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Artificial Intelligence + Player Intelligence =

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What if Artificial Intelligence and Player Intelligence could be combined, like a symbiosis lifeform, each prospering from the other, always reaching the best results when working together as one? Was thinking up some silly thoughts about creating an RTS system (just thinking it up, no programming here ) when I started to draw a link to some football games I play on the computer (again, just playing it on computer, as I grew up in Europe and never got a chance to actually play the game, even though by now I''m in love with it). The football games are interesting on different levels. You can design your own plays, pick which players you want to play, design a gameplan book and of course you can play the game on the field. What if this can all be converted to other types of games? Take for example Command and Conquer, one of the leading titles in RTS gaming (right?). You can control your forces individually, or by group, and you can set somewhat of an individual strategy for each unit (''defensive'' ''hostile'' ''guard'' etc), but they don''t really have a mind of their own. Unlike the units of the AI opponent, which seem to act on their own (well, they''re controlled by the AI of course, but you don''t actually SEE this AI opponent). What if, before starting a game, the player can design strategies for his units, so that once play starts they will start to operate on their own account? The player can still make adjustments, can still take control, but with a well planned out strategy, in theory, the player could step away from the computer and let his forces do the job on their own. The goal of the design would be to create different types of AI that the player can pick from. And these should all mix perfectly with what a player wants from his troups and with commands that the player can issue during gameplay. I''m not sure if I''m clear enough about what my idea is, but I hope you get the point I''m trying to make (and I''ll try to clear up questions later on). I''m trying to design this system as mainly PvP (and I think it''ll be a good thing for players to know that even when they get disconnected they might still win if they just planned the right strategy beforehand) which would eliminate the need for a stand-alone AI (because if you give the player all the options the computer AI would have, you can''t really expect that AI to beat the player anymore).

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Somehow, I just don''t see this working for that sort of game. For a football game, where it is possible (and pretty much the *only* way to do it, since you can''t control that many players at once in the time given...) it works fine. But for an RTS or other similar game, most players will see that as a waste of effort on the part of the programmer. If I want to play an RTS, I will play it, not watch it play itself. RTS games that are already on the market have similar design concepts built into them already, such as in StarCraft, where if they see something bad, they will attack it, or stay put if that''s what you told them to do. Now, I know this is a basic basic basic example of what you are explaining, but it still applies. I just can''t see those soldiers in StarCraft leading a successful attack against any human opponent. Nor in any other game, until we get supercomputers that will play just as well as a human. It is a good idea, but I think the application needs to go in another direction.
farmersckn

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Well, I wanted units to be able to act on their own intelligently, because I didn''t want to create another ''build units as fast as you can, then send them out to their death'' type of RTS. I was envisioning more of a ''take your army to a certain location and fight another army''. Just a one-on-one match of wits between two players. No need to build barracks etc, you just start with a certain force of units and then you try to attack the opponent. As it''ll be impossible to control all the units at once (at least when a large number of units is used) you almost HAVE to give each unit a mind of its own. But, that ''mind of its own'' should communicat perfectly with whatever it is the player wants to do.

I was thinking of giving each unit a specific chain of commands, defined by AI, then give the player the ability to overpower that AI by issuing his own commands.

I know this wouldn''t work for the type of RTS that are out there now, but maybe with individual AI for each unit, a little bit smarter, more strategic (well, maybe not ''more'' but at least different) type of gameplay.

In my personal opinion, most RTS games right now are just a matter of speed (who can build up his army the fastest). I''ve had fun battling online opponents, but I kept feeling that I wanted it to be different. I like the real time grande warfare, but I also like to think things through a little more, and find satisfaction in seeing a plan unfold.

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I think this is a great idea. It''s really the next evolution. We got used to issuing waypoints, we got used to setting AI default behaviors. This would be a combination of the two.

I''m working on something similar for RTS fleet combat in space. I''m trying to give the player control of both a fleet and an individual command ship, and this looks like the only way to make that possible.

I think the key is higher level control of groups and scripted actions. These form manuevers that can be executed like macros (or football plays). Manuevers could be saved, named, and executed with a click of the mouse.

