War never changes... and neither does ArmA 3’s atrocious mod support.
most successful developers seem to devote all their resources towards creating paid cosmetic items at the expense of debugging their games. They don’t actually do this, but it certainly seems that way. The most extreme example of this trend is of course Star Citizen, a project funded by ‘concept sales’ of spaceships that haven’t been implemented (and at the rate they’re going, never will be). A game so buggy that sometimes time will flow backwards, and where smashing watermelons can crash the game client.
But plenty of other games have been accused of cosmetics chiselling: Overwatch, World of Tanks, and even ArmA 3. Especially ArmA 3. It’s been a good five years since the release of the latest iteration of Bohemia Interactive’s consumer milsim, and in that time the bugs haven’t been squashed – they’ve actually multiplied.
ArmA 3’s most glaring failure is its AI. Admittedly, there have been a few little tweaks since launch; infantry are now capable of taking cover and leaning out to fire. But vehicle AI is completely broken. A convoy given simple instructions to move between waypoints, with no enemy contact, will often end up in lakes, get stuck on terrain, or crash in catastrophic ways.
There’s a persistent rumour circulating in the ArmA community that the devs who made the AI left Bohemia years ago, and the remaining staff don’t have a true understanding of how it works. It’s easy to see why someone would believe this; the Jets and Tanks DLC were released with broken AI that is unlikely to be fixed. It would explain why the AI actually seems to be getting worse.
Even if they could fix the AI, there is a clear financial incentive to add impressive-sounding new features
Bohemia’s aircraft carrier requires modding for it to actually launch aircraft.
instead. “Now with advanced sensor suites!” sounds more glamorous than “Our jets don’t get shot down by insurgent technicals any more!” The other day I shot down a helicopter gunship with a tank cannon; that was probably more due to AI shortcomings than my gunnery skills.
Beyond Bohemia’s inability to put out these brushfires, there’s the awkward fact that their customer base is now effectively split in two. A good 50% of ArmA owners now play survival and ‘life’ mods, and they have no need for working convoy AI (and the zombie AI was created by modders, anyway). With its focus on civilian gear, the Laws of War DLC was clearly pandering to the Life community.
So much content implemented by Bohemia comes across as half-hearted, and half-finished. The underwater combat DLC added divers, mini-subs, and underwater firearms, but did not grant divers the ability to plant explosives. Bohemia’s aircraft carrier requires modding for it to actually launch aircraft.
It’s conceivable that Bohemia is intentionally hobbling ArmA 3 so as to not create competition for their military grade simulator, VBS3. Consider: the Tanks DLC launched without Active Protection Systems, the counter-measures that many tanks today use to defeat RPGs and missiles. Bohemia reportedly claimed that it would’ve been too much of a hassle to add this feature, but an Australian modder was able to implement APS after just five hours of coding. Why was Bohemia unable to do the same? It really gets the noggin joggin’.
Most aggravating of all is the way that almost every update to ArmA 3 breaks mod support, forcing modders to trawl through their code to ferret out class names that Bohemia has changed arbitrarily. This might’ve been understandable for early patches, but five years after launch? This never happened with ArmA 2. No surprise then that a large segment of the player base has refused to migrate from ArmA 2 to ArmA 3.
And why in the world did the first vehicle DLC pack add go-karts? Not tanks, subs, or jets, but... go-karts. It’s almost as if the Bohemia staff don’t play their own games. (Which reminds me – if you haven’t seen it, I recommend tracking down that YouTube video where Chris Roberts attempts to play Star Citizen, and he just sits there in smug bemusement for 20 minutes as the game crashes again and again. To the naked eye, it looks like he doesn’t care whether his game works or not. In related news, Star Citizen is now flat out refusing all refund requests. This is clearly another one of the game’s many subtle sci-fi references: “Once you have their money, never give it back.”)
Finally, apropos of nothing, I’d like to give a shout-out to Telstra’s technical support staff. As of this writing they have dispatched eight different technicians to fix my internet connection, but none have been able to stop the dropouts on my ADSL. Thanks, Telstra. I’m looking forward to seeing what the Ombudsman has to say about your rank incompetence...