Search Unity

Games Military land navigation training simulator

Discussion in 'Works In Progress' started by BIGTIMEMASTER, Dec 1, 2019.

  1. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2017
    Posts:
    2,830
    Hey everybody, some of you may know I'm working on a game called Dog Go Run. Well, I found a programmer I can afford hire for that game -- which is awesome -- but before I dive into a large scope project like that with a new person I wanted to try out a smaller game idea I've had for a long time. This game can probably be built in about three months, and then after that I can polish it while working to grow some marketing hype before releasing to the wild.

    Anyway, it's a simulation of the land navigation training I did in the military. It's going to be 95% authentic. I tweak the rules of the scenario slightly to allow a little more player meta-game strategy and a little less uncertainty, but still, it is going to be a very demanding game. In some ways, almost diametrically opposed to mainstream video game design. So it will be interesting to see what kind of audience appreciates it.

    I got some work to do before I get the programmer started, so in the meantime I am working on the few art assets we will need. There is only a single player character, his gear, and a 40km area in the backwoods of southeast united states. For the environment I will likely use a majority of purchased art.

    The first thing we have to test is the actual land navigation using compass and map. There is no GPS, because GPS is for small crying babies. If you are going to learn to do land nav, you are going to learn to do it right. Or just quit, okay? I said this is military training. No whining!

    So far I have made an accurate compass as well as notepad and pencil.
    screenshot000.png

    The last tool player needs is a map, which will be coming a bit later. The map has to be to scale with the 3d terrain. There is a few ways to do that, but I will figure out the best way once I return home in a few weeks. As authenticity is important here, I have to make sure I am using the correct measurement systems so that player can use the exact same methods as in real world. That makes things a little more complicated, but it's all doable even for a bozo like me. Just takes some patience.
     
  2. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2017
    Posts:
    2,830
    2 (1).png
    (using compass to shoot an azimuth)

    Whenever I play a new game, I write down the things I don't like about it. One thing that really bugs me is when a game does not teach you how to play it. That's not clever, nor does it make an enjoyable challenge. And a lot of times, once you do go through the pains of learning how the game works, then you discover it's not very nuanced or challenging. It's like when a girl leads you on and... ah well, you get the point. Lies!

    I hope to do something better with this game. The fact is, learning how to conduct land navigation will take hours of step by step, hand-holding instruction. A robust tutorial will be essential, because how many gamers know how to read a military map or triangulate their position by shooting an azimuth?

    But following a tutorial in this case shouldn't be dull. You are learning a real life skill. And you are going to have to apply that skill in a demanding test. Everything you need to know will be taught in a crystal clear way, and you will have plenty of repetition to practice what you are taught. But applying those same skills under time crunch and with many complex factors to gamble is a legit challenge!

    For me, that's where the fun is. You make so many decisions per second, you constantly reevaluate those decisions, and none of them are ever certain. It is a real struggle of what you know, what you think you know, and what you want to believe. It can be a very personal challenge. You might only be walking, but the game is a very intense struggle of decision making that has very little downtime.

    Some players will naturally be attracted to the game solely for the theme and authenticity. Among those, only the most hardcore will stick with it when they become hopelessly lost and have no recourse but to manually correct their mistakes. That is a small audience for sure, but I don't want to grow the audience by compromising the design. If this game is anything less than an authentic simulation, it will become a boring walking simulator. So my challenge then is to sell a really strong hook. Strong enough to motivate an audience to overcome some legit challenge.

    The goal of this game is not market success. Primarily this game is a stepping stone towards my larger project, but still I want to take on that challenge of "how do I hook consumers to play something out-of-the-ordinary and then motivate them to overcome a greater challenge than most games offer?"
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2019
  3. iamthwee

    iamthwee

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2015
    Posts:
    2,073
    Sounds interesting 'Firewatch' uses a navigation system, but its hook is great narrative and artstyle. I was getting into it but lost interest somewhere as I kept tracking from one place to another without figuring out the goal.
     
    BIGTIMEMASTER likes this.
  4. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2017
    Posts:
    2,830
    I should play Firewatch. I watched their GDC presentations and enjoyed them a lot. For me though, story is never enough of a hook -- there has to be really engaging gameplay. That's the only reason I passed on playing it so far, despite the beautiful style and rave reviews.
     
    iamthwee likes this.
  5. iamthwee

    iamthwee

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2015
    Posts:
    2,073
    That's true, I guess players all individually assess certain aspects differently. For example, I love playing games with puzzles and a great narrative. 'Fran Bow' which is a simple point and click game currently holds the title as my best loved game so far.

