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RTS Factions With Different Organization


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#1 AltarofScience   Members   -  Reputation: 926

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 07:45 PM

As I was talking with one of the people doing an attempt at a remake of the MegaGlest MegaPack there was some discussion over the balance of factions with him and me wanting some asymmetric factions and the others obsessed with Starcraft style balance.

 

I was thinking about how to change things up and I was wondering a few things:

 

How would people feel about factions that were extra strong, something like LA Ermor in Dominions 3, and/or operated under a separate control scheme?

 

For instance suppose you had a faction based on the roman legion and then several barbarian factions. The Barbarians would fight somewhat like a traditional RTS faction and they would be ganging up on the Roman like faction.

 

The Roman faction would need to have a larger production capacity both to compete economically and to compete with the utility provided by 7 sets of unique units. But you might also wish to give them a more Roman and more realistic command structure. You might allow the player to set up hierarchies that can organize and fight as themselves, sort of like garrisons that can handle their business if you deploy appropriate unit combinations and supply lines. You could set up squads and leaders and move up the line to legions.

 

This is only one example of something that isn't possible in normal RTS games, most only have one control system and they rarely if ever would do something like change the faction balance to be asymmetrical.

 

I was just wondering how many people care to try out deviations from conventions like this, or one of the many other possibilities.



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#2 aattss   Members   -  Reputation: 373

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 08:51 PM

Offering different control schemes can help freshen up the game and increase replay value while providing new gameplay experience, both for the player himself and his opponents. It's good when you can play Elves after feeling a little bored from playing Humans. Having factions this different hasn't been tried a lot from my understanding due to how much more work it would be, but experimenting like this will help provide more play styles which more people will be able to enjoy.


Edited by aattss, 07 January 2013 - 08:52 PM.


#3 AltarofScience   Members   -  Reputation: 926

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 08:55 PM

I think the difficulty is more a product of commercial RTS obsessing about faction balance for online multiplayer purposes. A problem pushed hard by the Craft RTS games. For instance although the control scheme was pretty much the same, in WBC3 factions played quite differently and many were intensely unbalanced, there were like 25 too which didn't help balance. And heroes with no level cap made multiplayer quite unbalanced. But big companies only care about maximizing profit and not making interesting games.



#4 DtCarrot   Members   -  Reputation: 327

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 09:02 PM

I would like races to be totally different from each other in terms of style, strategies and so on since it gives the race their own unique identity and to casuals, the opportunity to play another race when they feel bored of the current and thus motivating them to continue playing the game. Moreover, it also allows the game to appeal to a larger crowd. Some gamer prefer micro-management while others may prefer playing with tactics. Some love to play an aggressive play style and others, defensive. 

 

 

However, it is imperative that the different races have to be balanced, not just creating races just to provide a variety of game play. It would mess up the game in the long run instead of helping.



#5 AltarofScience   Members   -  Reputation: 926

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 09:20 PM

How balanced though? Balance on the level of Starcraft is not gonna fly, especially with more than 3. Each faction has a relationship with each other faction so each new faction adds an increasing number of relationships. It might be better in some cases for some factions to counter each other, because its simply impossible to balance more than 3 factions with diverse play styles, especially given alternate control schemes.



#6 Sandman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 2079

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 03:57 AM

I think it works in Dom 3 because the powerful races like LA Ermor & R'lyeh tend to draw people into the diplomatic/strategic metagame a bit more.

 

Everyone wants to see these guys crushed ASAP, as left unchecked they'll build momentum and become incredibly difficult to stop. No one really wants to be the one who does the heavy lifting though - all you get is a bunch of worthless provinces for your trouble, the only thanks you can expect is for one of the other players to come in a wipe you out while you're still recovering from the fight. Cue lots of sneaky manouevering to try and goad players into getting into fights, tenuous backstabbing alliances etc.

