How to create army VR simulator
In this article, we will tell how we created an army VR simulator for real army training.
Military VR simulator for real army training is not a game, it is a real tool that must work as faithfully as possible. The ideal accuracy of weapons, realistic environment and physics of interaction, the reconstruction of real combat situations require the maintenance of high standards, both technical and visual.
We needed to create locations of real terrain, ultra-realistic weapons and ammunition, a ballistics system, a combat tasks editor, AI, a system for analyzing soldiers behaviors, and so on.
We were limited by a deadline and budget so we put all considerations and attention to planning and preparations, we gathered a selected squad of the ready and prepared teammates that should be ready to take it maintaining a good pace of work.
In these conditions, planning is a key stage in the work on a project. First of all, we collected a complete list of necessary content and analyzed the technical requirements for each of them. Our team of 3D artists, designers, military consultants, and project managers analyzed all the required content and decided what content we can take from the web and what we need to create from a scratch.
The project was divided into 4 teams: weapons team, buildings and assets team, locations team, development team. Totaly 32 people were assigned to the project. Technical leads and project managers developed an optimal plan of project development, taking into account the time limits and budget. Planning lasted 2 weeks, after which the project started.
Teams were needed to work as parallel as possible.
In the first 10 weeks, the weapons team completed its work on the weapon, creating 30 realistic weapons, including some internal parts and 20 types of patrons. On this sub-project, we worked together with the consultants on weapons, conducted testing in a test engine, which was also assembled in the first weeks of work. As a result, thanks to the coordinated work, we were able to fulfill the requirements of the customer – the weapon looked realistic and optimized for virtual reality and the needs of the simulator.
At the same time, was completed work on the creation of the asset. Artists modeled 50 unique buildings and assets like benches, simple wooden houses, big city buildings and even seaport and the airport made of glass and concrete.
Since we were both limited by the deadline we needed to find ways of how to optimize and speed up a routine work part so, the team has developed a plugin that allowed to adjust all the models to the same technical requirements, in the case of texture updates on one of the buildings in the plugin, this building will automatically be updated on all maps. This process will take less than 1 minute, instead of 2-3 hours of manual replacement of each building.
At this point, the team that worked on 12 combat locations completed the landscape, added the roads and was ready to place objects on the maps. For the next 6 weeks, we placed large objects, added interior elements and other props. At the same time, work was carried out on the creation of transport and small architectural forms for filming locations. Through the use of plug-ins, we were able to automate this process as much as possible. We simply set the position of the object in the engine and it was placed on the map automatically. At this stage, in our office test space, regular testing and consultations were held with the participation of military consultants, testers and our team.
The 4th development team all this time was engaged in the development of the project architecture, analytics systems and behavior analysis of soldiers, ballistics, AI behavior, tasks editor base, and multiplayer system.
By the time the content was ready, the dev team was completely ready for its implementation. Since the project is large the team tightly engaged in optimizing each location separately and the entire project as a whole. One of the important elements of creating a simulator was to preserve the realism of events. We achieved this by careful adjustment of the light, detailed study the physics of interaction with all objects and visual effects.
Ultimately, after 16 weeks from the beginning of work, we launched the first version, and after 18 weeks, the project started working on the clients’ side, and after the next 4 weeks of additional setup, revisions, and fixes it works for its purpose.
During this project we totally created:
– 30 ultra-realistic weapons with a realistic ballistic system
– 12 locations with a total area of more than 75 square km
– more than 50 assets (20 unique buildings and more than 30 small architectural forms)
– 7 vehicles (exact models of trains, buses, and airplanes were created)
– and at least 180 million polygons