The U.S. Soldier's Creed reflects a set of values by which all Soldiers live. The Soldier's Creed reflects the Army Values of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. These principles define who Soldiers are and who they aspire to become, as individuals and as part of a team. The Creed is taught in basic training and recited at ceremonies throughout a Soldier's career.
The America's Army team will explore the Soldier's Creed over the next year. With each line of the Creed, a different part of America's Army will be highlighted. Through the campaign you will discover and learn more about the America's Army game, the America's Army Comics, and the U.S. Army.
Check out this Intel on a force-on-force training complex code named "Three Kings". This is one of many ranges being built to support upcoming U.S. training and readiness operations in the Czervenian region for the next version of the America’s Army game.×
We here at the America’s Army team feel pretty honored and lucky to have some developers that have served or are serving in the U.S. Army. For example, Ben Day, one of our character artists, is currently an E4 specialist in the Army Reserve as a Combat Engineer. We asked Ben about his background - why he joined the Army, how he ended up on the project and how his U.S. Army service influences the AA game. Here is what he told us:
I joined for the Captain America reason - I wanted to serve my country and do my part. I saw a bunch of people in uniform at Iowa State and thought, "Wow, those guys have more guts than me.” I was in school for an art degree in Digital Art, focusing in modeling and texturing for video games. Early during my sophomore year, I heard about the Army's Delayed Entry Program (enlist whenever, go to Basic during the summer) and the Split Option Program (go to Basic training one summer, Advanced Individual Training over the next), and I signed up later that week after talking with a local recruiter. I enlisted in the Reserves as an Ammunition Specialist in a local unit so I could stay in college at Iowa State. After my junior year back at Iowa State then a summer in AIT for Ammo Specialist, I transferred to Full Sail University in Orlando, FL to get a Bachelor’s of Science in Video Game Art. Unfortunately there were no units nearby with my MOS, so I re-classed to Combat Engineer and drilled with a unit twenty minutes away. I was with them for just about two years before graduating Full Sail and starting work at America's Army.
I had heard about the America's Army project from hanging out with recruiters while enlisting, but never really played the game. When an Iowa State / Full Sail classmate got a job here, he started telling me about the work they do. I got excited about the project and the team, and asked if he could show some of the artists my portfolio. He kept pushing my name, and I got a phone call and an interview shortly after graduating in September 2010. I now drill with a unit in Memphis, Tennessee where I'll be until I complete my six years obligation in May '13.
I think having real Soldiers as part of the team is vital to keeping it as authentic as possible. No book or magazine article can tell a developer what it's like to be in the Army. There are one or two week events we use sometimes to get non-military developers a small taste of "Army," but there is no substitute for being physically and mentally (and lawfully!) hidden away on a military base with no escape or contact with the world (except for letters) for over 10 weeks with drill sergeants bending you into military shape.
There is so much that my Army background has brought to my job here at the Army Game Studio. There are all the mentality changes you get from military training including respect for authority and chain of command, punctuality, hard work ethic, etc. But on the day to day level, all the experiences I've had in the Army help the most. Getting to fire an entire 100-round belt from M2 Browning .50cal machine gun at a junk car 100 yards away, riding in a Blackhawk helicopter mere feet above the tree level at night with Generation 4 night vision goggles, hitting a T-72 tank with an AT-4 anti-tank rocket... no training or video game can give you the same sense of awe as you can get in the Army, and I try to help convey that to my fellow developers.
It feels like I've gone full circle in the Army now that I’m a part of the America's Army team. I remember when I was first enlisting, I would go to the recruiter's office and see all the AA posters, games, and simulators. I remember helping him with recruiting events, seeing the ads for AA on semi-tractor trailers, and company trucks. And now I work on those same projects. Even more fitting, I'm here remembering all this at the end of my Army career.
The America’s Army team is honored and lucky to have some developers that have served or are serving in the U.S. Army. Game Designer Matt Roberts aka [Dev] Doc was a Combat Medic (68W). Matt told us about his background: why he joined the Army, how he ended up on the project and how his U.S. Army service influences the AA game. Here is what he told us:
Tell us about your military background.
When I joined the Army, I planned on getting into medicine as a career. I was specifically interested in epidemiology. I’ve always preferred a rolled-up-sleeves approach to learning, so getting my medical training in the Army seemed like the best way to do it. I enlisted as a Health Care Specialist, then MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) 91W but since changed to 68W. After initial training I was assigned to a Combined Arms Battalion out of Fort Carson. Rather than stay in clinical medicine, I then left the Army to pursue other avenues of helping my brothers in arms. I was particularly interested in simulations aimed at training, readiness, and therapy. My hope is to find ways to make all medics and combat lifesavers better prepared for the fight, both in terms of being mentally prepared for what they may see and technically proficient in the skills they need to accomplish the mission.
