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Old September 2nd, 2007, 02:20 AM
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Default OT: The Future of Computer Strategy Games

Just pondering how far we have come in such a short time with computer processing. I can remember my first strategy game which involved inputing numbers and an icon represented by: <-- would shoot across the screen at a moving: \--^-/ which represent an aircraft carrier or: \^/ destroyer. I used to go to the libray every day after school and spend 15 to 20 minutes anxiously waiting for the cassette tape to load onto the computer to finally play the game.

There are a great deal of computer experts and visionaries on this forum so I am curious to know what everyone predicts what might be commonplace for some of my favorites in 4X and other types of Strategy style games in the next 5, 10, and 20 years.

5 years from now I am guessing that games like SEV will be pretty much the same, perhaps polished 3D graphics and the ability to handle larger games (20 - 30 AI players, 500 - 600 systems in a galaxy or quadrant, maybe more detail with indivdual planets, the ability to micro manage a bit more. I am seeing a great deal of free webbased games like CyberNation and many others, but mostly based off of simple numbers. Maybe something a bit more complex is around the corner.

10 years from now I would like to finally see an adaptive AI that either learns or borrows from a collective database of player strategies that is updated everytime one plays or from a massive online database with thousands of other players strategies and ideas. I don't beleive that an AI will truly be able to think for itself in 10 years but more or less be able to determine that if that player does this, I (the AI) need to look into this line of strategy to counter the strategy these players use while keeping in mind that this other player or AI is utilizing this style of a strategy and I the (AI) need to keep this in mind. If my train of strategy ideas don't pan out I the (AI) need to try the next one in line listed in the database. We already have dual and quad processors, I am not sure if we have started to level out on processing speed, so perhaps computer will be based off of the amount of processers it has to do multiple tasks all at once. I would also like to think that we will finally get to a somewhat more realistic level of detail with either map sizes (1000 to a million count stars in a galaxy, planets with indvidual continents and major cities to manage ala "Civilization" style game engines added) or the ability to micro manage down to a single unit's perspective in a theatre sized strategy game. Of course Monitors and UI will be much more efficiant to handle these larger sizes. Perhaps a standard computer moniter will be a wall mounted 60 inch HD Screen, and a mouse will be a thing of the past. Voice activation, Eye movement sensing goggles, those nintendo WII thingies might be the next big thing. Web based games against real players with perhaps around 50 players.

20 years from now, I still don't think we will have a completely self-thinking AI capable of challenging even the best minds. Perhaps an AI with the ability to take thousands of variables into consideration and choose from a variety of options (real person strategies that have been recorded and applied as in the 10 year plan above) that possibly would best suit its needs to with a certain percentage parameter. Perhaps instead of using one strategy from the database it would be able to add and combine and subtract to best suit its needs. Massively large games with almost real world numbers: millions of stars, planets broken all the way down to "SimCity" style engines that you would have the option to manage or have the AI help out with, tactical warfare that can be broken down all the way down to individual soliers perspective ala First Person Shooter and Flight simulator engines all in one game. Kind of god's eye view of everything. One would have a powerfull AI to help manages all of this but if one CHOSE to they could break it all the way down if they wanted too. The UI I hope by then would be something that is completely immersive, I don't beleive Holograms or decent Holograms will be commonplace yet, but "Operations Room" style full wall sized monitors capaple of being one large monitor or hundred of mini monitors. Web based games that operate in real time against thousands of players and an AI that takes charge in your absence following a macro or micro managed doctrine that it has learned from your playing style. I would like to beleive that we would be able to plug in to our minds to do everything, but maybe 50 years we could look into that.

What are your ideas, wishes, or expectations?
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Old September 2nd, 2007, 04:50 AM
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Default Re: OT: The Future of Computer Strategy Games

Just going out the door and I'll post later but I noticed you mention eye controlling the computer. I recently read an article about a password system that reads your eye, not just to verify your ID (and we know how that worked in Demolition man) but you move your eye in a few directions as a password, so to speak.

Back: I found this video on a hologram system today

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FF1vF...%2Findex%2Ephp

There's also the table top system Microsoft is making.

Along with the eye control thing I mentioned they are also making bionic control feasible. That might be useful to control things. The thing is that you can increase the number of palyers and the number of systems but past a certain point it slows down the game. I believe we are already at a fair level. Any more and you will have long periods between turns waiting for everyone to do their turn, and with many more systems it'll be longer before you meet anyone and longer for things to develop as empires expand until they conflict with others.
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Old September 2nd, 2007, 02:26 PM
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Default Re: OT: The Future of Computer Strategy Games

Wow, I guess I might take back my thoughts on Hologram technology. Pretty impressive demonstration.
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Old September 3rd, 2007, 02:03 PM

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Default Re: OT: The Future of Computer Strategy Games

Damn, I would really love an strategy game that lets you do everything. Imagine Rome Total War, with real cities and towns of the period, every little tribe, and the player being capable of controlling as much or as little of the game as he wanted to, from First person combat to grand strategy.
In a game like Space Empires, I would love to let the AI control the game, and dive in and take operational command of the little colonial war going on against an sneaky race of pre-space flight creatures that inhabited a planet in the outskirts of my empire before my 100 000 civilian colonists setted up shop. And then go back and resume control of the empire's rule. Or maybe take control of a scout ship and explore the next star system. The posibilities are limitless.
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Old September 3rd, 2007, 02:11 PM
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Default Re: OT: The Future of Computer Strategy Games

You can. Just put everything else under minister control.
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Old September 3rd, 2007, 02:58 PM
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Default Re: OT: The Future of Computer Strategy Games

Narf:
Not really; there isn't very much to do on an individual planet...
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Old September 4th, 2007, 05:59 AM
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Default Re: OT: The Future of Computer Strategy Games

Firstly, you'll be looking at massively multiplayer. Purpose-built strategy MMOGs will happen, but the really interesting ones will be the ones where you are giving orders to real people, not computer agents. Of course, this means that for every person who wants to play the game as a general, there will have to be a couple hundred other players willing to take on the role of footsoldier/ pilot/ tank commander/ whatever and follow orders. That's just fine though, those numbers are probably fairly representative of the sales of strategy games vs FPS/ flight sims etc. This means that a game won't be classed as a MMOrole plyer or MMOshooter any more, it will just be a game world with different roles and different gaming experiences within it.

We're already seeing things like this emerge on some of the MMORPGs. Thousands of people converge on servers to carry out huge battles. For the bulk of these plyers the gaming is strictly FPS-type action, but there are leaders who act as generals and direct the combat. I suppose this counts more as tactical than strategic, but there's no reason why these games and conflicts shouldn't extend to the strategic level in future.

Also, VR seems to be making a bit of a comeback. That could be really atmospheric, imagine commanding a battlefield in VR, viewing progress from a hilltop or swooping over your units to see how the action is going, issuing orders as you go.

However the one thing I think will take off hugely is voice control. Serious gamers already use VOIP systems alongside their games to communicate with other players, it's only a matter of time before someone starts coding virtual players (bots) that respond to voice commands. Of course the technical obstacle is not so much the voice recognition but reliable machine-parsing of natural language. People have been working on this for years, with varying levels of success. However gaming systems now have the spare storage and processing power available for this kind of trickery, and I think games will be the arena where it actually happens. They will be crude at first, but you know how technology snowballs, especially when it has money behind it. Maybe one day we'll hit the point where you aren't sure whether that guy on your team is human or AI. Again, this technology will be driven by the FPS experience (since that's where most of the gamers are) but once developped it will soon slosh over into strategy.

Just imagine SE if you could issue natural language commands to fleet commanders, ship captains and planetary governors:

"Governor, I need you to emergency build weapons platforms to defend against a seeker-biased opponent until sixth fleet arrives. Then you can go back to normal production."

"Commander, that wounded battlecruiser is in one of these three systems. Your mission is to hunt it down. If any of its null-space weapons are still intact, try to capture it. If not, blow it away. Be careful."

"Governor James, commandeer any transports that come into your system and start moving your oxy-breathing population to the Buratis system."

"Captain Gruk, I want you to catch up with Maelstrom fleet and resupply it. Avoid enemy-controlled systems unless you can get fleet protection. Our Krill allies may be travelling through the Primadara system shortly, so maybe you could ride with them."

"Commander, sit your fleet on that warp point and attack any Phong ships that try to warp through, but allow the Jraenar to pass. If any Cue Cappa warp through, tell them to turn around and go back but don't fire on them unless they disobey you or attack you. Don't engage any fleet that significantly outnumbers you."
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Old September 4th, 2007, 06:51 AM

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Default Re: OT: The Future of Computer Strategy Games

Quote:
We're already seeing things like this emerge on some of the MMORPGs. Thousands of people converge on servers to carry out huge battles. For the bulk of these plyers the gaming is strictly FPS-type action, but there are leaders who act as generals and direct the combat. I suppose this counts more as tactical than strategic, but there's no reason why these games and conflicts shouldn't extend to the strategic level in future.
That's already been going on in Eve Online for years.
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Old September 4th, 2007, 05:01 PM

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Default Re: OT: The Future of Computer Strategy Games

I think turn-based 4X games are going to continue to fall farther behind other genres in terms of taking advantage of increased computing capabilities. The market for such games is small, so nobody will invest the resources it takes to bring such a thing to market. I think the SE series is probably the only long-term viable business model - a joint labor of love between a programmer of the basic game engine and talented modders. There is probably enough money in selling the game engine to keep a one-man-band operation like MM going, and the modders do their thing for free as a personal creative outlet.

I'd love to be proven wrong and see a return to the era where several of the big game software houses had an active big-budget turn-based 4Xer series. I'd also love to see Bill Gates name me his sole heir. I just don't expect either one to happen.
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Old September 4th, 2007, 06:52 PM
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Default Re: OT: The Future of Computer Strategy Games

What's wrong with not needing huge horsepower?
Turn based games are more about thinking than action, anyways.

When you go beyond conveying information, the flashy, fluffy graphics used to drag your computer's performance down only distract from the thinking game.
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