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Author Topic: Addons & Missions: Why not?  (Read 1326 times)
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Morglor9
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« on: 24 Apr 2005, 20:52:12 »

This topic is about the role of addons in missions, the point being, most don't have them.

According to a recent poll on the ofp.gamezone.cz website, 34% of people in the OFP community spend most time on OFP playing and testing new addons. Although 34% may not sound like much, it was the highest percentage on the poll, next in line being Editing/Creating Missions with only 18%. I can't speak for the accuracy of this poll, but it is very possible that it reflects current trends in the community.

My question is this: Although the supposed majority of OFP-ers spend there time downloading new addons, just to play around with them in the editor, why do so many people seem to be afraid to download a mission with third party addons?

Many missions in the Missions Depot here at OFPEC that have addons other than ones such as Editor Upgrade 1.02 have the lowest number of downloads. Even if the mission has been given a good review, and a high score (say, 7/10) most won't download it. I've even seen missions where a reviewer has listed the number (not the lack of links to them, the number) of addons as a con in a Pros and Cons list!

I would like to know what people think about this. Is the ofp.gamezone.cz poll correct? Is my analysis of the current trend right? Please post your thoughts and opinions.
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« Reply #1 on: 24 Apr 2005, 20:59:42 »

I usually play missions with packs or mods. Like FDF, SEB Nam Pack 2, I44, etc. Even smaller addon-packs like HYK Infantry or Earl & Sucheys USMC are of course welcome. But I usually don't feel like downloading three more downloads for something useful as "new handgrenade models" or "A robocop face", create a modfolder, unpack them, etc.

Call me lazy, but that's me. I think this is most peoples opinion just that they're too proud to admit it. Tongue

I recommend people to make more missions for mods or larger addon-packs and not include a handful of more or less (debatable) unneccesary stuff. Smiley

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Morglor9
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« Reply #2 on: 24 Apr 2005, 21:22:49 »

so what your saying is that if I made a mission that had pretty much all of ONS's (operation nortstar's) Canadian units, you would play it, but wouldn't if i only used their JTF2 Operatives when i could have use BIS standard Blackops. Makes sense. But what if your doing a historicly accurate mission, and you need to use certain troops, but those troops come in a 5 MB pack. they aren't a full mod, just 6 different guys. Is that acceptable?

Should mission makers start including the addons in the mission folder, unless its a mod like Nampack or FDF, so that it's easier on people and they don't have to find the addons?

Anyhow, let's keep these opinions rolling...
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« Reply #3 on: 24 Apr 2005, 21:32:58 »

Well, if it's a guy I know like GRK, THobson, macca or someone, I always play it. If the mission gets a high rating I play it as well. If it sounds different/original/intresting I play it as well. Unless they got like 10 addons. What I meant was I don't feel like downloading a tank or a unit or a cammo net or something that I'm not going to use for a 6/10 mission. Smiley

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macguba
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« Reply #4 on: 24 Apr 2005, 23:19:49 »

You are absolutely right, a large number of people are reluctant to download addons in order to play a mission.  There are several reasons for this.
   

  • Downloading a single addon for just a bit of fun is a one hit trip.   Downloading a mission and one addon is a two hit trip, twice the work.   It's a power of two after that:   two addons is not twice the effort of one, it's four times the effort.    Downloading three addons is eight times the effort of downloading one, and so on.    In other words downloading an addon for a wee play in the editor is just a bit of fun.   Downloading a mission and a bunch of addons can be a job of work.
  • Addons are big files.   They take a long time to download.    If you're on dial up downloading one not only takes a long time, it costs money.    Sometimes quite a lot of money if you have to download several.  
  • The standard of addon making in the community is dismal.    I know this is heresy and I don't mean to disparage the large number of excellent addons out there, but the plain fact is that far too many are very badly made.   They don't use OFP tags so they conflict with other addons.   They are just made badly so that they cause errors and crashes.   They don't have readmes so you don't know their provenance except at the moment of download.     Some even permanently damage your computer.  (It happened to me, twice.)   Most mission players are sick to death of addon problems.   This does not apply to addons hosted here at OFPEC, since they have to follow a few simple and uncontroversial rules in order to be accepted.

