“Gutting” the SUSMile Serious Game

27/07/2022

Here we are, preparing the suitcases to go on vacation in a few days and working the SUSMile project and in its Serious Game. Since on the return from vacation we must have the first functional version ready to test with a select group of logistics experts.

So far, we have commented on what the SUSMile project is, and we have also given what our Logistics Serious Game consists of, you can look at this blog platform where we explain it in more detail.

In this blog we want to focus more on explaining how from Ikasplay we develop this type of Serious Game based on simulations. We want to show you how we are developing this metaverse within SUSMile.

What is behind a simulator?

One of the most important part of simulators are their “guts”. At the center of all our simulations are the mathematical models that we create ad-hoc in each project. For this we use System Dynamics, a tool that serves to analyze and model the behavior of systems and thanks to this. We can simulate a dynamic environment overtime: a pandemic crisis, a meteorological event, the operation of a company, the evolution of a community of extraterrestrial beings

In this way, the knowledge of experts can be structured through mathematical models. The computing power of a PC can be used to make recommendations for decision making. Indeed, it is a tool to make predictions and assumptions, not to know why the value of a specific parameter rises or falls.

It should be noted that it was originally developer in 1950 to help business managers improve their understanding of industrial processes. It is currently used in the analysis and design of policies in the public and private sectors.

How do we apply it in the SUSMile project?

We at Ikasplay, decided to use this tool to structure and model our simulators, since it offered us a very wide versatility when it came to generating simulation scenarios without a closed decision tree.

We summarize our methodology of working with these simulators in five steps:

  1. First, we identify and focus on the system or environment to be simulated. In the case of SUSMile, we defined what the objectives of the project were, what concepts we wanted to make clear to the player.
  2. We developed a dynamic hypothesis that explains the operation of the system. You must know how the sustainable logistics of the last mile works, see what factors imply a good service. (Shipping on time, without contamination, package in perfect condition.), which can affect when making a delivery (traffic, areas closed by green areas, possibility of parking … ), what can help us (“green” vehicles, of greater or lesser capacity…)
  3. We build a simulation model, which allows us to observe the system in operation. We are in it now, working on modeling all those ideas and cabals that we have been working on in recent months in the consortium of companies that make up the SUSMile project. To create a mathematical model that can simulate everything we have thought about on paper.
  4. We verify that the operation is correct, applying a series of values and seeing that the evolution of the system has a correct behavior. Once the model is developed, it is evaluated to calibrate it and see if the results it offers make sense. how does the use of a Cargo Bike type vehicle affect the distribution? What happens if I duplicate my employees, will I deliver twice as many packages per day?
  5. We put a nice graphic layer on top of all these diagrams so that the end user can see it as a game. In SUSMile, our target audience are young teenagers, very accustomed to video games. So it is more than important to offer an aesthetic like what they are used to seeing. It is where we give that part of “Game” to the “Serious” of the mathematics that is in the base.

The visual part is also important.

Of course, point five, the visual part of the project is especially important since everything enters through the eyes …  In this part we have a team of 2D and 3D designers in charge of creating the visual part of our simulators.

For 3D environments, we use various modeling and animation tools such as Maya or 3d Max that allow us to create the characters, vehicles, buildings, and elements that make up the 3D scenario where the mathematical models will be applied.

In the development of the graphical interface (windows, buttons, icons …), we opted for design tools such as the well-known Photoshop, or we have even used its opensource versions such as GIMP.

Obviously, apart from knowing how to use these tools, you must have taste and stylistic criteria to know how to apply and give that touch of video game to simulators, and this is learned over time, learning in front of the PC every day and, of course, with many hours playing video game consoles.



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