Mission Structure and Balancing
Building a Solid Mission
I have put together this info guide for people to consider when making missions, whether your new or an old hand with making missions with ASOR I think this could be helpful.
Building a mission is not just about building something functional with ASOR, although that helps a lot it’s always good to have the mission fit into the current campaign both story and functionally too. Take for example previous campaigns where we are essentially fighting insurgent forces it would not make sense to have a tank platoon roll up at us. Same when we are fighting a conventional forces you want the response and behavior to reflect a force of that nature and the assets available to them as well as the typical response to the threat.
All of this is of course in the boundaries of ARMA and the ARMA AI.
Basic Mission Structure
A basic mission structure might not apply every time but this is the best starting point in any case. The basic structure consists of a Primary Objective and x amount of Secondary Objectives that either need to be completed in order to achieve the Primary Objective or will significantly make achieving the Primary Objective a lot easier.
Finally, Tertiary Objectives are your bonus objectives, they may just be targets of opportunity in the area we are operating or they may be enablers for secondary objectives, generally not required to be completed but great if they are. Tertiary Objectives are great time fillers if the mission finishes early and you need to go on for a bit or your mission is moving to quick you can have ‘side’ missions to fill that time.
Where, Who, What, When, Why
The Where, Who, What, When, Why – Answer these questions about your primary objective and you pretty much have your mission brief done, your map position sorted and can start planning the flow of your mission. Answer these questions for each of your secondary and tertiary objectives, the Why should cover its link to the Primary Objective or Secondary Objective where needed.
The Primary Objective does not have to be the largest and most significant task we complete it should just be the thing we want to achieve most. Secondary Objectives when they enable us to achieve our Primary Objective could be the longest part of any mission. If you look at it from the perspective that we are returning to base once we achieve our Primary Objective, then you obviously do not want it completed at 30mins into your mission but you also don’t want it to be not complete 3hrs in.
Example: Basic Mission Structure for a town assault.
- Primary Objective: Capture the Town
- Secondary Objective 1: Destroy Artillery position with over watch of town.
- Secondary Objective 2: Eliminate AAA battery on hill 101.
- Secondary Objective 3: Prevent Counter Attack from North West town.
- Tertiary Objective 1: Gather intelligence on town positions from Artillery and AAA assaults.
- Tertiary Objective 2: Capture General Blah in town.
- Tertiary Objective 3: Secure fuel depot undamaged.
Objectives don’t necessary have to have an order in which they need to be completed but it always makes for good mission flow when you do, having objectives that make sense to what your doing will aid the flow also. Having objectives that cannot be completed unless some other objective is completed makes the success of any objective mission more desperate and there fore more intense for those involved.
Mission Balance and Adaptability
Balancing your mission can be very difficult especially when we get a large difference in attendance numbers day to day. It also can be hard to judge how difficult or easy an objective or simple movement can take. ASOR has developed tools to compensate for this, ASOREdit and ZUES help mitigate this balance by either adding or removing enemy as needed. When making a mission you will get the best results by building in some adaptability to every mission structure.
What you want to do is build a base mission with the lowest or middle ground of players you are expecting and then layer on additional elements, let’s call them maybe elements.
My base mission is generally based on two squads of infantry on the ground. So I don’t factor in air support or other assets in the base of the mission, that comes later. This is where you get your adaptability. If you build your mission for this base of players, then getting less people probably makes it a more difficult mission but still achievable getting more makes it an easier mission but still enjoyable.
Once you have your base then you can add in your maybe elements. What if I get three squads? What if we have fast air support, what if we want to have a AH64 etc. ASOREdit allows you to have all these elements setup without loading in unless you allow it too. You can also have repeatable spawns if you need to increase it further or just want waves of enemy coming in at various times or on a defensive position perhaps.
A common setup I will have built in is enemy on our far outer flanks attempting to move in, a large random spawn so its different everytime. If we run a AH64 guess what their primary role is? They now have targets that dont detract from infantry on mission but at the same time can be bought in to help. If we dont run a AH64 the outer spawns remain disabled.
Adaptability with ASOREdit
In the picture below is demo of two zones, one disabled on a suspend module and the other as per normal. The suspend module is set to INDEPENDENT / 2m so it will never activate. The zone module the suspend module is connected to is named Z1, the other zone is named Z2.
Click image for full size.
So when our players enter the zone area a squad of infantry will spawn as Z2 will be activated. If I wanted add two BMPs to the spawn I can call the code [[Z1]] spawn asoredit_fnc_enableZones; and Z1 will be activated and if the player is still in the zone two BMPs will spawn. If I wanted two squads of infantry instead of having the current squad and BMP’s I can call [[Z2]] spawn asoredit_fnc_enableZones; which will re-enable Z2 and if we are still in the area spawn a second squad.
