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What Will You See in VBS3 at ITEC?

Strong Demand for VBS3 as ITEC Approaches

In a few weeks, BISim staff will be traveling to Cologne, Germany, for ITEC 2014 where we’ll showcase and make available the much-anticipated commercial release of VBS3 3.4. We’re excited to demonstrate the flexibility and interoperability of VBS3 for tactical training at our stand, #E110. VBS3 offers improved optimization for faster performance, support for large terrains, intuitive user interfaces, improved graphics and fidelity and much more.

Recently, we received great news from the U.S. Army that there is strong demand for VBS3. Thousands requested licenses for the software in just a few days of the Army’s release of VBS3 to its units.

We owe much of this success to a team of developers eager to immerse themselves in understanding our customers’ training needs. As you’ll read below, the BISim team is constantly thinking about ways to improve and enhance the user training experience in VBS.

We look forward to seeing you at ITEC in May.

 

Pete Morrison, Co-CEO, Bohemia Interactive Simulations

In this issue:

www.bisimulations.com

VBS3 at ITEC 2014: Simulation Training on a Whole New Scale

The BISim team has been busy gearing up for ITEC 2014. We’re excited to share with attendees the latest advances in technology in VBS3, the industry’s most comprehensive and flexible simulation training solution available.

Our team will be demonstrating VBS3’s networking capability and flexibility with a mission involving joint terminal attack controllers working on a dome display and coordinating with dismounted soldiers and a convoy as they contend with unforeseen mission challenges.

Our partners sharing our stand, #E110, will highlight the diverse range of ways that VBS3 can help enhance your training and how our open platform allows others to create innovative simulation solutions.
 

will be demonstrating the Unmanned Aerial System - Training Simulation (UAS-TS), a full mission UAV simulator that provides all sensor, control and telemetry data. A highly detailed 3D view of the ground, as well as 2D maps, make the simulator capable of answering any UAS training need. In addition, the instructor can interact with the simulation, e.g. changing weather or activate malfunctions. The UAV will also be integrated flying in the live FAC demo.
 
Close Air Solutions is a single source for international training services in all aspects of Close Air Support for FACs/JTACs, aircrew, and the wider military community. Close Air Solutions integrates eLearning, classroom instruction, simulation, and aviation services together in a complementary mix using professional course design methodology, combined with assured expert instruction. Our expertise and innovation in training is born out of a long internationally acclaimed history of providing best-of-class training to international FACs/JTACs and aircrew. We are dedicated to maintaining Subject Matter Expertise and using the most suitable, selected, innovative training methods and media, to achieve customer training objectives.
 
will be demonstrating an immersive virtual tactical trainer. As training budgets dwindle, the need for cost-effective, real-life simulation training in a virtual world has never been so compelling. Motion Analysis offer a scalable and realistic virtual environment for repetitive-based training that improves combat skills.
 
‘VBS-ready’ Battlelab PCs, IGs and laptops will be on display at ITEC 2014 as the hardware behind Bohemia’s key FAC demo. Novatech, the only European manufacturer producing ‘VBS-ready’ machines, has launched a range of fully portable COTS training systems. The Battlelab series of PCs, image generators and laptops have been designed to be deployed in classrooms and in the field, both at home and in-theatre, for the very best VBS3 training experience.
 
will be demonstrating their new Urban Ambience product which joins the ‘Ambience Family’ Crowd Ambience™ and Traffic Ambience™. UA provides a fully configurable and flexible Pattern of Life generator which can be configured to provide a long lasting and changing pattern of life within the VBS3 virtual environment. The system comes with a stand-alone pattern of life editor which can used to mark-up any VBS3 terrain and add groups of entities to the virtual world. Every group of entities can be given unique behaviours, affinities and regions.

Urban Ambience supports vehicle and pedestrian patterns of life. It contains a level of detail engine to manage the VBS3 performance, and can be configured to support behaviours expected within developing as well as developed countries. Urban Ambience is ideally suited to ISTAR applications and long-duration training exercises.

Also on display will be VBS2 Strike, the close air and offensive support trainer, and VBS2 Fires, which provides high fidelity call-for-fire simulation.


Immersive Display and Simulation Displays are providing the latest in dome and display hardware technology for the FAC, VBS and UAV integrated demo which will be live on the stand.
develops advanced software solutions for geospatial technologies. We focus on providing our customers with innovative products for the rapid creation of complex geospatial visualizations derived from a variety of geo-referenced source data. TerraSim will demonstrate the latest in TerraTools 5. Come and experience the New Batch Mode Manager to automatically build large terrains across all run times, tightest integration and support for VBS3 in the industry, new and updated run times with support for latest functionality, and even tighter correlation across runtime formats.
 

BISim’s Co-CEO Pete Morrison will be presenting at the Innovation Showcase on Wednesday, May 21, at 12:30 and on Thursday, May 22, beginning at 9:30, he will participate in a plenary panel discussion looking at the future of the simulation industry. BISim PR Director Tess Butler will speak as deputy chair of the ITEC conference on May 22 at 12:30. 

