On time for a change!
Step change this month. Well not really but its the first time for a while we've mentioned IAP, islands and revisiting old ghosts.
IAP for those that dont know is short hand for Ilhas Africanos Project. Its a bastardisation of Portuguese for which I do apologise but if someone wants to put me right on the correct translation for African Islands i'd be forever grateful. Anyway IAP was/is/will be about creating a battlefield and OPFOR for community made National mods to fight against. Its ambitious, hugely complicated and fraught with politics and other "fun" things but it could just be great...Maybe...if the concept works.
If you build it they will come...
For us IAP was an antidote to large mod packs dominating the modding and MP scene driving out the small mod makers. Lets be honest, you are more likely to download a huge mod pack to actually go online play with your friends than you are a collection of 50+ addons, that you have to collect together and may not exactly work properly together are you?
IAP was/is intended to allow all levels of modders to get involved in a community project. The IAP team/contributers would provide a core island, some basic addons and a story line. The subsequent releases would then be episodes in the story line. A new set of addons, a chapter in the campaign and etc.
So the first stage of that is to provide an island to develop on. And this means buildings, addons, missions and the detailed story arcs. In the ArmA2 era RKSL released an ALPHA of the Ilha Marrom Island. The intention was to gather feedback abou the island's size. To stimulate some interest and see if we could get some collaboration going. It was a slow start, but a few people did join the effort and we made some progress. But the ArmA2 terrain tools weren't exactly collaboration friendly. A number of community made tools did ease the burden but It was still hard for several people to work on the same files without negative effect. I dont know how BIS did it, but four people working on populating a huge island space was rather challenging to say the least.
The game engine has changed
So time has flown. The game engine has changed and so have the available tools.
I've been the owner of L3DT Pro for quite some time but its only been recently that i've really tried to use it in anger. Largely thanks to Spookygnu and Smokedog. Being sat on Teamspeak listening to them inspired me to bring Ilha Marrom out into the ArmA3-verse again. And L3DT was really the only tool seasoned terrain makers seemed to recommend. Atleast in the budget of a mere mortal.
A truely Combined Arms map
The original island was a lot flater than this version. I decided to change that because of some lessons I learnt playing with other groups on other large terrains. Blocking the longer view distances can sometimes help with performance and it can make it far more interesting for aircrew and CAS. Ilha Marrom, even before the IAP concept was properly formed was always meant to be a truely Combined Arms map. Large enough to support not only Fast jets and helos but to make artillery and logistics practical and actually necessary. But, its more about gameplay. The steeper terrain channels people into choke points and it provided some interesting scenerios.
The heightmap is all hand drawn. Originally, in Daylon Leveler but the latest version was revamped and re-sculpted in L3DT Pro. The 3D scuplting and attribute painting tools make it a real pleasure to use compared to my old work flow. I absolutely hated making Sat-masks where every pixel drawn relates to a specific ground texture and material. Even then the output still, sometimes, requires a few tweaks in photoshop to get an output suitable for ArmA3's terrain builder to process. But its far easier than any other tool i've tried before.
Within a week i've got a basic-WORK-IN-PROGRESS satellite map and mask.
Neither is close ot the final but its enough to get an alpha ingame for some early tests:
I've already got a lot of the zones mapped. Alot of these are key to the story line and will require quite a lot of custom buildings but i've been busy building for quite some time. And we do have some promises of "donations" and "trades" once we get to the proper stage. I'm really hoping XCAM will be publically available before then.
- The blue zones represent larger urban/industrial areas. The density of these area will and does vary greatly.
- The green - rural and farms
- The yellow - Airfields & Airports
- The Red - Military camps and areas
There will be of course numerous little hamlets and places to explore as well as some offshore easter eggs to find and explore. I'm hoping that once we get something fairly basic out into the public domain and maybe more tools become available we'll be able to get a larger group of people to help populate the island. I've already got a few people interested in helping.
The idea is to create an interesting, fairly realistic and varied island to base the story on. Then expand and develop.