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Vansen

'This Is War': a large-scale, collaborative effort for our 'own' campaign.

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Hi guys, figured I should make a post here about what me and a few other people are looking to make happen.

 

What we're looking to do is release our own fully featured campaign, essentially 'crafted' by the community. It would of course incorporate a well written narrative, quality voice acting, enjoyable mission design, and the like - much like drafting up our own game. Over on the reddit subreddit, the response for something like this has been very positive, and the response from a couple of follow up polls shows there's definitely interest in something like this. I set up the subreddit /r/thisiswar as a kinda 'main hub' for the project, but figured there should be an ongoing discussion thread here too. Up to now, however, the main problem has been getting the numbers for something that resembles a team. So we're currently calling for anyone else who is willing to lend a hand in development - this means we're after the:

 

- programmers

- writers

- level designers

- artists/modelers

- writers

- voice actors

- overall organisation etc.

 

Leave any of your thoughts here, or somewhere over at /r/thisiswar, if you'd like to mention anything. I'm in the middle of drafting up a Game Design Document (GDD), which will serve as the team's living document and reference material, including a breakdown of each mission, what music, deadlines etc. We've also decided to house the project on GitHub, which will allow us to host the main build, manage contributions, release test builds for more feedback, and track bug tickets. To help, simply leave a comment here with your GitHub name and how you can help, or PM me, or contact me on reddit.

 

I'd love to do this, and a few other people would also like to help, but for what we have in mind, it'llbe easier to make this a community collaboration. And I'm sure you'd love to play the final product. C'mon guys, let's make it happen.

 

Vansen

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Isn't that name already taken...?!?  :P

 

No? It's the game's tagline. You've made me unsure now XD

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Not to be a prick, but discussion about a Campaign should be done on User mission section of BIF... but I approve the idea, nonetheless, I have over a dozen installed campaigns and any other extra is welcome! 

 

I´d suggest to take some notes with Undeceived, Ted_hou, Kydoimos and Indeed Pete, their campaigns are indeed the best in their on features (custom shop and dialog system, professional voice acting, smart usege of soundtrack, intense storytelling, etc)

 

cheers!

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Not to be a prick, but discussion about a Campaign should be done on User mission section of BIF... but I approve the idea, nonetheless, I have over a dozen installed campaigns and any other extra is welcome! 

 

I´d suggest to take some notes with Undeceived, Ted_hou, Kydoimos and Indeed Pete, their campaigns are indeed the best in their on features (custom shop and dialog system, professional voice acting, smart usege of soundtrack, intense storytelling, etc)

 

cheers!

 

No worries! I haven't really used the BI forums all that much honestly, but I thought this would be the best forum to post this in because the User missions section looks more to be the place to discuss ones that have finished development, which didn't really seem appropriate. I hadn't seen anything before like an open collaboration, so I thought it would be cool to start this up - glad to see others are also interested in this idea!

 

Other people have also mentioned for this project to include different elements with the core gameplay, such as the dialogue system you mentioned, although I don't think it's a good idea right now to say what we do and don't want in the campaign, because it's so early on. Once more people are on board, we will discuss further in-depth about incorporating different elements, to see whether or not they fit well. Thanks!

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I'm interested in!

 

...in helping out or the idea? Can always use extra people.

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i think the idea is not enough to not only make this take off but also keep it going. i haven't read the reddit stuff yet but i think it would be good, if you would provide a plan or structure of how this is supposed to work. i think there needs to be some kind of concept that allows to make this a homogene thing while having it be created by many different people. so i'll just drop some thoughts here that i had when reading this.

 

an interesting concept could be to do it episodically in terms of releasing and creating it similar to a tv show or kind of the arma 3 vanilla campaign if you will. this could not only divide the workload into more digestable pieces for the creators but also save this from being a giant project that will just die half way through because of motivation problems. it can be tiring to just do the work once you already know what everything is going to be. it's always nice to have some mystery and potential to change course still while creating something.

 

so it could be open ended at first and be made out of very small pieces so the milestones are easier to reach and to get something into people's hands faster to keep interest in it. and to make this still not entirely unstructured there could be a very rough story arch that is created before hand so while one improvises one would still have a destination in the back of one's head. in terms of narrative i mean.

 

it could also be cool to have some more generic "game design" goals. like, how open will it be? will there be an exploration element? will different episodes explore different aspects (stealth segment anyone?)? will there be some kind of NPC interaction as seen in some of the popular missions (i think whole lotta stratis has talking to civs and a dialog system for that...might be another mission i'm thinking of).