You can see there is a lot of flexibility here, one squad of players can pass through these zones and only have one enemy squad to deal with or if we wanted we can add an endless amount of squads or enemy vehicles based on our requirements. Having ZUES available as a secondary to this kind of setup is ideal, with ZUES you can either just order units to move to certain locations or behave differently based on what’s going on in your mission to what you planned for and obviously you can fully add more units with ZUES as well.
ZUES is also a great tool for just checking the ARMA AI is doing what it is meant to be doing. Sometimes AI can be very unpredictable. Its recommended that anyone who makes a mission adds a ZUES capability to the slot they plan on playing in so they can monitor the flow of the mission.
Mission Time and Planning
When making missions you need to take into account the time it takes to complete it. Often, mission makers assume the time of the mission is defined on a scale of “Size” rather than content. Its important to realise and factor in some of the possible reasons your mission might continue or extend longer than you initially intended. Here are some things you might want to consider when building your mission:
- The 20 Minutes (sometime 30) it takes to brief the Squads, and prepare the elements in order to ‘roll out’. This often applies to debrief as well.
- How Slowly Squads Move – Even when you know there are no enemy combatants in ‘x’ section of the jungle, the commander might take his time moving through it. Is it jungle..? is it an open field? Consider terrain. Expect 5-10 minutes per large section of land.
- Enemies – Obviously the enemies you place greatly influence the speed of the squads. 2 Well placed MG’s, will often do more than a fireteam of Rifleman in slowing things down, effectively adding length to your OP.
- Casualties – A Lot of time when considering the GRAND scale of the OP:
- QRF, Reinsertion and Regrouping (particularly before assaults..) + 5 – 10 mins?
- How Long it takes to Treat + 5 – 10 mins?
- Medevac + Reinsertion 5 – 8 mins?
- Re-organization of the Squads Once Medevac has been reinserted + 5 – 10 mins?
Then times all that, by however many times Casualties occur in an OP.
5. People fucking around + 5 – 10 mins? Sometimes longer?
6. QRF Point, Objectives and Route to Objectives/Placement. A QRF point miles from where it should be adds 2-3 minutes sometimes per Run. An objective 1km from other objectives adds 5 – 10 minutes if lucky.
7. Ammo Resupply After Objectives. Large firefights means Resupply will be needed effectively adding around 5 – 10 mins of waiting time.
Ops don’t have to be massive in scale. Compress the Size, and increase the density (or careful placement) of enemies, and you can easily extend the Length of the OP without hassle.
Time Count: 78 Minutes Minimum.
When adding up the bare minimum of the possible times listed above, we have almost an hour and a half of your Op! Effectively, Logistics is taking up half of your Operation. When planning your mission, make sure:
- It isn’t stupidly large
- It’s not too far from objective to objective
- It’s ‘dense’ enough with enemies
When considering the above time restraints, you should be building and OP that provides ASOR with enough enjoyment for around 2 hours.
If you don’t, you’ll effectively be spending/wasting more time than you need to on your Operation. It is not easy to get familiar with how long a mission might take, but practice makes perfect, and should you have any issues or questions, you can always ask me.
Mission Scale and Applicability
At the start I talked about the scope of the campaign we are currently on and having a proper response based on the actions we are conducting. Mission makers need to keep up to date with the INTSUMS as we move along in a campaign. It’s really the only source outside of talking to others and being at every mission that indicates how we are going and what’s going on.
For example, if one week we attack an airfield and the result is the destruction of the enemy’s air capability and the next week you make a mission with enemy jets in it, it does not flow with the campaign.
The enemy’s responses on the ground needs to be in scale and suitable as well, if we attack a target we probably don’t expect the enemy to be charging our position but defending and holding ground. If we are defending, we expect the enemy to advance on us and so on, if it’s around the wrong way the mission will work fine but you will not get the better feel and flow to your mission.
This can be hard with ARMA AI to successfully achieve at times but so long as you think about a likely response in any given scenario you can add content that matches what you expect to happen. Small things can add to the value of scenarios, as we successfully start to capture a location adding retreating enemy or a counter attack, does not have to be large but keeps things flowing.
Having an understanding of our campaign map and current happenings will aid in all of these aspects from likely enemy behaviors and responses through to available assets they have and are likely to use and known enemy tactics and standard operating procedures, something we will learn over time in a campaign.
Hope this helps and as always if your interested in mission making or need help with anything including ASOREdit or anything I have covered here feel free to grab me anytime.