Making of Phoenix
Welcome to an extended report from the development of the biggest Namalsk updates yet – Content Update 3. Main goal of this update is to bridge several pieces of the story as well as add some conclusion to it. This is combined with new goals for you to pursue, new items to experiment with as well as bringing more traffic through Tara island and offering richer experience in Lantia. This update is by far the biggest I have ever released for Namalsk and it has also seen quite an extensive campaign leading to its release (Phoenix countdown event).
There are several components that I would like to highlight here, but let me say first that none of this would be possible without the contributions of Bubson, Creep, Gormirn, Windstride and my brother. If you want to support any of these contributors, head out over to credits page.
Warning: This article contains spoilers for the Content Update 3.
Probably the most notable part of the update is the Phoenix. A tow-able gas extraction rig, which has parked next to Namalsk as part of the background story. Its crew had a huge influence on Namalsk and what you are able to do as a survivor. If you want to learn more about it, visit Tara harbour in the game or just have a look at the latest release in Namalsk stories – Phoenix diaries.
This asset has been worked on by my brother for a few years actually. Some may have noticed a placeholder model of this rig in the early builds of Namalsk, but it took much more time to transform this beast into the one you see it in the game now. It all started by me seeing these pictures:
It was instantly a perfect match for a remote destination on the sea (funnily enough, at that time, Namalsk did not have the sea ice yet). The hunt started for other references and most importantly the dimensions of the hull, heliport and derrick. Fortunately my brother was able to found out the type and the maker of the rig, together with more detailed information about one of them – Hercules 153, which became the essentially the basis of the rig seen in-game.
Due to complex nature of the structure, my brother had to read up on the properties of semi-submersible rigs, watch a few documentaries both official as well as urbex. In total he has collected around hundred of reference images, seen in the following reference scene (prepared in PureRef).
The model has been in the works since late 2017 and it has quickly taken its shape, however with all the different machinery, pipeworks and other pieces, it has been quite the motivational roller coaster. All in all, it has filled my brother’s free time for more than a year, spread over the subsequent 4 years. The model was finished after quite an intensive half a year in January 2022. At the end it contained more than 1000 separate objects with little more than 300k triangles, just shy of 200k vertices (probably considered as low poly by todays standards, but important when dealing with DayZ game engine) and 52 different materials.
It was by far the most complicated asset I have ever imported into Arma/DayZ, but it was definitely worth the effort. Apart from being a very detailed and authentic looking asset, it features an active gas flare effect, failing blowout prevention system (which you can interact with), static lights, three different access routes to the top and also cozy crew quarters. This one is definitely a must have to visit, once you get your head around surviving on the ice sheets.
Lantia Expeditionary Hazard Suit
The idea of a pressurized suit that would enable full exploration of Lantia has been floating in my head for a longer time. Many of you have been dying to see what’s “behind that hill” when visiting Lantia. Many NBC suits and gas masks were wasted during that process. Luckily, that wont be required now. Let me present you the LEHS.
The suit itself has been heavily inspired by the famous HEV from Half-Life series. It provides a light, night vision, internal atmosphere, all body armour as well as HUD, displaying all the necessary information. It requires a special battery as well as oxygen tank to function fully.
Asset was made by Windstride, who needs no introduction within the community as his clothes were probably worn by everyone playing on community servers. Gormirn has contributed on the UI side with the on-screen display for it.
One of the goals of this update was to enrich Lantia experience. While it is a journey by itself to get there, I wanted to make sure you can find more meaningful items that just a black plate carrier. LEHS is certainly enabler for this expansion. Substantial updates were done to the playable area and new gameplay and lore items were added.
The portal cage safe area has been reduced dramatically and the Lantia atmosphere was turned into a more interactive gameplay element to counter. You can find a new extender module, which makes the window open for up to 8 minutes (I am interested to know if it is still too short or not). Speaking of the Athena-3 override modules, large balancing pass on durability of these has been also done. In other words, the FLAX control panel wont burn everything you give it all the times. A quite game-breaking item can be found in Lantia as well as 2 new lore documents from the stranded crew of the Pallas Research Station.
Environment-wise, new paths and various new points of interest were added. The biggest one being the Keyhole observatory, which was made by Creep. This habitat gives you a preview of how the whole Pallas Research Station could look like. Since the Lantia window can be expanded further than ever before, new environment effects were also added. I have spent a lot of time re-writing the whole way Lantia environment works to make sure players on Namalsk do not notice anything out of ordinary while there is an absolute chaos over at the Lantia section. Also, if you are going to be looking for a loot, make sure to check open-able boxes with green lights as almost all the loot has been moved into these (rather than laying on the ground somewhere).
One last thing to mention here, the particle god Gormirn (with a texture help from Windstride) has made brand new particles for the lightning, which you can observe during EVR and maybe in Lantia too, if you dare to stay there longer. Speaking of staying in Lantia, with LEHS in place and certain conditions, you may actually be able to stay there even after the window expires. I will carefully observe and see if any actions will need to be taken towards making it time limited at all times.
It has been a real pleasure to work with Bubson again. While we have originally kept it pretty small, we have ended up with 10 brand new tracks to be heard in the game! We have got 4 new tracks for specific times of day, 5 new tracks for different places on the map and finally, 3 new for specific events. My personal favourite is definitely the new Lantia Finale track, where we have tried to match the track to exactly what is happening within the environment. I cant wait to dive in and listen to them all during the gameplay.
You can check all of these in his brand new album, Namalsk: Phoenix. Now available on streaming platforms of your choice!