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What Makes a Good Arma Campaign?

Community Poll on Arma Campaign Essentials  

139 members have voted

  1. 1. What are the most important features of a good Arma campaign? Please try to make a limited selection.

    • Freedom - allowing players to do things in unexpected ways, or through optional tasks, etc.
    • Narrative - a compelling and interesting storyline which adds to immersion.
    • Music, Voice Acting - generally, the audio presentation of a campaign.
    • Well Scripted - a campaign that is correctly configured, without RPT spamming and error messages. Spelling mistakes.
    • No 'Rambo' Mechanics - the eschewal of a 'one man army' play style.
    • Authenticity - a strong emphasis on realism as a contributing factor to an immersive experience.
    • Civilian Interaction - a return to interaction with civilians, as in previous Arma titles.
    • Different Roles - a campaign that allows you to assume the different combat roles available (e.g., medic, pilot, marksman).
    • Consequences - in-game consequences for player actions, either in a single mission or throughout the course of several. Multiple endings.
    • Challenging - the feeling of a fair and balanced experience; challenging but not too difficult.
    • Consistency - the evolution of the player and characters in a persistent, evolving environment. E.g., weapon storing.
    • Mods - the interpolation of third-party mods.
    • Cutscenes, Cinematics, Custom UI - generally, the visual presentation of a campaign.
    • Localization - a campaign available with subtitles and text in your native language.
    • Linear - missions that unfold in a manner intended by the designer.
    • Non-Linear - missions that may unfold in a manner not explicitly intended by the designer.
    • Interesting Characters - figures that are well-rounded, fully explored, and generally carefully considered.
    • Variety - missions which are different in setting, approach and execution.
    • Non-Terminal Mission Failures - missions that can still be completed, despite failing certain tasks.
    • Cliches - campaigns that abstain from cliches and formulaic scenarios.
  2. 2. What is your favourite official campaign to date?

    • Arma: Cold War Assault - Resistance
    • Arma: Cold War Assault
    • Arma: Armed Assault
    • Arma: Queen's Gambit
    • Arma 2
    • Arma 2: Army of the Czech Republic
      0
    • Arma 2: Operation Arrowhead
    • Arma 2: British Armed Forces
    • Arma 2: Private Military Company
    • Arma 3: Bootcamp
    • Arma 3: East Wind
    • Arma 3: Apex Protocol
  3. 3. Do you consider yourself new to the Arma franchise?



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Dear all,

 

 

I've started this thread with the intention of establishing the core concepts and features which make for a successful Arma campaign, drawing on all material, from Armed Assault to Arma 3 Apex.

 

Please use this as a place to inspire others, by sharing ideas or by voicing opinions - which may lead to a good consensus of our own expectations as a community. Let's find out if there's anything we widely agree on - or disagree on. Perhaps it will make for some fascinating reading for those of us who are actively creating singleplayer and multiplayer content. Let's cross-examine all the existing content, both official and unofficial, and explore what we feel it gets wrong, and what it gets right. As well, it'd be interesting to hear from newcomers to the franchise, as well as old hands!

 

Finally, a gentle reminder, let's keep it civil when discussing the work of others (including content created by the devs!) - making a campaign or series of missions is no mean feat and takes a lot of work :P Kudos to everyone who undertakes the task!

 

If this thread becomes popular, I'll add some polls, so we can gauge our sentiments as a whole.

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Allowing the player to accomplish a task or approach an objective how they see fit is good for replayability and freedom.

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IMHO, there are several things:

- a good scenario

- a storylined campaign

- variety in missions, especially in a game like ArmA in which you can be a grunt, sf, chopper pilote, plane pilote or tank crewman...

- some cliffhangers (not absolutely necessary though)

- good voice acting

- good difficulty balance (which increases as we go on in the campaign)

- a good length

- some liberty on how to achieve it

- don't forget epic moments

I'll add some other ideas later.

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IMHO, there are several things:

- a good scenario

- a storylined campaign

- variety in missions, especially in a game like ArmA in which you can be a grunt, sf, chopper pilote, plane pilote or tank crewman...

- some cliffhangers (not absolutely necessary though)

- good voice acting

- good difficulty balance (which increases as we go on in the campaign)

- a good length

- some liberty on how to achieve it

- don't forget epic moments

I'll add some other ideas later.

I think the OFP: Resistance Campaign had all of these elements. My favourite campaign to date :)

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I think the OFP: Resistance Campaign had all of these elements. My favourite campaign to date :)

Funny, I prefered CWC campaign ;)

On the other hand, I didn't like Harvest Red that much:

Only the first and second missions were the ones I enjoyed.

