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US Army To Invest $50 Million In Game Development

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the games-are-serious-business dept.

United States 68

$50 million in funding has been approved for the Army to establish a unit that will develop games. The purpose of the games will be to train soldiers for various tasks, and they say there is no intent to compete with commercial games. We've previously discussed other efforts by the Army to integrate games into their training programs. "Col. Mark McManigal, the capabilities manger for gaming under the Training and Doctrine Command, said the selected game must provide low-cost training and must not require large number of technicians to run. It must also have a play-back function for after-action reviews, he said. 'One of the major events for training is to be able to capture all these events, good or bad, throughout the entire scenario,' he said. Trainers must be able to edit the game during play to change the difficulty level or add complexity to an exercise. For example, they must also be able to edit terrain to replicate training areas or combat zones, he said."

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Hope you enjoy (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25871693)

first porn
http://mrfriendly.byethost4.com

Re:Hope you enjoy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25872107)

Dude, I'm done with those already (yay DownThemAll!)

Update your damn link, dude.

-1, Old Porn

Additional info (5, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#25871717)

Deja vu means the trainer changed something.
The hard-core difficulty level will result in actual death of the player.
There won't be any cheat codes.

Re:Additional info (2, Funny)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#25872127)

There won't be any cheat codes.

Or spoons.

Re:Additional info (1)

n3tcat (664243) | more than 5 years ago | (#25872265)

There won't be any cheat codes.

Do not try to bend the spoon; that's impossible.

Re:Additional info (1)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 5 years ago | (#25872951)

"And what if you encounter lag!? You're basically DEAD!"

--FPS Doug [google.com]

Strict victory conditions (2, Insightful)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 5 years ago | (#25875949)

"You have found a diplomatic solution to the crisis. Sorry, you lose!"

Re:Additional info about contracted dev costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25876911)

Being that the Government requires a lengthy and expensive bidding process (see also the 180,000$ contracting costs estimated for just processing bids for a replacement marble slab for a the tomb of the unknown soldier)...

and that high efficiency in product-to-yield present in all defense contracts....

50 million MIGHT be enough to fetch some of the software from the 80's cult classic "War Games"...

tic-tac-toe anyone? for the bargain basement price of 48 mil I'll be happy to write one, thereby under bidding everyone else who will cite cost overruns.

quake? (1)

jonas_sten (1330435) | more than 5 years ago | (#25871737)

Acoording to this [wikipedia.org] man, murder simulators are already out on the shelves, and have been for quite some time

Re:quake? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25871795)

What they need are some simulations to help with military micromanagement. This [purepwnage.com] guy would be very helpful in such an area as a consultant. He has mad micro skills.

Re:quake? (4, Funny)

PinkyDead (862370) | more than 5 years ago | (#25871833)

How about a nice game of chess?

Re:quake? (2, Interesting)

jsse (254124) | more than 5 years ago | (#25871959)

How about a nice game of chess?

That reminds me Chinese military leader Mao Zedong required his generals play chess game weiqi [wikipedia.org] with him. I'd mod him insightful if I've any mod point. ^^

Re:quake? (1)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#25872159)

While chess improves planning and critical thinking, it certainly is not enough. Unless you have a new variation of chess with pieces to represent unmanned aerial surveilance and attack vehicles, strategic air strikes, squad based tactics, and the enemies guerilla tactics. If you do, I'm sure the Army would be willing to have a look, and at the least I'd be most happy to try it.

Re:quake? (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25872889)

While chess improves planning and critical thinking, it certainly is not enough.

Exactly. Russians love to play chess, but their military (except during the GPW, and even then soldiers were basically vengeful animals, and still political officers needed to be behind them with "bayonets", prodding them forward) is, and has been for hundreds of years, endemically corrupt and incompetent.

Maybe increased use of kontraktniki will turn the Russian Army into a professional force, but I have my doubts.

