Tag Archives: bohemia interactive

[E3 2017] The Games Harnessing User-Generated Content

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Something peculiar I noticed with three games during the E3 2017 presentations has to do with user generated content, how some specific games are handling it, and why they’re doing it.

Of course there’s the well-known news of Bethesda’s Creation Club which looks like another pass at paid mods. Two games at the PC Gamer Show however also seem to be heavily leveraging user-generated content. Continue reading

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Assault On Saint-George Airstrip: An ArmA 3 Story

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The mission I just completed in ArmA 3’s Dynamic Recon Ops mod should make a nice send-off as I put the game down for a while. I haven’t gotten bored with ArmA 3. Far from it — it’s starting to suck my time away from other games. After probably more than 250 hours I need to rip myself away from it. Continue reading

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ArmA III: Dynamic Recon Ops Has Been Improving

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Since I wrote about it in July, the ArmA III mod “Dynamic Recon Ops” continues to develop, adding features and squashing bugs. It was already really fun then, but now has become a far more functional and content-rich sandbox within ArmA’s existing sandbox. Continue reading

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Up-And-Comig ArmA 3 Mod: Dynamic Recon Ops

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Operation Swampforce had me leading a team of three AI recon soldiers into a lumber mill just north of the town of Berezino to assassinate an officer, blow up a storehouse, and grab some intel. Overall the mission went off without anything too disastrous happening, but I did have to call some audibles which put the team into some pretty serious gunfights. This all came out of an ArmA 3 mod based on random generation.

A lot of ArmA 3 mods rely on randomly throwing a bunch of factors together, often with mixed results. This game is the kind of simulator with a bunch of systems that react to each other so dynamically that just tossing them all together in a bunch of random ways: enemy placement, objective generation, Bohemia Interactive’s large and dense maps, can create some legitimately cool situations. The recently released “Dynamic Recon Ops” from mbrdmn is the most successful attempt at this I’ve seen yet, and it’s because it seems to take a more measured approach to random generation. Continue reading

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ArmA 3 Apex Impressions Part Two

arma3_2016_07_22_19_44_29_687So I’ve finished the main campaign that came with the ArmA 3 expansion, Apex, after putting down some quick words about it. Other than a pretty good write-up from Kotaku, I don’t see much critique of the expansion coming from major websites. Continue reading

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ArmA 3 Apex Quick First Impressions

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It doesn’t look like the big websites are going to review the new Apex expansion for ArmA 3— most of them except the PC-focused sites haven’t even really covered how drastically ArmA 3 has changed since its initial launch in 2013. I’m definitely not the most hardcore ArmA player despite my over 200 hours on the game, but I thought I’d at least lay down some quick impressions after a couple missions, one official and one from a mod. Continue reading

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[E3 2015] PC Gaming And Press Conference Hype

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E3 2015 is really just looking like an event where a lot of cool games will be announced. That’s what all the predictions are about right now which for some reason makes them less interesting to me. Since it’s a mid-console-generation E3 I don’t expect to see anything there suggesting upcoming fundamental changes to the medium (I don’t think VR is THAT close to be honest). One odd thing that is coming though is the PC Gaming Conference. I think a lot about PC gaming kind of goes counter to what a lot of E3 is about. Continue reading

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The Road Of ArmA 3

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What can I really talk about right now? I’m anticipating Grand Theft Auto V’s PC release, especially since I haven’t played it at all since a short PS3 rental in 2013. Instead of gearing up for it though I’ve just been playing a ton of ArmA 3 over the last week, finally diving headfirst into mods, particularly BECTI. This happened to coincide with a major new patch that changed the way guns feel and operate, also making some huge changes to the audio which I think drastically intensify the game. I guess I could run through some of this for people not already 100+ hours and 10GB of mods deep into this game. Continue reading

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Player And Commander

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Playing a couple games recently got me thinking about how some video games handle the commanding and piloting of crewed vehicles. It’s an interesting subject because the task goes completely counter to a lot of what console gaming is designed for. I always thought exploring certain things further in this area could lead to new types of games. Continue reading

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What Playing ArmA Is Really About

My squad’s latest objective is to confirm an enemy helicopter wreckage deep in the forested mountains in the north. The suspected range of its location is something like a square kilometer, and the edge of that range is at least that far away from home base. It’s night time with no moon, so it’s pretty much pitch black, and there are undoubtedly already enemy squads sweeping the forests for the wreckage.

