Dear ARMA Developers,
first let me thank you for the opportuntity to play and review AMRA3 in an Alpha version. It is a pleasure to see that a game development studio asks it's fellow customer community for inspiration and feedback - to truly improve a game title that has already set a record in realistic military war simulation.
I work as an IT guy in development and QA of software. As such I have worked many years in usability review of user interfaces and user/SW interaction.
Playing several ARMA titles over the last years and 'working' with the ARMA command interface I couldn't help myself but thinking many times about how to improve it. Well, I guess that it is no surprise for you that the unit command options of ARMA have room for improvements and I guess it's for 'historic' reasons that you kept it this way so many years.
Here are some ideas that would surely help to command AI units and other human players in ARMA3 single and multiplayer:
1.) Organizing Units: It should be possible to abstract units into groups (2 - 8 members) with a leader. A group leader can then receive orders and will lead his units accordingly. Several groups can be organized into a company (1 - 5 groups) with a company leader. Several companies can be organized into an batallion (2 - 5 companies). This quite ususal military organization was never reflected in ARMA and I wondered why. Every group, company or batallion can be replenished, rearmed, refuled etc. as a whole. It would make life so much easier. Unit assigns are done in a certain screen, not in first person view ('Unit Organizer Screen'). This allows for a sophisticated graphical representation of the units under command.
2.) Giving Orders to Groups/Companies: It differs a lot if you lead a group, a company or even an army. As a group leader you want to give indiviual orders to group members. Which is OK in ARMA. But as an officer commanding a company you usually give orders to group leaders - maybe picking out an individual soldier from time to time. ARMA allows grouping into Red/Blue/Yellow/.. teams but that concept gives the same order to everyone in that group - which is not the same as talking to a group leader. Imagine the command 'Attack that Unit' given to a group leader together with 'in stealh mode' and 'shoot in defence only'. The group leader would now avoid known enemy units and only attack the specified unit when in range - with a suitable specialist unit in the group and not all of his units. After the attack the group may retreat into safer terrain and switch to 'defense mode' automatically.
3.) Graphical Quick Command: The Quick-Command mode should be created as a graphical HUD menu - maybe in the center of the view - with mouse-selectible options. The center of the view is the referenced command item, for example the vehicle, the target, the position to go to, etc.
4.) Quick Command for all units: Having atomatically selected ALL units when entering Quick-Command mode should be removed. It is possible for the commander to assign groups/companies or individual soldiers to receive orders from the Quick-Command menu as default. Now every time when entering quick command, the selected soldiers receive the command. A quick command order is forwarded to group leaders or company leaders if groups or companies were selected as target for the quick command.
5.) Automated Vehicle Group: Vehicles with one or more units in commander/gunner/driver/.. seats are automatically turned into a group. It is no longer required to select individual soldiers in a tank and make them switch seats etc. Units transported in the back of a vehicle are not assigned to an automated vehicle group.
6.) Smart Commands: Commands that are not possible for a selected unit/group/company, should be greyed out.
7.) Talking to a group - only the group leader responds, not all his soldiers under his command. This removes unneccessary radio chatter.
8.) In battle it should be possible to select surrounding soldiers/groups within a radius of 200m, Or all soldiers in my view. For example to order them to 'Get cover!'. A certain key could be assigned to that or being part of the quick command menu.
9.) It should be possible to select units with a drawn mouse retangle even in first person view.
10.) In first person view, the graphical representation of soldiers, groups and companies are used to select them quickly, not all soldiers as individual icons. If I want to change the organization of the army I switch to the 'Unit Organizer Screen'.