Indian_Air_Force_Logo2Indian Air Force (IAF) is in the final stages of a bid to develop an air combat game that will showcase its planes and get youngsters interested in joining it. This is the first time any of the Indian defense forces has taken to gaming as a propaganda tool.

A tender seeking bids from parties interested in developing mobile games for the force was put out in July, and the final decision on the same is expected in a fortnight. As per the tender, IAF wants to release the game on Android and iOS with multiplayer support. The game also needs to have social media integration and would be targeted at those who are older than 13-years. The game developer will have permission to create mock bases, apart from customised versions of aircrafts and weapons while developing the game.

Gaming has been used as a propaganda tool by American government for decades now and the first commercial home gaming console, the 1972 Magnavox Odyssey, was developed by Sanders Associates, a US defence contractor. Similarly, many of the flight and driving simulation games that we find now can trace its roots to US military initiatives from World War I era. After 9/11, US released a free shooter game, America’s Army, which has been downloaded more than 40 million times since its release. According to a 2008 study by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “the game had more impact on recruits than all other forms of Army advertising combined.”

Considering this scenario, Indian Air Force’s idea to turn to gaming to get the word across rather than conventional advertising makes a lot of sense. It also makes less sense for them to target consoles as their penetration in the India market is very low; not to mention the cost of making a game for such a platform would be really high. Smartphones however are very ubiquitous now and a good portion of  those in the 18 to 24-year age group already own smartphones — just the category Air Force wants to reach out to.

Been there done that

Among the applicants is Threye, a Delhi-based startup working in the field of augmented reality, that recently released a game called Operation Morning Glory (OMG) that lets you play missions as an Indian Air Force pilot.

The company is run by Anurag Rana, Sidhant Rahi and Sameer Joshi and when they started working on OMG, their idea was move beyond Bollywood and cricket themes that a lot of developers in India go for. The main inputs for the game came from Joshi, who is an ex-IAF fighter pilot. He drew from his experience, while factoring in current geo-political developments to create the missions in it.

“This bid happened while we were still planning OMG for which we had thought of a December release. However, we decided to accelerate the development by making the entire game in less than two months. We started on August 15 and released it on October 8, in order to put a strong case for the official IAF bid,” Rana said.

The game has been downloaded a little more than 1,000 downloads via Google’s Play Store.

On the game

Operation Morning Glory lets you select missions which ranges from taking-down targets on the ground to dog fights. The android game was pretty decent and worked as expected, but it does not support gyroscopic feedback which is a shame. UPDATE: The developers have let us know that they are working on adding motion-based controls in the game. As far as graphics are concerned they are all right for a mobile game, but the PC version should have had better graphics. The game won’t be the best flight simulator games you will ever play, but it was definitely one of the easiest with most of the controls mapped to mouse movements and a few buttons on the keyboard.

It is a decent game overall, but the developers need to improve the visual quality drastically on the PC front if they want to gain approval of gamers.