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Strategy Games Today != Strategy.

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Hi Guys i thought i would be a good idea to talk about startegy games today and weather we think that there really is startegy in them or is it just mindless - make men - get resources - go fight - repeat until win -. IMO there really isnt that much strategy in games today. So this thread will also be devoted to how we can improve them. about 4 years ago i came across a demo of a strategy game on gamesdomain.com called "Knights and Merchants". so i downloaded it, it turned out to be the best strategy game i had ever played so i bought it. now it is still the best strategy game i have ever played, out of all the RTSs games i have played, AOE, AOK, Sever Kingdoms 2, Alpha Centari, Empire Earth ect, Knights and Merchants(K&M), has had the most micro management, and it was all the Micro Management that made it fun, the problem with RTSs now is that they try to automate everything and make as less micro management as possible. if we give the player the reigns of his empire and let him make every single desision, i think the players would have a lot more fun. that would also allow for totally unique Civilizations and empires. just my 2cp. What do you guys think? Sir Darkan Fireblade -"I Feel like im playing Poker i dont know who''s bluffing!"-

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I think there is strategy in them. I am constantly strategizing my next move. You seem to have your terms confused. Micromanaging units is not strategy. Strategy is the general game plan. Tactics are more like the micromanagement part. Tactics are the way you execute the implement the strategy. Micromanagement is my (and many other people''s) least favorite part. Why do you think hotkeys and hotkeyed groups are so popular? I like some micromanagement during battle though, to be able to tell my troops exactly what to do. But sometimes I want to be able to step back and concentrate on the big picture (the strategy) a little.


-David

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Personally I prefer micromanagement in simulation and city building games like sim city or rollerocaster tycoon. when it comes to combat i think you want more strategic challenges, like limited units and which to use where.
The problem is that good strategic gameplay isnt importanat to publishers. I worked on a fantastic tactical game that was as tactical as chess and totally original, yet publishers werent too interested in the gameplay, they just fussed over the graphics style.
Age of empires is an example of a agme that isnt as strategic as it could be, but is a ncie balance of micro-management and stratgey, so it appeals to lovers of both genres.

http://www.positech.co.uk

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quote:
Original post by Kwizatz
I think you need to play Starcraft


Starcraft is an example of how the title of this thread is true. It isnt strategy, its a click fest.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
BitBlt: I suggest you go look up both tactics and strategy at www.m-w.com - you''ll find tactics is the less detailed entry being only concerned with the general game plan, whereas strategy is taking into consideration all the factors.

Yes, it may just be semantics, but the original poster has a point.

Now, saying that this extra level of management is MORE fun is highly questionable - there is a reason more and more games are shifting away from micro-management - it''s to appeal to a wider audience - one that doesn''t find the nitty gritty very interesting.




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Guest Anonymous Poster
Anonymous Poster,

Strategy:

- The science of military command, or the science of projecting campaigns and directing great military movements; generalship. From allwords.com.

- A long-range plan for achieving something or reaching a goal, or the skill of making such plans. From dictionary.cambridge.org.

Stratagem:

- Maneuver, manoeuvre, tactical maneuver, tactical manoeuvre. From poets.notredame.ac.jp/cgi-bin/wn.

Tactic/Tactics:

- The science and art of disposing military and naval forces in order for battle, and performing military and naval evolutions. It is divided into grand tactics, or the tactics of battles, and elementary tactics, or the tactics of instruction. From www.allwords.com.

- A specific action intended to get a particular result. From dictionary.cambridge.org.

Reading and responding to this thread gives me an idea: how about a system where high-level decisions are taken in the comfort of a general''s office, while low-level tactics are employed in real time and subordinate to the general strategy? The game can alternate between the two modes as necessary, planning and carrying out spy missions, using the information gained to plan and carry out reconnaissance missions, and finally using the information gained to plan and carry out an ambitious attack.

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I think an excellent strategic game is Gangster 2. I dunno why, but I just love it.
It also has that tactical level that you desire, but only in a limited way.

IMHO, the best way to go about making strategy games is to give the player a goal and means, but let the player figure out how to achieve that goal.

Thief had a strong strategy element in that respect.

You might want to check out Combat Mission, only available online. Awesome game, in strategic and tactical sense.

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IMHO the original poster is deadly right.

First, most or all of the RTS games are TACTICAL, not strategy. For strategy it makes no sense to go real time - strategy is about grand schemes, grand scales, and there is a lot of time there for thinking :-) Europe Universalis is Strategy - yes, it is "semi realtime", butyou can stop the watch ticking and it is about the grand scale - about how to achieve a long term goal.

Everything else, Empire Earth, and all the other RTS games are tacitcal, MAYBE operational if they are large. But at the end, they all care about a single battle, a single battlefield. This is, per definition, NOT strategy.

That said, I also dont like most of the tacitcal games, either. It is all about "more and better" units, not so much about DIFFERENT units. Normally you have a lot of specialised units that are pretty "single minded" in their efficiency, being more or less helpless against specific other units. This is missing in most parts - and so it is more about mass than about selecting the right units. SAD, but true.

