Earlier this year, we shared our general goals for Arma 3's post-release roadmap. In short, we set out our intention to support the game, to refine content and features, and to invest in the platform. Since then, the team has been hard at work!
Over the last few months, we've completed the singleplayer campaign and launched Zeus, our free multiplayer DLC. Besides that, we've provided a whole range of other important updates, addressing issues in the Feedback Tracker, making modest tweaks and additions to the sandbox, and offering up some significant new gameplay and refinements.
Meanwhile, we've had the chance to sketch out our medium and longer-term objectives. Now we're ready to share some selected details. Our roadmap can be divided into three parts: 'platform updates', 'downloadable content', and 'expansion plans'. For now - given that the goal of this blog is to introduce a number of new developments - we'll provide a fairly high-level overview and flag up opportunities to dig down into more detail in future!
Available to everyone who owns Arma 3, platform updates are significant additions and improvements to the base game. As we announced earlier this year, a key goal is to extend Workshop support for addons. Essentially, this means handling the discovery, installation and maintenance of all kinds of mods - vehicles, mechanics, total conversions, etc. - akin to the way custom scenarios are currently accessed via Steam. In conjunction with some Make Arma Not War contest milestones, we aim to start rolling out its core functionality towards the end of May. Alongside this, we'll publish a more technical overview of the feature, too.
Closely related to this development, we've also been working on a Game Launcher. Alongside useful basic functionality - such as command-line parameters - the Game Launcher organises, maintains and loads mods. Like the Addon Workshop, our initial release is just a starting point. Given that we're designing with custom game launchers in mind (ours is a separate executable) we hope to cooperate closely with the community. In the months following its release, we aim to improve and expand upon it, targeting an ideal balance between usability and advanced functionality. Taken together, we believe that these new features will help unlock the true potential of mods to a wider audience and provide new options to pre-existing community solutions.
Another important addition will be the release of the free 'Bootcamp' update. A tutorial-oriented package wrapped around new playable content and refined sandbox mechanics, Bootcamp’s main objective is to provide newbies with a varied introduction to the game. The Arma 3 player base is still growing and, with this content, we're looking to invest in the platform for the long term. Aside from encouraging new players to learn about the game, we also hope to offer something for existing players, too. Plus, as a side benefit, it gives our teams a focal point to finalise fixes and refinements of certain vanilla features, such as planned improvements to Fatigue and Weapon Sway. We'll present the full package closer to its release.
Alongside helping to fund ongoing development, downloadable content (DLC) gives us an opportunity to strengthen our vision of Arma 3 as a game and sandbox platform. The goal of each DLC is to explore a specific topic, developing a focused set of new sandbox assets, official scenarios, and supporting features. Taken together, this work forms part of our wider post-release development plan. We've set out to provide great new gameplay opportunities in the short term, and build a consistent set of features and content with our longer term goals in mind.
Before taking a look at the specifics, it's worth noting that new engine features created to support our DLCs are not 'locked' to those products. Rather, these improvements contribute to Arma 3 as a whole; they're available automatically to everyone who owns the game. In short, features are free, content is paid, and our objective is to prevent any split in the MP player-base. Again, for the purposes of clarity and brevity, further details on our DLC strategy will be offered in the next few weeks.
Arma 3 Helicopters
Together with the addition of distinctive new transport helicopters and a selective implementation of Take On Helicopter’s RotorLib Flight Dynamics Model (FDM), the basic goal of this DLC is to add appropriate depth and breadth to helicopter gameplay. Worthwhile mentioning, too, is that it's designed to be optional, open to game and server configuration. It's also important to note that all existing 'vanilla' helos will be upgraded to the new standard; again, this is free for everyone and the TKOH flight dynamics are completely optional. Helicopters aside, though, another key objective is to offer benefits for more players than pilots alone.
To achieve this goal, we've sought to create new mechanics that enhance the combined arms experience and improve the A3 platform more broadly. Although at an early stage of development, we're looking specifically at the logistical role of helicopters on the battlefield (via Sling Loading) and thinking about gameplay for soldiers in transit (via Firing from Vehicles). Both features are engine-based and MP-compatible, with Sling Loading available to all existing and new helicopters. Furthermore, although we're focusing upon helos as a starting point, Firing from Vehicles stands to benefit other sandbox assets; any specifically configured cargo positions offer potential gameplay for units (both players and AI) in transit. Due to release in the second half of 2014, we'll present the full key features at a later date.
Arma 3 Marksmen
A focused overhaul of shooting mechanics together with new weapons, the central goal of this development is to make firing a weapon simple to do but challenging to master. Due after the Helicopters DLC, we don't want to be too specific just yet; however, to achieve our goal, a set of interrelated features are planned, which aim to further improve the authenticity of firing weapons and offer new gameplay opportunities.
In terms of content, new weapons that take most advantage of these planned features will be included; chiefly, this will involve ranged and high calibre weapons. We're selecting armaments that offer genuine diversity; not just many of the same type of weapon with minor visual differences, but a true range that offers distinctive gameplay alongside some inherent advantages/disadvantages. Again, our objective is to improve the A3 platform more broadly; new features and mechanics are designed with existing assets in mind, enhancing the sandbox as a whole.
Pencilled in for late 2015 (and with a lot of work ahead of us!) we're not quite ready to reveal too many precise details about the Arma 3 Expansion. We're at a stage of development where we want to take some risks, experiment, and innovate! With that in mind, the exact scope of our work will, for now, stay dark and will remain so until we're a bit more confident about what we can truly deliver. However, we do think it's worthwhile mentioning that work on a more significant package of new sandbox content and features is under way; clearly, this parallel development frames the rest of our plans.
So far, we've selected a new terrain that offers a distinctive feeling and gameplay. Building on our experience with Zeus, we're exploring ways to develop a more 'fully featured' 3D scenario editor. We're looking carefully at making investments in civilian life and diversity. Furthermore, unlike Arma 2: Operation Arrowhead, the expansion is not intended to be standalone. Rather, learning lessons from past experiences, the expansion is a true extension of the Arma 3 base. We want to build one big platform of content and features, simplifying development for ourselves and making life easier for our players!
However, while it's great to have one eye on the future, we'd also like to stress that our original (and ongoing) goals haven't changed. It (almost) goes without saying that our work on stability and optimisation remains central to Arma 3's longevity. Working closely with community groups to test large-scale MP performance continues, as does our cooperation with the DayZ team and their knowledge of MP optimisation techniques. That aside, our own official multiplayer servers provide a wealth of useful data, which feeds back into development.
Overall, we're excited about Arma 3's 2014/15 roadmap and the great new content, gameplay and refinements it offers. Although things can change, we've tried to reveal the parts we're most sure about and, of course, there's more in the works! Often overlapping with our own wishes and desires, we're investigating a range of features based on public feedback, which we're trying to prioritise appropriately. Alongside our goal to keep the A3 platform stable, we've got to take time and resource limitations into consideration; however, where we can implement innovative and valuable ideas, we will!
Above, we've identified several areas that we'd like to expand upon in future. Short term, that means sharing details about Steam Workshop support and our Game Launcher, introducing our strategy to keep the player-base contiguous, and presenting the key features of the free Bootcamp Update. Longer term, we'll go into more depth about the DLCs themselves and sketch out our intentions for the expansion. Until then, we'd like to thank our players for supporting Arma 3, and wish you all the best on the battlefield!
On behalf of the A3 team,
- Jay and Joris