Re:quake? (2, Informative)

ericferris (1087061) | more than 5 years ago | (#25873045)

For the uninitiated, GPW is Great Patriotic War, Russian parlance for Word War II.

Re:quake? (1)

PinkyDead (862370) | more than 5 years ago | (#25874183)

Re:quake? (1)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25875441)

xiang-qi/chi is definitely more analogous to "Chinese chess" than Go. it's even a possible predecessor of western chess given the great similarities.

in any case, games have always been an excellent teaching tool. video games are simply an extension of that using virtual reality to create more complex/advanced games. however, educational games are rarely successful due to most suffering from poor implementation. most of the time educational games are simply adopted for the novelty rather than providing any practical benefit. a lot schools & instructors like to buy flashy new technologies that they think will somehow automatically improve student performance. but you can't just buy a good education system like you buy gym equipment. it takes a lot of thought, research, and innovation to design a good curriculum and hire good instructors.

i think the same applies to military training/education. i'm sure whatever games they develop will look really impressive and high-tech (like most multi-million-dollar video games), but i really don't see how this would be better than real-world training exercises using blanks or paintball rounds. it just seems like more unnecessary military spending feeding the MIC.

Re:quake? (1)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#25878837)

but i really don't see how this would be better than real-world training exercises using blanks or paintball rounds

I was mobilized in 2005 for a tour in Iraq. And during my unit's mobilization training the most commonly heard phrase was, "For training purposes and training purposes only." Basically the CO of the base (neither of which shall be named) was so concerned about safety that we could not effectively "train as you fight". I cannot easily place myself in that CO's shoes, so I cannot pass judgement on the reasons we were trained that way. And I can assure you the instructors did their level best to train us within those limitations. I can also assure you however that if Halo 2 had used cordon and search tactics or proper convoy procedures we would have ALL been subject matter experts.

Re:quake? (1)

PinkyDead (862370) | more than 5 years ago | (#25883775)

I seem to remember that the reason soldiers in WWI walked towards enemy positions was because some general thought it was safer that way for non-veteran troops.

Didn't work out to well, that.

Re:quake? (1)

pseudochaos (1014063) | more than 5 years ago | (#25888541)

While my anecdote didn't take place in Iraq, two of my units actively encouraged (one even made it mandatory) to utilize paintball for urban ops training. Good times to be had, I'm sure, and it really emphasized the need for constant communications - I probably don't have to explain why. Whoops! ;)

No Let's play Global Thermal Nuclear War (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 5 years ago | (#25872383)

No Let's play Global Thermal Nuclear War

Forbin >> Falkin (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25874469)

Colossus would so totally pwn WOPR.

Re:Forbin Falkin (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 5 years ago | (#25876441)

The MCP would have owned both of them if it hadn't been for that meddling TRON.

It sound more like research.... (1)

txoof (553270) | more than 5 years ago | (#25871793)

FTFA, it seems more like the military is spending the dough to seek out off the shelf technology that can be adapted and integrated into their current systems. I wonder where they look for inspiration? Are they chatting with the folks at Rock Star and Valve?

Re:It sound more like research.... (4, Funny)

FinchWorld (845331) | more than 5 years ago | (#25871837)

The thing you don't know is the US army has secretly perfected the art of robotics, and has done for sometime. Well, android would be a better term, as they look just like regular human marines. However Ai is somewhat lacking, hence the need for human operators to control them. This is where america's army comes in... (Im not mad you know).

Re:It sound more like research.... (4, Funny)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 5 years ago | (#25871869)

Billy Mc Asshat was brought before a military court yesterday accused of team killing, he was summarily sentenced to death by firing squad.

Re:It sound more like research.... (4, Funny)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 5 years ago | (#25872117)

Billy Mc Asshat was brought before a military court yesterday accused of team killing, he was summarily sentenced to death by firing squad.

