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  • helicopter ATC

    After the fiasco on Muttrah City last night something needs to happen before the USMC can take full advantage of the mobility the helicopters provide. On the maps with air assets the US side has the advantage in air transport and on many of the maps success depends on the use of the helicopters. With the pilot kits now being required to fly, the ability for squads to simply hop into a helo and head for its objective is no longer a simple task. Because of the simulation factor that comes with a realism mod there are a number of players who approach flying in game as their sole role and thus try to fly squads from point A to point B. The problem here as everyone knows is that there is no way to communicate between squads over VOIP. So it comes down to a pilot hopefully noticing the text sent by a boarding SL. If he doesn't see a message the squad will most likely be dropped at some undesired location. This problem can resolved in a couple of ways which may turn our easier said than done.

    First, and already a TG SOP is the creation of helo squads. I'm pretty sure the most helos on a map at once is under 6 so you can get a full squad of pilots. Now ideally you would have a commander who is capable of coordinating both ground and air operations. The commander would give a SL an objective and then communicate to the Helo SL to devote a pilot to that squad and what needs to happen. For this to work, the helo SL really needs to be a wing commander so the CO can focus on the overall strategy and not worry about whether or not his Squads are getting to and from their objectives. This is obviously an ideal setup and ideal is pretty tough to reach during pick up games.

    If a CO is not present or is having a tough time coordinating the air and ground units and is just overwhelmed then there is two options. First, have the helo squad SL remove himself from the flying. His sole job becomes assigning birds to squads. He accomplishes this by simply watching the text coming in and then relaying the information to one of his pilots. This is made a lot easier with the new grid system on the pull-up map. Now, I'm pretty sure there are few people who would actually like doing this beyond those interested in pursuing a career in Air Traffic Control/Flight Operations.

    However, since the need for this kind of setup mainly stems from there being an empty CO seat someone could step in and simply become the relay between SLs and the helo squad leaving the ground operations up to the SLs, there are only a maximum of 4 flags in play at one time so the tactics aren't too pressing, especially in a pick up round. This isn't the best use of the CO chair but it is certainly better than nothing.

    The last option is the least effective and that is having squads have their own pilot. The problem with this is the lack of firepower the pilot brings to the field (a KA-BAR and 9mm). So you now become a 5 man squad until the pilot can either switch kits or gets killed. This is also going against the reasoning behind the creation of pilot kits and leaves one less piece of equipment for the rest of the team. You can destroy it but there is still a lengthy respawn time. Overall this option, while providing the easiest and most effective way to communicate does, is not very applicable and is frowned upon by the PR community.

    So, next time you are playing as US, implore the formation of a Helo squad and make sure someone is coordinating the flight and ground ops. The ideas above might not actually be the best way to approach this problem but I think it is important to get something established sooner rather than later so good habits develop before bad habits make themselves at home.

  • #2
    Re: helicopter ATC

    Yeah, I'm not sure what to do on those maps. Our PR server is almost full 24/7 now, though there are times when no one is TG. It'll be confusing to have our SOPs enforced only when we have enough people on board to issue warnings, etc.

    It would be good to try something like this on a PR night when we have 20+ TGers playing and perhaps it would inspire some, infuriate others. Ah well.

    Sadly I feel like if maps like Muttrah continue to play out like a three ring circus they should be removed from general rotation and only be brought out when we have the numbers to organize a dedicated HELO squad.

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    • #3
      Re: helicopter ATC

      Nice post Aculle, some TG standpoint in this is needed.
      A PW night would be good to decently experiment with this stuff.

      On having a chopper squad:
      I'm not sure weather it is really effective because as SL I like to give my chopper waypoints, with extra voice info on how I wish him to land (usually fast and coming in low).
      Without a waypoint it will be hard to communicate that I want to land in a certain trench off the flag, instead of in the general area of the flag.

      Another thing that will be hard for the chopper liaison officer is to know which squad is in which pilots chopper. Off course if there is only on esquad in a chopper + pilot, then the liaison officer will be able to see the squad number.

      On coordinating through typing; I can't read chat well personally as I'm flying because I'm too preoccupied with enemy's.

      I can see the choppersquad working, but only with good co support. Don't think typing will be enough. By the time all teh squads realize the strat, chaos will have erupted on the carrier.

      I must add that yesterday I played Muttrah, and at games start, NOT ONE chopper crashed. People ARE improving. People are getting ferried instead of staying at the carrier. People ARE staying away from the pilot seat if they can't fly. After all, you get flamed by six people after every crash :).

      (By the way I move that Muttrah, a very nice map, be taken out of rotation until it is fixed. It is so imbalanced, and I've never seen a remotely decent game since 0.5 and aas on that map. I believe they will add a cappable flag to this map except docks, probably hotel. Imo it is unplayable in it's current state. The mec always rushes the docks instead of taking the grey flags. The devs clearly hadn't realized the pubbie's unconditional love of 1337 pwnage, even if it ruins the game.)