 

so in more general terms. will there be interface (or other) elements or systems that will be present throughout the whole thing that will probably need to be created before anything narrative will even happen?

one could even take the whole community aspect into this and look for script sytems that have been created already and ask for permission to use them. like taking stuff that either everyone already knows and loves.

 

revive systems, gear menus, dialog systems (i've seen one of those on armaholic one time with pip usage and stuffs), spawn scripts, AI enhancements (would be cool to only use mission side stuff and no addons, if possible).

could be interesting to combine all the cool stuff people have reated into one epic hybrid.

 

maybe i'm blowing this out of proportion but i'm just trying to think of stuff that can make this more than just the assembly of another team to make another campaign and really make this a community thing.

 

sorry for the wall of text. just brain storming here :lol:

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Don't worry about wall of text, I ain't fussed :P Time to burn through your points! XD I'll try and answer each of your points at a time, so I make sure I answer all of your questions.

 

i think the idea is not enough to not only make this take off but also keep it going. i haven't read the reddit stuff yet but i think it would be good, if you would provide a plan or structure of how this is supposed to work. i think there needs to be some kind of concept that allows to make this a homogene thing while having it be created by many different people. so i'll just drop some thoughts here that i had when reading this.

 

I definitely understand what you mean about a structure. As I mentioned earlier, I'm in the middle of drafting up a GDD (game design document) which will serve as the 'bible' for how the campaign should be developed - this will include what each mission contains, the plot at that point, what the atmosphere should be in terms of music etc. What this will mean is that there is a clear structure for what is happening next. The document will live on Google Docs, so everybody on the team will have access to it, can make alterations, add notes etc. In terms of the team, there will need to be a core team, as a project like this won't be possible if everybody just drops in/out. In order to make this a community project in that regard, we have held some polls on the Arma reddit to get opinions, different things have been mentioned which gives us something else to think about, along with planning to host different community discussions, and gather feedback along the way.

 

 

an interesting concept could be to do it episodically in terms of releasing and creating it similar to a tv show or kind of the arma 3 vanilla campaign if you will. this could not only divide the workload into more digestable pieces for the creators but also save this from being a giant project that will just die half way through because of motivation problems. it can be tiring to just do the work once you already know what everything is going to be. it's always nice to have some mystery and potential to change course still while creating something.

 

so it could be open ended at first and be made out of very small pieces so the milestones are easier to reach and to get something into people's hands faster to keep interest in it. and to make this still not entirely unstructured there could be a very rough story arch that is created before hand so while one improvises one would still have a destination in the back of one's head. in terms of narrative i mean.

 

I definitely see the idea of periodically releasing the campaign in segments. As a team, it is important that we feel we would be able to deliver a good standard throughout the campaign. It would not be good to create a very good beginning to the campaign, and have it slowly and slowly get worse and worse quality - this is the exact thing we would want to avoid. Some example milestones could be as you said, releasing the campaign in chunks to the public, hosting some sort of discussion where the team have a chat with people about different things, like an informal Q and A, and show an unexpected look at some development and get direct feedback, along with releasing test builds and getting feedback on a more generic scale. Whilst I understand that it's nice to have some mystery as to what may happen, a clear structure will definitely be evident to the team to prevent any sidetracking, and keeping development on course.

 

 

it could also be cool to have some more generic "game design" goals. like, how open will it be? will there be an exploration element? will different episodes explore different aspects (stealth segment anyone?)? will there be some kind of NPC interaction as seen in some of the popular missions (i think whole lotta stratis has talking to civs and a dialog system for that...might be another mission i'm thinking of).

 

so in more general terms. will there be interface (or other) elements or systems that will be present throughout the whole thing that will probably need to be created before anything narrative will even happen?

one could even take the whole community aspect into this and look for script sytems that have been created already and ask for permission to use them. like taking stuff that either everyone already knows and loves.

 

Hmm. I think questions like that will only be able to be answered once properly in development. Of course, there is no objection to different aspects such as new elements, NPC interaction, but what we do want is for it to be a coherent end product. For example, whilst it may be great to have a section dedicated to chatting to different townsfolk and gathering information, if the segment is there just because it's can be doesn't mean it will add to the overall story arch. That said, there's no saying 'no, you can't go around chatting', because a slower paced section of the campaign might be interesting to explore the lives of, for example, refugees who have fled the town you were last fighting in, instead of just saying 'people didn't like the fighting and fled'. So, without trying to sound vague, it will more come down to whether it's appropriate for the campaign once we're in development. We will also look at borrowing scripts that have already been created and incorporating them into the campaign, not only saves us time and i.e. create that mission quicker, but it will also allow us to show off how good other people's work is, further illustrating how this is a community oriented project.

