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Scenario Development - 7/13/2018 12:48:48 AM   
miller7219

 

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I'm not very skilled with scenario creation. I've dabbled with creating simple scenarios for my own play and that's the extent of my scenario development skills.

Recently, I had the opportunity to purchase a complete set of 1980's and 90's original paper Harpoon and Harpoon 4 materials. I have absolutely no one to play with, and even if I did I can't see myself breaking out the measuring tape again! I did back in the 80's when I was a teenager and first fell in love with all things modern naval. The materials serve more as a naval reference collection, like one's Jane's or All the World's Fleets, than anything else.

The idea dawned on me recently to attempt to convert some of the scenarios included in the original Harpoon and Harpoon 4 game releases and subsequent Naval Reviews released during the 90's and into the early 2000's. As I made the attempt if became clear that my skills were sadly outclassed! I have no understanding of Lua and the canned triggers and events contained in the scenario editor seem to be inadequate to duplicate the complexities of these conversions.

These scenarios tend to be small, fast, and violent. The usual scenario tends to have a dozen or less platforms involved and play out over a rather small area of ocean or sea. I happen to like the quick decisive nature of these type of engagements. The programming of the AI behavior for a small number of platforms (or groups) and the programming of the variables of scenario setup and victory conditions called for in the scenario instructions look to be the main work involved in the conversion of a typical paper Harpoon scenario.

Is there any interest within the scenario creation community in the converting and digitally preserving of these old classic paper Harpoon scenarios?

Post #: 1
RE: Scenario Development - 7/13/2018 1:48:59 AM   
SeaQueen


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Yes, I believe there is interest, and I believe this is not the first time it's come up.

To get good with LUA you really need a computer programming background. LUA is a fairly simple programming language and there's lots of documentation out there, but you need to be comfortable working from the language documentation and maybe a few very simple examples. I've been trying to post more of the code I write to do useful things in the LUA Legion. Some of it is very scenario specific, though. The way I write victory conditions often has a complex set of LUA conditions, for example, and I'm not sure that they'd readily translate to other people's stuff.

I think the best way to start scenario building is with short, violent engagements involving less than a dozen platforms (a.k.a. few-on-few). Over time you add complexity, maybe you need to move a small convoy protected by a few surface combatants to a specific area a few days away from a port? Then you build the scenario from there. Version 1 of the scenario has nothing but a submarine threat. Version 2 maybe you add in some naval bombers. Version 3 maybe there's a ballistic missiles out there. With each layer you add richness and depth, and you have to solve new problems. How do the ballistic missiles and naval bombers target the warships, for instance? Are the submarines sufficient ISR? Maybe you need to add in an OTH-B radar or a bunch of satellites to queue them. By the time you get to version 14 you have a fairly rich scenario just moving a few ships into a box somewhere.

Also, remember "Save As" is your best friend. Each time I make a change to a scenario, I do a "Save As" and change the version number. That way if I mess something up, I can go back easily. I also make notes in the scenario description about what I changed. It helps with traceability but it really is more about me articulating the problem I saw and how I fixed it. Sometimes I read what I wrote and think, "that was a stupid idea" and go back to the previous version.

When I start making a scenario, I usually start with the victory conditions. I don't necessarily mess with the scoring system (that usually happens as one of the last things). I just define clearly what "winning" the scenario looks like. "I win if I get all my tankers from A to B" or "I lost fewer than N aircraft" or "I crater the runway, destroy the AvGas storage, weapons storage bunker X (which is believed to contain chemical weapons) and destroy P% of the aircraft at base Y." That's important because what you're really doing is saying, "This is what the forces in conflict are trying to do."

Once I have that, the scenario just kind of builds on itself. I'll usually start with orders of battle from Baloogan's website, other places on the internet, books or the news just to develop a sense of what kinds of forces might be in conflict. Geography also shapes a lot of scenarios. If airplanes have to fly a long way, then maybe F-35 isn't going to be a big player, or if it is, I'm going to have to be really clever about tankers.

The other thing is, since one side needs to be computer controlled, to design good scenarios, you need to get good at taking advantage of the mission editor. If you're plotting each individual course and speed, then you're probably going to make a boring scenario because your AI on the opposite side is going to do EXACTLY THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER AGAIN. LUA is best used sparingly. The real trick is to use the zillions of options in the mission editor to get the behavior you want in the scenario. After that, you might consider events and LUA to make the AI a little smarter by dealing with questions like timing, sequencing of events, and important decision points (e.g. if I lose too many aircraft assume a defensive posture by reallocating aircraft to different missions).

