F/A-18E Mission Builder FAQ

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How do I make the Mission and Objective images to put in my mission?
Contributed by Fred "BaldEagle" Balding
In-Game Objective Sizes
The sizes of the pictures displayed in the Mission Selection screen Objective window and the Mission Briefing screen Objective window are, as named in the Mission Builder,
    Mission Image:      482 pixels wide by 187 pixels high
    Objective Image:   382 pixels wide by 241 pixels high
Since the User Interface screens are always 800 x 600, these dimensions are always the same, no matter what your desktop or in-flight resolutions are set to.

To get your screen capture images to these sizes, you need a image processor, which can resize and/or crop your images. The following instructions are for Paint Shop Pro:

Capturing the Image
I recommend that you make your Hornet Invulnerable while you flying the "screenshot" mission. You don't want a SAM to spoil your picture. For the capture of your target(s), fly at a low altitude over the target, so that the image won't have to be blown up so much. when you are at the right distance from and angle to the target, pause the sim. Go to an outside view, hold down the right mouse button and pan around to find the best perspective. Once you have it, press ALT-S. I would suggest taking several screenshots from various angles, so you won't have to fly the mission again.

Touching up the Image
Once the screen capture image is load into your image processing program, you can adjust it's Brightness, Contrast and Gamma, in order to make the image view better on the User Interface screen. Often the screen capture images are too dark. Play around with these controls to get an image to your liking.

Resizing Image
If the Mission and/or Objective image size(s) do not include the parts of the screen shot image you wish to be displayed, you will have to shrink the screen capture image with the Resizing tool. Reduce the original by 80% - 90%, if the inclusion area almost fits. Use 60% - 70% if the image is too big. Check the size of the portion of the image you want with the following "cropping" procedure. If the screen capture image needs to be reduced more, use the ORIGINAL image, not the reduced image. Each time an image is resized, it loses some of it quality, so always work from the original.

Cropping the Image
To crop the image to the right size, use the cropping tool to create a rectangle with the same dimensions as the Mission or Objective image (dimension given above). To do this, select the Cropping tool. Click anywhere on the image and drag the rectangle down and to the left. Watch the third set of numbers in parenthesis located on the Status Bar, in the lower left-hand corner. When the width and height values reach the right sizes, add a few pixels in each dimension. Unclick the mouse button. Select the Mover tool and move the rectangle over the part of the screen shot you want to show in the Objective window. If it doesn't fit in the frame, then repeat the Resizing instructions again. After it is in place, double click on the image to crop it. Save the cropped image in the Janes FA-18\Resource\Images folder. Go into the Mission Builder and select the desired image in the "Mission Setup" dialog box or the "Briefing Summary" dialog box.

When your mission is selected, the custom pictures of your mission will be displayed in the Objective windows.

How do I get that map with the mission objectives that appears in the upper right-hand window in the Briefing screen?
Contributed by Bob "Recluse" Tullman
Now that you have placed your OBJECTIVE Graphic, why not fill in the pane to the right which contains the Overview Area. This pane allows you to show the player a quick schematic of the mission highlights such as the flight path, the target area, or specific threats.

The two Mission Builder functions necessary for this are the Overview Area icon and the Mission Checklist Icon.

The Overview Area box is not manually scalable, but will change scale depending on the current map zoom setting to encompass most of the viewing area. When you click on the icon, the blue bordered box appears (NOTE: This can easily be mistaken for an area event box when looking at a mission in the mission builder). Only geographical features and static ground targets will appear. Moving vehicles, aircraft, mission labels etc. will not be available.

There can be only ONE Overview Area per mission.

To set an Overview Area in the Mission Builder:

A) Zoom the map to the desired level
B) Click on the Overview Area Icon
C) Move the blue box around and click the left mouse button to set it over the desired area.
Note: Once placed, you cannot move it again. If you decide you want the Area in a different spot, you must remove it by clicking the Remove Overview Area Icon.

Now you've got the area marked. Lets add some Mission Specific items.

