Issue 2- Vol. 1 No. 2

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Issue 1 - Vol. 1 No. 1


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The Future of Gaming is the Past- Feature Article by Colin Murcray
Years ago, before computer games existed as anything but money hungry arcade games, the role-playing game began emerging as the lower cost and more flexible alternative to the costly arcades. Supporters of paper and dice games enjoyed the creativity and flexibility of human driven games. The only real downside was time. Everyone who participated had to carve out several hours a week to participate, and game master had to spend twice as much time preparing for the players. As players developed careers and families, it became more and more difficult to carve out a block of time each week to play. The once a week game, became every two weeks, and then every month. Soon, players shelved their rulebooks and gave up trying to fit this demanding hobby into their increasingly busy lives.

Enter the computer games and home arcade systems. Finally, a player could play whenever he or she wanted. The game could always be saved and, would be waiting for your return. Graphics made it even better. But the one thing that was missing was the human element. The computer dictated the direction. All your character could do was make choices and move around.
Next, and the most recent element in gaming, was the online strategy game. Now you could play with other players, and still benefit from the computer generated graphics. It seems we have come full circle, back to the days when you brought your character to a game with a group of other players. However, the problem with the paper and dice games is still there in the online version. If you want to play with a group, you either had to log on at the same time as the rest, or they would move ahead without you. While you could play solo, or just play in pickup games, you have to sacrifice continuity for this freedom.

This, I believe, is what one of our Charter Citizens was talking about in the Imperial Forums. "Tmon" posted an interesting statement on why Imperial Wars might just be what he was looking for. He nails it on the head with this statement: "...I don't have to try and take time away from my family every night in order to keep up." This is exactly why Imperial Wars is the perfect game for the busy player. When I participated in the first beta test (U101), I was initially concerned about the time commitment I had to make. But since player moves could be made at any time, all I had to do was carve out two to three hours a week to develop my strategy, give my fleet orders, and enter my production orders by the set deadline. During the week, I could pop on and check my e-mail from the other players. It was enough to keep me interested the whole time, yet I could play at MY convenience.

Additionally, the only way to win at this game is to interact with other players. Thus, the human element is not only there, it is the main driver of the game. Diplomacy is king in this game. While blasting other players with your massive fleet is still an element of the game, moving that fleet through another player's territory without resistance is another.

My beta testing experience was the most rewarding gaming experience I've had in years. I was able to enjoy the human interaction and play when I was able. We have indeed come full circle in game design. But while computers are still an essential part of Imperial Wars, they serve more as the tool, not the driver, of game play. We, as players, dictate the direction of the game. After all, the human element is what Role Play gaming is all about.

(c) Copyright 2002, Intelligent Life Games(tm)