Welcome to the MAK Blog!
Stay up to date on the latest news, get the freshest tech tips, and meet our team through MAKer spotlights!
Open Standards Milestone: HLA 4 passes IEEE balloting
HLA 4 passed the first round of IEEE balloting! MAK is proud to have worked diligently alongside the interoperability community to progress the open standards process to reach this HLA 4 milestone. We're looking forward to the finalization of the standard and implementing it into our MAK ONE suite of simulation software.
MAK Earth – An Update on Bing Maps
By Dan E. Brockway
Earlier in my career, I worked on a simulator project where we paid $1,200,000 for 5-meter imagery covering the gaming areas with 0.5-meter imagery over just the airports and target areas. Back then there were no monstrously large internet mapping companies who have collected high-resolution imagery of the whole planet and made it available on the internet. Now, your simulators can be filled with Bing Maps imagery for a fraction of that cost. You can even try it out for free.
Wargaming to Build a Shared Vision of the Battle
“If commanders and staffs are to integrate or synchronize the detailed decisions and activities of the complex battlefield then they must have the same image of the battle. This image must be constructed during wargaming”, said Major John E. Frame in the Spring 1996 issue of the Army’s Field Artillery Journal, as he succinctly described the critical link between wargaming and visualization.
Modern simulation systems (such as MAK ONE) can model the conditions developed in the Course of Action Development phase of the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) to bring Synthetic Environments and 3D graphics to bear as an aid in the development of a common operational picture.
Addressing Issues Caused by NVIDIA Driver Bugs
By Jim Kogler
Some of our users may have experienced crashes while using MAK ONE products with NVIDIA drivers released after November 2022. These crashes have been caused by a bug in the NVIDIA driver related to reference counting of bindless textures when using multiple graphics contexts. I’ll outline how we'll address this issue below, but first, some background.
Tech Tip: Applying Shader Effects to Map Layers
by Jim Kogler
For you hotshot programmers out there, did you know you could apply a shader effect to your MAK ONE map layers?
If you have a map layer that looks like the image above (IFR Air Charts) and the color scheme makes it difficult to see your plans, you have a few options...
MAK Earth is a wonderful place. And it just keeps getting better!
by Brian Spaulding
The latest generation of the MAK ONE procedural terrain engine increases the biodiversity of the Synthetic Environment.
Click and/or mouse over the images to see how rich and biome specific the environment has become:
Out of this world
by Jim Kogler
Knowing where you are in a whole earth multi-domain simulation can be hard...
by Jim Kogler
MAK ONE products are amazingly beautiful and complicated things. VR-Forces is built from millions of lines of code and is designed to simulate the planet. As a result, the number of things our customers can do is extensive – the sky is the limit (well, outer space is the limit)! MAK runs our products through Quality Assurance (QA), of course, but the sheer number of ways people can build a scenario and interact with a product like VR-Forces prevents us from testing absolutely everything. MAK uses a combination of automated and manual testing to try to find hidden bugs before you do. But sometimes we fail, and a crash bug makes it through testing and is found by customers.
What happens then?
What's up MAK: Letter from the CEO, Bill Cole
Friends, Customers, Partners,
Just over four years ago, I switched from using simulation software as a Soldier to leading MAK Technologies, one of the industry’s longest-running commercial providers of simulation tools and capabilities. I am continually energized by MAK’s momentum toward innovating, improving, and serving our customers!
You'll find a link to our quarterly newsletter, What's Up MAK, below but first, here are a few key themes and trends I’ve observed during my time at MAK so far.
Tech Tip: Range Bearing Lines in VR-Forces 5.0.2
by Jim Kogler
We seldom add new features in a maintenance release, but on very rare occasions a simple one slips in. If you didn’t carefully read the release notes, you may have missed this.
Tech Tip: Create Tactical Graphics When You Need Them
by Jim Kogler
Routes and waypoints are the bread and butter of VR-Forces scenario planning. Sometimes you end up in a situation where you task an entity to do something at a waypoint (or along a route) and you realize you forgot to create the waypoint – but the tasking dialog is already up and half-filled in. Here's a quick Tech Tip on how to create tactical graphics right when you need them.
HLA 1.3 and HLA IEEE 1516-2000 (DCL API) Support Ending for MAK ONE Applications
by Jim Kogler
Starting with the MAK ONE 2023 release cycle, MAK ONE applications will no longer support HLA 1.3 or IEEE-1516.2000 (DLC API). These changes will NOT impact MAK ONE Infrastructure products including the MAK RTI, VR-Link, VR-Exchange, the MAK Data Logger, or the MAK WebLVC Server. Libraries for HLA 1.3 and 1516-2000 will continue to be available.
Multi-Resolution Modeling with MAK ONE
by Dan Brockway
Maybe you already know that VR-Forces can simulate at both the Entity-level and the Aggregate-level. But did you know that VR-Forces can simulate both models at the same time — in the same exercise?
