Friday, September 27, 2013

Steel Beasts 3.0: One Week Since Release and Already Ruining Productivity at the Office!

So many new goodies in the new 3.0 version of Steel Beasts ProPE that my real life has been downgraded to the "stuff-I-do-between-scenarios" status.

Besides a new graphics engine (which is still a work in progress), there very interesting new features. The one I will showcase today is the possibility of adding civilians to the battlefield. In this custom-made scenario, I command a platoon of mechanized infantry (3 Bradley IFVs) and our mission is to gain a foothold on a tiny town which is controlled by insurgents.

The new feature in the scenario editor allows the player to add a third faction (green) which can be neutral or hostile to the traditional red and blue factions. In this case, the green faction are all unarmed civilians, which are roaming inside the town. I did set the civilians to spawn within the confines of the town and then walk out towards a safer place.

The terrain is a desert plain with very sparse cover but tiny depressions here and there.
The trees and buildings of the town are seen in the far background. We are 2 km+ from the objective.

The TIS shows some civilians and vehicles inside the town, but the range is too high to figure out if these contacts are hostile or not.

The view through the gunner's sight, without TIS.
We continued our approach towards the town, very slowly. At a certain point we dismounted the infantry, but they came under small arms fire immediately so we mounted them back. The range from the town is 1 Km+

This shot taken closer to the town. We just destroyed a technical vehicle (right of the crosshairs and killed the very few survivors who tried to run away (left of the crosshairs). In the far background, the thermal signal of dismounts are everywhere.
This picture is to show the range to the town. Close for the shells, still far for the infantry we are carrying.

Unsure about the viability of moving towards the town from the current direction (we can't find any more targets), we shift our advance and shape it like a semicircle around the town. The range is around 400 meters. We find plenty of insurgents, some of them armed with RPGs (two of them shown in this screenshot). A few of these insurgents fired from buildings (they are very difficult to spot in such cases) and we are forced to shoot at certain buildings that look suspicious. These buildings catch fire and add to the confusion of civilians still wandering within the town.

Those HE shells are highly effective against infantry, but they lit everything that can burn.
The moment of truth: infantry is ordered to dismount and advance towards the town. Tense moments right here, trying to provide effective over watch.
Ah, the tricky urban terrain! You watch for any speckle of red in the TIS. This insurgent (or what is left of him) was in a keyhole position within the town.

An insurgent carrying an RPG has just been neutralized. 
The infantry, slowly making it towards the town. Many buildings in the town are ablaze.

Finally, a modest foothold is gained.
An then is our turn to enter the built up area. The infantry around gave us a sense of security.
Maneuvering a platoon sized force inside the town was interesting. The path finding routines had let me down very often in the previous versions of Steel Beasts. This time around, I did maneuver my force more effectively. In one case, I  even took an infantry squad out of harms way without any casualties.
Although we don't plan to clear the town, we completely rule a portion of it.

An insurgent is about to be dispatched. Note the complex, keyhole-rich type of built up area we are in.
In complete command of this part of the town. We call it a day and prepare to stand firm.

A final picture.
The new faction is a great addition to Steel Beasts ProPE. The civilians add a lot of complexity to tactical decision-making and to gunnery itself. In this scenario we didn't inflict any collateral damage because I kept a close watch at what we shot at. In many occasions I had the whole platoon on "hold fire" orders. But the presence of civilians precluded us from moving up all guns blazing or flattening the town with artillery fire.

It would be great if the civilians in Steel Beasts ProPE 3.0 had some sort of normal survival instinct in their path finding routines. I am not sure if this can be set in the scenario editor, but they we walking around calmly no matter how intense the fire exchange was.

All being said, I'm really happy with this new layer of tactical goodness added to the simulator.

3 infantry casualties, 29 insurgents killed, 3 technical vehicles destroyed. No civilians were harmed.



Gibsonm said...

For what its worth you can have up to 12 parties, and they can be allied, neutral or enemy.

To add more choice they can also be "allied/neutral/enemy if ..."

So their allegiance may change depending on what is happening.

NW said...

In some parts of Afghanistan, I'm told that "calmly walking through an intense firefight" is perfectly normal. I agree that a "panicked refugee" module would be helpful in a great many scenarios, especially the Cold War classics involving having to push up to defensive positions on roads flooded with FRG refugees fleeing the oncoming Soviet horde, and there's plenty of other utility for it as well of course.

Olav said...

JC, are you aware of the ANNA news network and their videos from the war in Syria?

Bil Hardenberger said...

Interesting... I had no idea this was coming out. Thanks J.

How's the infantry in this release?

Gibsonm said...

Much improved.

Crawling, kneeing, etc. You get some idea from parts of the YOuTube video I posted about on SimHQ.

JC said...

Hi Gibsonm,

I didn't know that! Thanks!


I heard something about that but in Iraq. Weird!


I could only get a couple out of YouTube. They literally blew my mind. Anyone in particular you recommend?