For instance, let''s say you have the Flip Shield Torpedo Run. For this manuever, ships:
1) Close to target with shields concentrated to the enemy
2) Drop sheilds when in range
3) Fire a salvo of torpedos
4) Raise shields, concentrated to enemy
5) Reverse 180''
6) Return to command ship

Each point in this strategy is a matter of location to go to, and action to be performed. I can see doing this with a fancy mouse driven waypoint interface, where you can define what AI behavior to take on at each point, and the priority of that behavior over default behaviors.

Traditional click-fest players wouldn''t have to use the interface, but I''ll bet you that if true tacticians had something like this they''d be able to stomp Tank-Rush Boy everytime.

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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WAVINATOR: Exactly. Players would have the ability (if you don''t want to, you don''t have to... well, you do, because otherwise you''ll lose ) to set a chain of scripted actions, with IF/THEN (again, a link to football games, where when designing a gameplan you have to work with ''IF 1st down and 10 yards to go, on own 30 yard line, with 1:30 to go, THEN pick play X'')

If we already have the technology to design AI intelligent enough to ALMOST keep up with players (because AI can''t keep up without cheating ever so slightly), why not just use that same AI as standard op for the players?

I think the biggest task is to make units behave realistically at all times (if you can achieve that, the player will be truly immersed in the game, and finally feel like he''s controlling real armies... which would make him a real leader)

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This is the sort of thing I''d like to see in RTS''s, dumb units are the one thing that REALLY annoy me about RTS''s.

I was playing Stars! today (its a Turn based space empire building game thingy, but i''m gonna use it to demonstraite a point so hang on..) and they do something like that for thier space combat.. You have a serious of simple stratergies that u can customize, which I really like. Each strategy allows u to specify a primary and secondry target type (starbases, capital ships, armed ships, defenceless ships, etc.) and an attack method (do as much damage as possible, stay as safe as possible, retreat, try and do as much damage as possible without suffering too much damage, etc..).

As a minimum of this sort of thing, I would like to be able to tell my units to retreat (I''ve never player a RTS that allows me to retreat my units except manually.. which is a pain, when I''m trying to direct an attack on the other side of the enemy base [cuz my stupid units are wondering in and taking out the first thing they see]).

Actually I''ll make a list of some of the stratergy info I think you should be able to set:

* What to attack first, second, last.
* How to attack (Note: intellegent units like Marines should automatically seek cover if possible and so simple commands like this shouldnt be needed here) [choosing attack''s like Wav''s torp run]
* When to retreat (to stop things like one marine trying to attack a battalion of tanks)
* When to AVOID the enemy (see above)
* When to engage the enemy
* When to stop attacking (Namely for units with area damage weapons so I can stop them doing stupid things like attacking an enemy that''s totally surronded by my units [otherwise the result is 1 enemy dead 8 of mine dead.. which is V.annoying])

etc. etc.

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NIGHTWRAITH:
Yup. The design would have to be based on ''what do I want a unit to be able to do''. Not sure how it''ll work out with programming, but that should be the main goal in the design.

The commands that a player will issue during gameplay, will be mostly simple commands, affecting a large group (attack, defend, retreat etc), but would include all the special commands that the AI is using for each individual unit.

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Oh great-- another game idea that players are just going to be confused at.

Let''s face it. While you can put all the science you want into a game and make it work, it just might NOT work for all the regular, mumbly Joes out there. Older games like DOOM and Zelda both helped and hurt the industry in this manner-- they helped it by making sales soar and players wild; they put a curse on it because anyone who is used to the realtime, gun-blazing, head-to-head battle will have a hard time dealing with anything far different like this.

Now you could instead make a game where the enemy learns from your attacks. It''s entirely possible. And you could make this type of game and maybe make a few sales off it, but personally, I''d be too confused at the gameplay.

Make it so I''ll want to play it-- not break the CD in half.

