FROM: High Command
TO: Arma 3 Users
INFO: Live Ops, Old Man, Global Mobilization
"Hello, I'm Niles (or Nillers) and if you haven't already heard by now, I am the new Community Manager for Arma 3. I have officially taken over the responsibilities of Rob (Homesick) and have already spoken with many members of this incredible community. I'd like to thank everyone who has reached out and given me a warm welcome. I look forward to getting to know many more of you."
However, there's a lot more to talk about in this SITREP. We'll be discussing everything from new bonus content released for our Arma 3 Contact expansion, the new Old Man (Beta) scenario, and major updates for Creator DLC: Global Mobilization. So let's get right into it.
While still on the topic of new people in new positions, our team in Amsterdam is still searching for dedicated Programmers who can help support the Arma 3 Live Ops team (more on that later) and pioneer for a slowly growing local programming force. If you (or someone you know) is interested, all the details and requirements of the position can be found on our website. Send in your CV/résumé and become part of an exciting new generation of technology and games by Bohemia Interactive.
For all of our mod makers out there, at the end of October, our team released new Contact material asset samples. This included several new texture templates for items, such as: the Radio Pack, Advanced Modular Helmet, Tractor, and much more. These can be accessed (for free) in our Tools and Samples packages from the Steam store. As usual, all the details of the TECHREP can be found over on our Dev Hub.
And for those looking to make use of the Spectrum Device in the vanilla platform (i.e. without Contact loaded), since update 1.96 you can use scripting to implement limited functionality in your scenarios or mods. While Contact ownership is required to fully use the device without restrictions, the scripts will work for any Arma 3 player, since everyone has the data loaded. Designer Karel Mořický has published documentation in support of this to the Community Wiki. We're keen to see your Electronic Warfare operations!
Owners of the Arma 3 Digital Deluxe Edition (or, since more recent years, if you purchased Arma 3 from the Bohemia Store) should not forget to take a look at the Bonus folder found in their game directory. There you should find we've added the original soundtrack for Arma 3 Contact and high resolution, translated maps of Livonia. No need to get lost while you jam out to music composed specifically for the "First Contact" singleplayer campaign.
While you're still in the game directory, did you know that the Arma 3 executable has shortcut ICO images for Contact and other changeable looks? To change your current icon, make a shortcut copy of your current Arma 3 EXE file and click "Change Icon" in the shortcut properties.
We'd furthermore like to mention that Designer Karel Mořický has excitedly announced that he will be attending Game Developers Conference later this year, to speak on what it means to support modding for games like Arma 3! If you're traveling to the conference already or live around the San Francisco area, be sure to visit his session. Karel will be explaining the philosophy behind designing games as a platform and the mindset that developers need to have in every decision. More details can be found on the GDC website.
Behind the scenes there have been quite some organizational changes for the Arma 3 project and Bohemia Interactive as a whole. As we've briefly eluded to in the previous report, the amount of development resources remaining for Arma 3 have been reduced a lot meanwhile. Many of our colleagues are working on Bohemia's future technology and games, so it's definitely for a good cause! At the same time Arma 3 is still actively played and extended by its passionate community. We want to do our best to support them as much as possible. Therefore a small Live Ops team is assigned to keep track of maintenance updates and of course launch support for upcoming Creator DLC (more news on those later this year). Instead of our own bigger additions, those DLC will actually be our main focus in 2020 and beyond. The team is also working closely with our Publishing colleagues to keep the game healthy.
Arma 3 Live Ops sees the return of Project Lead Joris-Jan van 't Land, with most day-to-day coordination handled by Associate Producer Radek Pazdera. They are supported on-demand by Arma 3 veterans throughout the company, depending on their availability. We are also starting to look into other avenues for support work, such as by trialing external contract work with community programmers. This way there may yet be some limited development of the engine code for example. But please be aware that this will likely be scoped to simple new script commands and low-risk fixes. If we can figure out reliable workflows, it may however open things up for similar external contributions in the future. We would also like to very much thank those involved with running the Arma 3 project over the past years, and who have meanwhile moved on to other Bohemian projects or even new careers. Special kudos go to Ondřej Kužel and Bořivoj Klíma, who have actually managed many of the Live Ops activities during the past years.
What does this all practically mean for Arma 3 development? Here are a few expected changes, most of which have been as such for some time:
- Dev-Branch updates are targeted to be weekly, but we will regularly skip a week in case there are no useful changes or there is a "logistical issue".
- Main branch updates will be low in frequency, and only done when needed (for example to release a Creator DLC). These updates are a lot of work and there are many risks, but more on that later.
- We mostly work on important fixes, security issues, third-party software changes, and similar. Don't expect big new features, technologies, nor large platform additions.
- We'd like to publish more Arma 3 samples and even licensed data packages (as for previous Arma games), pending available resources to prepare them.
- SITREPs will likely be infrequent, but on the other hand our Community Manager Niles is keen to connect with you in other ways.
OK then, let's take a quick trip down memory lane, to last year's 1.96 update. While the update required a hotfix – that we admit took too long to get done – it focused on bringing various parts of the Contact expansion over to the vanilla data, and miscellaneous fixes both to Contact itself and for the platform. Perhaps important to still highlight for community developers are two technical topics. We finally settled on a permanent warning-only status for undesired waitUntil usage, instead of forcing it to break. Obviously it's still better to heed this warning and improve your scripts! And similarly, the behavior of createVehicleLocal is as it was before this update (but consider using createSimpleObject with the 'local' parameter for a more future-proof implementation). Please see the SPOTREPs for the main release and hotfix for all details in case you missed them.
