RTS interface survey

Critical features

  • Agents maintain autonomy and can take care of themselves
  • Agents can be “chunked” into larger groups that make them more manage able.
  • Large games (>200 agents) allow users to specify tasks without explicitly assigning an agent to the task. In very large games, agents perform nearby tasks automatically.
  • Provide a way to control large groups of agents.
  • games provide effective information filtering and make relevant information easy to access. They also provide different levels of detail.
  • The game keeps the user informed about what's going on. It draws the user's attention to important events.
  • Information levels. RTS games provide effective information filtering.
    • Minimap - They provide a minimap that gives a high level view of the location of all units (friendly and enemy), important details of the map, and the observable area of the map. “Fog of war” means that the operator can only see areas of the map that are currently visible by agents. Most minimaps allow the operator to toggle modes to see different types of information. Global events requiring operator attention (such as a base under attack) or usually shown on the minimap, so the operator knows where to look. May also show other high level information (units that are under attack flash). The minimap means that the operator can concentrate on a local group of units while still keeping an eye on what's happening globally.
    • Levels of detail - The operator can specify what level of detail they want to see. The minimap provides a very high level overview of the system “at a glance”. The main screen usually allows the operator to zoom in and out. As the operator zooms in, more detail and information is displayed. This helps avoid overwhelming the operator with too much information. For example, AI war (1000s of agents) only displays icons with a border indicating behavior when zoomed out, but displays more information as you zoom in, such as health, cooldown time, status, etc. Important status effects are easily visible, (buffs on friendly units, unit posture), especially status that requires attention (burning buildings). The operator can get additional detail by selecting units. This displays more detailed information about the units, including their abilities. The operator can select an individual unit for complete information about it.
    • Feedback within the “field of view” - this is typically done with sounds. The closer you are to something, the more clearly you hear it. When you are looking at an agent, you will hear sounds they are making. These sounds serve to keep the operator informed about the agents state and the state of all agents in the area. You can easily here, for example, approximately how many enemies are attacking and which units are firing back.
    • Overlays. The game typically provides information overlays that display a specific set of information. The operator can activate them with buttons or hotkeys. For example, unit range, where the unit is moving to and what high level behavior the operator has specified for that agent (AI war).
    • Context sensitive information. For example, when placing a building, only legal placement options are highlighted. The cursor is also context sensitive. Changes based on the type of action the agent will perform when the mouse is clicked (defend, attack, heal etc).
  • Operator feedback
    • The game keeps the operator informed. When events happen the require operator attention, the game generates some type of alert. There's usually a way to center the view on the event so the operator can immediately respond.
    • Attention is drawn to important information both globally and locally where the operator is looking.
  • Autonomy - Agents are autonomous and can take care of themselves. The more agents the game has, the more autonomous the agents tend to be.
    • Agents will keep themselves out of trouble. They avoid bumping into other agents. They can follow paths and execute orders from the operator autonomously. They automatically react to threats (enemy agents) appropriately. Military agents return fire, construction agents flee to keep themselves alive. Nearby agents will come to help when a battle starts near to them.
    • Alert the operator when exceptional conditions are encountered. Agents know when they need assistance from the operator or encounter something that would be important. This generates an alert to tell the operator what's going on.
  • Controlling Agents.
    • Can tell agents to perform high level actions
  • Multiple operators
    • Chat - allows them to communicate
    • “Flare” - found in most games. Allows operator to indicate a region of interest on the map. May be displayed directly on the map or on the minimap. Could also be displayed on a global map (AI war). Allows players to generate “this needs attention” type events that work the same way as other events in the game. Draw operator attention to a specific task.
    • In games where control is shared, operators can usually see where other operators are look and which units they have selected.
    • C&C provides a set of “co-commander” actions that specify high level requests to an allied ai, such as “attach this position”, “defend” or “hold this area”.
    • Can annotate map or playing area to provide instructions.

** Agent

  • Task Assignment
    • Easy to see which tasks can be selected
hcmi/brian_pendleton_rts.txt · Last modified: 2014/08/13 22:15 by tlund1
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