WOW! Now that is what I call a massive wall of text.
I was like 1/3 down the page when I started asking myself if your post will ever end. It's just... wow. Thank you for taking the time to write all this, I really appreciate it.
Alright, let's get started.
The overview is great. The image was intriguing and the first line of text would certainly sum the mission up well enough but you went a little further and elaborated a bit more. It wasn't necessary but it did highlight some of the primary challenges. After playing it through, I have to admit that I never felt that I viewed into the darkest depths of the human soul.
Hehe, well, some time ago someone said to me something along the lines of "Puff is part of the trade". It's all part of the show, sometimes you have to read between the lines. On the other hand - I think the mission, especially the end, leaves some room for interpretation. Of course you can take it as "happy end". You won the war, the bad guy is dead, your men return home and the guerillas live peacefully in Chernarus and everybody is happy. Or you start asking yourself questions like "What awaits the men when they arrive at home?" "What does a guerilla army do in Chernarus?" ...I don't want to tell the player what to think, it's all up to your imagination.
I remember the Intro being short, sweet and to the point in the last version I played which allowed the player to get right to work. I also remember it leaving more to the imagination but it seems you have lengthened the cinema quite a bit since my last play test and even though it explains a little more of what happened, it does not build the immersion any more than the previous cinema did with the players imagination. The slow loading models and textures that plagued nearly every scene actually made the intro worse in my opinion because it only highlighted the pitfalls of cinema building with BIS content and demonstrated a lack of care on the authors part to take that extra step, find a better angle and improve the scene overall. However, some of the scenes that did not contain that drawback were quite good actually and the music was spectacular.
Uhm... I haven't changed the intro since the very first version of the mission (MEC entry). Only a few lines of code have been changed to work with the latest 1.60 patch. But I did not add any new scenes to the intro.
I am aware of the lod / texture switching issue. Yes, it's very ugly and I will try to improve the scenes. Every time I see an intro without this problem I am totally impressed and I have no idea how the author managed to do this, but it seems there is a way. Maybe I can find out how.
I encountered a guy who was in a camo uniform inside the garage, with a gun, facing the door. I shot him of course...several times but he did not die. I then realized that he was wearing the same uniform as I was. DUH. I think you should let them die if the player accidentally kills them. It's the player's fault after all.
Now that you mention it, I totally agree. The guerilla leader and the two russian soldiers are invincible during the first objective because they are important for the further mission. At least the guerilla guy must survive at all costs. I will add a check if the player kills any of these units and if so, the mission will be lost.
The fuel was low and so I would stop whenever I crossed another vehicle on the side of the road, wishing that you had implemented a way to siphon fuel from those vehicles to restore fuel to the players vehicle. Would have been a very cool feature.
Something similar was suggested in the BI forums and I am already working on it. Will be included in the next update.
What went wrong
Ouch! I guess pretty much everything that ever could go wrong went wrong. Don't know if I should laugh about the convoy of reinforcements or cry about the complete failure of my scripting.
Anyways, I will rework the triggers for the objective and make sure not all units leave the compound. Also I will look into the reinforcements scripts and make sure the reinforcing groups don't call new reinforcements and so on.
Currently the radio tower only influences the long range communication. Once the player attacks an enemy unit, there is a random chance for a chopper to appear and drop off a group of paratroopers. Disabling the radio tower removes this event and also results in slightly less enemies at the airport. But the patrols can still call in reinforcements within a certain distance. I will look into changing the distance and maybe increasing the time how fast other groups will respond.
First Guerrilla camp (Boar hunt)
I have already reworked the complete objective including a new position for the guerilla camp. This way it's less likely that the guerillas get dragged into a firefight with one of the random patrols.
Once I grabbed that Shilka, there was no stopping me. It is definitely a powerful tool to add to the player's inventory. After capturing a couple of BRDM's I became a convoy of shredding projectiles. I cleared the airport, and harbor with ease.
Yes, the shilka is very powerful. Maybe too powerful? After all the supply vehicles are already a big reward for this objective. I'm considering relocating the shilka and creating a new objective around it.
I would recommend separating the harbor and airstrip into two objectives or make the harbor optional without being part of the objective, since it is so far away and offers little other than additional NVG.
