Arma 2: Private Military Company (PMC) was a quite controversial DLC. Compared to previous British Armed Forces (BAF), it lacked traditional new national army which would cover everything from new weapons, infantry, vehicles, helicopters or static guns. Instead, it heavily focused on playable content dominated by two player coop campaign, while addons consisted mostly of “generic” para-military contractors and armed variants of civilian vehicles. Not much, you’d say, given the fact the prices of both DLCs were the same. That’s why I’d like to uncover some details about decisions which ultimately proved to be benefitial in the long run.
This article was originally supposed to be published on the official Bohemia Interactive blog, but Take On Helicopters stole the show before I was able to finish it and priorities then lied elsewhere.
- As opposed to BAF and Operation Arrowhead, the development was almost exclusively gameplay driven. We first figured out what the campaign missions are going to be about, and all art assets and engine requests were then intended to support them. This way no added content was overlooked and one campaign playthrough showcased all new features. We later successfully applied the same approach on Take On Helicopters.
- More experimental nature of campaign missions became the driving force behind numerous engine tweaks. AI planning in cities was vastly optimized, buildings damage model received proper multiplayer compatibility and many new scripting commands desired by community for ages were finally added. Simply put, improving existing features was as important (if not more) as adding new ones.
- PMC was finished in only two months, which is about four times faster than BAF. It was even less for me, as I spent two weeks in Florida hoping to see Space Shuttle Discovery launch. Not only it was delayed, but delayed precisely to my birthday next year. ProvocatION!
- AW50 .50 cal sniper rifle was planned to be used in Elimination mission where player is tasked with eliminating enemy armored vehicles. However, multiplayer ARMEX was under development at the same time and given the limited resources, generic objects like bleachers received larger priority. Who knows, maybe the famous Battle Bus wouldn’t exist had we chose otherwise.
- Proving Grounds originally served as a concept terrain for then yet unannounced Arma 3, already in early stages of development in BI Brno. When Lemnos became its main island, we received the map with nuke crater and had to involve it in our plans. This forced us to scrap original subtle story about PMCs being just a “taxi service” and replace it by something more … radioactive.
Story & Armaverse
- All mission names ends with -ion. Actually, the consistent naming style was set first and only later we realized we could tie it to the story and name the whole company after it – ION Inc.
- In my free time, I created official website of the company (the original is now defunct, copy can be found at http://temp.moricky.com/ION/). It’s inspired by web of now defunct Xe Services (former Blackwater; one of the most infamous real PMCs).
- Black Element PMC appeared in BAF promotion and in one of its missions. We decided that it would be the same company before rebranding (jokingly named after former BI Prague’s name before long before PMC development started). For AAN article, both old and new logos were required, so I created some concepts and we selected the best ones. Black Element was supposed to look like something from 90’s, when the company was supposed to be founded. On the other hand, ION logo was intended to be sleek, modern and completely soulless. Something company which doesn’t want any publicity would select.
- ION. Inc is part of larger conglomerate called Vrana Industries. Since “Vrana” means “Crow” in Czech, it’s obvious it was Jay Crowe’s idea. The corporation also plays major role in Take On Helicopters, its CEO posing as a main villain.
- Additional Dutch company named ‘Talon International’ was supposed to be mentioned as the owner of Ka-137 drones, but the idea was scraped to avoid confusion with ION. They were referenced in PMC documentary.
- Brian Frost returns as a main protagonist after being player’s character in BAF Campaign. Every mission there started with his monologue, but when he tries the same in PMC’s first mission, other contractors quickly dismisses the idea and sarcastically calls him Poet.
- Mark Reynolds (codenamed Stranger) is a name I was using for CIA officers since Flashpoint times. The character first appeared in When The World Ends, although the universes are not connected in any way.
- One of the best Reynolds’ lines was captured by Cobra5000 in this hilarious animation.
- The canonical ending in which Brian Frost joins Reynolds’ ranks continues in Take On Helicopters. Both of the contractors returns to Seattle’s ION headquarters to supervise arrival of a mysterious container.
- Dr. Ruce is the same weapon inspector who’s been interviewed earlier by AAN.
- Tanny already appeared in BAF’s last mission, although only as a minor character who’s face was never shown. Inspired by Irvine Welsh’s character Begbie, Tanny’s lines were written and performed by Jay.
- Tanny’s body is never shown.
- Argument between two contractors from teaser trailer doesn’t appear in singleplayer campaign playthrough, it’s only available for the second player in Decision mission.
- In-game faces of the arguing operatives are faces of real-life brothers – Joris and Korneel van ‘t Land (Joris is the ARMEX creator and Take On Helicopters project lead, while Korneel was recently hired to BI’s marketing department).
- Decision scenario offers one more ending unique to multiplayer. When players’ loyalties differs, cooperative game turns into competitive in which both of them has to eliminate each other.
- Visual style of ruined Zargabad was tweaked to look like Metal Gear Solid 4 trailer from Tokyo Game Show 2005.
- Every enemy killed in campaign remains persistently in the world, including his weapons and magazines. When you return back to Zargabad towards campaign end, you can loot soldiers you neutralized in the beginning. Since many of the are given some unique weapons (like marksman rifles rifles or machine guns equipped with thermal optics), knowledge of this can give you significant advantage.
- Reaction single mission is based on Blue Storm scenario from original Ghost Recon. It was my favorite part of the game and I wanted to pay homage to it.
- Arriving to US checkpoint in Transportation lets player to choose between two outcomes. If he peacefully waits until Reynolds sorts everything out legally, enemy reinforcements will have time to reach Proving Grounds and wait for him in Elimination. However, he’ll be granted A-10 close air support in a last stage of Aviation, something that wouldn’t happen had he threatened the US soldiers in order to get through the checkpoint quickly.
- Scene about PMC operatives holding US soldiers on gunpoint is based on true event.
- Dixon hacking his way into UAV controls is not a sci-fi. Actually, we added it after reading about similar event happening to US drones. Apart from Ka-137s, there’s also one Predator in Transportation circling above you. When you discover it, Dixon will access it and you’ll be able to look through it and scout the path for enemies.
- When exploring Proving Grounds for the first time in Elimination, you might notice AH-64 wreck in the northern part. It’s reference to Eagle Wing, one of my previous projects.
- Provision was inspired by one of the headers on ION web. I just thought it could be cool to have a mission where player has to drop supply crates. The whole scenario is procedural, and precision of dropped cargo can make the following collection part either childishly simple or incredibly difficult. Face the consequences.
- You may find some similarity between opening conversation of Malfunction and Act 1, Scene 1 of Hamlet.
- Mark Reynolds was modeled after Jack Bauer from 24 series.
- Checkpoint Charlie in Transportation is named after the most famous Berlin Wall crossing point.
- Waypoint names in Aviation – Highbury, Northanger, Mansfield, Netherfield and Pemberley – are based on country estates in Jane Austen’s novels.
- OKB-754, identification number of Proving Grounds facility, comes from Metal Gear Solid 3.
- Jay’s favorite song “Black Betty” by Ram Jam gave name to the armed SUV used by PMC security team. He really wanted to use it in trailer, sadly copyright laws disagreed.
- “Matilda”, Dixon’s automatic shotgun, was named by community member Jogaila Vė in Facebook event. I admit the name being the same as Natalie Portman’s character in Leon played a role in final decision.