 

I think that just about answers your points :P Hopefully that provides some light on how this will work on the whole. If you have any other questions feel free to ask, early days yet but I'll do what I can. Thanks!

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Interesting idea, but as bad benson already said: more details would be needed if you're actually trying to put together a team. As it is quite late around here and I don't see myself in the condition to compose a properly structured text, I'll just throw in my random thoughts alongside of my personal experiences after nearly two years of intensive SP campaign development efforts in Arma 3, and previous (more or less successful) attempts over the years in Arma 2.

 

Organisational Stuff

A few things to consider (you won't need to actually respond to these): How many people do you have on board already? What's their capacity? Are they aware of how much work it might be? What is your role? (Obligatory 'ideas guy' question. ;)) What size do you have in mind?

An example: I've spent around six months (about three man-months) from concept to MANW-ready Beta for my SP campaign M.E.R.C.S. which was released Octobre 2014 I think. Count in an additional man-month for the Gold version plus the ~quarterly updates I still do, now in 2015. And there are still a ton of open issues and things I'd like to change or develop further. I'm only roughly estimating here, but I'd say it's totalling up to five man-months of dev time divided onto now a bit more than a real year (first Alpha release was in May 2014, pre-Alpha a bit earlier I think). In terms of size we're talking about 35 missions in total (hubs / connecting missions included) of a hub-based, semi-linear, and story-driven SP campaign with eight possible endings.

The successor of M.E.R.C.S., with all its groundwork in terms of asset creation (textures in this case), has been in development since the beginning of this year and I'm aiming for a public Beta by Q4/2015 to Q1/2016. Just that you get an idea of how long these things might take. Though I'm a one-man-team most of the time, a bigger team might speed up the process in some cases. Make sure though to not take on too many people. Coordination efforts might be going through the roof.

 

Scenario

I saw in your reddit that there is an active poll going on about what island(s) to choose. It might be my tiredness but I wasn't able to find Tanoa on that list which seems to be a perfect and fresh scenario for a future project like yours. Also consider what scenarios have / haven't been covered in the Armaverse yet in roder to bring in a new, interesting perspective. Altis and Stratis were the locations of really great Arma 3 campaigns but a fresh scenario couldn't hurt. Jungle warfare on Tanoa or Isla Duala seem a good direction, a Western scenario hasn't been covered yet as well as far as I know. (T-Rexes from outer space invading the US anyone? ;)) Or maybe a snowy scenario - this is what I have settled with for my current project. Or try and approach a multi-island campaign.

Also condider what factions you want to see. Plain old NATO fighting insurgents - meh. (And that is only my opinion.) Find a new perspective on things, an OPFOR faction for the player maybe. (I briefly went through the story reddit, and saw that you're considering PMCs in combiantion with CSAT.) Custom textures or even completely new models would be cool as well.

 

Story

Though it might be a controversial topic I'll just throw in what is completely my own opinion on things: standard NATO/CSAT defenders vs. CSAT/NATO aggressors stories are lame. Think out of the box, focus on character development and atmosphere. Treat war as what it is: as different factions fighting over varying interests, and not giving a fuck about human rights, rules of war, the Geneva convention, or any of these other voluntary rule sets most countries in the real world agree on and then ditch when it comes to actual war. Don't glorify certain sides, war is dirty. Be it American, Russian, German, or whatever aggressors - they all committed or are still committing war crimes. Make it dirty! It's getting a bit too serious at this point but I think you get the gist. Just spice it up with some non-conventional story twists and questionable decisions of the player and/or his leaders. Also think about whether you want a linear, and well orchestrated campaign with in return less freedom, or an open-world approach, or something in between. Give the player the feeling that his actions actually have consequences, preferebly bad ones.

 

Mission Design

Create something new. Arma offers and supports a sheer infinite number of game types and game mechanics. Don't hesitate to try out things. We don't need the 160th iteration of "engage that village with your squad", that's what we all can do in the editor. Surprise us! Add small twists or mechanics to "engage that village with your squad"-missions that support different approaches. Think about dynamic elements, such as enemy strength, the player's equipment, information about the area / target, weather, daytime, unexpected Reichsflugscheiben, so-far unknown factions entering the battle etc. Unless you want to settle for a truly realistic experience also consider elements that don't really make sense in the real world but support a new type of gameplay. Just don't let your fantasy being limited by the standard content we all played and liked/loved up to a certain extend. There's nothing wrong with what I referred to as standard content if well executed, but you are aiming for extraordinary, right? ;)

