Building a Campaign
ALiVE excels when it comes to building large scale dynamic campaigns. Instead of a single, short, highly scripted linear mission, an ALiVE campaign consists of multiple missions played over several sessions with progress automatically tracked and saved to the War Room. This short demo is based on a popular campaign created for VOLCBAT that ran for over six months on Reshmaan province. It covers campaign planning, the technical build and also an example of the Op Orders and Reports written by the participants as the campaign progressed. It assumes you already know the basics of mission editing.
The process, in short, is deceptively simple: think up a vaguely credible scenario, plonk some ALiVE modules and press go. It takes about an hour to do the whole thing from scratch and uses no scripting other than what ALiVE provides out of the box.
The first step is to define the context for your campaign.
- Pick a map. Check the list of Supported Maps to ensure it works with ALiVE.
- Think up a high level scenario and overall missions for both OPFOR and BLUFOR. The missions don't need a lot of detail at this stage e.g."OPFOR are invading because reasons; BLUFOR are counter attacking because NATO."
- Choose one of the Supported Factions for each side of the conflict. These all have groups properly defined by you can also manually declare faction mappings for unsupported addons if you wish. Ideally you want 2 or 3 different Inf groups, Motorised, Mech, Armour and Air. AA, Snipers and other specialists are best configed as SF groups so you can control their numbers easily.
- Work out a starting Order of Battle (ORBAT) for each faction. For example, OPFOR has 3 battalions of light infantry supported by 3 support helicopters, 1 artillery battery and a special forces group. Jot this down on a notepad for reference. The player group and any supporting assets should be subset of the BLUFOR ORBAT. This is lends a lot of flavour and credibility to the campaign without needing mountains of text and also massively helps with tracking campaign progress later.
BLUFOR ORBAT 3 Cdo Bde HQ & Logistics Support Squadron 1Bn HQ, A, B & Spt Coy VCB Atts: 243 Flt, 847 Naval Air Sqn, Cdo Helicopter Force 7 Bty, 29 Cdo Regt RA 2 Tp, 24 Cdo Regt RE 1Tp BRF, 30IX SRS
Next up, create a mission in the editor.
- As a minimum you need to place one playable unit and a marker named respawn_west as well as the ALiVE (Required) and Virtual AI System modules.
- Place down an Military Placement (Military Objectives) and Military Placement (Civilian Objectives) with debug on. Hit Preview and screenshot the results. This provides a useful reference of all the Objectives on the map. If there are any massive gaps in areas where players are likely to go, you can fill them in with one of the premade Military Placement (Custom Objectives) like road blocks, field camps, heli FARPs either manually or using the Random Camps option.
- Define TAOR zones on the map for each faction group. In the video example, I've placed 3 very large rectangles covering East, Centre and West of the map (coloured Orange, Red and Brown for easy reference) and a fourth Blue rectangle covering the start base for BLUFOR.
- Place additional Mil Placement, Military AI Commander and Military Logistics modules, selecting the size/type/mission/supply level and TAOR/Blacklists as per the ORBAT you planned earlier for each faction. Run another debug preview and screenshot it - this provides a snapshot of the campaign start state and is helpful for writing Op Orders and INTSUMs.
- Finally, place any supporting modules you want, such as Command & Control, Combat Support, Logistics Support, Player Support.
No campaign is complete without a set of orders to provide context for players and some direction for what they need to do.
- Make up a Mission Statement for your player group to kick things off. Note that "Missions" are not the same as "game sessions". It could take several sessions to complete a single Mission. A realistic way of doing this is to set a high level Commander's Intent and then break it down into specific missions and tasks for the player group to carry out.
Commander's Intent: Dominate the AO. Maintain Patrol Bases at strategic locations in order to limit OPFOR movement throughout the province with the aim of pacifying the area. Maintain control of the Main Highway in order to allow movement of traffic N-S through the Reshmaan Valley. Mission: Patrol within boundaries to find enemy locations and determine strengths and dispositions
- Each Mission consists of a number of patrol tasks for the player group, which you can add with the Task Manager from the Command & Control module.
1. Conduct clearance patrols within 1km of the Forward Operating Base 2. Recce enemy locations and determine dispositions immediately North and West of the FOB 3. Conduct route clearance up to 5km from FOB, concentrating on bridges and vulnerable points 4. Identify suitable locations for Observation Posts, Patrol Bases, Veh Check Points and Defensive Strong Points”
- Tip: setting boundaries and a Limit of Exploitation is important for controlling the mission and preventing players going to areas that aren't ready yet. This is very useful if you want to limit the number of profiles being spawned in distant areas of the map to speed up load times. You can always the mission and add them when you return to the campaign at a later date.
- As the campaign progresses you simply need to update Tasks occasionally to move things along. Encourage patrol leaders to add SITREPs, SPOTREPs and Patrol Reports with the Command & Control module so the next patrol leader can get an update on what's been happening.
Tweaking on the Fly
- As the campaign develops you can make a few tweaks to the mission. This may involve adding a few custom compositions or gradually increasing the BLUFOR TAOR to simulate BLUFOR expanding their zone of control. Of course, if you're running on a dedicated server with a War Room account, Persistence will take care of this for you!
- Keeping track of Combat Support assets and removing any that get destroyed will encourage players to look after them!
- You might consider having a couple of people to play as an Int Cell, responsible for building a picture of enemy dispositions and activity from patrol reports and suggesting appropriate Tasks for HQ to post.