Happy New Year fellow players and team members and happy birthday to AST, for the clan’s second anniversary. 2013 has been stressful but full of progress for AST as well, making for a worthy year passed to celebrate our clan anniversary with some beers and a bit of rum.
Now, let’s get a bit into detail what happened this year.
By the way this article is available as PDF here.
Swat4: Still alive
Released in 2005 one could call Swat4 a dinosaur of a game. And in October 2012 the official master server was shut down, rendering the in-game server browser useless.
Nevertheless the law enforcement scenario still provides a great tactical experience which is different from most other tactical shooters. That’s why we and other teams still play and enjoy this old game. Thanks to the MarkMods Master Server, new players can still find and join our Coop servers. We are proud that both the AST TSS server and the SAS-Mod server were running fine during the whole year 2013. We used them for many great, successful deployments and trainings in the past year, and we are not going to stop this in the near future.
Arma2: From test-state to active duty
In early 2013 the squad changed hands from Raptor as squad leader to Booone. Roughly three months of experimenting, training, and playing later we accepted our first recruit through Arma2 as the squad switched to active state.
A thorough philosophy was set up to ensure a certain quality in our game-play and to transfer the key components of what makes our team philosophy to this new and interesting platform, which is inherently different from what we experienced before.
Gaming events left little to be desired: Members are suffering from “thorough” boot-camp experiences and deployed to the dry deserts of the Middle East, fought off terrorists in Finland and did some sneakin’-and-snoopin’ in Eastern Europe. Even with the big change from Swat4, previously our only clan game, we managed to get into the game and especially the modding capabilities of it fast and can now provide a unique gaming experience to everyone who so desires.
The biggest issue that currently needs working on in regards to Arma2 is the player count. We plan to expand our horizons in the future and allow more players to take part in the experience, reaching out through various means of advertisement.
However, overall 2013 was successful for the Arma2 squad.
Takedown: Hope dies last
On September 20th 2013 the FPS “Takedown: Red Sabre” entered our lives. Advertised as “the spiritual successor to games like the original Rainbow Six and SWAT series”, this game seemed to be what we are looking for. Unfortunately the release version was absolutely not as good as expected. The small, independent team “Serellan LLC” had great ideas and goals, but obviously not the necessary time and money for a proper realisation.
Although the game received some patches with a lot of improvements, there are still too many issues preventing regular tactical gameplay and recruiting for now. Nevertheless AST is still standing by, monitoring the further development closely, ready to bring up a COOP server and start recruiting once we deem the most important issues fixed. And for a few tactical rounds now and then the game is already good enough.
Changes in the Commission
As 2013 was a year of a lot of progress for us, our commission also underwent a few personnel changes.
- Booone joined the Commission as the Arma2 squad went to active state in mid-2013,
- Herbplant and Shadow left the Commission around the same time due to lowered activity, and
- towards the end of the year, Raptor took the virtual throne of our team as Commander when TheIceMan resigned from the position, remaining as Lieutenant and 2nd-in-Charge.
This personnel changes reflect our attitude that members who invest time and effort are rewarded with the power, and the responsibility, to take decisions. Every AST member can do his or her bit, and for sure we do not forget the past efforts of former Commission-members. But our leaders must be active and have the necessary time to take care of things and lead our team into the future.
YouTube: Good things need time
Our YouTube channel was already founded at the end of 2012, mainly to illustrate our ideas on tactical gaming. But it took us a lot of time to finally deliver some content. Finding good recording and editing tools, discussing quality criteria and establishing a structure to efficiently record, edit, upload, control and release videos. All of this took time. Moreover several times members involved in this project were bound by other AST activities or real-life issues. But at the end we think it was worth it.
Our first video, released in July, shows a public session at our Swat4 SAS-Mod server. Soon after that we published a series of tactical education videos which illustrate our Tactical Spotlight articles in a different way. Since November we are trying to release gameplay videos frequently to show interested people how we play in public sessions or events.
We have been working hard on this platform and we were able to create some content that we believe to be both educational and enjoyable for the tactical community. We, in the future, plan to bring a bigger tactical look into gaming and also entertain you, our audience.
Tactical Documents: Our written arsenal
Of course tactics and combat procedures are a central aspect of our team. In 2013 we started to write down and structure what we used before in the field. By working with Google Drive, the whole team is involved in developing our written arsenal. So far we have already created a nice collection, accessible for everyone in our Library. And we will continue to expand it in the future, step by step.
However, these texts are meant to document details of our tactics and procedures for experienced operators - they are not written for self-study by newcomers. To allow newcomers a better insight into our tactical theory without hours of reading, we started a project called “Tactical Spotlights”. We published some short and meaningful articles focused on one topic and written for newcomers. In addition we released some short, educational videos. Unfortunately, although we received some positive feedback, these articles didn’t get the attention we hoped for. That’s why we have shifted our attention to other projects.
Community Networking: The more the merrier
Traditionally players of multiplayer games organize themselves in communities called “clans”, “teams”, “guilds”, etc. Unfortunately such communities often act like isolated islands. AST on the other hand tries to build bridges and connect like-minded players no matter which clan they belong to.
Gaming events together with other communities are one pillar of this philosophy. In 2013 for example ITS members joined and enhanced various of our Swat4 trainings. Furthermore we had kind of a Force-On-Force training using the “barricaded suspects” mode of Swat4 together with ETS. And not to forget various sessions of Arma2 together with members of the 22nd EVR SAS, ETS and the 10/21st Royal Marines.
Cooperative projects outside of games are the second pillar. In September 2013 we started to link other clans at our website if they link us in return as well. This way we want to create a network of tactical communities. We hope this acts as a base for further cooperation and moreover allows newcomers to find a whole bunch of teams easily. Another special project was the Christmas Podcast from ETS, where AST members acted as guests and even as talkmaster.
In the future we want to maintain our existing connections and create new ones. We want to repeat the successful things of the past and try out new ideas. We are ready to learn from others, and to help out whenever we can.
It’s probably impossible to write down all the stuff that AST did in the past year, but we want to remember a few more notable things.
First of all we tested a couple of games: “Rainbow Six: Raven Shield”, “Rainbow Six: Vegas 2” and “Hidden and Dangerous 2: Sabre Squadron”. Both Vegas 2 and H&D don’t fit our style 100%, and we had some trouble setting up proper servers. Although Raven Shield actually fits our style and we had a dedicated COOP server running, we didn’t have enough members who played the game on a regular base. So at the end these 3 Test-Squads were closed.
Nevertheless we will keep on testing games in the future to see where we can apply our realistic tactics successfully and have fun as team. An almost safe candidate is Arma3. At the moment not enough members own the game, or the necessary hardware. We are looking into a possible expansion in the future; however, due to a current lack of the appropriate modifications and addons it might take some time until we set foot in the game. Another option is Ground Branch. It’s developed by the independent BlackFoot Studios LLC and their concept of “Natural Order of Realistic Gameplay” sounds very promising to us. We really hope this independent project turns out better than Takedown did so far.
On a side note, an official AST Steam group was also created, for friends and members to join as they please.
And that brings this little summary to it’s conclusion. A lot of stuff happened this year and we hope that you had a good time reading up on what was most important for us. We also hope that you had an enjoyable and successful previous year and, again, we wish you all the best for the new year. The same goes to the clan itself, for which we will work to make 2014 an even better year.
See you on the battlefield!
Commanding Lt. Booone