Taking a cue from |TG-Irr| Pepper, I'll be using this blog as a way to document and update missions that I am testing on the Alpha server (mostly because we can continue to edit blogs, but not posts in threads).

The three maps I currently have up on Alpha are:

Operation Manticore Part I -- A US Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA, or A-team) and their militia allies are tasked with eliminating two enemy commanders in their Area of Operations (AO) (Zargabad). This mission started as a 5-player mission, intended for seeding the server when the population was very low (5 or less). Five slots was not enough (to allow for join in progress players, JIPs), so it had grown to 10-player capacity. This was still insufficient, that while the mission in progress, it often hit max capacity (10), leaving no room for additional players to join, which defeats the point of a seeder map. The next step was to add 10 additional player slots as a buffer, increasing the max to 20-players, to allow for JIPs, without having to end the mission prematurely because the mission is at max capacity.

The challenge is balancing the mission so that it is still playable at the low cap (5 players or possibly less), but also playable at max cap (20 players). My solution is to have the first ten player slots be the Special Forces team, and the next ten be local militia. The Special Forces players will have top notch gear, enabling them to complete the mission with a low pop, while the militia troops will have basic East weapons, to avoid making the mission a cakewalk. This will keep with the intended background/storyline of the mission, that a small Special Forces detachment in a remote outpost is training and leading local militia.

Other pending changes:
--Additional "labels" were requested by players, to help explain some of the jargon used in the mission briefing/intel (ROE, etc.)
--Tweaking of the spawn in building script. Currently one of the enemy commanders likes to go for walks in the countryside and hide in remote/outlying structures rather than the central ones I intend.
--Tweaking of the AAA (anti-aircraft artillery) threat. Some areas of the map can be pretty nasty for aircraft; I need to see if the AAA threat is too high currently.

Operation Manticore Part II -- Picking up where Part I ends, the Special Forces team and their Taki militia allies receive word that radio intercepts indicate a large enemy force en route to their location. The team must find and destroy several enemy weapon caches at the insurgent compound they start at, then get on the move, either on foot or by finding transportation. Additional reports indicate the UN compound at the airfield is being attacked, and the team is tasked with securing the airfield to keep the logistics hub open and save the UN personnel if possible. The final objective is to complete the exfiltration back to the forward operating base (FOB).

The mission has had its challenges. The insurgents' air assault on the airfield was a flying circus until Daniel suggested changing their status to "careless". Previously, when fired upon, the helicopters would fly around, approaching and breaking off, until they finally landed, if they avoided mid-air collisions. Now they simply fly in, disgorge their infantry, and head out.

Timing is a big issue on this mission. Trying to figure out how much time to give the players to find and blow the weapons caches before enemy forces begin arriving, how long before the heavy units arrive, etc. Play-testing is going to be tough on this one because each squad-leader is going to attack this a different way, taking a different amount of time. Scaling the difficulty for 3-20 players is also going to be a challenge.

The first play test went pretty well, with the major bug being a pair of re-spawning OPFOR, which was due to left over playable slots from previous testing. Triggers functioned, as did the end mission trigger. There were some odd things, like little armor presence at the airfield and little to no resistance after the airfield. The players had to scrounge for ammo, especially AT, making me wonder if I need to add some ammo boxes somewhere. Grabbing weapons from the enemy dead ended up working pretty, and I think the players liked it.

Pending changes:
--add additional enemy patrols
--look into beefing up the armor convoy
--review the briefing text for clarity

British Patrol -- A British firebase outside Zargabad is under increasing threat, with daily indirect fire (mortars/rockets) and reports of an expected enemy attack on the firebase itself. A motorized infantry platoon is tasked with a series of increasingly difficult tasks to help alleviate the danger to the firebase. This mission was initially intended for twenty players (20), but was scaled back to ten players to make it more manageable. It has recently increased to fifteen players (15), which is still insufficient sometimes, so it will get bumped up to a max of twenty (20).

This mission started out as a single player mission, intended for me to get familiar with the BAF expansion. Converting a single player mission to multiplayer has been a challenge, and rather frustrating at times. One word of advice, if you plan on making a mission for online play, use the multiplayer editor. This is done by going to multiplayer, hosting/starting a server, and then double clicking on the editor option in the mission selection screen.

British Patrol has had its headaches, with broken triggers, various script errors, difficulty getting the revive system to work and balancing issues. Currently it can be rather easy at times (low spawn rate), or really tough (high spawn rate). The mission is designed to be different every time you play it, to keep it fresh. There is a large variety of enemy spawn locations and percentage of chance which enemies will spawn, hopefully resulting in surprises each time it is played. This mission makes use of the Advanced IED script by James (00DC15). I still need to tweak my spawns and settings, but I have been really impressed with the ease of use and excellent gameplay this script adds.

Feedback on this mission has been quite positive, with a mix of comments that it is too easy or too hard. I'm not sure whether I should try to further balance it or leave it as is. I originally intended to do a larger scale of the same mission (30+ players), but after a month of development on it, I'm rather burned out and eager for something new, so the large scale (with the Warriors IFVs) will have to wait a bit. One intention on this mission that has seemed to work out is giving the players a variety of tools to complete the mission as they see fit. The motor pool has a large variety of vehicles, initially intended during testing to see which would be overpowered and need to be removed. Feedback from players testing the mission is that they like having a choice of vehicles to use, so I'll keep the large motor pool as is and see if there are any mission-breaking ones, requiring changes.

Pending changes:
--Review of the end mission triggers
--Possible removal of the view distance script (which seems to kill client side performance for some players)

Both missions are currently available to play on the Alpha server. Feel free to send any feedback (comments/suggestions) to me via PM or on the forums. Thanks!