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What makes an RTS great?


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#61 Dan Violet Sagmiller   Members   -  Reputation: 896

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 03:12 PM

Strategic RTS. Everyone's viewpoints all bottle down to this simple label I slapped on.
A Real Time Shooter,

 

 

RTS means Real Time Strategy.   An FPS, First person shooter, is always real time.  Real Time was added to Strategy when it was no longer turn based because of computers.

 

Star Craft is an example of this.


Edited by hpdvs2, 08 January 2013 - 03:13 PM.

Moltar - "Do you even know how to use that?"

Space Ghost - “Moltar, I have a giant brain that is able to reduce any complex machine into a simple yes or no answer."

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My Game(s), Warp Wars is in early development and can be found here: http://blog.WarpWars.Net.


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#62 Mratthew   Members   -  Reputation: 1494

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 05:00 PM

You probably shouldn't talk for everyone Shiftycakes, but you do make a strong point for the shortcomings of past RTS, its time to show off the worth of the individual surviving unit in an RTS. Black Ops 2 took RTS elements and used them in a FPS (fairly successfully from how I hear it) but this couldn't have happened without standing on the shoulders of successful RTS games.



#63 AltarofScience   Members   -  Reputation: 926

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 05:10 PM

One of the issues with advancing the powers of units is that it may be hard to tell how good a unit is. Total War games and WarlordsBattleCry3 do have regular units gaining stat bonuses, and WBC3 has RPG style hero units with health and morale and spells and such getting better.

 

I do have a plan in place for my engine to make one of my 8 planned games using extensive veteran bonuses. This applies to generals mainly and then mages and heroes. Generals get new formations or order or options to modify the AI plus stat bonuses to units under their command and so forth. I only have some of the work done and I always get distracted by engine upgrades or other games, but in a year or two I'll get enough slow growth to release it.



#64 Mratthew   Members   -  Reputation: 1494

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 06:13 PM

(babbling edit) Veterans just need to be visually noticeably different, new units don't need to look weak, just basic, while veterans would appear customized and clearly able to achieve specific skills (like the archetypal heroes of League of Legends). But most importantly they should have basic units able to be linked to them and instead of giving micro tactical commands to a squad worth of basic soldiers the player can link basic soldiers to a veteran and give a macro tactical objectives to a veteran soldier and be pretty sure it will be achieved given the veterans ability to survive.

 

The player still needs to achieve the veteran soldiers by playing the same micro command game first, it just means they are rewarded with a veteran for keeping at least one unit alive at the end of a fight.

 

The more of these veteran units a player can collect the more rewarded they are with less need to focus on micro (although they still can use it) but the ability to focus on higher level strategy by stacking veteran units in proper military hierarchy, rewarded with larger army sizes and the excitement of the natural escalation of combat unresolved if it hasn't been resolved yet.


Edited by Mratthew, 09 January 2013 - 01:32 AM.


#65 Dan Violet Sagmiller   Members   -  Reputation: 896

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 02:14 AM

One of the issues with advancing the powers of units is that it may be hard to tell how good a unit is.

 

indeed, and that gives me a thought, involving this response as well...

 

When it comes to military structure, its easy to spot the units that are "stronger" they have a few more bars on the uniform and that's usually the guy dumb enough to be leading the mess onto the field. The only other way to spot the skilled soldier on the battlefield is to be probing the same flank as he is, scouting for targets of opportunity. That's how you spot real combat veterans. But to spot the real threat, look for the guy with the map. New soldiers figit, veterans are calm, even under fire. New soldiers have new uniforms, veterans know the dirt as intimately they know their enemy. New soldiers miss step, you don't survive the battlefield by stepping in the wrong place at the wrong time. New soldiers miss the mark, you don't survive long when you attack an enemy that hits the mark better then you. This is how you differentiate a veteran.

 

 

So the general idea is that 1, it is hard to understand the skill level of a squad, if upgrades can happen without visual cues.  and 2, a method is brought up about making a squad appear more sloppy/less cohesive.  Honestly, I think the less cohesive part certainly should be part of the visual queues, but I have an idea that can bring it out further. 

 

Its normal in RTS's, to be able to mouse over for details on enemies, or select them for additional details.  In Dark Reign, enemy troops (and yours) even had health bars over their heads.  But perhaps their general damage can also be listed.  As a Color bar.  Perhaps there can be a valid side bar with scrolling data about what is visible on the screen.  giving constant updates about ONLY what you can see, with warnings about areas out of your visibility with more intensity.  (resolutions are better these days)

 - what if this information side bar delivered threat information about visible forces.  based on what is known.  perhaps you don't really know all he details about an enemy force.  Once you see them in action, it becomes more obvious about what is available.  An AI determines which pieces of information are most valuable to you at the time, and is constantly updated with newly gained knowledge about the enemy troops and force movement.  

 

Of course, then you can pay for more information, by 

1) hiring spies to bring back information.

