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The Evolution of 1st-Person Trainers: A Case-Study with VBS and HLA Integration

Peter Morrison and Shawn Parr

SimTecT 2007 Simulation Conference: Simulation - Improving Capability and Competitiveness (SimTecT 2007)
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, June 4 - 7, 2007


The adoption and utilisation of COTS 1st-Person simulations and games for training purposes, particularly by the military, has undergone rapid changes, while continuing to grow as an area. Early approaches such as seen with MarineDoom [1] or the Battlezone Bradley Trainer [2], in which a commercial product is used with little change, have evolved and matured. Current "best practice" approaches, such as found with VBS (Virtual Battlespace Systems) [3], show a detailed methodical development process and product feature set, built in consultation with the client to meet their needs. That is, the core game engine is significantly enhanced and altered to deliver a tailored "serious" solution that significantly extends the original game.

This paper analyses the development of the 1st-Person COTS training industry, and uses the development of VBS - a simulator that began life as the game Operation Flashpoint, now used by the ADF, USMC, NZ Army, Israeli Army, and Canadian Army; as well as having nearly a dozen scientific papers published concerning it - to illustrate those changes across the last 6 years. Evolution is considered in terms of the training needs and requirements of the client [4], and the development processes currently used. Focus is given to the chronological development of features such as data-capture, After Action Review and analysis tools, higher fidelity simulation of physics and human factors, the role of a core simulation engine, and integration with other virtual environments - all features that improve and extend the capabilities of the tool. Particular emphasis is given to the integration of VBS with other synthetic environments such as JSAF [5] via a HLA gateway - the process, methodology, and benefits. The paper concludes with a discussion of possible future directions for this sector of the simulation industry.

[1] Marine Corps Modeling and Simulation Management Office, "Marine Doom",, accessed 17/1/2007. [2] Atari Games, "Bradley Trainer",, accessed 17/1/2007. [3] Bohemia Interactive Australia, "Virtual Battlespace One",, accessed 17/1/2007. [4] Barlow M. (2005) "The Game of Defence & Security", in Applications of Informations Systems to Homeland Security and Defence, Abbass & Essams (Eds), pages 138-166, Idea Group Inc., USA. [5] USJFCOM "Joint Semi-Automated Forces (JSAF)",, accessed 17/1/2007.

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