July 3, 2009

The SimHQ ArmA 2 Team

Interview by Doug "guod" Atkinson
ArmA 2 Screenshots by Chuck "Magnum" Ankenbauer


Lining-up a shot

guod: When is the first event for SimHQ's new ArmA2 server scheduled?

adlabs6: Military Monday, July 6th at 8 PM eastern time. We're hoping for a crowd of 15-20 players.

Wepps: After that, we will have Tactical Thursday, July 9th. Unfortunately I'll be on vacation and not able to play at that time. Have fun, guys, and grab lots of good screenshots!

Armed Assault 2guod: What do you see that you like better about the ArmA2 multiplay than in ArmA?

adlabs6: The AI behavior, the new map, and several factions mean greater mission variety.

Wepps: The new enhanced micro-AI makes all the difference. It isn't perfect, but the enemy feels much more human than before. They actually miss more often than they did before, which was a major issue in ArmA 1.

Magnum: Smarter and more realistic enemy AI is a plus (e.g. the enemy doesn’t see you 1000 yards away then put a bullet in your head with an AK-47 as in ArmA 1). Somewhat smarter team AI, working smoke that hides you from the enemy, and more effective suppression also help gameplay. Overall, military tactics seem to work… the enemy will suppress you and flank you, and you can do the same to them.

guod: What approach will the missions take?

adlabs6: Squad based, infantry focus, smaller scale conflicts.

Wepps: We are trying to stay are realistic as possible with our missions, without sacrificing fun and ease of play. I've personally done a great deal of research into the USMC to make sure that the lingo that we use in our mission briefings and maps are as accurate as possible.

Magnum: The missions will use the same basic squad size, with a Squad Leader and medics, as well as 3 or 4 fire teams. Some, but not all missions, will have vehicle, armor, and air support. ArmA 2 is foremost a FPS; it is not an armor or helicopter sim. Those items are just in the game to give you a better, bigger battlefield experience. They are more for support, not for primary gameplay.

Night flight target

Night vision

guod: Who is on the SimHQ Mission Building Design and Development Team? (the SMBDDT...?)

Wepps: There are five of us...

Wepps - Lead Mission Designer
Adlabs6 - Mission Designer, SimHQ ArmA 2 Server Admin
December - Mission Designer
Biff99 - Mission Designer
Fatty - Mission Designer

We have a great group of guys here that turn out excellent missions.

guod: How long is each mission designed for?

Wepps: It depends on the faction being played and the type of mission, but we shoot for 15-20 minutes of play, with about three objectives to complete.

Magnum: We try to hold even the longest missions to a maximum of 30 minutes.

guod: What are the elements the missions try to always include?

adlabs6: Tactical group movement, tactical and strategic planning options for meeting objectives, and enjoyable gameplay.

Wepps: As mission designers, we try to offer interesting environments and situations in which to fight. Personally I like to create a story environment in which the conflict is taking place.

guod: How does the SimHQ ArmA2 server differ from other terrific ArmA sites such as Dslyecxi's Shack Tactical or Tactical Gamer?

adlabs6: I have not played on these other group's servers. As far as I know, they focus on massive scale multiplayer battles. SimHQ aims for the squad level, with some support expansion for slightly higher player counts. The other groups may also have structured player ranks through which players are promoted, where the players must assume those roles in game. SimHQ does not enforce any rank requirements. A player can lead the group on mission, and play a vehicle driver next mission.

Wepps: We are more similar to Tactical Gamer than we are to Shack Tactical. Shack Tactical is a very organized group that plays a lot of force-on-force platoon missions, and some CO-OP. The main difference between us and other servers is our missions. We only run SimHQ approved missions on our server, the player always knows to expect a certain level of detail and style of play.

Magnum: Both Shack Tactical and Tactical Gamer have excellent gameplay servers, and huge rosters of players. They also have more rules, more details, more mandatory participation and sometimes training. SimHQ tries to be a tactics and teamwork server for the working adult (in other words: minimal free time!). All you really need to read is the 5 basic tactical briefs. Know your role, play it, and obey your team leader and/or squad leader. There is no required training or participation for the SimHQ events.


guod: Are you happy with the serious nature of the server (e.g. tactics and teamwork)?

adlabs6: Yes. We always are working to improve, and are better than we have been in the past.

Wepps: Very happy. We strike a good balance between serious and fun. Sometimes, as squad leader you've got to light a fire under everyone's ass and raise your voice, and everyone that plays with us seems to understand and accept that. It's all done in good faith. You can't beat the players here at SimHQ, I've made some good friends here.

Magnum: YES! and we're not really as serious as people think. We have fun especially with our resident class clowns, JediMaster and PanzerMeyer. We came off hard and strong at first to set a guideline and lead by example. Now that most players know each other well, we don’t have to be hard asses.

guod: But you did enjoy being a virtual DI, didn't you Mag?

Magnum: Hell yeah! ;)

guod: Any downsides to tactics and teamwork gameplay?

Wepps: The only downside is that sometimes we get players that expect things to be a little more lax or that resent when a squad or fire team leader tries to get them in line with our style of play. That's a rare issue though; most people fall right in.

Magnum: Yes; they don’t always work... I could lead a perfectly good tactical plan and mission and we all die. In the end it’s still a game, a game with AI weaknesses...

Character modeling is even better than in ArmA 1

guod: How do you currently use Teamspeak in the mission gameplay?

Wepps: Currently, Teamspeak is used for general communication between the Squad Leader and his Fire Team Leaders. In game comms are used for team communications.

adlabs6: We are also working with the VON. We'd like to use it more for fire team level comms.

Magnum: The SL and the FTLs use Teamspeak to communicate, while everyone else uses the in-game VOIP (VON). The VON system seems to work very well, with multiple channels including a command channel. My hope is to move to in-game comms only… but not yet.

guod: Thanks guys for letting everyone know what is coming-up on the server this next week!

Is dat you Chuck?

All kinds of vehicles in ArmA 2!


Click here to view a 150 image, Flash-based slideshow from Magnum.

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