Thursday, June 4, 2009

Point of Attack 2 (HPS Simulations): The Ultimate War Simulation

Point of Attack 2 (PoA2) is a simulation of modern warfare by Scott Hamilton that was made for the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research. It is a turn-based, tactical level simulation featuring regular armies (US, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria) and irregular forces.

The level of detail of PoA2 is very deep. The screen-shot above shows a Combat Phase Report window (you will have to click the screenshot to be able to read), where every move and fire is recorded. Taking into account that this simulation is used by the US Air Force, the algorithms used to solve fire and movement must be really top-notch.

One could spend a lot of time trying to summarize all the gadgets and goodies this simulation has. Yet today I want to show you something that I have never seen in other off-the shelf simulation.
Take a look at the screenshot below (again, you will have to click the screenshot to be able to read).

The window on top shows tabs for all type of staff officers. The "Commo" (communications tab), has a detailed summary of the communication status of every unit. Yes, the simulation keeps track of communications sent back and forward, and if the comms network is saturated, the messages start to fall within the cracks. The highlighted unit in the screenshot (1st AP Section) could not send its SITREP (situation report) and as a result of that, the 1st AP Section position shown in the map will not be accurate. This is called "friendly fog of war", something in the lines of "you don't know where your forces are unless they have an effective communications means with you".

Before I end this entry, a very important clarification: PoA2 is not for everybody. This is not a "beers and pretzel" game. Indeed, I don't even think this is a game in the entertainment sense of the word. I would label PoA2 as an analytical tool to simulate warfare at a very realistic level.


No comments: