With the Armed Assault engine a lot is possible, already resulting in a lot of missions, addons and campaigns which have been produced by the community. There are only a few people who released multiple well-received campaigns for the community. One of those is Bardosy. A campaign enthusiast, already having produced five campaigns he can be regarded as a campaign author veteran. His most recent campaign "Perpetua" was released a few months ago and his newest campaign "Dawn of Democracy" is already in development. It’s time to take a look at the Bardosy campaign laboratory and explore the world of campaigns.
Cheetah: Could you tell us something about yourself?
Bardosy: Like the majority of OFP/ArmA players, I'm an older male: 35 years old and I live in Budapest, Hungary. My job is software engineering, the boring type: databases. Since my childhood I made game software in my freetime. These games were 'not so cool' as the mainstream games. And OFP changed this: I could make my own mainstream missions with this powerful tool.
Cheetah: How did you come in contact with OFP and later ArmA?
Bardosy: I'm a hobbyist article writer of a Hungarian PC Games magazine. My job is to sweep the internet for new games and write news, previews and reviews about them. I am not too fond of popular games, and hate killing monsters with plasma guns. Favorite gametypes are realistic strategic and tactical FPS. If I remember correctly, Delta Force 1 was the first tactical FPS and Novalogic planned to integrate the Delta Force, Commanche and Armoured Fist games (FPS, chopper sim and tank sim) in a single battlefield simulator. I loved this idea, but then found news about Operation Flashpoint and forgot about Novalogic.
After that I turned to this new game, because I'm a Central/Eastern-European citizen and OFP promised me a lot of special stuff: an Eastern-European environment (houses, villages, etc) and the traditional Eastern-European anti-Soviet feeling.
The Czech people share a somewhat common history, but aren’t afraid to convert their feelings into a game. The first newspost about OFP (the name was Flashpoint 1985 back then) had a line: "with this game we want to remember the Prague Spring." It hit my heart, however a Western-European or an American won’t recognize this.
When I wrote the preview I was a fan of this game, because of its feeling. When I tried it - we got a press copy from Bohemia - I started loving it because of its editing possibilities. I think - no, I know! - OFP is the most open game engine on the market.
Cheetah: Could you tell us what magazine it is and maybe something about the popularity of it in Hungary etc?
Bardosy: The PC magazine I work for is called pcdome.hu. It is one of the most popular Games magazines of Hungary and in the Top 3. Pcdome's forum might be the most popular for the gamers here. An editor is my friend and I asked to get a game from him, and he answered: I will give it to you, but please write an article about it. So that's when I became a reviewer.
Cheetah: You seem to prefer working on campaigns rather than on SP missions: could you explain why?
Bardosy: That is my fault. I had problems with the huge, complex missions and found it easier to convert my complex ideas into a campaign. Next to this, campaigns have deep and detailed stories and I love story-telling. When I’m not playing I write novels and love to write stories. It is very satisfying after a boring software-coding day.
I always keep searching for new techniques to tell a story. It sounds strange, but OFP is a good way to tell a story and it is easier in a campaign than in a SP mission.
Two things I learned: with OFP, you can only tell war stories (I love the war stories, so it's not a problem).
The other: one must focus on the game play too, not just on the story! I sometimes made his mistake, focusing on the story and forgetting about adding exciting game play.
Cheetah: Have you been inspired by someone or something during all these years of development?
Bardosy: The Revolution 1983 campaign was inspired by an actual historical event: the Hungarian revolution in 1956. It is an unconventional OFP story: there is no happy ending. Of course I had to convert it to the 80's and compromises had to be made to fit in with OFP's possibilities.
The Yankie Stalker was inspired by an evil idea: make a trap for the player and cheat him/her.
I don't want to give away a spoiler, but the player thinks he knows what is going to happen, while the next mission turns out to be completely different.
Sometimes a TV-series (like 24) or other movies inspire me to make a mission. Sometimes I just find new ways in mission editing or new ways in OFP/ArmA story-telling template.
