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Dynamic mod downloading and loading
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Description

Dynamic mod downloading and loading would help reduce and remove some of the barriers to using mods in custom missions.

I propose loading and unloading mods dynamically as needed, as well as downloading them from the steam workshop as a method to reduce the restrictions imposed by having to do a lot of work to install mods to use for individual multiplayer missions. This will help improve diversity in multiplayer, as well as make it easier for players to discover new mods and missions to play.

Details

Legacy ID
2814097876
Severity
Feature
Resolution
Open
Reproducibility
N/A
Category
Feature Request
Additional Information

In multiplayer, you tend to see a lot of the same set of missions, and it doesn't help that in order to be able to play a lot of the non-standard missions, you need to use specific mods to play them. This becomes a problem when you have multiplayer and pubbies who see downloading, installing, and configuring a mod set for each mission as too much of a hassle.

Event Timeline

There are a very large number of changes, so older changes are hidden. Show Older Changes
th3flyboy set Severity to Feature.Mar 29 2013, 10:18 PM
th3flyboy set Resolution to Open.
th3flyboy set Legacy ID to 2814097876.May 7 2016, 1:17 PM

I agree, this is a must have! The downloaded mod should go in some other folder though (like for the MP mission Cache) in order to not put a mess in your game folder.
The biggest advantage of this feature would be to stop discouraging new players to play in MP. Even for people used to installing mods, it can take time to figure out why you can't join a server sometimes (wrong version of a mod? Is there a problem with the mod in itself? Is it something unrelated to the addons?...).

Yes, in ArmA 2 some of these MP missions with mods were just a mess, this would be just alike what VALVe do, and its pretty good, we should be able to download mods and addons from MP matches so we can play them, even if they are heavy

I agree with Super-Truite.

Not downvoting this, but neither upvoting.

I have found that Play with Six to be a good way to get around the above mentioned problem, it keeps your mods updated, you can specify a custom mod folder location (I prefer to keep it by the default my docs in user folder) and also, I can filter and launch a game from Play with SIX and it will automatically load up the correct mods, update if necessary and etc and launch with no hassle.

Bohemia should probably try promote Play With SIX to get more people to know about it and encourage them to try mods, though, the notion of having it all done through steam is equally as nice =) So I don't mind whichever way it goes.

Miyelsh added a subscriber: Miyelsh.May 7 2016, 1:17 PM

ShotgunSheamuS, Bohemia has actually given a shoutout in one of their sitreps, they definitely recognize what they are doing. I hope they can work with Six Networks to have the mod software be more standard, but for now Play withSix is an excellent alternative.

True, but not perfect, i still think BIS should use VALVe as an example, downloading addons/mods when getting in, being able to cancel them, having them downloaded in a special folder in wich you can use these addons for yourself or dont, etc.

The solution is perfect for required mods (eg. CBA, ACE, ACRE, etc.), however unuseable for optional mods.

At another issue (duplicate?) I gave my idea about a workable solution:

Example:

  • client joins a server with mods enabled
  • client recieves message about missing mods (both required and optional)
  • client selects the mods to download/install or cancels
  • when ready, client automaticly rejoins the server The downloads are provided by a thirdparty to offload the gameserver. In case of private mods, the files must be available and linked at a special config file (eg. server-addons.cfg)

http://feedback.arma3.com/view.php?id=6740#c18550

I just opened a Feature Request http://feedback.arma3.com/view.php?id=9217 but I guess it might get closed as a dupe of this so I'll repost my Request here.

Currently, to play a SP/offline mission/Campaign, the user has to

  1. Find out which mods are Required for said mission.
  1. Manually download those mods
  1. Create a profile with a third-party launcher (or manually as a batch file) to launch ArmA with those mods enabled.

Then, if the user wants to play a different mission, he has to exit the game and do this all over again. On those occasions where I've done the above and started playing a mission, only to find it's bugged or I just don't like it, I'm too fed up by then to bother going through it all again and as a result I've barely played any of the many missions I've downloaded.

