Military sims like Arma need a lot of space for their features to breathe, which places a lot of importance on the design and layout of any new terrain. Following up on the reveal of Tanoa at the PC Gaming Show, Bohemia has pulled back a few more of the information-obscuring branches on its "green hell"for Arma 3, due with the game's first expansion in the first half of 2016.
One takeaway from the video is Bohemia's status update on the development progress of Tanoa. Creative director Jay Crowe says that the "basic layout, basic shape, structure of the terrain is in place" and that Bohemia has moved on to populating the map itself. New tech for Tanoa is being worked on, too—the lighting config, a new ocean shader—and it sounds like some of this will be integrated retroactively into existing Arma 3 terrain.
Bohemia also, for the first time I think, explicitly mentions Fiji as a prominent part of its source material for the creation of Tanoa. Bohemia sent two of its environment designers to Fiji to gather photo references of structures, vegetation, and other materials, not to recreate Fiji, but to capture its atmosphere as a foundation for what will become Tanoa. Bohemia also mentions that they've tried to do a Pacific map for some time. "We actually considered the Pacific setting for several, unfortunately, cancelled projects in the past," says Joris-Jan van 't Land.
Finally, Bohemia teases a new 3D scenario editor coming either with or after the release of the new expansion.
Bohemia Interactive today deployed a special Arma 3 developer diary video, providing more intel on Tanoa - the 100 km² South Pacific archipelago terrain featured in the upcoming Arma 3 expansion.
http://youtu.be/JLLdrpbvQpA In the developer diary, Arma 3's Creative Director Jay Crowe and Project Lead Joris-Jan van 't Land discuss how the devteam came to a South Pacific destination, describe some of the key characteristics and points of interest on Tanoa, and reflect on development so far and the roadmap ahead.
Besides the new Tanoa terrain, the Arma 3 expansion will include new vehicles, weapons, attachments and gear, characters, playable content, and more. The expansion is scheduled to be released in the first half of 2016 and will be distributed as DLC for the base Arma 3 game.
FROM: Project Lead
TO: Arma 3 Users
INFO: 1.48 Hotfixed, Windows 10, Vehicle Steering
SITUATION With your help and patience, we've finally honed in on the suspected culprit causing severe performance degradation for a group of players. The hotfix released today improves the situation for a lot of people who reported back to us. In another section of this report, we explain in some more technical details what caused the issues. This is not considered the end station of this investigation. We're doing our best to address more issues in this area. There are many factors that lead to problems like these, which probably would make for an interesting Dev Hub post in the future. Ultimately, however, we strive to more effectively prevent such issues from ever reaching you, the player. Our apologies and gratitude for assisting us in finding the first tangible clues that lead to this step forward.
FROM: Project Lead
TO: Arma 3 Users
INFO: Update 1.48 Released, External 3D Artists
SITUATION Main branch update 1.48 saw the light of day last Thursday. For the majority of players it works well, and brought some useful additions, tweaks and fixes. Take a look at the SPOTREP for the game and the TECHREP for the tools if you'd like to know all the details. During the last days of testing, we decided to delay inclusion of Remote Script Execution. We found a few issues in complex use cases that we'd like to fix first. Once fully ready for the next update, it should help multiplayer designers to achieve modest optimizations and benefit from security improvements.
FROM: Project Lead
TO: Arma 3 Users
INFO: No File Patching, SECREPs, Community Focus
SITUATION Our thanks go out to those of you who've helped stress test the 1.48 Release Candidate (Steam access code: Arma3Update148RC) over the past week. The update is looking good, and on track for release this Wednesday. If you've found any major new issues, now is the time to share them with us on the Feedback Tracker. After reading these reports for the past weeks, you might have gotten the impression the entire team is working just on maintenance. However, work on the expansion is in full swing as well. Several community artists have joined the Tanoa art production army, and are producing new structures for the terrain. We'll also be sharing more details on iterations of Fatigue and Personal Protection soon. These are two of the more hotly debated aspects of the game, so our developers have splendid tweaks in progress. Please do keep reading; we're discussing some important security changes in the sections below.
We write about FPSes each week in
Triggernometry, a mixture of tips, esports, and a celebration of virtual marksmanship.
The FPS genre has produced amazing stories, as proven by successes like Portal, BioShock, or Metro 2033. It s much more common, though, to see a pastiche of Rambo and Saving Private Ryan smeared over the top of more interesting mechanical stuff, like
interesting movement, encouraging great teams, and a thriving competitive community. As Tyler dug into last week in his plan for a better Call of Duty, good storytelling is rarer than it should be, especially considering the resources behind major FPS franchises.
