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15 hours ago, Raptorx7 said:

I am not saying we need to plaster pin-ups with 'Combat Mission Final Blitzkrieg" on porn websites...

Why not? I recall a tv ad from the late-'50s/early-'60s advertising a mens cologne. It showed this dish caressing a guy's head and saying, "There's something about an Aqua Velva man." The implications, while understated were unmistakable. So my idea is for a ten second ad with a delectable and voluptuous babe looking straight into the camera and saying, "Having a man who plays Combat Mission gets me really hot!" and finishing up with a little involuntary wiggle of the hips. Could make a million for you overnight.

;)

Michael

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10 hours ago, Andrew H. said:

I didn't know that CM was ever on TV.  But I found out about CMBO when I read the review in the NY Times (which today just strikes me as completely weird).  

That was really great to read. See there is another reason I should have been reading the NYT all these years.

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16 minutes ago, Michael Emrys said:

Why not? I recall a tv ad from the late-'50s/early-'60s advertising a mens cologne. It showed this dish caressing a guy's head and saying, "There's something about an Aqua Velva man." The implications, while understated were unmistakable. So my idea is for a ten second ad with a delectable and voluptuous babe looking straight into the camera and saying, "Having a man who plays Combat Mission gets me really hot!" and finishing up with a little involuntary wiggle of the hips. Could make a million for you overnight.

;)

Michael

Or reduce the current CM playerbase significantly as they all have strokes or heart attacks at so much excitement!

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15 hours ago, Michael Emrys said:

Why not? I recall a tv ad from the late-'50s/early-'60s advertising a mens cologne. It showed this dish caressing a guy's head and saying, "There's something about an Aqua Velva man." The implications, while understated were unmistakable. So my idea is for a ten second ad with a delectable and voluptuous babe looking straight into the camera and saying, "Having a man who plays Combat Mission gets me really hot!" and finishing up with a little involuntary wiggle of the hips. Could make a million for you overnight.

;)

Michael

Especially if you theme it WW2 ad style, aka:

article-2149969-1348A6BF000005DC-453_634

 

or 

 

crationraleighad.jpg

 

The retro period theme can be very effective, e.g. the Fallout ads:

 

 

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On 19/04/2016 at 6:18 AM, Battlefront.com said:

An interview between James and me just got posted:

http://www.wargamer.com/news/james-cobb-sits-down-with-battlefront/

Very interesting article, I would have thought with that huge U.S military budget it would not take much for a contract to ind its way into BFC's pockets!  Its a shame thats never the way it works it their bureaucratic world, as the extra investment in the engine would benefit us consumers as well. 

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The military is as political as they come.  Restrictions designed to protect/shield special interests exist there just like everywhere else.  And yes, I can tell you that when we quoted a $100,000 modification to CM1 to do something that mulit-million dollar sims couldn't do we were definitely treading on toes.  Sadly, some of the work arounds that existed within the US military were squashed by a 3 star command who dictated that the Army was no longer allowed to use any training tool that didn't have his office's approval.  COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) solutions were specifically banned.

It doesn't take much imagination to know that approval process isn't viable for anybody but the Beltway Bandits looking to keep the feed troughs to themselves.  Especially since having developers like us around is inherently dangerous because we can do vastly more, vastly quicker, for enormously less money.  We are, in every sense of the word, a threat.

The other problem is one needs a "champion" within the military and that officer has to be senior enough to get stuff done, but not about to retire or get moved.  In the US Army this means a full bird Colonel or someone with a star or two on their uniform.  LTCs, MAJs, etc. need not apply.  They don't have the clout or resources.  Even if they were clever enough to work around those limitations, the ban on COTS solutions pretty much nixes them having any practical means of making something happening.

Our two closest brushes with US Army contracts were with full birds.  Both retired before something could happen and their successors didn't pick up where they left off.

Other militaries are no different or even worse than the US Army.