 

Another game that uses asymmetry well is the Phantom mod for SupCom. One player is randomly and secretly assigned the role of 'Phantom'. The objective of the game for the Phantom is to wipe out the other players. The objective of the game for the other players is to kill the Phantom. The Phantom is badly outnumbered, but has a resource bonus and the advantage that no-one knows who he is - the other players have to try and guess who the Phantom is before they can wipe him out. If they guess wrongly, and destroy a non-phantom player, they reduce their odds against the real Phantom. Meanwhile, the Phantom has to be careful with his resource bonus - if he can be seen to be growing too fast, too quickly, he might give himself away. Once again you have a diplomatic and strategic metagame which can add an exciting new dimension to the gameplay.

 

These all assume a reasonable number of players in a FFA scenario, with the freedom to make and break alliances at will. In a 1v1, or a fixed team style game - probably the most common RTS game modes - you don't have so much potential for the players gang up on the big guy, and I don't think it would work so well. 



#7 AltarofScience   Members   -  Reputation: 926

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 01:13 PM

Ah I have seen some mod that had Phantom in SC. It was pretty amusing. I think all the backstabbing is great. Although I'd have to teach the AI to do it which should be hilarious.



#8 Mratthew   Members   -  Reputation: 1493

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 03:17 PM

I think so long as the game offers unit growth (so each soldier can be as strong as the strongest factions unit) then this works fine. Balance is something that strategy games should be fighting against in my opinion. The whole idea of strategy is to use it to beat the odds. To outsmart your enemy and use all strategies to win against them. Balancing became an issue with "races" because players would get attached to a race and hated to lose with that race. I think there should be weak and strong factions to represent the real strife that any organism has to face. Adapt and evolve or be wiped out.



#9 AltarofScience   Members   -  Reputation: 926

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 05:03 PM

I agree with that. It is one of many reasons to have variable strength factions. Another example is a faction like LA Ermor that is specifically designed to be ganged up upon. Its incredibly strong because it causes disparate factions to need to work together to take it down. It changes so much of the game and adds that spicey variant to the game to keep it fresh.



#10 aattss   Members   -  Reputation: 373

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 06:07 PM

Having a faction designed to be very powerful isn't necessarily a good idea. Everyone will want to be the powerful person, and people will be discouraged from experimenting with different factions.



#11 Mratthew   Members   -  Reputation: 1493

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 07:08 PM

Couple design ideas to inspire players to choose the underdog faction.

 

Regiment the more powerful faction's gameplay mechanics making the player feel forced and controlled to play a certain way, the loss of freedom will discourage many players who seek freedom as a very important ideal worth fighting for. In addition to the gameplay, the progression could request the player to carry out missions that go against common moral comforts sustaining the factions authority quietly but forcefully.

 

Visually inspire the player to choose less powerful units. When I played Diablo 2 I played the Necromancer the whole time simply because he was more interesting to watch (no matter how useless he was).

 

Expanding game play depth of less powerful factions inspire skilled gamers to stick with the underdog often because the more powerful faction quickly becomes boring to play.

 

Explore the stronger faction in a single player campaign, giving the player every reason to hate them, then offer the other factions as alternatives for multiplayer and single-player hard mode and ultra hard modes.



#12 AltarofScience   Members   -  Reputation: 926

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 08:27 PM

Having a faction designed to be very powerful isn't necessarily a good idea. Everyone will want to be the powerful person, and people will be discouraged from experimenting with different factions.

 

Thank god for single player where no one gives a crap.

 

Dude anyone who plays Dominions knows that you are wrong though. Not everyone picks LA Ermor every game and some people don't like it at all, even in multiplayer. The only people who want to play the optimal faction every game are idiots who don't matter.



#13 AltarofScience   Members   -  Reputation: 926

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 08:33 PM

Couple design ideas to inspire players to choose the underdog faction.

 

Regiment the more powerful faction's gameplay mechanics making the player feel forced and controlled to play a certain way, the loss of freedom will discourage many players who seek freedom as a very important ideal worth fighting for. In addition to the gameplay, the progression could request the player to carry out missions that go against common moral comforts sustaining the factions authority quietly but forcefully.

 

Visually inspire the player to choose less powerful units. When I played Diablo 2 I played the Necromancer the whole time simply because he was more interesting to watch (no matter how useless he was).

 

Expanding game play depth of less powerful factions inspire skilled gamers to stick with the underdog often because the more powerful faction quickly becomes boring to play.

