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Lothar of the Hill People

A day in the life of a pilot in the 94th Aero Squadron


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  1. 1. Have you played OFF with OFFbase?

    • Absolutely
    • Not Yet
    • I'm scared to give it a try
    • What the heck is OFFbase?

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To give those of you who haven't played OFF with OFFbase an idea of what it's like, here's a screenshot-guided tutorial of sorts.


After the initial settings, the main window opens where you select a nation and squadron to play. In this case I'll ignore my existing German pilots and click the Create Pilot button. This launches the OFF Manager so I can create an American pilot in the 94th Aero.



After creating the pilot, I Leave OFF Manager to return to OFFbase, which detects the new squadron. I select it in the list, and click Play Squadron.



OFFbase supports multiple pilots in a squadron, here I have just one. I can edit his background directly here, or just continue on with the Play Pilot button:


This button is green like saving changes to your background because it makes changes to your pilot files, synchronizing all your pilots in the squadron to the most recent roster, date given in the lower left. For example, if you have two pilots in the same squad but one in 1917 and 1918, it will put the 1917 pilot On Leave until 1918 when it will rejoin the squad alongside the other pilot. All pilots in the same squadron share a common roster, which persists beyond the life of any one pilot. This squadron-based gameplay is a key feature of OFFbase.


OFFbase needs to know your squadron's Operational Rating (or Status) which isn't stored in the pilot files. You can enter the OFF Manager from here to check in the Campaign screen if need be:


You'll only need to set it again if it changes.


On the first run, OFFbase will simulate 30 days of squadron activity so your squadmates have on-going relationships and career troubles when you arrive:



OFFbase is not just a simulation but a role-playing game. All characters have a Background Trait, which must be set before play:


As a lowly 2nd Lieutenant in the prestigious "hat in the ring" 94th Aero, some higher-ranking officers will take a little pity on the Schoolboy type--but bullies may give them a little extra attention as well. Schoolboys are relatively nicer to Cowards than other types, and gullible to Gamblers.


Higher-ranking pilots will get to choose additional traits when starting an OFFbase campaign, so characters grow more unique with rank. While there are only thirteen distinct 2nd Lieutenant personalities--making rookie pilots fairly disposable--American Lt Colonels come with hundreds of millions of different combinations of traits.


Initial set-up complete, it's time for the introductory sequence as my new character arrives.


The quality of the airfield is a random dice roll.


Now it's time for our first Encounter, the basic gameplay element of OFFbase. When you first meet someone, you do what officers do: Salute.


The text lets you know what kind of encounter, a little about the mood of the other pilot, and how your character feels about the encounter. Schoolboys are more submissive in a Salute than other types. As a player you can influence your pilot's attitude in the encounter. Your pilot character's Artificial Intelligence (AI) chooses its default attitude based on its overall mood and memory of past encounters with the other character.


If both pilots are submissive, they become more friendly. If both are aggressive, they'll dislike each other more. It's the combinations in-between that are interesting (25 possible outcomes to each encounter), each changing how both pilots will behave in the future as both AIs learn in response. In this case, I decide to push my Schoolboy into being extra-submissive to the Captain, hoping he'll be nicer to me in the future.


Well that worked, I guess. I've now met Captain Bingham, and it's pretty clear he's the boss of me.


Sometimes Salutes will be continued into another encounter. Since I've just arrived at the field, perhaps I can get some information out of the Captain:


Schoolboys are excited at asking for directions, making them naturally more aggressive at it. My AI wants to be forward after getting put in place by the Salute, but I'm going to make him even more aggressive. Meanwhile the Captain is more open to me after winning last time. Maybe I can exploit him a little for once?



I got back a little of my prestige and some valuable info on 94th Aero's Adjutant, who I'm about to meet:


My pilot is still a little cranky, having lost more prestige than gained from Captain Bingham, so I'll roll with his forward attitude.