Dunno, maybe it was originally marketed as a fast-paced shooter, but it sounds more like it's gonna be a MMORPG to me. You know, "Farmer Tariq cannot harvest his olive groves because they are overrun with insurgents. Bring the turbans of 12 Al Qaeda in Iraq members, 12 Shiite extremists, and 12 Iranian intelligence agents to Farmer Tariq for your reward." Or, "The Coalition cannot patrol Main Street because it is lined with improvised explosive devices. Find and disarm 20 IEDs and bring them back to Sarjeant Slothrop for your reward." Sounds like a lot of endless grinding to me.

It sound more like research....Terrain. (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#25875483)

Far Cry 2 seems to have an excellent map editor. Shame the game has bugs too.

More than 50 mil (1)

BountyX (1227176) | more than 5 years ago | (#25871811)

They will be investing more than 50 mil technically, if you count the development costs associated with Americas Army game, which is soley owned by the US millitary as a recruitment tool.

Re:More than 50 mil (1)

DingerX (847589) | more than 5 years ago | (#25871861)

Er, this description says they're buying COTS stuff, and then looking to customize it and deploy it to labs. The set of requirements out there sounds suspiciously like the [url=http://virtualbattlespace.vbs2.com/]VBS[/url] platform. Heck, the even snuck the title "Virtual Battle Space" in there. And as a "21st-Century" replacement for DARWARS Ambush! (technically a 21st-century platform, as it is basically Operation Flashpoint), what better than the next generation of the same game?

Disclaimer: I do not have access to any information on this affair beyond the press release.

Re:More than 50 mil (1)

Lanforod (1344011) | more than 5 years ago | (#25874027)

They will be investing more than 50 mil technically, if you count the development costs associated with Americas Army game, which is soley owned by the US millitary as a recruitment tool.

America's Army has been around a long time already... RTFA - the 50 mil is going to be used to develop a new game starting in 2010, while they use a new off the shelf extensible commercial product as an upgrade to the current game that is out of date.

Re:More than 50 mil (1)

revbob (155074) | more than 5 years ago | (#25878551)

TRADOC funds the unit, which burns up money thinking. Then the unit tries to interest some university lab to build a demo. By the time the contract is let, most of the money's gone. Then the university kids run over budget and lose interest. The Colonel who came up with the idea gets promoted, and our kids are out on the battlefield of the Neverending War defending themelves with trashcan lids.

How the hell is TRADOC still in business after FCS?

Fantastic!!! (1)

naz404 (1282810) | more than 5 years ago | (#25871819)

This should better equip the troops to handle zombie or alien invasions! :D

Cheaters (2, Funny)

Andr T. (1006215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25871847)

US troops are cheaters. They use all those hi-tech weaponry and the other teams only have AK's, knives and home-made explosives.

Re:Cheaters (2, Funny)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 5 years ago | (#25871891)

Ya but the other sides are mostly swarm based or covert.They just need to build more warg banners and invest in espionage tech.

Re:Cheaters (0, Troll)

Roland Piquepaille (780675) | more than 5 years ago | (#25871909)

US troops are cheaters. They use all those hi-tech weaponry and the other teams only have AK's, knives and home-made explosives.

and yet they get their butts kicked.

High-tech stuff and training doesn't quite cut it when you fight to pay for college studies when you get back home, but the enemy is fueled by a hysterical desire to see you die, preferably in horrible ways.

Re:Cheaters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25872157)

If by butts kicked you mean win pretty much every actual engagement that they are pitted against then yes the military surely does get it kicked. If you are implying the fighting against random acts of say suicide bombers etc(yes some not so random) then you are barking at the wrong people.

Re:Cheaters (4, Insightful)

qbzzt (11136) | more than 5 years ago | (#25872187)

and yet they get their butts kicked.

Are they? From reading people who have first hand experience (military, serving or ex-) I got the opposite impression. They are suffering casualties, which is expected in war. But they are winning overall.