I would like to see ArmA3 automate this process, by it being able to determine, from meta-data in the mission or even an accompanying text file, which mods are Required for said mission/campaign and to automatically enable them (and download them if necessary). I think meta-data in the mission/campaign file would be best for missions designed for ArmA3 but obviously ArmA2 missions aren't all going to be updated in this way, so for those an accompanying text file with the same name and a specific extension (i.e. mission.amp, which could stand for ArmA Mod Profile), containing a list of Required mods would be a good compromise and players could manually create these and share them with each other on a forum thread or some other repository, so that we don't have to ask the mission creators to do the work and nor is all the work put on one person.

For standardisation, I think missions would have to use the mod-naming scheme used by Six Networks and I imagine that ArmA could download the Required mods that aren't already available locally from Six, whether by calling some part of PwS or Amarize silently in the background, both of which can download the mods from Six, or with completely fresh code to do the job but whichever method is used, ArmA should stay in focus and no other programs should pop-up. It should show which mods are already available and which require downloading and how big they are, to give the user the option of proceeding with the download or choosing a different mission.

Players will often want to play with additional mods to those Required and to manage this, on the main menu, there should be a Mod Management button. This would open a full-screen interface listing all the locally available mods in a vertical list on the left in alphabetical order, with a search box above that would highlight the found mod when enter is pressed (and cycle through matching mods with repeated presses). To the right of this list would be another search box, which would search the Six Network for a mod and allow the user to download it, adding it to the local list. On the right of the screen would be a modset vertical list, which would show created modsets. This would be created by selecting mods (using the standard Windows methods of multiple selection using Ctrl+click and Shift+click) and then clicking an "Add to Modset" dropdown button above or to the right of the list, which would show already created modsets and a "New" option, which would allow the user to enter a name for the new modset.

Back at the mission selection screen, where it shows the Required mods, there would be a vertical list, with the modsets at the top and all locally installed mods below. Each would have a tickbox next to it, so the user can either tick a modset (or more than one) and/or individual mods which will be enabled for that mission. The users selections should be stored so that they are already enabled the next time that mission is selected.

The same automatic mod downloading should be available for online servers as well, but with the list of Required mods being obtained from querying the server.

I understand that the engine doesn't allow for mod enabling/disabling, so the initial part of the ArmA GUI, where the user will choose a mission/server should not load the engine, with this only being done once a mission/server is selected and launched (look at the DCS World interface, which uses this method). When the user wants to change mission/server and returns to the mission/server selection screen, the engine can remain loaded in case the next mission/server selected uses the same mods but if not, the engine will have to be unloaded and re-loaded with the required mods.

http://forums.bistudio.com/showthread.php?120878-Automatic-Mod-Downloading&p=2244205&viewfull=1#post2244205

https://dev-heaven.net/issues/35469#change-139457

I'd prefer to have at least a notification with question, that "this mission requires mods x and y, do you want to download them?" or "mod n was updated, do you want to install the update?".

Automatic updates are nice and easy, but they can cause problems as well. For example, when new addon version brings some new features, that I don't like and takes away others, that I liked. Also I've modified certain addons for personal use, to suit my taste or gameplay style. Overwriting them with a new update, would be a catastrophe in such non-standard situations.

I like to control file and folder structure on my HDD, to keep it tidy, and I'm willing to spend some time on manual installations, just to keep the files precisely where I want them.

doveman added a subscriber: Ace.May 7 2016, 1:17 PM

Well sure, as I suggested if it needs to download mods it should give the user the option to proceed or go and choose another mission. With updates, it should give the user the option to update or just play the mission with the currently installed versions.

I think perhaps the best way to manage wanting to keep outdated versions of mods for whatever reason is to copy them to a differently named folder, i.e. @ACE-old. Then this will appear in the mods list and you can enable it for certain missions, whilst the current @Ace is kept updated as required for joining servers.

I'm not actually sure if servers even check mod versions and kick you if you have old ones but I guess it's generally a good idea that everyone has the latest versions, with bug fixes, new or tweaked features, etc.

