nuWar: A Prototype Sketch-based Strategy Game

Greg Dunham, Ken Forbus, and Jeffrey Usher

Today’s military strategy games provide unrealistic interfaces for players to interact with their units: Commanders don’t use mice and menus, they sketch. Developing strategy games currently involves grafting AI capabilities on top of a separate simulation engine, with new hand-crafted strategies for each game. We are experimenting with a novel approach for solving both problems. We started with nuSketch Battlespace, a knowledge-rich sketch understanding system developed for military users, and built a game engine, nuWar, on top of it. nuWar is a prototype two-player tactical war game which can be played either hot-seat or over a network. nuWar uses sketching as the primary way for players to express their intent to their subordinate commanders. The underlying ontology used by nuSketch Battlespace is used in both the simulation engine and in the bots which serve as subordinate commanders. We describe the architecture of nuWar, focusing on how it uses sketching, how the simulation engine is built upon the rich representational facilities of nuSketch Battlespace, and how the bots work. We discuss the tradeoffs we have found in this approach so far, and describe our plans for future work.

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