SimVentive: A Toolkit for Building Instructional Games
U.S. Air Force.
Air University instructors.
The use of wargames in the Air Force curriculum to date has been hindered by the significant amount of time and effort required to develop new wargames. Existing wargames built for Air Force students are disparate, one-off efforts, implemented on different platforms, with drastically varying interfaces that impose a steep learning curve on the student and waste valuable classroom time. An even larger concern is tomorrow’s wargames. Because warfare can change so quickly, as evidenced by the events of the last decade, the Air Force’s curriculums must change just as swiftly. Using current wargame development methods, however, the construction of wargames necessarily lags behind current events and modern military theory. Instructors must rely on programmers – who often do not have the necessary subject matter expertise – to build the wargames for them to use in their courses. This is costly, slow, and error- prone.
Stottler Henke developed the SimVentive™ toolkit, originally named Warcon, that helps Air Force instructors create a wide range of single- and multi-player training (“serious”) games quickly and easily, without programming. SimVentive incorporates the award-winning SimBionic® intelligent agent toolkit, so instructors can define intelligent simulated behaviors of devices, characters, computer-generated forces, and other simulated entities simply by drawing flow charts. SimVentive’s user interface capabilities support 2D and 3D graphics, audio, video, interactive maps and images, HTML, and standard GUI controls. Scenario authors can extend SimVentive’s power by integrating Java™ software and user interface components. Using this toolset, Air Force instructors can design and deploy new wargames into their teaching curriculum more quickly and increase the quality and sophistication of these training games.
- In September 2006, Stottler Henke delivered the SimVentive system and four wargames developed using SimVentive to support Air University’s curriculum. In December 2006, Stottler Henke released the commercial version of the SimVentive software.
- According to Lt. Col. Dan Novak, USAF Retired ACSC Chief of Wargaming and Course Director at Air University, “I see this model growing in use beyond Air University classrooms by empowering instructors to make changes to a wargame or simulation, based on the needs of their students, without having to process software change requests in a system which can take weeks if not months to complete. Given time and a growing community library of SimVentive scenarios, this software will change the way instructors use games and simulations in the classroom.”
The SimVentive toolset can be used to create a wide range of training simulations and serious games without programming. SimVentive already has been piloted to develop games that train emergency medical professionals to respond to an anthrax attack, and military commanders to devise an air campaign to compel an adversary to negotiate. Another SimVentive-based game currently under development will teach flight controllers and astronauts to apply their understanding of spacecraft systems and their interactions to diagnose and recover from unexpected failures.