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The trouble with getting people into Arma


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instagoat
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Posted 28 September 2011 - 19:21 #1

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

Edited by InstaGoat, 28 September 2011 - 19:25.

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 19:40 #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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instagoat
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Posted 28 September 2011 - 20:10 #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.
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Encumbrance + Fatigue System: BI has unlocked an Achievement: IG's gratitude for working Fatigue system
Suggestion for improvement in absence of 3D vehicle interiors: http://feedback.arma...ew.php?id=12555
Request to improve control of vehicle AI: control turning out, weapons and engine on/off: http://feedback.arma...ew.php?id=13397
DR style handling of Missile Launcher reloading: http://feedback.arma...ew.php?id=11075

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 20:26 #4

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.

kylania
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Posted 28 September 2011 - 20:57 #5

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.

katipo66
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Posted 28 September 2011 - 22:31 #6

I firmly believe that the CoDBlOpers and BFoons or "gamers" shouldn't be catered to at all.


Unfortunately i think BIS actually have your attitude!

Edited by Katipo66, 29 September 2011 - 03:38.

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nodunit
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Posted 28 September 2011 - 22:43 #7

Kinda sorta, the videos we've seen give no clear indication that they are reducing anything or removing a feature to make things easier, finding ways to simplify the features perhaps but nothing else. There have been no indications of exlusion of vehicle types, of commanding types, or "class" types. They have made a point also demonstrate how the combat environment is still remaining nonlinear.

But really this contributes nothing to the topic so we should just end it here.

antoineflemming
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Posted 29 September 2011 - 00:49 #8

I know it's long, but if you wanna skip, just read the bolded part at the bottom.

You don't have to remove features to make it more accessible to newcomers. All you have to do is package it in a different way, whether through changing up the UI (making it more concise, more user-friendly, more submenus rather than long lists, maybe some radial menus), or adding a small beginner's campaign that gives newcomers access only to the basic necessities of gameplay, or by tweaking the animations to make them feel a little bit more like standard FPS's (a MUST, really). Making them fluid, not jumpy. Realistic human movement in look and feel. Just played the BF3 Beta. Sorry, but I feel that it, and other standard shooters, have ArmA beat when it comes to animations. BF3 has amazing animations. It's realistic. The look and feel, controllability, of the player character goes a long way in winning over players and creating immersion. It doesn't make the game more arcadey, doesn't make it more like MW2 or BF or any other FPS. It simply improves on an area where ArmA is lacking and would help draw in new players. Hopefully the new ArmA3 animation system is a new system and not basically the old animation system with new animations. Hopefully it's not just like the old system either. And, when I mention BF3's animations, I'm talking about 3rd person animations.

Changing at least this aspect of the game would create better opportunity for CQB gameplay. Because, honestly, making the simulator more CQB friendly doesn't take away from long-distance gameplay. And, sorry to make it mostly about animations, but that's a key lacking area for ArmA and a major drawing point for new players. But making the game more CQB friendly would, for one, making it where you can pull your rifle up quicker (no, that's not being unrealistic). Also, allowing the player to move faster with the rifle up (without walking). Not running, but a really fast walk/slow jog with the rifle, kinda like Smookie's PvP Animations pack... on second thought, make movement speed states like that. Also, another thing that breaks immersion for me is the stupid zoomed in 1st person view. Sorry, but I know I can see a whole lot more of the rifle/my arms when I hold a rifle. Just a nitpicky thing for me, but the 1st person camera is just wrong - should be more to the right and back. Honestly, you should be looking through the glasses on your character's face, and your view should reflect the eyewear that your character has.

