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Offline Wolfrug

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Making ArmA more gamey?
« on: 12 Jan 2008, 01:27:21 »
(Note: Long rant followed below. Basic premise: making ArmA less brutally realistic and more player-friendly and fun is a good thing, yes no?)

Hello fellow mission-makers!

Hopefully the controversial topic there drew some of you over here for a little discussion (that's what this forum is for, right?), since it's something I've been mulling about for a little while. I think it's something BIS was thinking about as well when they designed their campaign (and possible the whole game), yet it's something that, going by what I read on the official forums, most people are in fact generally opposed to! Making Armed Assault more into a game, less into a simulator.

Let me explain.

In this context, "Gamey" means "like a game" (not "suggestive of sexual impropriety" :D). I'm not one to suggest what elements can be contained in a "game" (or a computer/video game in this case), since the list can be endless, but I believe one of the more central ones is that it's fun and hopefully entertaining. I am going to make the claim that ArmA isn't very gamey at all.

In today's world, being gamey usually means "dumbed down", since for the game to be entertaining it needs to aim for the lowest common denominator. ArmA however is clearly not designed for the common lowest denominator, much like OFP. No bunny-jumping, 100 HP, fifteen-weapon toting superheroes running down corridors blasting armies to smithereens. ArmA's gameplay is unique. Many people go as far as claiming ArmA doesn't really have gameplay; it's a simulator. It simulates combat.

As a simulator, ArmA is exempt from its requirement to be fun and entertaining - "gamey" - and is instead expected to be ultra-realistic (I am aware not everyone shares this view). Note the most common mods and addons used and developed are those who can stake a claim to the highest level of realism. ArmA is being pushed into a category where every nut and bolt of every addon, every script, and every mission is expected to fit into this constrained category of "realistic". Check out for instance the discussion towards pages 40-> of RH's weapons: RH Weapons (BIS forums), or this "discussion" in the User Missions board about List of things that make a good mission.

It is understandable that people strive for realism, and this is the perfect game to pursue that. A certain brand of people buy and play games such as ArmA and OFP, and most of them are (I dare say) hardcore realism freaks, who enjoy the "simulation" aspects of ArmA as much as they enjoy the open moddability and easy to use mission editor. They don't want to see a quick hack job, they want the real thing! A somewhat frightening prospect, I believe, for some members of this community.

Now, this is all very fine for the people who create addons, and to an extent those who create scripts such as OFPEC ILS; yet what it all boils down to people, is how much these fantastically realistic and lovingly created addons are used in missions! OFP had this problem, probably still has it: all those addons, all those scripts, all those amazing things created for what? Usually not too much.

I would like to interject here that I am going to talk about SP missions primarily from here onwards: in MP you can place down two opposing sides, one on each side of town, and call it "team Death Match" and people will have endless hours of fun. Cf. "Hexxenkessel" etc. I am aware ArmA is living the golden age of Multiplayer Coops, and that that's where the money is. But I am going to ignore that for the moment (as previously stated: with a good group online, you don't need more than fifteen minutes in the editor to create hours of fun in MP).

I have played a lot of missions in both ArmA and OFP. As a whole, they still follow the basic guidelines given to use by BIS back in OFP. Some have more elaboration, some have less. In general you're in an infantry squad, and you're killing something (a Shilka, a town, a base, your ambushers etc). The only tools you are given are ones that you can be expected to have with a minimum of scripting and hassle: maybe a radio command to call in Bravo, or if you're lucky a Stryker or even artillery. The moments of triumph and success are usually few and far between: you just sniped 90% of the town's AI defenders from a hill outside of their engagement ranges, and now you're moving in for the gruelling save/load clean-up. Or you've found the Shilka (naturally ridiculously overdefended) and now it's blown up and you're performing your predictable exfil. It's the gameplay we've come to expect of OFP and ArmA. The challenge, in short, comes entirely from dodging bullets and killing an enemy that generally vastly outnumbers you.

But does it have to be like this? In defence of the OFP CWC/Resistance campaigns (apologizes to those who haven't played OFP), it's all fine and dandy in a campaign environment, : although most of CWC's missions were fairly basic, the storyline and the professionalism with which the missions were made allowed for it. Most importantly, the players WANTED to finish the mission to get to see how the story unfolded. And generally, the makers of the campaign wanted the player to finish the mission so they could get on with the campaign.

In a single mission however, there has to be something else to convince the player to play to the finish. One way is to make the single mission into a campaign of sorts, à la Punishment Battallion, with a storyline and multiple objectives. However hardly everyone has the will to develop such a massive mission, especially if the goal is a couple of hours of fun. Everyone has already seen the "destroy Shilka as spec op/attack city as squad leader/destroy convoy as Cobra pilot" scenarios, and I personally usually don't have the patience to finish these missions unless there's -something- there that gives me a little kick, something that's even a little different. Hell - it can be me being the squad's Designated Marksman carrying an SVD Dragunov, or us working in tandem with a AH-6 hover overhead in the same squad, or giving me a particularly eclectic choice of starting equipment (tank attack incoming, but no AT, only mines and satchels, say).

Here's where the wall of realism hits.

