FROM: Project Lead
TO: Arma 3 Users
INFO: Marksmen Sandbox Dev-Branch, "End Game" Early Access, Livestream Recording
Are you ready to begin test firing the new Marksmen DLC weapons? You better be, because they have just landed on Dev-Branch! The majority of Sandbox content is there, including 5 new rifles, 2 new medium machine guns, 2 new scopes, and some sneaky surprises. While we continue our finalization of these assets, we look forward to your thoughts. Community feedback has made all previous releases better, so let's do the same for this huge milestone. Similar to when we staged the Helicopters DLC sandbox, there are some caveats. The branch does not yet include most of the playable content (showcases, challenges, VR training, etc.). The DLC is also not officially released on Steam's store, so you cannot buy it yet. This time around owners of the DLC Bundle and Supporter Edition should already have unrestricted access however. Enjoy tinkering with your new toys!
The team has been gently slapped with two standard development locks as we progress through the schedule. We are now on Localization Lock, meaning the bulk of Marksmen DLC texts have been entered into our text database and sent for proofreading and translation. Authorized changes and additions are still possible based on testing, but our developers now live in constant fear of the wrath of the terrifying Lock Masters. The second lock is a soft Data Lock. This means that packing of data (anything that goes into a game addon file), is restricted and approved on a case-by-case basis. While horribly inefficient for developers, this slows down development deliberately to allow for quality control of the entire build. It's a proven method, and the team is used to dealing with it.
Yours truly is happy to be back after speaking at GDC 2015 and meeting up with our partners to align plans for Arma 3. Many kudos to Jay Crowe, Petr Kolář and the rest of the dev crew for keeping the show on the road and upsetting community translators left and right!
Last Saturday we streamed a first look at Marksmen content on our official Twitch channel. Orchestrated by Associate Producer Matt Lightfoot, a whole slew of devs took the stage to demo and discuss various features and assets. Enjoy detailed looks at the new weapons, scopes and ghillie suits while they are being used to show off Weapon Resting and Weapon Deployment. They go on explaining our improvements to the (combat) soundscape, but do also take a look at this video by Nullrick to hear what's being worked on. Next, there is a look at the new vehicle functionality in Virtual Reality Arsenal (a mode where you'll be able to try DLC premium content without restrictions). Things wrap up with an overview of several first prototypes of gameplay features that we're experimenting with in Marksmen's multiplayer mode. Oh, Mr. Creative Director: "stop!".
The playable content team is proud to be developing its Marksmen multiplayer mode in close cooperation with the community. Their project, codenamed "End Game", has been published to Dev-Branch already! There is a sizable Task Force attached to it, but we'd like to single out the main architect: Nelson Duarte. Nelson pitched the original concept to us after being asked to dream up MP content befitting the DLC's themes. The team-based mode is accompanied by three experimental gameplay features which try to support team play (Dynamic Groups, Shared Objectives and Revive). For Marksmen DLC these will be (scripted) features that we'll mainly utilize in this particular mode, but they will be accessible to community designers. Based on feedback and lots of hands-on playtime, we'll then see which of the features are useful or how we should change them for Expansion. Do please check out this excellent overview website! And of course switch to Dev-Branch, join the official server, and let us know what you think about this Early Access Alpha!
But that's not all of that's happening on Dev-Branch. Senior Programmer Jan Mareček has continued his battle with the inventory bohemiamoth and added support for on-ground interaction with weapon attachments. You can now grab a scope directly from a weapon that's lying on the ground for example. The reverse operation is not available, meaning that you cannot directly attach something to a weapon on the ground. Caused primarily by a technical reason, there is a justification in authenticity. You would not likely neatly screw a pair of bipods back onto a weapon you're leaving discarded on the ground. The Big One, Weapon Deployment, is being pushed on hard. The people involved are keen to get a first version in your hands as soon as possible, but a few more things need to be resolved.
There have also been less obvious changes and fixes on Dev-Branch, so let's highlight a few. Programming Lead Vojtěch Hladík has changed the AI to use the object draw distance instead of the regular draw distance. This may help with performance in high-intensity scenarios. It also means that cases where the AI could see you, but you could not see them, are now avoided. Don't worry, long-range technologies such as radar will still use their actual maximum distance for detection.
As mentioned in the livestream, the last work on AI Suppression (for Marksmen DLC), is about to be released on Dev-Branch. Now that AI can detect projectiles flying near them, and avoid crossing impact zones, they will also receive an accuracy penalty. When under fire, the AI's 'dynamic aiming error' is increased, making them less quick and accurate in their reaction.
Finally, a little ease-of-use improvement. Arma veterans know that markers placed in multiplayer are placed in the radio channel that you have currently selected and they are only visible there. So, if you placed a marker while in your group's radio channel, only your group could see the marker. This was very badly presented to players and many of you probably never knew about it. Now, you place markers in a channel that you select from the insert dialogue, independent from your radio channel.