Basically, things like more concise/organized UI, fluid animations (in the vein of BF3), and overall look and feel of ArmA is what can draw other players without taking away anything from the simulator that's already in there. When you take away everything from ArmA, and strip it down to practically nothing, what is the one thing that should separate ArmA from standard shooters? It's not the large islands. It's not the setting, or the story. It's not the large number of players that can operate and act on an island simultaneously in MP/Coop. It's not even the extreme moddability that it offers. The thing that separates ArmA from other shooters/simulators is the stuff, the features ArmA offers. The fact that you can do just about anything and use just about anything in the ArmA sandbox. The fact that it serves as an infantry, vehicle, aircraft, EVERYTHING- simulator is the thing that makes ArmA stand out. Everything else is extra features that make it more marketable. So you can make the UI more user friendly and not detract from the existing experience. You can modify the setting, the characters, the units, the vehicles, the weapons, the sound system, the animation system, and still retain ArmA. You can add something that may be present in a standard shooter and still not detract or take away existing ArmA features. So you can take, say, BF3's animations and apply something similar in ArmA, and the simulator will still be ArmA. You can take some of the weapons that appear in MW1 or MW3 or MW3, make them realistic, and put them in ArmA without making it COD. You can have units that resemble those in Black Ops or BFBC2/BF3 or MW or CS, and the simulator still be ArmA in every way. There are many things you can alter about ArmA and it still be ArmA.

Edited by antoineflemming, 29 September 2011 - 01:12.

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froggyluv
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Posted 29 September 2011 - 02:38 #9

@above: I agree with enhanced and instinctive UI as well and definitely animations -but Im not so sure I want the speed increased. After looking at that latest BF3 video in OT, they seems a little extreme and twitchy to me -not very much resembling the speed at which real people move. People would throw up if they actually moved their perceptions around that quickly -reminds me of birds on meth.

The animations do however look pretty fricken nice, I'd love to play those at Arma's pacing. And anything that will help improve CQB I support 100%.
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Defunkt
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Posted 29 September 2011 - 02:42 #10

I think it's a pretty good summation and I'd be all for making it more game but only if that doesn't involve f**king with my box set of virtual toy soldiers.

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 03:05 #11

123456789

Edited by Cripsis, 29 September 2011 - 03:07.
Didn't read first post properly....

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 04:10 #12

Unfortunately i think BIS actually have this attitude!


As in they may have the same attitude as Kylania?

[B] but I feel that it, and other standard shooters, have ArmA beat when it comes to animations. BF3 has amazing animations. It's realistic. The look and feel, controllability, of the player character goes a long way in winning over players and creating immersion. It doesn't make the game more arcadey, doesn't make it more like MW2 or BF or any other FPS. It simply improves on an area where ArmA is lacking and would help draw in new players. Hopefully the new ArmA3 animation system is a new system and not basically the old animation system with new animations. Hopefully it's not just like the old system either. And, when I mention BF3's animations, I'm talking about 3rd person animations.


agreed, but not the ability to jump as high as you can and speed, i like Arma's approach to 'realistic' infantry abilities as in not being able to jump all over the place, fatigue etc.
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Posted 29 September 2011 - 05:45 #13

Its never a good thing when anything is dumbed down to be more accommodating for the masses. The only result is the lowering of standards.

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 06:54 #14

You got it wrong ow, it's not dumbing down, Arma is big enough to cover all FPS bases, it's inclusion... And when you think about it, how is any other FPS game dumber? It's just requires a different gaming skill, if you take away the editor and molding abilities it's still just a game, some require different skills like quick thinking and reflexes, some just require patience, all are done by sitting at a computer moving the mouse and pressing some buttons
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Posted 29 September 2011 - 07:22 #15

There should be no problem with getting people into ArmA... :rolleyes:

It has all what the ordinary (male) gamer likes:
  • Great 3D graphics !
  • Its a shooter !
  • You can drive, fly, build, command ! (pretty basic & easy to learn)
  • It has a Editor !
  • It has a fun MP !
  • It has tons of Mods and user created missions

So whats the problem ?
It starts with the antiquated controls, all feels clumsy and indirect.
Commanding your squad feels like playing a game from 1995.
Then there is no fast paced MP action, mostly due to the clumsy and indirect controls. And, last but not least, the official missions try to much to focus on the "simulation" aspect (and fail pathetic) instead of focus on a campaign with more cool action.

So if ArmA3 does have:
  • Much better controls and a commanding system like the one from DR
  • Fast paced, easy to fire up and fun MP action (Team-Deathmatch, CTF) like BF
  • Much better missions which are more action packed and dont try so hard to simulate the "real thing"

Thats all i think, most new players would (at the beginning) not care about a better AI or all the Mods and User made missions. So BIS, please help them (and me) to have fun with this game !

