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In-game economy idea - Your thoughts?


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#21 DtCarrot   Members   -  Reputation: 327

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Posted 08 August 2012 - 09:07 AM

Yeah, I agree that soft counters are a hindrance to "perfect" game balance. Also, it must be noted that some weakness to certain strategies is the micro ability of players. Though one player may be overwhelmed in terms of build order, micro and quick thinking can at times crawl players out of the game. For example, if the player masses archer as you mentioned above but the enemy opts for mass cavalry. However, if the player manages to utilize the geography efficiently such as using the high ground where enemies have to walk a whole round, it can weaken the enemy by a whole lot.

I believe that these soft counters to a certain extent, can be reduced by a whole lot as long as players are watchful. They have to be wary of the possible hard and soft counters and do their best to avoid them.


Scouting is one of the minor aspects of an RTS game
You're being too modest. Scouting is a critical element of any decent RTS. It is generally impossible to win against a decent opponent without scouting (and scouting isn't just checking out their base at the start of the game to see what their build order is). You need to control the map, which means you need to know where units are concentrated at all times. The SC2 Protoss Observer is a very dedicated unit for that, but most games do with "secondary" scouts. In Age of Empires II, most civilizations start out with a weak cavalry whose speed makes it ideal for scouting. Players using it as an offensive or defensive weapon in the early game generally end up losing strategic advantage after its death. While it can harrass peasants and really be a nuisance to your opponent's tactics, its best used as a silent observer. Information has a value, and most player tend to forget this. It is oftentimes the major difference between a pro player and a good player. In SC2, a lot of Diamond player are highly skilled but not so efficient at getting sufficient information. In other words, they have conditionned their mind to analyze data and come up with the appropriate solution, but they just don't get enough data by lack of scouting.


Yeah, scouting has to be a continuous effort and not just sending a scout unit at the start and playing blindly for the rest of the game. As the saying goes "know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster." You have to know what your enemy is up to in order to plan a strategy to counter theirs. You will also not be surprised as you know what your opponent is up to. It also gives you time to think of what you can do if the enemy comes instead of some last minute notice which will test crisis management.


Even though mechanics can be your life saver as seen in many pro games, at the same time, if both players have the same level in terms of mechanics, this is where wits will come in place. Whether they are meticulous enough to scout the whole map to check for any possible surprises(Hidden collection of resources or proxy bases) and prevent them from probing into the base. In this type of occasion, it becomes an intel war where the one with the best scout have the better chance to win. However, intel war can also be a war of deception. In some pro games, the moment the enemy scouts their base. Instead of proceeding with that strategy, they will go for another build which are strong against the defense built against the previous strategy. This is also the beauty of RTS games in my opinion. A complex game that requires the mastering of many different aspects.

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#22 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 12952

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Posted 08 August 2012 - 09:27 AM

I believe that these soft counters to a certain extent, can be reduced by a whole lot as long as players are watchful. They have to be wary of the possible hard and soft counters and do their best to avoid them.

That's why I prefer soft counters: they factor in players' skills and understanding of other mechanics. They also make other game mechanics easier to implement organically. But they mess your balance :D

Instead of proceeding with that strategy, they will go for another build which are strong against the defense built against the previous strategy.

Like I said, as information is not quantified data in an RTS, many players overlook its worth, but as you rightfully point out, an RTS is a war of many things, one of which is information.

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#23 DtCarrot   Members   -  Reputation: 327

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Posted 08 August 2012 - 09:52 AM

Instead of proceeding with that strategy, they will go for another build which are strong against the defense built against the previous strategy.
Like I said, as information is not quantified data in an RTS, many players overlook its worth, but as you rightfully point out, an RTS is a war of many things, one of which is information.


RTS is indeed a very deep genre and complicated one. Though it has many aspects, some players are weak in some aspect. They have excellent strategy and know how to use the geography to the advantage but they have weak mechanics. Hence, they will opt for some builds which require low mechanics such as the mech build in SCII. For AOE type of game, I'm not too sure what it can be. I would suppose that it is the archers and the using of the "turtling" tactic which was debated for quite a bit previously. Slowly pushing out and extending the defense line and buying your way to victory. In this type of scenario, I find defensive builds pretty awesome. However, it is still best to be a jack of all trades, being versatile and having no particular weaknesses. :)

#24 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 12952

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Posted 08 August 2012 - 01:56 PM

I would suppose that it is the archers and the using of the "turtling" tactic which was debated for quite a bit previously.

AOE doesn't really work with turtling unless you play at easy difficulty on an island.
We have a family tradition here where I play with my girlfriend, sometimes with other members of her family. I let them sim city, but I'm the one providing the cover for that. Its fun to rush at 5-6 computer players while keeping your ally unhindered and it teaches you a lot about this game.
There are just way too many strong siegecrafts to really hope to play the turtle there, so you need to adjust.
I found that the best units were the cavalry, simply because they allow you to hit-and-run at slow siege weaponry (successfully disabling their strong firepower) while avoiding direct encounters with large numbers of infantry.
Then, you get to charge on chunks of a bad formation AI as it moves and you can pretty much clear everything.

More importantly, mobility is your main friend against more than one opponent, and you need to be able to match their numbers.
Having 100 knights moving around to encounter their forces makes 500 pikemen look frail.

Normally:
100 knights vs 500 pikemen

With mobility:
100 knights vs 100 pikemen
100 knights vs 100 pikemen
100 knights vs 100 pikemen
100 knights vs 100 pikemen
100 knights vs 100 pikemen

They all look like fair fights now, and so long as you can resupply the few missing units that have died in the previous encounters, you can keep the upper hand.

But we're digressing now...

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#25 DtCarrot   Members   -  Reputation: 327

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Posted 08 August 2012 - 04:35 PM

Offense is at times the best defense since by attacking them repeatedly, it will keep the enemy hands busy and they have to focus on defending. Not only that, it will make the enemy panic at times and creating small holes of weaknesses which players can abuse.

I feel that the early game will primarily be about tier 1 units being built and sending them to the opponent base to find out what is going on. It might result in really small skirmishes between each other or punishing the opponent for going for greedy build such as resource or technology rush. Risk is something which you have to take at times especially if there is a disparity in skill level. Early game though, should rarely finish games off. However, it sorts of determine the flow of the game. Will it be a low economy where both players choose to go offensive making the game mechanic based? Will it be a high economy game where both players opt for greedy build and the game will be based on who has the stamina to survive in the long game, tactics and mechanics? In the early game, the enemy can have a variety of options such as militias, pike men and archers. Archers would be a deadly unit especially if players learn how to control them and kite the enemy. It works like the marine in SCII where if microed correctly, it's usefulness will be enhanced significantly.

The mid game is where it starts to get complex. Players have many paths to choose from here. Do they want to play a defensive game? A mobility game where you capture important positions and maintain control of the map using cavalry? Generally, a mobility game will be better since it gives you better map control and more time to react to potential attacks. Hidden resource collection by the enemy will be reduced. It also makes it hard for them to expand since the threat is always present. It is also the time where resources will be highly contested to develop one's army. This is especially so for stone and iron which is not as available. Advancing in technology will go a long way in the late game as well.

The late game is getting even more insane. Now, resources near your main base would most probably have been depleted. It is where the defensive player starts to experience difficultly if they do not have a plan in expanding out. The mobile player on the other hand, would have a significant lead since they have a better resource collection. The late game is also a test of micro of players in volatile situations, how they use the troops efficiently. Technology advancement as mentioned above will most likely pay off now due to the diminishing availability of resources. Upgrades are crucial in tilting the battle. It is also a game of denying. How are players able to prevent enemies from secretly collecting resources? In that stage, every resource is gold.

Other than that, it is important to ensure how players control their units whether they have a tight grip on all his units if not enemies can pick off stray troops one by one. Slowly but surely, it will reduce the gap in terms of army. Players also need a far vision to think of the long game which is the late game such as building up the technology as mentioned as well as thinking of possible expansion routes later on. Unless the enemy is planning on finishing the game in the mid game or early game such as using timing attacks and rushes, that will be a different case. Player can also build archer towers throughout the map to create static defenses in specific area and minimizing the area which the enemy can move to.

#26 Malabyte   Members   -  Reputation: 590

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 09:18 AM

By default, I check at the competitive leagues only, where "flaws" inherent to the player are diminished (giving better insight into actual balancing issues). But you've never stated you wanted to make it a - balanced or b - competitive. What's your audience?


Even in Diamond League alone, there's still the question of when you upgrade. The reason why I object to your idea of upgrades being necessary, for instance, is because in Starcraft 2 top league, most matches last only for 10-15 minutes (last I checked, long ago mind you) and few ever reach the absolute endgame. So then the question is "should I go for +tech or +units?". Going for +tech earlier is clearly best in the long run, but only if you reach that intersection point when the upgrade gives you a greater return than those +units. In most matches, players typically won't reach that point before the match is over - thus, +tech is not going to be universally better than +units, because +tech might cause that inferior army size short term that could lose you the match (again, if you're not getting past that intersection point of +tech having done enough of an effect to get > effect of +units).

Generally speaking, there is no reason to change strategy unless the current strategy is not working or the opponent has adjusted to it.


Exactly. Posted Image

Dune 2 (the original RTS). The game mechanics oftentimes forced you to bring your harvester much too close to your opponents. At first, you could just be offensive about it and place your units between the known enemy outpost and your harvester, but in later missions where you were faced with Sardaukar and the two houses that you weren't (Ordos and/or Atreidis and/or Harkonen) the enemy could come of any side and defending your supply line was more important.


Regretfully, the AI in Dune 2 was extremely predictable - it was possible (I initially wrote "easy", but strike that hehe) to control and time things. As you know yourself (assumingly), defending a strategic point is only necessary when it explicitly needs to be defended due to some actual threat. Based on what you know about the enemy and his current capabilities, it may not even need defending. Just wanted to point that out, because in many cases, your opponent's tactics can be equally predictable.