  • Far too many missions are not beta tested.   This means that there are frequently problems and errors.    If the mission uses addons, and it has not been beta tested, you are almost bound to get addon errors even if the addons themselves are sound.    Incorrect listings, incorrect urls, incorrect mission.sqm files - there are lots of places to go wrong and far too many missions do go wrong.   Again, this does not happen with missions from the OFPEC Missions Depot because all of these things have been checked.
  • Mission makers frequently give insufficient consideration to the package of addons they are asking the player to download.    Two or three related addons is one thing, particularly if they are relatively standard.     A mixed bag of half a dozen is quite another.   This is the source of criticism for having lots of addons:  it's not so much having a lot per se, it's having a lot which don't combine to create atmosphere.  
  • Mission makers too often use addons badly.   The worst example I've ever seen was a motorbike (4.5meg, I wason 56k at the time) which was hidden between two buildings in a village you didn't even have to go to ... and if you did go there the next objective was over a mountain so transport wasn't really useful anyway ... but in any case it was locked.  Roll Eyes   Again, if you have a lot of addons, it's very hard to use them all well.


The net result of this is that most mission players have had - far too often - the experience of going through a lot of effort to download a bunch of addons only to find that either they don't work, or the mission doesn't work, or it all works but you don't actually see the wretched addon in the mission.    Once bitten, twice shy.


The solution is for both mission makers and addon makers to get their fingers out.    The addon making community should stop allowing its members to churn out rubbish, and start insisting on a decent level of technical quality.    The mission making community should beat its members around the head with blunt instruments until they "get" that beta testing by third parties is not optional, and that a well thought out package of addons (which are good quality to start with and are well used in the mission) makes the whole experience much more palatable.

It's worth reiterating that many of these problems can be avoided by downloading your mission from OFPEC rather than other places where the missions are not checked and reviewed.

« Last Edit: 24 Apr 2005, 23:42:00 by macguba » Logged

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Sui
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« Reply #5 on: 25 Apr 2005, 02:28:09 »

I tend to come from two completely different perspectives in regards to addons:

1. As a mission Maker

I don't use addons because, as macca says, they are mostly crap (with some obvious exceptions!!). There is always a new version coming out, and most of the time the newer version will have issues when trying to work in place of the old version. (Me too, once bitten twice shy.... I've had it happen to me more than once).

There definitely are some addons from certain groups/authors that I consider quality enough to use, but I tend to use standard units and script or fake what I want to do without third party addons.


2. As a player/mission reviewer/tester

I download anything and everything. I have a huge addon archive which I constantly use when reviewing and beta testing missions. This is where I see all the awful problems (and awful addons).
You have no idea the frustration I get from downloading 12 addons to do a mission review, only to find out that half of them are just the re-textured standard units!

Having said that, I have played some excellent missions which were made excellent due to the use of the addons in them. These missions weren't the sort where you had to download 12 separate addons from different places, but mainly where you would download an addon pack, or a group of related addons.

I have seen many missions that make very poor use of addons (ie. 25mb download, only to see it for 5 seconds in the intro), and believe this should be strongly discouraged. If you're going to use an addon:
  • Make sure it's a good addon
  • Use the damn thing... don't just have it as scenery!
Historical accuracy... yeah... if it floats your boat go for it. It's your mission Smiley
Me, I tend not to be too picky.


Anyway, sometimes I love them, sometimes I hate them.
I'm not one of these people who downloads addons and plays with them in the mission editor... I like to see them applied to a mission Smiley
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General Barron
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« Reply #6 on: 25 Apr 2005, 03:19:20 »

Ah, this is one of my favorite OFP paradoxes. Here is my take on it:

The way I see it, the function of an addon should be to ADD something to the game that cannot be added thru other means. This would seem like an obvious definition, but it is really quite different than what the ofp.info / official forum people seem to see addons being used for.

I don't care about downloading a new T80. I don't care about downloading a new M4. I don't care about downloading retextured soldiers. Basically, I don't think that addons == eye candy, which is the exact opposite of what most people seem to think.

Addons should be used to add units that do not normally exist in the game. For example, non-modern units ('nam, WWII, etc), weapons that don't already exist (javelin missles, decent shotguns, etc), modern vehicles that aren't normally available, or modern troops/equipment from non US/Russian militaries. Another overlooked use of addons is to add in new things that are not units or vehicles; such as buildings/objects, islands, invisible targets, light sources, and much much more.

I hate playing missions that use addons soley as eye-candy for units that BIS has already provided (albeit in a poor-looking form). If I wanted to play your US vs USSR mission with HYK or ORCS infantry, I would download a mod like EECP. However, missions set in different eras than the 1980's+ obviously need addons, and I have no problems with them.