2) training troops to spot hints about enemy capabilities.

3) installing look out towers and upgrading detection capabilities.

4) capturing enemies, to learn more about general troop/squad setups at the time of the capture.

 

Most games seem to rely on visual appearance of the character to relay information, and/or upon selection, a full readout of capabilities.  I.e. no surprises.  if both sides can see the same unit, both sides know the same things about it, with the exception of its goals.  But in this, perhaps you only know the generic information, but you have to study their capabilities to learn about them.  This game could make information gathering a very important portion of the game.  Camouflaging a caravan doesn't make them invisible while moving cross country, but it does hide the difference between a group of troops being transported, and a Rocket Battery system.  In most games, you would know exactly what was approaching the instant you can see it.  

 

I think it would be good for this information side bar to include known details, and hint at possibilities.  For instance, a jeep approaches, but we don't know what its payload is.      Another thing might be a captured spy.  if it is done in a way where the original player doesn't know it was captured, it can be replaced, with one that gives only information the apposing players deems valuable.  Once information is found faulty, the spy in question would be caught, so what might happen, is that upon returning, the player is given some troop information about the apposing side.  some is correct, particularly about the first wave of weaker foot soldiers.  That way the information is trusted.  But then the second wave includes carrier vehicles, half with powerful rockets, and half carrying more cheap troops.  This wave the information was reversed.  So when the defending player (depending on spy info) sees the approaching forces, they believe the rockets are in one flank, and focus their defenses there.  But as soon as that information becomes faulty (first rocket fire) the spy is terminated, and the information updates.  Also, the defending player's AI bar informs them of the rouse.

 

 

I know a lot of games show these interesting graphics, with shifting information that serves no purpose, accept to look like its more cool information, despite it not being anything but a looping animation.  This could be a chance to start turning more of that, into real information.


Edited by hpdvs2, 09 January 2013 - 02:16 AM.

Moltar - "Do you even know how to use that?"

Space Ghost - “Moltar, I have a giant brain that is able to reduce any complex machine into a simple yes or no answer."

Dan - "Best Description of AI ever."

My Game(s), Warp Wars is in early development and can be found here: http://blog.WarpWars.Net.


#66 Mratthew   Members   -  Reputation: 1494

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 06:20 PM

...or turn that useless information into something useful for gameplay, like does anyone know why it shows how many kills a unit has in SC and SCII?



#67 Luckless   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1685

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 10:21 PM



Also, what I don't like about RTS games is the deathballs and AOE effect. Many a times, I see that the deathball system makes game dull. In Starcraft II, you build up a large army for 10-30 minutes in which the game can twist greatly to the side of one player in a matter of 10 seconds. Psionic Storms, Hunter Seeker Missle, Fungal Growth and Colloseus can wipe out large armies extremely quickly. In comparison, I prefer the Warcraft III style of game play. The fighting takes a rather long time which helps to express a player's combat skill better. 

Thats a good point  In starcraft, you go through units like their swiss cheese.  Increasing the life and decreasing the damage might work well to increase strategies. 
 


It's the opposite. Individual fights being over in a flash favor the strategically stronger player who
- has seen through the opponent's strategy and unit movements ahead of time
- has successfully concealed their own plans and/or deceived the opponent when there is something to gain from it
- has made good choices in army composition, production capacity, upgrades, etc. in relation to their own strategy and their idea of opponent's strategy
- has correctly judged the outcome of a potential engagement before it happens, and avoided as many unfavorable ones as possible
- has maximized their positional and timing advantages for the fight before it happens

High life and low damage causes pretty much all of those to count less. It favors the player with the ability to make simple optimization decisions as fast as possible, and has the mechanical execution ability to carry them out (whether those actions are going to micro or macro). Suppose you are completely terrible at strategy, and have a habit of getting outplayed positionally and walking your army into an ambush. If you only lose 10% of the strength of your army under fire before you have microed it to regroup on a neutral footing, you can pretty much ignore positioning and still win most fights as long as you have a slight efficiency advantage from mechanical micromanagement during battles.
 



I'm going to have to disagree strongly that long living (that extend engagement time) negatively impact any of those points.

whether an action is over in 1 second or 1 minute doesn't change any of those things. Having the right assets in the correct position of the map at the right time is still king. If anything long engagement times forces many of those issues to be that much more important as compared to over in a flash combat.

Having the right elements in the right positions at the correct time is still important. Being able to move a squad of riflemen into a part of the map and know that they're not going to simply disappear the second the first 'counter' unit happens to randomly wander by means they become an important aspect of the battlefield, and that unit has to actually be considered. A long lasting unit won't be annihilated simply by random chance.

You sill have to make choices and judge a battle before, during, and after it has happened. That one squad of riflemen holding up in part of the map matters, and you have to decide how to handle it. Why is it there? What is it doing? Holding ground, or preparing to advance? By attacking it with a large counter force are you moving other elements out of place for you opponent to exploit? If you ignore it or only lightly engage them is it going to remain on the map to be used against you later?

