8 November 2019

Virtual Reality Wargaming

A good day yesterday at Coventry's Manufacturing Technology Centre where Dstl were holding a show-and-tell on Defence Wargaming. We were luck enough to get a demo and a talking slot.

For the occasion David updated the Virtual Wargames Room (our 3D Virtual Tabletop - 3D VTT) we built in Trainingscapes a year or so ago. The new version was optimised for the Oculus Quest (which meant the hex board and model soldiers had to go).

Within the space we have:

  • Three big floor maps for wargames, BAOR 1984 (an old SP game), Waterloo and the Modern War's Crisis in the Baltic. These have a real sense of scale, the BAOR map in particular looks like it's filling a whole sports hall and you just want to walk all over it!
  • Example counters (done as cubes for ease of handling) for each game
  • A more conventional "wargames table", in this case with a hex grid and some example troop blocks and terrain features, and even an example simple 3D sculpt tank and figure (think Airfix 1/32nd!)
  • A dice for random number generation
  • Some static information panels (one on Soviet tactics, the other a ruleset aide-memoire)
  • A couple of dynamic information panels/web browsers to bring in rule or period related data or even live Google Docs so you can log (or read) activity and someone on the web can read/update it.

One of the whole aims was to keep it very simple. Nothing is automated, it works just the same way as though you got a physical wargame out on a real table (and we even had people knocking things off the table as in real life, and picking them up to keep the place tidy afterwards).

A visitor moving virtual pieces on a virtual wargames table!
That simplicity really worked and we got a great response to the whole concept. We also got some great feedback to our lightening talk, linked both to current projects we have with MOD and some of the peripheral (e.g. the BattlefieldAR system we are working up with Battlefields Trust) and hobby projects we are working on.

The whole day gave a good insight into some of the companies working in the professional wargaming space (or with aspirations to work there), running the whole gamut from machine-learning AI based systems to good old paper and card wargames and PIP dice for unit activation. There was also a good presentation on the current MOD needs in this area, so hopefully we'll get the chance to progress some of the ideas we presented a bit further.