You can't send specops out on missions without NV goggles and binoculars and satchel charges and silenced weapons (if you do, it's just sloppy mission design!).
You can't mix up unit types just for gameplay purposes!
In real-life scenarios, that's what you DO! You take over enemy strongholds and destroy their vital assets! There's nothing more to it! And you'll get killed more often than not! And there're no other rewards for you than seeing the "You won, congratulations." text at the end of it!

I got the Orange Box for christmas - and man was it a blast. What piqued me though was the "developer's comments" that came with Episode 2 and Portal : the ability to play through levels you had already passed, and get to hear the developer's thoughts and reasonings behind certain solutions in the game. It was somewhat eye-opening in many places: I had never even realized as I played through it how very very "gamey" it was indeed. They had a constant balance between "fun" and "challenging" - in my opinion, they leaned slightly more towards fun than challenge, but the fact remains: they wanted the player to overcome, and when s/he did, they rewarded him. Which is something I think many mission designers for ArmA and OFP lack (myself included, quite often). Yes - HL2 is more like a campaign than a single mission, but there's something to be learned here.

Let me take an example from OFP. There was a much-lauded campaign, Retaliation (leads to ad-filled ofp.info, beware) made by a team of Russians which basically showed the other side of the original CWC conflict. They understood the concept of playability quite well. There was one mission in particular, where you were supposed to take over as the artillery spotter in face of an overpowering US onslaught. The artillery was very powerful, and almost immediate (not very realistic, then), but man was it fun thinking fast and working out the locations of the incoming forces - tanks, infantry and all - based on local landmarks showing on the map. I played it with the FFUR/SLX mod, which added bullets flying everywhere and the screams of the dead and dying. Yes - it was a hard mission - but the satisfaction of working out how to survive long enough to effectively use the artillery, and then making it work with amazing results was well worth the trouble. And the fact you didn't need to shoot a single bullet for the whole duration was also a welcome change of pace.

And finally, two good examples from ArmA: Blood, Sweat & Tears, and that A-10 mission. Some of you might not have played them, but rest assured they were both quite well received indeed (receiving comments such as "this is what ArmA should have been from the start"). In BS&T, there are several gamey elements: shooting the SLA soldiers only in the head so as to preserve their uniforms. Getting an SPR as a sort of "reward" for completing this first section. Being allowed to choose between units (in a flashy dialog, no less). The attack on the city was pretty standard, as was the attack on the airfield if you went with the infantry fellow; the SF soldier had a much more interesting time. In the climactic end, you first got to sit behind the minigun of a Blackhawk and strafe the base at Ixel (the waypoints and height adjustments worked perfectly), after which you were shot down and you had to defend yourself and the surviving pilot against SLA hunting you.
In the A-10 mission on the other hand, there was a running bet between you and your wingman: who could score 10 kills before landing. It even featured a custom resource which showed your kills as you got them. Furthermore, as the mission progressed, you would be given new orders : such as destroying a building in which the SLA were barricaded in, or aiding in the destruction of an APC in a village to the side. All the while dodging (unnecessarily accurate) fire from the ground.

You might be thinking that I'm "simply" calling for more originality in missionmaking, but it is in fact more than that. As mentioned above, there's a certain realism-hysteria over the whole ArmA/OFP community. A hysteria which I think impacts quite negatively on the creativity of most mission makers: I myself have often felt constrained by the demands of reality. :D So why not simply make realistic, but original, missions? The examples above, albeit gamey, -could- still be considered realistic enough. The reason for this in most cases is the same reason why I didn't notice the immediate gameyness of Half Life 2 : because it was so skillfully done.

Originality is not as easy as it seems, and when constrained by some kind of expectation of a "simulation", originality seems to become nigh impossible. This is, I think, why so many people were disappointed in the ArmA campaign. There were plenty of missions there that were indeed gamey: they let the player be the hero, while letting him overcome certain obstacles in his path (and often introducing one of the new features/landmarks/weapons/vehicles of the game). Sadly, the campaign was rushed, and the gameyness did not come through as well as it should have, leaving us with several missions that were no different from your average "blow up these tanks alone" missions that we've all had quite enough of. Others - like the one where you were supposed to protect the engineers setting up a camp behind the lines, and you could see the camp getting built as you placed your men in defensive positions was a good example of gameyness. Another was the mission where you were supposed to pursue two Urals with two hummers - one hummer necessarily surviving - driving through enemy territory.

Sadly, both missions were at the start marred by both unfriendly AI and bad vehicle pathfinding, but the idea was solidly there. This is why I believe BIS wanted ArmA to be more gamey - in short, more fun and rewarding, even if that means sacrificing a bit of "realism" (realism meaning having that average lifespan of 15 seconds or somesuch that most soldiers seem to have). I am however also aware of BIS' adage that "war isn't fun". It's not - but playing war is!

So what I am calling for is in fact some more gameyness. I believe that designing a brutally realistic mission where everything is set up according to specs will sadly turn out in most cases to be a brutally difficult and amazingly unrewarding mission in the end. Setting up that same mission, except with a different approach which appeals more to the gamers we are at heart than to the soldiers, will I think garner more joy. Why do you think military movies like Blackhawk Down or Saving Private Ryan - despite having nigh any connection to reality - are still stock for realism freaks and gamer geeks alike?

How can this be done?