< Message edited by SeaQueen -- 7/13/2018 2:25:14 AM >

(in reply to miller7219)
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RE: Scenario Development - 7/13/2018 2:29:43 AM   
Whicker

 

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is it possible to post an example Harpoon scenario?
I have been playing around with lua quite a bit and like it.

I also think it would be easy to collaborate on a project on GitHub - even if you aren't a coder you could post issues there and maybe handle editing the briefing type stuff. I wish the scenarios themselves were more version control friendly - like if the actual events/triggers/actions/briefings were separate files in a scen and could be committed easily.

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RE: Scenario Development - 7/13/2018 3:41:16 AM   
miller7219

 

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Attached is a scan of a scenario from Harpoon Naval Review 97 I played around with. I'd be happy to playtest and offer suggestions. That's actually what I do best. Programming...not so much!

There're multiple ship classes and groups for the sides to pick from and they start within certain degrees and distances from each other. To make it more complicated there's a table for victory conditions based upon the sides' picks. May not be duplicatable 100% with Lua, but definitely not possible with the standard editor's trigger/events with the skills I have with either.

I'll help any way I'm capable of.

Attachment (1)

(in reply to Whicker)
Post #: 4
RE: Scenario Development - 7/13/2018 6:02:33 AM   
Whicker

 

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I've thought of setting up zones where if you moved unit A to this reference point/area then something would happen - I was thinking along the lines of `make the enemy side proficiency higher to increase difficulty` - then if unit A went to that area for x amount of time an event would fire and a lua action would change the proficiency of the enemy side. I suppose that type of thing could be done to control the ships chosen, but it might be a lot of work and probably not be perfect, yet someone could set it up just fine using the editor.

I guess the other thing to do would be to add all the units and have them setup, and then the player could choose the ones they want but at least they would already be there.

AI side, a single static setup might be ok, but to make it random sounds like a lot of work.

I may have a look at it, but no promises.

Your page 3 was reversed, I was able to read it but you might want to re-upload it.

(in reply to miller7219)
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RE: Scenario Development - 7/13/2018 1:05:38 PM   
Gunner98

 

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I'm thinking that for the US force setup you could use Special Actions. Its a bit of Lua coding but not too much - I am a complete Lua numpty but there are a lot of people willing to help. The basic set of events and triggers is actually quite powerful, I tend to use Lua only to fill in the gaps.

If you check out my Indian Ocean Fury #4 you can see the special action setup there which achieves a similar thing.

Away from the game until tomorrow so cannot paste any examples but in a nutshell:

-Set up the US side with the two container ships only.
-Set up a Special Action for each of the possible escorts. The code for each is almost the same so its not a big job
-Each special action adds a specific ship and its helicopters (grouped on the ship or flying about) AND adds 1 to the victory points on a Non-Player side
-Set up a standard event, triggered when the Non-Player side point score reaches exactly two. The action will be to inactivate all of the special actions.

So the US player chooses two ships, the score goes to two and the other options disappear. You can add in the British options as well

To make this happen for an AI side, you need to get into Lua random and a counter, not too difficult but I need to be at my main machine to help.

Important safety tip: use Notepad++ or something like it to work on Lua, not word or any other word processing software

For the German side, I would suggest that you also use special actions (with similar ones for a US player to chose his opponent). Instead of messing around with the Victory Table its probably better to reverse the logic: Each choice will add VP to the US and subtract from the German when the choice is made. So the German will start at a deficit and the American will start with a positive value. I didn't really try to decipher the reverse type on page three to confirm this approach but it should work.

The two routes mentioned in Special Rules might be better represented by two scenarios or you could randomize it.

Sub's battery power is a simple Lua fix I think.

General thought: This is a nice idea, and several older scenarios have been re-done, I cannot recall at the moment which ones. But Command is so much more than any version of Harpoon ever was, so don't be a slave to the old scenarios. Use them for ideas, OOB and experimentation, but Command can do a lot more. If its complexity or simplicity you want, throw a few units on the map and have at it or build a complex campaign. Each unit, each sensor, each weapon is modeled so much better than it could have been back in the day, so the results may be quite different.

Enjoy. Building scenarios is good fun and the editor is quite easy to use once you're familiar with it.


_____________________________

Check out our upcoming novel, Northern Fury: H-Hour!

http://northernfury.bhgdesigns.com/index.php

And our blog:

http://northernfury.bhgdesigns.com/blog

(in reply to Whicker)
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RE: Scenario Development - 7/13/2018 1:23:58 PM   
SeaQueen


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Right now I'm looking at one in the Harpoon Naval Review 1994 called, "Forcing the Strait."