 

User Generated Content

...is a risk. Though third party addons can provide a huge contribution. Imagine relying on an addon for a core functionality, and halfway through development an official patch suddenly breaks that mod, the author is gone, what do you do? I opened that particular can of worms by heavily relying on AiA (or CUP in the future) and a user generated terrain in my current project. I'll let you know how that experiment turned out, in a year or so. Provided I haven't killed myself by then because that particular island suddenly does not work in CUP anymore and hundreds of hours of work went down the toilet. :)

No seriously, think about how you can enable and actively support third party content (such as weapon packs for example) but cut down actually needed mods to an absolute minimum, only select what you truly need. Your users will thank you as well.

 

Good luck!

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A few things to consider (you won't need to actually respond to these)

 

that was kind of the philosophy behind my post too and still is for this one. wasn't probing for problems (hadn't even read the reddit stuff at that point) or trying to put you on the spot or anything. i was just wanting to drop some food for thought. no need for you to waste time addressing any points. just take what you like, if there's anything at all lol.

 

about the NPC thing. it was just a random example since it has been done before and there's also a script framework available. i was trying to use it to tie up some of my thoughts into a nice little logical package.

 

since you went a little indepth with it though. consider this: you seem to have limited it to talking to civs or somethig probably based on what you have as a story already. i was talking more about it as an example of story telling methods.

 

the little amount i played of the arma 3 campaign had static cutscenes and (as far as i remember) in those little camps dudes talking about stuff when you came close to them or something. that is one way of doing it. a very old school and conservative one though.

other games make you talk to NPCs to trigger them basically narrating parts of the story. this (imho) can feel more open and less staged. doesn't have to be multiple choice even.

 

a recent example is "until dawn" (watched some walkthroughs on youtubes). in that game you are often walking around in two man teams. when a new piece of information comes up you get the option to trigger a short conversation at your companion that will basically be a tiny cutscene of him/her digesting recently aquired new info for you by reflecting on it. super simple but effective.

 

i guess what i'm trying to say is. there can be very cool and simple ways to make the story move forward that can save you from having to make a lot of cutscenes :lol:

 

 

Think out of the box, focus on character development and atmosphere.

 

this is something i thought too when i read the story draft. the "big story" doesn't have to be that detailed. character developement can be way more interesting and offer a more universial canvas for identification for the player than some red vs blue, good vs evil kind of conflict scenario.

the best villains are the ones that make you almost root for them or simply kind of understand their motivation. that's another interesting choice too btw. having a real interesting villain character can be way more appealing than just having a whole side be the bad dudes. characters are more universial than factions.

 

again i haven't played a lot of the vanilla campaign but the most memoral moment for me was when that dude that guides you at the start steps on that mine. "awesome" moment.

 

sometimes it's not about crazy twists but rather making you develope some attachment to a character and then make you pay for it (or reward depending on what you want to do). or simply give weight to your decisions (even if they are premade ones for your character without player choice).

 

i'm also thinking how it could be cool to have a little team of really memorable characters that comment on what is happening around you further establishing their characteristics making them grow on you more and more. maybe even have them potentially die or survive based on how you play.

again. no artificial forks needed. they could simply perma die if they get shot. making you reload that one savegame so you can keep having that one cool dude with those nice one liners with you :D

 

again. i'm just spitting out what came to my mind. it's not meant as assuming you haven't thought of any of that already. so take it as you will.

 

the main reason i brought up organisational aspect though was the thread title. i was kind of expecting the community part being developed before there even is a story. so far it seems like you are just assembling a team to make A campaign. which is not a bad thing at all by any stretch. just me and my false expectation. having a real community effort might be nearly impossible anyways or at least a very challenging endeavor.

 

anyways. i should stop rambling away. i'm just really into movies and game design and shit so this kind of triggered me lol. good luck to you guys!

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@bad benson Yeah, I got that atmosphere from your first post that it was 'just something to think about...' but I felt that perhaps the lack of details I'd said of what's actually going on here it made me feel like I should make a bit more clear what is actually happening, hopefully I did make it clear XD This is where I say it's kinda a 'community' effort though - like, what you said is something the team can discuss further in detail and look at incorporating what was said. So in a way, it would be made by the team, but almost crafted by the community. Otherwise, a 'drop in/drop out' team would probably lead to the campaign being shelved for one reason or another.