Well, this isn't supposed to be just a monologue, I'm wanting to start a discussion here. Do -you- believe having a different approach to mission making could be a success? Or is the "conquer village. Call in airstrike" gameplay really the only kind available to us? Or the "lead SF team behind enemy lines - avoid patrols".

I really enjoyed the concept of the "no frills" missions. What I want is not only a "no frills" mission, but a "let's play a game!" mission. Of course, this usually demands more time and effort from us, but I don't think it demands endless time and effort! The important thing is, I believe, less to be incredibly original in the mission goals and objectives, and more in the WAY you do it - even if it leads to gameyness, fun is more important than realism in most cases.

Some random stuff from Mandoble that might be useful in changing the way things work in ArmA:

Mando Tractor (for those towing missions!)
Mando Heliroute (when you want impressive helicopter scenes)
Mando Gun (when you want a lotta bullets in the air at the same time)
Mando Chaser :D
Mando Brush (well, okay, not very useful in an immediate sense...but it has potential to be reworked)
Mando Move (lots of potential for this)
Mando 3D text (could be interesting)

And of course from others:

LCD's brute force hacking (although LCD likes to use it in like every single one of his missions :D)
SPON Money (potential, potential! And very smartly scripted)
Hotwire script by Rumsfield (or those GTA missions)
ArmaTec's Airlift script (imagination, and use thereof, much suggested!)

And outside of OFPEC:

DAC 2.0

And I'm sure there're tons more. Anyway...what do y'all think? How about some gamey, no-frills missions where you do stuff you might not always normally do in ArmA? It's probably physically impossible to turn ArmA into COD, even if we wanted to (which I'm assuming we don't, since otherwise we'd be playing COD), but what if, just for once, we'd try to aim for fun, entertainment and playability?

This was a very, very, very long post. Good luck if you manage it all the way down here!

Wolfrug out.

"When 900 years YOU reach, look as good you will not!"

Offline Planck

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Re: Making ArmA more gamey?
« Reply #1 on: 12 Jan 2008, 03:28:40 »
Is there a prize?   :cool2:

I know a little about a lot, and a lot about a little.

Offline Wolfrug

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Re: Making ArmA more gamey?
« Reply #2 on: 12 Jan 2008, 11:21:46 »
Yes :D You get a new gun (+ ammo), a short cutscene (with voiceovers and fancy animations!) and you get to participate in the Ultra Awesome Particle Hunting Game, where you have a chance to win MANDOBLE SQUID EXTREME POINTS which will help you defeat the final boss!!

Note to self: write shorter posts.  :dry:

Wolfrug out.
"When 900 years YOU reach, look as good you will not!"

Offline LeeHunt

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Re: Making ArmA more gamey?
« Reply #3 on: 12 Jan 2008, 21:05:11 »
hey Wolfrug,

I do think this is very important subject of discussion-- frankly to me its the "end game" for all the addons, betatests, scripting questions we post on Ofpec-- how can we make a fun, good mission that's different?  In a way its the same challenge for movie directors and screenwriters-- how do I make a movie that's not simply the same action/war movie? 

Its obviously critical to make sure you do have something different in your mission.  Surprises are good as long as they are not extra "work" for the player-- which brings up another critical point.  Its tempting when designing a mission to play "God" and put your player and his teammates through a series of obstacles.  Those missions usually feel like "work."  Creating a fun, exciting atmosphere and world and then letting the player be a part of it might be a better way to approach the design.  Let there be surprises for the bad guys too!  (in PB for example, the local police launch a surprise attack on an enemy base for you).

If you are going to have us blow up a Shilka deep behind enemy lines (which is fine), can we see the massive air strike that follows in a cutscene with good music?  Or if your squad is sent to clear the enemy out of a town, make the situation interesting and funny as Johnnyboy did (see Last Tango in Bagangohttp://www.ofpec.com/missions_depot/index.php?action=list&game=ArmA&cat=sp).

P.S. I appreciate the positive mention of Punishment Battalion-- I tried to throw in lots of surprises and make a "different" world within a game.  If ArmA is still popular and increasingly patched up (please Bohemia! please) I'll make a sequel with a lot more unknowns, a more surprising and interesting storyline etc. 

« Last Edit: 12 Jan 2008, 21:11:03 by LeeHunt »

Offline Wolfrug

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Re: Making ArmA more gamey?
« Reply #4 on: 13 Jan 2008, 00:55:29 »
What you mentioned there about setting up a series of obstacles for the player that they have to overcome - that kind of IS most games. The difference here is obviously between "fun" and "not fun". Setting up fun obstacles that the player WANTS to overcome (for some reason - like a reward) is crucial. What's more important however in the scope of ArmA is -how- the player overcomes them. The normal, boring way, or the novel, interesting way?

Take the Shilka-killing example.

In one OFP mission, you as James Gastovski were to destroy 3 Shilkas before dawn, to pave the way for an A-10 attack (which you participated in). If I remember correctly, you didn't have the position of all of them, and had to go look for at least one. And at start you only had satchel charges - if you wanted a more distant destruction, you had to steal a weapon from a soldier. And finally: once one Shilka was destroyed, all hell was let lose, with tanks and people everywhere, Shilkas displacing etc.

