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Athena - An ARMA 2nd Screen Application

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What is Athena?

 

At it's most basic, Athena is an application that you can run on your 2nd screen that provides a very highly accurate representation of the in-game map and displays icons for friendly units in real time: a 'blufor' tracker that runs outside of arma on a 2nd screen whether that screen is literally a 2nd monitor, a laptop, a Windows tablet or a Microsoft Surface but that's an oversimplification of what Athena offers.

 

  • Athena supports multiple instances. Building a cockpit and want several map screens? Athena will let you do that without any additional performance impact on ARMA.
  • Athena supports the automatic import of any ARMA map and that's both vanilla and custom. No ExportNoGrid here.
  • Athena supports the generation of shaded 'height map' views for any ARMA map and again, that's both vanilla and custom.
  • Athena supports the private sharing of 'ink' or 'map drawing' with other members of your communities, again, in real time and with a great degree of control that exists outside of ARMA.
  • Athena displays and updates an ORBAT in real time: one of your units picks up an MG, it updates their representation to indicate that they're an AR. They pickup an AT weapon, their label is updated to indicate that they're now "AT". Know which of your team members fills the important roles at all times.
  • Athena provides a convenient list of locations for the current map: "Requesting evac at Mike-26!" Don't know where it is? Look in the locations tab, click "Mike-26" and click "Locate" and there it is.
  • Athena provides a way for you set custom locations, known as anchors, on the map that are important to you. Someone calls requesting a pickup and they provide you with their grid or coordinates, type them into Athena and have it create an 'anchor' for you. This is especially handy for pilots.
  • Athena lets you 'track' the positions of a unit, a group and an anchor at the same time by way of tracking lines that are drawn from your unit to the chosen unit, group and anchor. It also tells you the bearing and the distance.
  • Athena lets your record your own sessions and play them back later.

 

But Athena also runs 'outside' of ARMA so even when you're not playing ARMA, Athena still has something to offer you and your community by way of the Athena Community Server (ACS).

 

  • Collaborating on a mission design? Have both you and your associate connect to the same ACS and mark up the map from across the Internet without ever having to fire up ARMA and join a server.
  • Have a big op coming up? Connect with your associates and plan out your op prior to game time.
  • Expanding on your training regimen and want to introduce some tactics discussions? Connect to the ACS and mark up the map and demonstrate the concepts behind the tactics.

 

Or let's say you're not interested in using Athena in game and you're not interested in using an Athena Community Server, Athena still has something to offer. Let's say you're designing a mission and while you're play testing, you want to keep an eye on what the AI is up to...

 

  • Use the @AthenaDesigner mod to output ALL data for EVERY side to the Athena Application. You'll see the units for blufor, opfor, civilian and independent and even their next waypoint.
  • The @AthenaDesigner mod is not intended to be used along side the @Athena mod so make sure you're using one and not the other.
  • The @AthenaDesigner mod is not intended for use in multiplayer so it's unsigned.

 

Athena is not just a 'blufor' tracker, it's a system that will directly contribute to better coordination and communication across your entire unit and can even help with mission design.

 

Media

 

 

 

 

 

Where can I download it from?

 

You can get it from the Steam Workshop here: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1181881736&tscn=1509512478


How does it work?

 

Athena packages a series of scripts that will run during any mission that you play in ARMA and those scripts will collect all of the data for your side and feed it to the Athena software. All you need to do is start ARMA with the @Athena mod enabled, start the Athena Desktop application and click "Start". If you have the map, it will load automatically. If you don't, it'll prompt you for permission before it attempts to import it automatically. If your community has an ACS, you can connect to that and possibly download the map from the ACS from within the Athena Desktop application.

 

But I don't have a second monitor. Can I use this on my laptop, tablet or Microsoft Surface?

