SITREP: Gear Authenticity

Series of developer diaries for Six Days in Fallujah.
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AmperCamper
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SITREP: Gear Authenticity

LCpl James Maxey wrote:You're running with 100 lbs of gear on your back at full speed in a sprint, while you're taking machine gun fire. And the whole time, you're looking straight ahead, but you're also looking down to make sure your feet are still moving below you.
Authenticity stands at the core of the experience we’re building in Six Days in Fallujah. More than 100 Marines, Soldiers, and Iraqi civilians who were present during the Second Battle of Fallujah entrusted their stories with us so we could have the opportunity to share them with the rest of the world. It’s an opportunity we intend to get right, and so it’s become our responsibility to develop a game that’s both rooted in realism and unlike anything that’s come before.

Of course, developing the most authentic military shooter to date requires countless amounts of reference material. For Six Days in Fallujah, we’ve gathered thousands of photographs and hundreds of videos to accurately portray the people, places, and objects from this period of history. Alongside our growing archive of media, we actively collaborate with consultants for verification checks. These consultants live around the world, from California to Cairo, Boston to Baghdad.

With reference photos and videos in our pocket and consultants on deck, we also purchase surplus military gear and clothing from the Middle East to use as tangible reference material for our artists. We achieve more accurate results with these references in-hand almost every single time. As a result, our gear is as close to real-world material as technology allows us to be.

However, some of the equipment featured in our earlier marketing assets were not exact. We want to take this opportunity to thank our community for highlighting these inaccuracies so we can showcase the improvements today and provide additional context. In some cases, you’ll find elements adjusted for gameplay. For example, baggier clothing causes for sloppy animations, and so a Marine’s gear may appear tighter fitting than in some of our reference material. This allows the team to tighten character animations for an improved player experience.

Please remember that all assets shown are currently a work-in-progress.

We know how passionate community feedback was on Marine headgear, and so we’ll start with helmets. In 2004, there were at least three different helmets being fielded by the USMC—the Cold War era PASGT, the newer and improved USMC Lightweight Helmet, and the even more streamlined Advanced Combat Helmet. What’s more, Special Operations units were fielding newer MICH helmets during this period as well. As you can imagine, all this variation caused for some confusion. We took a look at community feedback and sought after additional helmet models at the studio. From there, a complete remodel of Marine headgear was underway.

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The model and remodel processes pose a few challenges. First, every piece of art is interconnected in a long chain. Any tweaks or adjustments made have a good chance of affecting other pieces of this puzzle. Assets are continuously passed back and forth between character artists, animators, and technical artists to meet authenticity goals both outside and inside of the game engine. There have been cases in which equipment models were identical to our reference material, until they were imported into Unreal. It’s a very dynamic process, and we want to commend our entire art team for the long hours dedicated to getting the details right. Now, our players can rest assured knowing our base Marine character wears a USMC LWH with a more accurate upward curve at the back.

Next up are our flak jackets, or plate carriers. As it turns out, one of our references was a bit too new. The USMC had made some subtle changes between the time of the battle and when we took photos of Marines at Camp Pendleton shortly afterward. Upon realizing we needed to “go back in time” to get closer to the real thing, we acquired the correct Interceptor Body Armor vest. From there, our artists went back to work in a similar fashion to our helmet rework. Now, our flak jackets are more authentic with fewer molle webbing rows.

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Let’s talk about the variety of pouches featured in Six Days as we received some community feedback on coloring. After digging into more reference material (some of which was provided by the community), we’ve found different levels of color variation. In some cases, magazine pouches were colored coyote tan. In others, they were woodland. Instead of a “one size fits all” solution to coloring, we’re now including multiple variations to paint a more accurate picture as a whole.
Developer Comment wrote:Part of our design pipeline uses recolors on our models. We identified an issue in which colors tended to wash out, and we'd lose details from the base texture that was not making its way to the end with the recolor. Now, our new recolor tech is immensely more accurate in terms of color chroma to the actual colors used in factory camouflage patterns and fabric. Taking things one step further, we even aged them slightly as Marines were not typically wearing anything that was 100% fresh off the military quartermaster.
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On the topic of hydration pouches, we appreciate the conversations regarding the standard issue versus the CamelBak. However, we decided to go with something similar to the CamelBak for a few reasons. While Marines were given standard issue hydration carriers and canteens, most found themselves wanting more to work with. They often brought their own CamelBaks (alongside personal goggles and sunglasses) into the field. Some Marines we spoke with even preferred the CamelBak to the standard issue! In fact, "CamelBak Products says its sales figures over the last decade indicate that 80 percent of military personnel in the gulf have the backpacks” (source, 2003).

We received some feedback on the shaping of dump pouches, and we want to provide more context on our design decisions. We intentionally designed these to be open-top for animation purposes, as emptied magazines will fall towards the dump pouch to be disregarded.