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i agree w/ these ideas a lot. actually, i''m working on an rt rpg type deal and it involves some of these issues. what u can do 4 an rts is make each unit different. make each unit retreat after losing x amount of hp, make the units have different default objectives that can be changed. give them xp and let them grow and become stronger. add a perception stat that grows with the unit being in action(rookies might not see an enemy hiding, vets would) stuff like this. and this does not complicate the game for the user because they are simply acting like "people". these are things i''m doing, but not such a large scale. if this system works, i''ll probably use it 2 make an rts later cuz i hate the "build the bigger army" deal too. units should not be expendible. just my 2



--I don''t judge, I just observe

Stuck in the Bush''s, Florida

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quote:
Original post by Some Guy

Oh great-- another game idea that players are just going to be confused at.



Dude, you have NOTHING to worry about. You can trust the game industry to crank out the same stuff you''re used to without changes. If you like the way current games play, good: I can assure you you will be playing them the same way for years to come!

quote:

Let''s face it. While you can put all the science you want into a game and make it work, it just might NOT work for all the regular, mumbly Joes out there. Older games like DOOM and Zelda both helped and hurt the industry in this manner-- they helped it by making sales soar and players wild; they put a curse on it because anyone who is used to the realtime, gun-blazing, head-to-head battle will have a hard time dealing with anything far different like this.


Think Myth. Now think macros.

If people can remember 25 different combos per character in Fighting Game Retread v3.0, I''m not sure this would be asking much more of them.

quote:

Now you could instead make a game where the enemy learns from your attacks. It''s entirely possible. And you could make this type of game and maybe make a few sales off it, but personally, I''d be too confused at the gameplay.

Make it so I''ll want to play it-- not break the CD in half.


Ever play Total Annihilation?

Imagine this interface.

It handles like TA. You select units, hold down shift, and when you click on the map you get waypoints.

Only, you can right click, and select an icon from a popup menu that appears right next to the cursor.

When you do this, the waypoint changes from a star (like in TA) to the icon. The icons quick reference the AI action at that point.

I really don''t see what''s so hard about this.

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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i agree Wav, it isn''t complicated, just more options. the fighting game is a good analogy, all the combos u must use on-the-fly. same stuff. i''d like 2 know ur opinion on adding RP elements to make unit growth.




--I don''t judge, I just observe

Stuck in the Bush''s, Florida

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quote:
Original post by NightWraith

As a minimum of this sort of thing, I would like to be able to tell my units to retreat



How about being able to set a fallback point outside the enemy base to retreat to. Easy to click and easy to remember, I''d think.

quote:

* What to attack first, second, last.



With a little flag that shows you what order. TA almost go this perfect, they just needed the flags.

quote:

* How to attack (Note: intellegent units like Marines should automatically seek cover if possible and so simple commands like this shouldnt be needed here) [choosing attack''s like Wav''s torp run]



Thanks for the endorsement. Something like this becomes more necessary the more choices you have for a group of units.

quote:

* When to retreat (to stop things like one marine trying to attack a battalion of tanks)



I think this will be solved if we can simply treat units as groups. Then we can tell Group 1 to retreat at a given point, or to cover group 2, or to execute manuever A, etc.

quote:

* When to AVOID the enemy (see above)



I''d like to see a flag you can place on enemies and structures: Either AVOID for those that are too lethal (overridable, of course) or DISABLE for the things you want to capture. Everything else by default is DESTROY.

When you start a mission, targets could all even be labeled by default for your convenience.

quote:

* When to engage the enemy



Sort of like a rules of engagement rating? Attack when odds are 2:1? Is that what you mean?

quote:

* When to stop attacking (Namely for units with area damage weapons so I can stop them doing stupid things like attacking an enemy that''s totally surronded by my units [otherwise the result is 1 enemy dead 8 of mine dead.. which is V.annoying])



Yeah, Siege Tanks are great for this in Starcraft. Oops! Thought I had a defense!

This one is actually a bit trickier. Area effect units would need to constantly check the fire area. But the problem is that sometimes you want them to attack anyway. For instance, if your base is overrun and you have 2 weak defenders in the way, but you can kill off many attackers in one shot, you likely take it.

Maybe an easier solution would be Total Annihilation again? Hold Fire, Return Fire, Fire Freely were the 3 AI options. Not exactly what you mean, I know, but it''s hard to for the AI to anticipate what you want.



--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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quote:
Original post by Dynamite

i''d like 2 know ur opinion on adding RP elements to make unit growth.