Steve

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Please excuse how unqualified I am to comment on the subject, but this is an internet forum, so carrying on.  This subject just brought out a little patriotic duty to say something as I think official US Army use of a modified CM engine would benefit our country.  I had never thought of BFC trying to sell a CM derivative to other countries militaries, but even though I assume Steve is right about the US Army being not worse/better than average about these things, it seems like the much larger number of potential customers (countries) combined with their much smaller budgets, would make it a lot more doable to get a contract with one of them.  That in turn would draw US Army attention to the option, and give it precedent.  Also, I think 100,000 is too low an amount to offer and might make em scoff.  I think much time and money must be asked for because that is what is expected.  This in turn lets you use the fact that countries like to source defense projects domestically when possible.  In exchange for the several million they give you to make a militarized version of the product, you agree to open an office in said country to which you will outsource much of the work.  Bada Bing Bada Boom ;)  jk. 

I only bring this up here because this is such a worldwide meeting of minds in relevant places.  It might take a full bird+ here in the states to start things going, but maybe if we get other officers in other countries talking to their superiors about it, the ball might start rolling. 

Ok last point, we've been talking about finding friends well placed in the military, as is appropriate, but it seems we are leaving a stone unturned.  What about friends in the defense industry?  For example my uncle in law did a lot of defense industry stuff for AEGIS and I guess other projects like that.  Seems a bit far removed from the CM scale to be of much help, I just bring it up because it makes me think others here might have more relevant defense industry connections. 

 

Edit to add :   

"In exchange for the several million they give you to make a militarized version of the product, you agree to open an office in said country to which you will outsource much of the work." 

Which of course doesn't work out so smooth, so you've gotta go over budget and take a little extra time, so they pay you more because they expect that and that's how things work.  More profit.

 

 

Edited by cool breeze
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We thought that smaller militaries would also be lined up to take advantage of an inexpensive site license or with a modest amount of money something customized to their needs.  Hasn't happened at all, despite us having active military from pretty much around the globe (especially Europe) actively playing CM games.  So it's not like there's no knowledge of us within the broader international community.

As a guess, based on some info I've gleaned over the years, it seems the non huge spending countries fall into two categories:

1.  trying to be like the US military so they use the same tools whenever possible.  NATO partnerships help with that, I'm sure.

2.  so small that they figure it doesn't matter so why bother.

As for the need for something like CM, consistently I've been told there is a major gap in military training between very low level classroom/field training and higher level staff classroom/field training.  This means the middle tier of command (Company to Brigade) has no simulator to work with that's worth a damned in their eyes.  Why?  Because, as we know, the little things matter. 

Putting a Humvee on the wrong side of a house relative to the potential direction of threat can result in it being destroyed.  If that Humvee is the only thing with an AT weapon on that sector, that likely has a significant impact at the higher level when there's a mech heavy force coming that way.  Sure, sure, sure you can "roll dice" to do this stuff abstractly and say "your Humvee was destroyed", but that's not good for Platoon and Company leadership who are ultimately responsible for tactical employment of the assets under their command.  If a Company Commander see's a 2D icon that says "boom, you lost your Humvee" how the Hell is the Company Commander supposed to learn something applicable to his real world level of responsibility?  I mean, does he go to his Platoon Leaders and say "during the CPX my one and only AT asset was taken out without firing a shot.  I don't know why, but I suppose it was the simulated Platoon Leader's fault for putting it in the wrong spot.  So don't do that if we really go to war!".  Yeah, great stuff for an AAR.  Plus, they really don't even have this sort of tool either since this isn't a level of detail the approves sims cover.

I use this Humvee example because this is one of the things I saw in the CPX I attended.  The Colonel, who was leading the exercise, turned to the Platoon Leader that had asked that his Humvee be positioned there, then said something to the effect "that was the dumbest place I've ever seen a Humvee parked".  The lesson was obvious and visceral.  The Platoon Leader got the message that it matters where you park something and, almost as importantly, his boss and his boss's boss also knew they are part of the accountability chain.  If CM were available as a regular training tool then the different levels of command would have an opportunity to practice and learn.  Even in CM's current "flawed" state (according to the military spec sheet), it would be vastly better than the status quo... which is nothing.

Sadly, the message we get is the military would rather have no simulation for this level of training than have one that is inexpensive but doesn't conform to a massive list of specs generated out of an office in Florida heavily staffed by civilians with divided loyalties.  The message we get from the officers at this level of command, however, is... well... let's put it this way... "not in agreement with command".  I think it's better to leave it at that because this is a family friendly forum :D

Steve

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The military might be lethargic and stupid as an organization, but the people typically aren't.  Grass roots support got Harpoon and Steel Beasts military contracts, as well as a few other very good wargames.  It just requires the game filling a specific training need, beyond just historical interest, and the right people believing in it.

