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the_demongod

Improving the Titan Launcher

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I was prompted to write this after a related thread on /r/arma popped up, and got me thinking.

The Titan MPRL missile launcher, used by all AT Missile Specialists, is based off of the Mini Spike launcher, a light antipersonnel weapon developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. While its current state in game is *passable*, it could be improved in several ways.

1. Ammunition carrying

This one is pretty simple. The Mini Spike launcher and missiles are carried in packs like this:

zaatut_clu1.jpg

The gunner carries the CLU and two missiles (left pack). The assistant missile specialist carries the 4 other rounds (right pack).

This is a much more intuitive and realistic way of carrying missile equipment. The current method of just shoving loose missiles into a soft backpack is effectively along the same line of logic as this. It just doesn't make sense.

The only problem I see with this setup is having the missiles appear/disappear as they are removed/added. Seeing as we can't get pistols to show up in the holsters, I don't know whether implementing a backpack like this would be possible.

2. Reloading/Handling

Similar to the FGM-148 Javelin, the Mini-Spike is comprised of two parts.

The first of these two is the CLU or Command Launch Unit. It contains all the hardware used for aiming the missile, including optics and tracking information/controls.

The second part is the actual missile tube and missile itself. Again like the FGM-148, the CLU is a reusable system. The missile tubes are attached to the CLU, and after several minutes of internal cooling of the missile's seeker head, the missile can be fired. The empty box tube is then discarded, and a new, full one can be attached.

So how could we improve the current system for reloading and assembling the missile launcher?

Currently the animations for all launchers are the same, a simple rear-loading animation. While it is understandable that BI wishes to prioritize other things, this eventually needs to be fixed. And while the rear-loading style may work for simpler launchers like the RPG-42 and others such as the Carl Gustav (hopefully we'll eventually see more unguided light launchers), it does not make sense for a weapon like the Titan.

However, as we've seen in the past from mods and Arma 2, the Arma engine doesn't seem to enjoy the idea of the weapon being in multiple parts the way it is. Take for example the fact that the Javelin in Arma 2 seemed to fire the CLU at the same time as the missile. I don't know how the game handles weapons so I honestly don't know enough to say whether or not this is a fixable problem. The ideal way this would be handled is for the CLU to go in the launcher slot, and have three states, one unloaded, one loaded, and one loaded but with an empty tube (post-firing). In addition to this, it would be nice to see Titan missile ammo be treated as the whole box, and not just the loose missile, both when dropped on the ground and as an inventory item.

In terms of loading, here are two situations that would need to be addressed. The first of which is pretty straightforward: when the gunner reloads his launcher from his own store of missiles. This would be rather similar to the current system. The player would press the 'Reload' key to remove a missile from his backpack and clip the CLU onto it. This process may take a several (5-10) seconds. To avoid an animation lock, pressing any of the movement keys should cancel the operation and drop both the CLU and Missile tube on the ground where the gunner stood and the primary weapon would be drawn. The CLU can be retrieved as if it were a launcher, and then the player could use the action menu (yes it's shitty but this is one of the few situations where it sort of makes sense) to either pick up the missile and put it back in his backpack (just like the typical "take" function), or he can choose to assemble the launcher on the spot by picking an "Assemble Titan" option (just to be clear, the action menu is only used when picking up a missile from the ground, not every time you have to reload the launcher).

The second situation is not quite as seamless, but moderately simple. There are two ways to think of, neither of them ideal, both are clunky. This is when the gunner is out of his two missiles and needs to take one from the Assistant Missile Specialist.

Once the launcher itself and single-man reloading is fixed (including the visual distinction between empty CLU vs. loaded missile vs. CLU with empty box after firing) and the backpacks are set up, this will actually be quite easy to implement.

The gunner could either use the "Open Titan Missile Pack" action on the assistant's backpack (just like you can currently do with any backpack), and pull out a missile tube to put in his own backpack. Or, the assistant could drop a tube on the ground and the gunner would use the "Assemble Titan Launcher" as mentioned above.

There are only a few other solutions I can think of. Either an action menu item that would allow the gunner to take missiles and load them directly (bleh we want to avoid the action menu), or have some way to have the two soldiers crouch down and load the launcher together. This would be cool because it would promote teamwork. I imagine it would be faster for two to load the weapon. But obviously this has its own problems too (how do you get the soldiers right next to each other? do you take control away from the player and force the character to do it? Do you teleport the assistant to the gunner? neither is a good solution).

3. Weapon Usage

The other glaring problem with the Titan is the awful targeting procedure. The tab-lock system is old, boring and outdated, and it an oversimplified, poor quality representation of how targeting works in real life. For god's sake, even Battlefield has a more realistic setup: it requires you to actually look at the target. The Titan still has the horrible bug that allows it to be fired at any direction-- even directly away from the locked target, and still hit its mark. The weapon requires absolutely no skill to use. To be honest, it would be better to just remove the locking capability altogether and leave it with only the manual SACLOS-style guidance. At least the weapon will be more interesting to use and actually require skill.