After a short drive with only a truck’s headlights to illuminate the trees and country highway, I manage to find the top of a ridge overlooking the entire suspected area and park our truck there. The hills and trees below form a mass of blackness against the blue night sky, but in that blackness I can immediately spot a glimmer in the woods about 700 meters in the distance which is almost certainly the burning wreckage. Before we even move we spot enemies around there running through the woods. I never see the actual enemies themselves but all I have to do is aim towards their flashlights — dancing in the darkness like fireflies.

I imagine one way developer Bohemia Interactive intended for this ArmA III side quest to go down was for me to have a firefight deep in the valleys below the ridge in the middle of a pitch black forest. I just happened to pick an advantageous spot which completely turned the battle around. That mixture of open-ended mission design and atmospheric scenery is why I play ArmA.

The intimidating thing about ArmA is the fact that it’s a realistic military simulator, and many of the game’s fans probably do play it for that hardcore simulation. This gives everyone else the impression that the series is just a sterile workbench that takes away what makes Battlefield or Call of Duty fun.

I’ll admit ArmA’s gameplay is probably everything console gamers hate and fear about PC gaming. The moment-to-moment fighting is a very 90’s Microsoft Flight Simulator mentality where you have to know which sub menu is where just to be able to restock ammo. To ask your squad’s medic to heal someone you have to press F3 (or whatever corresponding F key) to select him, press 6 to go into the command action menu, then press 1 or 2 to select injured team mates within that menu. When you’ve killed an enemy you’re expected to press 5 to reach the status communication menu, then 7 to manually make your character say “tango down” so the rest of the squad no longer has to factor that enemy into their behavior.

I’ve already gone at length about how a main reason I play these games despite their difficult, complex gameplay is because they’re some of the only shooters that let me decide how to conduct missions. I’ve also talked about the scale and beauty of this franchise’s open worlds. Where it all comes together is how successfully Bohemia has managed to utilize these things together.

Actually, a major element I haven’t talked about is the pacing of ArmA. Being a tactical shooter should make it obvious things are going to be much slower than a Call of Duty game, but ArmA’s pacing extensively leverages its scenery and terrain. Honestly, the game moves along more similarly to an RPG than any military shooter.

Bringing my squad all over the countryside feels like bringing an RPG party through trails or across the world map, only instead of swords and spells we’re decked out in military gear. The subtlety of that scenery, in turn, creates a contrast that makes every shootout feel more intense. It’s kind of like Shadow of the Colossus really.

Similar to that game, in ArmA you could spend a sizable chunk of time driving along a dirt road, trekking through a forest, climbing over a hill, flying over the mountains in a helicopter, and finally coming upon a deserted town, taking in the scenery until a bullet whizzes past your head. In an instant the tone changes as you plant your face in the grass and your buddies start screaming out enemy positions. Or rather, you’ve set up an ambush and spend several minutes waiting on a silent mountain overlooking a valley before the time comes to strike.

Among shooters this is a huge difference from how Call of Duty likes to have things turned up to 11 almost 100 percent of the time. Maybe this kind of pacing is simply inherent to open world games, which inevitably require some amount of travel, and thus time to experience the world outside combat. Then again, a lot of people who play action games are bored by that kind of stuff, hitting fast travel as soon and as often as possible.

People apparently hate traversal across Far Cry 2’s world, but driving along sun-baked landscapes or boating through rivers is one of my favorite parts about that game. These are the same people who don’t like sailing in The Legend of Zelda: the Wind Waker, but I love how big sailing makes that game feel.

Like I’ve said before, if I could play a shooter with ArmA’s open world, freeform gameplay, atmosphere, and sense of pacing, that wasn’t a terribly complex military simulator, I would. Far Cry is among the few action shooters that allow for that contrast between calm and explosions, but ArmA of course does this on a much larger scale. The other closest example we see on the horizon is Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Its recent gameplay video gives me high hopes for what I’ll be able to see and do in the final game.

The point is, ArmA isn’t just its hardcore focus on realism. ArmA is heading out into a world that is at once massive, intricate, and beautiful, and making your own decisions about how to conduct combat missions. The reason I’m willing to accept the hardcore realism is because these games are almost the only ones in the shooter genre willing to strike out from the “corridors and explosions” formula.

BULLETS:

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