MIT’s 6.370 Contest

Tuesday, February 25th, 2003

MIT always runs cool contests for its project classes, and this year’s 6.370 competition bears an uncanny resemblance to something I wanted to do almost eight years ago, when Java was new (and real-time strategy games were fairly new too, I guess):

As in last year’s contest, your task will be to develop Java programs that will play a realtime strategy game using virtual droids. Each droid’s hardware will be modelled as a set of abilities which your software will control through a fixed interface. Software will run in timesliced Java virtual machines written in Java, what we will call Droid Virtual Machines (DVMs). Using these abilities, droid software will be able to explore the closed universe and interact with other objects and droids.

This contest is based on realtime (RTS) strategy games. If you are unfamiliar with RTS terminology, please consult our primer. There are some differences to note from traditional RTS:

  • Resources are not gathered and expended from a single, omnipresent “account” for each player. A droid may only gather and spend resources for itself.
  • There is not a single omniscient player controlling the army. Each droid has a limited sensor and radio range and must communicate with other friendly droids to accomplish goals. As such, there is a very foggy fog-of-war in effect.
  • There are no buildings per se. One type of droid is stationary, guards territory, and serves some other functions traditionally associated with buildings. However, they can also run code like other droids.
  • There is no human intervention in the action of your droid army. Once a game begins, your software controls the droids until the game ends or is aborted.

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