The United States military licensed the engine behind Crysis 2 to make the most realistic simulation possible.
The ability for a videogame to simulate a world is unrivaled in modern technology, and the United States military is using that ability to accurately train soldiers in situations not easily reproduced. The Orlando Division of Intelligent Decisions is developing the Dismounted Soldier Training System (DSTS) in which soldiers wear a computer and a "head-mounted displays on their helmets." The computer runs the CryEngine 3 and displays landscapes and positions while the trainee moves around a 10 foot by 10 foot square area. Floyd West, director of the project, said he decided to use videogame tech because it displays the closest thing to real life. The project has a budget of $57 million.
"What we're trying to do with infantry squad-level training is suspension of disbelief, and the CryEngine 3 is the best video game technology on the market today," West said. "With CryEngine 3 being used for Crysis 2 and the capabilities that game engine provides, it allows us to make the most realistic simulation possible. We're able to transport soldiers to accurately recreated locales like Afghanistan and Iraq, where we can simulate everything from visuals to 360-degree sound."
While it may seem weird to restrict movement to such a small area while the solider wears a screen on his helmet, the adaptability of the system is the key. "The goal is to complete common operating environments, so the things the Army is doing today would be Afghanistan, the mountainous, cavernous regions, and the Iraqi desert-like regions, as well as wooded areas.
"We have some geotypical and common operating environments built-in for training, but the system will come with an editor that allows real missions to be created in the field," West said.
I could see it being really useful for a soldier to practice operations with the specific parameters of the mission on his display. Which of course begs the question: who will be modeling these environments in the field? Will the U.S. now need game level designers on the frontlines?
I shudder at the thought.
The U.S. military has used videogames before to recruit and educate potential soldiers. America's Army debuted in 2002 and used the Unreal Engine from Epic Games to provide a close approximation to real combat practices in order to reach out to people who may not have considered a military career otherwise. More than 9 million people downloaded the game for free, and the Army continues using the platform to aid with training and recruitment.
Will CryEngine 3 now take its place? West said he chose the engine from Crysis 2 because it was the best at displaying "ground vehicles, aircraft, dismounted infantry, and guided weapons, footprints, disturbed soil and grass, rolling terrain, and dense vegetation."
Wait, I thought Crysis 2 was set in NYC. There's no vegetation there ...