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      • #4
        Re: helicopter ATC

        Originally posted by aculle01 View Post
        First, and already a TG SOP is the creation of helo squads. I'm pretty sure the most helos on a map at once is under 6 so you can get a full squad of pilots. Now ideally you would have a commander who is capable of coordinating both ground and air operations. The commander would give a SL an objective and then communicate to the Helo SL to devote a pilot to that squad and what needs to happen. For this to work, the helo SL really needs to be a wing commander so the CO can focus on the overall strategy and not worry about whether or not his Squads are getting to and from their objectives. This is obviously an ideal setup and ideal is pretty tough to reach during pick up games.
        I think this is the ideal set-up; a helo squad with a dedicated SL. Could we have a TS channel and once a helo has been assigned to a squad by the helo squad SL, that squad's SL could talk to the pilot ?



        DB

        «That looks like a really nice house except for that horrible bathroom.» Donrhos

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        • #5
          Re: helicopter ATC

          Funny this thread should crop up. Yesterday (actually about 3 hours before Aculles post), I received permission from Tempus to form a new squad : the 160th SOAR. Once I do a bit of recruitment and training, we'll be able to field a helo squad.

          I also seem to be co-ordinating a TGU session for this kind of thing. You have to watch these people. They're very sneaky at "convincing" you to do things. The sight of Tempus with the celery and the flying goggles was just too much. :)
          BFCL TF2 league admin

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          • #6
            Re: helicopter ATC

            Flew in a helo squad today, albeit briefly. Lot's of fun. We were getting pickup requests and strafing request via SL->CO->SL type comms. This usually resulted in a marker somewhere, and a waiting squad/enemy infantry. One thing that wasn't happening at the time, but would have been awesome looking back, is SL's using their officer smoke. The green smoke could be used to mark pick-up and enemy targets, and would be easy to see from the air. Another thing about text-chat, is that during the 1 minute downtime while the engines are warming up, a SL could communicate brief flight-plan instructions. Maybe make this SOP, pilots be alert for text while warming up? Just throwing out some ideas to chew on.

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            • #7
              Re: helicopter ATC

              Originally posted by BigGaayAl View Post
              On having a chopper squad:
              I'm not sure weather it is really effective because as SL I like to give my chopper waypoints, with extra voice info on how I wish him to land (usually fast and coming in low).
              Without a waypoint it will be hard to communicate that I want to land in a certain trench off the flag, instead of in the general area of the flag.

              Another thing that will be hard for the chopper liaison officer is to know which squad is in which pilots chopper. Off course if there is only on esquad in a chopper + pilot, then the liaison officer will be able to see the squad number.

              On coordinating through typing; I can't read chat well personally as I'm flying because I'm too preoccupied with enemy's.
              If there is no CO the Helo Squad SL essentially becomes an Air Traffic Controller and thats it. He does not fly unless absolutely necessary. He could set himself up as a forward observer if he wanted something extra to do, but his main roll is to decipher incoming text messages and talk to the pilots about where they need to go. This is really just a back up as I don't think anyone really wants to sit at their computer and do this for fun and relying on the SL's to text, especially during the heat of battle. This is not a very efficient setup but it beats the alternative of helo pilots dropping Squads wherever they see fit as the SL frantically tries to get his/her attention over text.

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              • #8
                Re: helicopter ATC

                I tested this in calvin's chopper squad on muttrah with foxoq et al. I have to say it worked pretty well. The squads were actually accepting lifts, and after a while they new who were able pilots. I inserted several squadleaders and spec ops that parachuted to the roof, and so did others. The map was still crap though. Us had docks for a while but that's it.

                In the end I do think this sort of squad is the best way to go. In time people wil learn to trust the pilots in these squads.

                What was very frustrating yesterday as a co is having a cobra squad, see them waiting for the respawn , only to have some pubbies snatch it. The spawnraping inside the carrier on Oman was very painful too. Wish there were more admins :(.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: helicopter ATC

                  Excellent solutions gentlemen. It all comes to "If there is a problem, become the solution !"

                  - Create your speciality squad (Airlift, AirTaxi, Chopper, Littlebird, Lift R' Us, etc)

                  - Periodically control chat lines to see if there are requests from SLs

                  - Periodically send a message using team chat

                  >>> Transport chopper ready for the lift. Report your position and destination for insertion. We will get you there in one piece <<<

                  Again, admins (if they are on) will ensure that all pilots are in these speciality squads and no one will steal your chopper. If that happens

                  1) Politely remind the person that there is a speciality squad
                  2) Try to contact an admin (Teamspeak, in game text)

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