To read more about BISim at ITEC and sign up for our international VBS3 user group, click here.

U.S. Army Releases VBS3, Thousands Request Licenses

At the end of March, the U.S. Army’s Games for Training program released VBS3 to its units through the MilGaming web portal and the program has since received thousands of requests for licenses.

“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.

According to Dubow, the GFT team had already received over 17,000 VBS3 license requests since March 31. In addition, the GFT team has added the ability for university-based Army Reserve Officer Training Corps military science departments to use VBS3 to train officer candidates.

Dubow added that, “We are very excited to see this new training enabler put into use to train soldiers over the next few months."

Hot Tip: Word Filters

Do you have a long list of terrains and missions? Tired of scrolling? Now you can find your missions and terrains faster in the “Networking” window. VBS3 features a “word filter” function that works in most frames and list boxes. Just type a few letters of the term you’re searching for to filter the list. To clear the search, press “Backspace” or to clear it entirely hit “Esc.”

BISim Adds Jumping, Improves Step Over in VBS3

BISim added jumping to the actions avatars can perform in VBS3 3.4. Using the “F” key, avatars can leap forward a distance of about 1m in length and less than .5m in height while moving forward if no obstacles are in front of them. BISim also extended avatars’ abilities to step over barriers up to the height of the avatar’s waist.

Since the 1990s, avatars in first-person shooter games have been able to jump in the air, but the jumping is highly unrealistic. Avatars could jump hundreds of times in a row with 100 pounds of gear. BISim developers created a realistic implementation of jumping as an action that a fully loaded soldier in combat would be able to perform.

“We climbed on tables in the office wearing a vest and a rifle to make sure actions made sense and looked right in VBS,” said Andrew Barron, lead designer in BISim’s Prague office. “We have made it easier for users to get over concrete traffic barriers, sandbags, and other objects. With the jump capability, avatars can jump over short distances like a trench or a hole in the ground. We are going to continue working to improve the look of this feature in future builds.”

The “F” key also replaces the “step over” function in the action menu, so that pressing “F” will intelligently decide what to do depending on what’s in front of you.

For Army, New Plug-in Puts Soldiers’ Skills in VBS Avatars

In VBS2, avatars could do anything. Want to fly a helicopter? Step right up. Want to drive a tank? Hop aboard. While it might be fun, those capabilities aren’t very realistic for training.

BISim developed a plug-in for VBS3 as part of the Game After Ambush! contract with the U.S. Army that produces an individualized avatar modeled on key performance attributes of the soldier who operates the avatar during training.

“The avatar plug-in gives users more realistic player entities, with corresponding strengths and limitations,” said BISim Co-CEO Pete Morrison. “A person who has a low marksmanship score won’t be able to shoot well in VBS. If you aren’t qualified to fly a helicopter, you won’t be able to. Likewise, incorporating players’ real body fat percentages and other physical attributes affect the appearance and abilities of their avatars. If they run two miles in 13 minutes, then their avatar will do it in that time in VBS.”

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 soldiers’ avatars based on their military occupation specialty, rank, unit type and role. 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 orders of battle, and automatically populate these squads for the slotting screen for missions.

An enhanced face editor tool also allows users to generate a photo-realistic rendering of the soldier. 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.

While this plug-in is currently only available to the U.S. Army, BISim is considering productizing it. Please contact sales@bisimulations.com if you are interested in this product.

BISim Adds Emergency, Police Vehicles to VBS3

As part of its Games for Training contract with the U.S. Army, BISim has added several new civilian emergency vehicles to VBS3 3.4, which will be available in our commercial release.

These include the following:

  • a Ford Crown Victoria police car,
  • a Chevy Suburban police SUV,
  • a Pierce Arrow fire truck,
  • a Chevy Super Warrior ambulance,
  • and several civilian Iraqi emergency vehicles.

All of these models feature working lights and sirens.

Games for Training Director Leaves for US Veterans Affairs

Games for Training (GFT) program director Leslie Dubow recently left her position with PEO STRI in mid-April for a new position as Program Manager for Gaming with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Dubow founded the Army's Games for Training program in 2004.

The first 'game' in the GFT portfolio was a convoy training tool developed at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARWARS Ambush!. Ambush! was used to train soldiers in preparation for conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The game was developed using Bohemia Interactive Studio's Operation Flashpoint Game of the Year Edition engine. Since then, Ms. Dubow initiated the Defense GameTech Users' Conference, which is in its ninth year; she established Games for Training as a formal Army program of record, which is now in its fifth year, and launched the MilGaming portal, the 'social' network and software and information distribution center for GFT users. She has also added eight other game-based training tools to the GFT portfolio. The GFT program provides commercial game-based training enablers that are used by all services and VBS3 for Army users - over 35,000 users, according to Dubow.

