a Finnish language gaming magazine and website has interviewed Paul R. Statham (aka Plaacebo), PR/Community Manager at Bohemia Interactive
Here is an english translation of this interview:
What have you been doing since Operation Flashpoint? You opened up Australian offices to develop training program for US military. Have you all been involved in that project for the whole time?
A large amount of time and resources since the release of Operation Flashpoint were spent on building up a collective of technology to be used on present and future projects, as many people are aware we use all in house software and technology as much as possible, anything from landscape and nature generation, on to multiplayer network technology, the things we spent time understanding and creating we subsequently used in the Flashpoint expansion Resistance, VBS1, Flashpoint Elite for Xbox, VBS2 and ArmA. The lessons we learned and knowledge we gained from this process allows us to be in a strong position for the future, more importantly, it allows us to be in a self reliant position.
What happened between you and Codemasters? What is the status of the Operation Flashpoint intellectual property?
Other than the game development equivalent of a footballing "Bosman", nothing happened between Codemasters and ourselves, they had a contract with us, it lapsed. They, like all other publishers, were welcome to discuss a future contract for publication of ArmA and beyond.
The status of Operation Flashpoint intellectual property is that Codemasters own the name "Operation Flashpoint", Bohemia Interactive own everything else that went towards making that name actually worth something, game engine, technology, content, etc. etc.
Operation Flashpoint is still the most realistic combat simulation game ever made commercially. Can we expect the same from the Armed Assault, or have the times changed too much to make games like that redundant? There seems to be so much fast-paced military fps-games these days.
Yes certainly you can expect the same from ArmA, it's not a shallow arcade game, it is as much a simulation of combat as is possible for a PC game, that said however the flexibility of the engine and technology we have created means that it can be up to the mission designer, up to the gamers how much towards realism they want it to play, if they want to make some quick, fun, exciting, '"shock and awe" gameplay out of ArmA it's more than possible to do so.
The benefit of ArmA to gamers of all ages, all walks of life, is that it can quite easily emulate the kind of gameplay enjoyed by people in games such as Battlefield2, Joint Operations, even Counterstrike, but whilst those games are limited strictly to one very basic type and style of gameplay, ArmA has the depth to evolve into something much bigger, much more challenging, much more enjoyable.
The story and missions of Operation Flashpoint had a lot of freedom and open-ended gameplay - do you think it's harder or easier to accomplish gaming like that with new technology?
As much as anything freedom and open-endedness is down to the intellect and ability of the game's designers, the imagination and will to create open ended gameplay. Games that force choices on players, games that use funnelled choke points to throw in scripted elements of story and gameplay quite often do so because of the limitations of the game's designers, not because of the limitations of the technology available.
If developers wanted to make games with freedom and open-ended gameplay they could do so, we proved that in 2001, the fact that they don't do it and instead focus on meaningless trademarked catchphrases and graphical gimicry speaks more about them than the technology they have at their disposal.
What?s the main selling point for Armed Assault? What do you players will most likely love about it?
The main selling point of ArmA is "the all". All that it contains, all that is possible, huge island, great campaign, multiplayer with numerous modes and vast numbers of players, mission editor, high modability, all of that is what will sell ArmA.
It's hard to predict or generalise exactly what players will love about it, the thing about Flashpoint and subsequently ArmA is that because there is so much to the game people will love different things, for me I love the infantry simulation, being a grunt on foot, moving around through the carnage of warfare trying to solve the mission with just the weapons I carry in my hands or somehow acquire, whilst taking advantage of the terrain and openness as well as utilising the smarts of my AI squad mates, that's what I love. For other people it could be the flight simulation, or the mission creating, or the multiplayer, or even the beautiful new island with its great detail and ambient environments.
What can fans of Operation Flashpoint wait from Armed Assault? How about gamers who have not played it, but like the current generation military shooters?
Whilst ArmA is certainly a complete technological overhaul from Flashpoint the core of its gameplay remains true to the legacy before it, so I think that fans of Flashpoint will very quickly feel at home with ArmA, they'll find many new aspects to explore, many aspects that are enhanced and improved that will take a little re-training, but at its heart they will find that the experience of playing ArmA is as good as anything they ever felt from playing Flashpoint.
Due to it's strength, depth and flexibility ArmA definitely has a lot to offer to people who never played Flashpoint, as a game it is greatly influenced by the experiences we had developing Flashpoint, Resistance, VBS1, Elite, it's a lineage which helps to create a product that can appeal to a wide audience. It's possible to say that the military shooter audience is somewhat split between those who want fast paced gameplay usually in multiplayer, and those who want slower tactical simulation gameplay either in singleplayer or multiplayer, ArmA certainly is capable of providing gameplay that can appeal to both crowds, and not necessarily separately, I think that once ArmA is released we will hear a lot of stories about how playing ArmA has opened people's eyes to a type of gameplay they didn't know was possible and didn't know they'd love so much.
Do you play other military shooters out there, or online ones like Battlefield-series? Any favourites and why?
with the way that many games are developed and marketed these days it's quite hard not to be cynical here. It seems that most modern shooters aren't designed to be played, they're designed to be looked at. There are a few games that are released that seem to remember that gameplay should be a fundamental part of a game rather than than being a one trick graphical pony, but that seems to be the exception these days. More and more, games that are released are generic and diluted in terms of gameplay. Whilst it's quite nice that game development has grown to be a multi-billion dollar industry, it's a great shame indeed that the majority of games released are developed with gameplay as a secondary factor.
We like to check out the competition, to see what they're doing with their games, but for us the most fundamental and important aspect of games is gameplay, so that's what we look out for, to be honest the elements of gameplay that appeals to us most is from other genres, for example roleplaying games.
Operation Flashpoint turned out to be the most anti-war wargame - or at least that's what many critics said at the time. What's your take on this?
to many people a computer or video game that depicts war and warfare could never be called "anti-war", I think that the gameplay of Flashpoint and the storyline of Flashpoint certainly gave gamers pause from time to time, perhaps even made them look at the outside world a little more. War isn't cool, it's not nice or fun, however games can be cool and fun, that's what they're supposed to be, but they can also be used to gently tell morality tales in a positive manner and I think that's a good and productive thing to do in the game development community.
Whether or not Flashpoint or ArmA is anti-war is secondary to the fact that they raise the question and prompt the discussion, I think that's testament to the quality of the game and it's what good work in the genre can inspire; discussion, debate, a quest for knowledge.