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  1. I seem to go months between blog posts but it does give me time to generate things to talk about so maybe it’s not that bad?

    Regular followers will likely have seen my recent social media posts about the Bovington Test Area map we’ve been developing. It seems to have generated a lot of interest and associated demands (more on that later) but since Islands aren’t exactly what I’m known for I thought I’d explain what happened and why.

    20200511093608_1.jpgBovington came up one night when MikePheonix and I were talking about testing our respective vehicles.  I’d made a comment about how none of the islands really have the terrain resolution to push the limits of the vehicles and it would be nice to have some sort of dedicated test area. Mike immediately said Bovington.

    I blame MikePheonix for the whole damn thing

    Now at the time I was considering making another area for pretty much this exact purpose.  But something much larger and I was having problems getting DEM (Digital Elevation Map) data for the areas I wanted (Yes, I am being cagey about that so as not to commit to anything) But amazingly I managed to get 1m resolution maps of Bovington almost immediately. So just as an experiment I put it into L3DT and 24hours later I had the basic map in game and useable.  It wasn’t pretty.  But the data was clean and it was really interesting and fun to drive around so I decided to run with it.  This is where I start to blame MikePheonix for the whole damn thing.


    Mike even said publically that if i made the island he would populate it.  Sadly its not worked out quite that way.  Mike is making objects for it.  But the limiter is really the tools.  Terrain Builder is really not collaboration friendly.  There are some community made tools out there that make things easier eg Plopper (Really unfortuate name) but incredibly useful. But again add an extra layer of complexity to learn and adapt your workflow to. I'd love to know how the internal BIS team do it. I know they have a different toolset to the public ArmA tools but I am curious about how they manage and merge the work from several developers worth at the same time on the same maps.



    I’ve been tinkering with Islands since ArmA1 days.  And not really produced something I actually felt happy to release but it has been the catalyst to make objects and buildings in the past.

    Anyway, enough preamble. Making Bovington may have been a  happy accident. But using terrain build is not a happy experience!! Making the map wasn’t something I had planned and had the first version of the island I got in-game had it not been as much fun to drive around on and muck about we wouldn’t be talking about it now.  The process of develeoping the island past that initial point really wasn’t easy or much fun…


    Terrain Builder crashes a lot.

    The tv4p files seem to become corrupt with depressingly regularity. The programme refuses to save files without any error boxes or warning. It crashes without explanation and one minute its fine the next it won’t save. But doesnt say why. Or something random happens and you are left wondering what the hell did I do? And the undo button doesnt seem to work. 

    But in the long run it will be worth it...maybe...if i dont die of frustration first.  I've had to rebuild from the WRP atleast twice now as the terrain builder files either wont open or save. Its frustrating as hell.  My advice, take lots of backups. 

    20200507132536_1.jpgBovington Test Area is a small map. Its 4.096kmx 4.096km. its got a 1m terrain resolution which may seem like overkill but I think its worth it as the terrain is interesting and fun to drive on.  I recently watched Farsight spend nearly 3 hours driving various vehicles around it laughing his ass off most of the time.

    From day one, the Bovington map was all about testing the vehicles.  Originally, I had no intention of releasing it to the public.  It was supposed to be for MikePheonix and I to test on. Then a few other people asked for a copy.  And as I started adding things, I watched their interest seeming to grow. And suggestions came in thich and fast. Now I usually don’t respond well when people start with “You need to add X, Y and Z” because 85% of the time its not something I want or think is realistic. Its my project after all.  And if it expands the scope to be something I wont ever use then I dont tend to add it.  But in this instance almost everyone that knew about the side project suggested something that made the idea better.  Or at least I could see the logic in adding it. But suggestions like this, meant I added the 25m and 600m ranges. Including the need for some custom objects too.  Then came the 1200m vehicle firing range in the north east. A late-night conversation with Farsight convinced me to make the map a bit more infantry friendly. Adding in some details and features that could be fun. Puddles and ponds appeared to be something that everyone expected to see and want. So I’ve added them. And it does add to the feel it.

    Several people suggested expanding the map to support coastline and full size airbases. I'm sorry but these were immediately dropped. Expanding the map meant reducing the terrain resolution which is the most important part of the map. And entire reason for me continuing with it.  it needs to be rough and random to be able to test vehicles.  Smoothing it out defeats the purpose of the terrain.



    Several British groups I know have said they would like to use it as their own home rotation map and made some very specific requests but I’ve said no to almost all of these. So many people want and continue to demand features outside of the things Mike and I want from the map I’ve decided to leave it fairly open so people can add their own compositions in the editor. I think its the best way to make sure it does get finished.