Cheetah: How is a campaign 'born' and developed into a story?
Bardosy: Now I try to co-operate with other mission makers and met with the engineering-way in mission editing: making a detailed plan about the new campaign. Before, I never made a detailed plan. I have a general idea about the story, but I don't know how many and what type of missions the campaign will contain in the end.
Why I work without a plan? With the experience I've gained I can say that "everything is a compromise" in OFP/ArmA. If I found myself in a dead end, I could return and try again. With a plan for all missions before actually developing them, I would have to stop working on a mission in the middle of a campaign as something proved not to work, which would result in the whole plan being disturbed. That’s why I leave myself some freedom in the story because of engine limitations.
Cheetah: Is it easy to translate your ideas to the mission editor, into a mission?
Bardosy: Actually yes, I try not to imagine ideas which can't be developed. But I understand what you mean. This is what I said before: the compromises which have to be made. Compromises between ideas and possibilities of ArmA/OFP. I made missions for other games (e.g. Combat Mission) but I found the OFP engine the most open for mission designers. Most times I dream of a big thing to use in a mission and do an experiment before developing it into something I want to use. Should the experiment fail, I try to step over the problem to continue the story and campaign.
For example in Revolution 1983, I liked the idea of a mission about the beginning phase of a real revolution. One where local communists started shooting at the civilians, and the Soviet soldiers confused and returning fire. So local communists would be shooting at civilians and Russians, while the Russians were firing at the civilians and the local communists. A lot of civilians would die after which a few of them were to grab weapons from the dead and join the fight. It had potential, but I failed to make a mission of it in OFP.
Cheetah: Is there a hint you want to give to the community about mission editing?
Bardosy: There are numerous guys more talented and experienced than me. But what comes to my mind is the compromise between story and gameplay. A campaign with a lot of shootouts, big battles and many explosions but without a story is weak. On the other hand, a story with detailed characters and backgrounds, lots of cutscenes and hours of cinematics, but little enjoyable action is bad too.
Cheetah: What aspects of the ArmA engine are the most limiting to mission design, in your opinion?
Bardosy: It's a difficult question. As I said before I try to not dream about impossible-in-ArmA ideas, so I try to avoid any limitations put up by the ArmA engine. Of course, what annoys me are the bugs and a few other things, but I must remain patient and I will just wait for more patches. I hate the dumb civilians, I’d like to use them in my missions.
Cheetah: Are there other campaigns which you have played that you could recommend?
Bardosy: I loved the Revolt 1998 campaign for OFP. But most people have probably already played it. It is a damn good campaign. It is interesting as Revolt doesn’t have a great story: nothing swift, nothing unique. Instead it has been built up with great, balanced fighting and quality addons. I tried to learn from KingNothing (designer of Revolt) and made Aurora of Tonal, a campaign using his tools: nice addons, a minor story, but balanced shootouts. Sadly it didn’t turn out as the success I had hoped for. However, I feel I made good use of the experience (from Revolt and Aurora) to develop Perpetua.
Cheetah: Did you play the official campaign in ArmA and OFP? What are your thoughts on them?
Bardosy: I played almost all of them, left Red Hammer in the middle of it, because it bored me. My favorite is the Resistance campaign. I love(d) it! It's hard to explain – and could be seen as funny - but I felt it while playing Resistance, I got something back what history stole from me.
When I was kid, Hungary was an occupied country. Soviet soldiers were everywhere. On the street, in public transport. Like in WWII movies where Germans are in Paris. We feared them and we hated them. We studied nothing about 1956 in the school, but every kid knew everything, because the parents told us the story of the Hungarian revolution and freedom fighting against the Soviets.
Well, I thought that a new revolution would take place sometime. I didn't know when, but I knew it would happen eventually. And I prepared to fight against the Soviets. But this revolution was cancelled when the Soviet Union collapsed. I never thought about my fight in the revolution after 1990. But when I started playing with the Resistance campaign, I felt something very strong in my heart. I can't explain it, it felt as if BIS gave me back my fight. I loved OFP before Resistance, but after it I really fell in love with it.
