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The state of things going forward

Limitations

I’ve been meaning to write this for awhile, but it’s hard to know exactly what to say about the situation. The short version is that the demand for ShackTac membership right now is extremely high, and our ability to bring in new people is constrained by factors beyond our control. We have had several thousand join requests this year so far, and receive hundreds of them every month.

The group right now stands at ~400 members all told. We have pushed ArmA’s netcode hard to try to find the max number of people we can get into a session. As it turns out, this is somewhere in the realm of 120-130 players currently – beyond that you start to run into crippling issues where even small amounts of packetloss from individual players can have catastrophic repercussions, to include freezing the netcode/server until any players with packetloss can be kicked.

This has become a very real blocking issue for us now. Pulling in significantly more people means that we will more frequently run into the >130 player network bugs. There’s nothing we can do to avoid this right now aside from throttling the number of new joins we’ll accept any given month.

Future Actions

Now, as to the future? I intend to continue to press this issue and take us to the highest sustainable single-server playercount possible. Right now that’s ~130 players. In the future it could be 200. This is in Bohemia’s hands and the best we can do to try to realize that future is to continue to show them that we are interested in it.

The best way to do that right now is to up-vote this ticket on the DevHeaven community issue tracker:

https://dev-heaven.net/issues/27001

Anyone can register on DevHeaven, go to that ticket, and click the green ‘thumb-up’ icon to give it a vote. BIS uses these votes to prioritize their community-related fixes, so your vote does and will make a difference. If you are looking to join ShackTac, and you happen to be one of the many people that get passed over simply because we can’t take many new joins on each month, you should definitely take a few minutes to register at DH, up-vote that, and try to influence BIS to make the change required to allow for higher-playercount ArmA.

More after the jump…

The Present Situation

That brings us to the here-and-now. Our current situation is that we can no longer bring in large numbers of players on a monthly basis. Instead, we have to focus on maintaining a playerbase of around 400-450 members. So long as the above-mentioned ArmA2 networking issue exists, we cannot exceed ~135 players in a session, and 400-450 members roughly translates into that kind of turnout in our Saturday sessions.

Realistically, this means that I will likely only send out 20 or so replies to join requests for October. There are 332 sitting in my inbox currently. For November… who knows, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. December will likely be a no-join month, then we’ll pick back up in January or February, after the Year in Review has concluded.

It should go without saying that there are more than 20 worthy applicant e-mails in that pile of 300+ for October. The troubling part, for me, is what to do with those who can’t be fit in, but look like they’d make good members. At one point I thought the ‘Delayed Entry Program’ was a good idea, but after further consideration, I don’t think that’s sustainable – hence there not being DEP e-mails sent aside from that first batch. I pull from it each month, and intend to continue to do so, but I do not intend to place any further applicants in that pool at this time.

So, what to do with the good people that don’t make it? At the current time I sort them out and place them in a ‘good guys’ folder, which I plan to review each month and pull a few from each time. This is basically the DEP process, but without telling anyone that they’ve been selected for it. Is it a perfect solution? No, but I think it’s a better option than the opt-in DEP method tried previously.

I applied – what does this mean for me?

The short version is that if you applied and wrote a good application, you will be in a pool that I’ll draw from every month. It could be some time before I get to you, if the current restrictions remain. If you wrote an exceptionally good application, you will have a fair chance of getting in on the month that you made it.

If a month has passed and you haven’t received an e-mail from me, it’s probably a good idea to start shopping around for other groups. This doesn’t definitively mean you won’t get an e-mail from me in the future, but statistically speaking, it is unlikely to be imminent.

Other Groups

Now we move on to the prospect of other groups, and here’s the pisser of it all: There are very few groups that I would recommend checking out in the ArmA community. Very, very few. I don’t intend to namedrop the particularly bad communities out there – instead, I’ll simply list another option and give some guidelines for you to potentially use when searching out other communities.

