This post is two things – the first is a video I created to show just how imperfect and finicky the Arma 3 action menu is (and by association, Arma 2, Arma 1, and OFP), while the second is some thoughts of mine on how it could be largely replaced by a better system.
First, the video. This is 30 minutes long – you’ll get the idea in the first ten, but the remaining twenty show off some specific aspects of how it pertains to vehicles and how interacting with doors could be improved.
As you can see, the action menu and attempt at a context-sensitive action menu system in Arma 3 are insufficient and heavily flawed. I believe that Arma needs a proper and modernized context-sensitive “Use” or “Interaction” key. The existing “action menu” is an imperfect solution and while it should probably remain in the game in some capacity for those special-case uses (particularly via mods), I believe that most interaction tasks can be better accomplished with such a “Use” key. The premise is that this key would have context-sensitive functionality, as well as offer different functionality based on whether it was just tapped once, or pressed and held down.
I have collected a series of examples of how this interaction could behave. I believe these are very compelling reasons for adding such functionality. In my examples “TapUse” means tapping the use key once. “HoldUse” means pressing and holding it.
This system would go a long way towards making interaction with the environment smoother and more logical. I believe it’s an interface tweak that would help a great deal to improve Arma’s accessibility as well as enjoyability.
Let’s look at vehicles first. Right now you walk up to a vehicle and must use the scroll wheel to select a position. This is slow, cumbersome, and finicky.
I propose that for vehicles, TapUse would cause you to mount the vehicle in the closest logical spot. Stand by the driver side door and press it and you’ll get into that spot, for example.
HoldUse, by comparison, would bring up an selection of options that you could scroll through to select, then release HoldUse to activate. This could be a simple centered position list on your screen, such as:
- (none) – Default, so that you can select this to have a ‘no action’ outcome.
This would be a much smoother system and would mean that players rarely would need to use the clumsy action menu to mount vehicles.
Some other examples follow.
- TapUse: If the person is facing you, such as a civilian, this would engage dialog with them. If they are not facing you, it would do a ‘tap shoulder’ style action, like in ACE2.
- HoldUse: If the person is facing you, this would inspect the unit/open their inventory/etc. If they are not facing you and have a backpack, this would open up their backpack.
- TapUse: Melee strike.
- HoldUse: If the person is not facing you, this will attempt a “silent takedown”.
“But Dslyecxi, when would you ever use melee in Arma?” someone asked, not having seen one of many videos in which I could easily have used melee in player-vs-player missions in an authentic fashion.
Dead or Incapacitated person
- TapUse: Open up their inventory (dead), apply basic first aid (alive).
- HoldUse: Open a small menu (while held) that offers up various options, including:
- More advanced first aid options like epi, morphine, etc. These would be things beyond what TapUse would permit, which would be more like bandaging.
- Begin dragging or carrying the person (two options, holdUse again to set them down)
- “Disarm”/”handcuff” or similar options, ala ACE2
- TapUse: Open or close the door you’re looking at.
- HoldUse: Engage ‘incremental open’ – while holding the key, the mousewheel would allow you to slowly close/open the door. This is a feature from Raven Shield, one which I have mocked up in the above video in Arma 3.
- TapUse: Get on/get off of ladder (‘get off’ disabled if it would result in a fatal fall)
- HoldUse: While on a ladder, allow you to ‘slide’ quickly down it (another Raven Shield feature).
- TapUse: If a friendly mine, give you interaction options (arm, tripwire, disable, etc). If an enemy mine, give you the option to disarm it.
- HoldUse: If a friendly mine, allow you to drag or move it to change the placement. If an enemy mine, nothing.
- TapUse: Open container/inventory
- HoldUse: Start dragging the box/container, if light enough
Static or crew-served weapons
- TapUse: Mount weapon
- HoldUse: CSW interaction menu (options for dragging, disassembling, reloading/unloading, turning, etc)
- TapUse: Ignite or extinguish
Gear/items on the ground
- TapUse: If able, move item into inventory. If unarmed, and the item is a weapon, pick up and equip it. This would allow for very intuitive implementation of a “drop weapon chance when shot in hands” feature that wouldn’t require you to play hunt-for-the-add-action to pick it back up.
- HoldUse: Carry item. While held, you can reposition it – when released, you set it down. For instance, you could use this to move a weapon away from a downed enemy, or carry an ammo can or spare missile to a weapon that needs it.
Introducing Even More Functionality
You could take this even further and introduce a double-tap-use functionality. For instance, a CSW could be changed such that:
- TapUse: Mount weapon
- Double-TapUse: Open interaction menu on CSW
- HoldUse: Drag CSW
Regardless of if it’s just a tapUse/holdUse distinction, or taken further with an additional 2x option, I think this is one of the most dramatic positive usability changes that could be made to Arma’s interface at this point.
If you support this idea, feel free to reference this page in discussions. There is an existing topic about fixing the action menu on the Arma 3 bug tracker – if you have an account (or are willing to create one), you can vote for it here. While my system and the system in that ticket differ, the basic theme is the same, and honestly any changes can only be for the better at this point. Feel free to reference this article in your feedback response if you agree with the ideas I’ve presented here.
Here’s hoping we’ll see something develop in the future regarding this!