Searching the whole map for a guy + the warfare in SP ruined it all.

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  • The missions themselves must be challenging: the reward is in completing the mission, not in the statistics presented afterwards;

Your character develops throughout the campaign: never presented with more than he could chew, but definitely more than he asked for;

Never the instigator of the events confronted with, your character plays a decisive role in unfolding the narrative, and bringing the conflict to an end;

...

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- also, if possible, make the bootcamp at the beginning of the campaign.

-good cinematics

- if possible, trying to make something that does look cinematic.

- and also very important: not put always the player in charge. Always micro managing the AI can be boring

- moreover, in a good campaign or SP mission, the player must feel that he ain't a one man army - rather a part of a whole.

To illustrate my opinion, here is a list of what I consider are some of the best campaigns or missions in ArmA 3:

- Resist

- Green Draw

- MERCS

- Deliverance

- In Our Time / Bell Tolls serie

- The Last

- On the other side

- Operation Cold Rising 1 and 2

- Greek Fire 1 and 2

On ArmA 2:

- Operation Cobalt

- Blood on the sand

- 100 days

- Seal Team Six serie

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Creative usage of Arma's qualities: freedom of fully open, sandbox world, dynamically/procedurally enlivened. Plot - non-linear, emotionally attaching, strongly emergent narration (minimum of orchestrated events). The more personal, the more immersive, the better. Non-cliche - enough of focusing on regular military ops as for me - some fresh ideas as for gameplay goals, using rarely used aspects of the game as important factors - most welcome. Limited/restricted access to the assets - let's make obtaining anything above simpliest junk truly rewarding challenge or rare finding. Opponent AI behaving dynamically/unpredictable each play - no linear scripts here. Player's actions truly affecting the world in logical/convincing, rewarding way.

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Avoid cliches where possible and make the world around the player feel alive. In Harvest Red it was pretty clear at some point that I was part of a much bigger machine, I never really got that feeling in A3's campaign. I also enjoyed interacting with the civilians in Chernarus but the natives in Altis and Tanoa seem very shy :(

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Okay, I'd like to make a start by tearing apart my own work. Looking back on ​Resist ​I can see a lot of things that I just got wrong :P Also, I've had a tonne of feedback - and some of it has been immensely helpful - especially on the Steam pages. So, let me take a deep breath and make some confessions! :D

 

1. Too Linear!

 

Ah, you knew it was coming right? Yeah, basically, in a nutshell, Resist ​was just extremely linear. There were few optional tasks, and very few ways in which you could complete the missions. On top of this, there were no diverging narratives (like at the end of East Wind). Having played IndeedPete's campaign MERCS, I sensed how wrong I got it (in my opinion, at least!). I for one, always enjoyed the open-world nature of games like Operation Flashpoint and Arma 2, with all their optional objectives. I also loved the way they made you feel like a 'cog in the machine', or, in other words, part of something much bigger than yourself.

 

The main reason I didn't follow through on my open-world instincts was: my scripting at the time was extremely limited - especially when I was writing the actual scripts for the missions and campaign. Quite simply, I didn't know how to go about creating a set of linked scenarios with different endings, or where actions had direct consequences. Storing variables was a real mystery to me at the time!

 

​2. The One Man Army!

 

​Resist ​​was one individual's experience of war - you were basically on a Rambo-ride through five missions. I really wasn't happy with this aspect of the campaign. My reasoning? A little bit of mistrust in AI mechanics, but mainly, a lack of a character voice for Coleridge while issuing radio commands. Again, this was basically because I didn't know how! Good old Pomigit posted a thread however, that really clarified this tricky area of the Arma series. I figured I'd rather have no AI team-mates than ones which you either couldn't speak to, or spoke to in a voice which didn't belong to the primary protagonist.

 

​3. A Slightly Awkward Storyline

 

​​Well, to be honest, mixed feelings on this; I feel I did the best with what I had - when I started ​Resist​, episode Win had not yet been released, so I had no idea where the story was going. I wanted to carry the action to mainland Altis, from Stratis, and I was at a bit of a loss with how to do that. In retrospect, I wonder if it might have been better to go with a different perspective entirely, possibly with another faction.

 

​4. Too CODish, with too much Hollywood!

 

​​​​No excuses - lol - I just lost my way; next time, I'm going to stick a post-it note on my monitor: 'This is War'.

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First point, writing. "Good writing", as generally understood, is an important ingredient of a good campaign. I could expand on that, but it's a "topic-river" as we say in Poland. :) Entire books have been written on what is good writing and what isn't. Most rules are the same whether you're writing a book, a movie script or a campaign. In particular, I'm the kind of gamer who will forgive lackluster gameplay for a great story, but if the tale being told is stupid, the gameplay alone won't help much. I'm sure that everyone likes a story that makes sense, at the very least. 

