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Dauntless

The RTS unit creation paradigm

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I think that a vast majority of RTS follow the following mold: 1. Start with zero units other than "harvesters" 2. Use harvesters to quickly build a military industrial complex 3. Manage economy while building army 4. While building army, deal with threats 5. Eliminate other side''s armed forces and/or defeat his military industrial complex. Admittedly this is a fairly gross simplification, but the vast majority fall under this role. And even the few that do not still generally do the following: *Create your Army on the fly while also dealing with strategy.* What if instead of creating an economy and in turn building an army, why not start with a pregenerated economy AND army? In essence, you design your military industrial complex on a certain geographic area, and then you also build your armed forces before the fighting even begins. One of the things that greatly bothers me about RTS''s today is the assumption that you have to build your armed forces from scratch and/or maintain an economy while doing so. Even the few games that get rid of economy management altogether still basically let you pick and chose your armed forces. what I''d like to see is a TRUE military organization. In other words, even if you have a "factory" that produces "tanks", you don''t just put in an order for 10 tanks and 20 infantry. In the real world, all armed forces have an organizational structure. At a certain level of hierarchy, you have a preset amount of ratios of troops and equipemtn that most countries term their TO&E (for Tables of Organization and Equipment). For example, let''s say that your country has a combined armed force like so: 4 Platoons to be comprised of: Per Platoon: 28 Riflemen 4 Squad Automatic Weapon gunners 2 Light Machine Guns 1 Combat Medic 1 Communications Operator Company Support Staff: 1 AT team 1 AA Team 1 Forward Observer Team 1 squad of 7 men for Mobile Head Quarters 1 attached MIFV platoon comprised of: 4 Armored Fighting Vehicles 1 attached organic artillery support (120mm mortar team) Okay, now suppose you send this company off fighting and you lose 2 of the AFV''s, and 30 of your rifleman, and both of your light machine gun crews. Now in most RTS games, each element of the company is something you can "order". So you''d tell your "Infantry Factory" to issue you 30 men, and your "Tank factory" to issue you 2 more AFV''s. But in RTS games, these items you ordered are fully functional and independent entities in and of themselves. THAT is what I find disturbing. While you COULD make an independent platoon out of the 30 men and attach it to the platoon what you really want to do is send them as replacement troops. In a nutshell, "factories" issue replacements, not independent entities capable of independent action. Factories only build building blocks for the actual fighting units you create. What this does in a gameplay sense is make the player more cautious with how he uses his units. You can merge independent units like a platoon to a damaged company, but that creates training issues, and if you send a bunch of FNG replacements into a damaged company, then you lower its morale and or quality. Also, it means that you have to have the logistics in place to send these replacements to the fighting units. I''m tired of seeing the "pizza ordering" style of RTS game play. I don''t want to see a factory build a unit, and then the player sends the unit on its merry way. It''s like a battlefield commander calling up a pizza delivery chain and saying..."ummm yeah, I''d like 10 infantry, and 2 AFV''s for delivery please". To me, it''s that cheesy (sorry for the pun ). It''s a model that tries to abstract and simplify the process of creating Units, but I think it''s TOO simplified and a better system can be made.

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So you''re suggesting that play styles (like melee in starcraft) would be defined by things like: each side gets X number of infantry platoons, Y armored such-and-such, and so on. So then when a platoon took casualties, the player would call it away from the front likes and request for replacements. Perhaps the player would risk loosing the platoon entity (and thus the maximum number of troops he would be allowed to have at any given time) and this would be a huge reason to keep the actual organizational entity alive. This would eliminate the player''s urge to think of his units as throw-a-way. Perhaps if a game type allowed reinforcements, you could over the course of battle have (say one or two) throw-a-way platoons that you could use for that extra push that is sometimes required knowing that you could request reinforcements to replace the platoon (or whatever) entities that you lost. Replacements and reinforcements would obviously take time assemble.

Is this a proper application of what you are thinking? Or am I way off?

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G''day,

I agree with you that the direction strategy games are taking at the moment is too far from realism but I what you are suggesting sounds like it could very easily become boring if it is not implemented correctly.

I think you are mixing up how countries PLAN there wars and how they fight them. We haven''t seen a full scale war since world war two (i am not counting the gulf as the US only really had FF casualties so we can''t use that as an example for replacing KIA troops, and I don''t have enough knowledge of all the continual wars in the arab countries, so lets just use WW2 as an example).

In WW2 when a platoon/company was sent out if it lost its medic or radio operator it would often find a replacement from back at "base" and these people would just be sent in. Towards the height of the war this was probably happening daily as different people were being KIA and guys fitting what the dead person did would just be slotted in.

I believe this would happen today if we had a full scale war, and whilst military''s would try and stop this from happening it is inevitable, and the "pizza ordering" system would be the only way to keep platoons in a working state (if you loose your medic you really don''t want to be running into another fight until you get a new one).

So what I am saying is that whilst current RTS games are still a departure from reality they still have quite a few concepts that fit well with a "real" war.