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There has also been community interest in equipment durability, and we want to take this opportunity to tease our progress. Our artists have the ability to control the dirt intensity on faces and equipment as players complete operations. This “dirtiness” is tailored to support our very specific pieces of gear as players will even find dirt along folds, crevices, and straps. There’s more work to be done on this feature, but we hope this drives authenticity even farther for our players.

Authenticity in every aspect, including gear and equipment, is fundamental to the entire team working on Six Days in Fallujah. We are committed to getting the details right as we share the stories of those who were there In 2004. Another big thank you goes out to our community for sharing the feedback necessary to help make these visual changes to gear happen. As we continue development, we welcome this same feedback as we work to improve our game every step of the way.
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Kean_1
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Re: SITREP: Gear Authenticity

Cool stuff and kind of an eye-opener to see what you folks have to go through to ensure you get the authentic aspects of the game as close you are able to. .....very refreshing. I wish more developers spent half the time you folks are in getting little details right.
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stormycrown22
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Re: SITREP: Gear Authenticity

ok, this brought me back to the forms lol im not too knowledgeable with marine unforms from the time (was navy and not marines nor was i in during the time lol) but it looks really good. not sure about accuracy but yall usually do pretty well with ya research so i would imagine its pretty on the nose. but its also more visually pleasing to look at than the ones in the trailer (no offense, the old models werent bad looking) im just glad to finally be getting some more info, finally gives me the motivation to post and talk on here again. great work!
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Re: SITREP: Gear Authenticity

Great work! Glad y'all going he feedback so seriously and it really shows. Loving the improvements.
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aggimajera
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Re: SITREP: Gear Authenticity

AmperCamper wrote: Fri Feb 11, 2022 7:16 am baggier clothing causes for sloppy animations, and so a Marine’s gear may appear tighter fitting than in some of our reference material. This allows the team to tighten character animations for an improved player experience.
Its really a shame you guys are unable to make the clothing and gear look baggier without compromising the animations. The bagginess is part of the Marines' aesthetic. Even something as simple as a longer blouse (covering the crotch area) or lower hanging blousing on the trousers (hiding the boot ties) could make a difference.

As an animator though, I can appreciate needing to make adjustments for animations sake. That said, this is a massive improvement from the material you'd shown us in the gameplay footage. I can't wait to see it paired up with gameplay improvements at a future date!

Question: has any thought been given to packs? Many guys carried them for extra equipment and ammunition.
Last edited by aggimajera on Fri Feb 11, 2022 11:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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staropal0972
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Re: SITREP: Gear Authenticity

Amazing improvements made to the models. Although I'd like to point out the helmet shown with the demonstrated Marine still looks a bit off to me. Are you sure you guys used the updated helmet in that screenshot? Loving the IBA!
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AmperCamper
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Re: SITREP: Gear Authenticity

aggimajera wrote: Fri Feb 11, 2022 11:11 am Its really a shame you guys are unable to make the clothing and gear look baggier without compromising the animations. The bagginess is part of the Marines' aesthetic. Even something as simple as a longer blouse (covering the crotch area) or lower hanging blousing on the trousers (hiding the boot ties) could make a difference.

As an animator though, I can appreciate needing to make adjustments for animations sake. That said, this is a massive improvement from the material you'd shown us in the gameplay footage. I can't wait to see it paired up with gameplay improvements at a future date!

Question: has any thought been given to packs? Many guys carried them for extra equipment and ammunition.
I hear you. It's a delicate balancing act, and our art team has put some serious hours into tweaking visuals that compliment gameplay.

As for packs, our updated visuals are VERY close to our reference material. With that being said, things are still WIP.
staropal0972 wrote: Fri Feb 11, 2022 11:18 am Amazing improvements made to the models. Although I'd like to point out the helmet shown with the demonstrated Marine still looks a bit off to me. Are you sure you guys used the updated helmet in that screenshot? Loving the IBA!
Thanks for the comments. Yes, they are the same. I do think the up-close-and-personal shots of the helmets are the best look at the revisions as they're not only closer but isolated.
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Re: SITREP: Gear Authenticity

Happy New Year (late I know)

Really detailed WIP :)

The question that burns me the most is, when we will see the rifle slings?
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staropal0972
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Re: SITREP: Gear Authenticity

Something to add on, will there be rucksacks, ammo belts, and assault packs clutching onto their backs? And helmet scrims (the leaves) on some of the Marines? Those were definitely a thing for various Marines across Fallujah. The helmet on the reference material showing the Marine looks a little bit too wide but it looks a million times better than what was shown last year. Keep it up.
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Azariel
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Re: SITREP: Gear Authenticity

I'm not knowledgeable at all about military gear and all that, but it looks phenomenal so far! Great work guys!
Though one thing I'm iffy about is the characters faces, they seem to tread into the uncanny valley just a bit and that throws me off a little considering the realism of the streets and interiors of Fallujah. It could be the lighting in the image, it could be something else, but I hope the faces will get a lot more treatment.

But amazing work so far! Hope we get SITREP's monthly if that's possible! :D
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