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.
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:
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.
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!
- 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.
- Be skeptical of groups that require you to yes-sir-no-sir, address members by ranks, or other military-wannabe nonsense.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?’.
- 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.
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!