I played a lot of Operation Flashpoint in the day. I was a member of a few clans over my year or so of play, but they all had one thing in common: Camaraderie. Everyone tightened up their belts once a week, and we all got together and played the shit out of a really hard mission.
Sometimes it'd be a convoy assault, where one of our designated pilots would fly us in, we'd have 10 minutes to prepare and manouvere before the enemy force showed up, inevitably getting cut to pieces by overwhelming enemy fire.
Sometimes it'd be a castle defence, where waves of enemy soldiers charge across a huge open plain, and we have to try to shoot them down before they reach the gates, and overrun us.
Sometimes it'd be a black-ops mission, where we had to kill an enemy commander in a command bunker, at the other side of a hugely heavily defended map, with no vehicles, respawns or extra ammo to help us. The whole island crawling with groups of spetznaz slithering around in the forest with suppressed rifles, looking to kill a few blues.
Sometimes it'd be a story mission, like black hawk down. Getting trapped in a convoy, and attacked, and then we'd meet contacts, who would tell us the locations of objectives and weapons/ammo caches and we'd have to make our way across the custom-mapped desert country, sometimes tens of kilometers on foot and in broke-ass donkey-pulled trucks.
Or even a Zombie mission, with the clock stuck at just such a time, and just such a cloudy day that the early sun pierced through the thick, smoky clouds. Illuminating the entire world in a bloody, crimson haze. Running across grass fields and trying to avoid the slowly encroaching crowd of zombies, headed for the LZ hoping that our ride team survives long enough to rescue us, all the while mourning our lost friends, who muted on teamspeak, now followed us as a small flight of seagulls.
OFP was a quirky, buggy, totally unusual game populated mostly by russians and ex army folk. Most people couldn't even get it to work, but those who did always had a good time.
I was really looking forward to Armed Assault. To designing new, and better missions. Harder missions. To meeting new, interesting people who just couldn't stomach the terrible graphics in OFP, and navigating across worlds larger than ever before, with nothing to help us but a map and compass. I even upgraded my computer specifically to run that game better.
But just a short time into the game's somewhat lengthy lifespan, I was met by a terrible foe. Evolution. A series of maps, designed such that they were more of an open-world military role-playing game. One with a persistent mission, respawning enemy encampments, patrols and cities, spawning the entire continent. You would go up in ranks by defeating enemy spawns, conquering points on the map, and just generally doing things. It seemed so great, at first. But it ended up being a problem.
You see, people would join up these servers, finding the rest of the players already out on a mission. they'd sit around bored at the spawn for a few minutes, and then go on their own mission. Then some people would die, or get back from the last one, and ignore the other guy. More people would join, and people would leave from the starting group/clan. Everyone got de-sync'd. normally, maps and missions would start and end like in counter-strike. You'd suceed, or more likely, fail. Then everyone would get dumped to a lobby, and have to choose a new map.
This basically had the effect of totally killing any semblance of community. Turning Armed Assault into what was essentially a shitty OFP clone with much higher system requirements. And the worst part was, nobody cared. They didn't seem to remember how awesome things used to be. I tried for months to find a good clan, that played missions the old way, and just gave up.
Since then, I've tried going back to the original OFP, but it's dead now. Nobody around anymore. And I've toyed with getting ARMAII, but I don't want the same thing to happen again. I think if I buy that game (And all of it's goddamn expensive add-ons), just to see Evolves on the server list again, I might have a fatal seizure.