With Magic Leap One already here for developers to develop apps and games for, I’m also here to give you some great ideas and inspire you to create great things. I do my best to promote new technologies and I want to help developers make great apps for those new platforms, so we all can enjoy the fruits of their hard work. In the end, everybody benefits from it, the hardware creators, the software developers and the user who uses them.
New Game Subgenre: Spatial RTS
In this article, I am trying to invent a new game subgenre which I call Spatial RTS or in its long form Spatial Real-time Strategy. This subgenre is based on a subgenre called Real-time strategy (RTS), which in itself is a subgenre of strategy video games.
In this article, I will describe how I vision this type of game genre to be played in mixed reality
Spatial means relating to space, or as Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it: “relating to, occupying, or having the character of space” or “of, relating to, or involved in the perception of relationships (as of objects) in space”.
Spatial RTS games are types of real-time strategy games that uses the user’s environment as the level within which the real-time strategic gameplay takes place. This means that almost any aspect of the game is designed to take advantage, as much as possible, of the available features that mixed reality has to offer but most importantly the use of 3D Spatial mapping of the environment.
Furthermore, in spatial RTS games, we put emphasis on advanced character AI behavior, in order to make those characters look and feel like they are aware of the available space in which the game plays at, as well as the user’s location and actions. We want the user to be an integral part of the experience, not just being an observer. This is also one of the features that are part of the subgenre’s definition.
When realized in mixed reality Spatial RTS can deliver an experience that feels new and fresh with gameplay mechanics that are completely fresh and unique.
The important thing is to make the experience different than the standard RTS games or AR games that are built like board games. By using the latest mixed reality technologies, we can redefine RTS games and deliver a gameplay experience that is unique when runs on these type of spacial computing mixed reality platforms.
Magic Leap One is a mixed reality spatial platform, which includes among of its other accessories, a mixed reality headset. The headset can scan and generate a 3D mesh of your physical space. By doing so, it actually creates a custom level that is a digital volume replica of the physical space that overlaps the real world objects. This means that developers can use this 3D scene to place objects in the real world scene, so they appear like they are placed on top, behind, below, inside or in front of real-world objects.
The Spatial RTS subgenre inherits many of its parent RTS genre, including the need to position and maneuver units and structures and secure areas in the room and destroy their opponent’s assets, etc.
Spatial RTS brings new features that many of them can only be realized in mixed reality, including but not limited to:
- Position structure and units on the physical environment, this includes also behind, below, and on top objects and surfaces
- The user plays an active part in the experience
- Enemy and friendly units are aware of the player’s location, as well as his opponent’s location
- The game takes place on a variety of detectable objects and surfaces. I also consider having some units that are usable (for both players) only if some detectable objects exist in the room, to add more dynamic gameplay.
Working on this section, stay tuned.
Let’s Design a Spatial RTS game
The best thing I can do is to try to describe how a Spatial RTS game plays. Try to invent a new game that matches the specific genre characteristics so you can comprehend the differences more clearly. Part of the Spatial RTS experience is that the player is not just an observer, but its presence (e.g. location, hand gesture) affects the gameplay itself as well.
Users can choose where to put the base
In Spatial RTS, the players can choose where to place their base when the game starts. The game can be played against an AI or another opponent or opponents. Each player can put his base before the game starts. The other players cannot see where each user puts the base. Users can see how the other users move their controller, but we use the swipe gesture on the touchpad so it won’t get clear when the user accepts a position.
this can lead to funny situations where users spawn based very close to each other. Also because the “map” isn’t created by the developer, and therefore it might not be balanced well for automatic placement of 2 or more players, therefore we give the users the option to choose.
Game Units Ideas for a Spatial RTS Game
Some parts of the map might not be connected well to other parts (we consider that bed meshing can occur). This doesn’t matter, because we have units that are designed ro roam through space.
Once the base is set up, the user can choose between a variety of units. Because this is Spatial RTS, we can have units like as follows (I use arbitrary names, and I just give some examples of units, more to come soon):
- Sky Crawlers – units that once deployed are sent to the sky (the ceiling) and then crawl on the ceiling and positioned automatically above opponents. Once an opponent is detected, they can automatically fly down and attack them from above. Users will need specific air defense to be able to eliminate them.
