sporeme.jpg ['My Perfect Game' is a new irregular feature, where we ask 'interesting people' what their perfect video game would be like. This third instalment is from IGDA's Independent Games SIG co-ordinator Michael Lubker, and deals with his particular obsession - strategy games.]

My perfect *strategy* game would be more about characters and influence. What training your character (leader) has would affect what types of units in a city would be attracted to you and come under your control. Fighting monsters would impress city leaders and attract them to you, or you could send in assassins or gossips and undermine a city's leadership. Don't always start out as an empire leader, but maybe a small town, and influence others (through battles, charisma gained by training and influencing certain groups of people, or all-over charisma by defending towns), diplomacy (influenced by charisma), economics, or covert ops) until you lead a large group. Also, control is important, I'm very much looking forward to strategy games on the Wii.

Resources - I have to say resources are important, and I actually like collection and using economies. I do think it would be interesting to have one or more characters that you actually control as in the above example, so you might zoom out to standard RTS mode and build some buildings (like for example a smithy) and then zoom in, select your character, and have him get training from that smith, thus upgrading his stats for armor and weapons, or buy a weapon from the smith (which comes from your overall resource stock). I'd like to see more economics and not so many RTT's.

Research - technology trees are great, but I'd like to see more connected units such as groups of researcher characters working together. It would be interesting to have scientist "hero" characters that each can learn things from mentors (who live in buildings built in RTS mode) and create new innovations. Each scientist could have his own tech tree which can cross pollinate with others' training and innovations, thus giving you a much wider range of technology. Lego-style creation, as in Alpha Centauri, Impossible Creatures, and Spore, is a great thing to have as well.

Diplomacy - I would like to see much more diplomacy in AI. I know that is a challenge, but an important one. I would like to see more trading abilities as well as effects based on influence and covert operations.

Mounts and Vehicles - I'd like to see mounts and vehicles need riders/pilots, not come with them.

Training and Building - I'd like to see units need training, start out as a worker, then be mentored by various people who live in the buildings you build. And you can zoom in and take control of any character and build him up into a new leader, start a civil war, and install a new character in the palace. Characters should also be customizable (clothing, personality, etc) and saveable, and persistant.

Building should be handled better, with people actually becoming "part of" the building and working there. Also it would be interesting to have people take shelter during rain. Strategy games should also have the option to build roads between buildings ala SimCity (and have pathfinding use the roads you build). It would also add a lot to strategy games to have disasters as in SimCity.

Multiplayer: I like the trend toward multiplayer campaigns and persistant systems. But I would really like it if you could build up and customize characters which you can import into battles. Say, you have your Super Scientist who has all these neat inventions, which you can then use in your next game, and your ally has another, and they cross-pollinate their ideas...

The 'Massively Singleplayer' game idea in Spore is also interesting, as it could be applied to other strategy games too... for example, imagine Rise of Nations' campaign with it averaging out everyone's mileage (not including your country, yours is affected by you) so that you see other countries' territories changing based on real stats from other players' campaigns.

[If you think you fit our random arbitrary definition of an 'interesting person' and would like to contribute, please mail us at editors@gamesetwatch.com to check (IMPORTANT - email address is now fixed, sorry if you tried before and it bounced!), and you can write about your perfect game, too. Otherwise - don't call us, we'll call you!]