 

Second, immersion. It's a writing thing, for most part, but in ArmA, there are additional elements, especially for those who know a thing or two about how the military works. Don't do things that a real military wouldn't, unless you've got a very good reason for that (say, at the start of The East Wind, where neither the enlisted nor officers give a damn anymore). Especially in case of ArmA, artistic license regarding military operations should be applied sparingly, if at all. Attention needs to be paid to make dialogue sound natural, too.

 

Third, objectives. They should be reasonably varied, with balanced difficulty and (where possible) multiple approaches. Avoid scenarios that are downright unfair. For example, don't expect the player to sneak in broad daylight and if there's an objective which requires a stealthy approach, but is inconveniently far off, don't set the mission in the early morning that will turn to day by the time the player gets to the stealth section. Also, the player shouldn't be railroaded into a particular playstyle. Even a mission when you're a subordinate should allow you to customize your loadout to fit your preferred playstyle. For example, I like having at least a small optic for my gun, but others may prefer holographic sights. Make sure that the player doesn't have to loot corpses to get the preferred weapon configuration.

 

Fourth, AI. BI gave up on that, but that's not a good idea, as Apex Protocol showed (or so I heard, I don't have it and it doesn't look like I'm getting it at release...). Avoid scenarios which exaggerate the flaws in the AI, especially if these flaws work against the player. As AI gets better (and I hope it will), this should become less and less of a concern, but now it needs to be accounted for.

 

Fifth, music. A good soundtrack, or even proper use of vanilla tracks, can result in an unforgettable experience. Forgoing that won't junk the campaign, but it won't make it better, either. One can get by without music, but using properly it can make things a lot more dramatic.

 

Sixth, VA. I don't have a lot of experience here, but it's good to have the campaign properly voice acted and lip-synced. It really does add a lot, even though it's a lot of work (especially if the campaign is long). A custom radio protocol is just a cherry on top, but if not, it can be sufficient to have your "lead actor" try to match his voice with one of the existing ones.

 

That's what I think is important for a good ArmA mission. Now, a good campaign will have good missions and a well-written overarching narrative, simple as that. As far as campaigns go, it's good to have a decent length, but that's not a requirement nor a guarantee of success. Whether it branches or not is an artistic choice, but if you are allowed to make a choice, it should have real consequences (even if you are making a point about futility or individual's meaninglessness in a war, there should be some effect, even if it doesn't last). I'm fine with largely linear campaigns, but missions do gain a lot by adding some side objectives that can be used to improve your situation either within a mission or within the campaign.

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Okay, I'd like to make a start by tearing apart my own work. Looking back on ​Resist ​I can see a lot of things that I just got wrong :P Also, I've had a tonne of feedback - and some of it has been immensely helpful - especially on the Steam pages. So, let me take a deep breath and make some confessions! :D

 

1. Too Linear!

 

Ah, you knew it was coming right? Yeah, basically, in a nutshell, Resist ​was just extremely linear. There were few optional tasks, and very few ways in which you could complete the missions. On top of this, there were no diverging narratives (like at the end of East Wind). Having played IndeedPete's campaign MERCS, I sensed how wrong I got it (in my opinion, at least!). I for one, always enjoyed the open-world nature of games like Operation Flashpoint and Arma 2, with all their optional objectives. I also loved the way they made you feel like a 'cog in the machine', or, in other words, part of something much bigger than yourself.

 

The main reason I didn't follow through on my open-world instincts was: my scripting at the time was extremely limited - especially when I was writing the actual scripts for the missions and campaign. Quite simply, I didn't know how to go about creating a set of linked scenarios with different endings, or where actions had direct consequences. Storing variables was a real mystery to me at the time!

 

​2. The One Man Army!

 

​Resist ​​was one individual's experience of war - you were basically on a Rambo-ride through five missions. I really wasn't happy with this aspect of the campaign. My reasoning? A little bit of mistrust in AI mechanics, but mainly, a lack of a character voice for Coleridge while issuing radio commands. Again, this was basically because I didn't know how! Good old Pomigit posted a thread however, that really clarified this tricky area of the Arma series. I figured I'd rather have no AI team-mates than ones which you either couldn't speak to, or spoke to in a voice which didn't belong to the primary protagonist.

