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Bohemia Interactive Simulations February Newsletter

Building Strong Customer Relationships

Effective relationships are a two-way street. In developing VBS3 for the U.S. Army, our developers have had a chance to work closely with soldiers who will be directly using our product for training. Similarly, the U.S. Army is receiving a product that is tailored especially to its needs.

Effective relationships not only are mutual, but they also require commitment. This month we are excited to announce that after extensive testing, VBS3 is headed to the field for use in training by the U.S. Army, beginning a five-year effort to enhance the military’s virtual training capabilities.

Our developers have worked tirelessly to deliver VBS3 at a rapid pace. Our work with the U.S. Army has helped strengthen our own processes and practices, demonstrating our drive to respond to customers’ needs and our attentiveness to the user experience. Our work with the Australian Defence Force is another example of how we are keeping in mind the user experience. Read on to find out more about our work with ADF and other ways we are building features that enhance the user experience in VBS3.

We look forward to strong and fruitful collaborations with all customers this year.

Cheers,

From all of us at Bohemia Interactive Simulations

In this issue:

www.bisimulations.com

U.S. Army Begins Using VBS3 for Training

The U.S. Army will soon begin fielding VBS3 for its Games for Training program, following its recent acceptance. The rollout of VBS3 to the field marks a rapid, 7-month development and testing period from when the U.S. Army awarded its Games for Training contract to a team of companies led by Calytrix and in partnership with BISim and SimCentric last June.

After extensive and rigorous acceptance testing, BISim is very proud to deliver VBS3 to the U.S. Army,” said BISim co-CEO Pete Morrison. “Like its predecessor VBS2, VBS3 is a milestone for game-based simulation and will soon be rolled out to other enterprise customers.

As part of the development of VBS3 for the U.S. Army, BISim developed a new quality assurance process for its Orlando office, testing VBS3 in the same manner as the U.S. Army uses the software. Over the past four years, BISim has greatly expanded its quality assurance staff and introduced a variety of automated testing practices to quickly detect software issues. In addition, BISim engaged in user testing that helped improve the functionality of the software for the Army.

Calytrix and Bohemia have forged a team that is delivering increased functionality and usability in VBS3 that will be an important component for keeping America’s soldiers trained and ready in the coming years,” said Calytrix Technologies President Buck Connor.

VBS3 provides improved graphics capability, supports more networked players through simulation clients and multicast, and introduces a new, more modern-looking user interface. Last month, we announced that VBS3 would be released in May for purchase. Stayed tuned for more news on the latest features on our website.

BISim Develops Mine-Detection Models for ADF

According to the Australian Defense Force (ADF), more than 40 percent of troops killed in action during Operation Slipper in Afghanistan were because of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). The ADF’s Project NINGAUI aims to offer resources that respond to the threat of IEDs. The ADF lists “thorough training” among the strategies for addressing this challenge.

BISim recently completed updated models in VBS2 of the Husky Mark 3, which the ADF is using for route clearance in Afghanistan. In addition to creating models of the Husky for the ADF, BISim developed systems for Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and Interrogator Arms for use with the Thales Talisman Training System. A graphical user interface representing GPR allows trainees to understand the visual differences shown on the GPR in-vehicle screen when an object is detected.

The project also is yet another BISim application with mobile devices. BISim developed a remote interface operated via tablet as a means to replicate a real Husky controller. This remote interface allows driver trainees to interact with the interrogator arm similar to working with the real vehicle without the risks associated with live training. Replicating real-life controllers allows trainees to complete high-level decision-making and team training in VBS, while also training low-level skills, such as equipment operation, in a realistic fashion. To watch a video demonstration, click here.

 

BISim’s Laamanen Moves to TerraSim

Following BISim's acquisition of TerraSim, Earl Laamanen has moved from Prague to Pittsburgh to take on a new role as Technical Director. His addition to the TerraTeam was the first step to a tighter integration between TerraSim and BISim products, which will provide an improved user experience for BISim and TerraSim customers alike.

Earl began his career with BISim in 2004 in Australia, where he worked as a Lead Artist and later transitioned to Project Director in Prague, where he helped lead development projects for VBS2 and VBS3. His work in managing and improving the VBS Developer Suite has provided him with significant experience in terrain generation and 3D modeling, which fit perfectly with his new responsibilities.

As Technical Director at TerraSim, he is charged with overseeing the technical integration between our two companies as well as working as an intermediary between TerraSim and BISim in joint advanced technology development projects. Earl, his wife Keitha, and their three cats have landed well in the Burgh. Earl is bicycling to work, has instituted "video game night" in the office, and has raised the average NHL ice hockey knowledge for TerraSimians.

VBS2 Adds Training Value for ROTCs

Lt. Col. Ralph Hudnall had used VBS2 in the field for training on other assignments, but in 2012 didn’t have access to it as a professor of military science and seniors’ instructor for Eastern Kentucky University (EKU).

A conversation between Hudnall and Northrop Grumman’s Fort Knox site lead Rob Kiser helped open opportunities for Eastern Kentucky University’s Reserve Officer Training Corps in Richmond, Ky., to begin using VBS2. Kiser worked with Fort Knox’s Mission Command Training Center to take VBS2 on the road.

