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"Wild Bill" Stealey: The Magic Time Machines - Military Computer Games!
"Wild Bill" Stealey: The Magic Time Machines - Military Computer Games!


About "Wild Bill" Stealey

Lt. Col. John "Wild Bill" Stealey, USAF (Ret) is a military Aviator (C-5A, A-37B, T-28B) with over 7000 hours of military flying time and one billion hours of computer game flying time. Producer of world famous games like F-15 Strike Eagle, F-19 Stealth Fighter, M1 Tank Platoon, Gunship, and many others, as Founder and CEO of MicroProse Software, Inc, Wild Bill has been playing and making computer games since 1982. Wild Bill is an Air Force Academy (1970), Wharton School, and golf school graduate. Wild Bill loves to find other players online when he pilots an FW 190 in WarBirds III, his current online game for iEntertainment Network, where he is CEO. Find WarBirds III and other Wild Bill games where he lives at www.Totalsims.com.

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November 12, 2003

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Somewhere over the Channel in my Spitfire 1A. Third mission of the day ... Heads up boys, here they come ...

Almost every day, I smell the kerosene, the cordite, and the exhaust from my Spitfire as my mates and I try to defend the coast from hordes of Huns! It is exhausting. But ah, the pubs! My girl waits for me ... Gets me ready to go again tomorrow ...

(I am playing History Channel Battle of Britain online!)

One of the great things about computer gaming is that we can be anyone, be anywhere, and accomplish anything in the history of military warfare from any period in the history of civilization. From the Battles of Hannibal, (Interactive Magic 1995), Gettysburg (Firaxis Games, 1999), Red Baron (Sierra Online, 1988), F-15 Strike Eagle (MicroProse 1988), Air Warrior (Kesmai 1992), Apache Longbow (Origin 1996), Medal of Honor (EA, 2000), and many more, game players have lots of options for enjoying military history and action gaming.

I don't want to leave out all those Board Game enthusiasts who have been playing the great games of Avalon Hill and many other excellent "WarGaming" products which tend to be much more detailed and focused on real simulation facts and effects.

There is so much territory to cover in this column that we will focus our discussions on military games that focus on real historical events.

We will get to some of the most popular "shooter" games as time goes on. We will also look at some of the real-time military strategy games in the future. There are some really terrific games out there!

(Did you know the games business is bigger than the movie business in total revenue? It's true!)

My first computer war game was a futuristic Space game on the Atari 800. I was looking for a computer to do Visi Calc! Does anyone remember Visi Calc? It was Dan Bricklin's original spreadsheet program. It turned into Lotus 123 and later Excel, as others saw the magic of Dan's idea!

But, I found a computer that did Visi Calc and had a cool game called StarRaiders from Atari! Wow! Work and play in the same box! Is that the reason lots of folks have powerful computers these days? To do work at home of course; you really do need a powerful graphics card to run all the spreadsheets don't you?

The first historical military flying game I remember was the World War I flying game that Sublogic actually put in their original Flight Simulator Product. You remember that Microsoft did not actually make Flight Simulator don't you?

Two smart guys, Bruce Artwick (brilliant programmer) and Stu Moment (Flight instructor) actually made Flight Simulator before they sold the company to Microsoft.

At MicroProse Software we competed with Sublogic. Sid Meier, my famous partner, had developed Solo Flight. We sold lots of Solo Flight to Sears as a competitor to Sublogic's Flight Simulator.

Sublogic even hired two ex-military officers who I remember as "Captain Jack" and "Colonel Bob" to compete with MicroProse. They came out with Jet to compete with F-15 Strike Eagle, and even had a helicopter and submarine game to compete with MicroProse's Gunship and Silent Service. They were really surprised when I visited their headquarters in Champaign, Illinois, but after my initial meeting with Captain Jack and Colonel Bob, along with Bruce and Stu, they all turned out to be good guys and friendly competitors. When you think of it, Sid had me as his flight instructor and he was (and is) a brilliant programmer and game designer!

We have lots of stories of all the old exciting military games Sid and I did together. You will get some of those fun stories later.

Our first real Strategy Game was NATO Commander on the Atari 800. On Pennsylvania National Guard duty at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa, I watched 20+ West Point graduates stand around a big map and practice defending the Fulda Gap from the Soviets! They rolled the dice and then moved the little markers around the map!

I told Sid about this, and he came up with NATO Commander. Actually used for a while at the Army Command and Staff College in Leavenworth, Kansas for instructional purposes.

In the modern game world, many of the military games are some sort of commando game. We have World War II infantry games and Iraq War Special Forces games. Grab a gun, capture the bullets and the power ups, (they seem to hang in the air in many cases), and go blow up something. These games make great team games too.

My brothers and I played Novalogic's excellent Delta Force games for a long time. This game is originally done in the early 90s and is still one of the best!

Electronic Arts' Medal of Honor series is an industry by itself. This wonderful game is a combination of military subjects, pseudo real weapons, and excellent graphics! It should be in all military gamers' collections. Most reviews of this game have been excellent, although some on other platforms are less strong. I suggest you go to GameRankings.com to look up your specific platform rating.

How can you go wrong with a game directly from the U.S. Army? America's Army is a successful effort to promote the Army and Free online too! Check it out! America's Army has gotten excellent reviews from most of the game sites all over 80%.

This week's big buzz is Activision's Call of Duty. It has received a 95% rating from some reviewers. I will get this game and have a server set up so we can have some battles online. Maybe we can get some military volunteers to participate in a big match in a few weeks after everyone has a chance to get familiar with the game.

Is anyone interested in helping me set up a ladder so we can find the best Call of Duty player from the US Military? Email me at N194RR@military.com.

This can be a lot of fun!

We will not be able to take all who want to play but we will try to take as many as we can!

I have to get back to flying WarBirds III and driving Tanks. Tonight is our World War II battle in Armored Assault, our exciting and excellent tank game. You will find me in a Panzer G defending my camp!

Come join us at TotalSims.com!

SALUTE TO ALL OUR VETERANS as we all continue to defend our Country against all the bad guys!

Fly Safe,
Wild Bill Stealey
Gamer, Aviator, Lt. Col. USAF Retired

2003 John W. Stealey. All opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of Military.com.



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