That leads us to valid questions like: "why can't you update the game without breaking it Bohemia?!" Believe us, we are as upset when this happens as you are. We will always strive to avoid big issues and to make the game actually better with updates. Updating is however increasingly difficult given several natural consequences of the game's age and enormous scope. We could deep dive into why for many lengthy paragraphs, but the highlights are: the ever-expanding library of user-generated content means backward-compatibility is more and more rigid, and we simply have fewer in-house development resources as described above. That means many times a simple good fix or improvement has the tendency to break a mod or a scenario, no matter if it's actually better. Ironically when a bug or bad implementation lives on for too long, it becomes 'accepted' and worked into content. And we also cannot as quickly react to issues as back when we had around 80 experts assigned full-time. We still do use Dev-Branch and RC-Branch, but they have slowly lost much of their effectiveness due to a shrinking active audience (understandably). Often the issues don't appear in the vanilla game or even the most popular mods, but do pop up for private communities and deeply modded servers that we have trouble testing in-house. Ultimately, we have to be very careful and conservative in order to keep the platform stable for all. We'll keep trying to improve and to avoid issues or to solve them as swiftly as possible.
On that note, we can't thank the community enough for still submitting reports on our Feedback Tracker. Your support in detailing tickets goes a long way in improving the quality and speed in which we can resolve issues with our games. Some even go above and beyond in this effort. Especially in cases such as community members POLPOX, KC45, Kaoru Uduki, and various others who helped us with improving and translating Japanese localization texts that will aid our international community. We say thank you and want you to know that your efforts are highly appreciated. Keep it coming!
Wow, that's a lot of text, so let's enjoy a quick intermezzo with a lovely orchestral rendition of the "This is War" main theme!
About a month ago we released the much awaited Arma 3 Apex: Old Man open-world, singleplayer scenario! This scenario is currently in its beta version and can be found on the Steam Workshop. It is free for everyone, but it does require players to own the Arma 3 Apex expansion to play as it is located on the Tanoa terrain. We decided to make this an optional download on the Steam Workshop so that users didn't need to switch to Dev-Branch to participate in its public beta testing. We've already received a ton of feedback that will go towards its next published updates. However, due to its experimental nature, the Old Man (Beta) was placed inside the Bohemia Incubator. Depending on user feedback and available resources, the plan is to add the Old Man scenario to Arma 3 via a platform update in 2020. If that happens, people will still need to own the Arma 3 Apex expansion to play the scenario but no longer need to subscribe to the Workshop item.
For all the details on the background of this scenario and how you can start playing, please head over to the Steam Workshop! After you've played for a while, be sure to backup your save file and corresponding addons! As Jaroslav Kašný, Senior Designer, detailed in a recent forum post, you'll most likely lose your game progress with any upcoming update. This is due to the single-scenario nature of Old Man's open design. It's why we've decided on performing rather infrequent, but larger, updates. Other than that, enjoy your adventure across Tanoa and remember to report game issues to the Arma 3 Feedback Tracker, in the Workshop discussion section, or the dedicated Bohemia forums thread.
While not exactly Arma, the team over at DayZ recently published their first ever game DLC - DayZ Livonia! Arma 3 players will recognize this terrain from our latest Contact expansion, but now users can experience the 163 km2 of lush green landscape in a new way. PC players who enjoy both games can receive an additional discount if they decide to bundle both the DayZ Livonia DLC and Arma 3 Contact expansion on Steam! Even if you already own one or the other, you can still pick up this sweet discount to complete the set here. Also, congratulations are in order as DayZ won the 2019 Steam Awards "Better With Friends" award. So this is a great opportunity to grab your friends (or squadmates) and go play in both worlds of Livonia!
Vertexmacht, the team behind the Arma 3 Creator DLC: Global Mobilization, has been hard at work since our last SITREP. Just before the holidays, the version 1.1 update was released adding lots of content to the DLC for free. Included are a number of notable additions, such as the new T-55 series, Danish APCs, and the Polish Army faction. The full changelog of additions and changes can be found on the forums and check out this trailer highlighting some of the new assets. Additionally, Global Mobilization texture samples have been updated to include templates for the new assets. Useful for those looking to replace the textures of the vehicle without having to edit the mesh data itself. Dedicated documentation on how to retexture Global Mobilization content is available here.
Lastly, we've heard several members of the community ask for servers to host the unique DLC content. The team has heard your requests and has opened up a CTI (Capture the Island) game server that runs 24/7. Simply search the server browser ingame (or in the Arma 3 Launcher) for "Global Mobilization Public Server." It's a great opportunity to play with Global Mobilization assets in multiplayer. Make sure to join their Discord for more information.
We've had two new SECREPs regarding BattlEye anti-cheat updates. These have been pushed to our main branch and will hopefully improve server security. SECREPs and updates on anti-cheat/security can be found here.
Lastly, in case you missed it, Arma 3 is now free to play on Steam until Sunday, January 19, at 10 AM PST! All Steam users will have free access to the Arma 3 base game plus the Arma 3 Apex expansion. This includes users who already own Arma 3, but do not own the Apex expansion, as well. This means you can enjoy Arma 3's full "The East Wind" singleplayer campaign and the "Apex Protocol" co-op campaign.
After playing a while, be sure to secure a massive 70% discount on the Arma 3 base game and savings of up to 66% on Arma 3 DLC packs and expansions until January 20. When purchasing the Arma 3 Ultimate Edition, you get an additional bundle discount on top. If you're new to the game and looking for help on getting started, don't worry, there is a built-in "Prologue" tutorial campaign to help. And you can always stop by our forums or Discord to ask veteran players questions. Have fun together!