How Open Standards are making Game Engines more accessible for Serious Simulation applications

A use case based on Unreal Engine

The growing popularity of gamification in learning combined with the power of modern gaming technologies is set to shape the next generation of simulation based training. Beyond the very realistic visualization features, today game engines offer many other facilities like advanced physics, artificial intelligence (AI), sound engines among other modules that can ease the development of simulations for training. Game engines developed by a large community of developers could reduce costs and time to market for both new and traditional simulation systems developers alike.

However, there still remains several challenges in exploiting gaming technologies outside the consumer markets, in particular for defense and space modeling and simulation (M&S) applications. Games are generally developed to only work within their own game engine ecosystem. The trend within training and simulation is to connect systems together for co-operative training. While this is possible using a game engine’s multiplayer framework, it would currently require that all systems use the same game engine – an approach that can pose many issues, not least the risk of getting locked into a single vendor and the prospect of throwing away the significant investments already made by the system developers and end users.

NATO and other research groups have already conducted a number of studies over the years to investigate if and how standards and technologies could be developed to promote modular game architectures. NATO Modelling and Simulation Group (NMSG) Exploratory Team (ET) 044 work on Modular Game Architectures being one recent example, which highlighted the need for open standards based approaches to promote maximum exploitation of the technologies. Some in the industry have also developed open standards based technologies to encourage re-use and interoperability of game engines and other simulation technologies.

This paper is structured along the following topics to explore how open standards are applied to make game engines more accessible to the serious simulation developers in defense, space and other domains.

  • Why combine serious simulation and game technology
  • Some established game engines – overview
  • Why use open standards – use cases and opportunities
  • Practical experiences in developing open standards based interoperability tools for the Unreal Engine

Authors: Suranga Wickramasekera, Boris Pothier, Garratt Weblin
Publication: Proceedings of 2021 Virtual SISO SIMposium, SIM-2021-03, Simulation Interoperability Standards Organization, September 2021

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