 

Absolutely. This latest version of Athena was specifically designed with that kind of setup in mind: I'm playing ARMA w/ the @Athena mod on my main PC but I've got this laptop off to the side that I'll use the Athena Desktop application on. All you need to know is the IP Address of your gaming pc. You go to File->Settings, enter the IP Address, click "OK" and that's all there is to it...in a perfect world: Of course, the IT guy in me has to mention that you've got software firewalls, spotty home wireless networks, etc. but in theory, yea, it's easy.

 

This supports any map?

 

Yes. Athena supports every map, both vanilla and custom and you only need to export them once (unless BIS or the map author release an updated version with changes). What we recommend is that you go into the editor, plunk down a unit, start a mission and then click "Start" in Athena. You don't have to do it that way, it's just what we recommend because in order to get a good export, the export process has to 'complete', right? So if you're in a mission, die and then restart, the scripting engine stops and the export will fail but if you're meandering safely around Tanoa during the export, it's going to finish and then you'll have that map forever. So, once you play this new map and "Start" Athena, Athena will prompt you saying "You don't have this map yet. You should import it ... bla bla bla. Do you want to proceed?" If you click yes, Athena will go into "Map Import" mode and that will trigger a series of scripts that will run within ARMA that will collect data regarding the map you're playing on and it'll send it to Athena. Athena will parse that data into a format that it can then render and display for you. Now, keep in mind: we're not exporting images. We're not using the 'ExportNoGrid' command...because we wanted to make the process as simple and painless for the player as possible. Our scripts collect the 'raw' data and we're using that raw data to build a top down visual representation of the world that is of a very high quality while also being extremely performant. You see a building on our map because we know a building is there. We know the terrain so we draw contours around it. We know where the trees are and where there are a bunch of trees, there is technically a forest. We know the ins and outs of the maps because we don't have just mere images and we're planning on doing even more with the information we have.

 

So I can draw on the map?

 

Athena exists because I wanted to draw on a highly detailed version of the in-game map on my Surface Pro. That's it. That's what got this started so yes, absolutely, you can draw on our map and furthermore, whatever you draw can be shared, over the Internet, with anyone that you're connected to by way of an Athena Community Server (ACS) and that will work during a mission or offline...the ACS is always available. You can draw with your Surface Pen, your Wacom Stylus, the mouse or your Capacitive Stylus if you own a touch screen laptop or with just your finger!

 

You mentioned something about recording?

 

Yes, I did. Athena is, very soon, going to grow to become a fully fledged After Action Reporting, Archival and Playback tool but for now, right now, you can record your own viewpoint of any mission: it will only contain the data for your side but you can record it and play it back at a later date. Once the AAR module is launched, it'll blow your mind. If you think drawing on the same map at the same time over the Internet while not even playing ARMA is something, let's talk about playing that back in a synchronized format while you and your unit review the mission together at the same time in a guided, lets say 'directed' format, while you discuss events and how those events could have unfolded differently and demonstrating that via map drawing. That's coming to Athena. The foundation is already laid...

 

Is this app meant to replace the in-game map?


Absolutely not. The game and all of the mods and scripts that are made for ARMA revolve around the in-game map and we understand that. This system compliments the in-game map.

 

But... but... but... This isn't realistic and everything in, around or having to do with ARMA must absolutely without question always be realistic!

 

I disagree that everything ARMA has to be realistic and I completely disagree about something like this being unrealistic. When you open a map in your actual hands or look at a map on a phone or a tablet, do you have peripheral vision or does it take up the entirety of your viewpoint? Do you literally pull the map up to your eyeballs and see nothing else? When you use Athena, you don't grow an extra set of eyes: you can only focus on one thing at a time and anyone that's intently reviewing the strategic positioning of friendly units in Athena is in a realistically vulnerable position but that position is also not as unrealistically vulnerable as they would be if they were using the in-game map which offers the player no peripheral vision whatsoever. Now, if your argument is "No one can look at a map and get back into the action that fast!", then you're not watching many ARMA videos on YouTube. I am literally amazed by how fast some players get in the map, understand what's going on, get out and get back into the action. Does it save time to be able to glance at a persistently updated display? Absolutely but this isn't far into the future out of the reach Star Trek technology: As a very janky solution, a soldier could Velcro a cellphone to their wrist and get the same 'glance and go' functionality... and glancing at your position on your map and very quickly ascertaining your relative position to other areas does not make you a super informed cheater...I still suck at ARMA. And if anything, the oddity of playing a first person shooter through a little window on a desk that dumps you into all sorts of different locales and terrain offsets, more so, the instant "I'm here compared to them" information that you get from Athena but at the end of all the discussion, it ultimately, ultimately, all depends on how you play the game and how you would think Athena would fit into that style. If it doesn't, it doesn't: I don't care :-)