The "solution" to that mission was to boobytrap the two static Shilkas (and not blow the satchels), and then when you had the third in your sights you'd blow all three of them at once. You had to make sure to be able to trap the two first Shilkas without getting spotted, since if you did they'd escape. It was novel at the time, and it worked flawlessly - after killing each Shilka you would get a verbal cue as a "reward" of sorts (and hey - it's rewarding in itself to blow those things up).

A similar situation can be found in LCD's -excellent- O-team. The basic premise is killing three Vulcans: in his mission however, the Vulcans are randomly placed, and their locations can be gleaned by infiltrating bases, hacking computers, and reading the information from the screens. There are several additional missions as well, and lots of things to do (like saving a resistance leader which gives you some allies). Additionally, there are lots of other niceties, from a dialog-system à la old-skool RPGs, a working Arms Dealer, to a fully working personal laptop with working websites and the ability to make notes. Not to mention the "support" of several addons without actually making the mission dependent on them! (by using isConfig checks and such). Sort of like an updated-to-ArmA-standards version of the old kill-the-Shilkas mission.

Johnnyboy's mission was different alone because it had full voiceovers, and thanks to his excellent ammo-box exploding script :D (can be used on vehicles too, as someone might've noted in a certain cutscene for Piper Warrior Tour Guide). Furthermore, as LCD noted someplace, he had excellent usage of unit placement, and sometimes he had certain "scripted" events occur (such as in the beginning when the RACS soldier bursts out of the loo!) :D

Another good example of "gameyness" (and one of my favourite campaigns in OFP ever) : Blue Skies by Nominesine. It involved long "cutscene" missions which helped set the story, and once you got down to the missions themselves, they were always original and inspiring, and used some of the most advanced "technology" there was in OFP at that date (BAS helicopters). For instance, in one mission you are transported into the jungle in a BAS Chinook, together with a jeep (which could be carried inside the chopper - you got to drive it in yourself) and one mate. There you set up a watching outpost close to a place where there was supposed to be a meeting between rebels. In the next mission, your radio was busted, and you had to sneak into the enemy-held town (hopefully without getting seen) and retrieve some electronical parts to fix the radio before the enemy leaders arrived. When they did, you had to stealthily follow them in your jeep to find out where they were convening with their armoured forces. During this chase, the enemy did all kinds of manevours to throw you off their track, like taking huge detours, driving off road, stopping and checking their six etc. Anyway...once you had finally arrived at the meeting point, without being seen, you had to wait for the enemy armour to show off, and then call in the airforce and give them targets with the laserdesignator you had brought with you. Once all the armour was down, you gave an additional radio command to call in the infantry to exfil you and mop up the survivors.

In short, it was an incredible cinematic experience, chopped into short, manageable pieces, with a perfect level of difficulty. You could make it through without firing a single shot, which is quite something for most OFP campaigns. And you had to use several different skills (infiltration, driving, laser designating) in oftentimes novel manners. The voice acting and storyline gave plenty of return for your efforts as well.

The point I'm trying to make, to return to what I wrote in the first paragraph: making the "obstacles" fairly clearly defined, overcomeable, and rewarding. This is rarely the case in most basic missions. Take the classic Shilka example:

Main objective:
Destroy Shilka

Reach Shilka's position through enemy territory (without dying).
Defeat Shilka's defenders.
Retreat to exfil without getting killed.

Stuff that helps
AI companions (usually 1-6)
Weapon selection (AT-4 + sniper rifle FTW)

The above -can- be enough (as a basic outline), but if you just set it down like that in the editor...  :no: There're really no obstacles to overcome, except possibly AI gun emplacements or patrols. These however can in the non-linear way of ArmA be "overcome" by the rather boring expeditent of x4-running around them. Random patrols are just that: random. There're few things less exciting than getting embroiled in a gunfight with the AI in a forest at night (unless we're talking Gardinas island's forest :D) - if anything it's frustrating, and over before it started (thanks to the unforgiving nature of ArmA/OFP gunfights).

What the mission maker needs to think of then is how to cut the mission into more manageable bits, which are all equally fun and rewarding - or at the very least NOVEL - that still fit into the scope of the mission. What ArmA offers that few other games can rival is a natural non-linearity to these extra goals: complete them, don't complete them, complete them out of order, complete them in interesting ways...

But here's the thing: most people seem to miss the "novel" part, even as they add objectives (myself very much included, cf. Operation Dawning Hope  :-[). It shouldn't have to be "capture enemy radar mast to prevent reinforcements", since all that does is give you more of the same: gaining the radar mast without getting spotted, defeating the radar's defenders, and destroying it. What's needed is, perhaps, something entirely different. In Punishment Battallion, you had to steal a truck of AK-74s from a town to get the help of the police. At this stage, you didn't have help, you barely had a gun! Which made it an interesting little sneak-find-and-escape experience, although you could of course also play it as a standard kill-everyone objective.

Another thing is that they don't necessarily need to be neither big nor too complicated to script in to be novel and interesting. Say for instance a WW2 mission where each enemy group has a flag carrier: killing the flag carrier will make the group's "allowfleeing" == 1 for a little while (making them flee back until they've recovered). In this mission it could be your job as a sniper to take out the flag carriers to give your own forces an edge in a defensive battle.
In the Shilka mission, maybe you've got a special team that you need to take care of: say one communications expert who you need to be able to call in exfil and artillery and CAS, a weapon's expert who you can teamswitch into and is the only one who can carry and use the Barrett sniper rifle (maybe needful for some other little task), a medic who can stabilize and possibly cure even nominally "dead" companions (through some clever scripting), etc etc. This alone - the fact that your team has a personality and specialities could easily be enough to make even the most mundane mission interesting.