 

Explore the stronger faction in a single player campaign, giving the player every reason to hate them, then offer the other factions as alternatives for multiplayer and single-player hard mode and ultra hard modes.

 

Alternatively one could simply make factions that play quite differently than the others thus reducing the value of using the best faction. In many games the factions are so similar that there is no motivation not to play the best one.



#14 aattss   Members   -  Reputation: 373

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 12:35 PM

Having a faction designed to be very powerful isn't necessarily a good idea. Everyone will want to be the powerful person, and people will be discouraged from experimenting with different factions.

 

Thank god for single player where no one gives a crap.

 

Dude anyone who plays Dominions knows that you are wrong though. Not everyone picks LA Ermor every game and some people don't like it at all, even in multiplayer. The only people who want to play the optimal faction every game are idiots who don't matter.

 

It isn't rocket science that people who like a game like things that are in the game. I could say something along the lines of "dude anyone who plays Dwarf Fortress knows that no one cares about the user interface", but that doesn't mean that the people who play other games in the same genre don't care about the ui, nor does it mean that no one who tried Dwarf Fortress and otherwise would have loved it didn't play it because of the bad ui.

 

Single player isn't really relevant. It's typical for non-player opponents to be stronger or weaker than the main player. However, the strength of an ai opponent in single-player varies even when the opponent is of the same race. Besides, there is a reason that many people play multiplayer in games that have a singleplayer mode. Having a good singleplayer mode doesn't actually replace multiplayer.

 

A multiplayer game is supposed to be a battle of strategy and tactics. Someone shouldn't be outmatched just because the opponent picked an overpowered race. There shouldn't be a faction for players who want to win and a faction for players who don't care about winning. That's not the point of having a variety of different factions. The point is supposed to be to increase the number of strategies ant tactics someone needs to outsmart and defeat one's opponent.

 

I understand that it can be fun to play a game where one player is overpowered, but that's what custom maps and self-imposed handicaps are for. Not everyone wants to play the same type of game, and not everyone wants to play the same type of game all the time.



#15 AltarofScience   Members   -  Reputation: 926

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 03:10 PM

You made a slight error here.

 

YOU made a claim that EVERYONE would want to play the strongest race. I refuted that with an example. I never said everyone would do such an such. And yet in your Dwarf Fortress example you yet again said something about ALL players while my statement was about SOME players.

 

Maybe you should bone up on your reading comprehension.

 

On to stuff you said that wasn't condescending while at the same time wrongly focused on something I never said.

 

Its true that in a 1v1 match having one clearly superior race could be bad, but that's why people tend to not agree to a game where one player can use an unfair race in a 1v1 game.

 

In Dominions3 the rule is that if someone picks LA Ermor and they at any time appear to be gaining a large lead everyone gangs up on them. And you def have to kill them before they start casting Ermor's trademake global spells that start raising fuckloads of undead. The probability of an Ermor player winning may actually be less than the chance of a player with another faction winning since they tend to get allianced on quite a bit.

 

I don't think single player replaces multiplayer, I think its vastly superior to multiplayer. There should certainly be games that focus on multiplayer, because clearly a lot of people like it, but why does every single game have to focus on multiplayer? Every single damn game. If we have 50 multiplayer RTS games would it kill us to have one or two single player ones? I don't think so.

 

Single player has its own set of strengths.

 

To quote you:

 

"Not everyone wants to play the same type of game, and not everyone wants to play the same type of game all the time."

 

You should be careful because your post is tripping over itself with wild contradictions.



#16 Sandman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 2079

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 04:19 AM

Maybe you should bone up on your reading comprehension.
 
On to stuff you said that wasn't condescending while at the same time wrongly focused on something I never said.

 

I don't really think that was necessary. Please keep it civil.

 

 

While I love Dom3, I would be very cautious of taking lessons in game balance from it. I'd be doubly careful about taking those lessons and applying them to a different genre, as while RTS may still be a 'strategy' genre, it has very different rules.