Elements change, but those points you listed are all still equally valid.
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#68 Dan Violet Sagmiller   Members   -  Reputation: 896

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 07:39 AM

Having the right assets in the correct position of the map at the right time is still king. If anything long engagement times forces many of those issues to be that much more important as compared to over in a flash combat.

 

Indeed.  And actually, It just occurred to me, how dumb Star Craft is.  Why is it that units destroy each other so quickly?  Because nobody takes cover.

 

I like the idea that if your units are not sheltered, bunkered down, or positioned well, then they should be far more susceptible to damage.  I.e.  Soldier's moving in on an area are far more easy to injure than soldiers waiting in fox holes.

Ruined buildings could provide great cover.  trees, ditches.  This would be a strong reason why bases would become easier to defend than attack.  Also, someone running a base could investigate the surrounding areas, and make sure things are setup strategically so that from the defense points at least a quarter mile out, there are no good cover spots.  forcing approaching units to attack in the open.  Then, backing into natural defenses, producing semi circles with the rest where each circle is again another stage of good bunkering for the inner circle, and poor to none for the outer.

 

Ways to do that would include Explosive charges set in buildings at construction.  they can be set in different ways.  1) desimates, leaving nothing but flat area.  This would be the inner side of a ring.  and 2) crumbles, provides excellent cover.  Not only does this protect from building capture, but the ruins become valuable staging points for military, where the outer part of every ring has bunkering, and the inner part of every ring has none.

 

Also, setting charges anywhere sounds like a good idea.  That you can set off on request only.  Streets, etc...  Again with different levels of presets.  1, destroy street alone (removes speed bonus), 2, create obstruction (Designed to block up the path), 3, Area damage(desimates the road and damages everything with in x radius)  Just because a force takes the city, doesn't mean they get to keep it, and abandoned bases might just be decoys.

 

Then another feature is cheaper construction of buildings that don't do anything, but look like something on the outside.  Make a fake base, guard lightly and rig the whole thing to blow.

 

Now this feels more like strategy and tactics.  Of course the enemy should have ways of detecting/dismantling this stuff, but not too easily, for instance a skill that increases the chances of spotting charges, and another skill at improving their concealment.

 

anyway, thanks for the excellent tangent.


Moltar - "Do you even know how to use that?"

Space Ghost - “Moltar, I have a giant brain that is able to reduce any complex machine into a simple yes or no answer."

Dan - "Best Description of AI ever."

My Game(s), Warp Wars is in early development and can be found here: http://blog.WarpWars.Net.


#69 Yrjö P.   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1412

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 03:59 AM

Individual fights being over in a flash favor the strategically stronger player who
- has seen through the opponent's strategy and unit movements ahead of time
- has successfully concealed their own plans and/or deceived the opponent when there is something to gain from it
- has made good choices in army composition, production capacity, upgrades, etc. in relation to their own strategy and their idea of opponent's strategy
- has correctly judged the outcome of a potential engagement before it happens, and avoided as many unfavorable ones as possible
- has maximized their positional and timing advantages for the fight before it happens

High life and low damage causes pretty much all of those to count less. It favors the player with the ability to make simple optimization decisions as fast as possible, and has the mechanical execution ability to carry them out (whether those actions are going to micro or macro). Suppose you are completely terrible at strategy, and have a habit of getting outplayed positionally and walking your army into an ambush. If you only lose 10% of the strength of your army under fire before you have microed it to regroup on a neutral footing, you can pretty much ignore positioning and still win most fights as long as you have a slight efficiency advantage from mechanical micromanagement during battles.

I'm going to have to disagree strongly that long living (that extend engagement time) negatively impact any of those points.

whether an action is over in 1 second or 1 minute doesn't change any of those things. Having the right assets in the correct position of the map at the right time is still king. If anything long engagement times forces many of those issues to be that much more important as compared to over in a flash combat.
If the engagement is over in one second, then there's no time for the player's (generally non-strategic) micromanagement ability to affect the outcome, and the result is only dependent on those pre-fight factors which I'd call strategic in nature (although execution barriers may be involved with accomplishing some of them).
Having the right elements in the right positions at the correct time is still important. Being able to move a squad of riflemen into a part of the map and know that they're not going to simply disappear the second the first 'counter' unit happens to randomly wander by means they become an important aspect of the battlefield, and that unit has to actually be considered. A long lasting unit won't be annihilated simply by random chance.
A "counter unit" does not randomly wander anywhere; it has been sent by the other player for whatever reason. Depending on the game, various strategic skills can be involved in producing the outcome. Did the players scout properly? How were the players' decisions to send the riflemen, and to send the "counter unit", informed by the players' understanding of the game's probability space in general, and their ability to read the specific opponent? In the end, there's always some randomness of outcome in a game of hidden information (= practically all RTS games) even with mechanics being fully deterministic, but there may be surprisingly little of actual randomness left if you consider and eliminate all other factors. Even then, the randomness tends to very much average out over the course of a match.

