Custom missions created by the program's mission editor can lengthen the playability of a subsim.
They also allow the player to explore "what if" scenarios and replay historical battles. The drawback to
custom missions is the player has a good idea what's coming and who he faces in the mission he creates. That's why
it's more gratifying to play someone else's custom mission--you're faced with uncertainty and suspense.
Custom missions can vary greatly in quality. While anyone can slap together a mission for Jane's 688(I) or Silent Hunter,
a quality custom mission has certain elements that enhance its playing value, notably balance, realism, and tactical objectives.
Here are some guidelines and suggestions for custom mission creation that while make your efforts fun and playable.
- Plan your mission before making it. Script it out in your head and have an idea of what you want to have happen.
- Develop some objectives for the player to achieve. Is this just a "get-in-there-and-kill" mission, or does the player need to function as a real sub skipper would; observing, tracking, and attacking.
- Don't overload the mission with ships. A common error, too many ships can slow down the computer and detract from the realism of the game. Try to keep the total enemy ships under eight.
- TEST your mission. Make sure it works, no slop or ships crashing into rigs. Test, test, test!
- Keep the scope realistic. You'll never run into more than three enemy submarines in a single locale in real life so why put six in a mission?
- Make the geography of the environment a factor. If you make a mission where the player must locate an enemy, put it in a littoral setting with islands.
- Use your intel messages in Jane's 688(I). The player should receive updates that will cause him to respond to a changing situation.
- Allow logistics to keep a player off balance. Send an intel message that orders the player to reach a certain spot by a certain time. Keep it feasible, but if the player must exceed 15 knots, the enemy AI will wake up and make him earn a win.
- Always set the enemy ships ability at the highest setting. In Jane's 688(I), this is especially important. 688(I) enemy AI is weak and passive to begin with.
- In Jane's 688(I), an enemy set for transit search uses a default of 4 waypoints. You can add more if you choose.
- When setting up a transit search, you can modify the ship's speed at each waypoint.
- A barrier search is very effective for increasing an enemy ship's stationkeeping.
- If you need to achieve a "surprise" for an enemy ship, set him to appear 10~30 minutes after the start of the game. This works great in combination with a logistical situation where the player is order to transit to a certain point.
- At each waypoint, a time is given that informs you when the ship will get to that point. You can use that to set up encounters.
- Make neutral merchant and surface traffic "threat" and instruct the player not to kill noncombatants. This will offset the rapid and perfect classification the assistant sonar operator provides. Instruct the player to obtain confirmation of warships before shooting and penalize him for sinking noncombatants.
- Use SAM bunkers to shield nearby enemy ships from your harpoons. Too many missions are a few missile strikes and over. A SAM bunker has an effective range of 10 miles.
- But don't saturate an area with SAM bunkers or you will create a game that cannot be won by a single 688(I). Five or six bunkers should provide a daunting challenge.
- Encourage the player to use Tomahawks to take out those annoying SAM bunkers we just discussed.
- Position the surface traffic where it can do some good. An innocent tanker could prevent a quick Harpoon shot at a Grisha 5 miles behind him. This means the player will have to seek position for a shot, not simply fire & forget.
- Enemy submarines should have their speeds set at 2 or 3 knots at all waypoints. Jane's has programmed these hapless fellows to make more noise than Rush Limbaugh. Set them at creep speed and give them a fighting chance. Of course, once the game starts, the computer will usually speed them up, but you tried.
- Keep distances manageable. Don't make your player drive 40 miles here and there.
We hope these tips help. If you have any ideas or proven tips, send them in and we'll include them here, with credit, of course.
Send to: Custom Mission Ideas