The Math behind online strategy games

Online strategy games are the kind people play on Facebook , with thousands of multiple users logging in. The graphics are not as demanding as those in a virtual world (like www.secondlife.com or World of Warcraft http://www.worldofwarcraft.com )

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These graphical games are hugely entertaining and addictive. unfortunately World of Warcraft is not present either in India or China.

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However this post talks about simpler games (which are more like optimization problems). Here gamers get a specific or variable game currency to spend (which can be tokens, gold ,or dollars). The amounts can be fixed or varying dependent on current position. The gamer then has to allocate the currency into multiple resources that increase his net worth (or prevent his net worth from decreasing by other gamer’s interventions “attacks”) .  These multiple resources can be defensive (to prevent other gamers from stealing worth or value/score) , aggresive (to steal other gamers value) or passively accretive (enhances value on stand alone basis). Usually the costs of these resources are different with different benefits . The benefits are either fixed (like in the http://www.facebook.com games Triumph or Return of the Infernals ..below) or they vary (as in the game DopeWars Online).

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To further enhance the optimization complexity , gamers can form alliances or cartels to co ordinate strategy against other gamers.

Such games help in simulating operations production, market forces in business strategy (like the beer game) , and have now taken the leap into free online games thanks to Google’s Open social initiative and Facebook’s  pioneering application building by third party developers.

Ultimately they are simply optimization equations which seek to maximize net worth or score of a player subject to multiple fixed and variable constraints.

A good website to track the world of games is www.gamespot.com

This is a fast growing industry and creativity in designing a simple front end,financial resources to host servers , and some maths to run the back end optimization is all that is required .

You might just get some interesting cash flows from advertising, in game promotions,premium subscriptions , and bonus packs besides enjoying the game of course.

Author: Ajay Ohri

http://about.me/ajayohri

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