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 07:24 #16

You got it wrong ow, it's not dumbing down, Arma is big enough to cover all FPS bases, it's inclusion... And when you think about it, how is any other FPS game dumber? It's just requires a different gaming skill, if you take away the editor and molding abilities it's still just a game, some require different skills like quick thinking and reflexes, some just require patience, all are done by sitting at a computer moving the mouse and pressing some buttons


I agree.
I have gamer freinds who mostly play COD or BF games but have had fun in OA with the random town genertor and TDM or DM games, all that is lacking is some slicking up of the control interface. The fast pace was still there and a close quarters reactions still came into play, especially versus high AI settings.
Once the clunky controls are sorted the game has proper potential to cover all the bases.


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Posted 29 September 2011 - 08:00 #17

Unfortunately i think BIS actually have your attitude!


I hope that this attitude will go nowhere ever.

I know a big CoD fan who in 2011 had trouble telling that it was CoDMW1 depicted on the screenshot. CoDkidz/BFoons just play the game for 6 hours and forget it forever. One of the major reasons being that they don't have to learn it = no depth.

If you don't want to learn the game, don't play it - simple as that.

It is impossible to cater both to us and to CoD kiddies. CoD is all about twitch gameplay and zero brains.
ArmA2: "Doc, I'm wounded, I can barely aim and I'm bleeding badly, come on pull my body out of the harm's way and treat me before I die!"
ArmA3: "You are wounded! Click to instantly regenerate health whenever you feel like it!"

Guess two years post-release aren't enough to make ArmA3 at least half as dumbed down.

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 08:03 #18

Out of all of the people I played BF, COD, and America's Army with, only about 5 got into ArmA. Many others tried it, but couldn't get into it.

The reasons were always the same:

The pace was not as fast as the popular shooters was one reason. While this could be compensated for in some ways, mainstream shooters are built for speed and instant action.

The other reason was the true meat of it all though.

The open design of the map made it impossible to have a rehearsed strategy that a person could depend on. The popular shooters have linear maps with a few key choke points. Once a person has a map down and how the map plays out, then it's all twitch reaction from there. ArmA is not designed that way. It relies more on strategy than twitch alone. This simple element of thinking of an ever-developing strategy on the fly distracts too many gamers who are accustomed to the mainstream speed shooters.

Unless you make small, box in maps and increase the game speed to an unrealistic sense, then ArmA will never appeal to the mainstream masses.

And the fact that it doesn't appeal to them is just fine by me. It keeps ArmA from being a repetative, speed driven twitch game.

10 years ago when I was still in my 30's, speed and twitch were great. Now that I am older, I prefer my intensity from having to think my way to victory rather than twitch my way there :D

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 08:21 #19

Shouldn't you have had no time to learn OFP 10 years ago? Aren't you a busy adult with a job?
ArmA2: "Doc, I'm wounded, I can barely aim and I'm bleeding badly, come on pull my body out of the harm's way and treat me before I die!"
ArmA3: "You are wounded! Click to instantly regenerate health whenever you feel like it!"

Guess two years post-release aren't enough to make ArmA3 at least half as dumbed down.

katipo66
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Posted 29 September 2011 - 08:33 #20

I hope that this attitude will go nowhere ever.

I know a big CoD fan who in 2011 had trouble telling that it was CoDMW1 depicted on the screenshot. CoDkidz/BFoons just play the game for 6 hours and forget it forever. One of the major reasons being that they don't have to learn it = no depth.

If you don't want to learn the game, don't play it - simple as that.

It is impossible to cater both to us and to CoD kiddies. CoD is all about twitch gameplay and zero brains.


Theres nothing too learn, arma plays like every other game, the few friends ive shown jumped straight in and picked up most of it (player control) in the first minute... so then move them to MP and theres nothing for them, servers are empty except for a warfare server or 2, 'The trouble with getting people into Arma'

Its possible to cater for any gametype in Arma.

I hate COD now but there was a time when i really enjoyed it, its Arena based gameplay just like Quake, UT etc just with a warfare theme, fast gameplay doesnt mean zero brains, just you need to think quick... those who cant usually hate it, maybe im getting old and too slow.
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