 

Will it kill my frames?

 

Every mod has an impact on your framerate. Every mod. I can't tell you exactly how many frames you will 'lose' from running this application and it's completely subjective. Athena displays the status of every unit on your side. If you play a mission with 100 friendly units, it could take 100x longer to grab all of that data than it would if you were running around in ARMA by yourself. I myself in my testing in a mission with ~100 AI, half of which were on my 'side', experienced a ~5 fps impact and the impact will also vary depending on where the application is running. You have the mod stuff running on your gaming pc but the application can be running on a completely different device. Moving it over to another device might buy you only a frame or two so it's not an 'official performance recommendation', it's only something to be aware of when you try to measure the impact on performance that Athena will have. My guess is that it's no more impactful than some of the other major mods that alter major gameplay mechanics.

 

Is it complete? It looks like crap and this error popped up.

 

Hey man! This is something I'm putting together in my spare time. It's a labor of love and I think it's beautiful... jerk. More seriously though: when you find a bug, report it.

 

Is this open source? Can I view the source? Can I "help" you with the source? If I give you 'this', will you let me look at the source?
 

No. I may open up the SQF on GitHub and accept contributions to it but the Applications, the ACS and the AAR module will all remain closed. Why? Well, to start off with...I'm not passionate about 'open'. I'm not but why only the SQF? Mostly because the SQF is really the only thing, out of everything in Athena, that is purely ARMA focused. I have created an Internet connected whiteboard that allows multiple users to connect with each other while reviewing the same 'content', to save that content and replay it back at a later date. Is this something that no one else can do? Absolutely not. Its been done before but the fact remains that there are complete components that can be taken out and used for other purposes that could have fiscal value. Mostly though, I don't know what direction I might taken Athena in and I don't want my options to be restricted by the opinions of contributors who provided code in good faith with certain assumptions. Because I don't know where the future lies, I can't open it up so no.

 

 

 

 

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Very nice. I recall someone doing similar work for aircraft MFDs too.

Any chance of porting the app to i-pads as well or does it rely on Win 8 functionality? (Although my understanding is you need to develop on an apple computer for iphone/pad apps so that may be a hiccup)

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I think you're right. I would need an Apple computer...and an iPad. Maybe at some point, I'll port it but for now, with my limited resources, I'm concentrating on the Windows 8 app.

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Probably not but would you settle for a Windows Desktop app (Windows 7)?

screenshot_08212014_01_thumb.png

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See, now I want two screens. That'd be awesome.

Bummer about the Android port though. I could use my tablet and phone to Arma while I Arma'd on the computer.

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It's an alpha version so expect some bugs but I have a desktop version available for download at http://www.AthenaMod.com. Check either the "Changes" or "Instructions" pages. The only 'active' server at the moment is "bus COOP" but there are several coming online soon.

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If android is out of the question then Win 7 would be absolutely a godsend.

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A Windows 7 compatible version is available now at athenamod.com.

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This is pretty cool, hard part is letting servers to allow this to run. would love an android or ios port if possible. thanks!

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Ooooh Love this. Will check it out. I have 2 screens but still +1 for Android port! :)

For those with Androids, check out iDisplay. It emulates a second monitor and displays output on Androids.

