DLC vs. Core Game Development

When you start Arma 3 today, five years from its release, you’ll find several singleplayer campaigns in the list. There’s the vanilla one, East Wind, and the Apex Protocol introduced in the expansion. There are also several mini-campaigns added in recent DLCs, all of them released in past several months. If you play all of them, you may notice that production value of the DLC scenarios somewhat improved over the content from the major releases. If you were to do the same with Arma 2, you could spot the same trend, with the DLCs offering more solid experience than the vanilla content (although none of them would get even close to Arma 3 standards).

This may sound like a natural progression, caused by devs learning new skills and processes getting fine-tuned over time. And while it’s an important part of the picture, it can’t be the sole explanation. After all, they’re not always the same people, and it’s often the exact same processes. Despite the recent introduction of 3D editor, designing scenarios haven’t changed much over the years. There are objects to place, waypoints to plan, scripts to write; doesn’t matter whether you’re creating the flagship campaign or simple community scenario. No, there’s more to it, and it’s not limited only to playable content.

The reason why post-release additions can achieve higher quality is because they are developed on stable, mature platform. Core development, meanwhile, is about building that platform, in far less hospitable conditions.

This may seem self-evident, but it’s easy to forget about it, especially when the game spent far more time in its post-release growth than in the initial development phase (which, in fact, is the game development in traditional sense). Let’s take a look at it in a greater detail.

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Private Military Creators

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.

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