Achron – meta-time strategy game

Posted: 23rd August 2009 by Maxim Bardin in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Achron is not Real Time Strategy game (RTS) it’s well beyond this “simple” aspect and deserves it’s own category of game genre.

Achron is still in heavy development and will have a GNU/Linux client in the future.
This game promises to be revolutionary in terms of gameplay.
It plays like RTS game but you can go back in time and undo your moves, go back to present and see the outcome.
If your opponent changes the present you will be notified and could go back to that time line and try to change it again.
Achron has a speed control that let’s you play in slow-motion, fast forward and even pause the game to give commands.

How would combat change if you could foresee the future? If you could prevent your past mistakes from ever happening? What if your enemy could too?

Achron is the first game to feature single-player and multiplayer free-form time travel. It is the world’s first meta-time strategy game, a real-time strategy game where players and units can jump to and play at different times simultaneously and independently.

You can undo your mistakes, change your strategy after committing to it, preview the future, freeze time to perfectly coordinate attacks, and send entire fleets through time to when they are needed. However, all of your opponents will also be independently moving across time, attempting to rewrite history in their favor…

TS – Real Time Strategy
Achron is a futuristic RTS featuring three races with vastly different playing styles where you create your buildings and army, explore the map, expand to acquire more resources, upgrade your tech tree, and engage in combat with your foes.

Timeline and Timewaves
Like many other games, Achron allows the player to view an overhead map of the surrounding area. However, Achron also shows a map of the timeline. If the player is attacked at a certain point in time, the timeline will show the amount of damage received at that point by a large amount of red on that portion of the timeline. The timeline also shows information including damage dealt and chronoports. Being able to see the amount of available resources at any point in time helps the player figure out the best points in time to construct more units.

Information on the timeline can be lumped into three categories:
1) A map of time – “Your opponent will attack you in 1 minute”
2) Inform strategy – “You should have taken advantage of your resources and built a larger army 2 minutes ago, go change the past”
3) Changes to the timeline – “Your opponent just undid an entire battle in the past”

Changes in history are not instantly propagated through the timeline, but instead are brought forward via evenly separated timewaves, giving the player opportunities to plan and react to those past changes before the next time wave sweeps by. These changes from the revised history are not reflected on the players’ screens until the proper timewave passes the player.

To prevent all players from always playing in the far past, their ability to change the past is limited by chronoenergy, a regenerating resource. Each command issued to every unit in the past consumes chronoenergy, limiting how much a player can change and play in the past. It is much more costly to modify a battle that occurred six minutes ago than a battle that happened only 30 seconds ago.

A hierarchy is created when the player directs units to report to another unit, turning that chosen unit into a commander. The player can then direct commanders to report to other units, creating a command hierarchy tree. Since each command issued in the past consumes chronoenergy, the player can use the hierarchy to control any number of units by issuing just one command to the top level commander. In addition to enabling the player to change history without using up more chronenergy, the command hierarchy assists with some micromanagement. For example, any unit under attack in an otherwise idle hierarchy group will summon the wrath of the rest of the group, even when it’s beyond the group’s visibility range. Hierarchies also add flexibility to the player in terms of how groups of units move and attack, allowing the player to control units at any level within a hierarchy.

Speed Controls
The speed controls allow the player to progress through time at different rates. Pause and slow-mo can be used by the player to issue precise orders in a hectic situation, while playing in fast-forward is useful for players replaying in the past. Playing in fast-forward allows the player to catch up to the present. Fast-forward is particularly useful because when a player spends time in the past, the present has advanced by the same amount of time.

In Achron, the players are able to send units through time, a process we call Chronoporting. If teleporting is instantly jumping through space, chronoporting is instantly jumping through time. This ability adds interesting new strategies as well as the creation of paradoxes which are automatically resolved by the game via the process discussed on the paradoxes page.

Many games utilize the concept of tele-fragging someone, where you destroy your opponent by teleporting to the same location as them. In Achron, a Chronofrag is when a unit travels through time but winds up occupying the same space as another unit. The weaker of the two units will be destroyed, while the stronger will immediately incur the appropriate amount of damage as they cannot both occupy the same space at the same time.

There are three races in Achron, each with its own unique style of gameplay.
Vecgir: Rugged masters of teleportation
Grekim: Mobile masters of time travel
Humans: Specialized masters of offense

Resequence Engine

The Resequence Engine is a flexible game engine that enables multiple players and agents within the game to perform free-form time travel within a time window. It is a stable, high-performance game engine that can be used to create a variety of different game types beyond RTS. The core gameplay mechanisms, in-game scripting, and user interface are all fully customizable.

Serious Gaming, Training, & Multi-Temporal Decision Support Platform

The technology behind Achron’s Resequence engine opens up avenues for practical applications beyond time travel in video games. We have received significant interest in using this technology for serious games such as military and corporate applications. The main applications are as follows:

Training: Resequence can be used to teach causality and long-term effects. Because users can play at any point on the timeline, they must constantly evaluate and reevaluate the consequences of each of their decisions. If a user has made a mistake, the user can go back in time, retract commands, and re-issue new commands to the units. Players are thus able to change history, blurring the boundary between hypothetical and committed decisions. In particular, the player can revisit critical decision points, learn what decisions had the most long-term impact, and use statistical information on the timeline to make more informed decisions.

Finding Best-Response Strategies: Resequence’s support for multiple users to simultaneously change history can further enhance training. Each user can take advantage of an opponent’s strategic weaknesses in the past, and each user can correct mistakes in strategy and determine the best response to their opponent. This helps users to find minmax strategies, that is, strategies that minimize the maximum possible loss. Loss of information asymmetry can be severely detrimental to a given strategy, but Resequence pushes users to account for the possibility that their opponent may learn of their strategy before it is executed. Users can look into the future to see what the outcomes of their current strategies and their opponent’s strategies will be.

Qualitative Sensitivity Analysis of Simulations: Given a particular simulation, a user can revisit decision points on the timeline and determine their long-term effects. Seemingly major decisions may turn out to have little impact on long-term effects. Similarly, seemingly minor effects, such as improper etiquette with a local leader, may drastically alter the course of events. Resequence provides a new interface to drive simulations for exploring the effects of decisions.

Collaborative Planning: Multiple users can simultaneously edit a strategic plan, with information on the timeline guiding the users to prevent conflicting plans. Resequence can be viewed in this regard as an automatically merging configuration management system for strategies. The merging of plans is done by time waves, which carry the causality of changes in the past to the future. As events change on the timeline, the statistics depict change and pulse so a user can see how other players are affecting the time line.

Time Waves as a Computation Model
In the abstract sense, threads refer to different computational tasks running at the same time on different parts of some larger task. Time Waves, which are one of the cornerstones of Resequence, turn threads on their side; time waves operate on the same task but at different points in time. Threads and time waves are thus orthogonal and may be combined.

Time waves are a new model to run simulations or even deployed software wherever a user wants to change the history of an application while it is running (e.g., removing a fault that occurred in the past, fast-forwarding the change to the present) or wants to run a simulation which uses its own future output as input for predicting the future (e.g., financial modeling). Time waves may be used instead of or as a complement to reversible computing.

It’s very hard to find useful/interesting screenshots for this game (at this point), but I highly recommend watching the videos so you can understand better the gameplay and concept.

Achron Homepage

Achron youtube channel

Time Paradox Explained