    Thanks to many people in this community making Islands in ArmA 3 is relatively easy; there are some really detailed tutorials on how to do it.  But making good, credible, believable islands is gloriously hard to do convincingly.  I take my hat off to the likes of Ivan Buchta of BIS, Blud and others from the community that specialise in this.  It is amazingly hard to make something that feels credible and realistic. By the time you get to play on Bovington I'm hoping it with be believable. But I'm not sure it will be upto the standards of Livonia or some of the other BIS or premium community maps.  But I do hope it will be fun to use.

    Rock (in isolation)

    May 2020


  2. Rock
    Latest Entry

    By Rock,

    Admins: NEW server side key!

    - Extended duration upto 5 hrs flight time
    - Ground Control Shelter
    - 3Den Attributes Panel
    - SAR Radar - See diagram
    - Visual and IR Sensor Ranges changed
    - Datalink range to 16km
    http://bit.ly/2VFiGYu #rksl #Arma3








  3. How To Operate a Helicopter Mechanic


      A long, long time ago, back in the days of iron men and wooden rotor blades, a ritual began. It takes place when a helicopter pilot approaches a mechanic to report some difficulty with his aircraft.  All mechanics seem to be aware of it, which leads to the conclusion that it's included somewhere in their training, and most are diligent in practicing it.

      New pilots are largely ignorant of the ritual because it's neither included in their training, nor handed down to them by older drivers.  Older drivers feel that the pain of learning everything the hard way was so exquisite, that they shouldn't deny anyone the pleasure.

      There are pilots who refuse to recognize it as a serious professional amenity, no matter how many times they perform it, and are driven to distraction by it. Some take it personally.   They get red in the face, fume and boil, and do foolish dances.   Some try to take it as a joke, but it's always dead serious.   Most pilots find they can't change it, and so accept it and try to practice it with some grace.

      The ritual is accomplished before any work is actually done on the aircraft.   It has four parts, and goes something like this:

    1. The pilot reports the problem. The mechanic says, There's nothing wrong with it."

    2. The pilot repeats the complaint. The mechanic replies, "It's the gauge."

    3. The pilot persists, plaintively. The mechanic Maintains, "They're all like that."

    4. The pilot, heatedly now, explains the problem carefully, enunciating carefully. The mechanic states, "I can't fix it."

      After the ritual has been played through in it's entirety, serious discussion begins, and the problem is usually solved forthwith.

      Like most rituals, this one has it's roots in antiquity and a basis in experience and common sense.  It started back when mechanics first learned to operate pilots, and still serves a number of purposes.  It's most important function is that it is a good basic diagnostic technique.  Causing the pilot to explain the symptoms of the problem several times in increasing detail not only saves troubleshooting time, but gives the mechanic insight into the pilot's knowledge of how the machine works, and his state of mind.


      Every mechanic knows that if the if the last flight was performed at night or in bad weather, some of the problems reported are imagined, some exaggerated, and some are real.  Likewise, a personal problem, especially romantic or financial, but including simple fatigue, affects a pilot's perception of every little rattle and thump.  There are also chronic whiners complainers to be weeded out and dealt with.  While performing the ritual, an unscrupulous mechanic can find out if the pilot can be easily intimidated.  If the driver has an obvious personality disorder like prejudices, pet peeves, tender spots, or other manias, they will stick out like handles, with which he can be steered around.

      There is a proper way to operate a mechanic as well.  Don't confuse "operating" a mechanic with "putting one in his place."  The worst and most often repeated mistake is to try to establish an "I'm the pilot and you're just the mechanic" hierarchy.  Although a lot of mechanics can and do fly recreationally, they give a damn about doing it for a living.  Their satisfaction comes from working on complex and expensive machinery.  As a pilot, you are neither feared nor envied, but merely tolerated, for until they actually train monkeys to fly those things, he needs a pilot to put the parts in motion so he can tell if everything is working properly.  The driver who tries to put a mech in his "place" is headed for a fall.  Sooner or later, he'll try to crank with the blade tied down.  After he has snatched the tailboom around to the cabin door and completely burnt out the engine, he'll see the mech there sporting a funny little smirk.  Helicopter mechanics are indifferent to attempts at discipline or regimentation other than the discipline of their craft.  It's accepted that a good mechanic's personality should contain unpredictable mixtures of irascibility and nonchalance, and should exhibit at least some bizarre behavior.

      The basic operation of a mechanic involves four steps:

    1.  Clean an aircraft.  Get out a hose or bucket, a broom, and some rags, and at some strange time of day, like early morning, or when you would normally take your afternoon nap) start cleaning that bird from top to bottom, inside and out. This is guaranteed to knock even the sourest old wrench off balance.  He'll be suspicious, but he'll be attracted to this strange behavior like a passing motorist to a roadside accident.  He may even join in to make sure you don't break anything.  Before you know it , you'll be talking to each other about the aircraft while you're getting a more intimate knowledge of it.  Maybe while you're mucking out the pilot's station, you'll see how rude it is to leave coffee cups, candy wrappers, cigarette butts, and other trash behind to be cleaned up.

