Army of Thousands: An Evolution of Real Time Strategy Games
What would happen to real time strategy game play if you could control thousands of units, instead of the hundreds of units typically possible in today’s real time strategy (RTS) games? How would you control those units…or would you? As a big fan of RTS games, I wonder what modern multi-core compute power will enable in the genre. I’ve been having excited discussions with my esteemed peers here at Intel, and some interesting points have been made. It’s easy to imagine huge waves of soldiers battling each other. I think the game would start to look like an animated painting: red is making inroads in the north, blue is flanking around the edges of the map.
It’s much harder to imagine trying to control all of those thousands of units. Obviously units would be controlled by artificial intelligence (AI), but could AI completely control units once they were added to the world? You might only control “faucets” that poured units into the world, and perhaps a few basic parameters: aggressive or defensive units? Fast or heavily armored units? Would it be frustrating to not be able to control your units once they were added to the world? What if you could only set “desired points” for your units; that is, you can’t tell individual units what to do, but you can say “all my units nearby go here”.
How would the fact that units were part of a large group affect their behavior? Perhaps units that are part of a group receive defensive bonuses. Perhaps groups of units moving together gain an attack bonus relative to their speed.
To us, the possibilities are intriguing. Do you agree? Is this interesting territory to explore? I know of a very few games that have more than average units…are there games that have actually reached thousands of units? How many questions can I ask before you will answer me? J”