Edited by Stroppy Katamari, 11 January 2013 - 03:59 AM.


#70 Sandman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 2079

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 07:50 AM

Personally, I don't care much for levelling units, particularly the rank and file. If the effect is small enough to ignore then it's pointless, and if it's not, then it just adds micro - I now have to care about where my vet units are and what they are doing. 

 

Supcom had a simple veterancy system, which - for the most part - was irrelevant. However, it did make quite a big difference to some of the better units in the game, particularly the Experimentals which could become dramatically harder to kill once they attain veterancy. This in turn meant that players adopted specific strategies such as withdrawing T1 and T2 hordes from the path of an incoming Experimental as they would do nothing but grant it easy veterancy.

 

The more effective mechanic for making me care about my losses was the reclaim system. If I send a load of units on an attack which fails entirely, then I've basically gifted their mass to the opponent. If I can withdraw it when I see it's not going to work, then I can limit the the economic windfall the opponent gets - even if my forces still get wiped out, it's better that they are wiped out outside his base where it's going to be harder for him to safely reclaim it.

 

Similarly, DoW(1) made me care about my units using simple economics and convenience. Reinforcing a squad is cheaper and vastly more convenient than building a new one from scratch. Therefore, in order to avoid paying the 'squad tax' you have to keep your squads alive - even if there is only one man left. You don't care so much about the individual men, but you do care about the squad as a whole. 



#71 Luckless   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1685

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 09:11 AM


Individual fights being over in a flash favor the strategically stronger player who
- has seen through the opponent's strategy and unit movements ahead of time
- has successfully concealed their own plans and/or deceived the opponent when there is something to gain from it
- has made good choices in army composition, production capacity, upgrades, etc. in relation to their own strategy and their idea of opponent's strategy
- has correctly judged the outcome of a potential engagement before it happens, and avoided as many unfavorable ones as possible
- has maximized their positional and timing advantages for the fight before it happens
High life and low damage causes pretty much all of those to count less. It favors the player with the ability to make simple optimization decisions as fast as possible, and has the mechanical execution ability to carry them out (whether those actions are going to micro or macro). Suppose you are completely terrible at strategy, and have a habit of getting outplayed positionally and walking your army into an ambush. If you only lose 10% of the strength of your army under fire before you have microed it to regroup on a neutral footing, you can pretty much ignore positioning and still win most fights as long as you have a slight efficiency advantage from mechanical micromanagement during battles.

I'm going to have to disagree strongly that long living (that extend engagement time) negatively impact any of those points.
whether an action is over in 1 second or 1 minute doesn't change any of those things. Having the right assets in the correct position of the map at the right time is still king. If anything long engagement times forces many of those issues to be that much more important as compared to over in a flash combat.

If the engagement is over in one second, then there's no time for the player's (generally non-strategic) micromanagement ability to affect the outcome, and the result is only dependent on those pre-fight factors which I'd call strategic in nature (although execution barriers may be involved with accomplishing some of them).

Having the right elements in the right positions at the correct time is still important. Being able to move a squad of riflemen into a part of the map and know that they're not going to simply disappear the second the first 'counter' unit happens to randomly wander by means they become an important aspect of the battlefield, and that unit has to actually be considered. A long lasting unit won't be annihilated simply by random chance.

A "counter unit" does not randomly wander anywhere; it has been sent by the other player for whatever reason. Depending on the game, various strategic skills can be involved in producing the outcome. Did the players scout properly? How were the players' decisions to send the riflemen, and to send the "counter unit", informed by the players' understanding of the game's probability space in general, and their ability to read the specific opponent? In the end, there's always some randomness of outcome in a game of hidden information (= practically all RTS games) even with mechanics being fully deterministic, but there may be surprisingly little of actual randomness left if you consider and eliminate all other factors. Even then, the randomness tends to very much average out over the course of a match.


Even in the real world there are a lot of random encounters on a battlefield. My cousin drove a tank with the Canadian Armed Forces overseas, and her column had multiple hostile engagements during routine transit missions. Both sides knew the other was operating in the area, both sides knew what kind of forces the other had, but her mission wasn't seek and destroy light infantry units, her mission was to drive her tank from base A to base B so they could be used to support missions planned during the following week.

However, those engagements still took time. They held up resources, and displaced others that were sent in to support, and were completely random.

In Star Craft, I have often Gambled on a troop of marines or zerglings run around the far edge of a battle while I used a larger main force to draw the other player's attention away from their base. Many times it worked wonderfully, and I caused far more damage than what I invested resource wise in the attack. Other times they met a horrible horrible death from a siege tank that was moved into position since I had last scouted shortly before. And I do remember one instance from a lan party years ago when we got together after to watch replays and comment on the games. Turned out that the units my attack force ran into were positioned there because they were diverted from the main battle to preserve them. My opponent had merely pulled them back from the main battle to a nearby spot that didn't seem active, and was waiting for his next wave of reinforcements to finish building before launching his next counter against the main.

