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Thermals, and their use as mechanics.
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The introduction of PIP offers new fertile ground to new methods of engagement, navigation, surveillance and the unique ability to make a distinction between digital equipment versus analogue. As it stands only dedicated simulations offer PIP, giving Arma 3 the opportunity to display how it further simulates combined arms on a deeper scale.

When you first go into thermal view everything has a strong gradient, allowing you to see terrain and surroundings more clearly BUT it also makes certain things appear hot, leading to the need to be certain that you are firing at a person and not a bit of gravel on a distant road. Together this adds gameplay elements and authenticity bar none.

These pictures demonstrate what I am talking about.

The thermals in these pictures do three things. Firstly it visually compliments the hard work of the environment, it gives me situational awareness and thirdly it with that awareness it adds the challenge of clutter, do I know for sure what I am looking at?

However with the auto brightness feature of thermal all of those three things are pushed to the side and it becomes a case of mostly unable to see the environment but plainly able to see vehicles and people, making the use of it easier in manner of "if it's white, it's a target".



The thermals in the second photo's have made environmental clutter a non issue in the wrong ways, I don't have to be worried about what I am looking at, all I need to know if "If it is white, it is a potential target" there is no need to make a distinction. It also damaged navigation, imagine having no NVG's, at night and having to navigate by thermals, would you prefer to travel by the first or second set of photo's?

In closing I fear that if thermals remain as they are then they will be immensely underused and miss the opportunity to become a major game changer and compliment to Arma in combination with the PIP. {F17493} {F17494} {F17495} {F17496} {F17497} {F17498} {F17499} {F17500} {F17501} {F17502}


Legacy ID
Steps To Reproduce

Get in a vehicle with PI thermal screen, look at it, watch as the environment blends together in a grey mush.

Event Timeline

Nod_Unit edited Steps To Reproduce. (Show Details)Mar 8 2013, 6:55 PM
Nod_Unit edited Additional Information. (Show Details)
Nod_Unit set Category to Gameplay.
Nod_Unit set Reproducibility to Always.
Nod_Unit set Severity to Trivial.
Nod_Unit set Resolution to Open.
Nod_Unit set Legacy ID to 3039837882.May 7 2016, 11:47 AM

Nod, you should up-vote the bugs you report.

Up-voted and monitored.

Thanks, though I don't care much for up voting myself because it's a bias vote. Of course I agree with it otherwise I wouldn't have made the statement, I am more curious to see wether or not others agree.

Well, its one more vote which may have influence on the issue being looked at or not.

mewle added a comment.Mar 8 2013, 10:02 PM

Completely agree Nod - very eloquently described. I wish I had half that patience for my reports. up vote

Thank you, I originally intended to divide the ticket into 2 sections covering Thermal and PIP zoom but I sort of screwed that up. Here is the bit covering PIP

These two mechanics compliment one another and would allow both BI and the community to take cameras much further. From close quarters to long range recon and target acquisition, making it a viable engagement source for UAV, Fixed wing, rotory, armor..anything.

But until these two issues are dealt with, PIP will not be able to compare to the optic (0) view.

I was thinking about exactly the same even in Arma 2 times!!!


Cypher added a subscriber: Cypher.May 7 2016, 11:47 AM

I agree completely. Thermals would be MUCH better if you could see the actual environment rather than only living entities or running vehicles showing. Exactly like in the first set of comparison pictures.

JNC added a comment.Mar 8 2013, 11:23 PM

It would add complexity BUT I feel that A3 should be complex! I like that if you know you arent skilled at using an in-game feature, YOU DONT USE IT and let someone more skilled take the position instead, otherwise, you may kill your character or others.

FLIR systems are highly adjustable for the above mentioned reasons. If there is an "auto mode"... there needs to be a manual mode.

I've att. some example pics.

JNC added a comment.Mar 8 2013, 11:25 PM

If the panel shown in pic section were functional in game than there would be no issue. =P

A panel like that would be nice for sure, but that is a bit beyond the scope of what BI would probably do. As it stands thermals COULD work perfectly, they start off just fine but seconds later something...happens.