Still, I m nothing if not optimistic. While reviewing the winning mods in Arma 3 s
Make Arma Not War contest, I came across Deliverance and found a case study in great storytelling from an unlikely source. Plot, characters, voice acting, and cinematography in amateur mods are routinely atrocious. But Deliverance pulls it off, and it was rewarded with a third place win in the single-player category. How does Deliverance get it right?
Step 1: Take risks
Deliverance tells the story of a race war, a subject that Call of Duty wouldn t touch from a mile away with an unmanned drone. War breaks out after an Apartheid-like law is put in place on Altis, segregating the island s black population to the poor, undeveloped northeastern landmass.
There s a lot of ways this could go wrong. It s scary territory for a writer. But in making the attempt, Deliverance shows players interesting, nuanced minority characters by the dozen. The Wisecracking Black Sergeant from every war movie ever has no place here.
"Making players care about small, intimate conflicts would change the entire tenor of Call of Duty."
Part one of Deliverance follows a white member of the official Altis Army. He and his squad a well-armed, well-trained, and supported by heavy weapons and air support. As the group ventures north into segregated territory, there s a real sense of isolation as the comforts of the racist south get farther away.
In part two, the story follows a young black mechanic who has spent his early life suffering at the hands of the white government. After being attacked in the middle of the night by white frat boys in a flashy hatchback, he flees his home and joins the insurgent black army. Though the insurgents have greater numbers, they re armed only with ancient cast-offs and their own anger.
Step 2: Give the player space
Deliverance gives players room to make their own decisions. Even though most of the set pieces are the same as Call of Duty in form, in practice they let you do what you want to do. During one mission, I needed to cross a valley and a road to link up with my squad. I could head straight across the center, crawling to avoid detection. Or, I could curve around the west side and kill a guard. All told, I had a square mile to do anything I wanted. (I ended up off-roading it to the rendezvous.)
Giving me the space to solve problems made me invested in their solutions. Once I became engaged in the plot, feeling connected to the characters around me was easy. I enjoyed the cutscenes in Deliverance, even though the animation was pretty rough. I think back to all of the times I rolled my eyes through a Battlefield cutscene because I didn t care that Grumpy Redneck Sniper was mad at Sarcastic Nerd Corporal. I wasn t interested because we were all sitting in a theme park ride together, and I couldn t escape the feeling that it would go on whether I was there or not.
Step 3: Say something real about war
The central theme of Deliverance (besides the obvious: racism is bad) is the way war makes good people do bad things. Both protagonists have moments where desperation and tribalism lead them do regrettable things without pause. There are accidents and death that aren t caused by anyone being The Bad Guys. Deliverance shows that bad things happen when you give young men war paint and guns and set them loose.
As I mentioned, last week Tyler spent some time in this space thinking about
how to save Call of Duty. I submit that Deliverance and stories like it hold the key to solving that game s image problem. Making players care about small, intimate conflicts would change the entire tenor of that series. Not having the burden of a globe-spanning, epic storyline makes a big difference. People die just as dead in Deliverance as they do in Call of Duty, but without the background noise of Mega America nuking Super China—or whatever—the characters can be real people telling a story about their lives. No normal human can carry that much exposition without an enhanced exo-suit, which is why it s so easy to get lost in it. When I get lost, I stop caring.
Deliverance is one example of how freedom and risk-taking can create stories in FPSes that can t be told in film or books. Maybe, just maybe, a huge yearly war game will take those cues to heart and use their considerable talent and monstrous budget to explore something amazing. I m nothing if not optimistic.
Deliverance took third place in the Make Arma Not War contest, single-player mod category. You can get it on Steam.
FROM: Project Lead
TO: Arma 3 Users
INFO: Report In Tanoa, Holstered Sidearms, Release Candidate 1.48
SITUATION The public testing phase of the next main branch update (1.48) has kicked off. It will last the entirety of this week. The result should be a more solid release next week, depending on the test outcomes. The Release Candidate Steam branch has been opened under access code Arma3Update148RC. With that comes the usual caution that you'll not be able to join 1.46 multiplayer servers, and that this branch may receive (daily) updates until release. Besides regular play-testing, several bigger multiplayer stress tests are being organised. Our internal Publishing QA team will invade David "Dwarden" Foltýn's CHIMERA servers this Thursday, and you can join too. We'll share further details via Twitter.