You might recall that prominent Total War tinkerer Darth Vader (no relation) loudly announced his retirement from modding last September after a perceived snub by Creative Assembly, who he claimed had consistently “[devalued] my efforts to improve their games”.
Thankfully, he’s managed to that harness that bitterness to fuel something creative. With the help of a band of “very talented” programmers, he’s taken up residence in Sid Meier’s old haunt, Gettysburg(!), to develop the first game in a new series named Ultimate General.
Nick ‘Darth’ Thomadis is building his new Civil War battle-scale RTS around four principles: battle realism, deep gameplay with less complexity, good AI, and connection with players. He has specific, detailed definitions for each, but it’s the AI stuff that sounds particularly fascinating.
“A strategy that is easy to beat offers only [a] few gameplay hours and can be really frustrating, if [the] AI is a complete fool,” notes Darth on his new site. “Now, I have the chance to design an AI that can make a proper firing line, that can flank, that can understand where and when to attack… in real time.
Darth admits that might not sound especially impressive, but suggests that very few games offer the same – at least, not as “a whole working set”.
“Most RTS games make the AI tough by providing better fighting statistics per higher difficulty rate or hide its incompetence by speeding up everything so the player cannot catch up with all simultaneous actions,” he explains. “This is a cheap cheat! My goal is to make the AI effective and able to win you without these tricks. And from first looks it seems we have succeeded in that.”
Darth promises a good look at his new AI system in the near future. In the meantime, there’s this piece of promo art:
It’s planned for PC and Mac – “any PC”, in fact, thanks to Darth’s ongoing game of system requirements limbo. Are you interested?