It might sound cheap, but worst is the first official ArmA campaign. No story, no loveable/hateable characters and nothing close to reality (Rambo-like missions). Making a better campaign than this one is easy.
Cheetah: What would you like to see added to ArmA, for example in a future patch?
Bardosy: Civilian women and Bradley AFV. First, I know that addon makers will eventually release them, but it is better to get them in a patch. Second, I have a problem with my home PC, the editor freezes for a few seconds - every minute. It is annoying and I hope that it will be fixed soon.
Cheetah: Do you have any future plans/ideas for more campaigns?
Bardosy: Of course! I want to make a SLA campaign. For this one I actually made a plan, so you could see that as unusual. I already did several tests for this campaign in ArmA. In the first part of the campaign I want to have a lot of fighting civilians and this is impossible with BIS’ civilians, so I have to use an addon. And there is a plan from the late OFP period. It is going to be an Afghanistan campaign with a non-usual story-telling line. But I have to wait for Afghan addons to be released.
Cheetah: Could you tell us something about Perpetua?
Bardosy: Perpetua is an interesting project which I used to test Armed Assault’s possibilities. I thought of a minor story inspired by the official campaign, but I tried to focus on the action. In my opinion, Perpetua is not my best campaign, but the community thought different. I never got so much feedback and congratulations before.
It was surprising, but enjoyable. It could be because the official ArmA campaign is not great. Which could imply that I released Perpetua right on time. Also, Perpetua was my first campaign including voice overs. The project to do a complete voice over was harder than the whole mission editing, but with a voice over I think I doubled the enjoyability of the campaign.
Cheetah: Could you explain what you have gone through to add a voice over to Perpetua?
Bardosy: Technically it is not hard. Quite a lot of time has to be spend on it however: searching lines in the scripts - changing them and adding new sections in the description.ext. But also stuff like cutting and converting the audio files. It is boring work, but has to be done in order to get the voices working.
The hard work is getting in touch with voice actors and asking them to 'hurry please'. Difficult as they help you for free, so you can't really be impatient, however I had to warn them if a week passed by without contact.
I tried this kind of work with my OFP campaign Freies Freya: I contacted German OFP fans and two guys were nice, sadly I couldn't get more actors and had a lot of characters - so the project failed.
Before starting with Perpetua's voice over project I spent a lot of time thinking over the voices. After a lot of thinking and sleepless nights I knew what had to be done: two main characters and a lot of others with only a few lines. I recruited some characters, not enough however as some did more than one character. It is not cool, however - remember - compromises!
I got lucky, because my main characters weren't native English I could choose Hungarian fans (including myself) for the job. This was a good decision, because I could use the Hungarian language to say 'hurry' in a polite manner. The project took about a month plus to complete.
Cheetah: A lot of people seem to have trouble with getting voice actors. Did you have trouble finding them? Any hints for good cooperation with them? Where did you get your voice actors from - which sources/websites etc anything that readers can use to get actors?
Bardosy: My main actors were Hungarians and I got them from our magazines forum. Luckily they were nice and worked hard. The voice actor for major Ibanez for example, studied how the Spanish speak English. He is a fanatic.
Three Hungarian voice actors did the majority of the voices, if I needed a few single lines (chopper pilot, or Commander in Chief) we did it and slowed down the voice and added noises. If it was for radio, this method was even better as the player has no chance to recognize the cheat.
Of course we needed others too. Americans for the CIA Agent and BlackHawk pilot, a Spanish voice for dictator Pajaro. I found these guys on the OFPEC and BIS forums. I made a post, but - to be sure - I sent PMs to anyone fit for a character having volunteered at least once for voice acting . After a few failures, (they answered, got the textbook, but never replied again), I could finally finish all voices. By the way, in the very last phase of project I found forgot someone in the campaign outro: the news speaker. I didn't want to spent weeks for these final lines, so I made a compromise and choose a Dutch for the English role, you.
