By Cheetah

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Without waypoints, units and squads would be hanging around, waiting for bullets to zip past them. What you should aim for, is to create a dynamic mission. Whether with civilians or soldiers, maybe even wildlife. People like to play together with an AI that can support them. They like seeing well placed patrols, reinforcements and defenders checking their perimeter and flanks. In order to create all of this, you can use waypoints. In the mission we are making, waypoints are essential to keep the enemy doing patrols and to enable them to send in backup.

First, let's take a look at the waypoint dialog (Image 1). Select one of the units in the fishing village, press F4 or select "Waypoints" and click somewhere, 100 metres away. This will open up the waypoints dialog. As this is one of the most important and powerful elements of the ArmA Editor, I will discuss each list/button in detail.

However, before doing so, notice the little effects button on the bottom left. With it, you can play sounds, music and effects as soon as the waypoint gets activated. It might help you in mission making. I want to discourage you to use waypoints to tick objectives - they are not reliable and may be a possible showstopper.

Important: A waypoint has two states, initiated and completed. Everything related to formation, behaviour, speed etc is SET ACTIVE when the waypoint is initiated, but the On Activation: code is executed when completed. Keep in mind that several wp types never end/complete (read table below).

Select Type:
MOVEUsed to make a group / unit move to the designed location. Completed: when the destination is reached, of the pathfinding ArmA routine stalls and the unit gives up trying to reach that location.
DESTROYUsed on or near objects / targets which have to be destroyed. For example: an empty BMP will be destroyed when an US AT Specialist gets a DESTROY waypoint near the BMP. Completed: if placed over something, when the object is destroyed. If placed over nothing, it is completed immediately or if placed over an already destroyed object.
GET INMakes a group board the designated vehicle.
SEARCH AND DESTROYNot the same anti-armour functionality as with DESTROY, but orders a unit to search for enemy targets and engage.
JOINUsed to walk to and then join a group (place on top of a unit). Can be linked to other JOIN or JOIN AND LEAD waypoints by synchronizing the waypoints (draw a line with F5 / synchronize).
JOIN AND LEADWalk to a unit/group and take command of him.
GET OUTOrders a group / unit to get out at a specific location. Note that the driver will get out too.
CYCLEA cycle waypoint will jump to closest waypoint except the previous one.
LOADUsed to assign spots to load units to drivers of vehicles. Note that they have to be synchronized with GET IN waypoints (see Chapter 8).
UNLOADUsed to unload the cargo (passengers). Crew won't disembark.
TRANSPORT UNLOADOther groups inside (cargo position) a vehicle will disembark.
HOLDOrders a unit/group to hold a position. This makes them static. Completed: hold waypoints never complete (anything put into a HOLD waypoint's activation field will never be executed!).
SENTRYUnits will keep at WP position like in HOLD, but once they detect any enemy they'll proceed to next waypoint, and probably, will engage the enemy (this depends on behaviour and engagement modes). When the sentry units detect the enemy the sentry wp is completed
GUARDThe assigned units will keep there until a GUARD type trigger is triggered, then they'll move to that triggers area and engange any enemy present there after that. They'll return to the guard WP position and will keep there until another guard trigger requires their presence (note: this wp never really completes).
TALKIt is a non spatial WP, the units will not move there; will only execute voice entered by EFFECTS options
SCRIPTEDThe waypoint will be completed only after termination of the indicated script. If the script has an infinite loop, the waypoint will never complete and the assigned group will never proceed with next WP Type. Scripted WPs are spatialless, so the placement means nothing, the group will not move there. These wps are used only to ensure scripts execution when a group reaches the wp previous to the scripted one.
SUPPORTUseful to make medics, fuel/ammo trucks drive towards friendlies in need of supplies/assistance. If support is requested, the unit will move to the position of the requesting unit, will provide the support and then will return to the support wp position. Completed: another endless waypoint type, never completes - the supporting unit will keep in the support waypoint, forever providing support for friendly units.
GET IN NEARESTUnits will board vehicles close to this waypoint if empty. Note that the engine checks for emptiness at the mission start.
DISMISSEDUpon reaching the waypoint. A squad will split itself into groups which will then relax and wander around until contact with the enemy is made.
ANDWaypoint types will complete when ALL triggers and waypoints it is synchronized with are true or completed. For example: you synchronize (see Chapter: Synchronize) an AND waypoint with 3 triggers and two other waypoints of different groups - the AND waypoint will complete when the 3 triggers conditions are TRUE and the other two groups have reached their synced waypoints.
ORWaypoint types will complete when ANY triggers or waypoints synchronized with the AND waypoint are true or completed.
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There are a lot of options for the waypoints. Most of the times you will be using "MOVE" and "CYCLE". Let's try to give a few of the units we placed some waypoints to make more dynamic and thus harder to kill. Press F4 or select waypoints in the menu on the right to place waypoints.