Well, hopefully at times new games will pose a better challenge.

Regards

Thomas Tomiczek
THONA Consulting Ltd.
(Microsoft MVP C#/.NET)

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Wow like I haven''t heard this argument before.

This is an interesting debate in the use of language and terminology. So I guess I game for a bit of argument.

In my humblest of opinion:

Strategy - is a plan, leading to the accomplishment of an overall objective or set of objectives ( Like taking and holding bridge G or Invading planet F ).

Tactics - are more spur of the moment. They are a set of rules and methods one applies to a situation that leads to the fulfilment of the Strategic Objectives.

whether a game is set over a single battlefield or an entire planet it''s just a matter of scale.

In RTS games I apply the sensible strategy of fortifying my base against attack and then moving on to fulfil the military objectives set by the designers of the game, So isn''t that a strategic plan and thus a strategy.

Just because the RTS''s are fast and furious doesn''t mean they don''t have strategy in them. True they don''t have a GRAND PLAN, but they do have enough flexibility to have a strategy of play applied to them.

I don''t mind Micromanagement, I view it as giving me more choices over the environment, instead of just being given T number of units and told to conquer this area.


oh and one last thing
quote:
Original post by thona

That said, I also don’t like most of the tactical games, either. It is all about "more and better" units, not so much about DIFFERENT units. Normally you have a lot of specialised units that are pretty "single minded" in their efficiency, being more or less helpless against specific other units. This is missing in most parts - and so it is more about mass than about selecting the right units. SAD, but true.




not to be rude or anything, but have you heard of this thing called an ARMS RACE yes that''s right folk, the strategy that says we must build more and bigger guns, like guided missiles and the like to keep democracy safe for the world.







"Making it up! Why should I be making it up. Lifes bad enough as it is without wanting to invent more of it."

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Hmm, build more and better guns...that will eventually lead us to our own demise. Like, remember that little thing called the cold war? Well you probably weren''t alive for most of it. Guns won''t protect democracy my friend.

But anyway, getting back on topic, there is something called task overload. The more tactical control a game gives you (or micromanagement) then it has to be on a smaller scale strategically, or a person simply won''t have enough time to manage all of his/her units. The more strategy required by the game, the less tactical control you should have because you need time to think about "the big picture." I think we could split RTS into two sub categories then eh? RTS and RTT. Some gamers opt for one and some for the other.

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Looks like this thread becomes more interesting...Let me put some of my thoughts here.

Realtime strategy games do not have much strategy contents inside. Because it''s played fast, and have to be fast, players don''t have a lot of time to think about the best strategy for them. As a result, players don''t think at all, and just create a massive of powerful units and win the battle. The rule of RTS games is simple: if you play slow, you lose. That''s what hotkeys are for, to aid you improving your playing speed.

If you''re telling that there''s no strategy at all, I don''t agree with you. There is, but very few, and not too apparent, and perhaps not too effective.

The best strategy game I''ve ever played is the series of Romance of The Three Kingdoms by Koei Corporation. From political, domestic, to military issues, we''re in charge. Not just that, during the battle...if you have a very good plan, even with 100 army, you can defeat 100,000 army. That''s what I call strategy. The game is not RTS, it''s turn-based, and time doesn''t matter. You can think as long as you can during the battle, and that''s where people can really plan their best strategy.

In fact, in the actually battle, the war doesn''t end in 30 minutes, does it?


My compiler generates one error message: "Doesn''t compile."
-Albert Tedja-

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Guest Anonymous Poster
quote:
Original post by Zarquon
In RTS games I apply the sensible strategy of fortifying my base against attack and then moving on to fulfil the military objectives set by the designers of the game, So isn''t that a strategic plan and thus a strategy.

While I wouldn''t say that RTS games are totally devoid of strategy, fortifying your base and coming out fighting ain''t much in the way of strategy. Instead of being given your objectives directly, how about instead discovering what those objectives are and figuring out the best way to accomplish them?

Say you have reports that the enemy is developing weapons of mass destruction. That''s all you know right now. What do you do? You might begin by doing a bit of reconnaissance work. Lets say you do that and find a couple of buildings that look like weapons factories. They might be innocent factories, but if you watch long enough you might notice suspicious activity. You make a note of currently fortified areas. What do you do now? Where do you attack first? What kind of attack? Once you decide you deploy your troops. But things have changed. How do you adjust in the midst of battle? Is your tactical expertise enough to help you win the battle? That''s the kind of decision making I''d like to see in an RTS.

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I have to agree with this. Remember Close Combat? This had such a level - you comanded small units, but were NOT responsible for handling every soldier in them. Instead, they had a local commander.

For the bigger and better guns: I was not arguing them. I was arguing the lack of specialisation. Good strategy games hve distinct units with distinct abilities. Not just bigger and better, but more specialised. This is missing. And a lot of "tactical realism" is missing. Under normal conditions, you can trap enemies way easier. You have a big advantage in taking high ground etc.. Most "Relatime Strategy games" lack this. There it is ONLY about more, and this takes out certain dimensions. And it enforces micromanagement. Stratgy is NOT about tactical decisions. Yes, it is a strategical decision to take and hold a bridge. No, it is NOT a strategical decision where to put the individual people. That is called tactics. And this is where players spend most of their time - due to the tremendous stupidity of the computer personalities.

Most battles are alo won by hurting the enemies supply lines. Not only to stop their production, but also to stop their fighting effectivity - another lacking element. I remember a special space strategy game where your units had supply points. When being near ap lanet you owned, they refreshed, but when making deep space attacks, they did not. I could definitly hurt your war efforts by attacking your supply ships (disabling your restock capabilities) and thus hurt your fighting performance (like in "no ammunition"). That is not possible in most games, where units (once built) are self dependant. This just takes away dimensions of tactics.

Regards

Thomas Tomiczek
THONA Consulting Ltd.
(Microsoft MVP C#/.NET)

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sorry I may not have made myself clear the first time. Yes I do know the difference between strategic and tactical decisions, and yes I may have not made this fact clear in my original post.

I do agree that RTS''s lack certan aspects, and they could all do with a vast increase in the number and type of forces available. Also a credible supply system would be more interesting.

I did make the distinction between tactical and strategic decisions, maybe I sould speak louder next time.

I think the one thing that were missing is that not everyone like''s full blown strategy game and not eveyone likes RTS''s.

A simple solution would be just to rename the thing, for example Real Time Simulation, or Real Time Tactical Simulation.



"Making it up! Why should I be making it up. Lifes bad enough as it is without wanting to invent more of it."

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Guest Anonymous Poster
quote:
Original post by thona
I was arguing the lack of specialisation. Good strategy games hve distinct units with distinct abilities. Not just bigger and better, but more specialised. This is missing.

Indeed. I don''t play many RTS games, but in those I''ve played units are no more than glorified foot soldiers. More or less behavior, only more powerful. The quirks and other unique traits of particular technologies are missing.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Correction: More or less the same behavior , only more powerful.

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Indeed :-)

My suggestions to improove this would be:

(a) less micromanagement. Basically the possibility to have commander units that then take care of certain things. That can notify you ("enemy sighted - engaging" "under heavy fire - retreating") and that have the ability to handle certain aspects, like movintg artillery units attached into the back etc.

(b) more distinctive units. Units that have a special cause. An Artillery that has a high or extreme max range, and a big min range, and that is totally helpless, using a lot of supply. Anti tank infantry that is helpless against ground troops (or extremely ineffective). Stuffl ike this - the old problem of requiring a good mixture of units and to use them in a good and effective way.

(c) more realism in units damage - I know exactly one RTS wheree the backside of a tank has less armor value than the front side. Together with (b) thiswill allow small specialised units (with good tactic) to ambush larer forces, while (a) will allow the user to focus on this, without bothering too much on how to position individual soldiers in the scope of the larger battle.

Regards

Thomas

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I don't agree that there is no strategy in RTS games, but I do agree that there is relatively little combat strategy .

You can measure the efficiency of a strategy or tactic using an equation like this:

efficiency = payoff of strategy/player effort needed to implement

The problem with the vast majority of RTS games, is that the game rules do not really reward military strategy well enough. You cannot well afford to split your forces - coordinating multiple groups of units in different parts of the map require considerable player effort, and give you very little additional payoff. Unless the player is very good at micromanagement, he'll fuck it up, and end up with substantially less payoff than if he had just sent in a mindless swarm.

Economic strategy on the other hand, is very well rewarded. The player effort involved in developing and implementing a new build order and pumping a suitable number of peons is relatively low, and the payoff for getting it right is huge - you end up being able to build twice as many units as your opponent in half the time. With those sorts of odds, you don't really care about strategy - its just Seek and Destroy.

So, how do you fix it? Well the approach I am taking is to ignore economic strategy all together, because I am not interested in that - so remove resource management. Next, alter the game rules so that correctly positioning your units can make a substantial difference to their effectiveness - include rules taking into account manoeverability, fire arcs, and terrain. Make it so that combat isn't just about who has the most units, but who has the best position, and then strategic and tactical gameplay will follow. Finally, alter the interface slightly to improve the number of options available for each unit, without adding so much complexity that the game is unplayable.

[edited by - Sandman on June 25, 2002 7:14:48 AM]

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quote:
Original post by Sandman
I don''t agree that there is no strategy in RTS games, but I do agree that there is relatively little combat strategy .


So, how do you fix it? Well the approach I am taking is to ignore economic strategy all together, because I am not interested in that - so remove resource management.




Just out of interest, how does the player obtain units without an economy? I''m assuming that you replace it with some form of point system or other means ( please don''t say that the units available are fixed ). Do they have a choice of what units that they can use?





"Making it up! Why should I be making it up. Lifes bad enough as it is without wanting to invent more of it."

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quote:
Original post by Zarquon
Just out of interest, how does the player obtain units without an economy? I''m assuming that you replace it with some form of point system or other means ( please don''t say that the units available are fixed ). Do they have a choice of what units that they can use?



The player can obtain units more or less freely, subject to some limitations. I''m still fiddling about with the details, but you can read about (and give feedback on) the basic idea here.

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