We all love to laugh at the TSA, and the fact is that an open society such as the US will always be vulnerable to terrorism. Yet we haven't seen any attacks since 9/11/01. Either we haven't made anybody mad enough to attack us (yeah, right), or we kept those who would attack us otherwise occupied. For example by making them attack US soldiers in Iraq instead of US civilians in here.

High-tech stuff and training doesn't quite cut it when you fight to pay for college studies when you get back home, but the enemy is fueled by a hysterical desire to see you die, preferably in horrible ways.

Anybody who enlisted or re-upped in 2002 or later just for college funds is stupid. Almost everybody who isn't an officer have to have enlisted or re-upped in the last six years because of the way the contract works.

Either the majority of our military is stupid (and they have tests to prevent that), or they are fighting for more than a college degree.

Re:Cheaters (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25873717)

My personal experience:
I have three brothers in the National Guard, and I know three friends of my youngest brother who are also in the National Guard.

All three of my brothers joined because they had nothing better to do. The oldest joined before 9/11, the next joined before the war, and the last joined about 1.5 years ago. None of them were patriotic when joining and the youngest is almost assuredly a fucking idiot.

Of the youngest's friends, one of them seems somewhat intelligent, one seems somewhat vacant, and the other is a complete fuck-up with nothing better to do.

Just my experience.

Re:Cheaters (1)

ldierk (1270930) | more than 5 years ago | (#25889189)

Either the majority of our military is stupid (and they have tests to prevent that)

you made my day.

All's fair in love and war (1)

GMonkeyLouie (1372035) | more than 5 years ago | (#25872427)

It's asymmetric warfare, my friend. If you can pay for an advantage that you can take to the battlefield, by all means, do it. However, it doesn't always help, as the more assets of greater value you have in combat, the more committed you are to protecting those assets, even when it's disadvantageous for you to do so. And low-cost solutions for dealing with asymmetries usually emerge. Did you see Black Hawk Down? The Somali militants were clearly out-teched, and yet they kicked the US forces' asses because they had anti-aircraft missiles and the willingness to swarm downed helicopters and exploit the US' willingness to send more troops in after them.

Re:All's fair in love and war (3, Insightful)

Nutria (679911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25873037)

However, it doesn't always help, as the more assets of greater value you have in combat, the more committed you are to protecting those assets, even when it's disadvantageous for you to do so.

An important factor in spawning the Anbar Awakening was that while US Army "patrols" rode around Baghdad once a day in *heavy* APCs, the Marines were consantly pounding the streets, showing their faces, rebuilding water and electricity plants and schools. When locals *finally* tired of Al-Qaeda, they already had a face-to-face comfort with the Marines.

What I want is a real military simulator (4, Insightful)

Roland Piquepaille (780675) | more than 5 years ago | (#25871857)

One that lets you experience:

- the joys of running through snow and much with a 20kg backpack and a submachinegun

- the wait/RUN-RUN-RUN!/wait cycles of a standard soldier's day

- guard duties during which, if you fall asleep, your CO kicks your ass and throws your in jail for 5 days

- toilet and shower cleaning duties

- obeying to stupid conflicting orders without being able to respond anything but "yes Sir!" (failing this, see 2 previous sections, in that order)

- Binge drinking after service

etc...

That would give potential recruits a real taste of military life, something that romanticized war games don't exactly provide.

Re:What I want is a real military simulator (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25872003)

Apparently Roland you don't know much about military service yourself, you fucking parasite.

And whoever modded your idiotic post "Insightful" is a much of a doucebag as yourself.

Dumbass.

Re:What I want is a real military simulator (0, Troll)

GMonkeyLouie (1372035) | more than 5 years ago | (#25872445)

Do you want to build in the part of the game after the service where you get neglected by the VA and end up begging for change on the streets of some uncaring nightmare of a city?

Maybe we should go with the part where your government is co-opted by neocons and you get sent off to put your life in danger on the basis of forged intelligence.