Take a look at the screenshot (Image 1a) to the right to check where I have placed the waypoints. The idea is to place two waypoints for the reinforcements squad. This is to let them help their friends in the fishing village once the player starts to engage. Place a "MOVE" waypoint close to the reinforcements, we will use this waypoint for other purposes mentioned in Chapter 8: Synchronize. Next place a "SEARCH AND DESTROY" waypoint near or inside the fishing village, as we want the reinforcements to engage as soon as they see the player.

Not only the reinforcements should have a waypoint, the player and some sentries in the fishing village will need them too. Let's do start with the sentries.

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As you can see in Image 2, we need to place at least two waypoints to let a sentry do a patrol. The two waypoint types are "MOVE" and "CYCLE". Place the first ("MOVE") waypoint at the starting position of the patrol, the second ("CYCLE") at the end. The soldier will now walk between the two waypoints. If you place two "MOVE" waypoints and one "CYCLE" waypoint (see Image 3) the unit will follow these three waypoints. Note that you can add as many "MOVE" waypoints.

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If you preview and look at the patrolling soldier we've just placed, you may notice that he runs in order to reach his next waypoint. It's time to take a closer look at the waypoint options present in the waypoint dialog.

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  • Waypoint order- Every waypoint has a number. Waypoint 0 will be the first to be reached, 1 after that. Note that there is a dropdown list next to "waypoint order", with it, you can change the order of waypoints. The patrol with two waypoints ("MOVE" + "CYCLE") can be used to make a three point patrol. To do this, select the unit and put a waypoint by double clicking (press F4 or select waypoints!). Now, instead of 2:, select 1: CYCLE in the dropdown list. This will change the order number of the recently placed waypoint from 2 to 1. Thus making the unit go to this "MOVE" waypoint before heading off to "CYCLE" (Image 4).
  • Description- Instead of "MOVE", "DESTROY" a custom description will be displayed ingame.
  • Combat Mode- The combat mode to be set for the group while moving towards the waypoint.
  • Formation- Formation used by the group when moving towards the waypoint.
  • Speed- Speed at which the group should move.
  • Behaviour- Set how the unit is to behave (Image 5).
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I recommend not using the other fields, most of the time, you will be better off using triggers (next Chapter) or scripts. What can you use the above settings for? Let's get back to the mission we're developing, open up the first waypoint's options by doubleclicking on it. To prevent the unit from running (default), set "Speed" to "LIMITED". As he is on a patrol in a relatively safe environment, let's set the WP "behaviour" to "SAFE". Preview the mission and notice that the patrolling unit has slowed down and behaves as if he feels safer.

You don't have to set the behaviour, speed etc for every waypoint. As the default setting is "no change", meaning that the current setting will be used (from a former waypoint). This should save you a lot of work. I suggest, for patrols, to select the behaviour and speed etc on the first waypoint. The unit will then immediatly use those settings.

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Feel free to add as many patrolling units (or convert sentries to patrolling units) as you want. They add more dynamics to the mission. I encourage you to do it at least once more, don't forget to set the "Speed" and "Behaviour". Optionally, you can give the reinforcements a special formation / combat mode and even speed. Experimenting with the settings and previewing thm should make you more comfortable with them.

Now, it's time to make some waypoints for the player. Waypoints for human players should only be used as a guide to objectives, not to complete parts of a mission or to control enemy units. That is what we have scripts and triggers for (discussed later). The idea, is to place a few waypoints for the player at his objectives to ensure that even new players can find their way towards the objectives.

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Click the player (unit at the insertion marker) and make a waypoint near the shilka (empty tank we placed), the officer which has to be killed, one near the coast and finally one near the evac zone (in the sea).

As we want a useful waypoint for the player, open the waypoint near the Shilka and change its description from nothing to "Destroy the Shilka" (Image 7). The one near the officer should be "Eliminate the officer", near the coast "Boat" and on the sea "Escape". This will make it easier for the player to know what he/she has to do at the location. Right now, you might notice that we haven't placed a boat for the player. Time to refresh your unit placing skills! Try to place a "CRRC" (rubber boat), "empty" - facing the sea.

In the end, the mission should look like the picture on the right (Image 6). With a boat that can be used to escape (note: preview the mission and check if the boat can actually reach the sea), as well as several waypoints for the player to find his way and most important: waypoints for the AI to patrol and move in reinforcements.

However, you may have noticed while previewing that the enemy reinforcements move in right away. What we will have to do is delay them! In the next two Chapters we will do so!