Article Type: Guide
Article Date: December 13, 2001
The mission builder in IL-2 Sturmovik is a powerful tool, and relatively easy to learn. The single greatest weakness of the builder is the limited documentation. While the manual covers the use of the interface and the basics of mission building, some areas are unclear and some techniques remain undocumented.
For that reason, a guide to mission design is justified. Furthermore, there are tricks and short cuts that I have discovered over time.
This article will share some of the methods I use, point out some possible pitfalls, and generally tell you how to get the most out of the mission builder. While it is possible to build a simple mission in a short time, a more complex mission must account for more variables, both on the ground and in the air. Like IL-2 itself, there is an ďartĒ in mission design that moves beyond mere technical accuracy.
Before You BeginBefore you read this article you should already be familiar with the mission builder interface. You should know that a SHIFT left mouse button can quickly select an area on the map to zoom in for closer work. You should also know that CTRL left mouse button is used to place an object on the map.
|The Manual Comes also in PDF
You should also be aware that the OBJECT menu is the menu you will use most often in the mission builder. It is accessed by selecting the VIEW option at the top of the screen. Objects run the gamut from Aircraft to Target goals.
Once you know how to use the interface, you must have an idea of the scenario you desire to create. Are you building an intercept mission, an escort mission, a recon mission, or close air support? What types of forces will you involve? What aircraft will be represented? Will they start on the ground or in the air? What ordnance will you assign? Which aircraft would best suit the goals of the mission, as well as the players you expect to fly it?
Will you build a single player mission, or a cooperative mission that involves both human players and AI? Are historical considerations important, or are you more interested in creating an unpredictable and challenging combat environment? Not all these questions need to be answered before you create your first mission, but these are the types of question that the serious mission and campaign builder must ask.
Start with a MapIf you arenít building a campaign, which consists of a series of connected missions, then the map you begin with isnít as important. Instead, the map you select should mesh well with the design goals you have in mind.
If you are building a mission for online play, and if you plan to have eight or more players in addition to eight or more AI aircraft, you should consider using a small map, like the Net1Summer map.
If, on the other hand, a smaller number of players are involved, or if you are building a historical scenario, then you should consider using one of the larger, historical maps. This is particularly important if you are building a campaign, since you will want room to move the action to different geographic areas and shift the front line.
If you are interested in creating a naval scenario, then the Kuban Peninsula map or the Crimea map are very useful.
For this example of mission building, we will use the Berlin map. Itís a large map, with a large number of big cities, and a diversity of terrain. Weíll set our scenario in the spring of 1945, and we will create a Russian bomber attack on a German airbase. Weíll design the scenario with an online cooperative mission in mind, and then later convert and clone the mission for single player use.
Our first decision involves the placement of the forces. Will the action focus on Berlin, or on another area? If Berlin is the focus, we must choose an airbase near or in the city itself. Since the Russians will come from the east, weíll select a good sized airbase on the eastern side of the city.
|Zoom view of East Berlin
After we select our air base, we must populate it. This is a large air base in the heart of Germany, and we will make it a well defended and well used base.
I always begin by placing anti-aircraft defenses. A large base like this one should be well defended. I chose six groups of AAA units, 75 percent of the units are 88mm, and they are clustered in groups of three and four. AAA defenses are found on the Object menu under Artillery.
I keep the landing and takeoff zone around the end of the runways clear of artillery for obvious reasons. You do not want to have to land or takeoff through AAA fire.
After placing air defenses, I place static aircraft by selecting Stationary Aircraft on the Object Menu.
Once selecting the aircraft you desire, click on the map while holding the CTRL key on your keyboard. The aircraft will be placed at the position you desire.
When the object appears on the map, it may be oriented at odd angles. Select it by clicking with your left mouse button, then use the arrow keys on the numberpad to rotate it to the proper angle.
After you have your first object located and oriented correctly, you may place identical objects with an identical orientation. I click beside my first He-111 to place another, and it will face in the same direction.
|Placing static aircraft
After populating one area of the base with aircraft, I add static vehicles. In this case I have added two fuel trucks.
By the way, the mission builder has a true 3D mode which is very useful when you want exact placement of objects. Simply zoom in until you can tell what kind of object you have placed, then click on it and then hit the ENTER key, and the builder will switch to 3D mode. You can pan around and zoom in and out with your mouse.
