Intel Depot

OFPEC Spotlights... "Janat"

Apr
02
2012

Entering from stage right, please welcome Janat!

Interview

Who are you and what do you do outside of the gaming community?

I'm a student in University of Helsinki, currently focusing on first year IT studies.

Where in our world do you reside?

I live in Southern Finland. Really love it here, especially when all the snow melts and slush is all over the place.

Why do you think so many Community members come from Finland? Is there something in the water?

Of course I can't speak for everyone, but it probably has something to do with the fact that Finnish defence forces is based on conscription. It's easier to get what Arma is all about when you have received military training and know some real life tactics you can apply in the game. From the point of a mission designer, it's easier to come up with interesting and realistic scenarios when you know how things work in real life.

Which BIS game introduced you to the Armaverse?

The first time I heard of a BIS game was back in 2001. I read a review of "Operation Flashpoint" in a finnish magazine and thougt, "wow, I have to get this game". But, as I didn't have a gaming computer, I never actually played the game. In 2009 I preordered Arma 2 and haven't regretted getting it. I can't believe it's still the only game with that level of open world gameplay.

What do you feel was the most attractive part of the game?

I loved the feeling of really being on the battlefield and being so vulnerable. I had only played games like CoD and Crysis before and the level of realism in Arma 2 really felt awesome.

Every gamer of BIS titles eventually finds their way to the editor and discovers the true potential for these games. What were your first thoughts when you discovered the power of the editor?

I thought, wow, I have to make a cool mission with helicopter insertion, 200+ units on the field, friendly artillery support and what not. Then I realized that in order to make really cool missions, I have to learn how to script. As I already had some lua scripting experience, I could get hang of it quite quickly. But it turned out mission making isn't as easy as it first seemed...

Your relatively new to the community, having been a part of it for less than 3 years. How did it feel to gain a 3rd place spot in the mission editing contest on your first release?

At first I really couldn't believe it. How could someone with less than 1 year of active mission making experience gain the 3rd place in the competition? And how could that someone be me? Finally I realized it was real. And it felt awesome.

Now that you are beginning to gain more feedback for your mission, does that encourage you to keep at it or is this a one time deal for you?

Of course it does, I try to make my missions as polished as possible and getting feedback really helps staying motivated. You'll hear from me in future.

What makes a mission good, from your point of view?

A good mission is immersive, has some kind of story, and most importantly, the gameplay is interesting. It doesn't have to be complicated or revolutionary, doesn't have to have much replay value, as long as it's fun to play. On the other hand, a 10-minute-mission with only good and not great gameplay would hardly be worth downloading, especially if it always played the same.

What part of editing a mission gives you the most trouble?

Planning stage is definitely the most difficult one. I seem to have so many good ideas, but planning a mission around those ideas is never easy. When I have the plan ready, it's quite easy to edit the mission. The same applies to scripting; technical stuff is easy once I know exactly what I want to do with it.

Is there a balance in your work between what can be done in the editor and what can be achieved using scripts, or is it all scripted?

In my previous missions I've used the editor as much as possible and only used scripts when necessary. But now the amount of scripting is in exponential increase, and I'm scripting stuff like enemy movement instead of using cycle waypoints. You could say that if I can do something better with scripting instead of using the editor, I will script it.

Are there any scripts or script libraries that you rely on in your work, and if so, can you tell us a bit about why?

All the libraries I'm relying on are the stock Arma 2 libraries. I only use my own scipts. There are four main reasons for it. First, I know exactly how the script works and it's easier to debug the mission. Second, the more I do myself the better I get at it. If I'd rely on someone else's work, I would not get better at such a fast pace. Third, scripting is fun, and the more fun, the better! Fourth, I haven't made enough generic scripts to have a script library of my own. Actually, I think my next project will be writing a generic script library to use in my missions...

What would you like to see mission designers incorporate more of, into their projects?

I'd like to see more cut scenes in missions. There are so many promising missions with decent gameplay but no cinematic sequences. Cut scenes help create the immersion, and it would be nice to see more missions with decent cut scenes.

If not many missions designers are including decent cutscenes, why do you think that is? Do you have any tips which may encourage more designers to include them?

I think many mission designers who have never tried making cutscenes find the idea of making and including them too complex. And they are right about it. Getting the timing right requires either trial and error, or you to write a lot of code, especially so if you want to make a scene full of action. That said, cutscenes don't necessarily have to be full of action and movement in order to add to player immersion. Mission designers who've never made cutscenes before should begin with easy and simple still shots. Once you're familiar with the basics of camera scripting, making cutscenes becomes trivial. And including cutscenes in your missions really makes them feel more polished.

What forum has been the most helpful during the build process?

BIS forums have been really helpful with their quite active mission editing forum. OFPEC forums have also been of great help, with all the information available.

Got any other hobbies outside of gaming that you care to share with us?

Well, I play keyboard quite a lot, and am somewhat good at it. I also play badminton, listen to all kinds of music.

Care to share any intel on projects you have planned for the future?

I could probably write a lengthy essay on "my future projects", but most of those will never see daylight. So, it there's no point in listing any of those. But I will definitely release something in future, either for Arma 2 or Arma 3.

Is there a community member that has inspired you with their own projects?

There are many, most notably cheesus' Bastard Squad campaign and SaOk and his Black forest mission.

Any last words of wisdom for our readers and/or mission designers?

Even though mission editing is fun and all, don't forget to sleep, too. Although you may get your best ideas when you're so tired you almost can't stay awake, the implementation of those ideas in that state of mind will be lacking.

Pick 3

What was the last game you bought?

Mass Effect 3. Arma 2 is more than enough to get my virtual realism dose, Mass Effect forms an excellent counterbalance to it. I've finished Mass Effect 1 and 2 three times, and the third one once. I really love the story in ME series.

Do you play Arma titles online? If so, which servers?

Sometimes. I don't have any server I'd frequently play on, I just pick one with players on it. I mostly play on servers that happen to run Project Reality mod.

What snack food or drink do you most often consume while spending time with Arma?

Nuts (as in peanuts, hazelnuts etc.) and water. Sitting in front of the monitor for extended periods is unhealthy enough so I don't support eating unhealthy food while working with Arma, and I really like the taste of nuts.

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