Didn't get shown up quite as badly, but still it's clear these Captains don't respect lowly 2nd Lt. Luther Hill. But now that I've met the Adjutant, I'm in his office:


The description of the mess depends on the Adjutant's personality. Here I can change the Operational Rating if it changes in-game, get a promotion when I've earned enough prestige, or transfer to another squadron. But he doesn't have time for me now, so I leave. On to the mess as he said...


The text in the mess depends on the time of the day, the mood of other pilots, and your relationships with them. Prestige is earned not just through encounters and achievements in the air, but from the support of your squadmates in the form of Goodwill. This is what makes it worth sacrificing short-term prestige to make friendships which pay prestige in the long-term. Learning whom to befriend and whom to exploit, and indeed when to exploit your friends, is only part of the fun, as you're also teaching the AI of other pilots to cooperate or defect


There's one more Encounter to go in this introductory experience:


OFFbase will try to assign a wingman close in rank to you. Maybe this is someone I'll be able to make friends with?


He did seem upset, guess he wasn't in the mood to make friends. But there's a 50% chance we'll share quarters together:


Hope I don't find Lt MacKenzi's practice disruptive, but maybe he'll brighten up the mess in the evenings with his play...


That's it, the end of the introductory sequence. I'm deposited at the Squadron HQ:


What I do next is up to me. Notice how little prestige I have left after all that. I'll have to be careful, if it falls to zero and the Adjutant catches me, he'll have me transferred out of the 94th!


For what happens next in the career of 2nd Lt Luther Hill, stay tuned...


More interested in your own career? Download OFFbase!

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Lothar, you could be in the commercials business - you know how to beat the drums.


I will speak honestly: I tried the first or second OFFbase, and I think it is great for all,

who may find it hard to imagine the athmosphere, the life around and inbetween flights;

or the characters who share the time in the squadron with him.

I prefer to make up my own stories, but I recommend it to everyone, who never found

it easy to write his school essays.

And it seems you have meanwhile much improved OFFbase even.

Edited by Olham

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So let's take a look around the squadron, shall we?


The Adjutant is always available, though his time and patience are limited:


Looks like I caught Captain Lindsay in a good moment, as he opens up a little about my squadmates.


My entrance to the Mess Hall does not go unnoticed:




Major McNeil was rather nice, well compared to everyone else I've met so far today. But not much else going on in the mess:



Or so it seems. Your squadmates have encounters with each other, just as you do with them, and you may see witness some of these encounters in the mess:


Wonder what that was about? Most encounters leave a lot to your imagination to fill in the details as you develop a sense of identity around different pilots.


Let's go to the Duty Room and see what we know of our squadmates so far:


You only get details on those you've met--and notice the Adjutant Captain Lindsay listed as Ground Crew. Future versions of OFFbase will feature even more non-player characters (NPCs) to encounter. You can get more information on the different aspects of characters by clicking the ? buttons


Let's head back out to the Airfield. As I arrive:




This guy's just a jerk. I've had my share of Captains... but what else does he want with me?




Yep, Cadbury's a jerk who enjoys taking my prestige. What's this about the war ending? I'm a Schoolboy heading out to his first active-duty flight! Way to cut me off at the knees.


But at least I can now go Fly Mission in OFF. Make sure your active pilot is set, go into the Campaign and fly a mission like you always would.


When done, Leave the OFF Manager to return to OFFbase.


This isn't the place for after-action reports, but our patrol encountered a quartet of Alb D.Va from Jasta 72s over the Argonne. I downed one, which another pilot tried to steal as I lined up for the killing blow. Guess who? My new best friend, Captain Cadbury. Then, a second Albatross damaged my engine and I limped back over the lines, landing at the nearest friendly airfield. OFFbase offers unique post-mission opportunities:


I didn't make it home, so I can't check that box, but I can take things up with the jerk who tried to steal my kill.






Argh, he got me again. Benefits of rank, he insisted I should have deferred to him and let him finish the Albatross. He may have a point...


