BURLINGTON - Players of America's Army, a popular online game with more than 9.4 million users, just got two new missions, thanks to the collaborative work of Champlain College students at the Emergent Media Center at Champlain College (go.champlain.edu/emc).
The U.S. Army released the America's Army: Special Forces (Overmatch) (Champlain College) at www.americasarmy.com, providing online players with two new missions - District and Canyon - that highlight the training, technology and experience of soldiering in the U.S. Army, explained Michael Bode, America's Army executive producer.
The public was invited to drop-in to play these new levels of America's Army and meet America's Army Development team members at the Emergent Media Center LAN Launch Party last week at the Emergent Media Center in Champlain Mill in Winooski.
Launched on July 4, 2002, America's Army is an innovative PC action game that provides players with an inside perspective and a virtual role in today's high-tech Army. The America's Army game affords players a virtual "test drive" of soldiering in the U.S. Army from basic training to the battlefield
Since it was first released, America's Army has consistently remained one of the top 10 action games played online, he said, gathering a dedicated following of more than 9.4 million registered users within the United States and in over 60 different countries. Players of the game have invested 234 million hours in the game exploring soldiering from basic training to operations in the "Global War on Terrorism" since its launch in 2002, Bode said.
In collaboration with the America's Army development team in Emeryville, Calif., Champlain students and faculty created two mission scenarios to challenge the online soldiers.
In District is an atmospheric urban map is located in a small section of a vaguely eastern European city. It is a night-time scenario, creating an interesting experience through the placement of environmental light sources. The teams start in opposite corners of the level, one in a park, the other in a warehouse. A team must capture two objectives located in buildings near the center to win.
In Canyon is set in a Middle Eastern mountain village where a local warlord has recently confiscated of a cache of heavy weapons. The players are charged with securing these weapons caches while enemy combatants are in the area.
"The Champlain students really impressed the America's Army team with their creativity, teamwork and abilities," said Bode. "The District and Canyon maps are among the best that we've seen developed using our America's Army Mission Editor, and we look forward to seeing future work of these talented students."
Two teams of students, each with their own student producer, worked collaboratively and competitively, explained Ann DeMarle, director of the EMC. "Every two weeks the groups hosted a critique of their projects and received input from Project Director Ray McCarthy-Bergeron and Operations Manager Sarah Jerger." The students are part of the game art and animation, game programming, and game design bachelor degree programs offered at Champlain College.
The District student team consisted of Max Nichols, Dan Peavey, Halley Greaves, Emily Benton, Chris Matuszek, Jeremy Burau. The Canyon student team was Joel Pelletier, Trevor McEwen, Elken Richmond, Wesley Knee, Michael Ackerman, and Sean Thurler. Together the students put in more than 2,500 hours of development on the missions.
This is not the first time the Champlain team has worked with the U.S. Army, DeMarle said, having created the Map Pack using the America's Army Mission Editor which was released to the public in December 2006 as part of America's Army: Special Forces (Coalition). That project allowed players to use the mission editor to create new levels or modify existing levels using any of the game's existing art, sound, particle effects and gameplay assets, and then showcase their mission for play by America's Army's global community at the America's Army Mission Depot (www.aamissiondepot.com).
The Army has released 24 major updates to its America's Army game for the PC. These releases, which are available at www.americasarmy.com, feature new technologies, missions, Army units and occupations. The most recent updates are part of the America's Army: Special Forces series which focuses on the central role Special Forces play in the Global War on Terrorism and includes America's Army: Special Forces (Special Forces Assessment and Selection) released November 2003; America's Army: Special Forces (Q Course) released May 2005; and America's Army: Special Forces (Overmatch) (released September 2006).
America's Army: Special Forces (Overmatch) highlights technologies that provide small U.S. Army units with the ability to overmatch much larger enemy forces. The America's Army game also includes the America's Army Real Heroes program that offers a glimpse, through in-game videos, into the accomplishments of Soldiers who have distinguished themselves in combat and earned citations for bravery and valor.
The EMC, located in the Champlain Mill in Winooski, works with industry, public institutions, and non-profits, to discover concepts, processes, and applications in games and emergent media. At the heart of this are two key objectives: enabling Champlain students to become thoughtful leaders in areas of technology, media, and learning; and helping to define the future of immersive mediums and technologies.