The U.S. Army “Games for Training” program needed a first-person gaming application training solution that is flexible and versatile with the ability to work in Mission Training Complexes, in unit classrooms or on soldiers’ personal computers for training development. The training solution would need to replicate real battlefield environments, allow soldiers and leaders to practice cognitive skills, and support mission planning and mission rehearsals.
The U.S. Army’s Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI), awarded Bohemia Interactive Simulations, Alelo, Simcentric, MTS and Calytrix Technologies, the project’s prime contractor, a 5-year contract to deliver and field such a training solution in June 2013.
“VBS3 brings the user a modernized user interface, improved avatar fidelity, better path planning for AI, new AAR display and capability, multicast networking and many other new features,” said Leslie Dubow, project director for the Army’s Games for Training program, based at PEO STRI.
BISim introduced a new multicast system to improve the performance of servers so more players could simultaneously interact in scenarios with less impact to the frame rate. BISim dramatically improved server performance to allow hundreds of players and entities in VBS3.
Another key innovation BISim developed for the Army was an avatar plug-in for VBS3 that produces an individualized avatar modeled on key performance attributes of the soldier who operates the avatar during training. This plug-in allows the U.S. Army to import Digital Training Management Systems (DTMS) datasets to VBS. The plug-in allows administrators to automatically determine and equip players’ avatars based on their military occupational specialty, rank, unit type and billet. This feature also allows administrators to incorporate data provided in the Weapons Qualifications information from DTMS. Once that information is imported into VBS through the plug-in, administrators can quickly set up squads, create an order of battle, and automatically populate these squads for the slotting screen for missions.
An enhanced face editor tool also allows users to generate a photorealistic rendering of the player. In addition, a feature of the plug-in tracks and records statistics about the avatar during missions in VBS including shots fired, shots hit, accuracy, and kills. These statistics can be viewed in real time during missions above avatars’ heads. In addition, BISim added realistic jumping and the ability for avatars to physically strike other avatars with their hands, legs and weapons.
BISim and its partners delivered a number of new capabilities and features to the Army including new advanced artificial intelligence tools that provide more realistic pattern of life features. VBS3 features a suppressive fire feature that can be used when commanding AI troops. AI units will engage in accordance with the defined parameters. The area to be suppressed is defined through an intuitive 3D interface. The suppression system is integrated with both the real time editor and after-action review functions.
Also, included with the Army’s version of VBS3 are SimCentric’s Crowd Ambience and Insurgent Ambience artificial intelligence applications. Crowd Ambience allows users to populate scenarios in VBS3 with hundreds of civilians. Insurgent Ambience simulates insurgent cell operations and patterns of life.
In addition, BISim enhanced its after-action review tools to allow for customizable recording that gives the Army the ability to automate recording and playback views based on trigger events and scenario settings.