But of course, the core remains: you can add any number of obstacles, and they can either be fun and entertaining, or they can feel forced, boring, needlessly complicated and rigid (like you say, Lee). I think the most important thing here however remains the same: make it something new. Not the same "go in, kill AIs that all act the same, exit" that exists everywhere. Basically, each element of the "story" should hopefully be a little different than the last.

Here are some losely listed factors that might come into the thinking process:
- Your own abilities and restrictions (time limits? equipment? allies?)
- The enemy's abilities and restrictions (reactions? placement? backstory elements?)
- Obstacles/possibilities (which add to your/the enemy's abilities/restrictions)
- Methods used by you to overcome obstacles (sneaking, full-frontal, ground vehicles, aircrafts, turrets, sniping, problem-solving, dialogue?)
- Rewards/punishment given for overcoming the obstacles in certain ways (cutscenes, music, equipment, allies, more enemies, more enemy abilities etc)

So let's revisit the Shilka mission:

Main objective:
Destroy Shilka <- remains the same

Reach Shilka's position through enemy territory on foot and stealthily <- one option
Reach Shilka's position through enemy territory stealthily by hitching a ride <- another option, possibly more dangerous, and possibly involving various stages in itself (such as talking to locals or reading a schedule for buses)
Defeat Shilka's defenders (and destroy Shilka before reinforcements arrive). <- In a direct confrontation
Defeat Shilka by setting up a mobile DRFM jammer close by which confuses its signals and allows you to call in an airstrike using a laser designator and the Cobra's Hellfire missiles. Add some doohickey to not always make this a viable option (such as necessity to be within visual range of the Shilka, or necessarily doing this on top of a nearby hill without alerting the guards who are sleeping on duty there).

Retreat to exfil without getting killed - add a chance of an enemy gunship showing up though, which you'll have to figure out a way to take down. Alternatively, give another option for exfil - say by boat or car.

Stuff that helps
AI companions (usually 1-6) - maybe unique AI companions?
Weapon selection - maybe limited weapon selection/none of the "obvious" choices (à la M16A4AcogGL + AT-4/Sniper rifle + AT-4)? All depending on if it makes it more fun or less fun. :D
CAS, Artillery, airstrikes, UAV images? Some might have to be worked for, though! Depending on.
Hints and tips by locals.
Special, scripted equipment? (movement sensors? lojacks pointing you in the right direction? etc)

Just throwing some ideas out there. The most important thing is however that you are offered alternatives to the obvious way of completing your task. Hell...any mission that can be finished EITHER by blowing everything up yourself OR by circumventing the need to sounds pretty good to me. Or, if you have to blow it up, at least do it in a fun way?

 :D I am a master of rants.

Wolfrug out.

"When 900 years YOU reach, look as good you will not!"

Offline TheCaptain

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Re: Making ArmA more gamey?
« Reply #5 on: 31 Jan 2008, 07:30:32 »
Excellent post, Wolfrug. I agree that a lot of Arma's gameplay and community is focused on the realism, but not on the 'game'. I expecially liked your use of concrete examples from successful arma and ofp missions you've played.

I'd like to highlight one quote from the above post:

"This is why I believe BIS wanted ArmA to be more gamey - in short, more fun and rewarding, even if that means sacrificing a bit of "realism" (realism meaning having that average lifespan of 15 seconds or somesuch that most soldiers seem to have)."

if you're making a 'realistic' mission within bohemia's 'realistic' game, and soldiers have an average lifespan of 15 seconds... something's not right, and you have a realism imbalance: your game is performing far differently than the tag of realism might infer, but you're expecting it to be realistic. Many gameplay tools borrowed from games which they were designed for (CTF, DM, 30 second MP respawn, no respawn, etc, etc) can fail miserably when plunked into arma's unforgiving low-level realism, where a single bullet can kill and players can die almost instantly. A gameplay framework which is more comfortable in a more forgiving game might ruin the fun when imported into arma. If the mission can be tuned so there is the feeling by the player of versimilitude (it feels real even though it may be far from it), then you've accomplished the realism goal well enough to get on with your real job: making the mission actually fun to play.

Realism is meant to heighten immersion and therefore increase fun, but this is a consideration to pursue when your game is already fun on the lowest levels, and when you want it to be fun on the higher levels. If your mission isn't fun at the lowest levels of play (ie, fun from second to second and minute to minute for the player), then no amount of 'realism' can save it from Alt+F4.
The Captain

Offline WinKIller0

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Re: Making ArmA more gamey?
« Reply #6 on: 31 Jan 2008, 09:51:53 »
Note to self: write shorter posts.   :dry:
(just making this post feel less cruel ;) and these come in quite strange order then...)

After a while of thinking your post(s) it's time for me to reply. First of all the gamey is in ArmA code also so it's quite difficult to build a "gamey" mission on it.To make a gamey mission you need a lots of work then, and because of it there's allways strong possibility that there'll be big bugs along the mission. So where you would find one to make such mission, if we pretend now that mission takes time to accomplis, let's say about, 1 hour?