Before I list them out, please keep this in mind: You should never settle for an experience that doesn’t satisfy you. There are a lot of fish in the sea. It’s entirely possible that there are groups I haven’t listed that are well worth joining (and there are some that I know are good, but are so special or niche re: requirements to join, that I haven’t listed them). If you end up in something that rubs you wrong – leave! Life is too short to hang with a crowd that you don’t really get along with.

On to the suggestions…

The group with the most similar modset to ShackTac (ACE, ACRE) would be United Operations. They are a public community and have high turnout on a daily basis. Their community is oriented around a democratic process that, in theory, is a decent enough idea. In practice, it causes a lot of unnecessary drama. UO is a good community if you can avoid getting mired in the drama and instead just meet some cool people and play on the server. Ultimately, if you aren’t happy with them – or any other group, for that matter – keep shopping around. UO is a good start, and worth a recommendation, even if it has some flaws.

Then there’s…….. oh right, yeah. Welp. “Oh gee dslyecxi, thanks for the single community suggestion!”. I wish I could give you all more options to look at, but I’m not comfortable recommending a variety of other groups for a variety of reasons. I know there are other good groups out there, I just don’t have enough familiarity with them to be comfortable with recommending them.

Guidelines when searching for ArmA communities

However, I can help you with some guidelines to use in searching for other groups!

  1. Always investigate the history of the group before joining. If it’s a brand-new group making bold claims, be skeptical of them. There is no shake-and-bake method to creating an ArmA community – the good ones come from years of cultivation.
  2. Be skeptical of groups that require you to yes-sir-no-sir, address members by ranks, or other military-wannabe nonsense.
  3. Be skeptical of groups that give you perks for financial contributions. A group using community fundraising to pay for their group’s server is fine, so long as that contribution is kept private and isn’t used to influence a member’s status in an organization.
  4. As a follow-on to #3, be wary of groups that promote cliques, particularly groups that promote cliques through financial means. There are some groups out there that allow you to become ‘special’ in their community by contributing monthly, giving you perks and titles in the process. This is a losing game and causes community drama, not to mention that it results in rather questionable motives at times.
  5. The more high-speed-low-drag a group’s name and ‘mission statement’ is, the more skepticism you should apply towards it. Combine this with #1 and #2 and you have a good sniff-test for groups that will likely not be worth your time or effort. A group name like “1st Special Navy Delta SEAL Air Assault Force Recon Green Berets Nightstalker Task Force Elite” is nature’s way of telling you to look elsewhere.
  6. Do not tolerate disrespect. If you join a group and they treat you poorly, leave – you aren’t enlisting in the military, you’re trying to have fun with gaming.
  7. Be skeptical of groups that put a heavy emphasis on ranks and have comically disproportionate rank structures. If there’s a General or an Admiral involved in the rank structure, be ye warned. If said group also segregates ‘officers’ from ‘enlisted’, does the #2 bit mentioned above, and treats ‘junior’ players like shit – don’t put up with that nonsense. There are other groups that will treat you well – find them instead.
  8. Be very skeptical of groups that use staged scenes or AI-filmed footage as their promotional material. If you’re viewing footage of a group (which you should do before joining), look for the ‘real’ sessions, and if they have a staged/faked “group promo” video, ask yourself: ‘Why do they need to fake this for promo purposes?’.
  9. If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.

With those being said – the BIS forums include a section on ArmA groups – you can find it here.

You will need to liberally apply the above guidelines in order to make anything of that. Also keep in mind that the first page of results is just the most recent posts – take a look further back for additional options.

When all is said and done, there’s always the possibility of creating your own group. Be aware, however, that it is a hell of an investment and sacrifice to do this properly. You need to be serious, dedicated, and in it for the long haul if you expect to make something quality.

In closing..

The situation is what it is. I hope that it changes in the future, but for now, this is the reality we have to work with. I appreciate the interest everyone has shown in ShackTac, and I hope to see many of you in the group in the future. I wish there was a better way to handle this, and I’ll keep thinking on it, but so far this is the best solution I’ve found. Feel free to keep applying, and I’ll continue to try to pick the best applicants for a chance at the group.

