ARMA 3 looks forward to surpassing its predecessors in realistic military strategy shooting. While developer Bohemia Interactive is hard at work ensuring just that, they were kind enough to take a break from their busy schedule and provide us with an insight on the title’s new enhanced mission editor, ‘fluid’ control scheme, wounding and fatigue systems and more.
ARMA 3 is looking at a release date in Q3 of this year and is already evolving into an enormous military sandbox. Make no mistake, the mod-friendly title is already giving birth to fabulous custom mods and it’ll be really interesting to see just how NATO forces defend Europe come the game’s release at the end of the year.
SegmentNext: We know that you guys plan to include a lot of support for modders and the mission editor is looking to be pretty awesome, can you give us more information on that? What have you provided that wasn’t in the previous game in that regard? How powerful is the mission editor?
Bohemia Interactive: Modding is very important to us as a whole, which we try to support in several ways.
The Alpha has been open to mod. Some will say this is nothing special, but if you look around in the industry, you’ll find even full games are starting to shy away from modding. It also does bring certain downsides, such as a weakness to hacking multiplayer. We still believe it is necessary and part of our vision, plus the amount of custom content for Arma 3 already is mind-blowing.
We have started to publish what documentation we have to our Community Wiki.
We will start highlighting cool projects and mods via our official channels.
We’re testing various ways of utilizing Steamworks to make mod integration and distribution easier.
The editor is something we use almost exclusively in our team to design scenarios and the campaign (supported by scripts). It’s a very powerful integrated editor that allows setting up simple and complex scenarios alike.
We did various tweaks to the interface to make it more intuitive to use (which includes various layout presets).
The main focus has been on modules and their expanded use and functionality. They allow users to visually design more advanced content without actually scripting.
SegmentNext: Some players complain a bit about the control scheme in ARMA 2, are you doing anything to try to make it more fluid for them? And how customizable will the controls be?
Bohemia Interactive: Initial reports from the Alpha indicate our changes and improvements to controls in Arma 3 are paying off. Not everything is fully tweaked yet, but people seem to agree it’s a big step forward. You are in more direct control and things are more fluid. There are various cool official and unofficial videos that demonstrate all the changes very well; adjustable stances, moving while throwing grenades, and more.
Players can customize their controls with almost full freedom (there are some reserved keys), and even use many peripherals such as TrackIR head-tracking, controllers or joysticks. We see some quite exotic use of these, such as one community member using pedals to control infantry leaning more accurately. There are also presets now: “Arma 2″ for those who wish to stick with something as close to the previous game as possible, and “Arma 3″ for those who want to try for an evolution and step forward.
SegmentNext: What kinds of Biomes/areas will we be seeing? We know Altis has hills and deserts, but might we see Snowy archipelagos or the Ukrainian or Kavkaz Mountains and Forests?
Bohemia Interactive: The full game will include Stratis and Altis which are geo-typical Mediterranean islands. For gameplay and diversity we have made some creative changes, such as more dense forest cover. We found out by playing that we lacked cover from aerial vehicles. Altis is huge and has some quite unique territories: there are large hills, urban areas, flat and open plains and there’s also a salt lake for example. We hope to be able to explore more environments after the game’s release, perhaps in DLC. Next to that, our community modders will surely release some impressive terrains.
SegmentNext: How do you plan to attract mainstream shooter fans to ARMA 3? The hyper realistic military warfare featured in the game sort of caters to a niche market, are you trying to do anything to make it more accessible to others?
Bohemia Interactive: We do want to remove the rough edges and less intuitive designs seen in the previous Armas, but we do not want to sacrifice what Arma is about. It will still be challenging, and there still are some unforgiving simulation elements that are fun to master. We focus on removing unnecessary barriers of entry, which begin with the setup experience. It should not be an endless process of installing separate (third-party) packages and drivers first. Download, click and play is the ideal world target.
SegmentNext: When should we expect the beta testing to begin?
Bohemia Interactive: The Alpha will run into Q2 2013 and then transition to Beta. People who own the Alpha, have access to the Beta and full game at no additional cost.
SegmentNext: Could you comment on wounding and fatigue system in Arma 3?
Bohemia Interactive: It is a small evolution from how it was in Arma 2: Operation Arrowhead. Our new inventory system allows us to use items more, so people can now use First-Aid Kits to treat themselves or others to a certain degree. Larger wounds need a medic to treat them fully. We have done prototypes of more advanced and complex systems during Arma 3’s development, but could not quite get it right. It would often become too frustrating. Therefore we decided to keep it slightly more simple, but to try to test and finish it well. We are leaving some of the more advanced hooks in the engine so community projects can use them and make their own advanced injury systems.
You have your limits as a soldier. You can’t sprint endlessly with a full backpack for example. The balancing team is still tweaking fatigue values intensely to make sure it gets the message across, but does not frustrate. The effects of being fatigued are noticeable in your movement speed and the stability of your aim mostly.
Thank you Bohemia Interactive for answering our questions.
For our readers: If you’re still deciding whether to get a copy of Arma 3, does this interview convinces you to do so?