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Yea, so far, there's been a limited uptake. I haven't received any feedback from server owners so I'm planning to re-tool it as a client side mod though some of the more advanced features I planned will still require a server side mod as well but 100% of the current functionality and 90% of the planned functionality will run client side.

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I've only just seen it. I will be trying it out in the next few days as soon as I reach a good break point in my current project.

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Client side would be great! yeah its pretty hard to get server admins to expand their modlists especially when the mods are kind of niche like second monitors etc

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I've spent some time (12 hours) re-engineering the solution as a client side mod and while there's a few bugs, it's working pretty well. Originally, I was using the Arma2NET mod to help get the data out of arma but this time around, I opted to create my own extension (Thanks to KillzoneKid for his tutorials) to give myself some additional control and make the install process easier for players. So now the @Athena mod contains some updated scripts and a new extension. I haven't released this version yet but hope to soon. So the data gets dumped to a user configurable folder (in case you have 2 pc's [desktop/laptop, desktop/Windows tablet], you can share the folder and run the app on a separate pc w/ it's own screen) and you can configure the app to pull the data from the directory you specify. Group and unit locations are being tracked properly. Markers need some work and loading the very large images of the maps (Stratis/Altis) sometimes causing the images to 'black out'. I'll continue to work on it but here's a quick demo:

Notice around 2:10, there's a motorized infantry group icon in the center that disappears and turns into a basic infantry group icon. That's because they crashed the car and disembarked :-)

That mission w/ I dunno, somewhere around 100 units, exports the data from Arma3, picks up, parses it and updates the unit/group/markers about once every 1 or 2 seconds so the map data is actually pretty up to date by the time you look from the screen to the app. That's a few times faster than the old web based distribution model from the game servers to the clients.

Edited by skruis

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I've cleaned up the Altis background image a bit to provide some additional clarity. Also added unit directional indicators:

unitdirections.png

In this pic, there are several infantry groups in close proximity (B Alpha 2-1, 2-2, 2-3) supported by a motorized infantry group (B Alpha 3-3 in a Hunter HMG) but you can clearly see where each of the units is facing. I'd also like to point out that the group markers are selected dynamically based on the vehicle the group leader is or is not riding in. The app does not require any pre-placement or pre-selection of associated markers. It'll pull the units, groups and vehicles and see who belongs to what groups and what vehicles they're riding in. Based on that, it generates the group icon data automatically.

Should have a beta version ready soon. Just have to cleanup the 'follow' code to have the map auto pan as you move around and update some of the GUI to accommodate for the re-engineering.

Edited by skruis

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Ok, I've released beta's of the client side mod and the updated desktop application. You can download the mod and the desktop application. Extract the @athena folder to your Arma3 directory and add it to your launcher. Run the setup.exe from the app zip and then launch 'Athena Desktop'. In Athena Desktop, click 'Start' and then in Arma3, start a mission: you should start to see some data come through.

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Thanks for sending us the new and reworked release :cool:

Release frontpaged on the Armaholic homepage.

================================================

We have also "connected" these pages to your account on Armaholic.

This means soon you will be able to maintain these pages yourself if you wish to do so. Once this new feature is ready we will contact you about it and explain how things work and what options you have.

When you have any questions already feel free to PM or email me!

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New mod v0.1-alpha available at withSIX. Download now by clicking:

banner-420x120.png

@skruis;

You are now able to manage your own promo pages of your content on our web platform and publish new content yourself.

To do so, please hit 'this is me' button on the page while logged in and follow the quick and safe claim procedure to get connected to your work.

For now you can send new content or releases our way by using any filesharing service and add your notification at getsatisfaction.withsix.com.

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I'm testing this mod with a friend so we can track our gameplays in a second screen, and none of us is able to run it. As soon as we press "start", the desktop app crashes. It doesn't matter wether we are in game or before launching the game, it crashes every single time.

We just downloaded it from armaholic

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