FROM: Creative Director
TO: Arma 3 Users
INFO: Resting & Recoil Incoming; AI improvements; Hello from the Environment Dept
This week we're hoping to push two splendid (and related) features to Dev-Branch: Weapon Resting and Recoil Overhaul. Although we've dug into a bit more detail over the last week or two, it's probably worth outlining the basics once again. Weapon Resting provides 'passive' benefits to certain aspects of weapon handling, such as reduced sway. This 'rested' state is determined by a real-time algorithm that identifies situations where aiming would reasonably benefit from a stable firing position (e.g., when prone, leaning against a wall, resting on a low wall, etc.). Our Recoil Overhaul aims to make the mechanic more fluent by correcting some existing behaviour and rewarding the intelligent use of stances and movement speeds. Overall, this development contributes to our goal of making firing a weapon simple to do, and rewarding to master.
Since both features are closely related, we'd prefer to release them together to garner more useful / relevant feedback. However, this now depends upon the resolution of a couple of pesky issues related to recoil discovered at the last moment. In short, we define limits to the displacement of the aim point when a weapon is fired (determined by type, calibre, stance, etc.); unfortunately, we discovered that these limits were occasionally ignored (indeed, seemingly at random), resulting in wildly unintuitive (and unintended) movements. This was a bit of a deal breaker, but we hope to have found an adequate solution. Implementation is in progress, and we're now looking to roll out the features towards the end of this week. For the avoidance of doubt, 'Resting' is distinct from 'Deployment' - a feature that we'll continue to tweak and polish over the next couple of weeks ahead of Dev-Branch staging.
Recently, some subtle changes to the way that weapons are configured were rolled out to Dev-Branch. Rather than squeezing all the juicy details in here, Bounce Master Chief, Pettka, set out the background and goals of this development in a splendid OPREP. If you're looking to update your own weapons, you might like to check out some samples, which we've made available via an update to Arma 3 Tools. In short, these enhancements help bring about a greater diversity of performance between firearms. We hope this - in tandem with other features, such as Weapon Inertia - will translate to more meaningful choices when selecting the best weapon for any given situation. We consider such features to be part of Marksmen DLC's broader focus on improving weapons / firefights, which, of course, will be available to everyone that owns Arma 3.
On a related note, recent changelogs have contained notes relating to the detection of bullets impacting / flying around units. Let's take a quick look at how it all fits together. The first changes (released for a wee while now) were adjustments to pathfinding. If an area is under heavy fire, the AI will now prefer (in direct contradiction to the Kenny Loggins school of thought) to plan around such danger zones. More recently, the detection of bullets passing close by units was enabled. This information is now mapped to the behaviour of a unit reacting to threats. The next step will be to connect this to penalties in AI aiming accuracy. Although we're at an early stage, we can say that our goal is to improve the experience of firefights by refining their lethality and promoting / rewarding the use of legitimate tactics / maneuvers. However, making changes to core mechanics is not without risk. If we're not satisfied with the results, this work may yet not make it into Marksmen DLC.
As we mentioned in our Scanning the Horizon blog post, development of a new terrain continues apace. This production is a huge, ongoing effort, so - with respect to our goal of shining a light on the deepest, darkest corners of development - let's take minute to catch up with the noble Environment Department. Headed up by Martin 'Maxell' Pezlar, the team has shifted from a 'pre-production' phase into full on, balls-to-the-wall development. With much of the research, experimentation, and endless wishlists of assets in place (ish), and the basic shape and structure of the environment approved, the true work has begun! The team is now focused upon populating the map with compositions (above and below water!), refining the details of the height map, retouching the satellite texture / mask, and coordinating the production of all the assets.
The team also cooperates closely with other departments, solving issues together with programmers and artists in particular. One of the objectives of our next terrain is to find a more splendid balance between the rich, visually attractive locations, performance, and AI path finding. Creating repros and discussing best practice means that we needn't sacrifice one element for another, but find an agreeable mix that both caters to a number of play styles and creates a unique, authentic world. With much of the rest of the team still working towards Marksmen DLC or supporting the existing content, their hard work can sometimes appear sidelined; however, every now and then there's a real leap forward, and we're soon reminded that a whole new world lies just around the corner!
We've seen a number of nifty new script commands pop up on Dev-Branch recently. Programmer Tomáš 'Nesquick' Nezval graciously deigned to acquiesce to requests for new UAV commands. Highlights include enableUAVWaypoints and waypointsEnabledUAV to enable / disable player setting waypoints for UAVs in the AV terminal, while BIS_fnc_liveFeedSetTarget can be called with an optional parameter for smoother camera transitions. Continuing on topic, the new append command adds the useful ability to append one array to another, and - because programmers can Lern2UX, too - a scrollbar for long script examples was added to help dialogues. Fancy that.
Resident Tools Commissar, Julien Vida, politely asks users of the Arma 3 Tools development branch that were having trouble with FSM Editor to update now, now, now! Although we struggled to reproduce an issue related to starting the tool by calling it directly from a file, we hope to have perhaps possibly provided a fix in today's update. Oh, and the Arma 3 Launcher? Nah, you probably haven't heard of it. Never fear, design hipster-in-chief, Jiří Zlatohlávek, is here to tell you all about the Publisher and Launcher with updated documentation across on our community wiki.