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Thread: The trouble with getting people into Arma

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  1. #1

    The trouble with getting people into Arma

    I just realized something, and I thought I´d share it with you, maybe get some opinions from the community on it and spark some discussion.

    First a little preface:

    Of my 9 friends who are into computer gaming, I made 7 get arma. Some I got into A2Free, some tried the demo, some immediately bought it without looking into it, taking my word on how awesome it is. Of those 7, 1 is willing to continue to play the game with me. All others, within a month of getting the game, ditched it again. This puts me into something of an awkward position, especially since it was hard for me to undestand why they didn´t like the game. I am aware of its shortcomings, and I think everyone is, which is why I won´t mention them again here except where necessary. What I want to focus on is the following:

    I think Arma, excluding CWA, is not a game. It is a hobby.

    Between a computer game and an oldfashioned hobby, there are some major differences. My perception of what each may or may not be might conflict with other people´s perceptions, so if you disagree, feel free to slap me later.

    A computer game is a product which delivers a pointed, cohesive, well thought out and most of all focused gameplay, usually a narrative to drag the gameplay along with, and extra content such as DLC, adding more story and gameplay elements. As an example, I´ll use Battlezone. Battlezone is a 3D action/RTS hybrid from the late 90s, based on an arcade game from the 80s. You drive your tank around, build a base, harvest resources, build Units and attack the enemy base. Combat can either be fought in first person, or using an overhead map. You get a handful of units, a harvester, and a few specialised buildings, and a long, multi-mission campaign with an involving storyline.

    Arma, on the other hand, delivers in the current iteration, four Campaigns, dozens of SP and MP scenarios which sometimes are a bungled, half-finished mess (I´m looking at you, harvest red). It delivers not a few units, but hundreds of them, along with hundreds of weapons, vehicles and a dozen maps. Gameplay wise, Arma tries to be an FPS, a tactical shooter, an RTS, an RPG, a wildlife simulator, a driving sim, a tank and air combat sim, and while it´s at it, giving any person with the will and time the option of turning it into pretty much everything short of simulating a whole universe. It tries to be everything: there is no focus...

    In that way, Arma can safely be described not as a game, but as a toybox, supplied for participation in a kind of wargaming/programming hobby.

    Hobbies are different from games. Gaming can be a hobby, but a hobby can´t be a game. Arma, like most hobbies, takes time to get into: There is so much to explore and learn that most attention spans of our time don´t last: they didn´t for my friends. They got frustrated with the game throwing so much stuff at them, while not really explaining any of it to them, that they gave up and went back to actual entertainment. What is entertaining in Arma is not playing it: the game fights you way too much for that (Clunky controls, cluttered command interface, counter-intuitive gameplay compared to most FPS which train gamers of today to die in Arma, basically. Too much stuff to use, and no tutorials on how to use it well, as well as a generally terribly steep learning curve. No feedback on wether you´re doing well, or wether you´re doing the correct thing at all, etc.), what is entertaining in Arma is watching the "game" do its thing: building things, and then watching them start moving on the battlefield. Like an extremely complex and hard to get into lego set.

    Trouble is, when gamers buy a game, they don´t expect to get a toybox without instructions, focusing on a hobby with limited appeal in the long run, they expect to get an -entertainment product-. They´re working all day or are in school all day, (and especially the mature gamers Arma is targeted at) possibly have to deal with a family and friends, and don´t want to invest hours upon hours learning something before they can have fun. There are rare occasions, but as far as I can see, they are rare. Like I said, though this is by no means a definite cross section of the market, obviously, of 7 people I brought to Arma, 1 so far has stayed.

    Hope I´m not threading on anybody´s toes with this, just thinking a little about why people are so put off by a game I do so love (even though it´s hard, sometimes. I have a strained relationship with Arma by now.)

    And I really hope that Arma 3 will be enough of a game to be fun from the get go, and not a box set of virtual toy soldiers that don´t do anything, unless you put lots of work into it.

    Cheerio

    Insta
    Last edited by InstaGoat; Sep 28 2011 at 19:25.