 

Dom3 has:

  • A lot of factions (more than there are players in a typical game)  so factions can be unique within a game - only ONE player in a game can be Ermor. The enabling factors are: a) the graphics are pretty terrible, so the resource cost of adding new units is relatively small and b) The developers didn't give a monkeys about balance, so there was no need to balance every unit/faction against every other.
  • Support for a relatively large number of players (20 or so I think) so even fairly large differences in faction strength quickly become irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. The enabling factor is that it is turn based, PBEM style, so people can take some time over their moves and there are no issues with network performance. It's also much easier to get a large number of people together, as they don't all have to be at their computer at the same time, so not only are large games possible, but they are actually quite common.
  • Only one game mode: FFA. Games are long enough that alliances can be made and broken over the course of the game, but at the end of the day, only one player can win.
  • A relatively small but tightly knit playerbase that will happily ostracise people who don't play sportingly.

 

RTS Games typically have:

  • Fewer factions than the maximum number of players, so generally it is allowed for multiple players to play the same faction. Many RTS games are played quite competitively, and typically have higher graphical expectations than TBS games, so balance and appearance tends to matter a little more.
  • Much higher demands on the network code, as for each player you have to manage the positions and actions for a whole load of units in realtime. Consequently, few RTS games these days go above 8 player.
  • Multiple game modes: FFA, 1v1, 2v2 etc, plus the occasional more unusual mode.
  • Larger, but generally less organised playerbases than comparable TBS games.

 

In short, as I said before, Dom3 gets away with imbalanced factions by having enough players that you can nearly always gather together a big enough mob to gang up on the big guys. This is further helped by the fact that there can only be one player playing Ermor, so once you've dealt with him you're OK (at least until R'lyeh crawls out of the deep and eats your brain, anyway)

 

However some of Dom3's tricks are not so applicable to an RTS. How will you ensure that the 'weaker players will gang up' argument is viable? What about a 2v2 team game with Super/Super vs. Normal/Normal?



#17 AltarofScience   Members   -  Reputation: 926

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 05:06 AM

I had a big response all type out but what I realized was that I made a mistake in framing the discussion. I used the phrase RTS and that crippled any helpful discussion.

 

I had used exploratory strategy game in some other posts and the feedback was always far more useful even when it was negative. RTS can never escape the chains of Starcraft when people think about it. The number of responses about balance and 1v1 and 2v2 and anything related to competitive is drastically higher if I use the term I used here, RTS. And I don't give a giant doo doo noggin about those things.

 

I'm sorry I wasted everyone's time. I'll work on figuring out my opening post a lot more for any threads I may make in the future so that I can avoid mixing in irrelevant ideas.

 

Its true that I may not make a game which generates any interest in people, but it will because I mangled the execution and not because I don't see the point in cloning wildly successful e-sport RTS games when they already have dozens of them with far more resources and personnel than I could ever compete with.



#18 Dan Violet Sagmiller   Members   -  Reputation: 896

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 11:06 AM

From what I read in your initial post about Romans vs barbarians.  Perhaps romans cost more to build, and take longer, but you get 5 at a time, instead of 1 when they come out.

 

Then perhaps barbarians are created faster, but you have less control  for instance, instead of being able to target a building or unit with a barbarian, you can just target an area, and then the barbarian will attack what ever they want in that location.  The idea being that the romans won with banding, lines and organization.  Where as the barbarians simply charged, attacking anything.


Edited by hpdvs2, 14 January 2013 - 11:06 AM.

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#19 Kenji Kousagi   Members   -  Reputation: 124

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 12:15 PM

Something I thought may or may not work is to try experimenting with different methods of resource gathering. Most RTS games factions all use the resources the other guys use. Why does zerg need minerals? They're organic.

What if one group needs wood for all their stuff but the other faction relies on devotion to their god? The holy group will tend to turtle up naturally cause all they need is alters and their god gifts them with the needed materials. Where as the forest group needs to strike out and find more material, thus creating a naturally expansive group.

 

From a balance stand point since the holy guys sit around a pray all day they can't take much for damage and the forest guys chop wood all day and make for some tough face punching.


Edited by Kenji Kousagi, 18 January 2013 - 06:44 AM.


#20 aattss   Members   -  Reputation: 373

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 04:41 PM

I apologize, but it seems I misunderstood you. While I'm not going to argue who was more polite, I wish you the best of luck.






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