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Games Entertainment

Military Grade Gaming 84

Mr. Obvious writes: "A NYTimes reporter has written an interesting, detailed story about the cutting edge in military simulation --- interpersonal interaction! This is not about flight simulation but about fight-or-flight simulation --- see the article to see what I mean. It's short on screen-shots (just one tiny teaser) but long on critical analysis about such things as the fragility of current simulation technology. Should be of interest not only to computer gamers but also to people interested in simulation technology and its (current) limits (particularly in regards to modeling real human behavior)."
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Military Grade Gaming

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well put!

    I play a healthy amount of DoD (Day of Defeat), a WWII Half-Life MOD and am pretty good at it. I love the sights and sounds of the weapons. But I love to chuckle about the fact that, during the entire game, you run with your rifle fully extended out in front of you, perfectly still and your muscles never tire. Heh heh. And the Garand is no light rifle!

    Most of the time, too, friendly-fire is OFF, meaning that you can unload a clip of .45 into the head of your teammate and nothing will happen. Kinda sad, because it happens a lot.

    Oh, and there's really no real penalty for dying. A lot of servers have the respawn time set for 0-10 seconds, which means that "Hey! Who cares if I charge 3 heavy machine guns with my pistol? I'll just respawn as a sniper and shoot them!". Problem is, this doesn't teach anything about tactics. If I'm up against heavy machine guns, and outta ammo for my rifle, you can bet your ass I'm going to be a silent, sneaky bastard in that area. If only they'd set the respawn to, like, 30, 45 or 60 seconds. Now THAT would teach people to be careful. By providing a bigger penalty for death (in real life, you don't get to respawn), it enhances the experience and realism of the game.

    Sometimes the only thing that will train you for real combat is real combat.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Several games can model most of these things. Several board games have had equipment failure, morale, and troops "going berzerk". I haven't seen many deal with friendly fire.

    You should have encountered all of this, however, in your day of paintball. Paintball is wrought with all of these.

    You want snafu'd equipment? Rent a field gun, and watch it jam or decide to do nothing but *foont* and spray paint 2-3 feet. You discover this after you've rushed up to a small wooden barrier that, when crouching, you barely fit behind.

    You want fear? At this point, broken gun in hand, you hear the flimsy, cheap plywood barrier being pelted with a hundred paintballs making resonant "thwaps", and realize that if you move an inch, you get pelted too.

    You want stupidity? You turn around and notice that none of your team followed you up when you rushed the barrier. They're wandering around behind you; looking at each other and scratching there asses with "What to do" looks on their faces. They seem to not hear the "COVER ME!!" that you're screaming back at them.

    You want insanity? At some point, you need to to actually extract yourself from that barrier...and then you get to "discuss" it with your team.

    It all seemed like a good plan at the time.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    this is a little off topic, but there is a mod called dday

    people got into a huge discussion on the message board about how some players were saying that they "played bravely to honour their dead grandpa" and thats why they didn't use cheats and didn't hop like bunnies all over the map.

    the other players said that while not cheating is a good thing the only thing that would convice them that they were being brave was if someone wrote a pak file that would "on your death, send a signal through the printer port to 3lbs of Comp D strapped to the back of your seat."

    however, I wouldn't be surprised if someone would try this, or at least stick a can of mace onto their monitors to squirt themselves with everytime they got hit by the flamethrower

    to give you some idea about how realistic the team has tried to make it, it has the following features:

    1) Truesight. You can fire "from the hip" with low accuracy and your gun shakes all over the place, or you can hit shift and the weapon model moves so that you can look down the barrel, you move a little slower - especially if you lie prone and crawl on the ground -(needless to say anyone using a crosshairs other than the one that comes on the sniper gun will get caught as a cheat)

    2) jumping stamina. we had a problem with bunnies that thought that dday was quake. Now they get a little tired and cant jump after 2 or 3 hops, and we kill them.

    3) grenades that bounce realistically, throw out both flame and shrapnel and can be picked up and thrown back at the enemy.

    4) virtually all your cover can be destroyed by hmg fire or rockets in the newer missions (walls blow down etc)

    5)friendly fire is set to on

    6)each class is has a unique skin, but you can pick up the weapons from anyone of any team and use them. it's not uncommon to see a usa infantary kill a german officer and run away with his submachine gun as a souvineer.