It sounds like we share a desire to keep our folders tidy and so you might want to vote for this ticket requesting subfolder support for MPMissions ;)

http://feedback.arma3.com/view.php?id=9221

MAYBE with the workshop addons implementation this could be easier to do

Crim added a subscriber: Crim.May 7 2016, 1:17 PM
Crim added a comment.Jul 5 2013, 1:15 AM

Here's a nice example of a smooth Steam Workshop integration: http://garry.tv/2013/07/04/server-downloads/

Check out the video. A single click on join and it handles the rest. Note the 3 second map download and installation. That alone would bring much more variety to public servers.

Related to mine :
http://feedback.arma3.com/view.php?id=11096

I hope mine WON'T get closed and ignored cause i give way more idea than here and i talk about important things that really miss.

As a server provider I have to say NO to this.

This would create a massive increase in the bandwidth used on all of our server. Its already expensive to rent out servers because of the hardware requirements to run an effective server. This game has much higher ram and cpu requirements compared to most other modern day games. This would require a ton more bandwidth which would cause a ton of lag on all servers. This is not a logical idea. Stick with Six and repositories. Do not expect the game servers to download the files. Especially when my clans Mod folder for Arma 2 was over 4 gigs. That would KILL any server provider if hundreds of servers are all of a suddenly uploading gigs of data on servers that were only designed for hosting servers for gaming.

Crim added a comment.Jul 5 2013, 12:15 PM

Nowhere in the description does it say download from the game server. Using Steam Workshop or whatever free third party hosting admins may find there would be no increase in bandwidth. This is a very reasonable idea and pretty much overdue in 2013.

Also this could surely be made optional like in other games.

Kocrachon take a look on my idea (the link just before your message), on my ticket i explain an idea that don't use at all server bandwidth or server perf consummation to do it and give to server creators more control on mods.

Kocrachon, no suggestion that the mods should be downloaded from the game servers but rather from Six or a similar network. The proposal is just to have ArmA automate the downloading and activation of required mods (for both SP and MP) rather than the user having to find out what mods are needed, download them and create a modline (in the right order) to activate them for each mission they want to play.

Either the mods are downloaded from oficial sites and not from the server itself. I dont trust that. Its easy to put a virus in a mod if mods are downloaded from servers itself its easlly gona cause mass spread of viruses hackers hack tools Key los enc...

Crim added a comment.Jul 9 2013, 5:10 PM

Malicious software can only cause harm if it is executed, a mere download does not cause any damage.

This is nothing new, it has already been implemented in many popular games several years ago without viruses spreading although anyone can host the content.

Well this is arma. Arma misison script files are quite easy to manipulate to do what ever you want. But i gues if they implemented this in such way it would be downloaded from legit sites no hard problems would occure.

If that's true then perhaps ArmA scripts should be run sandboxed to prevent them maliciously deleting files, etc but I don't know how much an ArmA script can actually do.

I guess if there is a threat and BIS can't implement a sandbox feature in the game, then we can just run Arma in Sandboxie, with Direct Access allowed to the Arma folder so it can only affect files in that and shouldn't cause any overhead.

Anyway, if files are downloaded from an official server it shouldn't be an issue. I'm not sure if Six Network checks files before putting them on the network but I'd certainly hope they'd take them down pretty quick once a problem had been reported.

I would absolutely love to have an autodownloader. Thus far, imho, it is the single kingpin that is breaking the game, fracturing its communities... People want to play this, people want to play that... I don't want to have to switch out 5 different mods each time just because my friends on vanilla don't have the same patience I do.

As for security concerns, it's down to the player. I have no problems in accepting that the liability is with me for what servers I go on. Remember that recent hack which literally wiped out the whole MP community for a week or so? It's not just because people are able to host a malicious file somewhere and when you join you download it, things like this will happen anyway. If you want to play on a server you gotta make a compromise.

isn't workshop gonna replace this feature?

@Dr Death

No. How can Workshop download the Required mods for a server when the player goes to join it, then enable those mods and launch the engine with them and connect to the server? Does Workshop even include a server browser?