    Railgun advocate

    Encumbrance + Fatigue System basic suggestions: http://feedback.arma3.com/view.php?id=11030
    Suggestion for improvement in absence of 3D vehicle interiors: http://feedback.arma3.com/view.php?id=12555
    Request to improve control of vehicle AI: control turning out, weapons and engine on/off: http://feedback.arma3.com/view.php?id=13397
    DR style handling of Missile Launcher reloading: http://feedback.arma3.com/view.php?id=11075

  2. #2
    multilayer missions out of the box. Ordinary gamer gets the game and he doesn't find multilayer maps, he ditches the game.
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  3. #3
    Having spent a little extra thought, I´m not sure I like the prospect of a game-i-fied arma...

    The toybox is what I enjoy tremendously.

    Just the stock content needs to be a lot tighter than it´s been before. OFP was so good because it delivered a working, enjoyable campaign with some really memorable missions: they were simple at times, but very effective.

    So I actually enjoy hearing from the team that they´re not going to do hundreds of billions of vehicles this time, instead trying to make what they have as best as they can.

    less. is. more.

  4. #4
    I buy games to play with my friends.
    If they don't want to play them with me, then I play other games that they do instead.

    Quote Originally Posted by InstaGoat View Post
    Having spent a little extra thought, I´m not sure I like the prospect of a game-i-fied arma...

    The toybox is what I enjoy tremendously.

    Just the stock content needs to be a lot tighter than it´s been before. OFP was so good because it delivered a working, enjoyable campaign with some really memorable missions: they were simple at times, but very effective.

    So I actually enjoy hearing from the team that they´re not going to do hundreds of billions of vehicles this time, instead trying to make what they have as best as they can.

    less. is. more.
    For me, the toybox factor is a big part of the game.
    It's the part that gives the game much added replayability.

    If I do not enjoy the game in the first place however, I'm not going to be looking for any replayability.

    It's a secondary concern entirely dependant on the game being awesome to start with.
    Last edited by Baff1; Oct 2 2011 at 18:21.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Baff1 View Post
    It's a secondary concern entirely dependant on the game being awesome to start with.
    good point and it couldn't be anything other than awesome to anyone wanting a sandbox milsim. of course, if you don't want that then it won't be very awesome. too bad for those people i guess.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by VampyricTyrant View Post
    multilayer missions out of the box. Ordinary gamer gets the game and he doesn't find multilayer maps, he ditches the game.
    100% agree here.
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  7. #7
    Yeah, most of my friends aren´t REALLY into gaming. They have a medium spec PC, play those mainstream games and barely touch the MP.
    Once I had a Lan Party and got them into A1, playing Evolution. I had to take them by the hand and teach everything for them and once they got it, they start enjoying it and had fun. Even now, years later, when the subject "Lan Party" comes up they remeber A1 and those moments (which were VERY funny).

    After this brief story what I have to say: Is really hard to get people into ARMA, they are used to the concept of a closed game. The fact that you have usually 2 maps ("WHaT? Only 2 Maps!?!?") and not a clear and defined game mode is hard to get into their heads.
    Once they "break the barrier", start to understand the game and accept its gameplay they usually like it. The problem is: it takes time and effort for them to get it. Most players don´t have that patience or time.

  8. #8
    There's plenty of "games" available for people that want to shoot guns. There's one sandbox. I really don't want to think that my sandbox will have all the sand taken out so that people can play the "game" without having patience or having to learn how it works.

    I firmly believe that the CoDBlOpers and BFoons or "gamers" shouldn't be catered to at all. They won't stay with ArmA (as your friends have proven) and they won't improve the community or the game at all. Changing the interface and gameplay to make A3 more appealing to that type of player is just a disservice to the rest of us.

    I realize BIS wants to make A3 more attractive to new players, but I just hope the sandbox/toybox/simulation aspect of ArmA isn't lost for the sake of transient players.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by kylania View Post
    I realize BIS wants to make A3 more attractive to new players, but I just hope the sandbox/toybox/simulation aspect of ArmA isn't lost for the sake of transient players.
    +1

    I also agree with the OP about it being more of a hobby than a game. But that's what keeps me interested. Any other game bores me in a few days.

    It's also sad I couldn't get any of my friends (only one plays but we have opposite work schedules) to play either... but instead I have met some of the coolest people on this planet who do play.
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  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by kylania View Post
    I realize BIS wants to make A3 more attractive to new players, but I just hope the sandbox/toybox/simulation aspect of ArmA isn't lost for the sake of transient players.
    You are too late on that, EA has acquired BIS and are now working at full throttle to trim all the unnecessary fat that might confuse people with an IQ below 50.

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