Sure!

I''ve been thinking about this a bit because I''d like something similar for the crews of ships. A couple of areas where experience could apply: I think no matter what you do, you should find ways to make certain units and experienced units extremely valuable

Specialities - If you''ve played Starcraft, you know that certain units like the Terran Ghost or Zerg Queen get special abilities after you research them. This might instead be a function of experience. As a unit grows more experienced, these abilities become unlocked. You''d have to limit this to only a few units, though, or somehow make really clear who has what.

Hit Effect - Either via damage or accuracy, experienced units do better than raw recruits. I''d make damage a function of accuracy, or if damage is fixed you could simply make some shots miss.

Response Time - Units have a random response delay (to look realistic), but the more elite the unit is, the lower this tends to be.

Morale - Unit effectiveness is based on morale. If morale drops below a certain point, troops have a random chance to break and run. This is based on number of nearby frightened troops. Elites have less of a chance to run no matter what.

Target Specialties - Units that go up against certain other units may develop proficiencies

Target Fears - Units that haven''t faced certain other units might not do well against them, sort of like the Romans supposedly acted when they met Hannibal''s elephants.

This is a start, more maybe later?

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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quote:
Original post by Wavinator
Sure!

I''ve been thinking about this a bit because I''d like something similar for the crews of ships. A couple of areas where experience could apply: I think no matter what you do, you should find ways to make certain units and experienced units extremely valuable

Specialities - If you''ve played Starcraft, you know that certain units like the Terran Ghost or Zerg Queen get special abilities after you research them. This might instead be a function of experience. As a unit grows more experienced, these abilities become unlocked. You''d have to limit this to only a few units, though, or somehow make really clear who has what.

Hit Effect - Either via damage or accuracy, experienced units do better than raw recruits. I''d make damage a function of accuracy, or if damage is fixed you could simply make some shots miss.

Response Time - Units have a random response delay (to look realistic), but the more elite the unit is, the lower this tends to be.

Morale - Unit effectiveness is based on morale. If morale drops below a certain point, troops have a random chance to break and run. This is based on number of nearby frightened troops. Elites have less of a chance to run no matter what.

Target Specialties - Units that go up against certain other units may develop proficiencies

Target Fears - Units that haven''t faced certain other units might not do well against them, sort of like the Romans supposedly acted when they met Hannibal''s elephants.

This is a start, more maybe later?

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...



exactly. the only thing i didn''t think of was the fear thing, that is good! but like u said, a problem i could c was that i would like every unit to have xp, but that might get real klunky. (!idea!) or maybe they all could get xp and at a certain level, they gain rank(ie. sergeant, captain...) and they have troops under them. the units would still get xp, but they would be in a "group" or "platoon". the UI would probably need 2 be geared to sort out and select units of certain levels and skills to make things easier. maybe it wouldn''t be as klunky as i think 2 manage all those guys. i don''t know...



--I don''t judge, I just observe

Stuck in the Bush''s, Florida

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(Excuse the shortness of this reply, but this is the only bit I stumbled over)

Dynamite : So you''re saying lower units would have collective XP, rather than individial?

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Just to clarify some of my points.. (after Wavs comments)

Firstly I''m thinking more along the lines of leaving the units to get on with it whilst the player is concentrating on some other part of the battle. (although I''d expect to be notified if they changed what they were doing.. e.g. retreating)

2nd, (this is not a clarification just an idea I just had sort of) We should think about different levels of this control, setting defaults for general behaviour (i.e. pull back if the enemy is too strong) as one level (which is set before the game starts for those who want to.. I mean a game should behave as the player expects, right, and what better way for the player to know how it will behave if he tells it), and giving commands to individual groups of units (i.e. cover group A, attack these buildings first, etc...) as the next, and as a final level specifying exactly the attack to use (although I dont think many people will use this) like the Torp run. [Personally I think this should be left upto the unit''s AI based upon a higher level specification, e.g. "Try to maximise the damage done to the enemy", user defined stratergies could be assigned to an attack mode (i.e. if the attack mode is X then pick an attack A B or D)]

as to the point on when to engage the enemy (I must really learn how to quote, lol).. yeah something like that Wav, things like attack the enemy if you can knock them out without too many casulties, or if they''re approaching this point, etc.. but also for setting up things like ambushes if u have a bunch of marines hidden in the bushes to ambush a convoy, you dont want them opening fire as soon as they see it, (cuz those at the front will fire first and give the game away) you want to wait unit it reaches the middle, that kind of thing..

