Bohemia Interactive


Boehmia Interactive joins Belsimtek, Miltech-5, Polychop, MP Design Studio, Razbam, Nemeth Designs and MaxFlightsticks in talking to

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Bohemia Interactive are perfectly qualified in developing helicopter simulation on the PC. They are responsible for Arma 3 Helicopters and Take-On Helicopters as well as the hugely successful Arma 3 Military Simulator.

below, screenshots from Arma 3 Helicopters DLC addon for Arma 3

They have kindly taken time out to contribute to, we asked Bohemia a number of questions on Helicopters and how they develop them. Another exclusive for so please read on and enjoy!

Interview by on helicopters in Arma 3


25 October 2017

Answers by:

Joris-Jan van ‘t Land – Project Lead on Arma 3/Arma 3 Laws of War/Take On Helicopters

Q. What helicopter models are available in Arma 3 Helicopters ?

Joris-Jan van ‘t Land: Arma 3 vanilla contains a range of fictionalized helicopters, which were clearly inspired by real-world counterparts or are blends of several existing aircraft. There are the xH-9 (small scout and transport), AH-99 Blackfoot (stealth gunship), UH-80 Ghost Hawk (stealth utility), PO-30 Orca (medium utility / attack), Mi-48 Kajman (gunship), CH-49 Mohawk (large transport) and WY-55 Hellcat (medium utility / attack). With the Arma 3 Helicopters DLC we introduced two additional large transport helicopters (CH-67 Huron and Mi-290 Taru). And the Arma 3 Apex expansion blurred the lines by adding VTOL aircraft, one of them using rotors (V-44 X Blackfish). It also included a helicopter attack drone (MQ-12 Falcon). We are also blessed with a huge modding scene who have since added countless more helicopters for players to enjoy via Steam Workshop for example.

What software is used to create the helicopters ?

Joris-Jan: We produce the 3D models and 2D textures in a mix of commercial software, such as Max, Modo and Photoshop, and our proprietary tools (which are available to community modders as well). Sound is also usually created using commercial tools selected by individual audio designers. Configuration of behavior parameters, weapon systems, and similar properties is done using common text editors.

Who provides the flight dynamics model ?

Joris-Jan: The Arma series has always included a basic proprietary simulation of rotary-wing flight. It features some realistic components, such as the ability to auto-rotate, but is fairly simplistic. Alongside the Arma 3 Helicopters DLC we introduced the optional Advanced Flight Model (AFM), including Flight Dynamics Model (FDM) for all vanilla helicopters (available freely to all players). This work uses the third-party RTDynamics Rotorlib FDM at its core, which we had previously used in our dedicated Take On Helicopters sim-game. This FDM is much more advanced and required us to build custom models for each helicopter, although we had available some existing templates for similar aircraft.

What helicopter flight physics are modelled in Arma 3 helicopters eg VRS etc ?

Joris-Jan: AFM more accurately models the weight of the aircraft, fuel, crew and passengers, and weapons payload. It accounts for wind, air frame construction and stress, rotors, wing surfaces, and more. As a bonus we also got a slightly nicer landing gear simulation, including wheel brakes. Unlike the basic model, with AFM we simulate all expected input controls - this mainly makes control over the analogue collective very different - much more realistic. There are also more simulated properties displayed on instrument gauges, such as engine RPMs and G-forces (for the basic model these are simplified or even 'faked'). AFM also simulates features such as ground effect and Vortex Ring State. Both flight models feature sling loading of external loads.

Do real pilots get involved in the testing of the helicopters ?

Joris-Jan: We did consult real pilots to get their feedback on flight behavior, such as Czech Air Force officers, as well as private citizen pilots. In addition, the active community of players contains helicopter simulation enthusiasts as well as people with real-world flight experience. They have always given us plenty of useful feedback along the way.

How long does it take to create the helicopters from start to finish ?

Joris-Jan: This is dependent on many factors, but it could take several months to produce a fully-featured Arma 3 helicopter from scratch. This includes the visual model and detailed cockpit interiors, but also the AFM configuration. For the latter we've cooperated with an external professional aircraft designer, Etienne Vandame, who used real-world data as well as aircraft design software to achieve authentic models by simulating aerodynamic forces. After that it's still very important for ourselves and our players to try the aircraft in the game and tweak them where necessary.

Are there any diffrences in the flight model between Arma 3 and Take On Helicopters ?

below - screenshots from Take On Helicopters and the Hinds DLC


Joris-Jan: The FDM is actually very similar, although Arma 3 had the opportunity to upgrade the Rotorlib middleware to a newer version, including VRS for example. However, besides that particular feature, we did not develop the FDM much further. We did not include other gameplay elements from Take On Helicopters (TKOH) in Arma 3, such as the engine start-up sequences or pre-flight inspection and maintenance mechanics. Arma 3 is a broader sim-game, and we felt the level of simulated detail was where it needed to be for its purpose.

How many helicopters available in Take-On Helicopters?

Joris-Jan: TKOH vanilla featured 3 abstract fictionalized helicopter classes: light, medium, and heavy. Later we added Hind gunships in a DLC.

Are there any plans to release helicopters for other formats like FSX, DCS and X-Plane ?

Joris-Jan: No such plans exist.

Whats Bohemia's favourite helicopter ?

Joris-Jan: That's a tough one! I feel the UH-80 Ghost Hawk is a cool interpretation of the classified stealth helicopters allegedly used during "Operation Neptune Spear". But I'll go for the AH-99 Blackfoot, which is a tribute to the canceled RAH-66 Comanche prototype. Its slick design and internal weapon bays make it look very striking when it pops up from behind concealment.

Any plans to add new helicopters to Arma 3 ?

Joris-Jan: We don't have plans to add more official helicopters. With our recent and upcoming roadmap we've focused on fleshing out several other vehicle categories, such as with Jets DLC and the upcoming Tanks DLC.

Will you be realeasing a new version of Take -On Helicopters ?

Joris-Jan: Working on TKOH was a very fun and rewarding experience. We did something slightly different and created a sim-game that even had a modest narrative campaign. We've also learned a lot of lessons and would come back to the concept with those experiences. Unfortunately there are no current plans for updates or a sequel.

Below review Takeon Helicopters (click to view)


Do the military help out in testing the helicopters ?

Joris-Jan: Not directly, but as we've mentioned elsewhere, we do occasionally receive feedback from active and retired military personnel. This can mean we invite people to our studios for organized play-test sessions, or we meet them at expos. It was quite satisfying to see a French police helicopter pilot try TKOH at a Paris expo and for him to be able to fly without instruction. We saw that as a testimony to the FDM.

Is there going to be an Arma 4 ?

Joris-Jan: The Arma series is very important to us and Arma 3 has blown past all expectations. We're still focused on the rest of the Arma 3 development roadmap, and while there are no confirmed plans for future games yet, it's safe to say Arma will have a strong future.

Name a retro helicopter game the guys at Bohemia were inspired by.

Joris-Jan: Gunship! Though I must admit I spent more time just watching the war play out around me using spectating tools than actually flying.

Your favourite game of all time ?

Joris-Jan: I guess it would be wrong to mention our own game: Arma: Cold War Assault (a.k.a. Operation-Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis)? That game has definitely been the most defining in my life and career, but to pick another: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Spending countless hours roaming its world and uncovering its deep lore was awesome and inspiring.

Any plans to bring helicopter simulation to the Xbox 1 or PS4 as there is a lack of helicopter simulators for consoles in the current market ?

Joris-Jan: Our existing games, like Arma 3, will remain PC-exclusive. Our company's next core engine - Enfusion - is however developed to run on all major platforms, so that at least opens the hangar doors in the future.

A HUGE thanks to Bohemia Interactive and Joris-Jan for their time. We greatly appreciate you talking to us. Keep up the good work.

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