    7) callable artiliary is simulated

    8) flame throwers are simulated

    9) airborn infantary is simulated

    10) you bleed. until a medic sees to you.

    11) sometimes you have to use the team shout key to get someone to "climb up on my shoulders" in order to capture some objectives.

    12) when you die, you go to the death room, until such time that it would be reasonable for reinforcements to enter the area.

  • If you want to get retro, you could always consider the US Army's version of Battlezone [] otherwise known as the Bradley Trainer.

  • Seems like he might have set himself up to be the target, if everyone was thinking "Quake-boy is dangerous. Get Quake-boy first, then worry about everyone else."

    Not that I know anything about what was going on, mind you, I'm just reading into the previous post.

    Jon Acheson
  • "Dr. Silverman said one of his students had recently asked him why he even bothered with his research when there are games like Age of Empires, Microsoft's popular warfare strategy series."

    That's a laugh... there's a HUGE difference between a game like AoE and real military operations. Just goes to show that being a CS student doesn't automatically make you smart. A world of difference between how a simulated unit in a *game* reacts to certain commands within strict parameters, and how a human reacts in a situation... be interesting to see technology like this developed and applied to CRPGs though.
  • "The military" already does testing like this, it's called field exercises. (At least, the Canadian Forces do, I can't imagine that there's any other serious military force that doesn't.)

    The point of using a computer is to reduce costs - it's expensive to keep people in the field - and time involved. That being said, IMO the only way to simulate your reactions after marching 16 hours in extreme heat is to... well, march 16 hours in extreme heat.

    I had some pretty surprising orders passed down to me in field exercises with commanders under stress, and I'm glad these were exercises and not Real Life(tm).
  • Air Warrior, a massively multiplayer 3D WWII online air combat simulation, has been running in various forms on various commercial services and on various client architectures (Mac, Amiga, Atari ST, EGA, VGA, SVGA, Windows 3.11, Windows 9x) since 1987.

    Your history about the advances the military have made in distributed 3D simulation environments is false.

  • I just wanted to note to everyone (especially people with a high moderation threshold) that the above comment is not refering to the system in the article. The scenerio in work at USC ICT involves rerouting a platoon after a car accident injures a local civilian.

    Just wanted to clarify.

  • IIRC the book is Kobayashi Maru and it does go in to how Scotty fail the test.
  • by sien ( 35268 )
    For you computer scientists out there, the military is doing something quite large and interesting.
    The HLA [], the high level architecture, is a system for integrating different simulation systems into one big networked simulator.
    The problems are more severe than in the current large multiplayer games because you have to link people up fairly and be realistic and you have to link different systems together.
  • You can't win the mission. If you're good you get out (alive) and picked up by a chopper. That one gets shot down and you bail just to land right in front of an enemy squad. There the demo ends.

    The release will play havoc with a lot of social lives (where remaining).

    What stuns most is the AI. Enemies flank you, call tanks (and they come) in for fire support and hide behind bushes, trees and inside houeses.

    From the tactical viewpoint it's quite realistic. A tank for example has a lot of fire power, but without infantry it stands no chance to survive.

    Bye, Martin

  • by mseeger ( 40923 ) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @05:43AM (#135914)
    All fans of these things have probably allready taken a look at: []

    It's one of the top five games i've ever seen. The Release in Europe is expected tomorrow. The techies are allready lining up at the stores. In the US you can take a look at the demo for which about 200 homemade missions are allready available.

    CU on the battlefield, Martin

  • From the article :
    It is the product of about six months of work here by three research groups at the University of Southern California

    And to think that Quake3 took about 18 month to make, and it didn't even get close to simulate ...simulating emotions and the unexpected effects that panic, stress, anxiety and fear...

    Another one, this one scares me a bit :
    largely financed by the Army to promote collaboration among the military, Hollywood and computer researchers

    I'm pretty sure some guys at the pentagone have seen one too many Michael Bay movies where every thing just goes "Boom" and the nice Americans wins in the end.