Cheetah: Do you think ArmA will achieve the same as OFP did (community-wise, game-wise etc)?
Bardosy: It is a difficult question and my opinion changes every day. When I got my first press copy and later bought the EU version, I thought it was a great nice, but Czech (= bugged) game. ArmA inherited both good and bad stuff from OFP. For example, ArmA has the looks needed nowadays. Of course I don't enjoy the bugs, but I think that BIS are working on it. In the end ArmA will be a great game, but like OFP 1.96 it will take more patches in order to fine tune the game play.
With other things I've been disappointed by BIS:
1. 15% of players have trouble with 1.08
2. Shortage of good addons, because of not released Oxy2
3. Desolation of the Community
The first is the major problem: players are too unfair and impatient or BIS didn't focus to ArmA enough? I read the news about Queens Gambit: 'it will be released in Autumn and it will be contain the patch 1.08' What does it mean? There will not be released other patch until Autumn? I hope not! We need 1.1, a fix for 1.08!
And the third one is the big, invisible ghost: where are the old, great OFP veterans? How could it happen if I post a topic into OFPEC or BIS forum and this topic will be in the first page for days? What do ArmA/OFP players do? Playing MP missions on servers and they have no time to communicate on the forums? I hope this is true, but I'm afraid - I got PMs about it - a lot of players left ArmA because they were disappointed.
Now I see this problem very dark, but I'm a religious person, so I believe in a light future. I hope that BIS will support ArmA (and won't focus on VBS2) and that mission makers will make good missions and the mod makers will make great addons (when oxy2 will be released).
Cheetah: What makes a mission a good campaign mission? Or can any single player mission be used in a campaign?
Bardosy: When I tested your SP missions (for example: Operation Lightning) in OFP, I felt that they were hard, long and good missions. However I wanted to continue with the story, what will happen on the next village and how can I support my left flank, because they were in trouble? Maybe it was not a good SP mission, but good campaign mission. Good campaign missions will have some open ends that the players will want to check out. It is same like a TV-series.
A few days ago I tried to comfort a campaign maker who got disappointed with one of his missions and I said: one single not-perfect mission in a campaign won't cause much trouble. If it were an SP mission, it would fail.
On the other hand, a good SP-mission can be a part of a campaign. Or a really good SP mission could be the backbone and the inspiration of a campaign.
Cheetah: Campaigns aside, what single player missions do you like to play (types, any special authors etc)? Any examples and a motivation of why you like them?
Bardosy: I must confess: I'm not a very good player/shooter. So I love the medium difficulty missions, and long ones. Where the player can make decisions: from where to attack or to ambush. And when the player has to care about his men: heal and rearm them, send them there or get back here.
I like not too difficult, but multiple shootouts and the combined arms battles, when the player is an infantry soldier, but gets help in the fight from other teams and/or AFVs to support them. Or maybe an arty- or airstrike.
I love the CWC campaign, where I was just a small part of the machine and a battle was always won or lost and I could participate in it or choose not to. That is a unique feature from OFP/ArmA and seperates it from CoD-style FPS.
What I hate most are SpecOps missions, sometimes however I enjoy playing one. I try to avoid chopper and tank missions, I love the queen of the battlefield, infantry.
Cheetah: Is there a particular mod you would like to use for mission development?
Bardosy: In the late phase of OFP I used mods in my campaigns and these could rise the value of my work, but sometimes it confused the players and if an addon updated, could cause problems in the install procedure. So now - in the beginning phase of ArmA - I try not to use addons.
Right now I am in the need of two addons: fighting civilians, because the original civilians behave dumb. They see nothing in the dark and they can't move in the streets or engage enemy troops.