The only issue with improving the locking system is that I don't actually know how the Mini-Spike's optics look, nor do I know the procedure used for targeting. I have searched fairly carefully and have yet to come up with any representations or footage of anything. This is most likely because the weapon is very recent (developed in 2009) and most likely quite classified. The closest I have been able to find is the following image, but it shows only the viewport itself and not any symbology or targeting information.

zaatut_clu.jpg

So in lieu of accurate information, it makes sense to use the Javelin's style of targeting because they both seem to be very similar in construction and functionality, and because the current CLU's optic is identical to that of a Javelin.

is a video with a simplified explanation of Javelin targeting, and here is a more in-depth document about the Javelin (definitely worth a read).

If anybody has any further information on the workings of the mini-spike, please let me know.

While these fixes and improvements may be out of the scope of the engine or not worth BI's effort, I felt that with the Expansion arriving sometime later this year, it was a good time to suggest it. They all seem like fair game for possible Expansion content and, because this is an infantry-focused game, seems like an important improvement that would greatly affect the role of the Missile Specialist.

Cheers.

UPDATE: Found a video

that explains the guidance a little better. It would seem that the missiles are fire and forget, but certain ones are wire guided to allow the gunner to update the missile's target midflight. Edited by the_Demongod

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Some nice ideas here. Be good to have ammo assistant actually able to assist. And a more thought through targeting system. The trick would be when...

Edited by twisted

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Great Ideas anything that adds much needed complexity to the launchers is ok by me.

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Hmm, how about a launchers and statics DLC that adds new ones and improves the existing ones with new features like this.

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Hmm, how about a launchers and statics DLC that adds new ones and improves the existing ones with new features like this.

They mentioned long long time ago something about Static weaponry, and the Expansion, which leaves an impression that there may be improvements in static assets in the Expansion, though with the Marksman DLC, it would be ideal to overhaul the Titan series given the DLC focuses on, "ranged" assets.

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Hmm, how about a launchers and statics DLC that adds new ones and improves the existing ones with new features like this.

That sounds terrific.

Static weapons and crew served weapons could offer alot for gameplay in arma.

Weapons such as the spg9 ,m40 recoiless rifle, dshk and m2 browing would all be amazing if they would allow teamplay to be a part of the process.

Tripods in particular could be amazing for gameplay if they incorporated the T&E (Traverse and Elevation) system into the game allowing for HMGs to potentially be used at ranges that far exceed their range and if crafty enough using a forward observer they could be used for nifty indirect fire.

Then of course they could also add a slew of light rockets and of course the rpg7 to better flesh out the man portable launchers.

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Hmm, how about a launchers and statics DLC that adds new ones and improves the existing ones with new features like this.

I'd argue that BI probably shouldn't be selling static weapons DLC until each faction has unique static weapons and launchers. Looks quite cheap otherwise, like for helicopters there's quite a lot of choice already, and we aren't too badly off for sniper and marksman rifles but the static weapons are quite obvious. It just looks like milking it a bit too much otherwise. (FIA would be the exception since their stuff is supposed to be captured mostly).

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<--- BIS take a look a TOP ATTACK

Interesting, so is this how they are manually guided in real life? I knew that big Spike missiles did this but I didn't think the mini spike would have that capability. I guess it means it's a bit safer to use other spike videos for reference.

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I'd argue that BI probably shouldn't be selling static weapons DLC until each faction has unique static weapons and launchers. Looks quite cheap otherwise, like for helicopters there's quite a lot of choice already, and we aren't too badly off for sniper and marksman rifles but the static weapons are quite obvious. It just looks like milking it a bit too much otherwise. (FIA would be the exception since their stuff is supposed to be captured mostly).

That's a pretty good point. I guess I overlooked it because I really don't mind the copy pasted stuff in that area. I'd be happy for the free enhancements. Maybe they could "make it right" and finish out the variations for each faction for free along with adding brand new stuff for money.

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Interesting, so is this how they are manually guided in real life? I knew that big Spike missiles did this but I didn't think the mini spike would have that capability. I guess it means it's a bit safer to use other spike videos for reference.

Yea that's the first that I am seeing this. This also presents another possibility for the spike what about turning it into a TV missile.

That opens the door for the missile to be used in so many more situations and at the same time adds much needed skill not found with the lock on system at the moment.

= Su 25 tv missile the kh 29t

This would add alot of fun to the game especially if they were mounted on vehicles also. PIP would come in handy for this fire missile hold control + mouse to move missile or with hotas use a hat key to independently control missile.

Edited by gibonez

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YPIP would come in handy for this fire missile hold control + mouse to move missile or with hotas use a hat key to independently control missile.