  • I submitted the NRDC report to slashdot, the editors apparently didn't find it that interesting. Oh well, it's up at kuro5hin.
  • Chapters 4 and 5 of the report have the analysis of the SIOP for counterforce and countervalue. I've talked to a couple of people who can give informed comments and their only disagreement is the fission component of the weapons used. They regard the assumptions used in targeting as reasonable. Note that the damage calculation part of the sim uses actual code from DoD and LLNL.
  • by wiredog ( 43288 ) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @05:41AM (#135918) Journal
    There's an analysis of the likely SIOP at the NRDC []. You may be interested in the section on how the ran their sim.
  • > I can see where the technology is headed with the quality of graphics being produced (planetside?) but what kind of psychological conditioning is being given to troops these days? If I were a villager, I wouldn't want to confront a U.S. soldier whose only negotiation skills were garnered from an FPS game back home.

    Actually, you're right - there's a lot of attention being paid to psychological training of our troops.

    Do a keyword search for "the three-block war", or variants thereof.

    "In one moment in time, our service members will be feeding and clothing displaced refugees - providing humanitarian assistance. In the next moment, they will be holding two warring tribes apart - conducting peacekeeping operations. Finally, they will be fighting a highly lethal mid-intensity battle. All on the same day, all within three city blocks. It will be what we call the three block war."

    General Charles C. Krulak - 31st Commandant - United States Marine Corps

    So yes, a lot of attention is being paid to these issues. Other keywords to search for: MOUT (Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain), "OBUA" (Operations in Built Up Areas), and "FIBUA" (Fighting In Built Up Areas).

    The hardest part of the soldier's job, IMHO, will be in figuring out which block he's in at any given moment. That's where the training will pay off - both in terms of protecting our troops, and for (well, at least in blocks one and two ;-) the native population.

  • There's an analysis of the likely SIOP

    I checked out that site and found nothing of sort. I found wild conjecture on what the SIOP could possibly be, and then a simulation run as a worst-case scenario, showing a whole lotta death.

    Well, yes, there would be a whole lotta death, but don't let the NRDC fool you into thinking they were using actual plans.

    I was gonna mod you down, but there's no (-1, Misinformed) option.


  • Ever use a Super Nintendo?

    Then you have used the same machine the US military uses to train troops in rifle marksmanship. Strange, but true. []

    MACS are excellent devices to train soldiers. I know because my shooting scores increased after significant practice on a MACS. Furthermore, they let more soldiers get "trigger time" but save money and the environment. Sweet deal.
  • There was one of the Star Trek books where the command crew/senior officers of the Enterprise were stranded in a shuttle craft waiting to be rescued and each one related their experience with that simulation.

    Who cares fact. Scottie was originally in command school, took the Kobiashi Maru test, and came very close to succeeding (in fact, the book doesn't cover exactly how he failed, but he must have). But of course, Scottie is a miracle worker. :-)

  • by cybrpnk ( 94636 ) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @05:45AM (#135923)
    The US Army has such a major interest in simulation that it maintains two separate centers in this area: the National Simulation Center [] in Fort Levenworth KS and STRICOM (Simulation, Training and Instrumentation Command) []. Check em' out!
  • The US Army has operated the National Training Center (NTC []) in the Mojave Desert for years now. It's one of the big reasons for our success in Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

    I was there with my battallion from the 10th MTN Division in 1991, and I can tell you that by the time most soldiers actually get into a "shoot/no-shoot" situation, they're already in a state that no video game can replicate.

    1) They're tired. Military operations are 'round-the-clock affairs. Nobody ever gets enough sleep (except for pilots) ;-)

    2) They're nervous. Even in "routine" situations, the adrenaline can run pretty high. For example, while on patrols in Kismayo, Somalia, we would often encounter young men who would hide in alleyways with sticks or small lengths of pipe held behind their backs. They'd whip these things out as you approached, and each and every time, you'd have to decide in a split-second if the thing was a weapon or just a stick.

    3) They're dealing with visual conditions. If it's hot and sticky, and you've been on a patrol for a long period of time, you're going to be even more tired than usual. Your long-range visual acuity can be seriously hampered by glare. Sure, you can wear sunglasses, but then you're at a disadvantage in shadows.

    4) They're often overburdened with equipment. Read this: this [] for a few notes on how the soldier's load can affect combat performance.

    5) They're dealing with sound issues. Unfortunately, it's not always easy to pinpoint gunfire's point of origin. Test it yourself: Next time you hear a jet plane overhead, time how long it takes for you to find it, then imagine someone is shooting at you while you're looking. In crowd situations, it's even worse.

