July is for lazy mornings in the sunshine, lounging around beer gardens with family in the afternoon, and tackling gaming challenges with friends in the evening. Despite the height of summer, the RPS community has continued to soar, with action in Arma 3 [official site], Europa Universalis [official site], Guild Wars 2 [official site] and Terraria [official site].
Arma, ARMA, or ArmA - however your spelling preference, this series of tactical military shooters has been pretty successful and attracted a loyal following.
This includes our own Folk ARPS (FA), a pact consisting mainly of RPS readers bringing together up to 45 players for missions twice a week. FA's operations are not a total, super-serious military simulation, but do offer a nicely coordinated environment to play the game with comrades.
FA are good at what they do as they've been at it for quite a while, starting in the series' second instalment during 2012. Don't be put off by how long the community has been going though; it's really, really easy to get involved and there's no requirement to thoroughly know the game. If you've played a Battlefield or PlanetSide title in any sort of organised way, you'll find it fairly easy to learn the basics. Arma offers a take on large-scale warfare a little more grounded than the arcadeyness that can characterise other high-profile shooters, and FA know how to make use of that unique flavour every single week.
Missions kick off on Tuesdays and Sundays at 19:20 UK time - that's GMT+1 at the moment. They are mostly cooperative, infantry-based excursions lasting around two hours in total. There's no obligation to commit to playing every session, or even every week. Providing you abide by the simple etiquette expected of the FA community, anyone is welcome to play as often (or infrequently) as you like.
How to join: Although the community has their own area on the RPS forum, most coordination takes place on their separate website. Begin here; the main page has several links to help you get acquainted. Playing with FA doesn't require a load of mods, just the main game and TeamSpeak so you can listen in.
Europa Universalis IV
At the start of 2015, the community ran a long, expansive game of 'Non-Europa Universalis' - the aim being to play nations in Paradox's grand strategy which weren't actually based in Europe. The campaign ran every week until July, with the Iroquois taking victory at the game's end.
Now another multiplayer session is almost upon us, appealing to 'couch crusaders and armchair commanders' from across the community. 400 years of trading, politicking and warring await potential heads-of state.
And what of those states? This time, RPS' ruling of the Late Middle Ages will be shaped by nations created by the players. Each participant can create their own, with everyone being limited to 200 points to keep the campaign fair. This should also help bridge the gap between new and experienced players, so everyone can enjoy conquering the globe in their own way.
This fresh campaign is due to begin on the 10th of September, with rounds continuing every Thursday after. Players don't have to attend every session, but leaving your nation to the replacement AI isn't recommended.
How to join: Organisation of the next game is taking place in this thread. The first post gives details of how the campaign will run, so be sure to read it and post in the linked spreadsheet if you want to play.
Guild Wars 2
It's getting a bit silly how often the RPS Guild Wars 2 community is appearing in these updates. Yet in the drought of content leading up to the game's expansion, the guild continues to hold original, in-game events - including two in July.
The first was a celebration of 'Golem Rush', a special week put on by the developers in the World vs. World gamemode. During the Rush the game's heavily-armoured, player-driven siege golems became superpowered - gaining speed and losing their resource costs. Having experience in golem combat in the past, the guild were well positioned (and excited) to take advantage. Gathering together early on a Saturday evening together with other allies from our server, we armed ourselves in huge, mechanised suits and waged war against our rivals.
The night was absurdly successful and our small horde broke open enemy keeps like oyster shells, gobbling down the lovely loot, experience and rank points inside. Meeting minimal resistance as we rolled over both maps belonging to enemy servers, we ended by escorting our remaining golems through a nearby jumping puzzle.
The second was a smaller, more controlled affair - an internal three-on-three sPvP tournament, based in the guild's very own arena. Four teams of 12 lined up to do battle for gold and glory, with prizes going to the top three finishers. Two hours of fighting followed, spiced by some impressive plays and quick commentary.
The night was won by an accidental alliance of the guild's most experienced sPvPers. It was a tournament of surprisingly long games, with participants falling, getting up and falling again before being ultimately finished off.
It was especially great to see so many new people join for both events and they served as a great opportunity to introduce folks to the PvP parts of the game, both big and small.
How to join: The Guild Wars 2 crowd have their own subforum and that's where all these sorts of events are posted. You can sign up to the guild by reading this post, and sticking your in-game ID in that thread.
The 2D, side-scrolling craft 'em up was given a very big update at the end of June, and the community have used that as an opportunity to start our own server, courtesy of Multiplay. There's now a huge world available for RPS members to chop, mine and build their way through.
The server came up just over two weeks ago and during that time players have built huge castles on the surface, and buried deep underground. Progress has remained steady, but don't be put off from joining now; not even 5% of the map has been exploited at this stage. The landscape around the spawning area has been made desolate, but there are miles and miles of wilderness out there, waiting to be plundered.
Don't feel that the other players will be way ahead either; everyone has started with fresh characters and there's always a couple of people available on evenings to lend a hand with any equipment you may need. The server is on Expert Mode, and so far we have only defeated three bosses - with new ones being killed on a set schedule (Sundays at 20:00 UK time).
The rules for participating are simple: Start with a fresh character, don't intrude on the bases of other people, only farm bosses already killed on Sundays, share loot you don't need, and respect others. The server is up 24/7, and so you are free to play at any time you please.
How to join: Read the first post in this thread to see the current status of the server, and then make a post with your character name. You'll receive a message with the server's details, along with your username and password to access build rights.
A lot of information about how to get involved in the community can be found here. For denizens of our clubs who haven't had their games featured yet - don't worry; there's still time in future instalments! Anyone is free to ask questions (or plug other games) in the comments below.