I would also suggest to immobilize the Shilka until the player can capture the eastern portion of the airstrip to attain the support trucks to bring them back to it. That would certainly increase the challenge in the area. Of course, I remember it being far more challenging in the previous version since I didn't draw all the forces away from their posts.
The harbor contains a small weapons cache in one of the containers. It's an alternative to the much better guarded supply depot.
Eastern guerrilla camp
Abandoned my Shilka temporarily while I helped these guys out. All went great until we encountered an enemy group halfway to the destination. All but the leader and one other guerrilla was killed. Once I got to the destination, the cinema showed the pickup which we had abandoned. It was then setpositioned afterwards with the dead guy in it along with the transport truck. I would slice that cinema to not include the vehicles. Then just delete the refugees. No harm in doing it simple.
That's a good point. Never lost any of the vehicles so I never encountered this issue. Will be fixed.
At this point, I was sure that I had cleared out the southern part of the map with my little duck hunt at the radio tower and patrols were no where to be found. This made travel boring and uneventful. The biggest challenge I had now was waiting on the slow AI to drive the roads back to the main guerrilla camp with our new found equipment. It takes them so long that I seriously contemplated giving the equipment up. It wasn't worth the frustration of gathering it.
AI convoy handling is terrible since the last patch. Not that it ever was really good, but I doubt it could ever get any worse than the current situation. Hopefully it will get fixed soon.
Hmm, Had I known it would only take two shots to end the war, I would have abandoned my endeavors to scavenge the world to it's end.
To be honest, I never expected anyone to try it the stealthy way. That indeed is a great letdown, rendering the complete mission pretty much obsolete. I have to admit that the airport objective is not very polished at all. I will definitely rework the objective, find a better spot for the bad guy and make sure he is guarded properly.
Thank you for not destroying or locking every spawned vehicle
The status of all the vehicles is random, including damage, fuel and if they are locked. However, you are able to unlock any locked car / truck by shooting its windows.
I spot one group idle, on the road behind a compound. A small truck with MG and a transport behind it. I also see some support trucks, parked inside some sandbags near the idle trucks and next to that access road. I crawl across the field toward the compound to attempt to glass the cargo hold of the transport to see how many troopers are in it(none)
That was actually meant to be one of the convoys. Due to the pathfinding issues they simply refuse to move at some point. I guess I'll have to come up with a temporarily workaround.
I would consider increasing the numbers of guerrilla fighters that the player acquires to make the tasks worth the trouble. You don't even have to give the player those fighters until the conditions are met, for example: Once the guerrilla families are safe, the player can acquire the rest of the guerrilla fighters from the camp they started from. OR by the time he is done hunting, more have returned from scouting expeditions.
That's a great idea. I will definitely include this.
On a side note: I did encounter many randomized patrols and checkpoints in the last version but absolutely nothing in this one.
The enemy convoys are meant to secure a constant supply of enemy units. The trucks bring captives from Chernogorsk to the northern airport. The player can ambush these convoys and recruit the captives for his own army. Once a convoy reaches the airport, a new enemy group is created with goes on patrol somewhere on the map.
However, as the convoys currently don't work as they should, there are no new enemies created. If you then kill all existing enemy group right at the first objective, there is not much left to encounter.
But I'm working on it, aswell as adding more ambient life to the mission.
You could also create firefights in distant towns with sounds. When or if the player goes in that direction, he can find either a fleeing civilian truck full of assumed guerrillas who have won, pilfered and fled with dead enemy and destruction in the town OR he could stumble across enemy occupants walking around dead guerrilla cadavers.
Yes, something similar was actually one of my ideas and is at the top end of my todo list.
Probably I have forgotten half of the stuff I wanted to comment on, but seeing that I should have went to bed two hours ago.....
Some closing words: I can't thank you enough for all your time and the valuable feedback. I have learned that a mission like this is way too big to be completed in only two months, lots of ideas left out and lots of frustration getting it ready for the MEC deadline, which pretty much killed all the fun of making the mission for me. As I said before, I actually didn't want to add new stuff to the mission, not only because I felt tired of editing. (The fact that my computer is so old that it can barely handle the mission also didn't help very much.) But SaOk's and your post, and the overall feedback I have received - much much more than I had ever expected - shows me, it's well worth all the hassle. Meanwhile my motivation has returned and I am looking forward to including all ideas I had and others have provided. Thank you once again!