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Mission Design in IL2 Sturmovik, Part II

by Len "Viking1" Hjalmarson

Article Type: Guide
Article Date: December 14, 2001

Back to Mission Design in IL-2 Sturmovik, Part I

In Part I we considered map selection, placement of aircraft and objects, and some of the differences between single and coop mission design. We also considered some points of waypoint placement. In this second part we’ll look at some variants of takeoff placement, look more closely at targets and mission goals, and then talk about mission testing.

Takeoff waypoints

Note that waypoint 0, or the takeoff waypoint, for these eight Bf-109s are all set in the field near the base. It is possible to set a takeoff waypoint other than on a runway, but it takes some work.

First, you select the object you want to place, as you normally would, and then click on the map. Then you assign TAKEOFF to that first waypoint. The waypoint will jump to the nearest runway. You must drag the waypoint back to where you want it. From here you can then add waypoints normally.

To do this with eight aircraft requires a bit of work. Furthermore, since you do not get scaled models placed on the map, you have to estimate the spacing as you place each aircraft. This can be a process of trial and error since if they are spaced too closely they will explode or crash on takeoff.

Furthermore, the aircraft placed in this way cannot be members of the same flight. They can be in the same squadron (I JG51) but they must be a different flight. So do not place TWO members of I JG51 flight two, a leader and wingman, each flight must number only one aircraft.

A closer look at waypoints

After I have placed each aircraft and object in the mission, I set the mission goals. This can be tricky if you are creating a cooperative mission, and in fact you are better designing a single mission and converting to coop rather than designing a coop mission and converting to single. (Note: if you are designing a mission you will later convert for online play DO NOT use delayed start on any objects).

The actual conversion from a single player mission to a coop mission is very simple; first let’s consider the placing of targets and goals.

Targets and Mission Goals

After I have all my flights in place, I check to ensure that the timing of intercept waypoints looks right. This is done by simply moving your cursor over the waypoint of an intercept flight and then checking the nearest waypoint of the flight to be targeted. The aircraft ID, waypoint number and waypoint time pop up on a colored flag.

This flag shows the Pe-8

How can you tell that the Me-262 flight (I added the label in the screen above) will pass close enough to the Pe-8 flight to make the hostile identification and the intercept? It’s pretty difficult with the routes as is, and the start point of the Pe-8s at 4:00. But if you add a waypoint close to the intercept point, as in this next image, then you can verify the time on the route for the Pe-8s.

Adding a waypoint

Now you can see that the estimated time on the routes is only two minutes apart. They could probably be as many as four minutes apart and the Me-262s would still spot the heavy bombers.

Next I assign targets for relevant aircraft. I have usually assigned bomber targets when I placed the waypoint, so at this stage I am assigning targets for intercepts only.

This is a two step process.

First, find the intercepting aircraft and click on the interceptor’s waypoint nearest to the target.

Next, click on the SET button on the Object menu. Now move your cursor off the menu and you will see that a targeting cursor has replaced your mouse cursor on the map. Move the target cursor over the waypoint of the aircraft or flight that you are targeting. Click on the waypoint and the target is set. You’ll see the target readout appear in the Object menu.

Selecting a target

The Object dialogue

Finally, I set mission goals. Mission goals are listed as TARGET in the Object menu and are placed on the map like any other object.

Where things get tricky is setting destruction levels and in the case of cooperative missions, setting complementary goals near to one another.

Dialogue: Target

Mission goals

After you place the goal object in the correct location, you must adjust the size of the area to which the goal applies. You do this by moving the slider (marked in red in the next image) and thus changing the size of the circle on the map.

Adjust target area

There are five objects within the circle, with the blue goal triangle in the center. With destruction level set at 50 percent, one half of these objects, must be destroyed in order for the goal to be complete. If only two aircraft are hit by red bombs, and the trucks and third aircraft take no damage, the red side will not achieve this primary objective. This wouldn’t matter much in a single player or cooperative mission, but in the single campaign mode, the mission would have to be repeated if flown for the red side.

Goal conflict?

In this image from a cooperative mission I have cropped and pasted from the Object Menu into this screen capture. In the top left corner you can see that the Primary Goal for the Red is to Destroy 50 percent of these ground targets. When I try to place a Defence Ground Goal for the Blue in the same area, the mission builder seemed to become confused, and changed my Destroy Ground object to the Blue side also. In general it doesn’t seem advisable to place complementary goals for the same ground targets.