Re:What I want is a real military simulator (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25873815)

Or maybe they should build in the part where you go and fight and watch your buddies die for a country full of ignorant dipshits like yourself.

Asshole.

Re:What I want is a real military simulator (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 5 years ago | (#25874765)

.. die because they were in a country for reasons based on lies & forged intelligence.

Fixed that for you.

Asshole.

Good modding there (1)

GMonkeyLouie (1372035) | more than 5 years ago | (#25874991)

Yeah, that was a rather trollish thing of you to say. I have nothing but respect for the armed forces and for the individuals who put the nation's needs above their own safety... and therefore I have no respect for those who would dupe them into fighting an unnecessary war.

This will be great (5, Insightful)

Alarindris (1253418) | more than 5 years ago | (#25871879)

For anyone who plays counterstrike or any similar games, you know how important it is the know your terrain... B, A, middle, doors, etc.

If they would be able to train themselves on a portion of a city they need to raid or attack, they should do much better than looking at a map and photographs. They'd have spatial memory of wherever they needed to go. Just like the locals.

Still, someone or something would have to get in there for the initial data. I think I read a story about cameras on bug sized flying machines somewhere.

Re:This will be great (5, Funny)

GMonkeyLouie (1372035) | more than 5 years ago | (#25872471)

"Pvt. Johnson! What's the holdup in there?"

"The terrorists moved the dining room table to the foyer!! All our strategies are fucked!"

"Damn! Call in an airstrike!"

Re:This will be great (1)

wojtalsd (1005693) | more than 5 years ago | (#25878313)

You would think it would be easier to make a map and mods in Counterstrike. You can get pretty detailed with the maps and it would be the most cost efficient.

Great way of making the world a safer place (0, Troll)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 5 years ago | (#25872005)

Take the troops from the world's bully off the streets. All that we need to do now is to persuade all the world's other bullies to do likewise, beat each other up in cyber space and leave the rest of us in peace.

Re:Great way of making the world a safer place (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25875521)

When I was a kid I wondered why this wasn't how wars were fought in the first place... seems to make much more sense.

Ender's Game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25872053)

Next up, Ender and his team win the war.

I am glad this is STUPID (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25872273)

Uh, did anybody ever think about where that 50M is coming from?

Let's see:
They get the money from the US government, who, in turn, is getting the money from us people. We are paying for the Army to make another game.

What was wrong with America's Army game? Old technology? Too bad.

Don't worry though, when war breaks out, maybe we will get a laugh when all of our soldiers are dressed up like Link and only have a sword and shield.

I am pretty confident that if they need a spatial, 3-D view, that they already have the technology. Even if they somehow magically were not keeping up on technology (which would mean they were still firing muzzle loaders), then maybe they should screen the people they accept in better instead of just bringing in redneck bobby-joe. If your brain can't function well enough to look at a map and understand what you are looking at, you may not be the right person to be given directions when you are fighting.

*Raises his glass

Here is to soldiers, may they finally be able to defeat the Locust Horde.

Having played one of these "games"... (4, Informative)

n3tcat (664243) | more than 5 years ago | (#25872357)

When I went through WLC (Warrior Leader Course [wikipedia.org] ), we had some training in one of these games that was based on what appeared to be the Full Spectrum Warrior engine. The training was very "regimented", not because they were trying to teach us anything specific, but rather because they didn't want us to "break" the system. These contractors running the game obviously did not fully understand their own game, but acted more like substitute teachers. They were ex-military guys who understood tactics and whatnot but not the system itself. When things didn't go right, they would blame the soldiers and never the system, even though there were huge flaws within the game itself. There were 3 or 4 classrooms with around 14 soldiers per classroom playing this game on one game server per classroom. Only one guy was really "proficient" on the system though, and he ran back and forth between the classrooms fixing situations as they arose.

