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Old 11-12-2015, 10:57 AM   #28
Steve Davies
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Location: Cambridge, England
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Thanks for the write up, Beach.

It's probably worth explaining a little more about the genesis for the Red Flag campaigns and the way in which they were created.

It was Matt's idea to create the campaigns (there are two: F-15C and A-10C). We thought that I could write a fictional narrative and associated mission briefings centered around attending RF, while Matt could employ his fiendishly good mission building skills to make the narrative come alive in the air.

Before we started, we went to an expert who had attended multiple RFs, including as overall mission commander. He gave us the insight that was required to create something that is as close to the real thing as you can get.

At an unclassified level, the expert gave us a typical plan for the overall two-week exercise, described all the 'evolutions' that take place during an RF, outlined the typical learning outcomes, and showed us the way in which they are administratively and tactically run. He talked us through the range space, showed us where and how the 'war' is 'fought', and gave us scenario outlines that we could use to create an RF in DCS.

It's this insider knowledge that, in my mind, makes these two campaigns so unique and exciting.

From there, Matt and I sketched out the broad plan for the 12 or so missions, defining objectives, components and mission flow, before Matt set about actually creating the sorties in his usual 'balls to the wall' style. I test flew the missions and then wrote the narrative and put together the mission planning materials.

After that, we created the custom radio scripts and Matt put in the triggers, ensuring that the missions fly and feel authentic. And we test flew again to ensure that they were not too difficult... but, as Beach says, there is no quarter given for buffoonery.

Beach hasn't really discussed the supporting documents that come with the campaigns, but suffice you say that for the F-15C campaign, we ended up with
  • 26 Pages of tactical briefings

    These are short summaries that you can read before each mission if you don't want to spend too much time going through the narrative.

    These briefings are presented on the mission summary page before each mission, so you don't have to have anything open other than DCS.
  • 100 pages of narrative and briefings

    This amounts to about 22,000 words and was designed to really draw you into the campaign, help you suspend disbelief, and give you all of the details you'll need to successfully complete each mission.

    It contains the fictional narrative, tactical summaries of what happened 'the day before' and what is expected to happen 'today', as well as very detailed briefings for the forthcoming evolution: mission flow, timings, players, goals, radio call signs, tactical plans, threat assessments, motherhood briefings, mission administration and so on.

    It is also illustrated, with lineup cards for each mission that you can print and use, and maps of the NTTR airspace.

The use of the tactical briefings means that if you just want to fly and have fun, you can do that.

But, if you're like me (and like the real life guys flying RF), the 100-page version will ensure that you'll spend as much time (if not more) reading the briefings and planning in the mission editor than you will actually flying...

What I believe we ended up with the is the most rounded, most authentic, and most engaging of any of the campaigns I have flown in the DCS suite. Of course, you could accuse me of bias, but you can make up your own minds...

For me, the most satisfying thing about the missions Matt crafted is that they really do push home the importance of operating as part of a large force, which is one of the fundamental objectives of Red Flag. If you go out to the range space as a singleton, you'll die quickly and you will fail the mission. If you lose SA early, you will die and fail the mission. If you violate your range space, you will fail the mission. But if you work with the other players, hit your ToTs, stay on station for your vul times, fly the CAPs properly, maintain SA and do what the mission plan asks of you, you'll likely succeed.

I don't care that this is a simulation of, er, a simulation - as Beach says, flying back down the Sally Corridor having completed a mission gives you a real sense of accomplishment.

Anyway, just wanted to make sure that you guys have a complete picture of what's coming your way.
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