Sunday, March 16, 2014

Simulating Reconnaissance Operations in ArmA 3

The ArmA engine is one of the best for simulating small unit dismounted operations. In this new single player scenario that I recently posted at Steam, I explore how to simulate an area recon mission by a squad of NATO scouts.

The particulars of what is an area reconnaissance can be found elsewhere. If the feedback to the mission is good, I can post an AAR of this mission and discuss more in detail what I am trying to portray. In the scenario I posted, the player has to conduct an area reconnaissance at a crossroads (OBJ Tarawa).

The OOB and equipment of the standard NATO scout squad in ArmA 3 is very nimble. There are not LMGs, just to start. But those suppressors in our weapons helped to keep us out of trouble for the most part. 

The central trick to make this scenario work is the use of triggers using the "knowsAbout" function. This function returns zero if a specific unit if not known to other unit and a value above zero otherwise.
In this way, I could activate triggers based on how many units a player "can see" at the objective area during the reconnaissance.

Using those triggers, the game engine determines if the player's virtual character has a clear line of sight and is within range to recognize the type of enemy (ENY) asset being observed. The "knowsAbout" function returns values between 0 (not known at all) and 4 (fully known) and I am sure there is a lot of fine tuning that can be made to accommodate for a wide variety of situations.

Some finicky situations are possible, like: (i) the game engine computing the player's virtual character as spotting an ENY unit but the player not seeing it too clearly in his computer monitor (player using zoomed out view, player using the command view, etc) or (ii) the player seeing part of the ENY unit in the monitor and the game engine not computing it as a spotted unit. If the last situation arises, the player will have to move his virtual character to a position that provides a better observation. Once all ENY assets have been spotted in the OBJ area, they will be automatically reported to the HQ unit (not featured in this scenario) and the area reconnaissance task will be computed as completed.

I know this mission will get me not many friends because nobody is too fond of single player scenarios where the player has to baby sit AI teammates. I recommend leaving the squad behind during the area reconnaissance itself (maybe take a buddy team with you), and off course make use of the mother of all stealth for AI characters: hold fire!

One of the triggers activated (ENY Vehicle 1 Spotted). Good news: we just completed the area reconnaissance. Now the gunning down ENY infantry comes into play (task created "Clear OBJ Tarawa").
Clearing OBJ Tarawa will require the use of all your available assets. As per SOP, the platoon HQ will have some fire support available for when the situation gets hot.


Doug Miller said...

Man, you make this look so good. I really need to make time to play this.

Marco said...

Hey it's a great scenario and you give us a good tool to make missions, in our Arma community we have a special squad that make these kind of missions, with this trigger it's going to be more in-game mission. Like it.

JC said...

Thanks for your comments, gents.

Marco, let me know if you or any of your crew has any suggestions.

Unknown said...

Hi there. I came across your site by luck. I hope you or someone can help. But I have a mission brewing in ArmA3. I have 4 static Blufor guns and I want them to only fire when a trigger goes off like a OpFor vehicle destroyed. I have looked online and I am new to ArmA 3 but cannot find anything. its very vague about set combat status or do fire. Obviously I can't make the unit move to a new position via a waypoint as they stationary for this to work.

JC said...

Hi Graeme,

There is a module for that. Let me check when I get back to home.