Not going to give a mission synopsis - mainly because I was unable to operate with effective Command and Control (C2) and never felt as if I was a platoon leader.
I think this mission revealed the instability and danger of using the current com system - it effectively makes TEAM/TACTICAL play with a group larger than 35-40 impossible. Coms broke down at all levels but the highest due to technical failures:
1. Individual - being unable to hear a guy 5 feet away from you who is being fired at and asking for help, unable to report that you are hit and need a medic
2. Fireteam - unable to direct team members or assets effectively to act as a unit rather than as scattered individuals
3. Inter-squad - each squad was unsupported ,as they were unable to talk to other elements, making play as a platoon impossible
4. Platoon - I was unable to give orders and once elements were set into motion corrections could not be made. This resulted in dozens of unnecessary casualties as situational awareness was extremely dampened.
Effectively each player was by himself, unable to rely on others, and even when there was intra-squad and fireteam cohesion, elements were unable to talk to eachother, resulting in individual unsupported elements going up against a seemingly coherent enemy resistance. This resulted in long delays, heavy casualties, low morale, frustration and consternation.
I also had very low FPS the entire time.
Other than that:
1. Higher's plan was logical
2. Radio SOP and discipline was implemented effectively where possible
3. Individual leadership skills were effective and exceptional
4. Admirable dedication by all players, and exceptional patience in not quitting when com stresses were becoming unbearable
5. The mission was excellent and I would love to play it again
5a. For those who say it was too difficult, I disagree, it's like a typical wac: it requires good C2 and attention to tactics, and without the ability to command AT ALL, it was a failure
Keep in mind, I wasn't there. But... why were you not able to give orders? You set a command level short- and long-range radio frequency, right? There's also different slots you can program different frequencies for into your radio box that comes on-screen. Example:
Long range: 1234
Short range: 123456
Plugs in Company Commander's short and long range
Long Range: 1123
Short Range: 112345
Plugs in Platoon's short range and long-range
Short Range: 111234
Plugs in Squad Leader's short range
Makes their own little short-range.
Fireteam talks amongst themselves, can communicate via short-range to squad leader. Squad leader can talk to his fireteams and pass stuff up to platoon leader. Platoon leader talks to his squad leaders and can pass stuff up to company commander. Vice versa back down.
Does this create a lot of chatter for the company commander? Yes. That's what radio protocol is for. If you're talking on a higher command net, identify who you are and who your traffic is intended for. Protocol at the fireteam/squad level isn't really needed. Just say who it is and blabber away.
I'd like to play this mission again with working comms. In my opinion it is the most tactical, and most dynamic mission we've made for ARMA II yet. Heck I'd play this with one platoon. I think the ONLY failure in this mission was the complete breakdown of comms from the platoon level down which made the mission effectivly unplayable.
I'd also love to give this a go again when the revamped plug-in is available. As it was, we fell back on group chat which worked OK, even if it was a bit slower and clunky. I guess you could look at it as a simulation of comms jamming by OPFOR One thing I would suggest is that if the plug-in borks, let's not discount the use of VON and/or appropriate text channels just because we don't normally use them. They still make a reasonable fall-back plan.
I do think the scenario needs just a little tuning. For the apparent size and skill of the opposing forces, it seems unrealistic to commit a force of Blue's size with no artillery support. I don't think the weapons section alone was adequate. We also had a number of Javelin gunners and assistants but as far as I ever heard, we never saw any armor. Maybe we just never got far enough for them to appear.
Finally, it looked like the poor chopper pilots might have been able to use some help. In addition to landing all the initial forces, then returning respawns and ferrying JIPs, they were supposed to handle resupply. Another chopper just for supply runs might be a good addition. 1-1-A spent a fair amount of time combat-ineffective due to running low on ammo and morphine and waiting for supplies to arrive. At that point, I think it was down to just Waldo flying.
Anyway, it was a good time regardless and the 1-1-A leaders did an outstanding job given the conditions. I think I got lost only once, for about 5 minutes.
Long-time Gamer - ArmA 2 Noob - Certified Old Fart
We can't have 20-60 players in a holding pattern for 90 minutes. It's simply too much time. I have no answer for this, except to simply make it happen faster... I'm confident it can be done with our admins keeping things moving. Having extremely complicated mods/plugins makes it difficult, so quite simply if a player doesn't have it set up at start-time, they should be told they can't play. Set a hard cut-off for roll call, and set a goal for mission start to occur within 20 minutes after roll call.
This event was worse because the slotting was done twice, the second time in staggered fashion, which seemed necessary after the first crash but still took an unbearably long time.
Having a warmup JIP mission will help tremendously... don't ask me why, but the server handles it better when a large group gradually JIPs into a mission, and then switching to a new mission isn't an issue. Set up a 100+ holding mission and allow players to JIP and wait while ingame... then switch to the real mission. The gradual JIPs for the "warmup" mission seem to actually warmup the server. I have no idea why this works, but it does. This is a trick that is used every night in other clans, and it's effective... missions with 60+ players are started fairly regularly without crashing. Please consider trying this idea for the next event.
