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Armed Assault Q&A|
(hx) 02:26 AM CEST - May,05 2006
GGMania got a chance to talk with Paul R. Statham as he answer questions
about Armed Assault, their upcoming tactical shooter. The game is currently in
development at Bohemia Interactive Studio and should be finished later this
GGMania: Could you introduce yourself to our readers and tell them a little
bit about what you do on Armed Assault?
Paul: I'm Paul Statham, PR/Community manager for
Bohemia Interactive Studio. Day to day I'm usually involved in a number of tasks
either related to the BIS community or dealing with the various aspects of PR
with the press, like this interview!
GGMania: Can you give us a little background on the development team working
on Armed Assault?
Paul: ArmA's development team consists of
approximately 15 people, the majority of the team worked on the original
Operation Flashpoint and also its expansion Resistance. The ArmA team is made up
of designers and artists, the engine is developed in a separate office as it is
something which is continually being worked on and is used by the VBS2 team, the
Game2 team as well as the ArmA team.
GGMania: What can you tell us about the storyline? Is there a real-life back
story for the game?
Paul: There isn't a specific real-life back story
to the game, however the setting and ideas used in the story are representative
of events from real life current affairs, whilst some of the names have been
changed to protect the not so innocent the actions they're undertaking will be
The core storyline relates to a small number of US troops being posted on a
fictional Island, somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, with their job being to train
the forces of a democratic nation in the South of the island. The Northern
country of the island is a communist dictatorship ran country that really isn't
overly fond of its neighbour to the South and would like nothing better than
kicking its "Yankee imperialist" loving butt into the ocean!
GGMania: Could you give us some idea of the shape that missions in the game
Paul: Missions will generally consist of multiple
objectives undertaken by US troops with the assistant of Southern Sahrani
forces, initially due to the fact the Northern enemy attacks with such speed and
aggression the missions will primarily consist of more defensive type actions,
with the emphasis being on quick, short blows against the enemy before quietly
withdrawing under cover before they can and regroup counter-attack.
GGMania: Can you give us an example of specific missions in the game?
Paul: We'd rather not give away any mission
specifics at this time, matter of national security and all that!
GGMania: What type of variety can we expect to see in terms of weapons?
Paul: As is to be expected from a modern military
game, both sides have an extensive arsenal at their disposal, everything from
pistols such as Beretta 9mm or Makarov, onto rifles and light machine guns such
as M4, M24, AK74 & SVD, then looking at heavier weaponry there are squad machine
guns such as M249 and PK, as well as more explosive anti-armour ordinance such
as RPG, Strela, Javelin etc. There's a serious amount of kit available, which
allows you to inflict a serious amount of damage on your foes.
GGMania: Can you discuss some of the combat vehicles that exist in the game?
What actions can players perform with them?
Paul: Again as with weapons, there is a massive
amount of vehicles in the game which the player can use and the AI will
certainly be using. Air, land, sea, there's something for everyone, whatever
they prefer. Drive you and your squad in a Stryker or BRDM2, rain lead death on
your enemies from a AH6 or Mi17, even drive around leisurely in a small boat
enjoying the beautiful coastal scenery if that's your kind of thing. Different
vehicles have different possibilities, for example certain armoured vehicles or
helicopters have multiple gunner positions available which allow for a greater
intensity in fire-power, as well as a greater degree of protection from enemy
Taking into account the various connotations there's currently something like
50+ vehicles in the game.
GGMania: Inevitably, the game will be compared to Operation Flashpoint. Would
you say that Armed Assault is even more realistic, less realistic or about the
same as this games? What are the critical differences in terms of gameplay?
Paul: ArmA is certainly more realistic than
Flashpoint. Obviously Flashpoint still stands as perhaps the most realistic game
of its genre and generation, but ArmA will really move to the next step in PC
Game realism. Gameplay features such as simulated weapon recoil, bullet kinetic
energy and multiple gunners in vehicles insert additional layers of realism into
the game playing experience.