 

@Indeed Pete, virtually the same thoughts, however, as yours is very detailed and a little more rhetorical side I will just bear it in mind ;) I hear you on the organisation aspect - I'm currently drafting up a GDD which will have extra details such as when x mission should be created by, so it's easy to keep track of the project as a whole, and for something of a more cinematic scope such as this it may indeed take a significant amount of time, but that will be dependant on the level of skill of each member of the core team. Also, good shout for Tanoa. Completely forgot about it.

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This is where I say it's kinda a 'community' effort though - like, what you said is something the team can discuss further in detail and look at incorporating what was said. So in a way, it would be made by the team, but almost crafted by the community.

 

yea that's also what i got from it. hence me trying to give some input. felt like this thread was a bit quiet.

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Random points to previous posts from benson and OP:

 

Yes, unfortunately the narrative of Arma 3's campaign is thin to say the least. Though the missions are mostly well-designed, exciting, atmospheric, and challenging, the story is mostly told through small briefing first person cutscenes and (radio) conversations. The characters are generic, lackluster, and exchangeable. (That is a problem of the whole series in my opinion.) I've never really cared for Kerry or any of the others. Still, I had a lot of fun and was motivated enough to finish it multiple times, even with the messed up Win episode.

In my opinion, BI should have expanded that multiple choice system they had in Arma 2's original campaign. Especially the hubs in A3 could have profited from such a system where the player could talk to people and find out more about the situation or objectives for the patrol missions.

 

On character development in general I'm still fascinated by the Mass Effect series. Though it's main storyline about ancient aliens irradicating the universe every 50.000 years isn't anything special at all, I just loved to find out more about the very individual characters. I still play the series from time to time even if I can recite most of the dialogues by now. It really is extraordinary if a made-up character from a computer game can make you laugh tears or nearly cry over his in-game death. Bioware mostly achieves this by adding tons of dialogues and background stories to the characters which are not necessarily related to the main storyline, but make them likeable. Also, details like facial expressions and decent voice actors add quite a lot. Sadly, Arma 3's possibilities regarding emotions and facial expressions are quite limited.

 

On mission design I'd like to add another point. Arma 3 is infantry combat at its core, thus most campaigns and missions put you in the boots of a regular soldier, or SF guy. However, I think it would be cool to have more missions involving player controlled vehicles like tanks and helicopters. It's quite hard to achieve from a narrative point of view, as one guy being squad leader, tank commander, and chopper pilot in one is totally unbelievable. And campaigns with multiple player characters also provide certain pitfalls. I'm just working on one with three playable characters and it can be a challenge to keep their paths consistent thoughout the storyline.

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Random points to previous posts from benson and OP:

 

Yes, unfortunately the narrative of Arma 3's campaign is thin to say the least. Though the missions are mostly well-designed, exciting, atmospheric, and challenging, the story is mostly told through small briefing first person cutscenes and (radio) conversations. The characters are generic, lackluster, and exchangeable. (That is a problem of the whole series in my opinion.) I've never really cared for Kerry or any of the others. Still, I had a lot of fun and was motivated enough to finish it multiple times, even with the messed up Win episode.

In my opinion, BI should have expanded that multiple choice system they had in Arma 2's original campaign. Especially the hubs in A3 could have profited from such a system where the player could talk to people and find out more about the situation or objectives for the patrol missions.

 

On character development in general I'm still fascinated by the Mass Effect series. Though it's main storyline about ancient aliens irradicating the universe every 50.000 years isn't anything special at all, I just loved to find out more about the very individual characters. I still play the series from time to time even if I can recite most of the dialogues by now. It really is extraordinary if a made-up character from a computer game can make you laugh tears or nearly cry over his in-game death. Bioware mostly achieves this by adding tons of dialogues and background stories to the characters which are not necessarily related to the main storyline, but make them likeable. Also, details like facial expressions and decent voice actors add quite a lot. Sadly, Arma 3's possibilities regarding emotions and facial expressions are quite limited.

 

On mission design I'd like to add another point. Arma 3 is infantry combat at its core, thus most campaigns and missions put you in the boots of a regular soldier, or SF guy. However, I think it would be cool to have more missions involving player controlled vehicles like tanks and helicopters. It's quite hard to achieve from a narrative point of view, as one guy being squad leader, tank commander, and chopper pilot in one is totally unbelievable. And campaigns with multiple player characters also provide certain pitfalls. I'm just working on one with three playable characters and it can be a challenge to keep their paths consistent thoughout the storyline.

 

I totally get you on the char dev and mission design. ME is a great example - a lot of info can be glossed over if you just blitz play the main story, but you can really build a proper picture about the other members of the crew just through chatting with them in the downtime bits between missions. I did like that how behind the scenes, you could see there was a lot actually happening. Great example!

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