    6) Terrain can have a tremendous effect. Dense jungle canopy, for example, tends to make you nervous all the time (unless you grew up in in, I suppose). At the Jungle Warfare School at Ft. Sherman, Panama, we'd go on 4-6 hour patrols, and the entire time we'd be constantly on edge because our OPFOR were likely to pop up anywhere.

    The problem with any form of simulation is that the further removed you get from real situations, the less likely the training is to provide any real value. In fact, even in the most realistic training environments possible,. like the NTC [] and JRTC [], "perfect" training is impossible.

    The MILES laser training system tends to reward use of concealment as cover, for example. While bushes may stop MILES lasers, they don't stop bullets. Even with disadvantages like this, there's no substitute for out in the mud, getting your ass run down and tired, stressed out, is-that-guy-gonna-kill-me-or-not, why-in-the-hell-am-I-here training.

    The JRTC is an excellent example of hands-on training that works. There are many situations during a JRTC rotation in which soldiers will have to deal with "civilians" whose motives are unclear. They'll have to try and win over the population by using their brains and communicating with them. The intangibles that computer simulations simply can't replicate are all there at the JRTC.

    While I understand the need to save money in training, this is a supreme case of You Get What You Pay For.

  • What if the soldiers were in a real battle but they thought it was just a simulation? So they don't panic when the guy next to them gets his head blown off.

    Eh, now you know what they're really getting at.
  • "How does a hand-grenade explosion a few feet away from you motivate you if you've just been marching 16 hours in tremendous heat?"

    I don't believe that what he's looking for is "you're motivated into little tiny bits". My guess is that he wants to assume that the person lived and now has to act. Do you run away? Play dead? Go postal on where the enemy might be? Can you react, or be trained to react, in the best possible way regardless of fatigue/stress/injury.

  • This does sound like something a little more advanced. Truth is, neither the live-fire exercises I did as an infantryman (11B, too, none of this mechanized stuff for us -- we _walked_ where we were going, by God! :) nor the patient-care exercises I did as a medic prepared me for the reality of Iraqi AA aimed at my medevac chopper. Now, quite possibly, nothing could have -- but the closer they can come to the actual environment _without_ killing as many people in training as on the battlefield, the better off our soldiers will be.
  • by Eagle7 ( 111475 ) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @06:01AM (#135928) Homepage
    "Because many of the models are ginned up by computer scientists who don't know anything about human behavior."

    Another Computer Scientist unknowningly explains the tragic lack of sex amongst those in his field.
  • This spring during this OOD class I was taking at UT-Austin, the teacher gave an example of code resuse taken a bit too far (it lead into better ways to do what the programmers were trying to do). You will I hope pardon that I can't give any attribution or backup material for this, she didn't give any and I didn't think at the time to ask her...

    Apparently, the Australian army wanted to make a flight sim to train helicopter pilots/gunnery officers on, complete with all the things you'd expect like infantry, ground vehicles, various and sundry air units, and non-combatants like civilians and atmosphere critters like kangaroos. This is in the early 90s from what I recall her saying.

    So the programmers naturally spend most of their time working on the "active" interaction objects, i.e. the ones the pilots/gunners will most likely be shooting at: infantry and vehicles. (friend and foe, for IFF tests) It came time to do the atmosphere things and they decided to be efficient and reuse many of the behavioral subroutines from the enemy infantry for the ground critters (like herds of kangaroos instead of platoons of infantry; enemy becuase kangaroos wouldn't most likely stand and wave at a helicopter like Australian troops would).

    This worked very well, mostly. The kangaroos would scatter and try to run away from the helicopter as soon as they heard it, hiding behind trees, hills, and in valleys, etc.

    Unfortunately, the code reused also modeled the "pop out from behind cover and fire shoulder-launched AA missiles at helicopter" behavior, a fact no one noticed until the first air crew was lost due to the KLA (Kangaroo Liberation Army, as the bug manifestation apparently became known as).


    News for geeks in Austin: []
  • "see the article to see what I mean."

    see the article. Michael, dude, you haven't been paying attention to slashdot, have you?