It's just a tanker escort scenario where the US sails a few oil tankers through the Straits of Hormuz, past some Iranian controlled islands and the Iranians try to sink them.

The Harpoon scenario does a lot of things to limit the required play space which could be handled a few different ways in Command. For example, the US Navy player can call on a "War at Sea Strike Group" and have it appear a few minutes later. That could be handled with a "Special Action" or the aircraft and the carrier they come from could be explicitly represented.

The victory conditions in that one don't look too bad, and translate pretty readily into Command-ese. I think the most complicated bit is randomizing the initial state to reflect the multiple possible setup options on the part of the Iranians.

(in reply to Whicker)
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RE: Scenario Development - 7/13/2018 1:40:37 PM   
stilesw


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Hi miller7219,

Here are three scenarios based on ones from Harpoon. They were created and uploaded by a forum member
in 2017. Sorry, do not recall who made them. Anyway perhaps you will find some good info here.

-Wayne Stiles

Attachment (1)

_____________________________

“There is no limit to what a man can do so long as he does not care a straw who gets the credit for it.”

Charles Edward Montague, English novelist and essayist
~Disenchantment, ch. 15 (1922)

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RE: Scenario Development - 7/13/2018 2:10:23 PM   
tjhkkr


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quote:

ORIGINAL: stilesw

Hi miller7219,
Here are three scenarios based on ones from Harpoon. They were created and uploaded by a forum member
in 2017. Sorry, do not recall who made them. Anyway perhaps you will find some good info here.
-Wayne Stiles

Oh Doolitov's Raid... I look forward to trying it, ALTHOUGH, most of the time since the Soviet Union did not have credible long range protection, they usually got shot up pretty good.


_____________________________

Remember that the evil which is now in the world will become yet more powerful, and that it is not evil which conquers evil, but only love -- Olga Romanov.

(in reply to stilesw)
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RE: Scenario Development - 7/13/2018 2:16:41 PM   
Gunner98

 

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From: The Great White North!
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quote:

That could be handled with a "Special Action" or the aircraft and the carrier they come from could be explicitly represented


I've done this sort of thing both ways, the simplest depending on scenario length, is to have the carrier represented with the AC loaded etc on a non-player side. The Special Action, simply switches the AC to the player side.

Having them appear as a result of the Special Action works fine, but you probably also need them to disappear after their task is done, or have a base for them to return to. But if the scenario is quite short it doesn't matter.

If the random start involves variable locations, it may be better to assign a zone for the units to appear in - makes the start location quite variable and is easier than programming multiple specific points.

Just some thoughts.

B

< Message edited by Gunner98 -- 7/13/2018 2:18:23 PM >


_____________________________

Check out our upcoming novel, Northern Fury: H-Hour!

http://northernfury.bhgdesigns.com/index.php

And our blog:

http://northernfury.bhgdesigns.com/blog

(in reply to SeaQueen)
Post #: 10
RE: Scenario Development - 7/14/2018 12:08:02 AM   
miller7219

 

Posts: 186
Joined: 4/7/2007
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Whicker

I've thought of setting up zones where if you moved unit A to this reference point/area then something would happen - I was thinking along the lines of `make the enemy side proficiency higher to increase difficulty` - then if unit A went to that area for x amount of time an event would fire and a lua action would change the proficiency of the enemy side. I suppose that type of thing could be done to control the ships chosen, but it might be a lot of work and probably not be perfect, yet someone could set it up just fine using the editor.

I guess the other thing to do would be to add all the units and have them setup, and then the player could choose the ones they want but at least they would already be there.

AI side, a single static setup might be ok, but to make it random sounds like a lot of work.

I may have a look at it, but no promises.

Your page 3 was reversed, I was able to read it but you might want to re-upload it.



Know I'm definitely not a programmer, but here are some thoughts on setup:

1. US Side Force Selection -From reading the Lua related forums, a list can be created in Lua? Randomly select 2 of these platforms from a list.
2. German/Sweden Force Selection - Assign three values: 1) The SAG 2) The Sub 3) Both. Randomly select a value.
3. US Placement - Have the randomly selected group makeup from #1 drop at the coordinates listed in the US setup (smack dab in the middle of the entrance to the Baltic).
4. German/Sweden Force Selection - A fraction of a second after #3, have the German SAG and/or Sub + the Air Strike drop at a random bearing from the US group (as outlined by the German/Sweden force setup) at the listed distance.





