Avoiding the enemy is along those sort of TA lines.. but with, move here without being seen by the enemy if possible as an option (i.e. to sneak units past sentries or patroling units...)

NOTE: all of these points are Ideal rather than Feasable.


NightWraith

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Ah, some who appreciates a order queuing system over a way-point system
I would love to play Homeworld with a order queuing system instead of a way-point system.
After having a go at creating a simplistic order queuing system, I think I can appreciates the amount of effort to get the TA one working
It would be very cool to allow the various queued orders to react to condition but this would introduce some serious headaches for the implementation. The next step from order queuing is scripting of the style that is being discussed here. One important note is you MUST be able to easily apply commands to multipul units and allow copying of the scripts. To automate the setup of the orders, the factory could be set to imprint the orders onto all unit produced there, kind of like Total Annihilation
The factory deturmined the default group number and default behaviour and could dictate so move options.

StarCraft was a MAJOR step backwards in unit management compared to Total Annihilation & Dark Reign. Since it had massive corprate backing from a well known company it had massive sales,thus unit management was set back a lest 2 years or so
I , personally, see starcraft as a BAD rip off of Red Alert, the only thing it really had going for it was flexible map scripting and RedAlert had some complex scipting in it too ...

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quote:
Original post by morfe

(Excuse the shortness of this reply, but this is the only bit I stumbled over)

Dynamite : So you''re saying lower units would have collective XP, rather than individial?



not really. what i meant(i 4got to elaborate above) was instead of looking at each unit as an individual(from the user''s view), you would look at a group to cut down on the actual cycling of units etc. like i have groups A through G. A has 5 soldiers and the rest have 8. by groups, i can look at all 5 units in A and compare them. it''s more of an idea geared towards the UI and how the player would see/compare units. i was thinkin about how 2 make each unit gain xp and still be managable. i hope that clears it up!



--I don''t judge, I just observe

Stuck in the Bush''s, Florida

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Check out www.moo3.com.

Its the developement site for Masters of Orion 3. The game itself is turn based but the combat is going to be realtime. The control system they''re desinging for combat follows this idea almost exactly. You select an overall strategy for each of your various task forces in the battle, then leave it to your AI Commanders to fight the battle for you. You can make adjustments to your strategy as the battle progresses.

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Check out www.moo3.com.

Its the developement site for Masters of Orion 3. The game itself is turn based but the combat is going to be realtime. The control system they''re desinging for combat follows this idea almost exactly. You select an overall strategy for each of your various task forces in the battle, then leave it to your AI Commanders to fight the battle for you. You can make adjustments to your strategy as the battle progresses.

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NIGHTWRAITH:

About your comment of different levels of control:

YES! The way the game should work is:
1) Before battle a gameplan is established in which the player decides what he wants to do (depending on the units he uses; if fast units are used, an all out assault might work well, giving the opponent just enough time to realize he''s dying; if slow, but strong units are used, a well designed defensive position might work better). Here, the player has all the time in the world to design that gameplan, to give his units orders, to set their AI.

2) During gameplay the player will start to issue general commands to his troops (scout this area, attack this area, stay and defend this area) to which they will respond as good as they can. (you can sort of see this as a general standing on the top of a hill directing his forces with flags etc)

3) Maybe during gameplay the player should be able to take control of individual units (especially scouts come to mind and elite units that act on their own) and give specialized instructions.

One thing about this all, is that if you want to use statistics/skills etc, you finally have a real reason to use INTELLIGENCE. If a units intelligence is higher, the player will be able to give more defined commands. The two extremes would be: animal without intelligence; player would not be able to set any commands, the creature would simply act on his own instincts; and then on the other side of the spectrum is the superintelligent being for which the player can set any command that the game allows.

