Serious Game Design

  This section of the site features the Game Design vertical slice and model data that was developed to illustrate the integrated system concept for the Naval Research Labs.

Going on-site to the NRL Office allowed us to get a first-hand look at the SCOUT and FIST2FAC-Lite simulator setup. This allowed us to conceptualize the layout of the Naval Vessel Simulation prototype, and how we might showcase the two systems interacting with each other during a mission. Considerable time was taken at the whiteboard to understand what might be possible to demonstrate with this vertical slice concept game, in order to illustrate the integration of a UAV Operator station with a Bridge Commander on a Navy Destroyer. It was decided that the game would feature two views, one for each station, with a data interconnect between them that would prominently be displayed.

The next step was to generate full 2-D artwork of the UAV, and Bridge Commander views, to use as a reference for our 3-D model design in Unity. This stage was critical because it defined the general flow of the simulation, what views would be available, and the scope of the gameplay.

Once we established the basic model for the simulation, the Unity model had to be coded to accept the UAV performance model data, so that they would be able to perform search and identification tasks, while accurately reporting their speed, position, altitude and remaining fuel. The surface objects were also created, and given AI behavior models, so that they would respond appropriately once they were discovered by the UAV.

Then we began focusing on the game layout. We developed the battle space, playing out the game scenarios with placeholder objects for destroyer and fast-attack craft representation, while also representing the relevant UAV position, altitude, and fuel data in the flight display quadrant. A live video feed was also created for the UAV that was currently selected by the user.

Once we had the general layout of the UAV Operator screen, we turned our attention to the Bridge Commander view for the game. Due to the time constraints, we opted not to make this view interactive, but we have left this option for future enhancements. We did however want the data from the UAV Operator object screen to carry over to the bridge, to demonstrate the linked capabilities between the two stations.

We began turning the concept art for the Bridge Commander view into the 3-D model that you see below, where you'll notice the battle space objects have been included as the primary display. Terrain and object identification shaders were also added to give the game a more location specific feel. In future versions, missions may be changed by location to provide more diversity to the scenario objectives, and level of difficulty.

As the 3-D models became more polished, we started developing the opening screen and point system for the game. We needed to give the game some flare that would make it appealing beyond the purpose of an integration demonstration, so we experimented with several different opening screens and titles to determine how we could best market the game, while keeping it within the requirements of our client.

After finalizing the playable game parameters, we polished the icons for the Destroyer, friendly, and hostile objects. Event sounds were added to give the user warnings when a hostile object was detected. The AI for hostile objects is set to currently turn and run from the ship, however in future revisions we expect the behavior to be less predictable, with perhaps more options available to deal with rogue vessels. Terrain data was also finalized for the featured scenario, and reflected in the altitude readings when a UAV passes over the higher elevation areas. 

Finally the finished opening screen was completed, with user instructions, sound options, and an abort button made available to the user during gameplay. The game progresses as a single run through the battle space, with the Destroyer beginning in the upper-left quadrant of the map, progressing south east to the lower-right section. Along the way, unidentified objects approach the ship, and must be identified in a timely manner to score well in the game. At the conclusion of the run, the user's score is displayed, and they are given the opportunity to try again.