On July 3, the Indian Air Force (IAF) will officially launch its video game, Guardians of the Skies, with an aim to attract youngsters to join the profession of wings. Behind the IAF’s foray into the virtual world — possibly the first such project by a national air force — is an Indian start-up led by an engineer, an MBA, and a retired fighter pilot who took part in the Kargil campaign.
The start-up Threye — founded by 27-year-old IIT-Kharagpur graduate Anurag Rana, and including in its core team 40-year-old former fighter pilot Sameer Joshi and 26-year-old IIM-Ahmedabad graduate Sidhant Rahi — won the contract after the IAF’s year-long tendering process that saw participation from the likes of Disney.
The development of Guardians of the Skies began in January 2014, with Joshi conceptualising the story and Rana translating it into digital language. “Guardians of the Skies puts on display the glory of the Indian Air Force. Actively engaging youngsters on a storyline — the outcome of which they can decide by manoeuvring the IAF’s aircraft — gives them a virtual experience of flying a combat mission over real terrain,” Rana said..
While the July 3 launch will witness the unveiling of a training sortie besides two missions named ‘Smell a Rat’ and ‘SOS’ as part of the game, the launch of the full version on October 8, IAF Day, will reveal subsequent missions. The game, to be launched on Android first, will not only allow players to virtually control all of the IAF’s aircraft, but will also decorate the players as they complete subsequent missions.
“Some of the pilots who played the game told us that the experience was close to real-life flying,” Rana said.
“This is probably the first time that an Indian government agency has ventured into gaming, amalgamating it with a national cause,” he said. He added that on the technical front, the challenge has been to incorporate 3D graphics and life-like effects on a mobile platform. The game occupies just 40 MB of storage space — about five per cent of a typical computer game.
Joshi, who has flown MiG-21 and Mirage 2000 aircraft and scripted the missions for the game, said he was hopeful that Guardians of the Skies would replicate the Top Gun phenomenon, wherein youngsters were motivated to join air forces across the world after watching the film.
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