Some years ago we started our 'Report In!' interview series to tell you a bit more about what it's like to develop games at Bohemia Interactive. With the newest Creator DLC (Reaction Forces) about to be released, we felt it would be a good time to question some of the third-party developers from the Rotators Collective team. This special 'Report In!' gives you a more personal perspective and a more detailed look at the way they go about their work.


Tell the people a little about yourself. Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Stefan Keßner, and when I’m not working my regular customer service job, I’m the head of the Rotators Collective - a select group of like-minded individuals from across Europe who have come together with a shared passion for gaming and, more specifically, creating games. We've been developing mods for various games for about 15 years now. It’s my creative outlet – if I don’t work on something for a longer period of time, I go mad!

What is your favorite BI game or Arma mission?

Clearly, my favorite BI game is Arma 3. There’s probably not another game in my library that has such a high runtime for me. As for my favorite mission, that’s still clearly “Avenging Furies“ from the “Beyond Hope“ Tac-Ops campaign. In my opinion, it just does everything right, is fun to play, and is pretty much a vertical slice of the usual combined arms Arma gameplay.

Can you give us some random facts about yourself?

Considering I have been playing Arma and Operation Flashpoint for about a million years now, I probably belong to some of the oldest players by now. Luckily, not yet the oldest, though!


How did the Reaction Forces project start? And how/when did you start forming your team?

The first draft of a new helicopter started as an idea for another free update to our Western Sahara Creator DLC. However, it quickly became clear that it would not be financially viable at all. Producing entirely new vehicles of any kind is very expensive, especially for a product that has been released for around two years, has already received multiple free content updates in the past, and of course, if you want the new assets to be of good quality. Because of that, the idea died pretty quickly, and I started to explore other potential features and elements I’d love to see in Arma someday. We ended up expanding the scope significantly and were able to turn it into a new, viable Creator DLC that we are quite proud of.

Pretty much everyone who worked on Reaction Forces has already worked, at least in part, on Western Sahara, so assembling the team was pretty much a non-issue this time around, and we were ready to start working in small steps right after releasing the Western Sahara 1.1 update.

What made you choose this CDLC's particular theme?

Considering the assets we were working on and how everything shaped out over time, it started to feel like the most logical conclusion. Personally, I’ve also really wanted to delve more into the civilian aspect of our new helicopter and pickup; for example, firefighting, which fits the banner of Reaction Forces very well. Our “Cashpoint“ multiplayer game mode is Cops and Robbers themed, which again, fits pretty well with the concept of forces that have to react to something. Then, of course, it’s an important aspect of warfare - you don’t need to be everywhere at all times, but you need to be able to get anywhere as fast as possible. How you react, and especially how fast, matters a lot.

This is the second Creator DLC you have developed that takes place in Arma 3's "futura" 2035 setting. How much connection is there to the existing Armaverse narrative and world?

Unlike Western Sahara, where we clearly dropped familiar names here and there, this time we decided to tone it down a bit and stay further away from details in the official lore. There are a few very loose connections, such as the NATO invasion of Altis, which is a theme in our new “Air Control” scenario, or the “Stepping StoneTac-Ops campaign, which serves as the background for our Malden “QRF“ scenario. But generally, we intentionally didn’t try to shoehorn our own lore into the mix and instead kept it more vague.

How has your project benefited from being a Creator DLC?

We have been able to allocate far more resources to fine-tuning and polishing all of our new assets. Also, I dare say that this project, if released as a regular mod on the workshop, simply would not have been possible to create in the short amount of time. We needed roughly one year of development, then another two to three months for QA and final polishing.


What was the primary focus of this Creator DLC?

Our main goal was to deliver a small but consistent package that can offer new gameplay opportunities for every player. Whether you prefer flying, staying on the ground, close or long-range combat, or simply want to toy around with more remote-controlled drones - we've got you covered! While Arma 3 may be showing its age, we strongly believe that there are still many areas left to explore. Looking at the monthly average player statistics, we're certainly not the only ones who think that way!

How did you go about selecting the assets (gear, weapons, vehicles, turrets) in your package?

It was quite a natural progression. The helicopter has always been considered our main asset. We chose this variant for both its style and its immense versatility. Not only is it used by various militaries, but also in the civilian sector for search and rescue, firefighting, and transportation.

The 4-seat pickup has largely been a community request. When we were actively working in Western Sahara, it was suggested by players almost constantly. To complement our lineup in Reaction Forces, it felt like a great non-flight related asset.

All of our new weapons were selected by us due to the unique offerings they bring to the base game. For example, there is no real hand-cannon, so we added one with the Mk26 pistol. The G19 automatic pistol, with its high-capacity magazines, is a very viable alternative to the regular SMGs in the game. Let’s be honest, nobody really wants to use those, since they take away a main rifle slot. Now with the G19, you can essentially equip that SMG-equivalent in your pistol slot and keep your main rifle at the same time.