I've recently been thinking of how PiP could be used to "improve" weapons systems by reducing their optical capabilities. For example, the video I posted initially showing the Javelin training shows the "seeker field of view", the stage where the target is actually locked. According to the FGM-148 Wikipedia article, the seeker head is a 64x64px staring array. I don't know if this is the same seeker head that we're looking through in that seeker FoV mode, but that is a very low resolution display. I think it would be much more interesting to restrict the resolution of some displays (for example, the TGPs and gunner optics in helicopters). Similarly, those who have played DCS or BMS know that Maverick missiles (which are targeted in a moderately similar way to javelins) have very low res sensors, so you have to learn to analyze what you are seeing. It's a use for PiP that they really haven't delved into (right now we're not seeing it used much).

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I've recently been thinking of how PiP could be used to "improve" weapons systems by reducing their optical capabilities. For example, the video I posted initially showing the Javelin training shows the "seeker field of view", the stage where the target is actually locked. According to the FGM-148 Wikipedia article, the seeker head is a 64x64px staring array. I don't know if this is the same seeker head that we're looking through in that seeker FoV mode, but that is a very low resolution display. I think it would be much more interesting to restrict the resolution of some displays (for example, the TGPs and gunner optics in helicopters). Similarly, those who have played DCS or BMS know that Maverick missiles (which are targeted in a moderately similar way to javelins) have very low res sensors, so you have to learn to analyze what you are seeing. It's a use for PiP that they really haven't delved into (right now we're not seeing it used much).

Yea I can see that being useful.

PIP is such a huge engine improvement and honestly I can envision mod makers using it to great success for making weapon fire control systems a bit more complex and in depth.

Vehicles of course would benefit from this the most.

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I think that's what BIS intends (good dissertation though, nice work) but OFP->A3 has always been like that as far as abstractness. Sure RHS does a good job but overall the way the game logic is handled, it's the way it is. Granted what they could do is have the boxes appear/disappear when loaded/not loaded (which is within the realm of game logic) but it could have been the developer's logic or assumption that everybody carries rockets (like the RPG) in real life and for this case, guided missiles where a soldier does dumb things, and being a former Soldier myself, NOTHING is soldier proof. So methinks to get what you're looking for as far as the TItan (and quite frankly the CSAT would never use Israeli designed equipment given the real world politics and even in 2035 the Iranians still wouldn't like Israel, but that's for the future of course) is concerned is to simply have the model/special model in a graphical context. That would be a realistic approach as far as working with realism and game logic and at least helping you understand how to work it in-game. As far as targeting and the like I don't have issues on that issue myself though.

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The missile flight mechanics can be tweaked as well.

This video explains it perfectly.

Brb gonna apply to raytheon

*i cant post links :(

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All of this would be a dream come true, but i highly doubt any of it will ever see the light of day in an Arma game.

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All of this would be a dream come true, but i highly doubt any of it will ever see the light of day in an Arma game.

Funny because the Arma engine is the one engine i can envision perfecting it.

Arma 3 seems to be insanely flexible and open to these type of things.

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I just want top-down. Hitting tanks is nigh impossible without it in a lot of circumstances, especially if I have the "parkinsons bug" happening.

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I just want top-down. Hitting tanks is nigh impossible without it in a lot of circumstances, especially if I have the "parkinsons bug" happening.

I definitely agree with this. I'm secretly hoping that these changes as well as those outlined in my thread about DAGRs would give us both top attack for Titans and LOAL/LOBL for laser guided missiles.

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I just want top-down. Hitting tanks is nigh impossible without it in a lot of circumstances, especially if I have the "parkinsons bug" happening.

Well you can do "sort of" top down attacks, the lock / seek stays on - even if aiming almost vertically. Also attacking vehicles behind structures is possible as demonstrated here:

Of course it would be really really nice if we could use that top selector to the right hand side. It's already there - just make it selectable by changing fire mode.

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Well you can do "sort of" top down attacks, the lock / seek stays on - even if aiming almost vertically. Also attacking vehicles behind structures is possible as demonstrated here:

Of course it would be really really nice if we could use that top selector to the right hand side. It's already there - just make it selectable by changing fire mode.

This bug is something I want to see removed as quickly as possible. The fact that you can shoot in practically any direction and have your missile hit is absolutely ridiculous. Missiles don't have that much of a traverse range on their seeker heads, and if they ever lose track of their target (such as in the event of a top-down attack flight pattern), they have to guess the target's location, meaning if it moves the missile may hit.

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This bug is something I want to see removed as quickly as possible. The fact that you can shoot in practically any direction and have your missile hit is absolutely ridiculous. Missiles don't have that much of a traverse range on their seeker heads, and if they ever lose track of their target (such as in the event of a top-down attack flight pattern), they have to guess the target's location, meaning if it moves the missile may hit.

Yes this would be nice, although the Spike rocket actually technically does have the possibility to be fired speculatively and being guided to a target afterwards. I concur that that arc / turn ratio in A3 is far too high. For top-down attack mode this behavior should be completely removed.

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