He admitted that with slightly different timing they would have been positioned more toward the top of the map, not the left side, and my force would have slipped by and hit his base. The engagement required no real thought from either of us, just boom "oh, that's over and done with, and I don't have to think about it any more", and was completely random with no strategic thought behind it on his part.

Now, if those troops had automatically taken cover, received minor damage, and became involved in a longer engagement, then both of us would have to put more strategic thought into the matter. Do we leave it as is? Pull an element from another part of the battle to tip/ensure the out come? Do we withdraw, having revealed information on force composition within an area of the map?
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#72 Yrjö P.   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1412

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 05:41 PM

Even in the real world there are a lot of random encounters on a battlefield. My cousin drove a tank with the Canadian Armed Forces overseas, and her column had multiple hostile engagements during routine transit missions. Both sides knew the other was operating in the area, both sides knew what kind of forces the other had, but her mission wasn't seek and destroy light infantry units, her mission was to drive her tank from base A to base B so they could be used to support missions planned during the following week.
So you somehow know the opposition was not there with intent to engage?
If they were, then your cousin's convoy not knowing where the enemy would hit doesn't make it random - that makes it an ambush.

Anyway, that is the real world. It has a lot of more randomness in it, and that randomness generally makes it a bad, uninspired strategy game if you want to think of it as that. We're only motivated to play and practice it because winning has real-world rewards. I should know - I'm a army lieutenant in reserve and tactical analysis work is kind of my specialty.

Edited by Stroppy Katamari, 11 January 2013 - 05:41 PM.


#73 Yrjö P.   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1412

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 07:14 PM

In Star Craft, I have often Gambled on a troop of marines or zerglings run around the far edge of a battle while I used a larger main force to draw the other player's attention away from their base. Many times it worked wonderfully, and I caused far more damage than what I invested resource wise in the attack. Other times they met a horrible horrible death from a siege tank that was moved into position since I had last scouted shortly before. And I do remember one instance from a lan party years ago when we got together after to watch replays and comment on the games. Turned out that the units my attack force ran into were positioned there because they were diverted from the main battle to preserve them. My opponent had merely pulled them back from the main battle to a nearby spot that didn't seem active, and was waiting for his next wave of reinforcements to finish building before launching his next counter against the main.

He admitted that with slightly different timing they would have been positioned more toward the top of the map, not the left side, and my force would have slipped by and hit his base. The engagement required no real thought from either of us, just boom "oh, that's over and done with, and I don't have to think about it any more", and was completely random with no strategic thought behind it on his part.
So there are situations where you send troops into an area blindly, there are enemy troops in position there, and your troops get owned. Or the opponent's troops get owned. The outcome of this kind of event indeed seems "random" at first. But suppose it was a monster like EffOrt or Flash playing. Would they have done something differently, seen something differently? Yes and yes - though what they would do and see, I have no idea. My point is: they probably would not "gamble" a lot. You should be careful about pointing at something and saying it "is random". Your previous actions largely determine what kind of "random" you will risk, what kind of "random" you will invite and what kind you decline entirely.
Now, if those troops had automatically taken cover, received minor damage, and became involved in a longer engagement, then both of us would have to put more strategic thought into the matter. Do we leave it as is? Pull an element from another part of the battle to tip/ensure the out come? Do we withdraw, having revealed information on force composition within an area of the map?
... or you could, for instance, have had the map sense *before* the event to be aware of the enemy troops there, or even just more cognizant of the possibility, and therefore spending some focus on the advancing ling hitsquad in case of trouble? More buried zerglings and overlords in better locations to scout the enemy movements? And so on.

One additional thing which makes things seem "random" is playing against weak opponents. You need a pretty tough opponent until they are consistent enough to be read. Weak-random opponents can do whatever at weird timings, but everything they do is weak. Good strategy for a better player going against them is to play a reliable plain style that survives against any weird stuff (even if somewhat inefficiently and inelegantly) and then grows into pure efficiency and delivers the killing blow, and not guessing about their plans. You can defeat yourself by reading too much into a weak opponent. Strategy really starts opening up when your opponents start having the consistency necessary for you to read them, and goes up a notch when they are starting to get the reading ability necessary to successfully fake them.

#74 Luckless   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1685

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 11:14 AM


Even in the real world there are a lot of random encounters on a battlefield. My cousin drove a tank with the Canadian Armed Forces overseas, and her column had multiple hostile engagements during routine transit missions. Both sides knew the other was operating in the area, both sides knew what kind of forces the other had, but her mission wasn't seek and destroy light infantry units, her mission was to drive her tank from base A to base B so they could be used to support missions planned during the following week.

