There’s a bright side to being stuck at home. The global lockdowns spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic have given many people the rare opportunity to finish their personal projects.

For a game developer with zero programming experience in the Philippines, it was a videogame about the Vietnam War which took almost 20 years to complete.

“I was always interested in history and the Vietnam War in particular,” says game developer Tiger Yan. “I started creating The ‘Nam: Vietnam Combat Operations way back in 2003 but work and life were more important, so the project was mothballed for 17 years. Like everyone else, the COVID-19 outbreak forced me to stay home most of 2020. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to learn basic programming and finally finish what I started.”

Yan, who photographs wild and rural areas of Asia, created the game as a nonprofit learning tool for people to experience commanding soldiers during the Vietnam War. He used his field experience investigating rural communities to make the game as realistic as possible.

“From irrigation dikes and rice paddies to barking dogs and crowing chickens, this game brings the Vietnamese countryside to life.”

According to the game’s Facebook page, players can command US Marines, Vietcong and North Vietnamese Army troops, plus the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). The Vietnam War ended in 1975 when the North Vietnamese and Vietcong unified Vietnam under communist rule. The game is now being featured in various fora and though it can be downloaded online for free, Yan urges gamers to make a donation to APOPO, a nonprofit organization working to clear dangerous landmines in Cambodia.

“The real Vietnam War wrought great misery for the people of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. If this game can spur at least one good donation, then it would have been worth it,” says Yan.

Though COVID-19 has paralyzed the world, people can look at the silver lining. The lockdowns have finally given many people a resource which for years has been in short supply – time.

Game images:

The ‘Nam: Vietnam Combat Operations was developed by Filipino programmer Tiger Yan as a nonprofit learning tool about the Vietnam War. It took nearly 20 years to complete but is now freely downloadable. (VCO)

Many of the game’s graphics were drawn by hand using antiquated programs such as MS paint, which was the level of technology when Command and Conquer Tiberian Sun was launched in 2003. The ‘Nam uses Tiberian Sun’s game engine and logic systems. (VCO)


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