Even the new visual aspects of the game serve a dual purpose by also adding to
the realism and sense of real world immersion. Ambient wildlife such as birds
and insects combined with trees and bushes that sway gently in the wind help to
remind the player of the constant need for vigilance, if you dismiss as a mere
bird a black speck moving off in the distance it might perhaps be a lone enemy
about to shoot you, alternatively panicking and shooting at a moving tree may
alert the enemy to your presence when you least expect it. The new HDR lighting
also further stresses a need for considering the terrain and world around you,
if the sun is in your eyes as you approach the enemy your vision will be
significantly impaired putting you at a great disadvantage.
GGMania: Will there be anything new that we've never seen before?
Paul: Part of the whole reason for creating ArmA is
that we want to reacquaint gamers with the core gameplay and experience that
made the original Flashpoint such a labour of love for all who played it, so
certainly we want them to continue to feel the same levels of immersion and
gameplay when they're playing ArmA. That said, technology has moved on a long
way since 2001, even if perhaps gameplay and game design really hasn't moved on
much with regards innovation. So for us it was important to retain the key
elements of gameplay yet enhancing the engine in terms of graphics,
functionality, realism and such, we believe that all these elements will combine
to create an experience that has not been seen before.
GGMania: Will A.I. have enough power to put the veteran players into a decent
Paul: The original Flashpoint had strong AI,
certainly it provided a good challenge and the depth and range of the AI's
ability remains unsurpassed today, however despite the strong foundation to the
AI thought process there were certain areas which we have identified as
benefiting from some improvement.
The AI works on a system of recognition, communication, reaction, the key to
using this better in ArmA is in working with how they see, what they see, how
they process this information and respond and react to it, improving the AI
doesn't necessarily just involve making them smarter, or making them react
faster, but also adding a layer of more human like unpredictability, if you know
exactly what the AI will do, no matter how well it does it, there is little
challenge left, if you cannot predict what the AI will do, or how well (or not)
it might do it, then there can be the challenge.
GGMania: What can you tell us about the graphics engine that's being use for
Paul: ArmA incorporates a number of the more
practical recent graphical technologies implementable within DX9. These include
such things as: normal mapping, high dynamic range rendering, vertex and pixel
shader. Together with the highly detailed models and textures as well as other
things such as real-time shadows it all combines to provide a highly visual
GGMania: The game should offer a map covering over 400 sq. km, in extreme
detail. Do you plan to reduce the loading times? What kind of hardware should
players have in order to experience good game performance?
Paul: With the island covering 400 sq. kilometres,
and holding thousands of objects that certainly is a significant load on any
computer, which is one of the reasons that we developed a data streaming
technology which means that only parts of the world around you need to be loaded
at once, thus lightening the overall system load and allowing us to enhance the
visuals of the world that you do see. This new technology enables us to have
very quick loading times when taking into account the vast size of the game
world, and there are no perceivable additional loading times at all once the
island is loaded, you can walk from one corner of the island to the other and
it's a completely seamless experience.
We continue to optimise as much as possible even as we near the end of the
developmental cycle, so at this point we're still not quite sure how much we
will be able to achieve in the different areas of optimisation and thus what the
required system specs will be, however it's fair to say that something in the
region of 2GHz intel/AMD CPU, 512MB RAM, DX9 64mb graphics card is somewhere
around the probable minimum spec.
GGMania: The press release claims that the game will feature "Comprehensive
multiplayer support with join in progress". Could you provide us with further
Paul: ArmA is comprehensive in a number of areas
and in a number of ways, the size of the island, the level of realism, the
extent of the gameplay experience, even the quality of AI and numbers of
vehicles and weapons can be considered comprehensive. Obviously ArmA is as much
about multiplayer as it is about single player, so for the multiplayer aspect
it's comprehensive in numbers of players (at least 60, probably more depending
on hardware), comprehensive in MP game modes (ArmA will ship with a number of
different and challenging modes of play), it's also comprehensive in the area of
perpetual online warfare, ArmA will include a "capture the island" type game
mode, this mode allows for a continuous battlefield spread over the whole island
with forces fighting to capture individual towns, thus gaining resources to
further their war effort, with the end goal being to capture the whole island.