Single Mission Design versus COOP

There are two primary differences between these two mission types. In the single mission type, the PLAYER is always designated in the first section in the mission file. If you open a mission in NotePad, you’ll see something like this:
  MAP Berlin/load.ini
  TIME 4.0
  CloudType 2
  CloudHeight 1300.0
  player I_JG5400
  army 2
  playerNum 0
The “player” is designated for JG54 on the fifth line, and playerNum 0 means that the player will fly LEAD. In the same mission converted for COOP use, the MAIN section is like this:
  MAP Berlin/load.ini
  TIME 4.0
  CloudType 2
  CloudHeight 1300.0
  army 2
  playerNum 0
The other difference is that in the COOP mission, goals are added for the other side. If a mission is originally designed as a single mission played from the BLUE side, then goals must be added for the RED side.

La-5FN near German airbase

I generally use both PRIMARY and SECONDARY goals in each mission, and I usually add quite a number of hidden goals also. For example, I designate bombers as secondary goals in a DEFENCE or DESTROY ground mission, and I designate the aircraft in the fighter escort and the Combat Air Patrol as HIDDEN targets. In the offlline CAMPAIGN mode, this allows the player to increase his score more quickly.

I add challenge to a mission by setting it early or late in the day. This makes it more difficult to see targets. This has to be used cautiously, however, since the AI isn’t as subject to the problems of low light targeting.

Testing the Complete Mission

The testing process becomes more complex the larger the mission grows. If you have only four flights of aircraft in a single mission, you can play test the mission in an hour. If you have eight flights, you will want to spend more time flying and watching the mission.

I usually begin the testing procedure with a manual scan of the mission file. I open the file in NotePad. I might see something like this in the section for JG27.
  Planes 3
  Skill 3
  Class air.BF_109G2
  Fuel 100
  weapons R6-MG151-20
  TAKEOFF 42154.89 41358.32 0 0
  NORMFLY 46694.20 38337.32 300.0 300.0
  NORMFLY 47865.99 44615.89 500.0 300.0
  NORMFLY 37663.90 47799.68 750.0 300.0
  NORMFLY 32861.65 41057.23 350.0 300.0
  NORMFLY 45359.78 36924.19 750.0 300.0
  NORMFLY 47950.40 43889.23 750.0 300.0
  NORMFLY 38192.30 48250.40 750.0 300.0
  NORMFLY 34064.68 41610.11 750.0 300.0
  NORMFLY 45136.67 36332.60 750.0 300.0
  NORMFLY 48234.40 45169.26 750.0 300.0
  NORMFLY 36874.48 48873.90 750.0 300.0
  NORMFLY 33908.38 40360.70 750.0 300.0
  NORMFLY 45510.58 35736.73 350.0 300.0
  NORMFLY 47099.99 38147.72 250.0 250.0
  LANDING 42183.18 41364.70 0 0
This section may look okay on first glance, but there is an error on the fourth waypoint. For some reason the builder recorded a lower flight level. Depending on other factors, this could cause problems in the mission if this is an AI flight. When I find a waypoint which is out of sync, I manually change it to match the others.

Next I assign myself to a flight and hit PLAY if I am in the mission builder, or I load the mission if I am not in the builder. I fly the mission first from the German side, and then from the Russian side. I observe and note any problems with wingmen, intercepts or AI.

Track File Player

When finished flying, I save a track file and then I watch the file from the perspective of both sides. I usually make a couple of adjustments at this stage and then refly the mission.

Finally, I may convert the mission for COOP play and fly it online with some friends, or else I share the single mission with a couple of friends to get their feedback. If everything looks good I consider the mission complete. A mission with ten or twelve flights can have absorbed fifteen or twenty hours by this time.

TIP: IF you are building a mission that involves bombers, don’t forget to add a SIREN to the target area. Adding cameras near the target enables you to watch the effects of a strike, or when flying the mission online players who are shot down can observe the target area via the camera you place.

Notes on Camera Placement

TIP: Use cameras near ground vehicles like tanks to check the progress of the ground war or to observe the interaction of ground vehicles with ground strike aircraft like the Ju-87.

Placement of cameras will give your mission a greater immersion value. If you are shot down, or after you land, you can watch the action not only from the external perspective of various aircraft, but also from various camera views.

I place cameras near ground targets and sometimes near takeoff points. I usually set the altitude of the camera around 20 meters, but sometimes as low as 2 meters.

In online missions cameras are particularly useful, because once the player is shot down he can observe the action from camera points, but only if you allow external views in the DIFFICULTY settings (these are set by the HOST). I really like watching the action from the perspective of ground targets.

Another advantage of careful camera placement is when replaying track files. You can access various views, including camera views, when viewing track files. For the cinematic pilots out there, this also allows you to create some nice movies for viewing by others. Since you can edit the views when you replay track files and then resave the file with new views, you can create some very dramatic movies of the action.

Berlin scramble mission for the German side flying the Bf-109G6
The Berlin scramble mission for the Russian side flying the Yak 9U Tip: Click the above links to view the text file, or right click the link and choose "Save Target As. . ." to save file to your IL-2 Missions folder on your hard drive)

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