How did you end up at SED working on the game project?
After getting out of the Army I went to school for a Game Development degree. America’s Army was looking for Level Designers at the time, and happened to check with the school I was close to graduating from. A few months later, after a few interviews and a design test, I landed the job…I’ve made them regret it every day since.
What Army skills do you bring to your job as a developer?
I pursue technical excellence every day, no excuses – no checking the box, no “filling a seat and cashing a paycheck”, truly doing everything I can to learn everything and make as much of a contribution as possible. If I fail, and I do often, then it’s on me to learn from it and get better. It’s a lesson I wish I had learned earlier in life, and definitely one I attribute to my time serving. There’s also the teamwork ethic. I try to stay conscious of the team and my role on it, and never betray that sense of camaraderie for the sake of my ego. And there’s always the double-edged sword of optimism – what some of my more conservative peers in this industry may call naïve optimism, I like to think of as never-say-die, take-the-hill determination. Right or wrong, I am an eternal cheerleader for what the team can accomplish.
What does it mean as an Army Soldier to work on the game?
First and foremost I’m constantly aware of the immense responsibility I have to everyone in uniform. Everything we do here is bigger than us as developers. It impacts people that may be considering the Army as a career choice like I was, and looking into America’s Army to learn more (my experience with AA2’s SF training modules were a BIG deal to me back then). It’s an important piece of my experience, I think; I wasn’t wooed into being interested in the Army by AA2, I came to AA2 already interested. Those missions made me more aware of broader Army culture and career paths. That means AA can’t just be some combat-glorifying fun-time shooter; there has to be some measure of true-to-life Army representation in there besides authentic uniforms and equipment, hand signals and jargon. For my part I’ve tried to push teamwork above all else in AA: Proving Grounds for that reason. AA is one of the best opportunities the Army has for exposing our culture – our Warrior Ethos and the ideals we all strive to uphold to a generation weaned on interactive experiences. So there’s always that balance when designing things…it has to be engaging and relevant or nobody will pay attention, but there has to be substance in each of the products we make, substance that tells the story and preserves our best traditions.
As an Army Soldier, what do you think you have brought to the game project?
It ranges from little things like knowing which FM (Field Manual) to look something up in or having a quick answer to how some obscure equipment should behave, to broader things like an understanding of the dynamics of modern combat. I also have the opportunity to speak for Soldiers in the language of developers – that means I can serve as a translator when gameplay and authenticity are at odds, or when a Subject Matter Expert has a specific suggestion but can’t communicate it in gameplay-relevant terms. And if I can impart some small measure of Army culture to the development team by example – and I hope I’m setting a good one – I’m happy.
How important do you think it is to have real Soldiers as an integral part of the Army Game Studio?
Understanding Soldiers, especially as a civilian, isn’t as simple as playing military shooters, watching the movies, wearing the tacti-cool gear, or knowing the jargon…it’s a multi-faceted experience that does a lot to change the people who actually wear the uniform. Contributing here comes down to influencing a lot of the nuance and finesse in execution of the game’s art and design, stuff like getting the tone right or accurately representing the heft of firing a weapon. There’s general authenticity too, of course…reference videos and images can only get you so far, so it’s nice to have someone who knows what they’re talking about run you through maneuvers and equipment in person. All in all I’d say it’s extremely important to have Soldiers around, however we can’t all be Soldiers. The game is supposed to be a bridge between Soldiers and civilians. We need the voices of ‘completely civilian’ developers to keep us in check when we rely too heavily on what we – as Soldiers - understand, but I’d take every Vet I can get on the team as well.
What do your Army buddies think about your working on the Army's game?
I don’t make a big deal about it, really, and it hasn’t come up. I want the work to speak for itself. When we have more AA products out there with my name on them, I think I’ll go after their opinions in earnest. Soldiers are a pretty tough crowd to please, though.
Have you played against any of your Army buddies in AA?
I didn’t have a game-worthy computer while I was in the Army – only consoles, so I didn’t have a chance to play AA back then with any other Soldiers. Once I got to my current job with America’s Army, I was too busy working (I swear!) to try and get in touch to play AA3. But I have played the new version with a few of the other Devs that have served, and I have to say that the experience of playing this game with other Vets is second to none for me. If nothing else, I hoped this version would be a vastly different take on tactics and teamwork than any of its competitors and – particularly when playing with the right people, moving and communicating effectively – I’m very happy with the results. I look forward to playing with other Vets after release, specifically groups like Off-Duty Gamers and MilitaryGamers. I’m sure they’re going to have tons to say about where we can take America’s Army from there.
Soldiers help civilians on a daily basis. Here is a quick recap of what these heroes do in service around the world.×
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Here is an in-progress example map made using the AA:PG Mission Editor, due out Q1 2014!×
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