I love video games. I have given more hours of my life to EA Sports and Blizzard than I care to admit.
Many years ago, I had an idea for a video game, with aspects taken from many inspirational sources. I shared it with some friends, and after deciding it was too impractical for the mid-90's, generally abandoned it.
Here's the basic idea:
The layout is very similar to Starcraft and other real-time strategy games. There would be workers gathering resources, buildings, and military units.
What makes this game different is that every single one of those military units would be controlled by a human player. Players who love flight simulators like X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter could play fighter pilots. People who enjoy first-person shooters like Counterstrike or Halo could play infantry units. For those who love games like Mechwarrior, mechanized units. You get the idea.
Then you'd have commanders. One person would be in charge of the harvester units and building, one person would be in charge of defending the base, and another one would be in charge of offense. A fourth could even handle reconnaissance.
And leading it all would be a general. He'd oversee the entire scene and give orders to the commanders, who would in turn give orders to the individual fighters. The general would assign units to the control of a commander.
What would make this interesting is that each fighter unit would have the choice whether or not to obey orders. Will a grunt follow a command to sacrifice himself in order to allow a troop carrier to land in the enemy base? Or will he save his own backside and retreat?
The military units would have interfaces as rich as you find in games like Mechwarrior and Halo... full control over how to fight - much more involved than the basic "fire, wait, fire, wait" model of current RTS games.
Military units would queue up and wait for their character to be "built" in the game. Upgrades researched prior to them entering the game would be applied automatically upon arriving, and later upgrades would also automatically be received.
And once you're dead, you stay dead until the next battle. This would give players even more incentive to stay alive... and be more likely to disobey orders from their commander.
Individual soldiers could earn accolades for killing the most enemy soldiers, taking control of important strategic areas, scouting out enemy bases; the possibilities are endless. After earning so many awards, an individual would be eligible to become a commander if they wanted.
Obviously this would be a massive project, requiring years of work by a bunch of programmers and designers; not to mention it requires tens, if not hundreds, of people to be online, willing to buy into the same goals and ideas.
One of the inspirations for this idea is Ender's Game, one of my favorite books. Generals could pick their own soldiers (or be assigned them) and trade with other generals, just like in Ender's Game. There would be a leaderboard, showing the best armies' statistics and win/loss records, just like in the book. I think the potential prestige involved with being in an elite army would bring lots of players to the table, and I'd limit the battles to maybe one or two a week, so as not to be too demanding on the players' time.
So there it is. I'm not sure if we have the capability of putting it all together yet, but we're a lot closer than we were in 1998.
Let's make it happen, video game developers. And let me know what you think.