The project that Kevin and I worked on was a fantastic opportunity to prod at the beginning of an idea.

At the launch event for the Cultural and Creative Industries Exchange I presented work in progress – or rather the bits and pieces that we have developed to date.

A lot of the time was spent in an iterative process, working with the design and the flow of the experience.

Arma 2 provides us with a naturally powerful platform – we haven’t so much created a fully functional mod largely because of time but rather have tried to  experiment with the inbuilt building tools.

Arma 2 Building Tools

The lines and circles and trigger are all units we have placed into the map, their behaviours and pathways are defined with a series of events that we are trying to play out to see what happens.

Here is the drone on the runway.

Arma 2 Drone On Runway

The view from the village:

Arma 2 View From Village

The same village from the air from the vantage point of the drone

Arma 2 Drone POV

We mainly only had time to experiment with the general feel of the experience, how it felt to be both on the ground and in the air, seeing both simultaneously both the act of firing from the air and feeling and seeing the effects of that from the ground.

It’s worth mentioning that in terms of content all of the models and heavy lifting of the 3d game engine was done by the game – a lot of what we are doing is an exercise in contextualization.

I’ve spoken in a previous post about the issues surrounding representation in games especially ones that lend themselves to such traditional genres as FPS (first person shooters), and here we are instead providing an alternative perspective on situations that are expected to be applied in a assumed manner (this isn’t doing the ARMA 2 community a disservice they create incredibly complicated scenarios and play them out but are naturally interested in the games primary function as a combat simulator to be participated in).

The good news is it works – it is both disconcerting and uncanny to participate from the ground and from the air. The spectre of a drone and that sense of helplessness is indeed communicated, not to the degree in reality of course, but it opens a dialogue about it.

The future of the mod lies in actually reducing some of the gameness of the interface and the program. We discussed this during our sessions, the experience currently relies on a level of aptitude with the game and FPS games in particular for the player to be able to understand and participate in it. In many ways we would need to break the game and also break the traditional rules of game design – this will not be a balanced experience – in the same way that the drones themselves are one of the clearest examples of the asymmetric nature of the conflict.

The next steps would be to create a clearer sense of the narrative of the experience – an arc and a clear set of situations inspired and based on a real scenario. Secondly to create an interface system that moves the game on through a series of steps – simultaneous events that play out for both sets of players and pause – allowing them to navigate a series of choices – focusing the interactions on decision making rather than reflexes and hand to eye co-ordination.

We are hoping to progress the project onwards – implementing the above and more, the game platform is an ideal way to explore and express these ideas with implementations beyond conflict situations. Hopefully we’ll be able to feedback here in the future as that pans out.