meta-SEOW Software Requirements
Because meta-SEOW introduces a second sim title into SEOW, there is need for additional software tools (over the normal set of SEOW tools) to create and play the associated content and missions. The tools required depend on your method of involvement in the campaign.
- Player - as a player you will need to install Iron Front as a mod to Arma 2 Combined Operations. That's all.
- Commander - as a commander you will need to install Iron Front as a mod to Arma 2 Combined Operations. That's all.
- Designer - as a campaign designer you will need to install Iron Front as a mod to Arma 2 Combined Operations, and potentially the IFA2 map editing tool suite, depending on campaign design choices.
- Administrator - as a campaign admin you will need to install Iron Front as a mod to Arma 2 Combined Operations, plus the IFA2 map editing tool suite.
Iron Front in Arma 2 Combined Operations (IFA2)
The meta-SEOW concept was designed for the combination of IL-2 and Arma2/Iron Front sims. Iron Front: Liberation 44 was released several years ago by Deep Silver as a stand-alone package based on Bohemia Interactive's Arma2 engine, designed for late-war operations on the eastern front. Iron Front also included a DLC pack that extended it for use in Normandy D-Day scenarios. It was not overwhelmingly popular, but this was probably more to do with lack of mass-appeal content rather than technical flaws.
These days, Iron Front has been brought back into the Arma2 fold, and for a very reasonable price it is possible to buy both Arma2 Combined Operations and Iron Front, and then merge them into a single game install. This merger is done by following the instructions at Iron Front in Arma or at IFA2 in SEOW.
The essential steps are:
- Purchase and install Arma2 Combined Operations, e.g. from Steam. Verify that it is installed and works fine on your system. This will give you Arma2 and Arma2 Operation Arrowhead.
- Purchase and install Iron Front, including the D-Day DLC, e.g. from Steam. Verify that it is installed and works fine on your system.
- Follow the combined mod installation and updating instructions at the Iron Front in Arma link above (manual install procedure is recommended) or at the IFA2 in SEOW link above.
You should now be able to play Arma2, Arma2 Operation Arrowhead, and Iron Front as you choose by enabling/disabling Expansions inside your Operation Arrowhead game. This will also give you access to the internal terrain and object content for the games, which is essential data for the meta-SEOW map generation procedure.
IFA2 Map Editing Tools
The content creation tools for Arma2 are complex, so this software is not easy to set up and run. meta-SEOW offers support to assist in the creation of maps in the IFA2 environment which simplifies many tasks, but the advice here is that only experienced software administrators should attempt to install and operate the tools described below.
Bohemia Interactive (BI) editing tools and the P: drive
Building Arma2-compatible terrains is an essential part of the meta-SEOW process. There are some complex and proprietary steps in the terrain building process, so we need to install the appropriate third-party software. Bohemia Interactive (BI) have made freely available some relevant tools which are enough to get you started with what is necessary to build simple terrains.
The process for installing the "BI Editing Tools 2" is contained in the tutorial instructions at ArmA 2 Terrain Tutorial. Follow this tutorial to the letter and you should end up with:
- Visitor 3 installed.
- O: and P: drives created and populated. Create a folder called "P:\SEOW".
- BIS Tools 2 installed, ready to binarize your terrains.
- A sample ARMA2 map called TUT, created by you and playable in your A2CO.
If you get this far you should be able to create simple Arma2 maps using the basic BI tools. However, these tools can sometimes be flaky and provide inscrutable errors and inconsistencies. It is recommended that you download and install Mikero's tools instead for much greater consistency and utility.
Mikero's Dos Tools
The free BI tools are not necessarily the best. Mikero has released a range of Dos utility tools that enhance the Arma2 terrain building experience. There is a useful thread at BI Forums.
Install the tools listed at the PboDll files page: http://dev.withsix.com/projects/mikero-pbodll/files. These are light DLLs and EXEs and won't take up much space. The ones that are particularly useful are pboProject and DePew, but all of them will probably be needed at some stage, so get them all. If you want support from Mikero, you will need to become a PayPal subscriber as described in the aaaReadMeGeneral.htm file at the PboDll download page.
Once you have these tools, you can navigate to your Arma2OA folder, e.g. "C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Arma 2 Operation Arrowhead", then go to @IF\Addons, and right-click on lib_buildings.pbo and open with ExtractPbo. This will expand the contents of the Iron Front buildings archive which you can then copy to your P: drive. Do the same for lib_builidngsrw.pbo, lib_clutters.pbo, lib_core.pbo, lib_misc.pbo to build up a good object library on your P: drive. meta-SEOW will need these object definitions.
If you have the BI tools and Mikero's tools correctly installed on the same machine as your SEOW Mission Planner and IFA2, you have all the tools you need to define and create maps for your meta-SEOW campaigns.
Information on how to use meta-SEOW with BI and Mikero tools to create meta-maps is found in the MP4public/DMT/index.php page (a web page; the SEOW HQ Mission Planner DMT page is here). The DMT folder also contains useful information on the types of house objects and other infrastructure available in IL-2 and IFA2, and they correspond to each other. Some of this information is also present in SEDB72 tables with "Meta_" prefixes. DMT requires database connections to generate landscapes and villages, and to determine whether snow should be simulated etc.
Preparing IL-2 Maps for meta-SEOW
meta-Maps are constructed using IL-2 maps as terrain references. This ensures that the maps in IFA2 resemble the battlefield landscape in IL-2. To run meta-SEOW operations on a particular IL-2 map, that map needs to be expanded for use with meta-SEOW scripting engines. This process is straightforward and is described on the DMT web page above.
Building meta-Maps with DMT
The actual map building process is handled by a tool inside the Mission Planner called the Dynamic Mapping Tool (DMT). This tool has two interfaces. The first is the "web forms" interface located at MP4public/DMT/DMT.php which is normally used by SEOW scripts, and the second is a user-friendly GUI interface which can be accessed at MP4public/Scripts/MM-DMT.php. This is for administrators who wish to tweak their own map generation settings and parameters directly. DMT requires a password to operate - this password is set inside the MP4public/DMT/DMT_Authorization.php file.