Exile servers are online 24/7, but players are not. Balancing base raiding in persistent online games is extremely challenging, if not completely impossible. All video games in this genre struggle with that - especially when the victims are not online. There is no common solution for that issue in this genre, so we are were thinking about something completely new. And the result is a smartphone app.
Simply disallowing base raiding while the victims are offline is frustrating for attackers. Imagine you want to raid a base, prepare everything, make a plan and then a message pops up: "Sorry, owner is not online. Come back later". Then, with some steam coming out of your ears you drive to the next attractive base, where you know the owners are online. Unfortunately the owners notice you and log out, leaving you with another neat "Please come back later" message.
Making it harder to raid a base while the owner is offline would be inconsistent and can be abused to check if the owners are online. Also, it would not increase the chance of a successful defense at all.
Disallowing base raids at certain times - for example in the night - does not work for international servers. While you play, others might be at work or asleep.
This app does not directly change how base raiding works, but it can influence the game play in a positive way. On one hand, raiding a base has a much higher risk of facing resistance now. Even if the victims are offline, they will know what you are doing and give their best to prevent that. Do not think a base is empty - this can change every moment now. Just blowing your way through some walls is boring. There is nothing better than a good firefight. On the other hand, logging in just to see your base being raided or completely wiped off the server is probably the most frustrating thing when building a virtual home.
The app works basically as a door bell, that you automatically ring when you raid a base. On top of that, we have added a couple of features to remind you to pay your territory protection money. It will also inform you when your territory flag is being stolen or restored. Also, your server admins might send you a message like "Hey, we are hosting a racing event from Kavala to Sofia this Friday. Want to join us?". And the best: You will receive notifications within seconds, so you have time to react. It takes approximately ten minutes for the attackers to get into your base when you have received the base raid alert. Enough time to connect, unlock and reload.
This project and topic is extremely thrilling for us as it exceeds the boundaries of modding a game. You will probably have a bunch of questions. We have compiled a list of questions that we can already foresee to be asked. In case you have another question, please post them in the comments. We will give our best to answer them.
Wish us luck!
What does this app do?
This app is a notification service. You will receive messages from the Arma 3 Exile servers you play on to keep you informed about in-game events - for example while someone is raiding your territory. Notifications are delivered in real-time, so you can react immediately.
Do I receive message while I am offline?
Yes, you will receive messages regardless of if you are currently playing Exile or not.
Do my friends get messages, too?
Yes, if they also use the app. Territory related notifications are sent to all players that have build rights on a territory. If someone raids your base, you and all of your friends will know!
How long does it take to receive a message?
Given a perfect phone connection, it takes two seconds on average! This means that your pocket will vibrate just moments after something happened in Arma.
What types of messages will I get?
Currently, the app supports the following notifications:
Base Raid Alerts
You will get real-time notifications while someone is trying to get into your base - before they have breached through the first wall! It takes a while to breach through a wall in Exile, so you have approximately ten minutes to react before the attacker is in your base. All of your mates that have build rights on the same territory will receive the same message, so your whole clan is alerted.
Flag Steal Alerts
This message informs you that attackers have stolen your flag some seconds ago. The thief then has to carry your flag to the nearest traders - use this chance to prevent that and get your flag back! And if happened to be too far away, you now know that you have three days to get a new flag.
Flag Restored Notifications
You and your mates will receive this message once your territory flag has been restored. No need to panic anymore with your territory flag!
Territory Protection Money Reminders
This notification will remind you when the protection money of your territory is due in the next 24 hours.
Server Admin Notifications
Server administrators can send broadcast messages to all players that linked their phone with their server. This is especially useful to announce server events to all players.
Will there be more message types in the future?
There will be a sub-forum where you can present your ideas soon. We will do everything we can to make Arma, Exile or the app an enjoyable experience.
How does the app recognize "me"?
You can link the app with your Steam account.
Will I also get messages at night?
Yes, but the app will respect your sound volume and vibration settings. Also, the LED light of your phone will blink in the Exile pink every now and then - in case you missed the vibration and ringtone.
If you receive a message while you are asleep or busy, you at least know what happened. There is nothing worse than logging in after a couple of days, just to see your territory being raided or gone.
Can every Exile server send me messages?
No, you have to grant servers permission first. Open your in-game XM8 and navigate to the "Mobile XM8" app. It will show you a four-digit server code. Use that to add a server in your phone. If you want to stop receiving messages from a server, simply swipe it away.
You may have noticed a blurred app in the "Sloth Machine" video. Yepp, it was this.
Will this app be required to play Exile?
I had my phone switched off for some time, what now?
If your phone was out of battery, in flight mode, out of signal or simply switched off: You will receive messages for up to seven days after the in-game event occurred. After that, messages will expire and not be delivered anymore.
On which mobile devices does this app run?
Our prototype runs on Android 5.0 "Lollypop" and above. Apple products are not yet supported. We are aware that iOS devices are common, but before we will put effort into developing an app for a completely different device group, we have to ensure that it is actually worth it. Imagine we spent a month or two developing that, then pay a yearly amount to become a certified iOS developer - which Apple requires to even allow you in the app store - and then nobody uses it. On top of that, iOS apps can only be developed and published on Apple devices. None of us owns a MacBook or iPhone and you probably know the price of these. Depending on what the community wants, needs and how well the Android version goes, we will definitely consider doing an iOS version.
What will this app cost?
We plan to offer this service for just €2.49/month. EDIT: We decided to make the app free and try to cover the cost with donations.
Unfortunately, this is everything but free for us. We have to develop, host and maintain an IT infrastructure that can connect a thousand game servers and ten thousands of mobile devices in real time. App stores charge us annually and apply download fees. On top of that, we have to deal with value added taxes and income taxes. Believe us when we say that this is a penny business. We will have to have hundreds or maybe thousands of subscribers to break even.
When will the app be published?
We will run a long-term test to ensure a high quality. Since this is a hobby project, we cannot give you any reliable dates. It could also happen that this project never comes to life. We have a working prototype already, but if it would be a financial or legal disaster for us, we will consider abandoning the idea completely.
For server owners:
How does my Arma server send messages to mobile phones?
We have developed three systems here. A mobile app that can receive messages and displays that to the player. Second, a cloud-hosted message delivery hub that does the routing and security magic. Third, an extension for your Arma server that sends the message data to our central servers.
Does my Arma server automatically send data to the Exile servers?
No, this system is disabled by default.
Am I forced to support this feature on my server?
No, it is up to you if you want to.
How can I enable the app on my server?
We will offer a website where you can register your server. After proving your ownership, you will receive a configuration file that activates your Arma server extension and a four-digit server code.
How do I send broadcast notifications to my players?
You will be able to do that on the same website you registered your server.
How many notifications can I send?
We limit the number of notifications you can send to four in a month, so roughly one message per week.
What does this cost?
This service is free for server owners.
Can I customize this system?
No, not at all. Exile is extremely customizable, but this system is an exception. Your players expect the app to work the same on all servers in the world. This also means that base raiding is mostly balanced by us to ensure a unified experience. If you have ideas on how to extend the app or the system behind it, feel free to talk to us directly.
Does this support Linux?
Yes. We offer both a Windows and a Linux server extension.