Q&A With D. Ezra Sidran PhD of the Kickstarter PC Game 'General Staff' http://general-staff.com/ https://www.kickst...

Q&A With D. Ezra Sidran PhD of the Kickstarter PC Game 'General Staff' Q&A With D. Ezra Sidran PhD of the Kickstarter PC Game 'General Staff'

Q&A With D. Ezra Sidran PhD of the Kickstarter PC Game 'General Staff'

Q&A With D. Ezra Sidran PhD of the Kickstarter PC Game 'General Staff'


Q&A With D. Ezra Sidran PhD of the Kickstarter PC Game 'General Staff'






http://general-staff.com/


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1366362068/general-staff-game-of-military-tactics-and-wargami/description




1. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your work on AI?

I started writing computer games in the ‘80s and I had two #1 games (UMS: The Universal Military Simulator and Designasaurus). Mostly I’m known for commercial wargames. In 2003 I returned to college and earned a doctorate in computer science. My doctoral research (can be downloaded for free here: http://www.riverviewai.com/download/SidranThesis.html) is about tactical artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. I’ve had a number of papers published about AI for wargames (they can be downloaded here: http://riverviewai.com/papers/index.html ). After receiving my doctorate I consulted for DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), the US Army, the US Department of Defense and the US Office of Naval Research (US Marines).


2. Some of us remember you from the older game series Universal Military Simulator in the 1990s. Please tell us a little about those games, and what you did and didn't like about the finished products.

The three big computer wargames that I wrote were UMS: The Universal Military Simulator, UMS II: Nations at War and The War College. UMS was a #1 game in 1989. UMS2 was named wargame of the year. UMS and UMS2 were both big wargame construction sets that allowed the user to create their own armies, maps and battles.

What I liked about these games was their flexibility and the way that users could adjust every variable used in combat resolution. The problem that I ran into was that these were big ambitious projects and I was constantly bumping up against computers with limited memory in those days. Consequently, for UMS2, we had to use a memory / hard disk paging system that could bog down on old machines. None of that is necessary with today’s computers.


3. I suppose this is the biggest question: Why is 'General Staff' different than other PC wargames, and why should we support your efforts? (This is highly subjective and readers please understand that I am sold on the concept).

General Staff is the first computer wargame construction system in over twenty years. You have complete control and can design armies, maps and battles from the 17th, 18th and 19th century. I have been developing the AI for General Staff for almost 15 years. I sincerely believe that it is the best tactical wargame AI that is available. It is also a learning AI. That is to say, the more you play against it, the better it gets. This is the first commercial implementation of the AI research that I originally did for DARPA.


4. I see that so far your Kickstarter has met two stretch goals, and has brought in over twice the amount of money needed for funding the project. Are there anymore stretch goals to be added? What does the future hold for 'General Staff'?

Kickstarter backers of General Staff are pushing me to add online player vs. player. This is far outside my area of expertise so right now I’m emailing every developer I know asking for advice and suggestions as to how to implement this. I’m getting a lot of good feedback. I know the users want to play against other people around the globe and I promise I’ll do everything I can to implement such a system.

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