If only they would do something to make it stay the way it first appears then that would be enough for default units.

JNC added a comment.Mar 9 2013, 12:18 AM

Panel is not necessary (this isnt a flight sim or anything) but the functions (at least some) are needed.

Granted, but thermal imaging wouldn't be helpful for only aircraft. Modernized tank interiors, UAV's, recon devices and of course weapons. There are so many opportunities.

cychou added a subscriber: cychou.May 7 2016, 11:47 AM

it's the same ticket I posted 8 months ago on dev heaven (arma 3 CIT) :

JNC added a comment.Mar 10 2013, 3:38 PM

Nice find Cychou! Much better contrast for sure

This gives a better idea for the environmental imaging and an example of how it is useful and can be realistic.

Civil pilots of airliners for example don't usually have night vision but rather specialized equipment that operates off of FLIR.

I didn't see Arma 2 OA as being severe at the time mainly due to thinking it was a defect of A2's HDR. But with the repeat, and it being a very important part of PIP, it is now more important than ever.

Maybe BIS could use what has been done for VBS2/JCOVE, where there is a very detailed thermal scale of the ground and with adjustable thermal contrast.

Uploaded some altered screenshots with -10 brightness +60 contrast to demonstrate how thermal can be handy for navigation and not just targetting, yet remain different from NVG.

More here.

EDIT: added a pic of what the screenshot would look like on a MPD with thermal PIP. Left tweaked, right is current.

pops added a subscriber: pops.May 7 2016, 11:47 AM
pops added a comment.Mar 22 2013, 3:05 PM

Upvoted, not only because it reflects the nature of thermal imaging better but it also makes thermal imaging less OP in MP. In OA you could take out your MX-2A, do a quick 360 ° scan and know about threats within a few seconds.

I do not agree with must of the comments above that want thermal/IR to enhance people or machines as one giant white "hot" thing, or making the background darker but people/vehicles become much more visible ( the photos ).

In real life engines, and tires of a vehicle are not even that visible with real life thermal/ir and especially not once trees and bushes are in the way.
Also people are MUCH harder to spot. The most "easy" part to spot are
hands/head/feet it look like in this video...
notise the clothing make the body "cold" youtube video

  • It would be game "breaking" if the thermal/ir would show you everything far away, it do not even work that way i real life. This is arma 3, not call of duty style.

I like to suggest people to watch this old arma 2 OA video. That way a vehicle is shown in thermal/ir are much more realistic.... but i think they should have been a bit darker anyway to make gameplay harder, especially in multiplayer it would be really nice if people where able to not being spotted from 5km away becourse they are so easy to spot.
But the way that soliders are shown are terrible.. Only hands/head/feet are normal that visible. Watch from 2:45.

And yes I do belive Arma 2 oa thermal/ir is much more realistic when it come to vehicles, but the soldiers are very unrealistic( the video above ).
I personal spend 3x6 month on peace keeping missions i know pretty well how thermal/ir and night vision look like, it is not a magic "weapon".. And it is not like arma 3 or any of the above photos/tweaks that people suggest. Non of the systems are that good in real life.

What delevero said!

But as a suggestion: If BI doestn deliver realistic thermals - maybe we could do them by ourself.

As far as I am informed the thermal view got their very own texture sets - thats the reason why many "old arma2 models" were completely white - because they had "thermal texture" and tehrefore got the default all white one.

That would mean we could create our own textures for each vehicle, soldier etc. And that means that we could create our own realistic thermal texture set.

Also - if you look at the PIP thermal pictures in the Ifris - you will notice that the very first second you look at it the contrast between persons/vehicles and the environment is way less high. It seems only after one second it switches the contrast to the critizised current state.

That means there is some kind of filter editing the scene - simply turning this filter off would make a huge difference then.

Maybe this is allready doable?


@ delevero: How effective FLIR is and isn't as far as vehicles goes depends on settings and time of day, with them having knobs to adjust the visuals and so on. Just browse some youtube videos of AH-64 videos and you'll find that they vary greatly.

