OPREP - JETS DLC

reported by Joshua Carpenter on April 15, 2017

UNIT: Joshua Carpenter, External Developer, BRAVO ZERO ONE Studios
TO: Arma 3 Dev-Branch Users
OPSUM: Partnering up to bring you the best DLC jet!

Hello, my name is Joshua "Saul" Carpenter, Project Lead at BRAVO ZERO ONE Studios. Together with Bohemia Interactive, we are proud to present the Arma 3 Jets DLC. In this OPREP, we'll briefly delve into the DLC's content and its development.

BRAVO ZERO ONE

First I would still like to introduce BRAVO ZERO ONE Studios (or B01 for short). We are a team of professional creative developers from all over the world whom are responsible for the design and creation of Arma 3 Jets. You could say we're the 'architects', but Bohemia Interactive has helped us immensely in terms of providing support and mastering the content. Additionally, various members on the Arma 3 development team were responsible for developing the new platform updates and features coming with the Jets DLC. Of course, throughout the entire process, we've been advising each other to ensure a splendid and consistent package.

All in all, it's truly been an adventure, so let me introduce our team here at B01. As stated before, we're an international team of developers coming from both North and South America and Europe. We have a few notable team members, many of which are industry professionals with ties to the Arma modding community. These are: Christopher Peral, Don Ray Reed, Luiz Cordova, Dennis Kahl, Lingfeng Hou, Don Welch, Rob Graham, John K. Noviks, and of course, myself. Without these people, this project would never have made it off the ground (pun intended!).

THREE JETS AND A DRONE

After much discussion, concepting, prototyping, and eventually production, the aircraft have finally arrived on Arma 3's Dev-Branch. This means that, with the help of the community, we’ll now be tweaking and polishing the airframes to make sure we bring a splendid set of aircraft for all to enjoy. Let’s take a deeper look at each of the new fighter aircraft and pick out some of the notable details.

  • 5th generation fighter/attack aircraft inspired by the F/A-18E and F-22A
  • Two variants, internal stealth and conventional pylons
  • Designed for carrier operations, allowing it to deploy nearly all over the globe (perfect for NATO commanders)

  • 5th generation fighter aircraft inspired by the T-50 PAK FA and Su-35
  • Internal missile and bomb bays, as well as a conventional pylon variant
  • Large but powerful CSAT airframe, ideal for air domination over enemy-occupied skies

  • 4th generation fighter aircraft inspired by the JAS-39 Gripen
  • Fast and nimble aircraft but with limited hardpoints for weapons
  • Perfect addition for the AAF to fight in the skies over Altis

  • Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle inspired by the X-47B
  • First jet-powered drone in Arma 3 and stealth capable
  • Designed to supplement NATO airpower

  • Full-size super aircraft carrier inspired by the USS Gerald R. Ford
  • Static carrier capable of launching and recovering naval aircraft
  • The pinnacle of NATO force projection all over the globe, a veritable airport on the sea

FLYING HIGH & LOW

When John and myself had this wild idea of taking aircraft gameplay in Arma to a new level, we realized that it wouldn't be possible without a close partnership with Bohemia Interactive. Therefore, we got in touch with Team Mike Producer Lukáš Miláček, and sat down to brainstorm about various gameplay approache s. The intention was to deliver more engaging, balanced, and authentic gameplay for Arma pilots, and ultimately, a more fun experience.

One part of this meant having new high-fidelity art models, but also new gameplay features. While there was a significant wishlist, we ultimately prioritized the Sensor Overhaul, Dynamic Vehicle Loadouts, upgraded Damage Model, and HUD improvements. Some of these new features we plan to explain in more detail in another OPREP, but we can definitely say they help a lot to make the new airframes stand out.

Overall, during the last year and a half of development, we have built a close and strong partnership between Bohemia Interactive and our studio. We managed to successfully overcome various challenges, ranging from communicating via the Internet while everyone is in a different time zone, to making large scale design decisions. It’s been a experience with many late night/early morning meetings on Skype, many finished notepads, and sticky notes everywhere. Thousands of hours went into the creation of the Jets DLC.

DESIGNING A JET

Just to give you some insight into what it takes to produce a new Arma 3 jet, let's briefly go through the process. Designing an authentic and believable fighter aircraft, with all its controls and functionality, is a daunting and thrilling task . There is so much to be considered, from aerodynamics and physics, to placement of the ' NO STEP' stamp on the right parts of the wings. We knew from the onset that we wanted to tackle naval aviation, and what better aircraft platform to work from than the Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet? It is one of my personal favorite aircraft and a staple of naval aviation.

However, we also needed an aircraft that would fit with the US NATO forces that are currently present in vanilla Arma 3. Something a little futuristic, and plausible in the 'Armaverse'. So we began by playing with the idea of “futurizing” the F/A-18E, and combining the airframe with elements of fifth generation aircraft, notably the Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor and F-35C Lightning II. It was interesting to take elements of three completely different aircraft and combine them into a single coherent airframe, but: challenge accepted. We began with some basic 2D concepting, but then quickly realized that 2D art would not help us with such a complex series of shapes, so we began to concept in 3D instead. This allowed for greater room to adjust the concept, as we could now visually see the full size and shape of the airframe in real time and adjust, delete, create as needed.

Once the 3D concept was completed and approved by both B01 and Bohemia Interactive, we moved on to a full prototype model. This, like most game art, went through multiple iterations before the final prototype was created and approved. Many challenges had to be overcome, such as how would we do the wing-tip folding, the placement and deployment of the rear landing gear, and the shape and design of the cockpit, just to name a few. At the end we had a cohesive and futuristic F/A-18 that we found to be authentic and believable. We dubbed her the Black Wasp II.

From concept to finish, the F/A-181 Black Wasp II has been one of our favorite projects to work on. We look forward to the community reactions of seeing this beauty in the skies of Arma 3 and we greatly appreciate the community feedback.

TEST FLIGHT (DEV-BRANCH)

All in all, I hope that everything above brings some insight in the development of the Jets DLC, and the collaboration between B01 and Bohemia Interactive. We are confident that the new aircraft and features will enhance aerial combat in the future to come for the Arma community.

For now, we have just deployed the new jets to Dev-Branch, so be sure to take them for a spin. We will be paying attention to your valuable feedback on the forums and Feedback Tracker. After release, we plan to keep working and improving this set of assets, including things like flight behavior and onboard weapons systems. Plus there might be one or two small surprises down the runway.

To close off, we look forward to all of the videos, screenshots, and of course feedback, ideas and suggestions. The community is why we do game development, and the community is the definitive proof of Arma’s success.

Thank you for your support!

Joshua “Saul” Carpenter
BRAVO ZERO ONE Studios