  • I prefered Jet Figher II. Any flight sim game that you can't land on the ground and shoot missiles at building and then take off isn't a game for me. I never did get that Falcon series ;-)
  • Actually, to me, Quake-boy sounds like he played paintball like one plays quake. There is little risk that getting shot once is going to take you out... (minus rail gun). Caution, stealth and patience are all rewarded in paintball, but not in Quake.
  • Training should be like bloodless battles, and battles should be like bloody training.
  • <cynicism>Military simulations(read: games) are all fine and well until someone releases a wallhack for them</cynicism>

    We all know what that has done to net gaming on CS ;)

  • You're driving around Redmond and accidently ran over Bill Gates. A crowd gathers as a frantic Craig Mundie runs around waving his hands in the air screaming about the end of the world. The onlookers are getting closer with grimmacing looks on their faces. What do you do?

    Answer: Get back in the jeep and try for Mundie!

  • If I were a villager, I wouldn't want to confront a U.S. soldier whose only negotiation skills were garnered from an FPS game back home.

    Well, that's sort of the point isn't it. Learn to take control of the situation. Learn to deal with civilians...

  • I had a little bit of trouble getting used to the interface to pick up weapons and what-not. And as always, the AI players just run up and get shot leaving you to crawl around to each bloody corpse and pick up whatever ammo you can find.

    I can't wait to see this multiplayer -- perhaps they will implement something like "RogerWilco" so we can have voice communications instead of pre-made responses like "incoming enemy."


  • by don_carnage ( 145494 ) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @06:01AM (#135938) Homepage
    Didn't you realize that this was their plan all along? Do you think that Falcon 4.0 was made as realistic as it was just for the pleasure of the player? I think not!

    It's just like CHIMPOKOMON! We must fly the fighters to destroy the American base to acheive master chimpokomon status!


  • by don_carnage ( 145494 ) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @05:53AM (#135939) Homepage
    I've played the demo of this and it's so realistic that it's creepy. Even the lighting and shadows look real! Of course, in the demo mission, my entire platoon was gunned down and I was left with a leg injury and a rocket launcher to destroy the tank and the remaining enemy force. Needless to say, I lost.

  • You're referring to the Kobiashi Maru(sp??) test. And IIRC, Kirk was the only one to win the no-win simulation. Because he did rig the simulation.

    Yes. I'm a Star Trek geek. What are you going to do about it?


  • I know that people have registed accuonts at NYTimes before for /., but I can't remember any of the usernames and passwords. So, for anybody who cares I registered another /. user accuont.

    user: slashdotaccount
    password: slashdotaccount


  • of course, the quote:

    "``Depending on the path you took, a particular tape is played,'' he said. Because there are only a few possible paths in this version of the simulation, he said, it is possible to record the evaluations in advance... As the simulation becomes more sophisticated, there will be more choices for the lieutenant, and software will put the story together on the fly."

    sort of makes me wonder a bit at the real sophistication of the thing. Quite possibly more a matter of hype then any really significant technology. Quite possibly nothing more then several [nontheless at least somewhat intelligent] gaming idiots with a fat chunk of government grant sqaundering U.S. tax dollars...

    If nothing else, goes to show another example where "intelligent agent" software research seems to be getting money thrown at it.

    ps: Then again, $45 mil isn't really even pocket change to the military.

  • Just wondering if they have a hose and a drain for when someone wets themself when they go in this thing for the first time?
  • If I were a villager, I wouldn't want to confront a U.S. soldier whose only negotiation skills were garnered from an FPS game back home.
    This is a good point... Because we all know what video games do to the minds of our young people. Imagine what it would do to these impressionable young men and women who join the army. And we give them the guns too....


  • They don't always die... I mean if you go forward a bit, and *back up* your team mates they don't die. I only had five people in my squad at the end of the demo level.
  • Most of what you mention can be modelled. Equipment failure, certainly. As for people going mad/deserting... that's not too hard to put in the AI as a random occurance/possible behavior.
  • In 94 I was playing Falcon 3.0 multiplayer 3D flight simulator on a 486. It may not have had every little thing that the military had, but it was a 3D battle simulation on a PC, with attention paid to how a real airplane handled (the manual was not for the faint of heart).