Large numbers of players with the ability to rejoin straight into the action
means that ArmA will offer hours if not days of solid gameplay just from one
GGMania: At the moment what is the current state of the game's progress and
when will it be completed?
Paul: The game is progressing well and we're
rapidly approaching a stage where the finishing touches are being put onto some
of the different areas, obviously certain aspects of the game are created
somewhat independent from the others, music, animations and such, so their
inclusion is generally subsequent to the initial areas of development.
Due to the fact that the game is not currently signed to a publisher we continue
to work on it, to add and tweak new features and make sure the ArmA experience
is all that it can be, once we're signed to a publisher we shall then have a
firm idea of when we need to go gold and thus complete the project.
GGMania: Do you plan to release a playable demo?
Paul: Yes, if all goes to plan we will initially
release a multiplayer demo and then a little closer to the game being published
we intend to release a singleplayer demo.
GGMania: Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. Finally, is
there anything else you'd like to add about Armed Assault?
Paul: Thanks to everyone for reading this. We look
forward to showing our game at E3 and I think everyone will be really excited by
how well ArmA is progressing and how it's shaping up to really earn a place on
shelves alongside Flashpoint, it's a different game of course, but we want
people to experience the same levels of enjoyment and immersion that they felt
when first playing Flashpoint. That experience will no doubt be helped by the
content created by our exceptionally talented and passionate community, we'll
endeavour to create a knowledge base in time for ArmA's release so that existing
Flashpoint can be converted for use in ArmA and new content can be created
|miglaugh||(05:36 AM CEST - May,05 2006 )|
All I want to know now is if they've changed the FF behavior at all... Can you kill your teammates, and if so, will they turn on you?
|djdidge||(10:06 AM CEST - May,05 2006 )|
|"Large numbers of players with the ability to rejoin straight into the action means that ArmA will offer hours if not days of solid gameplay just from one single mission"...
I wonder, are these Bohemia hosted machines provided like a mmorpg?
|Anonymous||(11:18 AM CEST - May,05 2006 )|
|I just cant wait for this game :D
In response to the last few replies, no the missions are NOT hosted on BIS's machines like an MMO, multiplayer missions of infinite possibilities (thanks to the ingame mission editor) can be hosted by an individual, or set up on a dedicated server.
And yes, friendly fire was in the original Operation Flashpoint, and AI teammates would turn and fire on you if you went too far. So i'd assume its in Armed Assault aswell.
|Smiley_ie||(01:38 PM CEST - May,05 2006 )|
|One of my all time fav games OFP. So looking forward to this one, and im sure they wont fook it up.
|miglaugh||(02:31 PM CEST - May,05 2006 )|
|Since there's ArmA and OFP2, I'm hoping at least one of them makes it through in good shape. It'd be awefull if both of them ended up as dog turds.|
|No.21||(09:08 PM CEST - May,05 2006 )|
|No mention of AC? =( I do really hope that someone will ask that question and that it will be implemented.|
|Stumpus||(01:50 PM CEST - May,06 2006 )|
|miglaugh> Nice interview.
All I want to know now is if they've changed the FF behavior at all... Can you kill your teammates, and if so, will they turn on you?
If you killed your team mates in the original OFP (and both it's expansions) they would turn on you and kill you also, but if you mean deliberately point a weapon and fire & kill one? There's no AI in the any game that can differentiate a deliberate hit or a mistake.
Good games allow for player error or even AI (running across your line of fire) Oblivion has an automatic (i think three) built in player mistakes during say, sword swinging etc. for eg when the Imperial guards and you are jointly killing a creature.
I just hope that BHI make BIG changes to animation and the textures *especialy* tracer and hit's -my pet hates after i had played OFP and upgraded several times. Give me GRAW ballitic affects and i would be a happy bunny!! They are so lame now (pencil thin streaks and tiny puff as the round hit's ground or walls)