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<nettime> Army To Release Computer Game
Kermit Snelson on Wed, 3 Jul 2002 11:02:46 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Army To Release Computer Game


Army To Release Computer Game
Tuesday July 2, 2002 7:40 PM
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uslatest/story/0,1282,-1851305,00.html

WASHINGTON (AP) - Attempting to woo computer-savvy young people, the Army
will release on July 4 the first installment of an ambitious new computer
game that will let players be all they can digitally be.

The game, which will be free on many gaming Web sites and
www.americasarmy.com, lets a player assume the role of a new recruit on an
Army team pitted in an online battle against terrorists.

While it is meant to be fun, the two-game set also was designed as a
recruitment tool.

"With this game we hope to educate young Americans and present them with a
realistic, engaging view of today's modern Army and its opportunities,"
said Lt. Col. Casey Wardynski, head of the Office of Economic & Manpower
Analysis at West Point and the originator of the game.

The full project, called "America's Army," will be available this fall.
The July 4 release is a scaled-down version of the "Operations" half of
the game, a tactical combat game that will be familiar to fans of popular
titles like "Quake" and "Half-Life."

Players will be able to undergo basic training and fight in 10 multiplayer
missions, including one to defend an Alaskan pipeline. More missions will
be released until the full release of the game. Officials said they want a
slow rollout to make sure their server computers can handle the traffic.

Army game developers visited 19 installations to interview soldiers and
take photographs of everything from tanks to the texture of bricks on
building walls.

The other half of the game, called "Soldier," involves role playing
similar to the popular game "The Sims." Players pick one of about 20 Army
careers and learn new skills in order to try to earn the rank of sergeant.

Players will learn military tactics, Army values and more about careers
like military police, infantry, and even avionics repair - but don't
expect to learn how to fix an Apache helicopter.

"The perspective here isn't to get into the final level of detail, like
wiring up an engine," said Army spokesman Paul Boyce. "It's to give you a
feeling of the procedures of the Army."

The game was developed over two years for about $6.3 million, Boyce said,
similar to the cost of other professional games. It will be available for
download as well as on CDs packaged with popular game magazines and in
Army recruitment centers.

The developers struggled with several portions of the combat half of the
game, particularly with how to depict game violence.

"We were very careful on the blood thing," Boyce said. "The team even
debated about whether or not to make a noise" when bullets strike an
enemy.

They ultimately decided to keep it silent and show a red blotch, similar
to a paintball hit. The game is rated for teens.

Operations punishes the player by kicking them out of the game if they
shoot a teammate or break the rules of engagement. If the player returns,
they are confined to a tiny cell at Fort Leavenworth, complete with a
harmonica playing "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot."

"Part of this is that we want to teach people that for any action there is
a consequence," Boyce said. "Violence in the military is a very carefully
sanctioned and organized approach in at time of threat. You must use it as
the last resort."

Another hurdle for the game designers is how to organize the two teams,
which can have up to 32 players per side. Since the game is a recruitment
tool, the designers didn't want anyone to play as a terrorist. The enemy
is always a team of terrorists, who are depicted as sinister figures in
fatigues, according to Boyce.

A player on Team A will always fight as a U.S. Army soldier and fight
players on Team B depicted as terrorists. But that opposing Team B
"terrorist" will see themselves as Army and Team A as terrorists. While it
sounds confusing, Boyce said it will be seamless to players.

"As far as you're concerned, when you see the enemy approaching you, they
are the enemy," Boyce said. "It's all a matter of perspective."

"No one can opt to be the bad guy in America's Army," Boyce said.

On the Net: America's Army: www.americasarmy.com Guardian Unlimited 
Guardian Newspapers Limited 2002





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