For example

Even Legacy generation PNVS on an old screen had better situational awareness capability.

So the above tweaked can be an accurate variation, there is no "One setting" due to the fact that you can change the settings on these things. Compared to VBS 2 you can't see your surroundings at all.

My main concern is more to do with how thermals can be used for navigation (not as effective as a pure NVG source but not as ineffective as is right now either) and worse yet, becomes a moot feature for PIP since everything more or less meshes together.

@ NordKindchen: That depends on wether or not said filter is hard coded, and due to the way it effects all thermals I suspect it is. Outside of hacking (which is a huge no no) I don't think the community can do anything about it other than improvise a "false flir" akin to what was done pre Operation Arrowhead.

And adding a TI texture to the pbo's would depend on wether or not modifying the base content and then re-releasing it modified would be against the rules.

NodUnit wrote:"And adding a TI texture to the pbo's would depend on wether or not modifying the base content and then re-releasing it modified would be against the rules."

Wouldnt that be basically a retexture like there are allready hundreds?
I mean - BIs is even encouraging the community to retexture items. They even linked a texture guide on their FB page.
And retexturing the Heatmap still stays a retexture.

While I agree that this all needs to be inside the given rules - I see much evidance that this is not only allowed but even wanted.

Best regards!

(Ps: a discussion is allways a "bump" ;) )

Hex editing hidden selections to change the diffuse (_co) textures are a bit different from what I'm told.

In the case of adding a TI file you are openly admitting to cracking open the pbo file and tampering with the contents of the config.
It's not a hidden selection which is already there, it's a literal modification of the file which goes into the grey lines, I'll need to ask Placebo about it again.

The best solution would ultimately be to allow the user to adjust the brightness and contrast of the screen, making it more versatile and authentic, allowing users to deal with getting the right picture.

The somewhat infuriating thing is that the engine is fully capable of it and it was done on Jcove Lite, a FREE version of VBS2

Not only does it make vegetation visible against the ground and as you can see, it doesn't make it EASIER to see people but rather makes it more difficult.

at 30 seconds you can see the thermal vision of a leclerc tank.

THIS IS how the thermals should look in ARma 3

How about one finally takes REAL FLIRS as example.

Plenty of stuff showing how it should look like.

To be honest , i dont any issue with current Thermal/Flir but it needs the manual adjustment >

FLIR works by having a thermal contrast between objects. It's easy to imagine a situation, where there is little to none heat sources and everything is cooled down to a similar temperature. A winter night perhaps? I remember reading about Desert Storm, that tank hunting was the easiest right after sundown, because the sand was initially cooling faster then the vehicles. As the time passed, the vehicles "caught up" with the temperature loss and they were harder to distinguish from the terrain.

Having a realistic FLIR is more than just the heatmaps. For now, a manual "sensitivity" control would be enough, so +1 for that.

This issue was processed by our team and will be looked into. We thank you for your feedback.

Please keep the issue monitored to see when it is fixed.

A very needed improvement.
The current unrealistic black/white implementation also makes FLIR overpowered.

TI is not effected by HDR as heavily as it was in the alpha so great job on that, however there is still the oddity wherein when you look at the image in the first few seconds, it is far more contrasted.

Things to note, the environment is more varied, crisp and confusing in the first few contrasting seconds (which would be authentic) And at the end, in the zoomed in portion you can see a single soldier standing in the the image auto contrasts, the soldiers heat remains the same but the environment tones down greatly, making him impossible to miss.

Weather setting in the video is clear sky, 11am.

EDIT: This video shows what happens when you turn a FLIR camera on at night, doesn't seem to be much heat loss.

Maffa added a subscriber: Maffa.May 7 2016, 11:47 AM
Maffa added a comment.Aug 5 2013, 4:30 PM

i second eveyhting that moves towards an improvement of veichles, and planes in general. This relates directly to having a working cockpit with working MFDs. I am afraid though that they would require too much work to do. Also, PiP hits hard on less-than-premium frames, and whilst having working rear view mirror add a nice touch but not so much advantage to those that wont have PiP in order for their game to run smoothly, having working FLIR on MFDs would be OP against those who cannot.