So you somehow know the opposition was not there with intent to engage?
If they were, then your cousin's convoy not knowing where the enemy would hit doesn't make it random - that makes it an ambush.

Anyway, that is the real world. It has a lot of more randomness in it, and that randomness generally makes it a bad, uninspired strategy game if you want to think of it as that. We're only motivated to play and practice it because winning has real-world rewards. I should know - I'm a army lieutenant in reserve and tactical analysis work is kind of my specialty.
 



The opposition sure wasn't there with the intent to engage the entire force, and debriefing of captured survivors suggested they had engaged a target of opportunity when they saw the lead element of the column approach the village they were hiding in (A pair of APC/LAV type vehicles based on what my cousin had said.), and were unaware that 5 MBTs and nearly a dozen light armour vehicles with their supporting mechanized infantry were 5 minutes down the road. Needless to say it didn't go well for the attackers, but it wasn't over in a flash.

And nothing you have stated actually goes against what I've said about long engagements not mattering. You suggest that you should be able to 'read' the situation and think ahead of time. Well, guess what, you still have to read the situation from the past and present, and figure out what is going on in the future. The difference is that in one option things are over and done with and no longer matter, and in the other they remain a consideration for a longer period of time.

Also, the move in my example was a damn good gamble. The area was clear from the last scouting moments before, the units in question were seen heading for the main battle at the moment I began moving my surprise force. The time involved meant that they engaged my units at about the same time I expected them to arrive at the main battle, and they were accounted for up until that time. My opponent admitted his choice was arbitrary and random during our review, he had two equally secure places that he could divert the force to delay the next engagement which would allow him the time required to bring in more forces. He changed his strategy mid way through an engagement when they just happened to be out of my sight, adapted to the moment as he saw it, but he had no idea of the secondary force. My surprise force did not enter into his plan as I had been working hard earlier in the game to deny him as much access to information as I could manage, and either location he could have sent his extra troops to would have been equally valid for his plan.

Had I not split off that next wave of reinforcements on an attempt at a surprise attack and instead included them with my main force, then the next engagement would have been far more of a draw instead of a victory for him. Had he sent his extra units to the other location instead, my surprise force would have been enough to cripple one of his expansions and delay his economy. His victory in the next main engagement would have been rather pyrrhic in nature as I would have gotten the upper hand in resources.

And frankly you are being rather insulting by suggesting that either party involved were weak opponents. As far as I'm aware you know neither of them, you have not played against them, nor seen the match in question.


And I'm sorry, but all games are a gamble and calculated odds. If they weren't, if there wasn't some random element to them, then the game would open with players shaking hands and one congratulating the other on their clear and obvious victory before play begins.


You have not offered any evidence or logical argument that long engagement times decrease strategic value of game play. Everything that you've said still applies with long engagement times. If A troop gets involved in a fight I didn't want them to, then they're not engaged in the area I needed them, therefore I still need to know what is going on in the map and think about engagements Before they happen.
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#75 Dan Violet Sagmiller   Members   -  Reputation: 896

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 04:49 PM

Personally, I don't care much for levelling units, particularly the rank and file. If the effect is small enough to ignore then it's pointless, and if it's not, then it just adds micro - I now have to care about where my vet units are and what they are doing. 

 

So perhaps a good concept on this would be that there are very little unit upgrades that you control, but the more experience troops get, the more they learn.  Perhaps it could be more that survivors learn to do more and get better weapons and such.  

 

The more effective mechanic for making me care about my losses was the reclaim system. If I send a load of units on an attack which fails entirely, then I've basically gifted their mass to the opponent. If I can withdraw it when I see it's not going to work, then I can limit the the economic windfall the opponent gets - even if my forces still get wiped out, it's better that they are wiped out outside his base where it's going to be harder for him to safely reclaim it.

 

So somehow the vet status of a character stood out?  It sounds like something good, but I'm not quite sure how to represent that


Moltar - "Do you even know how to use that?"

Space Ghost - “Moltar, I have a giant brain that is able to reduce any complex machine into a simple yes or no answer."

Dan - "Best Description of AI ever."

My Game(s), Warp Wars is in early development and can be found here: http://blog.WarpWars.Net.


#76 Dan Violet Sagmiller   Members   -  Reputation: 896

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 07:43 PM

Anyway, that is the real world. It has a lot of more randomness in it, and that randomness generally makes it a bad, uninspired strategy game if you want to think of it as that. We're only motivated to play and practice it because winning has real-world rewards.

 

I think it still can be fun, but I think that people need to get out of the mentality of EXACT numbers in battle.  No battle is purely numbers.  A strategy isn't effective if it only gives you a 1% improvement over the opponent, yet in starcraft, if a squad of 20 of the same units and a squad of 21 of the same units, were to face off in the same starting pattern 100 times, the side with 21 would always win.  real life isn't that way, as you pointed out, yet people expect to win starcraft using an excel sheet as a guide.  