“Through a combination of Leslie's guidance and leadership and BISim's tenacity and execution, we worked to define a program for game-based training that at the time represented a new way of tactical training,” said John Givens, president of BISim’s Orlando office. “We at BISim wish Leslie continued success in her new role at the VA. We greatly appreciate Leslie’s dedication to excellence in her work and her commitment to promoting serious games as an effective means of training.”

At Veterans Affairs, Dubow will establish another new program using game technology to train and educate. The training audience will be the VA medical and administrative workforce who provide service and support to veterans.

Tactical Thursdays: BISim Staff Vs. Trainees in Head-to-Head Challenge

Every Thursday just before lunch in the Orlando BISim office, designers, programmers, sales, support staff and marketing staff download the latest weekly build of VBS3 from the company’s server to practice cooperative and force-on-force scenarios with each other. These scenarios involve everything from defending a FOB in Africa at night as a 1970s-era British rifle section to taking on the role of U.S. Special Forces retrieving chemical weapons from a terrorist camp.

“Tactical Thursdays helps our developers understand how customers use our products for tactical training and bring that functional perspective to software development,” said John Givens, president of BISim’s Orlando office. “It’s also a great exercise for team building. BISim employees who might not normally get a chance to use our products participate, which helps them better understand how customers are using our products.”

BISim designers started Tactical Thursdays more than a year ago with Givens’ encouragement. Designers develop realistic scenarios and help new BISim employees get acclimated to training in VBS3.

The Orlando office team plays without respawn to force players to think tactically and want to stay alive. After they’re done, they go to the training room for after-action review where they talk about the plan, how it went and what could have been done better.

The Tactical Thursday team has recently involved students learning to use VBS3 at our training center in Orlando. Training manager Chris Gold explains that Tactical Thursday offers trainees opportunities for a practical application of the skills they’ve learned over their week of training.

“When our developers collaborate with trainees it creates a close connection between the company and the user community,” Gold said. “Participating in Tactical Thursdays sparks new questions and inspires trainees to learn more after this interaction. It also provides invaluable feedback directly from the end-user to developers. This cooperative handshake between clients and company helps to further polish an already high-end product.”

The weekly event also has inspired new items and functionalities. In one scenario, developers flew into a hot landing zone in a MH-6 Little Bird. They realized sitting on the side seats of the chopper that they couldn’t use their firearms and later were able to add that functionality. As part of brainstorming around Tactical Thursdays, an Orlando office designer created functioning trip wires and added accurate sights to claymore mines to make them more realistic.

The idea has spread to other BISim offices who have implemented their own version of Tactical Thursdays.

BISim is constantly on the lookout for creative, hard-working and innovative individuals to join our team. Click here to explore career opportunities with BISim.

BISim Liaison Available to Speak to Colleges on Simulation

Since our last newsletter, our Academic Liaison Andy Fawkes has given talks on BISim and simulation more generally at Bournemouth University and the City of Bath College with plans to do so at Wiltshire College. If you are an academic institution who would welcome a visiting speaker on simulation and opportunities in industry, contact Andy via the email below.

We are pleased to say we are connected with the Military Academy “General Mihailo Apostolski” in Skopje, Macedonia. The Academy conducts research and educates, trains and qualifies military and security personnel. Although it has access to the VBS2 NATO version, its faculty is keen to exploit the VBS3 academic licence to support teaching and academic research.

The BISim Academic Program provides VBS licences for VBS-based academic research projects, a channel for internships and employment at BISim, and a dedicated Academic Liaison. If you are in academia anywhere in the world, or would like to know more about this initiative, please contact our Academic Liaison, Andy Fawkes (andy.fawkes@bisimulations.com).

VBS2/3 in the News

The U.S. Army News Service, the Ft. Leavenworth Lamp, and Defense Systems highlighted the new avatar capabilities in VBS3 as part of an announcement about its release. Read more here, here and here.

The U.S. Army featured a story on its website about students at Grafenwoehr Elementary school in Germany, who took a field trip to the Joint Multinational Simulation Center and got a chance to test out VBS2. Read more here.

PEO STRI highlighted the construction of a new battle lab using VBS for ROTC at nearby University of Central Florida. Read more here.

Survey: Help BISim Improve Its Manuals and Documentation

As part of our continued commitment to improving VBS, we'd like to get your feedback on our VBS manuals and other documentation. This brief survey will only take a few minutes to complete and will help us better understand and improve our users’ experiences. Thank you for taking the time to complete our Documentation Survey. Click here to start the survey.

High-Quality Training to Maximize Your Potential in VBS

BISim offers a wide range of training courses to help you get the most out of VBS. Our team of trainers are the most knowledgeable in the industry on how VBS3 can enhance your training. By taking our courses, your team will enhance their understanding of best practices for using VBS. The following courses are available to book now via our website:
 
Administration Course:: June 2-June 6 Farnborough, UK
Scripting Course: June 9-June 13 Farnborough, UK
Model Import: July 28-Aug 1 Orlando, FL, USA
Combined Arms: Aug 18-Aug 22 Orlando, FL, USA
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