- Jumpers – land units that can jump from one place to another with a certain gap height and distance, let’s sat around1 feet (30cm) in each radius direction.
- Ninjas (this is huge!) – land units that move quickly on surfaces and can automatically hide behind objects! Yes, make units that use occlusion in mixed reality, and can hide in holes, under the table, behind objects, so the enemy user, unless he or she moves in space, won’t be able to spot them. Those units are aware of the real user location and try their best to hide from sight! Ninjas can also climb up on slopes.
- Air striker – an air unit that once deployed, stays in the air and attacks both air and land units. You’ll need Anti-aircraft (AA) guns to protect yourself and be able to destroy air units.
- Clocked units – this type of units are invisible units that move around the battlefield, they become visible when in a close proximation from enemy units.
- Scout units – scout units are designed to reveal hidden Ninjas, clocked units, hidden powerups (once that are out of sight and highlight them). You create them and they start moving around the room, searching for those enemy units.
- Command unit – command unit are special units that will position themselves automatically near other units in strategic locations but won’t engage in a fight until the user users hand gesture to approve their attack. They improve the stats of other units but needed to control manually. Once you give an order using hand gesture (e.g. OK) the commander and the unit attack. The commander will look at you and you’ll hear him asking “Waiting for your command”, then when you signal the unit, it attacks and you enjoy the benefits of an extra shield, speed and attack speed. I don’t want to use hand gesture heavily in the game, and this why I use it only in certain parts, like in this command unit.
- Hack Unit – based on the initial draft, which means that if we detect a certain object (object detection feature) in the scene, we can deploy a certain unit, but only if that condition is met. The Hack unit can (vicrutally) hack computers (e.g. laptop, PC) if detected. It get near the laptop, and then it initiates a hack that takes 20 seconds. If successful (the unit isn’t destroyed) it reavels all enemies on the map for 15 seconds.
More units to come, stay tuned. You can help add new ones by commenting in the comment section below and give your ideas.
The game also has unique build structures that are designed by blocking entrances to specific areas. For example, building a wall that prevents Ninjas from climbing on slopes. The game also has unique powerups that users can pick up. They spawn only after the game begins, some users will be lucky, others won’t. This gives users excitement, as they want to see if their chosen location yields any closeby powerups or not. Power-ups include faster shooting, extra shield, fast movement speed, etc.
Now keep in mind that I just gave some basic ideas to what units should be in the game and inspire you to create new ones. The idea is to have units that have special abilities in relation to the game’s space in mixed reality. Sometimes even consider ing the early stages of the technology and make units that can work well with not perfectly scanned objects and surfaces.
Player’s Role and Interaction
Other then controlling just the units in the room, the players themselves can affect directly what’s happening in the battlefield. For example, when a player physically moves around and sports a hidden enemy, it is highlighted and its visible on the map for 30 seconds even when behind cover. This is why some units are aware of the opponent’s location and try to hide and prevent themselves from being detected.
Players can also have units that create materials. Those materials can be used by the player to build blocks using the Controller. Those blocks can prevent or delay units from getting into specific places.
More to come…
The great things about Spatial RTS is that it happens all around you in a specific room. You can play against an AI or invite a friend to play with. The game units are designed to make that spatial gameplay experience fun and exciting with great replay value in mixed reality.
I have many ideas that I still want to add, but due to lack of time, I need to finish this article. Of course, I will put more time into refining it and adding new ideas. You can help me as well by adding your ideas on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and tag them under #SpatialRTS.
Stay tuned for more information and let’s make this subgenre something exciting that gamers will want to play in mixed reality, whether it’s for the Magic Leap One, HoloLens or any other mixed reality platform that comes out.
Remember: everything we add should make it specially designed to take advantage of the meshing, occlusion and collision features in order to make the game fun an exciting to play in mixed reality and make it play differently than any other platform. I mean, Ninjas hiding behind an object and evading being seen by the user, this is huge and we need more great ideas like that.
If you want to develop this type of game, I am open to help you out so message me on twitter or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget #SpatialRTS for sharing the word. Thank you and let’s make great things together!