Even in non-standard era missions, it is a pain to download 3+ different WWII addons. I'm with dmakatra: I prefer to play missions that use one large mod or addon pack, instead of a mission that uses many different small addons. The idea is that with a large addon pack (SEBnam for example), you can hopefully play many missions, without having to download different vietnam addons for each mission.

I usually will only download a mission that uses 4+ obscure addons if the mission has a very unique setting, such as an urban one (street campaign, for example). But there is no way I will download that many addons for a US vs USSR mission.


Personally, I think the addon community needs a big kick in the pants. I seem to recall that, long ago, addons were released along with MISSIONS that featured only those addons. What a concept! Make an addon, and release a mission showing it off! Such addons were worth downloading on their own, just because of the quality missions that came with them (BAS addons spring to mind, as do Gimbal's and some others). Once you downloaded them and played with them (not "playing" in the editor, but playing a mission), you wanted to use them in a mission, and, lo and behold, tons of missions were made using them.

Again, look at the number of missions featuring BAS rangers. The units were very high quality, but they really weren't anything 'new' to the game, since we already have (low quality) US soldiers. Compare that to the number of missions using, say, HYK infantry (which is even better than BAS rangers, IMO). There seems to be a fair amount of them, but not on the same level as the BAS stuff. Difference? No missions included with HYK addon.

I could be over-simplifying things here, but I think the point is valid: addonmaker's efforts aren't getting the respect they deserve, because mission makers aren't using them, and players aren't playing with them in missions. The norm nowadays seems to be: I see a screenshot in the forums. I post "Wow! Looks great! Downloading now...". Then I download the 10mb+ addon and play around with it for 10+ mins in the editor, then move on to the next addon. That's it. The addon maker spends 6+ months making an addon, and I spend 10 mins toying with it.


Sorry to rant, but my main point about downloading missions using addons basically mimicks what Macguba and Sui have said: I don't like downloading addons when they don't add much to the mission.

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Morglor9
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« Reply #7 on: 25 Apr 2005, 05:57:16 »

some very well argued points. however:

All of you mentioned that many addons are crap. This, I agree, is true. But what quality mission maker uses an addon like that? I have a system of rules for addons, basically a self-application of the OFPEC Addons Depot guidelines: No Readme, No Tags, No Play. It works well. But, as I already mentioned, most mission makers should be able to smell a rotten addon without even playing it.

To say that you don't need new 1980+ USA & USSR units is also true. The problem is, however, that many people, myself included, are tired of seeing Americans beat up Ruskies and vice versa. Throwing in FIA troops doesn't really help. However, this severely limits the number of missions that can be created addon-free. You can only put a new twist on the same situation so many times before people see the similarities. I find this restriction tiresome as both a mission creator and player.

Take this as an example of what i think is reasonable use of Addons:
As you may know, I am currently working on a campaign based on the theory and concepts of the game Deus Ex. This campaign will take place on Ocean Island. The island is a big 53 MB download (comes with all needed addons: AGS Industrial, Mapfact Military Buildings, etc.). I find that this is necessary as the game Deus Ex took place entirely in urban environments. Also, the campaing requires a chopper (one without stars on it, red or white) such as Martin's Jetranger. Add some new units, and you're looking at about 70MB of downloads. Is this acceptable for a campaign? Can there be a size limit for amount of addons?

Also, i understand the point of not being able to find the addons. OFPEC has dealt with this by having links on the page for each mission. Should mission and campaign makers instead throw all addons into the zip with the mission (in a seperate folder) so that there is no need for the player to search? This could negate the "Expontential Difficulty" of searching for some rarer addons.
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Cymbaline
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« Reply #8 on: 25 Apr 2005, 06:56:00 »

My opinion on your campaign example:

For campaigns, I am WAY more likely to download the required addons, because I get to play many missions using those addons.

I wouldn't mind downloading an island for a mission, if it is well used. Some islands require a ton of big addons (like islands that require Tonal island  :-X), but if it uses Agent Smith buildings, mapfact objects, or other very common objects, then I don't mind. Including those other required addons into the island download is a pain in the arse, IMO, because I might already have those addons, and only need to download the island .pbo, nothing more.