1)Click the Mission Checklist Icon
2)Click in the Overview Area box EXACTLY WHERE YOU WANT THE LABEL TO APPEAR.
3)Set the number of the item in the input screen that appears (Start with 0 or 1)
4)Put in any text associated with the checklist item (e.g. Take off, Ingress to target, Attack Oil Refinery etc..)
5)Click OK
. 6)Continue adding items as desired.

NOTE: If you place a NUMBER without associated text, you will not be able to remove it. Always make sure there is text associated with the checklist item.

You have now set the checklist, and it will appear when the mission loads with each item flashing in sequence at the appropriate position on the Overview Area pane.

You cannot move these items once placed. To alter them, you must remove the entire checklist item using either the Remove GPS Marker Icon or the Delete Map Label Icon and replace it with the correct text or at the correct position. Click the remove icon, then click in the checklist item. It should disappear. Be careful if using the Remove GPS Marker Icon as you may inadvertently remove a GPS marker nearby.

You should now have a functioning Overview Area and Mission Checklist for your mission. Save the mission, then load it to check your work.

How do I use the ALTERNATE PATH in a Mission?
(note, this entry is also found in the MB FAQ under the ALT PATH (curved arrow) icon)

Contributed by Bob "Recluse" Tullman
The Alt Path function is used to introduce some randomness and unexpected event into a mission. Basically, it is triggered by some event and provides a new set of waypoints and actions for the PLAYER. For example, the PLAYER may be tasked with hitting a particular target, but if another flight misses their target, the Player may be vectored toward that target instead. When the ALT PATH is triggerred, the Player gets a message from AWACS indicating PRIORITY TASKING, and the Navigation Computer is updated with the new Waypoints.

Here is how to program and use the ALT PATH along with some important things to remember:

A. THINGS TO NOTE

  1. There can be only 1 ALT PATH per mission.
  2. It mainly is applied to the PLAYER, but you can be crafty and make it work for AI. (see C below)
  3. YOU MUST HAVE AN ACTIVE AWACS AIRCRAFT IN THE MISSION FOR ALT PATH TO WORK
  4. The trigger for the ALT PATH can be any EVENT or FLAG, but I have found that AREA EVENTS do not seem to work. If an AREA EVENT is used to set a FLAG, and the FLAG used to trigger the event, it works fine.
B. HOW TO DO IT

  1. Place your flight as you normally would. Lay out all the WP's for the 'normal' tasking. This is ALL the Player will see on the Mission Map.
  2. Click the ALT PATH ICON (curved arrow). Now start placing the WP's for the ALT PATH. The first will appear as a disembodied point not connected to previous ones. For BEST results, make sure you include a WP with no action, i.e. if the ALT PATH is to bomb a target, don't make the first ALT PATH waypoint the BOMB TARGET action.
  3. Continue placing ALT PATH WPs. The player will NOT see the original WPs in the NAV system any more, so be sure you cover INGRESS, ACTION and EGRESS.
  4. Set your ALT PATH trigger. As above, FLAGs work best, but other events will also do it. The AREA EVENT is the only one I have had problems with.
  5. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE AN ACTIVE AWACS AIRCRAFT
C. MAKING AN ALT PATH FOR AN AI FLIGHT

  1. Follow the steps above, using the PLAYER aircraft.
  2. After the ALT PATH is set, change the PLAYER aircraft to an AI aircraft using the right click menu.
  3. Be sure you ADD a new aircraft to be the PLAYER, or change an existing one to be a HUMAN, BRIEFING GROUP A so you can save (and fly!) the mission.
  4. The AI aircraft will now respond to the ALT Path trigger.
  5. The logic for AI response to ALT PATH is a little different..they will respond after hitting their next WP, so for AI aircraft, you should put WP's pretty close together so that when ALT PATH is triggered, there isnt a great time lag between the trigger and the action.
  6. If you are making an ALT PATH for a RED flight, you should use a RED AWACS (e.g. A-50). Using an E-2C or E-3 and making it ENEMY doesn't SEEM to work in all cases.

 

If you have comments or suggestions, email BaldEagle  or  Recluse
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