Well, need to report in to the Adjutant:


The prestige I earned from downing the Albatross was wiped out by not bringing my own plane home. Back at HQ, I can see I'm in trouble:


Only 0.44 prestige! I enter the Mess Hall cautiously, knowing I need to earn some quick prestige but can't afford to have someone pick on me again.


This must be the new guy, Captain Fuller, the Adjutant told me about. Sure he outranks me, but I'm no longer the rookie and take an Aggressive stance to let him know it. But deep down, I'm scared!


I guess we see eye-to-eye; though I'm not able to get any prestige out of him.


Ah, the mess:



If I'm going to earn more prestige, I'll have to do it in the air. On the way to the Airfield, I encounter my wingman:


Oh boy, the Schoolboy's favorite! Let's see if I can qet some quick prestige here.


Well he's no fun.


I'm going to have to have a very successful mission if I've any chance of sticking around as the only lowly 2nd Lieutenant in the 94th Aero:




Strafing trenches? And I'm supposed to lead this attack??? Captain Lindsay must really be trying to get rid of me...


Some time later... holy cow!




Knowing I have almost no prestige remaining I was willing to take big risks on this mission, and with a lot of luck those risks paid off. I made two full passes over the trenches with only a few seemingly-harmless bullets passing through my wings. Turning into a third pass I observed three planes diving to follow my attack... except one didn't look quite like the others. When it opened up on my wingman, 1st Lt. MacKenzie, I was now close enough to see it was clearly an Albatross attacking seemingly out of nowhere. Don't like my wingman all that much, but my squadmates had led him right into me, and I fired at close range and the Albatross crashed into those trenches I'd just strafed.


As hero of the day, check out my prestige now:



Glad my wingman made it home alive at least:



Let's check the board in the Duty Room:



So, 2nd Lieutenant Luther Hill survived his first day in the 94th Aero Squadron, and may yet make a name for himself there. What will your days OFFbase bring? Download it and find out!

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And it seems you have meanwhile much improved OFFbase even.

You should give the new version a try, Olham, you may just have fun. Still leaves plenty of room for the imagination as this little tutorial shows, I hope. Just posted the rest of 2nd Lt Luther Hill's first day.

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Looking good, Lothar. I shall have to give it a try when I can get back to flying OFF. I'd downloaded and installed it but then RL got in the way.


One point though. In your first batch of screenies Luther seems to have become somewhat lost leaving the Adjutant's Office as he ends up in Jasta 1 Mess Hall! I think you used the wrong image! :grin:

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Wow! I have it d/l'ed but never tried it as I thought it must be complicated but I must say it looks very cool.


Will certainly give it a shot now. Great work!!

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It works in a very intuitive way, DukeIronHand, not complicated at all (not for the player anyway). I find it helps not to think too hard about the game theory mechanics under the lid, and just react to the situations in as natural a way as possible, doing the first thing that comes into my head. It doesn't replace imagination either, but stimulates it to add an extra layer (a game within a game), although it can change your promotion prospects within the OFF campaign. I strongly recommend giving it a try. It installs very simply - I just copy the OFFice folder to my desktop, and then make a shortcut to Offbase.bat. When a new version comes out I just copy over the old version and create a new shortcut. Pilot and squadron settings are automatically retained from the previous OFFice version, so long as you do not delete the old file before installing the new one over it :)



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Looking good, Lothar. I shall have to give it a try when I can get back to flying OFF. I'd downloaded and installed it but then RL got in the way.


One point though. In your first batch of screenies Luther seems to have become somewhat lost leaving the Adjutant's Office as he ends up in Jasta 1 Mess Hall! I think you used the wrong image! :grin:


A man called Luther should feel right at home in a Prussian Jasta. :grin:

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A man called Luther should feel right at home in a Prussian Jasta. :grin:

Heh, what happens if you purposefully land at an enemy airfield and try to come over to the other side? I've never dared to find out.


But that's a good catch, Dej--I was shuffling around a lot of screenshots.

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