    2.  Do a thorough pre-flight.  Most mechanics are willing to admit to themselves that they might make a mistake, and since a lot of his work must be done at night or in a hurry, a good one likes to have his work checked.  Of course he'd rather have another mech do the checking, but a driver is better than nothing. Although they cultivate a deadpan, don't-give-a-damn attitude, mechanics have nightmares about forgetting to torque a nut or leaving tools in inlets and drive shaft tunnels.  A mech will let little gigs slide on a machine that is never pre-flighted, not because they won't be noticed, but because he figures the driver will overlook something big someday, and the whole thing will end up in a smoking pile of rubble anyway.

    3.  Don't abuse the machinery.  Mechanics see drivers come and go, so you won't impress one in a thousand with what you can make the aircraft do.  They all know she'll lift more than max gross, and will do a hammerhead with half roll. While the driver is confident that the blades and engine and massive frame members will take it, the mech knows that it's the seals and bearings and rivets deep in the guts of the machine that fail from abuse.  In a driver mechanics aren't looking for fancy expensive clothes, flashy girlfriends, tricky maneuvers, and lots of juicy stories about Viet Nam.  They're looking for one who'll fly the thing so that all the components make their full service life.  They also know that high maintenance costs are a good excuse to keep salaries low.

    4.  Do a post-flight inspection.  Nothing feels more deliciously dashing than to end the day by stepping down from the bird and walking off into the sunset while the blade slowly turns down.  It's the stuff that beer commercials are made of.  The trouble is, it leaves the pilot ignorant of how the aircraft has fared after a hard days work, and leaves the wrench doing a slow burn.  The mechanic is an engineer, not a groom, and needs some fresh, first hand information on the aircraft's performance if he is to have it ready to go the next day.  A little end-of-the-day conference also gives you one more chance to get him in the short ribs.  Tell him the thing flew good.  It's been known to make them faint dead away.

      As you can see, operating a helicopter mechanic is simple, but it is not easy. What it boils down to is that if a pilot performs his pilot rituals religiously in no time at all he will find the mechanic operating smoothly.  (I have not attempted to explain how to make friends with a mechanic, for that is not known.) Helicopter pilots and mechanics have a strange relationship.  It's a symbiotic partnership because one's job depends on the other, but it's an adversary situation too, since one's job is to provide the helicopter with loving care, and the other's is to provide wear and tear.  Pilots will probably always regard mechanics as lazy, lecherous, intemperate swine who couldn't make it through flight school, and mechanics will always be convinced that pilots are petulant children with pathological ego problems, a big watch, and a little whatchamacallit.  Both points of view are viciously slanderous, of course, and only partly true.

    by William C. Dykes
    Jolly Green


    • 2
    • 2
    • 2029

    Recent Entries

    Ok now this is bugging the hell out of me.

    As a content creator I am protective over my own creations.  I spent thousands of hours making addons for free.  The least I should get is credit and respect yeah?  I feel strongly about the rights of other creators too.  Whether they are individuals, groups or corporations.  You make the effort, put in the hours you should get the rewards?  Whatever they are.  Sounds fair doesn't it?

    Have a read of this:  

    All things arma.PNG

    All Things ArmA III was one of my favourite Facebook ArmA groups.  I say was because reading Mr Jason Mulligan’s (the Page Admin) post just pissed me off.  He perfectly identifies himself as the typical selfish user.  He’s perfectly happy to take content no matter where is comes from.  F@%$ the hidden cost to the end user.  He’s an admin on one of the bigger ArmA Fan pages on facebook and look at his attitude.


    So what is the hidden cost?

    Content creators see this attitude and say “Why the hell am I bothering to release content when I get treated like this?"  (Its certainly how I feel.  I’m actually sorry I came back to the ArmA Community.)

    So what happens when genuine creators feel unappreciated, used and abused?  

    • They go underground and stop releasing Public content.
    • The only people left in the community are the end users and the thieves.
    • The knowledge base that was held by the older and wider community starts to vanish.
    • The people with all the knowledge don't bother posting and helping anymore.
    • The community standard goes down hill rapidly.
    • This leaves only the people willing to steal content.

    See where this is going?  If you are truly a fan of the ArmA series and the ArmA Community, you shouldn't tolerate theives.  You should support the decent addons creators.  They are the ones that make the mods you play with all the time.

    Without them, your experience is really going to change.

    Think about it.