In my opinion ArmA should have the realistic feeling more than the gamey, let me tell you why. At the moment, if you don't count old games such as steel beasts and ofp) ArmA is the only realistic game at the moment on market. Ok, this is not a reason yet, but let's jsut think why people buy Bohemia games? To have the most realistic enviroment to play war.
In the year 2000 when I was saw BF2 info from some magazine I was thrilled: Finally a realistic game where there's a great 3d engine, but how did it go again? In their all wisdom EA decided to make BF2 more gamey intead realistic (the all hyped destructable buildings:Naaww) and because of that it felt from category "great games" to "burger-games-you-want-to-play-few-days-then-go-outside-because-it-becomes-so-boring". Now I'm not saying gamey game wouldn't be so boring all the time (and not all agree that BF 2 is boring) when there's been gamey games where you could actaully have fun with somethin (ie gravity guns, killing innocent, driving car 100 miles/h on mud road) but why? From here I can get to my next argument
The reason why these games have been so popular is simple, their aspect to being a player. In these games you weren't allways arnold/mcGyver/us troop which was saving the world from something evil, no you could take a part to the game and control how the game reacts to your choices. Now this is where ArmA is on its weakest, its game engine (once again I know) is too packed up with realistic aircraft wounding system so it's simply unpossible to handle a mission where there's 100 bullets coming straight at you- Bom- take a potion- shoot. let me take a bit back from the last one, it's not unpossible, it's just freaking hard! Just think, inventory management, new wound system, guns revamped etc.

Now That chapter was only to "flame" the idea with brutal examples, now there's positive info.The idea being gamey is allways kinda confusing. It can be 1)unreal tournament 2)the sims etc, and it can be ArmA too. The reason why, well, is complicated. On the other hand ,yes, ArmA is a simulator and when you play one you know what you find inside the package when you buy it, nothing more, nothing less. Personally I never played the vanilla arma campaign to the end because of bugs but if it's true that it had gamey part (I know one sp had) it's a shame I didn't finish  it. Where I'm coming you may ask? Let's take out the lovef by everyone example of destroying shilkas:

Place: Obrega fields
Mission: Destroy the enemy AA so the A-10s can attack last resistance in Bagango
Notes: Shilkas heavily guarded, unkown locations

(The following is taken from a great master)
Now you can't attack straight to shilkas because A)It's known that they're heavily guarded B) You don't know thei locations. Now to have player to work on the mission first thing you had to do is why they are trying to attack Bagango, to finsih resistance, why they don't attack via ground instead of sending speacial team to take out the AA? There's your aspect to make gamey mission. When you try to make player destroy shilkas he has to know why or when or who questions first (and in this example ofc where). So basicly you go to Obrega as undecovered (looots of scripting) first where you've been told is your contact, now to make him/her speak you need to make something fro him first or you can decide to take evil part and kill him  there (This ain't cool, but evil&good ideas work somehow) if you kill him you can find the info for first shilka. Etc
Sounds complicated? Yes, I think it's too

Summary (at last, if anyone had got any idea what I've been writing lemme know)
To make arma gamey is a good idea when you don't aim for HL2/1. As you said wolfrug it's like a great novel. You take bites from here and there and melt them together to make a mission where player can choose instead of making him to follow the exact line all the time. But if you make this you close a door from the great allie: Bacground story because it can't be driven by cutscenes but by player.All I've tried to say is that it can be done, but to make it different, it's above hard, in fact, it's too hard.


PS: Can I get your tanks if I make gamey mission ? :P
« Last Edit: 31 Jan 2008, 09:55:27 by WinKIller0 »
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Offline Wolfrug

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Re: Making ArmA more gamey?
« Reply #7 on: 31 Jan 2008, 11:21:33 »

You've pretty much caught the jist of my posts there: realism is something to make things more fun, but it won't work if, indeed, you run a pretty good chance of not surviving longer than said 15 seconds in a battle situation (the seconds part is something I heard when I did my run through the army. "Average lifespan of grunt" kind of thing  :D). And as you mentioned, many things which would work fine in other gaming platforms just don't work at all (or not very well) in ArmA : such as CTF and DM. Sure: play something like IC-ArmA (which is basically a veryvery large-scale campaign-like CTF) and you'll get some very realism-based military tactics applied to the whole CTF concept. On the other hand, put it down into a Hexxenkessel-like environment and...well.  :dry:

However, before any MP-nuts come charging in: what I said earlier still stands. Anyone can make a multi-player game, no matter the game mode or rules utilized, tons of fun on any platform, simply because it's a social activity where you play against other people. Some are better suited than others, but that's another discussion.

Still, the same arguments apply in this (SP) discussion, as Wink1ller0 notes:
Now this is where ArmA is on its weakest, its game engine (once again I know) is too packed up with realistic aircraft wounding system so it's simply unpossible to handle a mission where there's 100 bullets coming straight at you- Bom- take a potion- shoot.