SIW Pre-read: MAK’s February 2023 Simulation Standards Activity Update
by Matt Figueroa
MAK Technologies is known for its continuous work within the Modeling and Simulation community and as part of groups like SISO (Simulation Interoperability Standards Organization) to improve the standards and protocols that our customers and programs rely on. With SIW around the corner, we wanted to highlight some recent standards activity that MAK has been involved in...
Coming Soon to MAK: NETN FOM Support
by Jim Kogler
Coming with the MAK ONE 2023 release later this year, the MAK ONE suite will start using the NETN (or NATO) FOM for all default HLA-based connections. NETN (NATO Education and Training Network) FOM is the NATO Distributed Simulation FOM, which was developed by the NATO Modeling and Simulation Group (MNSG) and is available online (NETN FOM (amsp-04.github.io).
The MAK ONE Release Versioning Convention: Keeping Track of the Changes
by Jim Kogler
Today I want to talk about MAK’s versioning conventions and release process that helps us and our customers keep track of the changes and improvements. Specifically, patches. What is a patch? What causes MAK to release one? And finally, should customers use them?
The countdown to I/ITSEC 2022 is on!
MAK is excited and ready to showcase our MAK ONE suite of simulation software in-person at I/ITSEC 2022! When you stop by our booth (#1413), you’ll experience a whole-world synthetic environment for modeling, simulation and training in any domain as well as in multi-domain operations, including training solutions built with MAK ONE. Our team can't wait to connect with you face-to-face!
Pakistan Air Force Chooses MAK ONE
Cambridge, MA, October 21, 2022 - MAK Technologies (MAK), a company of ST Engineering North America, today announced that the MAK ONE suite of simulation software, including VR-Forces, has been selected for use in Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) simulators for tactical training as part of its Composite Simulation Centre's Synthetic Battlefield Environment.
Brand New and Lasts Forever
I was at a conference a few years ago where I heard a program manager speak about "the next" simulation system that would take care of all the problems of the current simulation systems and save the future from having to ever do this again. I've heard this same speech dozens of times in my career.
Everyone wants a simulation system that is Brand New and Lasts Forever. (This should be the title of my next ebook.)
MAK Selected to Provide Common Simulation Software System for the LS Core 2.0 Program
Cambridge, MA, April 13, 2022 - MAK Technologies (MAK), a company of ST Engineering North America, today announced that the MAK ONE suite of products has been selected to provide the common simulation software system for the Australian Army’s Land Systems (LS) Core 2.0 Program.
MAKer Spotlight: Chris Gullette, Principal Engineer
We're excited to introduce you to Chris Gullette, a principal engineer at MAK who is our technical lead for the MAK FIRES Call for Fire training system. Chris is responsible for the architecture and design of MAK FIRES, and is instrumental in managing new features, undertaking the planning required to get them integrated into the product software, and then developing and implementing those new features. Recently, his role has carried him around the US to communicate with potential customers and solicit feedback to ensure that MAK FIRES meets the training needs of our users.
MAK Appoints Alicia Combs as Vice President of Training Solutions
We are excited to announce the appointment of Alicia Combs as Vice President of our new Training Solutions division, located in Orlando, Florida. In her new role, Alicia is responsible for managing MAK's entire portfolio of training solution programs, including determining strategic direction, overseeing resource coordination between programs, and managing projects and business development support.
Epic News: MAK Modeling & Simulation Testbed Receives Epic MegaGrant!
By Len Granowetter
We're excited to share that MAK has been given an Epic MegaGrant! MAK will leverage this support from Epic Games to help achieve greater correlation and interoperability between MAK's products and external applications that are built on Epic's Unreal Engine.
Although many of our customers build their synthetic environments entirely on the MAK ONE suite of products, it has always been our strategy to empower customers to combine MAK products with third-party engines and applications to create the most powerful and complex simulation systems.
Tech Tip: Creating domain-specific 2D map views in VR-Forces
By controlling layers within your terrain definition, you can have 2D map views that are specific to each simulation domain. Here is an example scenario that contains saved views for three domains: Air, Land, and Sea.
One saved view uses a "2D Layer View" that specifies Nautical charts:
MAK ONE: Planet Earth’s “Digital Twin” for Training and Experimentation
The world is an infinitely complex place, and interactions between people, systems, and the environment are exceedingly difficult to model. Historically, simulation solutions reduce these complexities to the bare minimum so that an environmental representation can be achieved within the limits of the current technology. This approach is certainly necessary. It enables us to develop focused tactics, techniques, and procedures training simulators, to assist "low-level units [to be] masters of their craft" as General McConville said at a presentation to the Association of the US Army (AUSA).
A New Thread: Aerodromes in MAK ONE
Iteration Enables Quality
I have spent most of my career working to make better and better virtual worlds to create increasingly realistic immersive simulation environments. One concept I’ve learned, over and over again, is that Iteration Creates Quality.
The MAK ONE Road to Release
Earlier this year, I shared the MAK ONE Tapestry story about how a mature product evolves at MAK. With each release, there are threads of capability that are wrapped up, others that continue on, and others still that are just beginning and will bring new benefits for releases to come.
I'd like to update you on where we are today.
