Why a Kickstarter Campaign?

I have been working on General Staff, completely unfunded, for about two years. Why ask for funding now? Good question.

In 2013 I was diagnosed with a very rare, and usually fatal, blood disease called AL Amyloidosis (it’s similar to the cancer Multiple Myeloma but is even rarer). In 2014 I received a bone marrow transplant followed by a year of chemotherapy. I am now in complete remission. However, when I was severely immunocompromised I contracted pneumonia multiple times which has severely effected my ability to talk for longer than fifteen or twenty minutes at a time. While there are those – my wife and friends – who would call this a blessing in disguise, it forced me to resign my position teaching Computer Game Design at the University of Iowa. Also, and I understand how strange this sounds to readers in Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Italy and dozens of other civilized industrial nations, but even if you survive a major disease in the United States you will almost certainly get financially wiped out.

And, as bad luck would have it, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has stopped all funding for C4I (which is the area that includes tactical Artificial Intelligence) which is where I received my research funding.

So, with that as the background, I decided to do a complete update of my very successful UMS: The Universal Military Simulator series (see this link). I had written the original by myself over about eighteen months. I can certainly do it again, I reasoned. However, what is expected from an advanced suite of military simulation tools is 2017 is quite a bit more than what was ‘state of the art’ in 1989. And, to be blunt, writing for Windows – with all it’s foibles and peculiarities – is a lot harder than writing for the Atari ST, the Macintosh and MS DOS in the old days.

I also wanted to add a number of new features in General Staff that weren’t available in the original UMS including two modes of game play (simulation and Kriegsspiel), Headquarters units that gave orders and couriers that delivered them. I also wanted to include all my research on tactical AI (click here for link) as well as my work in 3D Line of Sight (click here for link) and optimized least weighted path algorithm (click here for link),

So, here’s where we currently (as of August 10, 2017) are on this project:

  • The Army Design Module (click here) is finished and has completed beta testing.
  • The Map Design Module (click here) is finished and is currently in beta testing.
  • The Scenario Design Module (click here) is almost completed and will soon begin beta testing.

Everything seems to be coming along nicely, so why don’t I just continue working on General Staff without Kickstarter funding? Well, there’s still plenty of work to do, I need to gauge interest in this project and, frankly, we’ve been running on ’empty’ financially speaking.

So, what is going to happen after a successful Kickstarter campaign?

  • My tactical AI will be integrated into the game including my unsupervised learning routines that are capable of analyzing and classifying tactical positions (see my doctoral dissertation here).
  • Thirty new scenarios (see here) will be created to be given for free to Kickstarter backers of General Staff.
  • General Staff will be completed and sent for beta testing to all Kickstarter backers that want to help out.
  • Our leaky roof will get fixed.

If you have any questions about General Staff or the Kickstarter project, please drop me a line via this form.

We will soon be adding a countdown timer to the Kickstarter campaign here.