Whether we cross paths in the future or not, I hope you find what you’re looking for in the ArmA multiplayer scene! Best of luck to all of you, take care, and don’t compromise!

24 comments

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  1. Alan

    Great stuff! Thanks for the advice and tips on narrowing down the community list.

    Much appreciated,
    Alan Scandrett

  2. Moleculor

    Consider the issue voted for. Here’s hoping that a fix for it (and that fancy distributed AI you guys just showed off) end up showing up (somehow) in the main ArmA 2 client, if not ArmA 3.

    (Oh look. It’s now the top issue on their tracker. Gee, I wonder why.)

  3. Connor

    Obviously the long term solution is to tell people to stop making videos.

    1. JCP

      Believe it or not, I almost wish I hadn’t seen the videos. Every video that Dslyecxi makes causes me to salivate at the prospect of joining. And he keeps getting better at producing them, making more and more people say “Man, I wanna join that group!”

      I wish that they could start up a second Shacktac server/group, but, like Dslyecxi said, that’s a big investment. Practically speaking, it probably wouldn’t be any different than just starting up our own, non-Shactac group and building it into something high quality.

  4. Jamie Stray (stray29th)

    Have you ever considered an enlistment process in which you handle large quantities in smaller chunks? Dedicated liaisons that review applications, separate training groups if said people are reviewed successfully which are lead by your trusted members and more than one server so that members are not left out? I understand it’s easier said than done but it’s a plausible option than having a sole person, that being you, handling the majority of the time consuming recruitment side.

    It would be great if denied applicants got a simple ‘We’re not looking for your criteria right now’ so they are not kept in the dark wondering about their application, just to give people peace of mind.

    1. dslyecxi

      We have no need for this and all it would do is slow down the process. Applications/onboarding takes at most two days each month with me alone handling it – adding in extra people to the process would just drag it out and slow it down. The point of my post was nothing to do with an inability to administratively handle the demand, and everything to do with ArmA itself not technically being capable of handling higher playercounts.

      1. Jamie

        I see, thanks for keeping us updated and suggesting alternate options.

  5. Scandobro

    You may have already thought of this, and to be honest I do not know much about your group. This might not fit with It’s/your ideals. Buy I will post this idea anyway! Because whats the harm?
    Could you make a second “company” of Shack tack? like a shack tack 2? The two groups could be somewhat independent but not all together separate, and could either run their own servers or flip flop back and forth. If you hadn’t considered that already it might work out.

    -kai

    1. dslyecxi

      This is not something I plan to do for a variety of reasons. It’s just not what I envision ShackTac as being.

      1. Scandobro

        Fair enough! 🙂
        p.s
        As soon as my machine can run it, expect my application.

  6. Meaty

    Sorry to hear the news about the limitations and whatnot. Just submitted my app late october but to be completely honest I myself would wait as long as needed to have my app reviewed. Dyslexci you have created something special that not only your group members enjoy but your viewers as well. I really cant express how awesome it is to watch you guys become so immersed in the game and I will continue to watch until your youtube days are over. Keep up the great work brother and remember that you’ve got tons of support behind you!

  7. Kyle

    Are you sure opening a second group is not a good idea? Just get some of your trustworthy higher ups to help organize and run it. I,m sure the group would help out if money is a problem. You have the chance to make a lot more people happy and apart of the community..The other group would not have to be separate. You could just give guys that seemed to have earned positions a commanding rank and the groups could intermingle.

    1. dslyecxi

      I am absolutely positive that “opening a second group” would be a bad idea. You vastly underestimate the amount of effort that goes into running something like ShackTac. There are no mystical ShackTac “higher ups” who have time or interest for such a thing. The amount of negative in trying to do something like that far, far, far outweighs the positive.

  8. Max

    How about opening a Second form of ShacTac, one that runs on a second day of the week, with a different set of players? A Sister ShacTac per-say, used for new players to gain experience and learn how ShacTac works. Then, once every couple months or so, pull from that “Sister” community, to the main form of ShacTac. Or make both of equal members and experience, some 300 people apply for the Saturday Missions, and another 300 signs up for Friday Missions. You could quickly double the amount of members, if that is something you would like. Just a thought. I have watched ShackTac for a long time and only just recently (beginning of October) was able to apply, so I’m both happy, and sad, that it has grown so much.

