Rotterdam, May 16-18, 2017
This year eSim Games exhibited at ITEC again (and once more the Clarion management demonstrated their refined ability to pick a most unique and remarkable color for the show floor carpet).
Located at stand #6, our Steel Beasts Professional managed to capture the attention of casual visitors as much as of established customers stopping by.
Overall the show was a success for eSim. Visitor interest was higher than usual, with some of them apparently realizing for the first time what a comprehensive, high-fidelity, low-cost training solution Steel Beasts could be for them (not that we presented a different story than in previous years).
One highlight of the live demonstration was unrestricted visitor access to the demonstrator of a refurbished IFV Marder turret trainer, built in the early 1990s, and modernized with the ATLan-UK technology by Diehl Defence (who kindly enough shipped the multi ton simulator across Europe so we could put it on display).
The main point of the exhibition piece was, of course, to illustrate how legacy simulator hardware can receive a highly cost-effective extension of its lifetime.
“Steelbeastifying” the simulator usually means no loss of significant functionality but rather the addition of new capability – in particular in the network domain if there is a classroom with desktop trainer stations nearby. This allows not only to network the turret trainers among each other, but to run a platoon level exercise in the tactical context of a dynamic company or even battalion scale small operation. Rather than being a glorified shooting gallery, embedding the platoon trainer in a larger scale context fosters mission-oriented tactical thinking of the crews while executing the technical procedures in duel situations.
The other highlight was the presentation of the new terrain engine with a LIDAR scan based terrain data base of sub-meter grid resolution – at virtually no performance loss over SB Pro PE 4.019. The scan was made of the highly rugged sand dunes of the Kallemærsk shooting range near the Danish Combat School in Oksbøl, southern Jutland. The stunning quality of the terrain representation aside, a change towards high resolution terrain also seems to have a profound effect on simulation outcomes – in particular the shift of impact locations from a near uniform distribution over the whole vehicle silhouette which is still the norm in 10m grid DTED3 databases to almost exclusively in the (upper) turret area, as long as crews manage to utilize the terrain for masking (more on that topic in a later post).
Of course: Seeking hull-down positions has been standard fare in Steel Beasts since before version 1.0. But high-resolution terrain databases offer so many more opportunities to dash into cover where in traditional databases suitable firing positions are often confined to major ridgelines. Shifting the impact locations away from the hull – which seems to reflect real life battle results since WW2 – has in turn an effect on the overall attrition rates of the whole vehicle fleet in operations.
The real work is only starting now, of course – adapting the behavior of computer-controlled units to both recognize smaller firing positions and to avoid steep discontinuities in the terrain, particularly on mountain roads, and to deal with the effects of deformable terrain at runtime. Next year’s show report promises to be interesting.
Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to V. Jartsev who supported us with his scenario design skills at a critical moment during the show (when I realized that I had left the crucial file behind and something had to be cobbled up, pronto).
Not only is he a prolific beta tester, he even took a few days off from his job in Estonia and flew all the way to Rotterdam to visit the exhibition – and to help us out. Likewise, without the whole team’s help exhibiting would have been futile. I alone could not possibly have presented Steel Beasts the way it deserves.