 

​3. A Slightly Awkward Storyline

 

​​Well, to be honest, mixed feelings on this; I feel I did the best with what I had - when I started ​Resist​, episode Win had not yet been released, so I had no idea where the story was going. I wanted to carry the action to mainland Altis, from Stratis, and I was at a bit of a loss with how to do that. In retrospect, I wonder if it might have been better to go with a different perspective entirely, possibly with another faction.

 

​4. Too CODish, with too much Hollywood!

 

​​​​No excuses - lol - I just lost my way; next time, I'm going to stick a post-it note on my monitor: 'This is War'.

Funny, because it's what makes me like Resist ;)

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Several aspects of a BAD campaign*:

  • MP only
  • Completely rambo/solo when playing SP (no option for AI squadmates), even up against ~40 enemy (unrealistic nature adversely impacts immersion), especially when it is obvious that missions were designed and balanced for a team, not a single one man army
  • No manual or auto saves
  • Only respawn available, for which all ammo and original weapons are restored, no matter how far you are into a mission
  • No way to fail a mission
  • No character development, so you don't know who you are
  • Completely linear
  • Little to no storyline connection between missions
  • Some tasks will not complete, necessitating abort/restart

* With the above characteristics, is it even fair to call such content a campaign?

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Hi all,

 

wiki said it all for me,

but I'd add the "Twilight of the gods" campaign, it was done pretty well.

There are some that I didn't try in your lists, I will do it asap.

 

But here is my list

^W^W^W^W^W^Wno lists, dragon01 said it for me.

I'd rather include "voice acting" to the immersion, and that's 2nd place. Campaigns without voice acting are _really_ not immersive enough to be played with relax in mind =)

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The right environment. When it's raining, fog, i can hear the rain hitting the trees and bushes next to me, it feels extremely immersive. That's what makes a good Arma campaign.

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Can't say specifics but they should go back to the drawing board and take notes from OFP and Resistance,there is a reason why people think those were the best.Perhaps they really nailed the storyline,atmosphere and give players enough freedom.Harvest Red managed to capture that old CWC feeling but only the first part before it went to all the warfare crap.

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Can't say specifics but they should go back to the drawing board and take notes from OFP and Resistance,there is a reason why people think those were the best.Perhaps they really nailed the storyline,atmosphere and give players enough freedom.Harvest Red managed to capture that old CWC feeling but only the first part before it went to all the warfare crap.

+1

Although IMO Harvest Red was good until it came to "search the whole map / hostile territory with a 4 men squad"

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Not to insult anyone else's opinion, but as an outsider looking in (meaning I have been a part of the Arma community for a short time compared to all of you), the idea that there are these quite high standards makes it very unmotivating to even attempt a project of scale.

Not everyone has the same amount of skill, time, or access to extra features like custom soundtracks and professional voice actors. In my opinion, anyone who spends the time and effort to make the best attempt they can to achieve their goals for even a single mission has done a good job, even if it is not what someone else might have done with their mission or campaign.

But again, this is coming from someone who has long since accepted the fact that the standards and quality of others' work will always far exceed theirs.

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Not to insult anyone else's opinion, but as an outsider looking in (meaning I have been a part of the Arma community for a short time compared to all of you), the idea that there are these quite high standards makes it very unmotivating to even attempt a project of scale.Not everyone has the same amount of skill, time, or access to extra features like custom soundtracks and professional voice actors. In my opinion, anyone who spends the time and effort to make the best attempt they can to achieve their goals for even a single mission has done a good job, even if it is not what someone else might have done with their mission or campaign.But again, this is coming from someone who has long since accepted the fact that the standards and quality of others' work will always far exceed theirs.

I agree witcha when it's about usermade content.

When it's official / professional content, it's different.

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~ Never ever ever never ever ever ever make any AI anywhere near combat invincible -it makes me want to punch people in the brain. Cheap way out and totally breaks immersion of having shared threat of death.

 

~Never try and repeat another campaign by just changing around a few names and variables

 

~Add progression and allow player to choose more of a commander mode either high command or strategic decisions or let them stay a peon taking orders. Give perks to superior commanders.

 

~Calibrate AI skills with the finesse of a german mechanic

 

~ Dont get bogged down in intricate storytelling. Leave air of mystery unless player chooses path to reveal details. Many soldiers irl haven't a fookin clue why they are where they are cept for some lame Presidential speech.

 

~Dont punish the free roaming player by artificial means and set up a few easter egg locations in probable areas of exploration.

 

~Dont expect them to win a landwar in Asia

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To only cater to the thought in your head saying can't wait till these guys play this.

Wanting yourself and them to go "hollly shhhit".