 

I think its reasonable that units are never 100% accurate, or 100% fast.  but their odds improve with experience.  upto say 95% accuracy with enough experience.  Tactics/strategy are needed because there is no perfect shot/soldier.  I think a game can be fun if it focuses more on the strategy overall than unit precision.  but this is tough.  

 

Sorry for the tangent off of your post, is was written over about 6 commercial breaks.  :)  


Moltar - "Do you even know how to use that?"

Space Ghost - “Moltar, I have a giant brain that is able to reduce any complex machine into a simple yes or no answer."

Dan - "Best Description of AI ever."

My Game(s), Warp Wars is in early development and can be found here: http://blog.WarpWars.Net.


#77 Dan Violet Sagmiller   Members   -  Reputation: 896

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 08:24 PM

So there are situations where you send troops into an area blindly, there are enemy troops in position there, and your troops get owned. Or the opponent's troops get owned. The outcome of this kind of event indeed seems "random" at first. But suppose it was a monster like EffOrt or Flash playing. Would they have done something differently, seen something differently? Yes and yes - though what they would do and see, I have no idea. My point is: they probably would not "gamble" a lot. You should be careful about pointing at something and saying it "is random". Your previous actions largely determine what kind of "random" you will risk, what kind of "random" you will invite and what kind you decline entirely.

 

This game me a REALLY awesome idea.  How about after a segment of battle, particularly where you went up against stationary units/traps, etc...  You could replay it.  not just watch it, but replay it.  try different strategies, to get better.  Ultimately, you wouldn't gain any financial bonus, but the military experience, can raise.  not that your troops have gained experience, but that they can now come out of the training camps with a little more starting experience.  I.e.  This is a form of study.  I'm sure players would love the chance to replay a part of a game, to do better, where the original characters do almost the exact same thing.  

 

Of course this doesn't fix surprises, but it does start to teach the player to recognize better strategies and possible setups to use in the future, and get used to the clicking needed.  Some parts of this would be easy, but if it were an open field confrontation, the 'replayer' wouldn't have the opportunity to change their strategy mid battle, as the player's strategy clearly will change.


Moltar - "Do you even know how to use that?"

Space Ghost - “Moltar, I have a giant brain that is able to reduce any complex machine into a simple yes or no answer."

Dan - "Best Description of AI ever."

My Game(s), Warp Wars is in early development and can be found here: http://blog.WarpWars.Net.


#78 Sandman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 2079

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 05:19 AM

So perhaps a good concept on this would be that there are very little unit upgrades that you control, but the more experience troops get, the more they learn.  Perhaps it could be more that survivors learn to do more and get better weapons and such.  

 

Well, what I was actually trying to say was that I just don't like the idea of unit xp in RTS games. It's usually implemented in one of two ways, both of which are bad:

 

1) On levelling up, I get to 'upgrade' my unit. This requires micro which distracts me from all the other micro I'm trying to do. Plus I then have to keep track of which unit got the special ability so that I can use it properly, otherwise it just gets lost in the rank and file again.

 

2) On levelling up, the unit automatically gets slightly better. This is better than 1) because I don't have to waste any time doing the upgrade, but on the other hand I'm less likely to notice or care about the level up. The upgrade just gets lost in the rank and file.

 

Either way, I'm unlikely to care about the level up unless it's a significant unit. So why bother? And even if the upgrades are (or eventually become) awesome, I don't really like the mechanic for gameplay reasons. I don't want to have to pick out a particular unit to groom for veterancy, that's just going to distract again from the big picture. I want to be controlling armies, not micromanaging one guy so he can live long enough to get a cool gun.

 

In short, I am of the opinion that XP/levelling in RTS games is an anti-feature.

 


So somehow the vet status of a character stood out?  It sounds like something good, but I'm not quite sure how to represent that

 

I'm guessing you meant to quote the paragraph above the one you did quote :) 

 

In Supcom, veterancy was not at all obvious. You had to mouse over the unit and look at the description to see if it had veterancy. However it didn't matter, because the only time you really cared was when you were dealing with an 'Experimental' - which were gigantic monster units that would tower over everything else on the battlefield and were capable of wiping out entire armies of lesser units. Experimentals were dangerous enough right out of the box - however the reward for veterancy was percentage based hp gain + regen. Since they had massive hp to begin with, allowing them to gain vet status made them really dangerous.



#79 Zeverin   Members   -  Reputation: 133

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 08:45 AM

Hi. I guess I'm late to join the conversation. But as a lover of RTS games, and being involved in creating a small RTS game a few years ago, I must write my two cents about the subject.

 

Any progresses in your reasearch Dan? I would like to know if you already got some direction on wich features to include or major game mecanics.

 

I think that for a RTS game be great we should split the campaign mode and those skirmich battles. Will be focusing in the latter the most.