“I thought it would be cool to use with our cadets,” Hudnall said. “This generation [of soldiers] very quickly gets into the game.

Crystal Wylie/The Richmond Register.

In 2012, Kiser packed up 20 computers and a truckload of cables and laptops and put on a demonstration with cadets acting as two squads. Kiser and his Fort Knox colleagues brought the simulation road show again to EKU in fall 2012. Hudnall began asking about setting up his own lab for cadets.

The biggest problem is learning the buttonology,” said Hudnall. “I thought that if we set up our own lab, we would get more training value so cadets can train on the buttonology.” (As a side note, VBS3 will allow trainees to use the standard game controllers that so many are familiar with as well as the traditional mouse and keyboard.)

Hudnall enlisted a senior cadet with a computer science background to help set the ROTC’s virtual lab as part of a capstone project. “The university was tossing out 20 desktops and we acquired 10 of them, got the software and coordinated with Fort Knox,” recalled Hudnall.

Cadets with the program say that VBS2 is allowing them to improve their communication.

Crystal Wylie/The Richmond Register.

“It makes us have to talk,” says Cadet Daniel Bailey, a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in safety, security and emergency management. “It’s pretty realistic and helps us coordinate as a team with different types of missions.” Plus, he adds, it beats slogging through the snow and cold for winter training.

Eastern Kentucky is one of a rapidly growing list of ROTC programs using VBS2. While EKU’s ROTC program uses VBS2 primarily for squad training, Hudnall is looking to expand the number of working stations to 14 computers to train juniors and seniors.

Crystal Wylie/The Richmond Register.

Capt. Michael Blakely, one of the ROTC’s primary trainers, adds that the program plans to begin using VBS2 for land navigation training. Currently, Blakely says that cadets have sand tables and printable maps they can use prior to rehearsing on VBS2 to make sure they have experience replicating those practices in the field.

There’s added value in using virtual training and we are going to make it part of our regular curriculum,” said Hudnall. “Virtual training helps us get a lot out of training, especially when weather conditions are poor. It won’t replace getting out in the field, but now we can do several iterations of a scenario without having to get out to a site and setting up our equipment.

The Richmond Register newspaper in Kentucky recently published a story on how Eastern Kentucky University's Reserve Officer Training Corps is using VBS2 to train its cadets. Brigadier General Maria Gervais, the Army's deputy ROTC commander, toured the school's ROTC facility to determine whether to expand virtual training to other ROTC programs. To read more, click here.

BISim Academic Programme: A Global Initiative

Last month we announced that BISim is putting more resources into its Academic Liaison Programme. This will reinforce our support for innovative uses of our simulation technology in academia and help build the future generation of modelling and simulation engineers in our industry. We are providing VBS licences for VBS-based academic research projects, a channel for internships and employment at BISim, and a dedicated Academic Liaison. Since this announcement we have decided to make the Programme explicitly a global initiative. All academic institutions are eligible. To support this broader ambition we are working hard on a new Academic Liaison web presence which will explain the Programme in detail, how to get involved and highlight success stories.

Our dedicated Academic Liaison, Andy Fawkes, has now visited the UK Defence Academy Shrivenham, Imperial College London, The University of Hull and Staffordshire University and made contact with a number of others including international institutions. Further visits are being planned. At the Defence Academy we learned that as well as supporting the M&S Courses, VBS is also viewed by the 20,000 students and visitors that annually pass through the Academy's Defence Capability Centre. We were very pleased to see VBS is now running at the University of Hull in the Hull Immersive Visualization Environment (HIVE). At any one time there are over 600 students and graduates in gaming and simulation at Staffordshire University and this year courses will be supported by a VBS-based network together with a simulator motion base and motion capture area. We are continuing to build relationships at Imperial College, including the Institute for Security Science & Technology (ISST).

If you are in academia and would like to learn more, please contact our Academic Liaison, Andy Fawkes, by email at andy.fawkes@bisimulations.com.

BISim-Poland and WAT Sign Cooperative Agreementt

BISim-Poland and the Wojskowa Akademia Techniczna (WAT) in Warsaw have signed a cooperative agreement, creating a formal relationship between the two organizations. WAT, the leading Army technical university in Poland, has used VBS for training since 2008.

Under the agreement, BISim-Poland will provide academic licenses for a computer lab supplied with VBS that will be used for non-commercial applications, research and case studies.The agreement also sets up a relationship where BISim may act as a future commercialization partner for the university.

WAT was our first customer in Poland and this agreement recognizes that long-standing relationship,” said Maciej Stopniak, president of BISim-Poland. “We look forward to working with the university’s researchers and to train the next generation of soldiers through VBS.