Can Workshop determine automatically what mods a SP mission requires and download and enable those before launching the engine with them, automatically launching the mission that the player has already selected, rather than just showing them a mission screen and requiring them to find and select the mission a second time?

i know they may not be compatible........ but take a look at G-mod, KF and L4D, they do...... EXACTLY that

@Dr_Death

Those games do things completely differently, and don't download entire several GB mods from a server. There is enough stress on a server in Arma, it couldn't download huge mods like small models and maps in Source or Unreal. You don't know what you are talking about, please leave.

Woah now. There could be an option to let server admins enable downloading; then the burden is entirely on them if they want to or not. Of course, the best option would probably a central/off server repo...

what the fuck do you mean i "dont know what i am talking about please leave"?

if you knew what you were talking about you would knew the server doesn't make the downloads from the server addons to the clientside of the guys joining, and i think you weren't too much into GMOD if you think it didn't downloaded entire GB of servers addons, because OH HELL IT DID........ and some source maps can be as heavy and sometimes heavier than ArmA 2/3 maps.

tyl3r99 added a subscriber: tyl3r99.May 7 2016, 1:17 PM

i guess if the server had some sort of list of HTML download links to the addons in the mission folder maybe bis could make it so it downloads.

Tyler, not a bad idea, but it would require a compatibility mod, with scripts, with addons, etc. etc. just to make it work at its bare prototype, i think still that using Steam and Workshop its easier

I agree about the comparability mod also..
Who knows maybe bis can make some sort of external server browser like PWS has that can filter by what addons you have enabled vice versa.

Aslong as the decent servers have 1 or 2 major addons I.e ace then I'm sure it can be manageable

It's when servers have 20 addons and its a pisstake

....i think PWS must be changed for something better.

and yes, even if the server has over 20 addons it can be handled by this program, that's why i suggested the steam support for addons with workshop

Having now tested Steam Workshop it's clear this is not going to be able to achieve what we want. All it does is show missions in the game menu to choose from but by then the game has already been launched with whatever mods (or none), so if a mission requires mods it can't be launched this way.

So if BIS meant what they said about focusing on and encouraging user-created content, they really need to use the ideas in this ticket and make a launcher that will take the stress out of launching missions with mods manually, otherwise I fear that mods will be as neglected and overlooked by players as they were for ArmA2 and the only user-created content that will get used much are the mod-free missions.

Indeed doveman - that or the really popular mods will be used and that's it.

this is NOT what i meant with workshop, what i meant is exactly what GMOD or any source game does with it, i dont know if they can do it with ArmA 3, but if they can, its the solution

As far I know Steam Workshop, it not sophisticated enough to support cross-references of missions with mods. And even if, then it would have to be referenced manually by the author of the mission.

I think this is currently something that "play WithSix" (http://play.withsix.com) can help you with for now, at least concerning missions which are currently playing on servers.

Cool to see this assigned at last :)

You have a great opportunity to do something awesome for ArmA here Gekon. I'm sure you'll do us proud (no pressure of course) ;)

Indeed, I sure hope something epic works out here! The ArmA community is behind you.

I have assigned all the Workshop tasks to myself. There is a lot of valuable feedback and suggestions I need to go through. Thank you guys.

Regarding the dynamical load - it would be awesome, I agree. But the core technical principles of the game (how configs are loaded and overwritten) present a serious obstacle to that. Men better than me will need to find out if there is a chance for such revolution. (Kudos to our amazing programmers :)

Hi Gekon

I don't know enough about the game to know what you mean about "how configs are loaded and overwritten" but I do understand (I think) that any mods have to be loaded when the game/engine launches, using the commandline -mod switch, which does present a major obstacle to dynamic loading.

Hence my suggestion that the game needs to be split into launcher and engine parts, so that the engine is only loaded once a mission has been selected, enabling the launcher to first download/enable any required mods and launch the engine with those.

If this is not something that BIS is willing to consider at the moment however, the game could be left as is and instead a separate launcher developed, which again would identify and download any required mods for a mission and then launch A3 using the appropriate commandline -mod parameters.

Maybe this could be incorporated into PlayWithSix but that's very much multiplayer orientated at the moment, so a simpler launcher designed for SP missions might be a better idea.