Estimating the tactical impact of robot swarms using VR-Forces
This article was written in collaboration with Dr. Kevin Foster at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
Militaries are developing swarms of autonomous robotic Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to conduct missions that are too hazardous for human crews or expensive robotic systems. Using MAK's VR-Forces CGF, researchers at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) are conducting experiments to determine if a simulated model of a robot swarm can improve military swarm tactics.
MAK Legion Update: Legion 1.1 and the SISO Study Group
By Matt Figueroa
A few months ago, Len Granowetter outlined our MAK Legion technology, which enables large-scale simulations that support thousands or even millions of high fidelity entities. I'm providing an update on where MAK Legion is today and a look at where we're taking it.
Tech Tip: Use this new command to easily create time-based scenarios
By Nathan Kidd
This month's tech tip is about an elegant and powerful feature in VR-Forces. The new plan language command, Do Until Interrupt, greatly simplifies the creation of entity plans and helps automate accurate tasking relative to your preferred "interrupt" conditions, such as the Simulation Time or Date, Time of Day, Scenario Event, Receive a Text Message, and more. By choosing a single reference point for multiple entities with the Do Until Interrupt feature, VR-Forces users are now able to more simply and intuitively build time-based scenarios. This also allows a user to easily specify an ending condition for VR-Forces tasks that are normally indefinite duration, such as Civilian Wander.
Tech tip: Configuring VR-Forces path planning to support cover points
In VR-Forces, soldiers are capable of taking cover from enemies behind obstacles, such as buildings, trees, rocks or anything else sufficiently large enough in the terrain to shield themselves. When they do, it's important that they react and move immediately so they can quickly reach safety. To speed up the process of evaluating many possible cover locations at run-time, cover points are pre-generated as part of the Navigation Data generation process in VR-Forces. By default, all of the Navigation Data provided with MAK terrains already contains cover points for lifeforms, primarily humans, but not for vehicles. Cover point generation can be configured in the navigationProfiles.mtl configuration file found in appData\settings\vrfSim.
MAK Down Under!
From Infantry Fighting Vehicle Simulators to Reconfigurable Driver Simulators, here's a peek at how MAK is supporting our Australian partners and customers.
MAK is proud to serve our customers and partners worldwide. This month, we're zooming in on Australia to highlight recent collaborations that we're most proud of, particularly our partnership with Applied Virtual Simulation (AVS) to display its Infantry Fighting Vehicle Simulator at the recent Land Forces Conference and our work with Universal Motion Simulation (UMS) to develop the Reconfigurable Driver Simulator (RDS).
MAK Earth presents: the Guam Terrain
MAK Earth now includes increased resolution for the Island of Guam and the surrounding waters (bathymetry) and islands. So if you're simulating operations in the Western Pacific Rim and need to stage assets on US territory, Guam ("Where America's Day Begins") could be an ideal location for your scenarios. Take a look at this virtual tour video of Guam.
Tech Tip: Configuring specular reflections to add realism
For this month's tech tip, we'll cover how to configure your environment to make scenarios richer and more realistic by adding specular reflections to inland water. Specular effects produce the shiny, reflective water surface that you're used to seeing in the real world. Since inland water terrain is usually just a flat area of elevation with an image of water, adding specular reflections increases realism and provides an important visual cue for aircraft.
Applied Virtual Simulation (AVS) joins the MAK family as an official distributor!
MAK is thrilled to add AVS to our worldwide team of distributors to support our Australian MAK users! We're proud to have a team of partners that have deep knowledge about our software, speak your language, and can help you build the solution you want. No matter where you are in the world, you're never far from MAK.
Here's a bit about AVS...
Applied Virtual Simulation (AVS) is a leading provider of simulation-based training systems to the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
MAK FIRES: Individual training in the context of a multi-domain operation
For more than 30 years, MAK has been providing commercial software products used by customers, just like you, to create simulated environments for concept development, research, design, and training. Recently, MAK expanded our staff to include experts in the design, development, and implementation of training solutions to train individual skills in a collective training environment. MAK's mission has always been to be a partner, not just a vendor. Our Training Solution Division expands the solutions we can offer to minimize your risk and program cost, and help you achieve program success.
Our first Training Solution offering is MAK FIRES, a comprehensive and immersive training system that provides realistic training for Call for Fire (CFF) missions. MAK's own Bill Kamer, a retired Bradley Master Gunner, was the inspiration behind MAK Fires. Immediately upon joining the MAK team, Bill saw the potential of using the MAK ONE environment to create an easy-to-use and realistic CFF trainer that can be used by an individual trainer at their home station or as part of a formal CFF classroom environment.
Tech Tip: Starting MAK ONE Applications on Windows 10
Here's a helpful tip to transition MAK ONE Applications from Windows 7 to Windows 10. We discovered that the Windows 10 "All apps" menu does not support the folder structure that we have been using to organize startup shortcuts for our applications, documentation, and tools. Everything gets dumped into a flat list under All apps > MAK Technologies. This makes finding the application you want to run tedious at best and confusing at worst, particularly if you have multiple versions of an application installed.
Fortunately, there is a fairly simple way to work around this problem. You can create a toolbar that points to the MAK shortcuts folder.
To do this: