Jump to content

  • Log In with Google      Sign In   
  • Create Account

Banner advertising on our site currently available from just $5!

1. Learn about the promo. 2. Sign up for GDNet+. 3. Set up your advert!


Member Since 04 Dec 2011
Offline Last Active Today, 01:17 AM

Posts I've Made

In Topic: Why are RTS games becoming unpopular?

29 January 2015 - 10:59 AM

There kind of are games that eliminate one or more of the game types in an RTS. If you take just the resource and building part, you’ve basically got a city builder, and having strategy without micro is just a turn-based strategy.


There’s also Real Time Tactics, where you have army control but without resource collection or base building. The actual real time battles in Total War are RTT even though the overall game is also often considered an RTS, but outside of that, the genre hasn’t been as popular as RTS, it seems like it’s a potential middle ground that’s been skipped over in favor of MOBAs.

In Topic: Why are RTS games becoming unpopular?

28 January 2015 - 09:05 PM

I saw also that a few people mentioned unlimited zoom and real time projectiles, which are great features to have in an RTS. (They’re also both present in my game.) Unlimited zoom is not always necessary, and it’s going to be much more difficult if the game has actual terrain to render, but it’s certainly a nice feature to have and it gets me to my broader point; that it makes it easier for the player to see the battlefield and manage his armies, without taking control away from the player. For me, that’s one of the core design philosophies for good RTS gameplay: make it easy for the player to do what he wants to do, as long as the computer isn’t actually making decisions for the player.


One of the problems I see with some RTS that hurts the genre’s appeal to more casual or simply more laid-back players is the artificially inflated APM required to execute basic tasks. The most blatant example of this kind of mechanical obstacle I can think of (apart from just bad pathfinding) was the selection cap in the original Starcraft, where you could only select 12 units at a time. If the player wanted to move more units, you had to select them in separate groups and give the order multiple times. That’s multiple physical actions (selecting and ordering each sub-group) to accomplish one theoretical action that the player actually wants (“move my army here.”) There are some other more common design decisions, such as the way production is handled, that can also contribute to the stressful and frustrating nature of RTS games. Games where the player has to pay for units up front before starting production demand much more attention than the C&C/Grey Goo/SupCom approach, where units can be queued up at no initial cost, and automatically deplete your resources as they are constructed.


Overall, RTS controls have gotten more intuitive since the early days, but I think there are still some ways to further streamline the process without alienating the enthusiast audience. One of my examples is the ability to draw lines on the map and have a group of units move into position all at once. Say you want to form up in a concave arc facing the enemy (a common tactic in RTS games) this can now be done with a single sweep of the mouse, rather than dozens of individual orders. I don’t see this as excessive automation, any more than say an attack-move command is, since the player already knows exactly what he wants to happen, and is inputting all the data points manually. (Video showing how this is useful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXal_-k5Rps )



Ultimately, I think core RTS game design can be viewed as a zero sum game in terms of how players need to split their attention. I consider there to be three primary activities in RTS gameplay: 1) strategic decision making (what to build, where to attack, etc.) 2) active unit micro (combat tactics, where each player responds to the other’s movements) and 3) passive micro/macro (tasks such as producing units, where the opponent’s actions don’t directly affect what the player is doing.) If you decrease the difficulty or effectiveness of one of these three tasks, the other two will become proportionally more important, so RTS gameplay design boils down to choosing what kind of tasks the player is going to focus on. I find that a mix of mostly 1) and 2) is the most appealing, although not necessarily optimal for an esport level of competitive play, but everyone has their own preferences. There’s quite a lot of other factors that go into making a good RTS of course: the story, the mission design, the uniqueness of the units, and so on, but this is the most concise analysis I can come up with for evaluating the core gameplay of an RTS and defining what makes that activity “fun.”

In Topic: Why are RTS games becoming unpopular?

28 January 2015 - 03:39 AM

When it comes to building a multiplayer community, free to play MOBAs definitely have a lower barrier to entry, in terms of both price and the skills necessary to be decent at the game. RTS really isn’t suited for F2P monetization, as evidenced by the cancellation of the new C&C game, and it doesn’t have the mainstream appeal of other competitive genres like FPS.


Most of the people I know who switched from SC2 to DOTA/League did so because they like the team atmosphere and find it less stressful to play.

I also get the sense that that’s probably the majority opinion, but for me it’s actually the opposite. I don’t play MOBAs because I feel more stressed about letting the rest of the team down, whereas when it’s a 1v1 I’m more relaxed because I’m just playing for myself.



There are a few approaches that I think RTS can take to keep the genre fresh. There is a lot of relatively unused genre blending that I think would be engaging, and I think there are a lot of good ways to blend for instance, RTS and RPG gameplay in an interesting way. With the project I'm working on, I'm actually more interested in the RTS/4X combination, which I think is one of the other obvious evolutions of the RTS genre. I'd say that Sins of a Solar Empire and Divinity Dragon Commander were both good recent examples of that sub-genre of RTS, where you have the slow paced, big picture strategic element, but you also have direct control of real time battles. Unfortunately, I do think that Sins and especially Divinity suffered from less than stellar implementations of the core action-RTS mechanics and micromanagement elements that players have come to expect from these kinds of games.

In Topic: Louis Castle C&C Interview

22 January 2015 - 04:12 PM

That was a very interesting interview, a lot of nice insights into the history and the design of the C&C series. As a big fan of C&C, it’s fascinating to get some insight into the decisions behind the evolution of the franchise. There’s some good general game design wisdom in there as well. The part about C&C4 and how focusing on realism is safer than trying to be humorous seems like the right idea in general. I also liked the double/half thing he said about how veterancy and some other mechanics in Tiberian Sun were too subtle, I think it’s still the best RTS at least for singleplayer, but the change in veterancy in RA2 and beyond is really noticeable in comparison, both visually and in terms of actual effectiveness.

In Topic: Quicktime Events - why are they so widespread still? A question and a rant.

29 November 2014 - 07:42 PM

I think you’re basically right that QTEs are an easier and more binary way to approach game design. They use QTEs instead of integrating regular mechanics into boss fights and such because QTEs are a lot less prone to glitches and exploits. ‘Press X to climb boss’ is going to be a lot easier to debug than a full on climbing system with collision detection.


I’d imagine it’s the same reason why studios prioritize cinematic cutscenes over complex mechanics. The simpler the gameplay is, the less there is to go wrong during development, so it’s less likely that the game will get delayed from balancing issues. Even if it’s expensive to individually tailor animations to each QTE or render cutscenes, it’s a more predictable timeframe so it’s less risky than implementing a new combat system that could end up taking months to debug.


As for why players accept it, I’m definitely one of those that's not a fan of QTEs, but I guess enough people value story and graphics enough that they’ll overlook sub-par mechanics.