This allows very intricate construction of scenes. You can also take advantage of this mode for careful insertion of takeoff waypoints. More on this later.
For our example I will skip populating the other areas of the base, and move directly to add a moving vehicle. I usually add at least one moving vehicle to an airbase to give a sense of life to the area. For this example I chose an Opel Blitz 36S, and I have it moving away from the takeoff area. Before I place the vehicle I have already decided the takeoff direction so that the vehicle will be close to the playerís aircraft when he finds himself on the runway.
|Adding a moving vehicle
The WaypointsThis is where the first oddity of mission building appears. One would assume that placing a takeoff waypoint on the Northeast end of the runway would result in a takeoff toward the southwest. This is not the case. Placing the takeoff waypoint on the northeast end results in a takeoff from the southwest toward the northeast.
With this in mind, the first waypoint should occur on the same end of the runway as the takeoff waypoint.
|Adding the first waypoint
Note three things about this first waypoint after the takeoff waypoint.
- It is in line with the runway
- It is on the same end of the runway as the takeoff waypoint
- It is at a low altitude and speed. Notice also that the mission builder assigns the waypoint a number and a time.
After I create all the waypoints, I go back and select the takeoff waypoint, and change the designation from NORMFLY to TAKEOFF. The altitude will automatically be reset to 0. While I have this waypoint selected I also assign the aircraft to a particular squadron, choose the number in the flight, and choose any weapon load.
|Changing the waypoint function
|Changing to TAKEOFF
Next I select the second waypoint, and assign an altitude higher than the first waypoint. I assign this altitude partly by mission goals, and partly by distance from the first waypoint. You must also take into account the ordnance loadout of the aircraft, and its performance. If you donít know the aircraft performance, check the online vehicle reference in IL-2.
The most critical factor in the first waypoint is the altitude. I set the first waypoint at 250m and 300km, and set the second one at 500m and 300km. Next I use the Edit Menu to bring up the Display Filters and I turn off the Show Name to reduce the clutter in my workspace.
|Last waypoint before landing
Now note the placement and numbers for the landing waypoint. Note that the flight path is aligned with the runway, and the altitude and speed are the same as for the first flight waypoint. This will ensure that your aircraft has enough room to slow down, get aligned, and get gear and flaps down.
TIP: If you are adding another flight that will takeoff from the same airbase, ensure that takeoff direction is the same for all flights. If you do not do this, you are likely to have collisions in midair over the base.
If you are building a single mission and not an online one, then you have the option of delaying the start time for any object on the map.
In this case I have clicked on the time box in the Object menu and changed the 0 to a 5. This will add a five minute delay for the takeoff of this flight. Two caveats apply.
First, this setting canít be used for the player flight. Second, if you later turn this mission into a cooperative mission the entire flight will be ignored by the game engine. Delayed starts are not allowed in online play.
In offline missions the delayed start is a powerful feature, adding unpredictability and also streamlining the mission. The game engine does not have to account for delayed objects until they appear. And neither can the player detect them until they appear.
At this stage in the mission I usually assess whether I want any other ground activity near the base. In this mission I added a German supply convoy about 5km away and coming to the base. I also placed additional air defense units around the eastern edge of the city.
In order to make this a real CAP flight over the base I would have to add more waypoints and get the flight altitude up. For brevity we will skip this step and move on to adding the enemy flights.
I placed the enemy Pe-8 bombers about 50 km out from the base at 3800m. I placed two flights of four aircraft, and then added an escort of four Yak 9Us. I assigned a loadout of 12x250kg bombs for one flight, and a single 5000kg bomb for the other. The escort I placed 100 meters higher and slightly behind the bomber stream at the same speed. I chose the 16th Guards unit for the Yaks, and the 8th ShAP for the bombers.
I set the bomber waypoints over the base, and then assigned targets for each flight. (I selected larger icons from the view menu to take this screen shots). For level bombers the target waypoint is placed over the desired target. The player then clicks in the TYPE box and selects GATTACK.
|Adding the first waypoint
For this scenario I decided to add two variants. First, I added a flight of ace Me-262s to intercept the bombers while they were still 30km from the German base. Then I added eight Bf-109G6s assigned to scramble against Pe-2s attempting to take out air defenses in advance of the main force.
At this point things become more complex. It is completely possible to set a takeoff waypoint other than a runway, but it requires some fudging about within the mission builder. Weíll begin Part 2 by considering how this is done.