(in reply to Whicker)
Post #: 11
RE: Scenario Development - 7/14/2018 12:11:21 AM   
miller7219

 

Posts: 186
Joined: 4/7/2007
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quote:

ORIGINAL: stilesw

Hi miller7219,

Here are three scenarios based on ones from Harpoon. They were created and uploaded by a forum member
in 2017. Sorry, do not recall who made them. Anyway perhaps you will find some good info here.

-Wayne Stiles


Downloaded. These look like Computer Harpoon scenarios? GUIK Battleset and one of the Designer Series sets?

(in reply to stilesw)
Post #: 12
RE: Scenario Development - 7/14/2018 12:20:21 AM   
miller7219

 

Posts: 186
Joined: 4/7/2007
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: SeaQueen

Right now I'm looking at one in the Harpoon Naval Review 1994 called, "Forcing the Strait."

It's just a tanker escort scenario where the US sails a few oil tankers through the Straits of Hormuz, past some Iranian controlled islands and the Iranians try to sink them.

The Harpoon scenario does a lot of things to limit the required play space which could be handled a few different ways in Command. For example, the US Navy player can call on a "War at Sea Strike Group" and have it appear a few minutes later. That could be handled with a "Special Action" or the aircraft and the carrier they come from could be explicitly represented.

The victory conditions in that one don't look too bad, and translate pretty readily into Command-ese. I think the most complicated bit is randomizing the initial state to reflect the multiple possible setup options on the part of the Iranians.


I actually looked at that one along with Dire Straits. Probably a much easier scenario to start with than Dire Straits. I find myself reading the paper Harpoon materials like one would read a good book. I have read the computer "Harpoon Battlebook" and "Harpoon II Strategy Guide" cover to cover on more than one occasion. The paper Harpoon and Harpoon 4 rules and associated expansion books have been a good read as well. Have just begun reading the Naval Reviews. I'm sure I'm not the only one that does that on this forum!

(in reply to SeaQueen)
Post #: 13
RE: Scenario Development - 7/14/2018 7:12:17 PM   
stilesw


Posts: 575
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From: Hansville, WA, USA
Status: offline
quote:

These look like Computer Harpoon scenarios? GUIK Battleset and one of the Designer Series sets?


You are correct. They are from the Computer Harpoon scenarios. I just checked and specifically, all are from the basic Harpoon I, GUIK missions:

Scenario #07 Doolitov's Raid.
Scenario #08 Rapier Thrust.
Scenario #11 Cutting the Noose.

Here are the complete sets.

-Wayne Stiles




Attachment (1)

(in reply to miller7219)
Post #: 14
RE: Scenario Development - 7/15/2018 4:02:51 AM   
TheOriginalOverlord

 

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From: The Marines
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I'm an old paper harpoon guy as well and want to add more depth to the few scenarios I've built.

I really need to look at learning some Lua code and going back to work on them.

_____________________________

Semper Fi!

Jeremy


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RE: Scenario Development - 7/16/2018 9:04:44 PM   
giantsquid

 

Posts: 205
Joined: 9/8/2014
From: Milan, Italy
Status: offline
Interesting discussion, thanks.

I designed some Harpoon boardgame scenario:

Between Ascension and San Carlos, from first Harpoon boardgame
Between Ascension and San Carlos - carrier duel, biggest version of the previous one
Sri Lanka Crisis - Inspired from H4 Naval Sitrep
Sumatra Crisis - Inspired from Circle of Fire campaign from Sea of Dragons H4 module. I already uploaded the first two attle but still have to finish the last one. Trying to do a better work using LUA

Red Episode series, Duellists, Baltap series are very nice and looks like old WW3 Harpoon scenarios (community and base game)

I wish to model Forcing the Strait too!

Francesco








< Message edited by giantsquid -- 7/16/2018 10:10:43 PM >

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Post #: 16
RE: Scenario Development - 7/24/2018 6:40:50 PM   
i224747

 

Posts: 64
Joined: 11/6/2015
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quote:

ORIGINAL: stilesw

Hi miller7219,

Here are three scenarios based on ones from Harpoon. They were created and uploaded by a forum member
in 2017. Sorry, do not recall who made them. Anyway perhaps you will find some good info here.

-Wayne Stiles

Harpoon Cutting The Noose 1989 Beta 2:
A scenario that feels like coming off the drawing-board (load-outs, opponents, lack of description details) with odd(read stupid) enemy sub behavior. It is solid, no doubt, but it plays not as a real war.

(in reply to stilesw)
Post #: 17
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