The H6 is probably the rifle with the lowest weight in the game now. Sure, it’s limited to being a bolt-action rifle, but it also allows you to carry more gear easily, such as our new 60mm Commando Mortar backpack, which can be assembled and used by a single soldier. Now, to contrast that, we have the new Veles 12.7mm rifle. It’s heavy, and the magazines weigh at least as much, but it’s one of the hardest-hitting rifles in the game. If you need to hit that guy behind three walls in front of you, you’ll pick the Veles and start blasting.

As you can see, everything is meant to fill a gap somewhere in the lineup. We made a conscious effort to not just offer more of the same 'but with different visuals,' which was pretty much the same approach we took with Western Sahara.

What decisions or influences helped you develop your singleplayer and multiplayer scenarios?

When it comes to our flagship scenario, “Air Control,“ we wanted it to be similar in style to “Extraction“ from Western Sahara while utilizing the new helicopter as the hero asset. Since it's not a big theme in the main game, we primarily wanted to highlight the logistics and support roles, showing that they are at least, if not more, important than participation in combat. With that in mind, “Air Control“ started out as a simple “transport supplies“ scenario. From there, it didn't take much until we realized the scenario could offer way more possibilities, specifically in terms of replayability. Our subsequent design decisions were tailored to support open-world sandbox-style gameplay - the player can use almost every vehicle or mechanic that Arma 3 offers to this day.

This, in return, led us to divert a bit from the pilot-only mission gameplay. For the multiplayer variant of the scenario, we added an optional infantry element and refined all processes once more to support an even bigger sandbox. Also, truth be told, many players can't or don't want to fly a helicopter in the game, so offering an alternative on the ground is a great way to give those players something else to do.

What criteria do you use to determine when something is considered complete?

That’s always a tough question, since I’m probably the biggest critic of everything we do. If it’s up to me, then almost nothing is ever truly finished. You just have to stop at some point and let it out into the wild, see how it goes, and hope for the best, I guess.


What would you say has been the most challenging thing about developing Reaction Forces?

We pretty much faced the same issues as when we were working on Western Sahara: How to manage it all while holding down a 40-hour/week job and doing all of this on the side. It’s hard. Like, really hard. Especially since 2023 wasn’t exactly an easy year for us to begin with. The additional work can become quite taxing and requires a good deal of balancing to avoid burning out, which is not something any of us wants to happen.

Were there any lessons learned from the development and release of Arma 3 Creator DLC: Western Sahara?

Since we had prior experience with the development and release of Western Sahara, this time we were able to streamline the whole process a lot better. That means better design documents, better notes, far more pre-production, and a more thought-out project scope. Generally, the work went ahead a lot smoother and with fewer issues than before, since we were able to avoid design traps and pitfalls. Of course, all of this with a few of the usual exceptions, since nothing ever goes 100% perfectly well and something will always set you back a few steps… That’s unavoidable.

If there's only one thing you could point out that you are the proudest of, what is it and why?

I can’t really nail it down to one thing - but two for sure. I’m really proud of how much customization we were able to incorporate into our Cougar helicopter and MOOSE pickup. None of the vehicles in the base game offer as many details that can be toggled on and off. Also, the huge amount of textures for both assets: The helicopter has over 30 different liveries, and the Pickup even reaches up to 40. That’s not just simple color swaps, but different themes and camouflage for military and civilian use.

What type of experience do you hope players will get from playing this CDLC?

Primarily, we are looking at players who just really want more of the base game. Things that'll keep the game fresh for them once more - that’s why all our assets are made with visual and stylistic compatibility in mind. If you can’t tell which asset is from us and which is from the base game, it means we have succeeded!


After a long day of work and creating new Arma 3 content, what do you like to do to relax and unwind?

Creating Arma content has been kind of a way to “relax and unwind“ for much of the past three years. If it’s not Arma, then probably another game or watching a random TV show for a little bit. If the weather is acceptable, I also like to ride my bike around the local forest.

What would be your top tip for other developers out there?

Pretty much the same as I’m always preaching: By God, start small! Yes, everyone has grand ideas and wants to see them realized, but the chance of succeeding is way higher if you limit your scope. It’s also far more rewarding to finish a smaller project than to suffer through years and years of little progress. In my experience, almost all huge projects will never see the light of day anyway.

BONUS: What is your favorite cops vs. robbers movie?

That’s an easy answer: Heat from 1995. All of us actually (re-)watched the movie around the time we worked on the “Cashpoint“ multiplayer game mode. The new duffel bag is also very much inspired by it. It's one of the best bank heist movies, and easily the one with the best ever made shootout sequence.

The Arma 3 Creator DLC: Reaction Forces can be wishlisted now on Steam!