2) Expert mode
We aren't capable of it. With 60 players, many of which are often sharing areas of the map, and all looking essentially identical... it doesn't work. We need green diamonds, or perhaps the "TAGS" mod so they can be turned on/off as needed (so you can just "sneak a peek" at who is around you and you won't need to have diamonds or tags for the entire mission).
Playing a video game robs us of spatial awareness and ability to see each other's face properly. With large groups playing, and particularly after a respawn, keeping near each other is near impossible. The comms failure made it worse of course, but it's still too much and kills the fun to constantly trying not to lose your team. That's only my opinion of course. I sense that many people will disagree.
3) Laggy mission
Maybe it was just me, but I almost never lag and the FPS during the event was very low for me. The mission had many, many ungrouped AI with lotssss of waypoints... there are tricks for this, and I felt the mission's memory "footprint" needs to be adjusted for large missions like an event. In particular, perhaps not spawning enemy units until they are triggered, so only a small group of enemy AI are active at any given moment. There are also eventHandlers for kill cleanups that are important for long missions, as the bodycount stacks up.
4) Comms - what next?
The comms issues were off the chart. Perhaps an overall executive decision to completely disconnect from TS3 and try to rely on VON earlier in the mission would have been better... I'm particularly frustrated because I had hoped we would keep TS2 until 3 was at least out of beta and with proper Channel Commander. I believe the TG higher admin's decision to cutoff TS2 and move to TS3 was rushed, and I think some of the ArmA admins agree with that. TS3 AND the radio plugin are beta releases and it showed.
I don't fault the admins for trying new technologies, but I think the overall goal should now be stability. We are now straddling between a new technology (TS3 and plugin) that has shown it isn't ready for deployment and an old technology (TS2) that has been removed completely and is no longer even an option. It's a terrible place to be.
*Perhaps we should halt use of the plugin until a later date?
*Or temporarily setup a completely different comms server? Back to TS2? Ventrillo? I somehow doubt that the top TG site admins would like that though... having comms servers pop up with the name "TG" attached is a complicated business, and I'm sure they would prefer all comms activity to be consolidated on one server, but this may be the only option.
*VON-only isn't a good option, so I won't even mention it for serious consideration.
I will be looking at the admins for guidance on the comms technical issues... we need your leadership badly.
I don't like to sound like a negative jerk, but I think a discussion of what happened and how to make things better is important.
If I have to be honest, I'm not looking forward to play this mission ever again.
I think one concept this mission captured well was that of "battle fatigue": after 2 hours of getting killed, waiting at spawn, flying to the LZ, walking to the designated position, getting slaughtered (often without being even able to see where the shots came from) and repeating the process over and over and over and over and over and over and over again removed all fun I had at the start.
They way I see it this mission could do with a couple of secobj less and we absolutely need some sort of support.
While I do not want to have a fleet of helicopters levelling the area while a mechanized company rolls in blasting everything standing, we could have really used some indirect fire support: when dealing with missions of this size (2 full infantry platoon) you would expect to have at least 2 heavy mortar squads and maybe even a light mortar squad to "soften up" the area before the infantry moves in, because otherwise it will still end up like it did this evening.
While I don't doubt that the C2 failure impacted heavily on our chances of success, I still believe that even if it didn't this mission would still be, if not impossible, insanely difficult. Case in point, even when comms were working and we had proper intra-squads coordination, we still were slaughtered.
If we tried flanking, the enemy would engage us from hidden area, if we tried using a base of fire element to cover the maneuver element, the bof would get supressed and the assault element killed. Whether we tried using cover to get close, or degrade the enemy positions from long range we still were slaughtered.
Every time I was near a LR radio I could hear how this squad was retreating, this other squad was pinned down, and that other squad was annihilated with only a guy left.
While this mission as it is can probably be won, it will STILL be through attrition, and I don't think it's a good design choice, also because AIs have no morale, while we human players do. The only reason I stuck through was because I'm too thick-headed to quit and did not want to make the other feel like I was quitting them because I could not stand getting shot again and again for almost no gain.
To conclude, we need some believable amount of extra support (because not having any in such a big and important (according to the story) engagement doesn't makes sense), and while having respawning enabled (nicely, I might add), it should not be a requirement to have even a slim chance of succeding. It should be winnable (no matter how hard) without having to depend on respawning.
And yes, I actually had fun while the squad was still present, even when we were all killed again. And I am grateful to the various leaders and the pilots for trying to hold together this trainwreck. It's just that after a while all the fun drained away, and for a while there was only frustration. And then the frustration drained away as well, leaving me tired. Simply tired.
Could the breakdown of comms have possibly been attributed to many players not having their configs set up correctly? For some reason, it defaults controls like short/long range broadcasting to really stupid keys like W, S, A and D.