 

First I must mention that the ideas that I will drop would work better in a slower paced game. In fact, I don't like to rush, I'm a turtle player :).

 

<> What do you think about limited ammo? This would require carefull planning of attacks, and would also require a supply chain, wich in turn would be a nice thing to exploit. If the enemy can't supply additional ammo in the battlefield, he is done... Would it be too annoying?

 

<> I think I would like to "see" a true planning mode. I would like to create a group of paths assigned to several squads, with the hability to sincronize arrival in time, the formation of the squad, add also the possibility to specify triggers that will put those plans in pratice, in the end a bunch of commands delibered in the exact order at the precise time. I think this would put the focus in the planning, and squad manage. Thogheter with longer engagement times would reduce the need for fast, obscene, clicking.

 

<> I really like the possibility to creat fake buildings. Dan you should develop the ideas int the post 68. I like the idea to create traps, and ambushes. It will add to the longevity of the game.

 

<> We need better AI!! Really. I hate that the AI is soo little creative. It tends too rush and after 30 mins, is no longer able to keep up the pace. Both campanign mode and skirmich battle against the CPU would benefit hugely from improved AI.

 

Sorry for the long post and misspellings.



#80 Dan Violet Sagmiller   Members   -  Reputation: 896

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 10:53 AM

Any progresses in your reasearch Dan? I would like to know if you already got some direction on wich features to include or major game mecanics.

 

Yes, I ended up deciding on splitting the game up into three stand alone games that support each other.  A Builder Game, a Tactics Game and a Strategy Game.  A City Builder that is safe, and you buildup and train troops.  (no fighting)  A Tactics/Skirmish game, where you are controlling a squad of infantry, specialists, etc.  and directing their battle close up, midst a war.  A third game(Strategy) sees a planet as a whole, and is divided into regions under control of humans and dragons, and you can zoom in to see the fighting, but ultimately, you are spending credits to give squad orders. I.e. warp in a squad to blow up this bridge and set mines on the nearby path, or warp in a squad to take out this bunker  etc...

 

The games support each other, but at the same time, you can ignore the others and just play the one you like the most.  You just get special bonuses.

 

 

First I must mention that the ideas that I will drop would work better in a slower paced game. In fact, I don't like to rush, I'm a turtle player

 

The city building is safe, never losing, except the potential of troops you send out.  The skirmish is fast paced and highly focused.  you don't need to worry about a bunch of other crap and can simply focus on this squad, one key goal and one tiny area of the map.  The strategy game is medium paced.  You are focused on the bigger picture.  You might choose to send a squad or two into a death trap with little support, because you are building up a larger force to send into a more sensitive area.

 

You can choose what you want to play, but since you don't have to pay attention to many things, I think even the faster Tactics part will still remain quite fun for 'turtle player's like you and me.

 

 

What do you think about limited ammo? This would require carefull planning of attacks, and would also require a supply chain, wich in turn would be a nice thing to exploit. If the enemy can't supply additional ammo in the battlefield, he is done... Would it be too annoying?

 

I had been juggling around with ammo limits and kept wanting it, but every time I was working on writing up how the player would deal with that, even the mental walk through of preparing the write up was tedious.  I tend to take Tedious work on a GDD to be a clear sign the player will feel the same way.

 

Ultimately I took it out.  However, I am planning on infield bonuses.  I.e.  If the Strategy games spends the resources to have a construction squad come in and add a supply bunker, then all troops within a certain radius will have additional bonuses.  This will be easier to manage than running out of materials, especially since my design only allows any particular squad to be in war for 5-10 minutes at a time, typically less.

 

 

I think I would like to "see" a true planning mode. I would like to create a group of paths assigned to several squads, with the ability to synchronize arrival in time, the formation of the squad, add also the possibility to specify triggers that will put those plans in practice  in the end a bunch of commands delivered in the exact order at the precise time. I think this would put the focus in the planning, and squad manage. Together with longer engagement times would reduce the need for fast, obscene, clicking.

 

I agree.  The tactics portion is intended to be very focused on setup.  Essentially, squads can train particular patterns, and the squad leader just has to define the end points, like setup explosives here, surround this, defend here, here and here.  etc...  But then they can take further micro management. of the units even to the point of directly controlling one character and setting others to follow/take orders.

 

I really like the possibility to creat fake buildings. Dan you should develop the ideas int the post 68. I like the idea to create traps, and ambushes. It will add to the longevity of the game.

 

I agree about fake buildings, in fact I'm planning on having fake buildings in the City Builder as well.  even though its separate., and your troops would use them for practice/training.  including fake dragon structure.


Moltar - "Do you even know how to use that?"

Space Ghost - “Moltar, I have a giant brain that is able to reduce any complex machine into a simple yes or no answer."

Dan - "Best Description of AI ever."

My Game(s), Warp Wars is in early development and can be found here: http://blog.WarpWars.Net.





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