    For those of you who have not heard of Falcon, it was the first "good" military flight sim. Had awacs sending you on missions to go out wack a few military targets (tanks, bridges, other airplanes, etc.), escort mission, etc. It was super advanced for it's time, I can't remember on how many floppies the damn thing came on though (too damn many). I must say it was pretty cool (maybe in a twisted way) zooming in and watching people running from your missile, headed for their SAM site.
  • How would you interact with people who probably don't speak your language, or better said you don't speak theirs. Just have the characters make sudden and jerky movements. Alot of shouting. Some pushing. Itchy trigger finger anyone?
  • Having played war/tactical games all of my life, this simulation touches on the one thing that would challenge my abilities on "the field." Emotion. After all, I'm just a dude who controls his batallions with his mouse...

    Anyone (dare I say), can lead a fearless army into battle and win, with some restored/saved games... But when your friends are getting their heads blown off next to you (in the simulation), and you have to deal with fear/leadership tests, it makes the simulation far more realistic, scary, and challenging.

    While I wouldn't want to play such a simulation or game, I must admit it sounds like a great tool to give our soldiers a first-hand experience of real combat... It seems... only fair that they are allowed to train their emotions amidst such simulated chaos.

    Of course, this isn't to say that the military didn't have any simulated battle -- just that this one allows one person to experience a fairly large-scale tactical mission without -- well, involving tons of other people.

    I like it.
  • See the world. Meet interesting people.
    And frag them. []
  • by Darth RadaR ( 221648 ) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @06:08AM (#135951) Journal
    Sure, it can do graphics, weapons, realistic sounds, etc., but no simulator can really account for the weirdness of humans and other various calamaties. Things like

    Stupidity- Where some guy accidentally sets up a claymore pointing at his platoon.

    Fear- Where someone in the platoon decides, "Screw this! This isn't worth dying for.", and bails out or hides in the woods.

    Insanity- Where someone in the platoon goes bonkers and decides to start killing his own people or wants to extract revenge on a certain platoon member or officer.

    SNAFU- Equipment failure.

    Equipment competence-Just because you can control a simulated piece of equipment doesn't mean that you can handle the real thing (i.e. recoil)

    You can be pretty fearless when all you have to do is poke a "Play Again?" button if something goes wrong.

    One of the reasons I mention equipment is that we've got one guy who can polish the floor with our butts in Quake. We all went to play paintball (a 1st for everyone), and Quake-boy ended up getting drenched with about 3 coats. And he's in pretty good physical shape too.

  • I did plenty of 12 mile marches in the Army. After a while you get used to it and you don't feel tired afterward. My personal record was a little more than 2 and a half hours carrying about 50 pounds of weight. I knew someone who could run the entire 12 miles carrying the same weight in under 2 hours. A bunch of other people I knew used to do it in a little over 2 hours.
  • by alen ( 225700 )
    I thought we took a lot of stuff to the field in mech, but when I was in the South European Task Force, we must have taken twice as much as mech. Made me wish to the good old days of sleeping in Bradleys.

  • In some ways, however, the problems are LESS severe, because in federations of HLA systems, one always trusts the other system to do what it's supposed to do and not cheat.

    In case anyone is wondering by the way, HLA is nothing more than a glorified way of communicating TIME-SYNCHRONIZED data to and from the peers and having each agree about when the event occurred. Primitives are also included to make certain that the peers themselves stay lock-stepped in time and agree about what time it is.

  • "they run asynchronously in real-time."
    That would lead one application to vastly outpace another, and furthermore introduce an entire category of entropy related problems.

  • Similar systems are already in use in the Canadian military...displays the results based on what you do (hold your fire? shoot at the wrong target? miss? etc.).

    That's not really the same thing. The only form of interaction with the scenario is a simulated firearm, so it's essentially a video game. Police academies have been using the same systems for 20 years. The system they're developing isn't about being able to shoot the right guy at the right time; rather it accepts voice commands and is meant to train soldiers how to deal with stressful NON-shooting situations. Soldiers in the US Army are already fairly good at shooting.
  • I've seen that system in action. It might not be canada, but Kansas takes a close second. Anyways, whats in the article is radically differant than what you speak of. The police trainer type thing is based on film that basically has a random seed of events. The military version may have a few new items like a gun other than a revolver and maybe a "choice" situation, but what the article is talking about is an entirely computer generated system, from the graphics to the people, their reactions and motivates, to the story behind the game. It will also have voice recognition and synthesis, but I don't think they're very much finished with that part.

