Falcon 4.0: Force on Force
By Tom "Saint" Launder
When I first started beta testing Falcon 4.0 in the latter part of 1998, I
remember having a dream of being more than just a pilot in the war. I
wanted the ability to control my squadron's flights and even the ability to
control the flights of other squadrons throughout the war. While that
ability never materialized in the campaign module, it did appear in the
tactical engagement (TE) module.
My goal with this article is to introduce you to a different way of playing
Falcon 4.0. Perhaps you have heard of the term "force on force" before, but
many probably have not. For this article, I'm going to borrow some
terminology that I learned from my testing with the I-beta team. I first
learned of this concept through my association with Glenn "Sleepdoc"
Kletzky. There were three terms we used to describe the different ways to
play using the TE module.
- 1. Force on Force AI (a minimum of two teams whose missions were all
previously scripted before playing)
- 2. Force on Force Prescripted (a minimum of two teams but only one side's
missions were previously scripted)
- 3. Force on Force Chess (a minimum of two teams but neither team has
previously scripted missions)
These names were helpful in giving us a way to refer to the type of play
possible and in working on reporting bugs. What most of you who play F4 are
familiar with is number one above. Force on Force AI refers to your
standard TE mission where you have missions previously set for both the US
and DPRK forces. When you load the TE mission, you'll see these missions in
the mission schedule and you pick which one you want to fly. While this is
a great way to enjoy F4, there is yet another.
With types two and three, a human player is required to make missions while
theTE mission is loaded and running. This is where the fun really begins!
There is a little known feature in the TE module that makes this all
possible. This all happens through the "add package" button that appears
next to your map.
With this feature, you are given the ability to make missions from whatever
squadrons that are previously set in the mission world. Imagine starting up
a TE mission and then seeing a blank mission schedule. Imagine then that
you are going to determine all the flights for your side. Not only this,
but then you can choose which F-16 mission from the ones you made that you
will enter into the sim with and fly. You can then come back out and make
another set of missions to continue further in accomplishing your goal.
If this sounds exciting to you, then you will need to learn some of the
basics as to how this is done. What follows from here is a description on
how to go about actually doing what was described above. We'll look at the
basics of how this is done, how to fly it online, some tips for template
making and various strategies for better play.
In order for you to begin to play in the manner described above, you first
have to have a TE mission that is set up as a template. If you don't know
how to make a basic TE mission please refer to page 11-5 in the F4 manual.
- 1. Two teams (defaults in TE are DPRK "Red" and USA "Blue)
- 2. One F-16 squadron (you'll need one on DPRK and one on USA if you plan on
flying Force on Force Chess)
- 3. Victory conditions (points awarded for each target objective)
- 4. Victory points (overall points needed to win the scenario)
What you have done with these basics is set up a template. From this point
you are free to add other elements like ground forces, but what is listed
above serves as the minimum requirements. The placing of an F-16
squadron(s) gives you the ability to make flights that you the player will
fly. If you go on to add other squadrons (F-15, F-14, B-1B, etc.) to the
template then these squadrons will also be available for you to task for
additional missions in the sim world.
One other decision you will make during template design is whether you plan
on making this a Force on Force Prescripted or a Force on Force Chess type
mission. Because there are limitations with online play (which will be
described later) I prefer to make and to fly the prescripted type missions.
What is different about the prescripted mission is that I prescript all of
the DPRK missions in the template for the time period covered and the
objectives, but I leave the USA team empty which then allows for making the
missions while playing. I have at times prescripted some missions for the
USA team as well, but I normally relegate USA team prescripting to
atmosphere type flights (Refuellers, AWACS, Cargo). If you were to design a
Force on Force Chess type template, you would place the squadrons for both
sides, but not script any missions. The limitation to chess play is that it
cannot be flown offline by the player. Since both sides need mission
making, this has to be done while online.
Now that the template has been made, it's time to load the TE mission and
begin to make missions. For this example, I'm going to assume you are
flying a Force on Force Prescripted mission (though the steps are the same
for each). The DPRK side has already been scripted to cover the time and
objectives and now you have loaded the mission and are looking at a blank
mission schedule. At first, staring at a blank mission schedule might seem
overwhelming, but it's not. Here is what you need to do. I'm going to use
an example of making on OCA strike mission on an airbase.
1. Turn on the map icons. First step is to get your map to display the
icons you need. When playing any type of Force on Force mission, you will
want to make sure that all the types of aircraft icons will appear, that the
target icons will appear (depending on what is listed in the victory
conditions), and that ground force icons will appear. You should also
display victory conditions which will then put a blue or reddish brown
circle around all victory condition objects
One problem with the victory condition circles is that they can interfere
with your clicking on the object which they surround. This will then cause
a different target to show up then the one you selected. I suggest you turn
them off before proceeding with the following steps. Turn them on to see
the target, then turn them off to continue on. To be able to target the
airbase, you should highlight "airfields."
2. Click on the "Add Package" icon on the right of the map. It will depress
and turn green when highlighted.
3. Left click on the map the airbase you are going to strike. This will
bring up the "Add Package" user interface (UI).
4. Lock "Takeoff." This is an important step. The way to lock the takeoff
time is to click on the little padlock next to the time display. When you
click on it, it will go from blue "unlocked" to green "locked." You want to
set and lock your time of takeoff otherwise you can run into a few problems.
The first problem is that a mission with a 9:30 time on target might then
have a 9:18 takeoff time. This means that if you are online, you will have
to wait eighteen minutes to get into that flight. You want flights leaving
ASAP from the time the scenario begins. The second problem is that people
can cheat. If the time of takeoff is not locked and set for a time after
the scenario begins, you can set a time on target to one minute after the
scenario start time and thus have jets appear in the air over you the
Here are the important UI's you'll see as you
build missions. (Carefully note the locked Time of Takeoff and the highlighted
"Add Package" button)