FROM: Project Lead
TO: Beta Users
INFO: Release plans, Workshop, Fixed-wing aircraft
Wow! Lots of things to go through this week, so let's get to it. We dropped some intense bits of news on everyone, including our campaign release plan and the primary release of the game on September 12th. It was hard to say all we wanted to say in one (rather lengthy) blog. We hope it answered some of your questions, and helped explain the situation we are coming from. We like the contents of the release package and look forward to unleashing it in exactly one month.
Meanwhile, we are pestering our Quality Assurance department with getting the final Beta patch out nicely - ideally this week. Besides a huge log of improvements, its primary focus is the Steam Workshop going live. Already enabled in development branch, you can now publish scenarios from the editor and subscribe to them from within the game as well. At the moment the Workshop contents is only visible to owners of the Arma 3 Beta, whereas it will become visible to everyone. Cool stuff is already actively being published, iterated, given feedback and enjoyed!
Episode 1 of the new season of Community Guide videos has meanwhile gone live and takes a look at helicopter mastery.
There has been a lot of talk within the community about the release package and assets perceived as missing, most notably more fixed-wing aircraft. We are planning to release more content in patches, besides the campaign itself. Let's explain what's going on:
- During our project review last year, we significantly changed the direction of the project - we feel for the better (details in the blog). This included a significant iteration of what we refer to as the ORBAT - our list of vehicles and weapons. Our priorities changed: building the game up from the infantry level, to combined arms support, and now arriving at the larger war. This led to certain assets being moved down in the priority list, a few being removed, but also entirely new and splendid content being commissioned (Ghosthawk, Darter, Ifrit, Marid, Kamysh, Zafir, etc.). The setting and factions also changed - resulting in assets previously shown on screenshots as OPFOR to become BLUFOR (Hunter, Slammer, Panther, etc.), along with some more faction reshuffling.
- A few assets seen in screenshots and other media were taken well before the project review, when Arma 3 was a different game. We remain convinced the changes were for the better. It wasn't optimal to show placeholder and prototype content before we knew we could finish it. This has also led to a renewed stance to public statements - not confirming or announcing content before we are quite sure about it (starting October 2012). Specifically vehicles like the F-38 (as we called it), were only ever placeholder assets taken from Arma 2, and used to showcase flight and the new clouds, as well as to test fixed-wing PhysX. They were meant to be significantly updated or re-done to match, but due to a shift in priorities, not finished in time. There was no ill-intent when showing them - rather overly ambitious goals, enthusiasm and a desire to share development progress.
- Adding content post-release is not necessarily new for our games, and a tradition we've stuck with ever since OFP Cold War Crisis. Veterans may remember the free Ultimate Upgrade packages adding major vehicles such as the Su-25, Chinook, Vulcan AA, Kozlice shotgun and more. Another example was the addition of Warfare mode and USMC units to Arma 1. Some of the content will be brand-new and some is finished content shown in the past. Top priority for the artists now are two Close Air Support fixed-wing beasts, one for both primary factions. And there is more cool stuff to come!
With regards to the Steam Workshop - we knew there were modders who have expressed concerns about the license agreement. Because of this we've discussed options directly with Valve and pursued more agreeable terms. Note that we still view this as an optional (but very exciting!) service to share content. The old methods are still in place and we have no intentions of changing that.
Our drones (Darter, Greyhawk and Stomper) will miss the final Beta patch this week. Instead they will be added to development branch soon. A few functionality issues are being resolved, but we absolutely cannot delay the patch.
Internally we are going to be on a development lock down very soon and up to release. This effectively means we will only make important fixes to release content. This is done to ensure stability in the release version. It may mean the updates on development branch are less significant - although we do want to stage a lot of release content there ahead of September 12th! We will also need to re-skin the game from Beta to release, so don't be surprised if Beta logos and texts start morphing into their final versions.
Last Saturday evening we attempted to do a live-stream of release content. It was partly thwarted by our Internet connection, but ultimately a version went up two hours later. A few hours before the stream, we ran tests and things were green across the board. When we were just about to go live, we found the upload connection being interrupted frequently - causing dropped frames in the stream. We decided it would be better to record the same presentation offline and upload it immediately afterwards. Check out the results here!