An RTS on the web ?

04Mar08

In this post, I will talk about the session I started at the latest BarCampAlsace (BarCampAlsace5 more precisely).

As Stéphane is working in the video game business, and I work in the web business, we thought that an hybrid concept between this two fields could be cool. Obviously, we had the idea of a game on the web (because the web in a game is not as fun). We choose the RTS genre as it is kind of dead nowadays and we both love it.

So, the discussion started about the definition of RTS and what this acronym stands for. Hopefully, wikipedia as a great definition of RTS.

As we talked about different technologies to use (Flash, Silverlight, AIR, etc), I felt the need to explain that I’d love to use Google Maps (and its API) and build the game around it. Indeed, in the RTS genre, the map is a key element.

First, I explain how Google Maps works.

It’s like a stencilled (“pochoir” in french) where the map is behind the “hole”.

And, when you drag the map with your mouse, you actually move the map behind the hole.

The map is in fact divided in little pieces called “tiles”. Each pieces is a PNG image.

To avoid waiting too much longer when dragging the map, Google Maps downloads a lot more tiles that just the ones that are under the “hole” (and different strategies could be applied here).

At this point, the discussion heated up about how we could use the data provided by Google Maps (of course, we discussed, copyrights and money too). And there’s really two different ways to see the story of a game based on these technological concepts :

  • use the Google Maps data and build a game like “find secret societies around your neighboorhood” (search if your neighbour is a member of Skulls and Bones).
  • make your own tiles and build the game around whatever theme you want (like MapWow did)

Stephane and me really prefered the second solution as we wanted to build an RTS in the Heroic Fantasy world.

Furthermore, we discussed general gameplay that could be applied to online and perpetual games (like WoW) :

  • planifying to attack your japanese and australian friends when they are asleep
  • planifying giant attacks with 40+ people
  • sharing limited resources among several people (like the DKP method)

Of course, we also discussed the different business models that could applied to this kind of game :

  • advertisements
  • premium accounts where you could access tools to organize a guild
  • fee on micro transactions

All in all, the session was very funny and constructive (of course, that was at BarCampAlsace !). And I really hope I will have some time to code the ideas we talked about.

 



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