It started with the first Ghost Recon. I think still with ADSL internet and communication via TeamSpeak. At Ghost Recon, we didn’t realize how much of our imagination was being asked to see a real world in the limited graphics of our 1990s PCs. After a few years of not playing multiplayer much, the Ghost Recon buddies invited me to play Arma 3 with them.
After a few weeks it started to get serious for me. So serious that I started investing in a gaming PC. Initially second hand. The processor and motherboard have already been replaced after a few months. The video card in my PC was fortunately still recent; I just replaced it this year. To be able to play better, there is also a mechanical keyboard and I have a real gaming mouse.
Except for my monitor, I’m completely up to date. That monitor is 1080p and I want a 1440p with 120hz refresh rate. I’m getting very technical now, but that comes naturally once you get into the rabbit hole of PC gaming. Incidentally, the TV that we have in the living room is tailored to the requirements of the PlayStation 5 (HDMI 2.1, 4K and 120hz), so about the same plays out there.
All this effort to play Arma 3 with friends every week. In the meantime, this PC is of course also used for other games and, due to the specs, it is also a very good machine for photo and video editing.
First, what exactly Arma 3 is.
Wikipedia: ARMA 3 (also called Arma III) is a military simulation game that can be played in first-person and third-person. The game is developed by Bohemia Interactive for Microsoft Windows.
ARMA 3 is set in the near future in mid-2030, where NATO forces are trying to stop a large-scale siege of Iran (CSAT). During the single player campaign, the player will take on the role of an American soldier, Corporal Kerry. The player mainly has to try to survive after his friendly forces are killed in a NATO operation. During the campaign, the player will have to deal with surviving from fierce battles to commanding large-scale operations. During these operations, the player has the option to use different types of resources such as: UAVs, artillery and air support.
ARMA 3 is set on the Greek islands of Altis (Limnos) and Stratis (Agios Efstratios). Altis is the largest official terrain made in the ArmA range. Its surface is 270 km². Stratis covers an area of 20 km².
I also played the single player campaign, and it teaches you how to operate everything. These so-called game mechanics are quite complex at Arma and a single player campaign helps you to train your muscle memory. Moreover, the campaign is always included with the game.
However, as a team we play multiplayer. This is where the real fun begins. In multiplayer you are dropped somewhere on the map and you start a mission together with your teammates. The game starts with a map and the description of the mission, the goals and the way in which these goals can be achieved. When the team has reached the ultimate goal it must get to the point of extraction as quickly as possible to complete the mission.
A lot happens between the start of the mission and reaching the point of extraction. In our team we have an officer, a medic, an engineer and a drone pilot. The officer marks the lines on the map and then we get to work. The duration of a mission varies from two hours to twelve hours. The relaxed thing is that you can join or leave at any time. Sometimes we divide a mission over several Thursday evenings.
The missions are devised by us. This means that two people from our group are particularly good at creating missions. The others give input based on their experience in previous missions. Most missions consist of several steps, such as exploring an area, destroying supply routes, capturing a base, and freeing hostages.
We have in our midst someone who is incredibly good at the scripting language of Arma 3. He ensures that the mission is programmed. This is really a lot of work. There is an entire community around this subject, where people exchange ideas and give each other tips. The quality of work within this community would not be out of place for a professional game developer.
Our communication with each other now takes place via Discord. And that’s really all our communication. Of course our verbal conversations during the game, but we also ‘call’ each other outside the game via Discord. All text communication is via Discord. In Discord we can also stream games. One of our online friends absolutely loves the game Star Citizen and in Discord he can show why it’s so cool via a live Stream. We also share things like memes and YouTube videos on our various Discord channels. In the app we also store all the settings for the game servers we use. In short, Discord is the second home in the life of a gamer.
We start on Thursday evening at 7:30 PM. Everyone is trickling into our Discord server. It’s like stepping into a bar. “Hey, how are you doing?”. “Yeah, fine. Had a nice week.” “Been to Belgium with the family”. “Have you heard the new song from The Cult?”. “No, is it what?”. “Mwah, it’s not like it used to be.”
In the meantime, it is decided which mission to start or whether the mission from last time still must be completed. The officer, who also programs the missions and has the game server in his house, starts the mission. We briefly read what the objectives are, look at the map and we start. We unpack our gear and weapons from crates and someone draws our route to the main target on the map. We use waypoints to divide the mission into submissions. The first step is traveling to waypoint one.
Traveling is on foot, in a helicopter, in a tank, in a jeep or on a quad. In a vehicle, one of us is the driver, watching the route and the road, the rest of us are passengers, watching the surroundings. While traveling we talk about the mission, but often it is also about life in general. The officer chooses a waypoint in a place where he expects enemies. Usually close to a waypoint we are fired upon. Then it is right out of the vehicle and take cover in the area. From now on the communication is only about the mission. We’re getting directions from the officer. We warn each other of danger and we call for a medic if we are injured. These are often very intense moments, which only stop when the danger has been eliminated and we can travel on to waypoint 2. Because of the tension and the release we feel a bit more connected again and the conversations become more open and intense.
This continues until about 11:30 am. Then the mission is over or we save it to continue next week. We wish each other a nice week and good night.
In the week leading up to the following Thursday, ideas will be exchanged about missions. We share memes on Discord. Leave a comment about another game we play. Or we play another multiplayer game with members of the team.
Once a year we come together in Denmark and have an Arma 3 LAN party and play an exceptionally long mission in a large room from early in the morning until early in the morning.
It always keeps you busy in a very pleasant way and that’s why I play Arma 3 with friends every Thursday evening.