    Basically, they're making the most immersive version of CounterStrike ever.

  • I am envolved in a research project in my uni to generate crowd scenes.
    Only to get them to walk and avoid is bad enough from the AI point of view.
    I wonder what kind of pardigm they use. Agents or purelly stochastic? Has anyone else got a clue about that?


  • Okay, now Im certain that the Govt. is planning on recruiting FPS players for the next gen. military. One question, If the person involved in the simulation makes a mistake, and villagers begin confronting him, Can he use the BFG? or at least the Rail Gun? But seriously folks, what type of training does this fall under? I can see where the technology is headed with the quality of graphics being produced (planetside?) but what kind of psychological conditioning is being given to troops these days? If I were a villager, I wouldn't want to confront a U.S. soldier whose only negotiation skills were garnered from an FPS game back home.
  • "How does a hand-grenade explosion a few feet away from you motivate you if you've just been marching 16 hours in tremendous heat?" asked Dr. Barry G. Silverman, an engineering professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

    I'm not sure about the good doctor here, but I'm pretty damn sure how I'd be motivated. 16 or 36 hours of marching and I'd be motivated to run! I don't need to play Quake to help imagine how I'd feel.

  • as quoted from the article:

    "Of course, video and computer games are the closest most people come to experiencing situations like that. In fact, Dr. Silverman said one of his students had recently asked him why he even bothered with his research when there are games like Age of Empires, Microsoft's popular warfare strategy series."

    I don't know about you, but I know I'D feel safer knowing our armed forces were training antiquated home pc stratagy sims.

  • Ever tried Falcon 4.0? I wonder why the never-ending saga of the Falcon 4.0 source code has never made it into Slashdot?
  • That NRDC report is 100 times more interesting and pertinent than the posted article......It is really worth a read!

  • Yes, but when you're playing Counter Strike (I refuse to call it CS), you don't have to imagine that the game you're playing could soon be real, with no extra lives or rematches.
  • I get so sick of having to create an account just to view content. It's just a pain in the ass, and just because i don't check the 'email me important info' box doesn't mean they won't. Of course if it was important, I might want it..
  • From the article:
    Depending on the path you took, a particular tape is played
    It took them 35 million dollars to re-create "Dragon's Lair"? Govenrment funding at work.

    "What are we going to do tonight, Bill?"
  • Have you played Counter Strike? In that i've had my friends head blown off them, while on attack or defense. It's realistic but knowing that they haven't really died and will be back next round really puts a dampener on those emotions. I don't think any amount of computer simulation or field training can compare to real life combat.

    I also fail to see the real adavantages of computer simulation over field training as computers always simulate a nearly perfect universe and the real world ain't perfect.

    p.s. I didn't read the NY times article as I don't subscribe and I won't.
  • How does a hand-grenade explosion a few feet away from you motivate you if you've just been marching 16 hours in tremendous heat?" asked Dr. Barry G. Silverman, an engineering professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

    I'm not sure how you'd be motivated, but I'd be motivated to lie on my back and moan piteously, and then die shortly after from massive bleeding.

  • If I were a long-term Military God (kinda like in those Sim games) what I would do is, get lots of people hooked on electronic simulation, thereby weakening their ability to really experience human-to-human interaction. See, that takes down the existing structure of morals and norms. It also gets them learning from *you* instead of from each other. Then, once people had forgot how they were *supposed* to act around each other, we could use the same electronic simulations to re-train them. Since they'd gotten more used to listening to video games than to their elders anyway, it'd be a'd be McBrainwashing.

    But of course, we're not living in a Sim game. *lolol* I don't know why it's so hard for me to remember that sometimes...

  • by krugdm ( 322700 ) <> on Thursday June 21, 2001 @05:47AM (#135970) Homepage Journal
    What this reminds me of the the no-win simulation from Star Trek where the computer throws everything at you to see how you react, and it can react back at the decisions you make. You're guaranteed to fail (unless, or course, you figure out how to rig the simulation :-) but everyone gets to see how you will react in a panic situation. Right now, they say that there are only a few possible "paths" that can be taken, but I'm sure that will increase as the technology gets refined.
  • Come on, at least clog their user db with offensive names and such. Every time a NYTimes link gets posted here I get to make a new one...