It all depends if and how they can lower the requirements for using PiP. I wont vote for the moment but ill gladly monitor the thread.

As someone who works on a mod with interchangeable MPD pages, yes it takes a lot of time, coordination and leaves lots of floating parts as well as disallows you to utilize visuals to the fullest for various reasons.

That said, my proposal wouldn't really give any one party an advantage, rather it would effect them both by way of making thermal contrast sharper and more varied like the real thing, which in turn would add more navigation possibilities along with making hot bodies not as obvious against their surroundings.

If you watch to the end of the video above you can see a demonstration of this when the FLIR contrast is lost and the soldier who you may not have seen at first glance suddenly becomes impossible to miss. Likewise much of the terrain information is lost through the change in contrast which can be helpful for ground and air.

In contrast, please note the differences in environment in these videos, in this one it takes a cold, snow filled landscape for the people to stand out as they would in the above video

Whereas here, despite being even nightfall the concrete road, runway and trees still stand out furthermore at 1:06 here you can see night has fallen over the cemetary, yet there is plenty of contrast between the environment.


I agree so completely with you!

The current integration of Heat in Arma should be tweaked as it takes away any skill (and fun) to scan for enemys.

On top of that you showed enough examples that prove the current system not even realistic.

So there is really no reason to stay with the current system apart from workload.

I made some examples how a simple contrast change (as can be seen the Arma engine allready does. Only in the different direction) can solve in a more satisfying FLIR experience.
Added some more:
AS you see: A simple contrast adjustment will do a lot.

Just wanted to add this at 1:28 you can see more FLIR recording and then at 1:30 you can see it from the perspective of the MPD.

And at 2:11 from the gunners primary optic.

And another one from M1A2 06:40 note how varied most things are.

Another brilliant video.

And just for fun another one thats focussed on heated weapons^^

when I start Arma 3 and tried that it didn't turn into any grey mush but just stayed as in the first pictures.


Funny that outside of when the person is standing around a tree or something, spotting them becomes more of watching for motion as opposed to blatantly standing out.

I give up though, I don't think this is ever going to be changed because none of the devs see the importance that thermal imaging provides despite nearly all military vehicles now using it.

Pretty much means in most cases anything vs anything with FLIR is going to be instantly spotted, not to mention you can't really use it for effective navigation because everything nearly looks the same...tried flying the blackfoot at night just for the hell of it and had to switch to gunners seat because the pilots PIP isn't big enough to provide any of that detail. And even then I had to zoom out and squint a fair bit to distinguish the trees from the hill.

Huge dissapointment because everything they need is already there, its just that darn auto contrast that destroys the scene. Added ingame images to the set (last 2) to demonstrate the difference INGAME (good is what you see first, bad is what happens after a few seconds when it removes contrast)

I totally agree with you.

But I think there is still a chance we can alter that because all we need are graphic filters.

I allready saw some comparable mods for Arma 2 so it should be possible in SOME way.

The way they simulated FLIR in ACE before Operation Arrowhead is a good example.

That is how it should look.
Seeing that it was possible in Arma 2 keeps my hopes up.

Thats not ACE but I don't think an addon would the best solution either, primarily due to the connection of FLIR and PIP. With the addition of another addon that means everyone would need that addon, there would need to be a way to tie to PIP for in optic view.

I could live with the hack version of the thermals as long as its PIP only.

And yes you were right. It wasnt Ace it was this mod.
And I am scared how much closer to the reality this mod is than the Arma 3 FLIR=(

I wrote a personal message to the modder. Maybe we can get some help on this topic

And Ace had it too

And this one is looks nearly real

Here again...this is soo much closer to real live and way much more fun to play with <b>AND MORE IMPORTANT TO PLAY AGAINST

pops added a comment.Aug 26 2013, 4:11 AM

Bump, because this needs to be taken care of. Just like the other visual improvement about blurry midrange textures, this should be easy to fix. Yes, I said fixed because I consider FLIR as broken since it first appeared in Operation Arrowhead. Come on BI, make it happen.