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I'd rather include "voice acting" to the immersion, and that's 2nd place. Campaigns without voice acting are _really_ not immersive enough to be played with relax in mind =)

It was a though choice, mostly because of the effort it takes. Indeed, good VA is a huge contributor to immersion, but I've been involved in projects (not for ArmA, but the VA process is similar everywhere) which were VA-heavy, and I have to say that VAing a "talky" campaign is a humongous effort. Recording lines is one thing, but you also have to normalize and master them, plus in ArmA you need the radio protocol in most cases (unless you have an actor who can mimic one of the BI-provided voices). I put VA at the bottom because despite its importance, this is a forgivable omission if the rest of the campaign is well made.

 

~ Dont get bogged down in intricate storytelling. Leave air of mystery unless player chooses path to reveal details. Many soldiers irl haven't a fookin clue why they are where they are cept for some lame Presidential speech.

I'd argue with that. The story being told doesn't have to be a grand epic of rise and fall of the empires. You can get quite intricate telling a story of a single soldier, or a handful of them, in a war they don't understand or even care about. There are all sorts of people in the military, and history knows quite a few who were able to philosophize (and even write poems) while returning from the battle (or sometimes during the battle, in the nuttier cases). :) Of course, too much talking heads does risk bogging a campaign down, but in a game you don't need to tell everything with words. It's certainly advisable to use either optional objectives or dialogue trees to allow skipping talky segments (also because the player may be forced to restart, after which he may not want to go through a lengthy conversation again).

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I'd like to raise a point that nobody has really brought up yet:

 

CO-OP

 

Apex Protocol is a very bad example of a co-op campaign made in recent memory of the series. Remember that there have been a few campaigns in the past, such as Harvest Red and Operation Black Gauntlet, that have been really fun to play with a few other people by your side. I'm not saying a campaign should be focused completely on co-op, but having the option in there would be great for people, such as myself, who'd like to play with a few friends within a self-contained, well-presented storyline, as well as having the option to play it in SP. It's better than just playing a single, short scenario which hasn't got much meaning on its own all the time. If you also have to command a few dudes with you all the time in the SP as a squad leader, why not replace them with actual, real players who have brains and can look after themselves?

 

So far I haven't seen a single co-op campaign produced by the community. Perhaps the next campaign project that somebody starts up should step up to the challenge and show BIS how it ought to be done?

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I'm all for immersion, I like logic settings, they don't have to be realistic, but at least believable and accurate (Game of Thrones for instance).

That requires a logic story were crazy things may happen but they are build on a background.

For example, practically no historical military or paramilitary operation has been done done solo. Rambos exist only in movies. I personally rather play with a bit of flawed IA than

Also I like when mission makers reproduce the different conditions military find, from climate, logistics, traffic accidents, intelligence collection, civilian evacuations and care, etc. After all wars are rarely fought in barrens, there're endless environmental factors that affect military operations.

A supply chain cut can mean the defeat of a big military force, as without food and ammo can't fight long. A big storm can keep helicopters down, hence less CAS and less supplies. Civilians living in the house close to a HVT can mean switching from a bombing solution to a spec op assault. Etc.

In addition, it feels cool when other units operate in the same area of operations as the player, it shows an organic battlefield.

One game that really good most of this stuff right was Operation Flashpoint and it's expansion Resistance. It didn't try to sanitise war. You were just one expendable fool, that knew few, and got to find his own way through all kinds of stuff.

There's million other factors to have in mind, but I think logic and common sense in storytelling, is what makes a good campaign.

On a side note, to me voice acting helps a lot, as reading texts on a screen can lead to miss some information, specially in fights. That's why I rather have voice overs, even if they are robotic ones.

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 Well we all have different ideas of "what makes a good story". Do you like being told a story and then play out the scene the way the director tells you or fail the mission? Or do you like to create your own war stories built out of a an emergent sandbox battlefield with a nice overview story and cool voice acting as general narrative? Honestly i'd have loved it if they had started moving closer to the latter.

 

 Meaning, have an AI General, have a story for the reason of the conflict and realistic objectives that must be controlled for Real Time reasons. Dont tell me i have to control the top of that valley so that the narrator tells me I succeeded and shows a cutscene -make that battle play out on its own merit and create a new type of strategic narrator calling out whats won, lost, needs to be done etc... Sure its radical but this thread is all about what we prefer. Honestly I dont pay much attention to Millers/Nikos/Device a whole lot but obviously would like some fleshing out of the reason we are there and maybe certain characters. No one character should be so invaluable as to stop a campaign because thats just not real life/real war.

 

 Maybe a better example of what I  mean is the Graviteam Tactics Operation Star thread in OT -its page after page of compelling narrative all created out of emergent tactical gameplay -not storytelling. More of that please.

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