RTS, or Real-time strategy games, have been with us since the birth of the first games that ever graced computer screens.
With some recent client work, I’ve been doing quite a bit of homework on strategy game interfaces; I dug out all my old games, played and screen-captured over two dozen game interfaces, mocked up a massive amount of approaches to problems, and talked with some friends in the gaming industry. As a UI designer, I’m fascinated to see how it’s developed in the last 20 years and in which direction it is now headed.
It’s quite interesting to look not just at where we’re heading, but also where we’ve come from. Since the invention of chess and other similar strategic board games, it’s clear that people love the tactile experience that manipulating ‘units’ gives. However, with today’s world of massive virtual representations of battlefields, this feeling has been diluted significantly. The relevant question for me is, obviously, how multi-touch devices like the iPhone can bring back the sweaty palms and rush that you experience forward the first pawn in a game of chess.