WAVINATOR:

Response Time: This would fit in perfectly with the ''player is a general standing on the hill'' metaphor. Because troops would need a certain time to get the command, to recognize it and then to fulfill it. Another reason to use a small amount of elite troops over huge amounts of low level troops (because the elite will simply do their job better and faster).

----

The second level in my game design, is that the player is actually a god directing his troops (or in sci-fi settings, the player could be a general using mindlink to order his troops around). And the more powerful the deity is, the more control he''ll have over his troops (giving him the ability to use more troops, issueing orders faster, being able to give more commands, raising morale of the troops).

When players fight eachother, their units would gain victories, but also suffer defeats. Victories would grant their leader more power, while defeats could cause a loss of power.

The units themselves would be mortal while the god could be immortal (or maybe even the gods themselves are not completely safe from harm). I thought this a nice system to incorporate death into a somewhat RPG setting (the units would be able to gain power each fight... but they could die instantly in the next one)

Right now, I''m focusing on the matter of strategy. It''s all nice to think up new systems, but what I really want is a game that allows for a lot of different strategies. Players should play the game NEVER being able to expect what''s coming. They should really have to scout ahead, study their opponent, then set up their forces and hope for the best. For now, I see the setup like this:

Two players hook up and enter the game. A map is made, and the scouts of both sides are allowed to enter. The scouts examine the map and players choose a destination for their army to travel to. After a set time, the armies will start to arrive onto the map (fast armies could arrive fast, slow armies will come late). The players can now choose to set out with their scouts to discover the enemy, meanwhile setting up their own base of defense (or setting out with their army right away in search of the opponent, which would thin their ranks and generally weaken the army). Once an enemy is discovered, the scouts have to run back to base to report etc.

This was also why I wanted to give AI to each unit. If the scout can act on his own, the player can just send it away and wait for its return. The ''fog'' that we''re familiar with, will not lift where the scout is, the fog will only lift for certain units (leaders that have a direct link with their god). When a scout comes back to report, a general indication could be placed on the site where the scout thought he saw enemies, size depending on number of enemies.

There''s enough ideas here to fill some more pages (as I''m sure we can all do about our own ''game'' ideas) but I think that when units can be given AI, linked with player commands, a lot more can be achieved, because it gives the player more time to think things through, to make educated decisions. Strategy will replace speed, even though the game can still run as fast as before.

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Going back to the original question, what I''d love to see in a game (maybe I''ll just have to make it myself!) is a situation where you take a set of your troops and train them with some general stragety.

For instance, you are defending your base. So, you have 3 teams of units at your 3 major entrance points and a 4th group of troops in their barracks (or whatever). When one guard group spots an attack, they''d call for the barracks troops to assist. If things got really bad, they''d call for some of the troops guarding the other enterances.

2nd scenario. Let''s say you''ve scouted your enemy''s base. You "teach" one group to walk in in a phylanex organization with the outerh troops holding shields and the inner firing arrows. Then, when a 2nd group sees the enemy pulling all its catapults to the front of their base to defend, they''ll attach the east wall with ladders and hand weapons... etc.

Finally, your troops would still have an amout of innate independant thought (depending on how well you trained them, morale, etc) to decide when they''ll disobey your trained strategy.

This would allow situations like the barbarians (great individual fighters with little organization) to fight the romans (lesser individual skills but better trained as a group). Giving the ability for a superior stragety to beat superior forces (I know the Romans lost, but they don''t have to in this scenario).

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I don''t know if any of you''ve mentioned this before (I''m too lazy to read it all =o), but what about Rainbow 6? You''d plan out the operation beforehand, and then your team members would execute, with you helping out....

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CLIFFHAWKENS:
I haven''t played Rainbow 6 myself, but from what I''ve heard and read, it sounds like what you say is correct. Imagine that type of gameplay for an RTS, controlling a lot of units (not sure what is viable, but let''s say 100 units), each of those acting on their own set AI. Or some might be grouped into formations, all acting as one.

The player could be one of those units when there''s only a small number of units (10?) involved, much like Rainbow 6. On the grander scale, the player would best take on the role of general, commanding his armies from a hilltop or something.

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