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Yup, luck + timing + a champion are all needed.  Any one of those things fail and no-go.  A full bird flew up from TRADOC and met with me at my house.  We went down to TRADOC and made a pitch in front of 3 full birds and a gaggle of Majors and Captains along with a dozen civilian contractors.  Clearly the support was there ;) This resulted in a draft contract, but OIF was starting up and all unallocated funds were withdrawn to feed the procurement beast.  Bad luck, bad timing killed that deal.

However, as if the deck wasn't stacked against success sometimes you need more than luck, timing, and a champion.  Sometimes you need a guy with a better Rolodex.  From what I understand one of the primary problems for us is a certain sim that the Army has a lot of money invested in.  Even though there really isn't a direct overlap, too many heads see it as overlapping too much.  Unfortunately, we're in absolutely no position to compete.  The company in question earns more in a month than we've earned probably in our company's history combined.

There's been a lot of smart people inside, including many in the DoD sim community, who have tried championing CM because they know first hand that the military doesn't have anything like it and commanders have asked for it (hence our two almost contracts trying to bypass the system).  Unfortunately a number of years back the head of sims for the Army, a 3 star, put out a memo and it directly forbid using (not to mention contracting with) anything that was not on the approved list which is decidedly COTS unfriendly.  That happened while we were actively talking with the guys who integrate sims into training programs.  Can't work around something like that.

Steve

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Oh believe me, that's not lost on us :D  You guys have made us who we are and we're not going to drop you for a military contract.  When we have talked with the military we've made it clear that we're not interested in putting our commercial line of products at risk.  Even if they offered us big money.  We're smart/wise enough to know that working for the government is risky at best and we don't think burning our bridge to you guys is a smart thing to do.

Steve

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Steve,

How bizarre that COTS sims would be flatly prohibited when the overall US procurement policy generally prefers to buy that way unless you can provide a solid requirement not fillable through COTS. This Defense Science Board report looks at the COTS situation as of 2009. 

Buying Commercial: Gaining Cost/Schedule Benefits for Defense Systems (OSD)

http://www.acq.osd.mil/dsb/reports/ADA494760.pdf

This is an extensive discussion of COTS in the context of new rules and also new laws promoting it. This is from 2008.

Commercial-Off-The-Shelf-Systems (COTS): Doing It Right (2008, by Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise, Gansler and Lucyshin, authors)

http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a494143.pdf

Regards,

John Kettler

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It does seem somewhat at odds with general procurement thinking across the board. I was wondering if your congresscritters might be interested in picking up the cudgel to get that memo revoked... Nothing they like more than pointing out favouritism that keeps their district from getting a share of the pork ;)

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On April 21, 2016 at 10:22 AM, Battlefront.com said:

It doesn't take much imagination to know that approval process isn't viable for anybody but the Beltway Bandits looking to keep the feed troughs to themselves.  Especially since having developers like us around is inherently dangerous because we can do vastly more, vastly quicker, for enormously less money.  We are, in every sense of the word, a threat.

One more instance of competition not improving the breed when the winning competitor wins by being underhanded, unethical, and just plain bad. Which has always been with us but seems to have gotten much worse as a result of the massive deregulation that has occurred in the last 35-40 years.

Michael

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On April 21, 2016 at 11:20 AM, cool breeze said:

...it seems like the much larger number of potential customers (countries) combined with their much smaller budgets, would make it a lot more doable to get a contract with one of them.  That in turn would draw US Army attention to the option, and give it precedent.

Unless the companies that do sell this sort of stuff to the Pentagon manage to convince the State Department to ban export licensing.

Michael

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In defense of the effective ban on COTS games...

For GOOD reasons the Army wishes to maintain a standardized, predictable, measurable training program which is consistent year over year so it can be properly supported and periodically evaluated.  It's the same thinking behind standardized testing, which also has merit even if it is controversially applied.  Therefore, clamping down on improvised, scattered approaches to training is not necessarily a bad thing.