Thinking back, imagine me trying to explain this to kids on my CS or SC2 team, haha. "Why aren't you covering this flank, NOOB" - "Because I don't need to, I know where the enemy is." Bottlenecking isn't just physical, there's mental bottlenecking too. Mentalism FTW Posted Image.

Also, changing strategies (or parts of it) is done all the time by the pro Starcraft players. Well, not so much their original strategy, and I guess I misspoke somewhat, but rather the strategy that they want the enemy to see. So in a sense you're right, they don't change the actual strategy, but they use deception to conceal the actual strategy and then they turn around and do something completely different. One example is to try to force the player into adopting turtle strategy by harassing him enough, because you want him to turtle up, you know he's bad at it and you're yourself an excellent resource manager ("production > defense"). So you're using something you're not great at, as an attempt to improve the outcome of what you are great at.

I'd also recommend giving an ability to your "walls" that have a high % to intercept the rocks. For example, your opponent really wants to fire at your critical command center (or whatever structure) but its entrenched in walls. If your walls have a static 70% chances of intercepting the block, that makes them more realistic that if its assumed the opponent can easily aim over them and still adequately hit their target.


Interesting point, I'll look more into it.

Edited by DrMadolite, 09 August 2012 - 09:22 AM.

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#27 Malabyte   Members   -  Reputation: 590

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 10:06 AM

Yeah, I agree that soft counters are a hindrance to "perfect" game balance.


I disagree on this notion (assuming that "perfect game balance" is about "fun" and not "realism"), because it depends on the game design. While generally true, the unit production in Starcraft 2 specifically (and similar games) is to small for hard-counters-only to be an adequate feature.

For instance, having only 7 units will allow minimally for microing (again, depending on the game and also the opponent's microing skills), compared to having 500 of that same unit (because you got fewer units to position out). n! is the possible outcomes of microing, where n is the number of units you got (note: this isn't exactly true, because eventually it converges to a finite number of outcomes, based (1) not all outcomes are useful and (2) players have varying levels of microing skills).

Secondly, you gotta factor in the learning curve of the game and that Blizzard want their games to be accessible by a huge playerbase (i.e. they want smooth transitions from newbie to expert, less frustration).

Third, there's the concept of making the game as interactive as possible, which can make the game more engaging and fun. Soft counters allow more hybridization of strategies, which in turn allows more possible ways to express yourself in the game.

Finally, there's the issue of hard counters being a problem for the production side of things. Suppose you want to focus on production and just wanna spew out some generic units because you wanna win by superior numbers. Well, having to micromanage unit production in order to be successful against the enemy's units can get you distracted from your own strategy.

The solution is to provide the player with soft counters. When you're engaged with the enemy, there's no excuse because you need to focus on the heat. But with soft counters in place, you can do that with greater flexibility and then go back to your own strategy outside of that. My point is that hard counters favor the "defense vs. offense" games over "production vs offense/defense" games.

====================

Coincidentally, that last point also ties back into my OP. If you got too many types of resources to have to worry about, then the game might favor resource mmt over more microed attack and defense. With too few resources, the game will be too much the opposite. Just take games like Dune 2, C&C and KKND as examples of this. With this in mind, I guess active abilities and other soft counters (terrain etc) can be considered a "resource" (e.g. "energy" or "mana").

Edited by DrMadolite, 09 August 2012 - 10:13 AM.

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#28 DtCarrot   Members   -  Reputation: 327

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 04:30 PM

With this in mind, I guess active abilities and other soft counters (terrain etc) can be considered a "resource" (e.g. "energy" or "mana").


Indeed, soft counters may be considered an advanced resource. However, it will be difficult to apply to the game. Having crucial terrain is more of playing the long game and ensuring that your units are more cost efficient by giving you a geographical advantage. However, terrain, especially the better ones are only obtainable through heated contention and also on however reaches there first.

With regards to active abilities, each unit could have a skill that is obtainable by upgrading. For example, speed boost for foot units such as pike men, fire arrows for archers which can cause burns to people or building. If you like, you could have one or more heros in which one will be given to you at the start. It will provide an alternative strategy which could be hero-centered. Hero however, as compared to games such as Warcraft III, will not be as powerful. They will be more of a "Morale booster" by increasing attack and defense power as such. It is also like a commander leading the whole army to war.As much as active abilities help to beautify a game, it may put a compromise on the game balance, hence it must not be too extreme.

With regards to the balance with resources and micro on which will/should have more impact, I believe it is should be half-half. None of them should dominate over the other since it may spoil the beauty and limit the type of people playing. Some players are micro players, some are macro players. The game should be designed so that players can use their style to the best ability and by taking advantage of their pros, it will lead them to victory. For example, in SCII, players can opt for either expansion(macro style) or rushing(micro style). Both are viable, but the success depends on how you are able to execute it, do you have enough understanding of your build whether it is the pros or cons.




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