    Designing a game, as you know and are no doubt more competent than me I'm sure, is a complex process. In my opinion, it is more difficult than programming, art design and sound combined.

    Getting that sweet spot, where you can entice someone to play is so hard to get right.

    I think your main issue is the same as me. You're going to get enticed with graphics before anything else. This is going to be a problem.

    The rules in indie are simple, scope small, have a solid prototype, then run with it.

    Do you watch the Extra Credits video? They're pretty much the gold standard.

     
    BIGTIMEMASTER likes this.
  6. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2017
    Posts:
    2,830
    It's a great channel. One of those channels I let play in the background while I am doing tedious/mindless work. Always pick up some good nuggets.

    It probably looks like I am focused on the graphics first, but that's only because it's the only thing I can do right now. I've got design written out in detail and have been "playing the game on paper" daily, but the actual prototyping won't start until I begin working with the programmer. I can do a little of that myself, but it is so slow for me my time is really better spent on the things I can do well and quickly.
    I have to go do some work in the next couple weeks, then we will begin prototyping probably after the holidays.

    The main thing I try to do at this point is figure out what the right questions to ask are. Starting from, "how do we ensure it is fun?" I break that down into more specifics. It's only a place to start of course, once we are actually playing something there will be new questions I couldn't have forethought.

    I also have to make sure there is a plan for how all the production will happen. I don't have to figure everything out but I need to have some idea where workflow might hit a hang up. So I do a bit of exploration into each area and try to discover any problems there might be. After all, in order to play the game we got to be able to make it first.

    Since I am sitting around in the meantime, might as well get started on some art. Still, there is prioritization. The first art we need is actually essential for prototyping. Player has to use the compass, notepad, and map from square one -- these are things that cannot be substituted with primitives.
     
  7. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2017
    Posts:
    2,830
    By the way, here is Discord for the game.

    https://discord.gg/DC4NaxY


    Not much happening there right now, but if you like to get involved in project in any way, that's good place to do so.
     
  8. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2017
    Posts:
    2,830
    The first goal is to get our core mechanics functional. This means that using map and compass, we should be able to accurately travel from A to B using dead reckoning.

    Dead reckoning means that you plot two points on your map, figure out the azimuth between those two points, and then follow that azimuth, keeping count of your pace for the correct distance, to arrive at the correct place. An azimuth is a degree vector. Your compass has 360 degrees, so an azimuth is some degree in relation to north.

    Dead reckoning is the toughest method of land navigation. but its the most precise. It requires mathematical precision in your planning. It also requires complete confidence to carry out your plan without deviation!

    Another method is called terrain association. This will be more familiar to most people. It means simply that you identify some prominent terrain feature and can confirm it on the map. If you can identify two terrain features, then you can shoot and azimuth to them and deduce your approximate position from the intersection of those two azimuths. Three terrain features and you can make a precise plot of your current position.

    In our military training simulation, unfortunately, the confidence that can be gained from terrain association will be hard to find. We are in featureless backwoods of North Carolina - the long leaf pine forest nearby Fort Bragg. It is possible to discern some terrain features, but you gotta be really good at reading a map. Even still, without strong dead reckoning skills and too much reliance on terrain association, you can bet your ass will get lost!

    I've used terrainparty to pull heightmap data from a 20km area around where I did my land navigation training. I plug that into world machine to generate a terrain. Right now I have not made any adjustments to the raw height data, but I go ahead and set up the world machine project because, after some playtesting, if I determine it is too hard then I can go back and edit the terrain a bit. Perhaps make some features more prominent so that player can catch a break every once in awhile. A hill that is easy to identify. A big cliff. A large flat open area. Things like this can help you confirm that you are going the right way -- but, double edge sword -- if you misread it can give you false confidence and get you into a lot of trouble.
    Annotation 2019-12-01 130811.png Annotation 2019-12-03 213628.png

    The next thing we need is a map that accurately represents this terrain. For that there is several methods that could be used. I believe the best on is to render a texture programmatically. This texture draws a contour line of every ten meters of elevation change. This is the basis of a military topographic map. I got the idea for that here:
    https://answers.unity.com/questions/788782/turn-a-terrain-into-a-contoured-map.html
    If that doesn't work, there is some shaders I can make as well.
    All I need is the accurate contour lines, and the rest can be filled in in photoshop.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2019