GCG Student Postmortem: 'Blok Wars'

The latest feature for Gamasutra sister educational site Game Career Guide presents a postmortem of Blok Wars, a Lego-based real time strategy ga
The latest feature for Gamasutra sister educational site Game Career Guide presents a postmortem of Blok Wars, made by a team of six students at the University of Abertay Dundee. The game is a Lego-based real time strategy game created with Ogre3D for the Masters in Computer Game Technology. In this excerpt, team member Eddie Long comments on how the team managed to keep the gameplay simple and intuitive, while simultaneously creating a smart and adaptive AI, something that proved particularly challenging for the students: “The gameplay is intuitive, fun, and achieves almost everything we set out to do from the outset. Our original idea was to create a bright and almost cartoony game for a younger than normal RTS gamer and we feel we achieved exactly that. The mechanics of the game work well even if the controls are a little basic. The fact that we cut back the number of units and buildings almost works in our favour as the target audience of the game would need a simple clean interface and having multiple unit and building types confuses matters very quickly. The HUD is quite pretty without being over complex and the game isn't too easy nor is it overly complex for a novice gamer. There was always a danger we would try to mimic features of complex RTS games but we did well to hold ourselves back and keep the gameplay straightforward and fun.” He later adds: “The idea of making an RTS is great in theory but none of us realized just how much was involved in creating decent challenging AI for the genre. Our three-tiered AI system mimics a command structure of a battlefield with the individual units deciding simplistic reactive actions, each unit being part of a squad which has its own task to complete. These squads are controlled by the MasterAI which acts as the general overseeing the whole battle. On top of these there is also a building manager which must decide what to build and where and the strategy manager didn't just attack the player it also had to control the strategic area within the level such as the two bases and the five resource areas. Different team members worked on the different sections, one on pathfinding, one on the individual unit behavior and another on the group and master AI logic. Coordinating these three sections was difficult and involved a lot of communication between the different team members. The AI in the game appears quite smart and provides quite a tough challenge for the player but the teamwork involved in achieving this was the one of the big successes of the development process.” You can read the entire postmortem now, which includes a detailed insight into the development successes and difficulties that went into creating Blok Wars (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).

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