The other addon I could use is a better opponent of the BMP on the BLUEFOR side. The Stryker is a nice APC, but it can't compete with the BMP. In my last OFP campaign (Aurora of Tonal) I used Bradleys and this AFV is a great competitor for the BMP. I could use it in streets against infantry, or versus enemy armour with its cannon and AT rockets.
Cheetah: What do you think of the Urban Patrol Script (Kronzky) and Populate Island script (ColonelLiteSanders)? Do you like to use them?
Bardosy: UPS is a very-very useful script. I used and will use it in almost all of my missions, because it saves me time to focus on the other WPs and triggers and I have no care about the patrolling/sweeping enemy units/groups. I recommend this script to every mission maker, because patrols are common in missions.
I tried PIS (Populate Island Script) too, but I didn't like it: it causes lag on my PC and the civilians (it's not the scripts fault) do weird stuff. I don't feel as in a living town, more like in a medhouse.
Another script I use frequently is MrMurray's arty script, unfortunately his airstrike script stopped working since 1.05. Finally, I keep my eyes on Mandoble's scripts, he is very talented. I tried his missile script in several tests and in a mission and it's superb!
I would like to mention Johnnyboy's scripts. His secondary exposition script filled my pants when I destroyed an ammo depot and I was waiting for a normal ArmA explosion. That was great, so I will use it.
Cheetah: In what order would you place your campaigns (1st, 2nd, 3rd etc)? Could you give a motivation for this ranking?
1. Yankie Stalker
2. Aurora of Tonal
3. Revolution 1983
4. Freies Freya
5. Liberation of Malden
Liberation is 5th, because it is my first campaign and it has a lot of weak stuff in it. I knew only a bit about the scripts and I made everything in the mission editor. I tried to copy the CWC campaign, however LoM has no real story, but a few great battles.
Yankie Stalker is first, because it is a nice campaign with the wonderful RHS Russians and LSR Delta/Rangers on a beautiful island (Freya). The campaign has a great story and a lot of twists. Yankie could contain very different type of missions without harming the story. I mean some campaigns contain chopper/tank missions and the storyteller must explain how an infantryman can fly an Apache gunship. In Yankie you can be a cold killer - Delta Force - or a motivated freedom fighter.
Aurora has exciting missions without a real story, but uses high quality addons (BAS Tonal).
Revolution is the example why a mission editor must make compromises. Revolution is a great story, but sometimes has boring missions. And other hand, a few missions of it are very hard. Well its story could entertain you, but the missions do not. I don't want put it at the end of the list, because I love it.
Freies Freya could be greater, but it failed. Freya is a sequel of Yankie Stalker, but the LSR Rangers were changed by German Bundeswehr. This mod is wonderful. And the missions are OK. But huge battles with these addons cause extreme lag.
Oops, I forgot about Perpetua. It is very difficult to insert it into this table, as it is an ArmA campaign. That isn't the whole truth however, the problem is, I think Perpetua is not my best campaign, but players think it is.
I could say: I don't care what the players think, but that is not true. I'm a writer, a vain writer. So for me, it is important what the readers (here players) think. But I know Perpetua is not my best work. I will have to start a new ranking table for ArmA campaigns and Perpetua is the first in this table.
Cheetah: Anything you want to say to the Community to end with?
Bardosy: Thank you! In the beginning I was alone with my home PC, OFP installed and I had to learn how to make missions on my own. It was a slow and difficult process. My missions were really bad, but a few years later when I discovered the community and OFPEC, the speed with which I learned increased. Not only did I get advice and hints, I found great people too!
They never laughed about my ugly English and tried to understand me and answer my questions (in the Combat Mission community they laughed at me). There was more than merely answers, as I got to know about OFP stuff I never knew about. And finally, we talked about semi off-topic questions. For example how a German feels about a story I wrote in the briefing's notes section. I learned more than solely OFP/ArmA techniques. ArmA/OFP is a great game, but perhaps its community is greater.
OFPEC would like to thank Bardosy for taking the time to answer all the questions, and hopes to see more of his work in the future.