The disadvantage of this is that the player will still have to close the game and return to the launcher to select a different mission and then launch the game again, whereas if the game is split into two parts, only the engine has to be unloaded if different mods are required and the player stays within the in-game launcher component, which feels nicer/more professional than having to exit to the desktop and a separate launcher.

Hi Doveman, thanks for the analysis.

Maybe this could be incorporated into PlayWithSix but that's very much
multiplayer orientated at the moment, so a simpler launcher designed for SP
missions might be a better idea.

Well, Play withSix converts from a simple SP launcher to a full featured MP launcher with a single flip of a switch. Plus, I heard the GUI is undergoing a redesign for PwS 2.0 still. Just saying.

Also, this is more about an addon autodownloader for when you join a server (or perhaps select mods you dl off steam workshop), which is built into the game. The idea of an autodownloader removes the community becoming fractured - make them install 3rd party stuff which is optional and you fracture it again.

Yes, you're right, I concede. It should be built-in, else we have no benefit compared to existing 3rd party launchers.

@Comp_uter15776,

whilst th3flyboy's original post refers only to MP, I am actually more concerned about SP missions as explained in my long post. As my own ticket was marked a dupe of this one, I've had to piggyback my ideas into this, sorry ;)

PwS does do a fairly good job of autodownloading and enabling the required mods for MP servers, as long as the server has setup the appropriate config.yml and the user does have to go to a website and click on a PWS:// link to add the config into PwS first, so if an in-game server browser could query the server when attempting to join and it would return the list of required mods, which A3 (Launcher) could then download and enable before launching A3 (Engine), this would of course be much better.

I'm more concerned with SP simply because there's no automatic way to download and enable required mods for these at the moment, making it extremely awkward and complicated to be able to play a SP mission that uses mods. PwS 2.0 may well bring something new in this respect but at the moment, it's SP functionality is very basic and not suited for this task and as you and Fireball suggest, to have both SP and MP mod handling built-in to A3 is the most desirable approach.

Why can't mods be downloaded like mission? Make it so that instead of downloading from game server it could be downloaded from URL, specified by mission maker. In fact make it so that large missions could be downloaded from alternative URL as well prior person joining the lobby.

Agree, but that would increase a lot downloading times

@doveman,

SP, MP, it is irrespective. The largest issue here is built in functionality or not, as having to download PWS would defeat the object of having an autodownloader , because PWS is more semiauto - you have to tell it what to dl, and you actually have to install the program first - which some may not wish to do, and that'll also break the community into those who use PWS should it have this feature, and those who don't.

@Comp_uter15776,

true enough, although BIS may want to see if them can come to some agreement with Six about using their network, otherwise they're going to have to host all the mods themselves somewhere, which would be a duplication of effort.

I was just going to post a ticket related to this, I'm glad to see this was assigned.+1

jacob88 added a subscriber: jacob88.May 7 2016, 1:17 PM

I think what the DEV means is all configs from both mods and stock content are loaded and processed when the game starts. Downloading the mods would not be an issue, so I propose the idea that you simply have the mods download, then relaunch the game with parameters "-mod=@<mod>", "-connect=<ip>" and "-port=<number>" to connect to the original server you picked in the browser. All this would be done automatically by the game.

Sadly, assigned = people made big, but =\= that is going to be fixex or implemented, this is likely to be closed in months or to be added in another BIS game

Who would vote this down :O Upvote+++

As long as it does not make Armaholic obsolete.

ocf81 added a comment.Oct 26 2013, 3:44 PM

"I think this is currently something that "play WithSix" (http://play.withsix.com [^]) can help you with for now, at least concerning missions which are currently playing on servers."

This thing should have been in Arma 2. I don't understand why it wasn't in the base release of Arma 3. Many other games have this feature. (All Source engine and Unreal engine games for instance)
I don't like download managers such as withsix. they screw up my settings and interfere with things I install outside of them.