If the integration of FLIR was such a great improvement in Arma OA, then why is it disabled in any bigger pvp scenario?

Its because its a cheat as it is and as shown above in several examples its not even realistic.

The realistic implementation would be much more fun to play with/against since it wouldnt be a magic eye.

Just this weekend I was on a military demonstration near my hometown and got the chance to look through a top notch state of the art thermal imaging system(Ophelios) mounted on a Fennek.

It was nowhere near what we see in Arma. It was more a brighter version of the real life image in black and white.

The mods for Arma 2 listed in my previous post look way more similar.

problem is : the contrast increase showed on the pictures doesn't correspond to heat sources, it only increase the contrast of the map textures colors. brighter textures (white) appear brighter in thermal.

this is not how works a thermal camera. the only advantage of it is that it brings more visibility to orientate yourself, but not in a realistic way..

And asking for heat maps to be created for grass, buildings, ground textures, props is far far too much.
This is why the FLIR shown here in the first few seconds is perfect. Not necessarily for full visual but it distinguishes environment enough in most cases to make heated objects more requires no addons, and is part of the core game.

Right now thermals are purgatory..too useful that it is a cheat and too useless that it cannot be used to navigate.

@cyrilator - but is way closer to the reality and way more interesting to play with.

YOu got what you want from a thermal: Better vision at night + a different view of the battlefield at daylight.

Of course heatmaps would be great but not important to give a believable gamingexperience.

I agree with the original ticket, the TI could use some more visual "clutter" to increase the challenge somewhat.

How about we simply change the thermal textures of the units to sth way darker?

Maybe then the post processing wont darken the surroundings any more?

Worth a try

I don't think that is the problem, otherwise it would only occur when you get in close on unit with a _TI.

It seems to be more a case of something running a check to see what does or does not have a _TI and does something to whatever does not have a _TI image, if it were purely PP then the TI images would render the whole of the unit as white with the details coming in after the contrast drops, but it remains the same.

Anyone who thinks TI shouldn't look realistic can go somewhere else :P

@Nodunit yes I agree. Still it could make a difference if the soldiers were darker. It would mean they would stick less out of the environment even if the environment gets toned down.

The question is if the environment gets adjusted ACCORDING to the units or by a SET AMOUNT.

If it was the last it would mean we would get a way darker picture with less outstanding persons.

The problem with the low contrast and dark picture could then be solved via PP.

Besides that: Again: Why not rebuild the FLIR mod from Arma 2 pre Arrowhead times? It looked way more real and fair to use.

@gutsnav: Absolutely right=) But more importantly: The current system is extremely frustrating to play against. Like I said before: Its basically a texture hack. AND THAT on top of the realism factor is a huge reason to actually do sth about it.

Btw: Saw you on the tactical battlefield forums: Great work with the windage system!=)


Also: Wouldnt it be possible to assign thermal textures to each object?

Then the engine wouldnt tone them down.

Heres another video:

The ground is even hotter than the persons....

Oh and just now a very popular PvP mod got released Tactical Battlefield.
Guess what: They dont want to use FLIR because its so unfair.

There you have it: The current implementation is so lacking that it will not get used in PvP.

What reason do you need more?

Pingo added a subscriber: Pingo.EditedJul 12 2016, 11:47 PM

Reducing the currently unrealistically good signal to noise/contrast for FLIR would:

  1. make it less over powered
  2. make it more realistic

I remember seeing this exact issue raised over 3 years ago, and despite the devs themselves listening and even agreeing we still have had no change what so ever.
Arma 2 OA used to pride it's new thermal imaging, yet in many ways it's the most unrealistic looking, and it's overpowered, but the basic functionality is there I just feel there's some simple adjustments that could be made to make the most of it.