In theory, then, it is fine to say "you have to use tools on our approved list" if the tool is there and is at least does a minimally decent job addressing the need.  But what happens when there is an established need and there is NO TOOL on the list that satisfies that need?  The need goes unaddressed or inadequately addressed.

From our perspective the maddening part is there is a need for something like Combat Mission and yet we're shut out from fulfilling that need.  Sure, individual units can use Combat Mission and nudge-nudge-wink-wink get around the edict from up high not to use it.  But that's a terrible way to go about things.  Especially because Combat Mission really does need some pretty significant modifications to be a truly effective tool for Brigade and below.  We know exactly what those needs are because our military contacts and military customers have consistently mentioned the same things over a period of 15+ years.

We had a brief conversation with RAND about incorporating CM into a training program they would then pitch to the military.  RAND has the resources to do what needed to be done, they have the contacts, and they had at least some interested in exploring the options.  It didn't pan out for whatever reason, however it was the right sort of approach.  We also submitted CMSF to DARPA to see if we could get some funding and official support under their Serious Games program.  It took quite a bit of effort to put in a submission and we weren't selected without any feedback as to why.  We haven't bothered to put the time into it since.

Anyway... the point is that sometimes what seems logical in one way doesn't work out logically in other ways.  Some of those other ways are perfectly reasonable in our minds, however in the end we keep scratching our heads and saying, "isn't a tool that does maybe 75% of what you need, and does it cheaply, better than not having any tool at all and getting 0% of what you need as a result?"  So far the answer is that the military prefers an all or nothing solution and thus far nothing is what they have.

Steve

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Aye, a scattered approach to procurement is a bad idea, but just saying "no off-the-shelf programs" is, as you illustrate, a way to force that balkanised approach via the unofficial channel. Better would be "no off-the-shelf programs that haven't been through the procurement process". And since there's a need, and you're the only possible suppliers... But 'tis academic.

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10 hours ago, womble said:

Aye, a scattered approach to procurement is a bad idea, but just saying "no off-the-shelf programs" is, as you illustrate, a way to force that balkanised approach via the unofficial channel. Better would be "no off-the-shelf programs that haven't been through the procurement process". And since there's a need, and you're the only possible suppliers... But 'tis academic.

Well, that is kinda the policy right now.  No COTS unless it's gone through an official process by which it must meet various qualifications.  The problem is the qualifications were not written by Battalion and Brigade staffs with their needs foremost in mind and the Army's needs not even on the list at all.  This is a general problem with doing business with the Federal Government... in order to avoid waste/fraud and nepotism, the requirements for getting a contract are so arduous that only the big companies bother trying.  This culture was supposed to be changing, and in many ways within the military it has, but in the end it's still a small number of people deciding for everybody else what is/isn't allowed.

Tiller got his first contract long before the freeze out.  IIRC he got a contract from the Air Force.  Once inside the system things become much easier to stay inside.  Part of the bureaucratic way!

Steve

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Do the Marines still use the Close Combat Marines Workbook? While I find the modern version of close combat very fast-paced in terms of extremely high lethality, almost instantaneous fire support, and it only goes up to company scale, I can definitely see how it could teach some easy lessons, including bad places to put your only TOW humvee.

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Thewood1,

The Central Scrutinizer is one scary dude! Believe I'll stay on the Forums here. Safer that way!

Steve,

From the TBOC (Training Brain Operations Center) Sims Directorate (presumably the entity whose CO banned COTS), we have a look at the Army's official CM level tactical sim with lots of cool toys and capabilities we don't have, but which looks, on balance, nowhere nearly as good and, frankly, seems wooden in the way it operates. Not even as exciting as watching moss grow on a rock. I did find it of considerable interest that all the armor we have is Buttoned throughout the engagement. Also, if this is how they train vs OPFOR, then I think they are setting themselves up for potential disaster, since the premise seems to be the dumbest enemy ever, especially in light of what we did to Saddam's vastly more powerful fixed defenses. In fact, I'm all but certain I could ruin the day of the breach force, starting with Off-Route Mines (EFP) and ATGMs and mortars on the hills. A little judicious surgery on the breach force would completely kill its ability to function in short order. 

https://www.youtube.com/user/tbocsims

Regards,

John Kettler

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