As for a technical solution to the download location of the mod: include classes in the missionfile with the proper urls (possibly alternates as well) and server keys for download. Then extend the mission editor with a mods logic module or a new tab and specify the download location in the mission. any included mods can then be downloaded automatically. You can always add the option to present a 'ask before downloading mods' dialog option in the options menu.

Not to mention that PwS can't help with automatically downloading and enabling the required mods for SP missions anyway.

at least BIS is trying to make Addons work in the Workshop

ocf81 added a comment.Oct 26 2013, 6:50 PM

You do know that the workshop is a massive turnoff to most modders, right? Valve takes over the rights to your work. They don't take a license, they take ownership. Big no-no in my book.

they do not take ALL of the rights, as long as you can keep it under the rules of addons and its original Steam won't do shit on your work.

Also, BIS are/were getting a modified license that take precedence over the normal to protect the IP of creators.

I don't see what the issue is with using an alternative to steam for those who wish to?

Using Armaholic would be nice as well.

the point its not using an alternative to steam, pro, the problem here is that there is people that just dont want to have steam workshop to use mods, look at how that ACE2 dev (who's name i forgot) just left because ArmA 3 was integrated with Steam (and also blamed that people should all make fanmade addons instead of videos with Ads to gain profit, what a communist guy.).

You mean Xeno?

And ArmA 3 may be integrated with Steam but that's not stopping people hosting them elsewhere. People can still upload to Armaholic and not even deal with steam workshop in any way, shape or form. This feedback suggestion here though is about the inclusion of an autodownloader so that you don't have to do all that modfolder sh!t and thus divide the community... each mod creates another branch off where you have people who use that mod and those who don't. By having an autodownloader, people don't need to actively seek out mods, they can just play on whatever server they like just by joining.

yes, i meant Xeno, and i know that not using things like the Steam Workshop its maybe a stupid choice, but after reading why did Xeno left the ACE2 dev team i can safely say that all of those who are not willing to accept that Workshop its not just a bad idea then they are just as dumb as Xeno.

The ONLY bad thing coming out from Steam Workshop is that most of the Addon sites with no limitations may be seen with less and less visits with the pass of time.

First of all Xeno eventually returned to A3 (not sure about ACE team, but at least to mission making).

Second of all the EULA of the Steam Workshop has been modified since.

Third of all this is no forum, if you want to discuss this, open a BIF thread or use an existing one (I'm sure there is one).

thanks for the info fireball.

Won't be easy, but the whole community will love it. Like in casual shooters we will have a whole lot more players. To programmers: don't fear crazy solutions. Look at what DICE did with BF3/4, I'm sure you can do it way better in a different wrap of course.
P.S To Kocrachon: I also work at large ISP, it's time to move to 10G switches, PON or,even better, FTTH, it's 2014!

Lukio added a comment.Jun 12 2015, 1:11 PM

As a first step at least allow the game to dynamically load mods. If I have CBA3, ACE3, TFAR, ACRE2, AIA-TP and RHS as addons in my game directory and the server demands CBA3, TFAR, AIA-TP, then let it load these mods before joining the server.

Second step would be to allow server admins to add links to the necessary mods or directly offer to subscribe to them from the Steam Workshop (if available).

dedmen added a subscriber: dedmen.Sep 13 2017, 12:20 PM

Steam workshop integration kinda solves this.

@Astaroth, it's resolved - see dedmen's comment above. Ticket can be closed.

I don't think it is resolved. I don't normally use the A3 Launcher but I just had a look at it and it doesn't seem to even list the SP missions the user has downloaded, let alone offer an option to automatically download any required mods for a mission and launch A3 with those mods.

You don't even understand what you're saying. How can the launcher know which SP mission you will want to play or if you will want to play SP at all, if the game is not even launched.
The ticket is about multiplayer. So It's solved.

And the list of SP missions is in the game itself, in scenarios and not in launcher, which is not the game. As it always was and should be.

Okay, I see you're just spamming loads of threads. Away ye go ya moonfruit.

Astaroth closed this task as Resolved.Sep 13 2019, 11:19 AM
Groove_C removed a subscriber: Groove_C.Oct 25 2019, 4:35 AM