16 mortars (Arma2)

Canadian infantry in CADPAT-AR defending (Arma1)

Canadian infantry moving up (Arma2)

For VBS2 1.40 and VBS2 1.50, the unit database covers the Canadian Army vehicles. These are the CH-146 helicopter variants, and the LAV-III variants for VBS2 1.40. VBS2 1.50 has the 1.40 content, and adds the M113 ADATS, the RG-31 MRAP and AHSVS Wrecker.


Since VBS2 is compatible with (most) Arma1 add-ons, I've added the "Operation Northstar" Arma1 soldiers to the unit database for VBS2. As part of the their database entries, I've equipped each of the soldiers with the best matching (Diemaco) rifles and anti-tanks missiles as available in VBS2 (through initialization statements).

Arma1 Canadian Infantry inserted by VBS2 CH-146 (VBS2)

Arma1 Operation Northstar Canadian Infantry with VBS2 weapons (VBS2)

ADATS vehicle firing missile at BMP (VBS2)

I've also made available for VBS2 mission generation the Obregan area on the northern Sahrani island.


The mission planner received improvements to formation path finding: when advancing with multiple groups abreast, the aim is to have the groups form a continuous front inside the available space. In earlier versions, when confronted with obstacles the planner would simply squeeze the groups closer together. In the new version, this squeezing takes into account where the obstacle is (left or right of the planned path) and attempts to only squeeze groups closed together on the side of the obstacle.

Formation path improvements: before and after

Sahrani's Obregan area

The new planning set-up works as planned, with planning time significantly reduced and stability high.



2011-06-14 New: mission generation for JCOVE/lite (VBS2/VTK 1.22) Zoom

As of today, PlannedAssault generates JCOVE/lite (VBS2/VTK 1.22) missions. Initially, missions can be generated for two areas near As Samawah.

I'm quite happy with the results of this first step: combined arms maneuvers working for single player missions, involving armor, infantry, artillery and rotary wing CAS.

JCOVE: battery of AI controlled AS90 self propelled guns firing

JCOVE: British infantry and WMIKs move up under AW-1 cover

Insurgents forming up for an attack

The biggest three rough edges are unit placement, air landings, and warnings about missing marker icons. The problem with unit placement problem is that groups spawned in 'FORMATION' (which means VBS2 selects the exact positions) sometimes end up with group members or vehicles placed on top of buildings or in walls, and being stuck there forever. The work-arounds for this problem include: (a) in PlannedAssault position units away from buildings and/or (b) inspect and fix unit start positions in the generated mission using the JCOVE/VBS2 2D mission editor.

Air landings with Mi-24 Hind gunships under fire may suffer from pilots failing to land. I'm not yet clear on if this is due to the Hind being a gunship instead of a transport helicopter, or something else.

UK infantry with chest rig and PRR

JCOVE: generated briefing shown in-game

Pinzgauer 4x4 truck and Jackal patrol vehicle patrolling

Mission generation with PlannedAssault for JCOVE/lite is similar to mission generation for the Arma series (and these video tutorials, on editing, transport and air assaults apply).

PlannedAssault created missions include plans for both sides, a briefing for the player's side explaining the role of each group. The missions include instructions and scripts for the AI to:

  • form up and attack abreast with multiple groups, in straight and flanking AoAs
  • mount and dismount multiple vehicles,
  • fire pre-planned artillery missions and AI triggered defensive artillery missions
  • fly gunship CAS missions and engage targets from a distance
  • execute air landings
  • select and man defensive sectors while hide non-combat vehicles
  • trigger and perform a armored counter-attack

Not yet supported for JCOVE are fixed wing CAS. PlannedAssault doesn't support paradrops and UAVs yet.

JCOVE: Using the Javelin

JCOVE: generated mission loaded in editor

JCOVE: Challenger2 troop counter-attacking

In order save time authoring missions, PlannedAssault offers a large database of units (groups in the 2D VBS mission editor) with custom configurations. Examples for JCOVE include the UK soldiers equipped with other weapons than the LA-85A2, and insurgents manning civilian cars. (For Arma2, PlannedAssault uses custom configurations to provide Bundeswehr mechanized units featuring correct battailon logos, and company designations).


I'm looking forward to explore and support more of VBS2.