    1. dslyecxi

      Nope. Not interested in ‘doubling’ our numbers. What we have right now is working very well, and as noted, ArmA itself is the limiting factor currently. I am not interested in running a second parallel group or anything of the sorts.

      1. Nathan

        If someone stepped up to you (not myself) and showed interest in starting and managing a completely separate group with intention to sort-of clone ShackTac’s morals and gameplay, would you help him/her form the group by giving advice on how you did it? Even point some people who don’t cut it for ShackTac due to numbers over to the secondary group?

        It wouldn’t have to be affiliated with ShackTac, you would just communicate (and maybe eventually collaborate) with their founder so that more people can experience the same kind of gameplay ShackTac provides its members.

        I know you get the “sister group” suggestion a lot, evidence to that is found all over this comment page, but I think a non-affiliated group might work, but it’s only possible if you help mentor the founder shape their group similarly to yours.

        1. dslyecxi

          I just don’t have the time to help with something like this. My time is prioritized towards helping my group directly.

  9. XenoFei

    Just submitted my application in this morning, but probably regretting sending what I had sent instead of working on it for a few more hours. If worst comes to show that I’m not accepted, I won’t leave with a sour note and changing my attitude about ShackTac. It is a very well established community, and I’m privileged to be able to see and hear the experiences of the members whenever they are in missions. No matter what, I won’t stop watching these great videos–I will expect even greater results when ARMA 3 comes out and modifications are implemented into the core game.

  10. ChickenLiver

    BI should just abandon all the AI development and concentrate on increasing the number of human players a server can hold.
    That’s the future of gaming anyhow..
    More power to you dslyecxi & keep up the good work at ShackTac!

  11. Timx

    I can understand why you guys don’t want the hassle of running 2 servers, but what about having an extra day to play on, like doing sessions on Friday afternoons and Saturdays? It could potentially double how many players could play a week, while being easier on peoples schedules and also having less hassle than a second group.

    I am such a fan of the ideologies you guys go with, but my possibilities of joining with so many others, coupled with my age of 15, which will indubitably lower my chances of getting in, are incredibly slim even with more open slots. I’m just expressing my ideas, and I really am unaware of how exactly things are managed, so don’t mind if I said anything dumb.

  12. WinGmaN

    This is such an important post for new players. The worst thing I did was join a clan that had awesome players but the upper admins were losers. The yes sir no sir advice is also a great tip. When you’re having to say yes sir to a complete idiot who can’t lead a team then again you’ve found the answer to moving forward. The worst kind of group is the group run by an ego who thinks they’re god. Clans line [OCB] in Australia demonstrate this very well. When the players are scared to speak out against their admin then you can imagine the crap you have to go through in every game. So take my advice, don’t put up with the crap. This is a game, a good game and a great way to meet fellow gamers and really enjoy the experience. Don’t make it a chore. Thanks Dslyexci for adding to the fun and continue doing what you do. Ps – Dude, one day I want to jump in a little bird with ya mate. 🙂

  13. Ban2

    Great advice thank you.

  14. M1NION M4N

    Hopefully in 2 and 1/2 years when I am actually legible for Shack Tactical age wise the player count issue will have improved. Playing with 12 of my friends in an organised manner is good but it does not come close to what Shack Tactical does, let alone the fact that the whole idea for our weekend games normally break when 3 people cannot attend leaving us short. Unfortunately many people my age have set the bar for Maturity and it is low meaning it affects those who are of a much higher standard normally in joining certain clans but that is life I guess and I’m with WinGmaN, I would love to fly with you sometime bud.

    And Dslyecxi I am holding you towards the idea of you guys being around for another 7 years 🙂

  15. Timasaurus007

    Wish I read this before I joined the most stupidest unit ever made, would’ve saved me a lot of time and energy.

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