What does it take to accomplish this? Thankfully, the private sector has been vanquishing the foe of computer inaccessibility. We need look no further than Android that allows incredible customization on our phones and tablets. In software and analytic domains, development environments have flourished providing order of magnitude advances in productivity for analysts and programmers. Cross-platform gaming engines are the norm in the commercial world shifting the burden from technology implementation to artistic expression. Even the much smaller commercial wargaming domain has led to several gaming engines used for playing games online or through email by providing a customizable digital game board and pieces (Figure 1). The OSD CAPE solution to this design inaccessibility problem is the Standard Wargame Integration Facilitation Toolkit (SWIFT). SWIFT is a software environment used to build, play, and analyze turn-based wargames conducted primarily for analytic purposes. SWIFT provides a toolkit to enable integration of visualization, wargame rules, human and computer-based adjudicators into a multi-player turn-based wargame to facilitate testing, execution, and analysis.
Figure 2. SWIFT Meta-Components as a Common Language
SWIFT supports professional turn-based games from several perspectives: sponsor, developer, player, adjudicator, and analyst. For the game sponsor, SWIFT offers resource efficiency by shifting software development dollars from the “medium” to the actual design or particular game-specific features. Additionally, the wargame is preserved for re-use, modification, presentation, and sharing (think SWIFT as Microsoft Excel for wargamers).
For the game designer and developer, SWIFT not only provides a computer medium for wargaming but it, like most computer environments, enforces a design clarity and common language that is always desired on gaming projects. Games are described and designed in terms of their meta-components: participants, actors, resources, actions, game spaces, turns, and adjudicators (See Figure 2 for complete list). All game meta-components have attributes that can be manipulated to suit the requirements of the game design. The time required to instantiate a game in SWIFT depends upon the game design. It takes days, not weeks to build a manual game that utilizes SWIFT’s visualization and recording capabilities. Days to weeks are required to instantiate semi-automated/fully-automated games depending upon level of complexity.
Figure 3. SWIFT Visualization
For the game player, SWIFT supports visualization and efficient game play. SWIFT is an intuitive, appealing mechanism to learn once and rely on that training to play multiple different types of games shifting the training to the game rules rather than the tool navigation. SWIFT overlays situational awareness, actors, and actions on any map/image resource to include Google Earth’s .kml files (See Figure 3). While players have an enhanced common operating picture (COP) that they can filter in any number of ways, game controllers can implement the fog of war and information hiding by limiting player perception. Although game design can rely upon intermediaries (“pucksters”) between players and the software, we found that players intuitively pick up the point and click interface and have frequently done away with the intermediaries within less than 15 minutes of play. Millennials tend to pick it up with ease.
Figure 4. SWIFT Adjudication Approaches
SWIFT’s general concept for the adjudication process is shown in Figure 4. For the game adjudicator, SWIFT captures the suggested outcomes of an unconstrained number of adjudicators (human or computer) and presents those outcomes for ground truth selection. SWIFT supports a wide variety of manual and automated adjudication types. It also permits the use of several different adjudicators for the same phenomenology and permits the White Cell to choose the most appropriate or a combination of the adjudicator results for the game turn. SWIFT supports the game analyst by providing a consistent, transparent data structure and a game engine to support stochastic analysis of model-adjudicated games. Its use of structured input/output data facilitates inductive analysis techniques. SWIFT has a playback and other after-action features that support post game analysis. SWIFT can import and export most data to/from Excel for analysis and game development. Ease of use was a key design consideration.