This is not entirely true: RUG_BodyArmor But of course this kind of "body armor" is still a scripted-around, quite unrealistic solution, but it does show that is IS possible. Of course, this is not necessarily something that'd be very well received. I told someone about this script, and he replied "why would you want body armor? This isn't Quake!" - of course it's not Quake, but from time to time you might want your own guys to survive a little longer than their AI allows them to, or for some other reason you want the player to be less likely to die (say, he's the gunner of a hummer, and has to fight back an ambush - normally hummer gunners survive the first two shots of a battle, due to his static and entirely unprotected stature). Also, to keep promoting my own script, that script allows you to "heal" your friends (or foes) that have been knocked out, which adds another little possibility to the mission for gameplay.

But to go back to Captain's post: Yes, "suspension of disbelief" is the ultimate goal of any game: to allow the player to enter into this world, which is clearly a fantasy, and believe in it. In ArmA, the world attempts to be "realistic", and probably has one of the best engines on the market presently to portray that. This doesn't mean however all attempts to make a good game should be thrown to the wind just to cater for this "realism".

Wink1ller0 brings up the dreaded example of Battlefield 2, which also flirts with the same concepts of "realism" as ArmA. However, anyone who tries to play BF2 as a realistic simulator is bound to be disappointed. I've played the much-lauded "Project Reality" as well, but it doesn't hold a candle to ArmA or OFP when it comes to realistic immersion. It's kind of hard when the map is the size of a matchbox and the viewdistance is set at 200 meters. :D Trying to make ArmA into BF2 is what maps like Berzerk are (arguably) trying to do as well - with varying grades of success (as you might have noted, Captain).
But once again: BF2 is a multiplayer game, and as such by necessity focuses on other things (such as fast-paced action with short respawn and single-player operable MBTs...). And BF2 is an EA product. 'Nuff said.

However, to address Wink1ller0's concerns about it being "too hard" to make ArmA into something different...I'd like to politely disagree :D Yes: to create a working, RPG-like dialogue for instance between yourself and an NPC (such as in the aforementioned O-Team) takes a lot of scripting. But if the scripter does it well, he can create a system which anyone can use despite only having basic knowledge of scripting. He can then post this system to be used in the Ed.Depot (LCD has indeed done such for many of the little scripts he's used: LCD_convo, LCD_spotlight, LCD_COV (command visor)). That was the point with the little list of resources I listed up above as well (mostly from Mandoble :D) : I can't script those things (I suck at math), but once they're done, I can use them. Same goes for new addons and the like: an addon can introduce some new interesting concept (which can be as simple as a new skin, or a new gun, to a whole mod filled with interesting new things), which can easily put a new spin on old things.

The problem is, of course, as I've mentioned before, this extreme focus on realism. Realism however is, as Captain noted, a high-level entertainment problem. Realism can pop out in the way you write your briefing, the way the objectives are placed and the way your own insertion is planned or whatever. After that, realism can only be simulated - hopefully in a way that makes it fun. Fun > Realism, however!

I actually think ArmA's "sim" factor can work -with- us in this however. Because no matter how hard we try, the basic unforgiving engine will still be there under the surface, ready to pop up and insta-kill us. It's the same thing with other engines that attempt to be "realistic" and fail, simply because their engines were never designed for it: say the Insurgency Mod for HL2. Great MP fun, but there's no bullet simulation and you can bunnyjump. In ArmA, we don't really have to be afraid that the "sim" factor will vanish just because we add some "unrealistic" but fun parts to our missions. As long as we manage to cover it up well, and make it believable, of course. Gamey is more than just having a health bar.

I think I'll stop ranting here, but thanks for both of your input. More examples of gameyness that fits the ArmAverse could be interesting though!

Wolfrug out.

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Offline Spooner

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Re: Making ArmA more gamey?
« Reply #8 on: 01 Feb 2008, 10:06:51 »
Wink1ller0 brings up the dreaded example of Battlefield 2, which also flirts with the same concepts of "realism" as ArmA. However, anyone who tries to play BF2 as a realistic simulator is bound to be disappointed. I've played the much-lauded "Project Reality" as well, but it doesn't hold a candle to ArmA or OFP when it comes to realistic immersion. It's kind of hard when the map is the size of a matchbox and the viewdistance is set at 200 meters. :D
Actually, just to rattle your preconceptions about the BF2 engine, at least when it comes to Project Reality, it has a couple of maps which are 17km2, which is considerably more space than the majority of ArmA missions ever use or need.  Not sure what the view distance is, but it has to be something pushing 1000 metres, though I'm not sure of the exact figure (these large maps run as well as the smaller maps, since it is mostly barren desert). PR 0.7 has made significant steps to make the game a lot more realistic, such as removing the mini-map and crippling accuracy during or after moving/jumping. It also removed the "fred kills tony" messages, which are a personal bug-bear of mine, and scoreboard before ArmA did (well, it still has a scoreboard, but like HL2 Insurgency, it only updates points AFTER you respawn, so you can't use it to tell whether the soldier you are shooting at just died or hid).

