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AI War Competition - Winning Entries

Posted by Dave Seaman on Saturday, 1 May 2010

For this competition to win the superb indie strategy game AI War along with the expansion pack The Zenith Remnant, we asked you to come up with the strangest workable strategy game idea you could. We had some truly crazy ideas, here are four winners. Since I didn't have a fifth winner, I'm going to send that out as a review copy in the near future.

The winning ideas were (in no particular order):

Idea One - Chemistry

You produce assorted chemical units, whose properties are directly related to their actual chemical compounds, polycarbons, acids, bases, elements, ionic compounds, etc. so for example if you had an iron based unit and the enemy had one with an oxygen based attack, the enemy would get bonuses as iron will oxidize readily (aka rusting). However if you brought a zinc based unit along also, as zinc will oxidize before iron, it will essentially absorb the damage allowing your iron based unit to beat on the opposition nearly unopposed. The environment of course would generally be a liquid solution, and its properties could effect how different reactions (attacks) perform, more basic or acidic solutions or having different concentrations of ambient chemicals. To add an interesting twist, you are a bacteria (or maybe a virus) and all these units are your chemical attacks on other bacteria/viruses. United would be diverse, to say the least, even if you don’t bother with chirality. On the other hand bonuses/weakness would seem fairly arbitrary for anyone not exceptionally familiar with chemistry, so it may not do well, and might not even be fun, but it is certainly bizare.

Idea Two - Jeri

It is 1950 but in an alternate universe. The Germans have won World War II about there are new threats on the horizon - What's left of the former US and British Governments form an alliance with a faction of the Alien refugee race, Jeri. The Jeri would fight along side humans on both the rebel allied government and the Nazis. Jeri aliens would be seen using American/British and German uniforms with their human counterparts. The Soviet union was irradiated from German atomic bombs, leaving many of people of the Russian Steppes mutated and viscous. This would present another Faction and obstacle for the Rebels and Germans. Stalin is killed, but great soviet commander Georgy Zhukov takes command of these mutant forces. Who will the fight for Earth?

Jeri - Alien Refugee Race that crash landed at Roswell and brought to the rebel side, though Germans had Jeri captive using their technology for years and ultimately Hitler brainwashed some Jeri to join his side.

You would play as a commander for either of the 3 factions. Wether this is a Real-Time, Turn Based, Grand Strategy or Tactical RTS is up to the developer.

Idea Three - "Memento Mori" 

Game takes place on a dead body. Player (one or more) is a "leader" of a colony of maggots/roaches/bacteria and must conquer and eat all of available tasty, soft decaying flesh of a fresh corpse. Adversaries are other players playing other maggots/roaches/flesh eating bacteria. During the course of the game player can take some evolutionary paths for his colony that enable him to add various buffs to colony or develop defensive measures to better protect himself. Catch is, you can only make one choice on a given tier and that choice leads to limited numbers of other evolutionary choices which are sometimes randomized, making player carefully think about which ones to take. Random missions should sometimes pop up enabling players to reap tasty rewards for doing something really gross (eg. populate one eyeball and completely devour it, bonus points if you manage to get two of them in one go) and all sorts of bizarre achievements could be awarded for 1337 carrion skills and antics (e.g. Uranus - you have successfully established a colony in your enemy's rear :3 ). Universe size is randomly determined and is represented in various body sizes. Special encounters are with snails, worms, flies and mucus that represent monsters and you can find all sorts of different stuff in pockets of deceased's attire.
Cataclysmic events could be random floods, examinations by the police and coroners...

Idea Four

One competitor had two interesting ideas - I'm only giving out one copy of AI War and the Zenith Remnant Expansion Pack per competitor, but I thought I'd post both ideas:

A)
Microscale / Computer Strategy War: Folders/ files / hard drives. That means that files are smallest unit you can create, and obviously there are a lot of different ones - docs, rtfs, docX and as elite units, pdfs, for example. They have all different advantages and disadvantages. The maps of this game are different hard drives, with environmental hazards: Fragmentation, wiping of hard drives, different sectors, and file systems. Other maps would include External drives, optical media, flash ROMs - all slightly different! Other units would come from other applications - Graphics, music, this would need to be discussed in a design meeting. Those small units would band together - several text-type documents could form a 'paper'. A paper is more powerful, as it is more robust. Files can be bunkered and go into cover in folders, and subfolder - some hidden. Other secret units exist, which are defending your area on the medium, like dlls. It would be possible to structure different files (Possibly as a subgoal/mission) into MEGAstructures - the awesome PROGRAMS. So basically, the advantages/bizarreness would be: Graphical freedom to express ourselves in any way we want. Familiar structures (Files) would engage in fantastical combat. Clever thinking would be necessary to evade environmental hazards, like viruses or other save unit hazards.

B) Gravitational Megascale Wars:
Our universe is not in balance! Your task, balance as much as possible of the universe into gravitational balance, before the rivals do!

At the beginning, every player would have different galaxies, which are made up of different kinds of matters in different orbits. Every part of matter has a gravitational field. Link some parts together, and they will form a larger mass, and if consisting of the right elements, a SUN. Suns live only for some time, but generate energy, which is necessary to link matter. Another means to generate energy is that gravitational links and balances generate energy as well. Once the player has accumulated enough energy, he will be able to link in stable orbits planetoids, comets, Planets, solar systems and finally galaxies. he can also send planetary bodies adrift to his enemy, to unbalance his galaxies. Suns will die at some point, and depending on the initial elements, become dwarfs, pulsars, or the fearsome black holes. The player would be best advised to have balanced his galactic cores / galaxies by then, or the gravitational fields may become way to strong and consume his hard work, especially if the rival player sends some planets over....

So basically that would be game which would be immensely easy to grasp, but very challenging, as the player needs to keep his balance while creating energy to unbalance the enemy...


If any developers chance upon this and are interested in actually developing one of the ideas into a real game, and I'll put you in touch with the person who came up with the concept.  If any games do come out of this - whether they are indie, freeware or even commercial, I'd love to hear about them. 

Congratulations to our winners, who will soon be enjoying playing AI War.

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