    Furlong/Firkle/Fortnight...what a great system...
  • Why do I keep thinking of Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game? Simulation has a dark side to it...
  • by s20451 ( 410424 ) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @06:26AM (#135973) Journal

    Similar systems are already in use in the Canadian military - the application that I've heard of is a training system for naval boarding parties that enforce UN embargoes. I've got a buddy who has gone through the system; basically you stand in one spot with an electronic "gun" while various scenarios are displayed on a projection screen in front of you. The scenarios are all live action; like in the article, the scenario anticipates two or three possible outcomes and displays the results based on what you do (hold your fire? shoot at the wrong target? miss? etc.). The intention seems to be to illustrate the consequences of deadly force in a hostile but ambiguous situation, where your life is threatened but it's deliberately misleading which of the characters in the scenario represents the actual danger.

  • I think this kind of simulation is cool, and the future implications to gaming are wonderful -- more realistic games. But as for its military application, it's really not going to accomplish everything they hope. While it will be useful for training, it will never be able to truly simulate the conditions under which officers (or soldiers) must operate. Maybe in the future, they'll be able to simulate all of the aspects of war (down to heat, cold and explosions) in a realistic manner, but one thing will probably always remain the same: The human will always know they are in a simulation. This, I would think, is far different from the real thing. If you KNOW those explosions could kill you, or that saying the wrong thing in a crisis situation could find you hanging by your neck somewhere, you will probably have a whole different set of stresses. Maybe they could find a way to convince the trainee that all of this is really happening....


  • Maybe in the near future, we'll get a true example of the Kobayashi Maru (Star Trek fans will understand). Maybe some young lieutenant will find a way to reprogram the computer so that they can triumph in the "unwinnable" situation.


  • I really hate to do this but your sig should end in "Tightly", not "Tight".
  • You can be pretty fearless when all you have to do is poke a "Play Again?" button if something goes wrong.

    As I understand it, there are real world consequences for screwing up in the military's flight and tank simulators. Accidentally blowing up a friendly tank could get you a demotion. Which makes sense, if someone can't get the simulation right you don't want them to be handed a tank in the real world.

  • simulator can really account for the weirdness of humans and other various calamaties.

    Yes they can. They just need to code it. Wargames have done some of this for decades. Special ops guys train this way ("ok, what happens if this breaks", "ok, what happens if half the team breaks their legs landing", "what happens if the chopper isn't there in time?", etc.) They can't simulate the unexpected, but that's why it's unexpected.

  • "How does a hand-grenade explosion a few feet away from you motivate you if you've just been marching 16 hours in tremendous heat?" asked Dr. Barry G. Silverman, an engineering professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

    Altogether now..."Duh."

    I find the applications of this to be pretty fascinating, though. I play a lot of games, and they're all pretty flat. Even Deus Ex, which was touted as being the one of the most immersive to date, was paper-thin once you realized how the scripts were structured. But when this sort of technology finds its way to the private sector, you could start seeing characters in games that really do react to what you do, instead of just the few possibilities the programmers put in.
  • Spare ID anyone? I don't want to sacrifice my soul, email address and demographic information to the NYT!
    43rd Law of Computing:
  • by Amazing Quantum Man ( 458715 ) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @08:04AM (#135981) Homepage

    A good place to learn about military simulation is at the Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation Command [] web site.

    Anyone seriously interested in this should also research DIS (Distributed Interactive Simulation) and HLA (High Level Architecture [for simulation]).

  • "SOS. SOS. Calling any peacekeeping forces in the area. This freighter Kobayashi Maru, out of Osaka. Vessel on fire. Please respond."
  • From the article:

    "Most of the games out there are artistically and stylistically impressive, but not entirely faithful to real human behavior," [Dr. Silverman] said. "We can't take those games and easily replace their made-up forces with ones we'd like to fight against."

    Maybe they should model some of the tactics of online gamers to "sample" random human reactions to certain situations, such as suddenly being confronted by 6 armed men in a you reach for your bazooka, toss a grenade, or run the other way? OTOH, if you are presented with a nice sniping position, do you attack with rockets or heavy machine gun fire? Simple decisions that we all make in realtime, but are taken for granted. Give the enemy programs more "human" reactions.
  • Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wates your time and annoys the pig.

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham