Arma 3: The Star Wars Mod That Might Have Been

That's no ponderous camel

Last year Arma 3 [official site] was in the process of getting AT-ATs, thanks to a Star Wars-themed mod. The mod was eventually abandoned by its creator, McRuppertle, but he’s uploaded footage from the first in-game test for people to peer at:

Now, obviously this year is going to involve an escalating level of Star Wars talk thanks to The Force Awakens and Battlefront so before we dive into that I’m just going to tell you what’s bothered me for decades about AT-ATs.

The name AT-AT stands for All Terrain Armored Transport. All terrain. The Empire needed something that would go across all manner of terrain without incident and their solution was to build a ponderous metal camel instead of a highly stable futuristic megatank.

Battlefront has it plodding through the forest and everyone’s all “Ooooh, an AT-AT” and I’m staring at fallen trees wondering if it’s just going to trip up or something.

Like, I get that it’s supposed to be able to crush stuff under its footpads and toe flaps and that they’re clanking round in extreme armored glee but it just seems like such a needlessly complex design, with so many bits that can go wrong. Also there will be elements of terrain which can’t be crushed. What about steep hills covered with unstable rocks? There are also a whole bunch of obvious weak points AND a ridiculously high centre of gravity which renders the entire thing stupidly unstable.

Luckily for the walker in McRuppertle’s video the terrain is flat and unproblematic. Unluckily there is a plane which is all too happy to demonstrate the high centre of gravity issue.

38 Comments

  1. Jimmy says:

    EH-UH Incorrect. Biped and quadroped robots will become essential instruments and supports to war in the future. There are situations where legs trump tracks, and that is why you see those great DARPA videos on YT featuring experimental robots.

    • Bennus says:

      Those DARPA robots have lateral motion that keeps them steady by sticking out a leg or two when kicked from the side (or walking over uneven terrain), and have very good reaction times. AT-ATs don’t even have ball joints by the looks of it.

      • ryanrybot says:

        Maybe this will maybe change your mind about an AT-AT’s stability…
        link to youtu.be

        • ryanrybot says:

          Oh, cockandball sandwiches…
          …at 8:34 it shows the legs coming out to stabilize itself.

        • Distec says:

          Holy crap, is that Donovan from The Last Crusade that I see piloting the AT-AT?

          Huh.

    • Kerbal_Rocketry says:

      At a small scale yes, but on anything larger than a person tracks quickly win out. DARPA robots are on the scale of horses at the largest, beyond that you start getting serious issues with making the legs strong enough and the feet large enough to not sink into soft terrain.

    • Bishop149 says:

      The problem being highlighted isn’t one of walkers a per se, It’s one of walker with a ridiculously high center of gravity, glacially slow reactions and legs that only seem capable of moving in a single plane. The AT-AT is indeed a REALLY stupid design. The AT-ST seems better . . . . . but still, center of gravity?

      • PancakeWizard says:

        Putting my Star Wars hat on for a moment, you actually see the AT-ATs are capable of more than just walking in a straight line in the movie, when one shoots down a Speeder at close range.

        Also, center of gravity doesn’t matter much when everything can have Repulsor lifts in any configuration and any size.

        • Bishop149 says:

          Oh yeah, I bow to your superior Star War knowledge, the vid. does clearly show the leg moving in a second plane.
          But then if the argument becomes “technology renders gravity irrelevant” then the design of the AT-AT makes even LESS sense as there would be no reason to have a walker at all. Also the primary tactic to beat them probably wouldn’t be to trip them up, i.e. use gravity against them.

      • farrier says:

        Check out AT-MTs; super creepy. I think part of the in-canon explanation for the Imperial walker designs is fear and intimidation. They’re big and relatively unstoppable in the films, slow and steady, nothing you can do except run.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      You’re trying to apply real military designs to Space Fantasy. Remember, Star Wars has hovertanks.

      • Bishop149 says:

        Indeed, the technology of which would render the walker designs obsolete at a stroke, barring any weirdly terrain specific failings of the hover mechanism. Such sci-fi props are often primarily designed for aesthetics, little more. . . . . on that note the AT-AT is also ugly as hell.

  2. Robert Post's Child says:

    TBF aren’t actual camels are pretty good with the whole maintaining footing thing? Blowing one up to 300x size might undercut the benefits, though. Maybe it’s like lightsaber fighting, where it’s methodical and slow-paced originally, partially due to technical constraints, but then they made it all fast and flippy in the newer ones. Lucas’ true vision for ATATs was them sprinting gaily across the fields, climbing mountain ranges like colossal billy goats.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Yeah, I think it might not be the best idea to build a camel the size of a skyscraper. But then again Star Wars plays fast and loose with physics nearly everywhere and I’m absolutely OK with that.

    • bill says:

      I’m sure it was partly due to technical limitations, and more due to the fact that kung-fu inspired fighting simply didn’t make it into hollywood movies until several decades later.

      But it was also due to Star Wars being basically a samurai movie, hence the jedi being basically samurai and the fight style being pretty close to samurai/kendo.

      Hopefully the new films will go back to the samurai style fights of the originals and dump the dumb flippy fighting of the prequels… but I don’t hold out much hope.

  3. SuicideKing says:

    HAHAHA excellent looking mod. Quite an entertaining video too, just like Pip’s quips (rhymes!) on the AT-AT. Shame that EA/DICE would probably sue the hell out of McRuppertle and give us Battlefront instead. There’s also a Halo mod for Arma 3 if anyone’s interested (called Insurection or something).

    And “Pip’s Quips” could be a talk show, just saying.

  4. Orija says:

    I’ve been thinking of getting into ARMA 3, would this be the right time? How populated are its servers?

    • Jimmy says:

      Positively swarming with giant AT-ATs.

    • morse says:

      I’d say they’re decently populated. Problem is that there are a few popular game modes (King of the Hill, Wasteland and Stratis/Altis Life) that lend to PUGs, but otherwise you need to join a squad to get the most out of the experience. All in all, it is my current favorite shoot em up.

    • audiox says:

      Hey Orija.
      Now is a really good time to get into Arma3, actually. The netcode and gamecode has matured and seeing how Bohemia is continually improving on the product is really great.
      Talking about “its servers” is a bit of a misnomer though, as there are so many different game modes to take into consideration.

      As for me i like two things, Battle Royale and organized casual play. For Battle Royale you’ll need playerunknowns Battle Royale mod.
      For organized casual play you need look no further than your friends at Folk ARPS. FA is a friendly environment for you to both get your bearings when it comes to organized Arma, but also a place where you can stick around and help others get their bearings as well.
      link to rockpapershotgun.com

    • Oktyabr says:

      The ARMA series of games has stayed high on my list of “hours most played” since OFP and ARMA3 is arguably the best yet. Servers? Only a couple thousand, world wide, which doesn’t seem like that many until you realize that many of them have as many as 200 player slots.

      As mentioned before multiplayer is dominated by the “Life” RPG type of games, with some of the TDM modes (King of the Hill, Tactical Battlefield, etc.), PVP/DM survival games, and Coop (Invade and Annex) coming in a bit further down the list but still having a strong player base. Then you have the dedicated, private run servers that tend to cater to the real milsim crowd, which appeal to many as well but aren’t as easy to get in to.

      Ultimately ARMA is the giant sandbox some of the older readers might remember as children, filled with a vast assortment of little, plastic army men, tanks, jets, what have you… brought to life. The possibilities are limitless, only bound by the amount of time and work you want to put in to it. Now with tools like MCC, Zeus, and Alive (not to be confused with “Life” rpg game modes!), even if you only play single player it can be easily made to *feel* as if you are in the middle of a huge conflict! Sometimes when I want a quick game I just fire up A3 + MCC (and a few choice mods), create a squad or three, make one of the soldiers my “player” (not necessarily a leader!), and throw the rest under GAIA (smart AI control), plunk down an enemy controlled zone somewhere (also under full AI control) and go to war… Takes about 10 minutes to set up something like that and it can easily supply hours of very immersive battle. :)

    • SuicideKing says:

      Come play with us at Folk ARPS, the RPS community Arma group!
      http://www.folkarps.com

      Also it’s TONS of fun with FA, I’ve been playing for a few weeks, and I’m always impatiently waiting for the next session (Sunday and Tuesday evenings GMT).

      Videos: link to youtube.com

      Also an older channel called thisisfolk, don’t want to add another link because I’ll be marked for moderation.

      • SuicideKing says:

        Ah, missed auidox’s post above. You may want to look through his links first!

  5. Carlos Danger says:

    Too bad he couldn’t get paid for his efforts to finish it.

    • Baines says:

      Even with legal paid mods, Disney would probably want at least 100% of the proceeds themselves.

      Disney once sent a Cease and Desist to Elaine Lee and Michael Kaluta, claiming to own the comic book Starstruck, because Marvel had published it 30 years earlier through its Epic line. It is worth noting that Epic was Marvel’s creator-owned line, and indeed Lee and Kaluta had the legal documentation to show that they owned the book, not Marvel. (Disney settled the issue after the story became publicized.)

      • Carlos Danger says:

        Yeah it would of had issues with the Star Wars Battlefront coming out later in the year. Just seems a lot sadder that it died on the vine instead.

      • MellowKrogoth says:

        Disney managed to have the law changed so Mickey Mouse didn’t enter the Public Domain as he should have, so yeah. They’re in a league of their own regarding greed.

  6. YasminRice45 says:

    NICE

  7. YasminRice45 says:

    i like

  8. morbiusnl says:

    I see they still havent fixed the borked physics of arma1.

  9. SlimShanks says:

    This kinda goes without saying, but Arma 3 is amazing. You can do ANYTHING!

  10. jonahcutter says:

    Yeah, a good rule of thumb in space opera is in the choice between what makes sense and what looks cool, go with cool.

  11. JKLauderdale says:

    There’s one major issue with this vid, it looks like the Stormtrooper is actually hitting what he’s aiming at

    • JiminyJickers says:

      Haha, thought the exact same thing.

      This mod would have been awesome. I really want a more realistic Arma like Sci-fi game.

  12. Oktyabr says:

    Spam, spam, spam, spam SPAM! Scammy service based in Panama that isn’t even 8 months old! LOL

  13. bill says:

    I’d think AT-ATs would be quite good at most terrain. I’m pretty sure they’d do better with a big step than a tank would. Or stepping over a big fallen tree.

  14. glock1974 says:

    Pffft,you lot know nothing about AT-ATs!!Check out their mobility in this vid….

    link to youtu.be

    Sorry for no embed,doing this at work on my phone..