TerraSim and BISim Trek to Wildflecken’s GeoInfo Workshop

On February 19, 2014, Ulf Krahn, CEO of Terranis and a TerraSim technical reseller in Europe, and Mark Dzulko, the Chief Technical Officer at BISim, presented the newest correlated terrain generation capabilities in TerraSim's TerraTools 5 and BISim's VBS3 Technology Roadmap respectively at the GeoInfo Workshop, sponsored by the German Army in Wildflecken, Germany. Ulf discussed TerraTools rapid content generation for high fidelity terrain simulation. This included the process to create large area environments with significant urban content, built for VBS3 and correlated with other simulation runtimes. Ulf also provided a sneak peek of pre-release TerraTools 5 functionality, including the new Batch Mode Manager, the parametric generation of multi-story buildings with interiors, and destructible buildings for VBS3. Eurosimtec representatives also demonstrated VB-Edit’s functions in VBS2.

Mark Dzulko presented the BISim Technology Roadmap, describing the new capabilities in VBS3 to handle large area environments, biotopes and snow technology for enhanced VBS3 runtime fidelity, and engine enhancements to support significantly larger view distances in-game.

Discovery Machine Supports Bold Quest Efforts with Voice-Controlled F-16

Discovery Machine’s newest automated aircraft in VBS2, the Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon, recently debuted at the Bold Quest 14.1 training exercise. Bold Quest is an international training experiment, where NATO partner nations come together to enhance the state of the art in simulated training. Discovery Machine is glad to have the opportunity to demonstrate its F-16 behavior modeling capabilities to such a captive audience. Exposure to international militaries provides great insight on how tactics vary between nations.

Based on feedback from Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) at this event and the expertise of top F-16 pilots, Discovery Machine has enhanced their existing CAS training solution. These enhancements allow for a higher level of flexibility for JTACs being trained while providing opportunities for repeated exposure to training situations. Each automated F-16 is also responsive to its surroundings and adaptive to verbal commands, thus enhancing realism in the scenario.

When there are limited opportunities to practice controlling aircraft with live pilots, a solution such as Discovery Machine’s voice-adaptive aircraft can be an effective alternative. With voice-controlled automated aircraft, trainees can practice proper CAS commands and receive tactically correct responses from the aircraft. Based on the information given, the aircraft will alter its behavior accordingly. Stand by for the latest advances in Discovery Machine’s automated F-16 aircraft, as it is continually enhanced with the latest VBS3 features as they become available.

Contact Discovery Machine today for more information.

VBS3 What's New

New in VBS3: Suppressive Fire

VBS allows trainees to direct suppressive fire onto a given area. AI units will engage according to the defined parameters. The area to be suppressed is defined through an intuitive 3D interface. The suppression system is integrated with both the real time editor and after-action review functions.

This video shows work in progress and the exact implementation may change prior to final release.

USMC Hand and Arm Signals Request Leads To New Quick Menu

When the U.S. Marine Corps asked BISim to include 37 hand and arm signals as part of VBS3, our designers realized that the VBS2 action menu, operated by the computer mouse scroll wheel, would quickly become cluttered. So our designers created a new quick menu that is modifiable, more user friendly and adds modern gaming user interfaces.

Hand signals are important for gameplay because VBS has its own voiceover network. That means that there may be circumstances during a training scenario where an enemy player might hear chatter among trainees over the network. Hand signals add to the immersiveness of training and communication in VBS3.

The quick menu in VBS3 is accessed via the left Windows button but can be changed by the user. Users can use the quick menu for more than hand signals and can customize it to attach different weapons, equipment and actions.

The new quick menu, which appears in the center of the screen in the player’s field of view, offers users the ability to switch weapons or change actions without looking off to the side of the screen. This allows users to have actions right in front of them and continue to observe what’s happening during gameplay.

These images represent work still in development and could change on final release.

VBS In The News

Australian Army Highlights Portable VBS Simulation Suite

The Australian Army is now offering reservists access to its portable VBS2 Virtual Immersive Combat Environment. Project coordinator Lt. Col. Mark Gibson explained in an article in Army: The Soldier’s Newspaper that VBS2 allows soldiers and officers to “conduct training in simulation, fixing any shortcomings, and then do live training more effectively.” According to Gibson, the system also allows for trainees to conduct “multiple runs of a scenarios” and train on equipment they might not have regular access to. To read more, click here.

You can stay in touch with all the latest news on the BISim News Site.

Book Training Courses

BISim’s training team offers open enrollment courses at our training facilities throughout the year. We are working to help meet your training needs by offering flexible training dates. We’ve reserved the first three weeks of April and the month of May for groups who would like to request training courses that don’t fit within our current course schedule. Contact BISim training manager Chris Gold to reserve time during this period to train your team at our Orlando, FL training facility. Unlock the potential of VBS with the following courses which are available to book now via our website:

Scripting Course: March 10-14, 2014 Orlando, Florida, USA
VBS2 Terrain Course: March 17-21, 2014 Orlando, Florida, USA
Administration Course: March 17-21, 2014 Orlando, Florida, USA
Administration Course: March 24-28, 2014 Farnborough, UK
Scripting Course: March 31-April 4, 2014 Farnborough, UK
VBS2 Terrain Course: April 21-25, 2014 Orlando, Florida, USA
Combined Arms Course: April 28-May 2, 2014 Farnborough, UK
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