Anything bad you say about vanilla BF2, however, I am sure I can't argue with ;P

I think it is possible to go a long way towards a "gamey" gamemode, in order that the game is fun, without letting up on realism. There are also some supposedly realistic elements that you need to remove in order to make the game play more realistic. OK, that might sound daft, but, for example, if all weapons have the current super-accuracy (which is probably realistic, assuming you are holding a perfectly maintained weapon in a vice and holding your head in another vice so that you can look perfectly down the sights), then you never have realistic fire-fights where not every bullet fired is a kill-shot. The same is the case for your "make my AI solders have double health so that they don't all die in 1 second because their AI is weak". You aren't starting by saying they are supermen, shrugging off bullets, you are saying, "I need my AI men to survive like real soldiers" and the increased health is just the only way you can achieve this within the limited engine.

I spent too long making small components for other people to make missions and pretty much stopped playing missions myself because they felt neither realistic or playable. Ultimately, I realised I'd have to get my finger out and actually make at least one mission that was worth playing (from my perspective), before I could go any further with any other scripting that wasn't ending up with a game I wanted to play. I'm currently working on a "gameyfication" of ArmA myself. Specifically, being inspired by the insurgency mode in Project Reality, I'm adapting it to ArmA. The core concepts are that:
- BLUFOR are trying to locate and destroy randomly placed weapons caches within a city, before they take too many casualties.
- Searching the corpses of the insurgents can reveal the locations of un-found caches.
- BLUFOR are better equipped than the insurgents, but have a longer spawn time, in order to make them more careful.
- BLUFOR operate with strict ROE and so can't kill the wandering AI civilians (or the insurgent-allied, player-controlled, Field Reporter), who look the same as the insurgents (but unarmed, of course).

Hopefully, eventually, I can release a "Insurgency" game mode script that will allow more people to make this type of mission. Sadly, the more generic and re-usable a script is, the longer it takes to create and test...

Thanks for the comments on SPON Money! And yes, it has potential and I have big plans for it (but my priority for now is to make a playable, or you could say gamey, mission/gamemode that will make me ENJOY ArmA again).
« Last Edit: 07 Feb 2008, 21:45:59 by Spooner »
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Offline DeanosBeano

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Re: Making ArmA more gamey?
« Reply #9 on: 07 Feb 2008, 21:37:09 »
 A very nice read and well thought out argument , most of which i agree with , but so often when iplayed arma (now ofp again). I tried to point out through the barrage of abuse that ,there is a certain amount of artistic license when you mention realism in the theatre of gaming/sims etc. virtual reality and reality and realism are not the same thing and some people automaticaly respond to any topic with the word realistic or realism or VR in the topic header with the words "REALISM IS NOT POSSIBLE IN A GAME/SIM" but i wont go on that rant anymore its a beaten dog now.
 I shall however point out one thing here wher i smell a little of it , let me quote you.

I've played the much-lauded "Project Reality" as well, but it doesn't hold a candle to ArmA or OFP when it comes to realistic immersion. It's kind of hard when the map is the size of a matchbox and the viewdistance is set at 200 meters

 For some people a mission inside that matchbox space can be more real than tank battles in vanilla arma or even flying in arma . for me i have to say i stopped playing arma because when you set a waypoint for an ai in a "matchbox sized mission area" and you need presice movement ,but the ai stops on some occasions 10 meters away it is absolutely crippling to my sense of cqb fun .

 For the record i do rate the concept and the technology of arma above any other games (save ofp ) but until it actually does what it says on the tin without adding addons from outside the box ,then it is simply for me an engine that is nice to play with but in terms of actual mission playing and enjoyment in CQB scenarios its useless.

I love ofp

Offline Wolfrug

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Re: Making ArmA more gamey?
« Reply #10 on: 07 Feb 2008, 22:16:15 »

Yes, I know. I'm sorry about dragging Project Reality into the bunch, it really has no place here. The question is: would PR be any fun if played against a bunch of bots? At least the BF2 bots to me weren't all that awe-inspiring, since BF2 is a game designed solely for multiplayer. And at risk of sounding like a broken record: MP is sublimely different from SP in the simple sense that going for a 5 hour patrol with your MP buddy through random-VC-infested Vietnam jungle is a bag of fun, whereas the same experience in SP requires a hell of a lot more from the mission maker.

And yes, of course other games are better than ArmA at CQB, since that's what they're geared at.

virtual reality and reality and realism are not the same thing and some people automaticaly respond to any topic with the word realistic or realism or VR in the topic header with the words "REALISM IS NOT POSSIBLE IN A GAME/SIM" but i wont go on that rant anymore its a beaten dog now.

Interesting, I've never really seen that side of it, that people would complain much about realism not being possible. I've mostly only seen clamorings for making things more and more 'realistic', as opposed to opinions to the contrary. The concept of "virtual reality" is something that should probably be discussed more, and the differences between "VR" and "regular reality" (or whatever you want to call it). I think this is something that Spooner's sort of hinting at when he said "There are also some supposedly realistic elements that you need to remove in order to make the game play more realistic." Basically, to make a virtual reality environment to work in a more "realistic" fashion, certain elements actually need to be tweaked, removed or changed, even though they at first sight might seem to be the very pinnacle of realism.

I think ArmA has a bunch of those. Such as the over-vulnerability of all non-tracked vehicles (run a hummer twice into a tree, the tires are out. Sigh. And the civilian cars...). Over-accuracy of AI. Over-mortality of your teammates...there are bunches of things that can be improved by "decreasing" realism in one way or another.

Too late for more babble, but an interesting point anyway.

Wolfrug out.
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