I guess my whole point in recounting my experience with this is just to say that this is going to work like every other government contract. It's a great theory that gets glossed over in politics and pro/buzzwords so as to make a great powerpoint brief for the general, but in the end the soldier gets nothing out of it that they couldn't get from taking the soldiers out to a small town built out of plywood with some paintball guns.

Re:Having played one of these "games"... (2, Insightful)

GMonkeyLouie (1372035) | more than 5 years ago | (#25872511)

That's a really good point, the entire system they're building could probably be made obsolete by a fake city saturated with closed-circuit cameras and some good old-fashioned paintballs. That way you could still replay and review any event that you found interesting, and you also build the actions of taking cover and using terrain effectively into your muscle memory and not just your episodic memory.

Were the WLC games useful to you at all later?

Re:Having played one of these "games"... (1)

n3tcat (664243) | more than 5 years ago | (#25875565)

I don't want to completely discount the games, as there's always something to be gained by forcing a group of people who are "new" to each other to act in a group-like way so as to accomplish a mission.

But this could be accomplished in hundreds of cheaper and more effective ways.

Re:Having played one of these "games"... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25872755)

These contractors running the game obviously did not fully understand their own game, but acted more like substitute teachers. They were ex-military guys who understood tactics and whatnot but not the system itself.

Welcome to military contracting.

Having both served in the military and have worked for a contractor in my experience this is the norm. You end up with a lot of prior military people in just about every job description except for that of hard-core engineer. It's kind of like welfare for prior service personnel. Unfortunately most of them don't know what the hell they're doing and on top of that cannot leave the military mindset in the past, and that's what you end up with: it's you soldier, not the system! Why, it couldn't be the system! After all, the system has to work, or I wouldn't be in here working for 70k a year with very few discernible skills!

Re:Having played one of these "games"... (1)

konigstein (966024) | more than 5 years ago | (#25876467)

You've described my experience with that system exactly. I'm sort of pensive to see how TRADOC will go about this, because I think $50 million is on the light side for a system that really works. For instance: I regularly qualify as expert on the pop up range, and as a civilian have shot in the top 10 in international tournaments. With my weapon of choice (an AI-AWSM .338) I can put an infinite number of rounds inside the X ring at 200 meters. When using this system, shots are all over the place or don't register at all, the equipment is usually so worn out and uncared for that any recoil mechanism that the equipment originally shipped with is long gone, the scenarios would occasionally lock the system, and yes the contractors were oblivious. I don't think any one of them knew how to fix anything, just which buttons to press to start the system and get a simulation running. Using that system was a complete waste of time.

itsatrap (0, Flamebait)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 5 years ago | (#25872751)

They are trying to lure young geeks into the military. You won't be allowed to play video games. Trust me.

Ender? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25873383)

How can this article possibly NOT be tagged Ender's Game?

Operation: Flashpoint and DARWARS Ambush! (1)

Plumber, Programmer, (1170969) | more than 5 years ago | (#25873575)

The article mentions DARWARS Ambush!, but gets the genealogy wrong. DARWARS Ambush! was a military-funded mod for the commercial game, Operation: Flashpoint.

Healthy Gaming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25873971)

News on health and exercise related video games:

http://www.healthygaming.com/blog/ [healthygaming.com]

Who Owns the Copyright on Taxpayer-Funded Games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25875103)

If my tax dollars paid for the development of that game, am I entitled to use any of the game's assets?

Time to cut the budget. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25875377)

So.... does anyone else see this as a huge waste of taxpayer money?

If this isn't a sign that the US military has waaaaay too much money I don't know what is.

Budget cuts!!!

America's Army?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25877371)

Anybody ever play America's Army for xbox 360? It was probably the worst game I have ever played for any system. They're going to need a lot more than $50 mil to turn that around.

Fiscal Insanity (1)

G-Wohl (1349861) | more than 5 years ago | (#25880879)

What an irresponsible use of taxpayer money.
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