The same can be said about including required addons in the mission's download. This is total BS. DO NOT DO IT! It would be rediculous to have to download BAS rangers with every mission that uses them. Just provide MULTIPLE LINKS to the required addons. Also, link to the DOWNLOAD PAGE, not the file itself. That means, if I click on the link, I want to see a page that describes what the addon is, then has the link to the actual download; I don't want to click the link and have my computer start downloading right away. Why? Sometimes download servers change, so the direct download link doesn't work anymore, wheras the download description page would have been the same. Also, I like to see how large the file is, what it is, if I already have it, etc. Also, sometimes people forget to mention that an addon requires another addon, and so after I download the listed addons, I have to then download even more addons, which is frustrating as all heck.

The only time you should include an addon in a download is when it is very small (less than 1mb), and when it can't be found on a reliable OFP site, such as OFPEC, ofp.info, opflash.org, etc. This really only should happen when you create your own small addon for your mission (examples: Siberian Fox, my Realistic Combat Patrol, Doomsday series).

To sum up: Don't include addons in the download (unless it is a unique addon); include multiple links for each addon (as many as possible); link to the download description page (NOT directly to the download).
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macguba
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« Reply #9 on: 25 Apr 2005, 09:40:46 »

Sui and General Barron are completely right.


Mission makers, regarding addons:-

  • No OFP tag?   DO NOT USE IT!

  • No readme?   DO NOT USE IT!
  • Don't include addons in the mission download, unless they are small or unique
  • Don't use addons that merely replicate BIS units
  • Use addon packs or related addons as much as possible
  • Give multiple links for each addon
  • Link to the page, not the file
  • Use addons well: ensure each one ADDs something to the mission[/color][/size]





    Addon makers, if you want your addons used in missions:-

    • Ensure you actually know what you are doing, technically
    • You MUST use OFP tags

    • You MUST include a readme
    • Include a short, simple demo mission
    • Make useful addons, not pointless ones repeating existing units
    • DO NOT release betas as "final" versions[/color][/b][/size]


      Any more?  
« Last Edit: 25 Apr 2005, 10:59:01 by macguba » Logged

Plenty of reviewed ArmA missions for you to play
AHMzzz
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« Reply #10 on: 25 Apr 2005, 10:33:13 »

I Think all of you guys have agreed on all the basic point on addons in missions and I do agree too, However there is only one point that I will have to disagree with:

Making an addon that the game already provides somthing similar to dosnt make it completely worthless. YES if you are asking , I WOULD LOVE to get a new t-80  or a new M4 if they prove to be better from what the game provides in terms of looks, sounds, and overall realisim. I mean afterall Operation Flashpoint is considered ((I think)) to be a simulator so it is supposed to simulate how those troops/equipment/tanks/planes.....etc work in real life and if in game stuff cant provide that than I will download any addon that proves to be more than just a retexture.

I think the main problem is with some mission makers is that some of them dont know how to choose addons wisely. it is real frustrating to download a 12 addons for a mission and then see that 3 of the different trucks you downloaded are just sitting there as if in a showroom, or even worse download 12 addons and discover that the mission wont start because one of the addons that the mission maker used is a beta that nobody ever uses anymore. I personally think that an average of 4 addons ((not including islands)) is more than good enough to keep the mission from turning into an addons feast. also as mentioned before some people use addons in their missions that dosent add anything to it ((not the addon fault realy)) which is why some of the no-addons required missions are a hell lot better than most of the addons infested missions.

I am not sure but I think the days of the "addons-so-bad-they-mess-up-ur-system" are over thanks to efforts from websites like this and people like yourselves but the main problem of addons nowadays is repeating. why would anyone make a new balckhawk and pavehawk for example if BAS's ones are already here and they are of top quality I know most of the time it is not the authors fualt as he might have started working on it before/during BAS works, but what I realy like to see is that sombody setting a standered for creating units so that nobody make another Bradly for example unless it he knows that his units will cross the limits that COMBAT's bradlys stopped on. That way we will have less quntity of addons but more of the high quality ones.

to sum up the best addons are the one's that really add more realsim to the game even if they dont change the looks or do retextures((thats why one of my favorite addons are JAM men and "at it's time" RED's weapons)). And the best misson makers are the one's who only use addons if they now they are going to exploit them to their limits and realy add somthing to the missions.

and now who knows how many times I used the words missions and addons in this post  ;D Tongue
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Sui
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« Reply #11 on: 25 Apr 2005, 13:05:42 »

LOL!

It's hard to argue with Macca when he gets out the big, green writing ;D
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dmakatra
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« Reply #12 on: 25 Apr 2005, 20:11:40 »

Bah, he ain't got to red yet. That's when it's really serious. Tongue

I agree with most of ye laddies. And me being on a rather fast connection I usually don't mind the size of the addons as long as they're not 30+ MB or something, but the amount. When I download a mission I wanna play, not create some stupid modfolders and unpack this and that, forget to unpack that, restart the game, forgot to activate that modfolder, crap it seemed like I didn't had that addon after all, go to ofp.gamezone, server down, check every other site, take a hammer and punch my head.

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Morglor9
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« Reply #13 on: 26 Apr 2005, 04:11:22 »

This is all bringing up a very good point.

I agree, repeating addons are usually bad. As a OFP-er, I find that many MODs and talented addon makers spend their time making repititions of the same US and USSR units. So, the problem is possibly that there aren't enough original addons out there.

But, getting back to the roots of this thread, we still haven't determined why people would be more likely to download an addon to run around and shoot dirt on desert island, when they could download the same addon for use in a mission that has a storyline and good action. Isn't it plain as day that this is a better way to respect the addon- and mission-makers' time and effort?
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« Reply #14 on: 26 Apr 2005, 06:47:44 »

Quote
But, getting back to the roots of this thread, we still haven't determined why people would be more likely to download an addon to run around and shoot dirt on desert island, when they could download the same addon for use in a mission that has a storyline and good action. Isn't it plain as day that this is a better way to respect the addon- and mission-makers' time and effort?


I don't know if there is any logical explaination to this one. For some reason, that is just how the community, in general, is. It doesn't make sense, but that is the way it is. It doesn't help that most 'news' sites only consider pictures of addons to be news, and nothing else (scripts, missions, etc).

This is not the case of ALL of the community, of course. In general, the people of OFPEC are WAY more interested in actual missions than, say, the peeps on the official forums or ofp.info. So I'd say, just stick around here, because you are in good company Smiley. Another really exceptional site is www.mapfact.net. That is my favorite non-OFPEC site. Why? Because it is focused on MISSIONS. On that site, you see things like news posts about missions, which you generally can't find anywhere else (ofpec included, unfortunately).


Personally, I spend WAY too much time in the editor or script editor myself (only I actually make missions and scripts, not look at addons). I don't play missions nearly as much as I should, but then again, I never download addons just to look at. But whenever I do get to playing some missions or playing online, I fall in love with OFP all over again. And then it makes me think that I shouldn't be so stingy in my downloading: I should download and play every mission that looks interesting; even if they require addons.

I just got done playing "Outlaws" by Nik & Kublai. It is perhaps the only SP mission for the Civil War mod, and I finally installed that mod for this mission. Even though it wasn't the most spectacular mission editing-wise (it was about a 5 IMO), it was a ton of fun, and it was a great way to actually PLAY with the mod. It makes me want to play more missions like it, and even make my own mission with the mod. I doubt that someone who just downloads the CW mod to look at in the editor has the same feelings about it.

Perhaps if the addon-players out there would just somehow start playing missions, they would see that there is so much more to OFP. Perhaps then addon makers, and the community, would start seeing addons as a tool to be used in missions, like scripts; not as a complete product in and of itself. Then we might start getting quality addons again, complete with MISSIONS in the download.


  How could this be done? I'm not sure; after all, you can't force another person to change. News sites could help, however, by posting as much about missions and editing as they do about addons. OFPEC could do this a bit more as well.
  Currently OFPEC only makes posts announcing the names of the latest missions reviewed (once every couple weeks or so), and perhaps a special post for a high-scoring mission. I would suggest that they make an individual news post for every new mission reviewed, the day it is reviewed, instead of batching them all into one post every so often.
  They also could make posts about interesting projects that people have started, or interesting missions that are up for beta. They do that for addons, but not for missions, for some reason. Addons really only need to be posted in the 'news' section when they are RELEASED, not when only a screenshot is published. I'll point to mapfact.net as an example: they post news and screenshots about upcoming missions made by their community.

  Other sites might hopefully begin to follow OFPEC's lead. Check out this thread here, as I am trying to convince Placebo that there are other newsworthy things out there besides just addons, which he should include in the weekly FlashNews:

http://www.flashpoint1985.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard311/ikonboard.cgi?s=c3bf4bbaefe0dc30c035fb0cea3e771e;act=ST;f=60;t=40000;st=135
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