FROM: Project Lead
TO: Arma 3 Users
INFO: Happy New Year, Expansions menu survey, Quality Assurance
Welcome to the new year! The Arma 3 team has returned from the winter break, and we're ready for another full year of development. While we were recharging, you certainly were not! Many of you made use of the Steam sale discounts and joined our growing ranks. Also cool to see were the huge amount of concurrent players during the holidays. For those who are new, we'll dedicate some paragraphs to introducing our development channels and game versions. Good to have you with us, recruits!
2015 has the makings of another productive year. Just before the break, we concluded all feasibility studies, conceptualization and prototyping for Marksmen DLC and its platform update. Importantly, that meant green-lighting the last of the weapon handling features we're developing for it. You must be getting tired of waiting for the specifics, but we want to be sure of what we can deliver. We think it will be worth the wait. All aspects of the package are now in production, with chunks of it quite far along. Introduction of the content will go similarly to Helicopters DLC; some of the features will likely be staged on Dev-Branch for evaluation starting next month. The bulk of the content will be staged in phases after that, allowing for your feedback to polish it. We hope to be able to start sharing details about the specific new weapons and weapon handling features soon.
In parallel, much work has been done for the larger Expansion. Most notably the new terrain is progressing very well. The environment designers and artists are producing the final models for many of the common structures. Other developers are focusing on the natural aspects, such as the new vegetation and lighting configuration. The terrain team has also selected a specific region together with playable content designers, in order to make it a benchmark site. They will bring this area to standards representative of the final target quality, and trial gameplay there. It's looking awesome, but it will be a while before we can share that with you. Meanwhile, our update cycle will continue to run on a 4 to 6 week interval, with as many optimizations and fixes as possible. And we wouldn't even dare to guess what awesome, impressive, crazy and funny mods and scenarios will be shared by you, the community. Let's make this another fantastic year together!
It's a little late for the seasonal greetings, but if you've missed Bohemia Interactive's 2014 Year in Review video, check it out!
You are most likely reading this on the Dev Hub (or via the game's launcher). If you're new here, this hub contains the active main branch version number, an overview of known issues and various other useful links. We also share development reports of various kinds:
- SITREPs: Situation Reports - weekly development updates from the team. Expect news gathered during the past week, hints of future plans, upcoming releases, test requests, surveys and more (usually published on Tuesdays - in the Czech Republic that is).
- SPOTREPs: Spot Reports - full change logs for our main branch updates, covering data, engine and launcher changes in as much detail as we're able to.
- TECHREPs: Technical Reports - full change logs for Arma 3 Tools main branch updates.
- OPREPs: Operation Reports - updates on specific features or technologies, usually in development on Dev-Branch (published on an irregular schedule, when there's a good topic).
As part of the effort to better integrate mods with the game, we're taking a look at the Expansions menu and seeing how it might be improved. Specifically, there are a few options in this menu which we believe to be redundant now (and more so in the future). We'd like to hear from you before making changes though. Please read Jirí Zlatohlávek's explanation, complete the brief survey, and help us pick the right way forward.
Time to shine the spotlight on another developer who usually isn't covered in these reports: Miloslav Cinko, the fearless leader of Quality Assurance. Arma 3 is currently being tested by five full-time embedded specialists. They are supported by a team of varying size (around 30 - 40) in our Prague office, shared by our other projects. There is also the automated aspect, which we're expanding in 2015, with elaborate auto-testing of almost everything. And then, of course, there is an army of loyal players who assist with pre-release testing and reporting of issues. QA can be an ungrateful job, because even with the extremely hard work these people put in, issues will slip by, particularly in a complex dynamic sandbox environment like ours. We are well aware of the number of open issues, even after filtering duplicates, errors in third-party software / hardware, feature requests and similar. The QA team does its best to complete build, asset and feature tests under massive time pressure. Miloslav is a key figure in recommending release timing during the final hours, and will often fight for getting a few last known issues solved. As developers, it's first of all our responsibility to deliver work with as few faults as possible. QA is the safety net, the last line of defense, and they have our respect for fighting the good fight.
The majority of Arma 3 players need never bother with Steam's additional 'beta' branches for the game. These branches are accessed via the right-click properties of an application. Visit the BETAS tab and select a branch. Some branches require you to fill in an access code before they appear. By default, you unfortunately cannot have multiple branches installed (consider trying the Game Updater utility). Switching will download the difference in data every time. Also be aware that multiplayer may not be compatible between the various branches. Let's list the options available to you:
- Arma 3: the game's main Steam application
- NONE - Main branch (default): the one we'd recommend for the majority of players. It receives updates on a 4 to 6 week cycle, and is the most tested and stable.
- development - Development Build or Dev-Branch: updated daily by our developers as they work. This branch is largely untested, and offered as-is. Changes are logged in this thread, and feedback can be posted here. Expect downloads anywhere between a few MB and 1 GB. We also often use this branch to trial upcoming features, technologies and other changes. In the weeks before a major release, we stage the new content here for testing. However, we still recommend most players to wait for the main branch release.
- legacy - Legacy Build [access code: Arma3Legacy134 - number changes every update]: a copy of the last main branch version. So if 1.36 is on main branch, this would contain 1.34. This branch can be used to compare changes between major versions, or as a temporary emergency option in case a new main branch build has critical errors that have not yet been hotfixed.
- manwar - Make Arma Not War Build [access code: makearmanotwar2014]: a copy of main branch 1.32, in order to provide an unchanging platform for Make Arma Not War contestants and jury members.
- profiling - Performance Profiling Build
[access code: CautionSpecialProfilingAndTestingBranchArma3]: a special version of the game with extended diagnostics and optimizations enabled. This version can be used to participate in on-demand testing, but should not be used for regular play.
- rc - Release Candidate Build [access code changes every time it's used, and is announced via channels like Twitter]: this branch provides what it says, release candidates for updates to main branch. Normally opened in the week(s) leading up to a release, these are the final testing versions. It may get updated with last-minute fixes, but can also be used to effectively pre-load updates.
- Arma 3 Tools: the free tools suite on Steam
- NONE - Main branch (default): similar to the game itself, normally updated on the same cycle.
- development - Development Build: updated on an irregular schedule by our tools developers. Changes are logged in this thread, and feedback can be posted here.
- licensed_data_packages - Huge Data Packages: a mirror of our Arma sample packages (expect a gigantic download).
- Arma 3 Server: a free stand-alone Dedicated Server version of the game (both Windows and Linux)
- NONE - Main branch (default): again similar to the game, and updated right after it.
- legacy - Legacy Build [access code: Arma3Legacy134 - number changes every update]: similar to the legacy branch above.
- profiling - Performance Profiling Build
[access code: CautionSpecialProfilingAndTestingBranchArma3]: similar to the profiling branch above.