When you say:
*Create your Army on the fly while also dealing with strategy.*

I think this is the main problem with strategy games. I believe this is due to scope. In a real war you wouldn''t send every single available troop in to attack the enemy base and as guys die build/train ones to replace them. you would have a pool of troops and send in only a subset of them leaving you with replacements. Is this what you are saying is the problem with current strategy games?? in that people are just sending everyone in and ordering the piece of the army/pizza that die?

Anyways, that is just some loose thoughts I had on your ideas.

Doolwind

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quote:
Original post by Dauntless
What if instead of creating an economy and in turn building an army, why not start with a pregenerated economy AND army? In essence, you design your military industrial complex on a certain geographic area, and then you also build your armed forces before the fighting even begins.

Given no or little information about what you will be facing, each army would have to be fairly similar. Most people are probably going to have armies that are 80% identical, with 20% variation based on personal preference.

quote:
Even the few games that get rid of economy management altogether still basically let you pick and chose your armed forces.

Myth doesn''t, which is the game that is currently impressing me. (5 years late, I know.)

quote:
what I''d like to see is a TRUE military organization.
...
I''m tired of seeing the "pizza ordering" style of RTS game play.
...
It''s a model that tries to abstract and simplify the process of creating Units, but I think it''s TOO simplified and a better system can be made.

But the ''real'' system doesn''t exactly offer players much scope for making interesting choices. So I can''t agree that what you propose is better for gamers. In fact, I can sense some players being very frustrated when they realise 2 minutes into the game that their initial deployment was ineffective. At least with the pizza delivery, a wise commander has a chance of turning things around.

[ MSVC Fixes | STL | SDL | Game AI | Sockets | C++ Faq Lite | Boost | Asking Questions | Organising code files | My stuff ]

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In response to Kylotan''s critical insights on the necessity of pre-info, don''t real-world militaries have pre-engagement/deployment info? No one goes into a battle knowing absolutely nothing about the terrain. Yes, certain details may be hidden, but enough general tactical and strategic info must be available for the deployment of troops to be viable.

I posit that, in order for Dauntless'' idea to work, the player must be "briefed" prior to platoon selection/construction. The brief would contain as much geographic data as could be gathered (this may vary based on the nature of the conflict and the location, as well as the resources of the nation the player is representing; more affluent nations have satellite images, etc), scouting reports on estimated opposing force size and makeup, any important chronological events (change of the guards, restocking of supplies, etc) and so forth. The player can then make intelligent choices and decisions, and victory becomes a matter of better strategy/tactics and execution.

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Magicscript-
You''re sort of on the right track. You don''t necessarily have to trudge the wounded unit back to base, but you DO have to maintain supply lines from your wounded unit stretching back to your supply bases. This is something sorely missing from RTS games, any coherent sense of "fronts" and lines of supply. While some guerrila style wars have no fronts this has it''s own set of intriguing game play possibilities.

What I was thinking more of was that as a player, either:
A) you keep fighting with your wounded unit
or
b) you wait for the replacement units to come in, and taking a toll on morale/training

The way current games work now, the "pizza delivery system" lets you have individual units that the player already has control of instead. Note that it IS possible to create brand new organizational units into your armed forces.....but the difference is that you create holistic units, not a hodge podge of units that you create via your "pizza factory queueing" system.

Let''s see if I can put this another way....

If you have an "infantry factory", and a "tank factory", these factories in and of themselves do not create independent and whole units. They merely create parts of a whole. Going back to the pizza analogy, in my system each "factory" really just specializes in one thing...say a "cheese factory", a "dough factory, and a "pepperoni factory". If the player calls up the factory, it''d sort of be like he ordered a piece of cheese instead of the whole pizza....that''s the system I have in mind. In other words the military industrial complex''s factories are not pizza delivery chains, they are basically parts factories used to build a congregate system. You don''t order 30 infantry, you order a platoon....you don''t order 4 artillery pieces, you order an artillery battery. If you have less than the whole, then they are reserved for replacements.

Really, my idea of a military industrial system abstracts the whole unit creation process. Instead of ordering "10 infantry and 5 tanks", either your nation automatically tries to create replacement units for your damaged armed forces, or it goes on to create brand new organizational units.

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Doolwind-
read my post above to magicscript. I think that in real life, if you lose parts of your battle forces, you have to make do with what you have. Either you retreat to lick your wounds and get replacements from your bases, or you press on.

As for how wars will be fought from the present on.....not really sure. I have my own ideas for a sci-fi warfare that I''ve briefly touched on in other topics. I''m currently working on a background setting that will hopefully explain alot of the game world background and how the military works. In a nutshell though, I think large scale battles on the order of WWII simply won''t happen anymore, but logistics will still be a prime concern as it always has.

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Dauntless-

It is very true that in the world today most countries'' defence forces are made up of the ratio of troops you said, and it pretty much has been since the beginning of warfare...but...

I think this would make a very bland strategy game (wether it would add to the strategy or detract is certainly up for debate) as I believe the fun comes from departing from the norm of having x medics and y rifleman. Allowing for a different units in the battle is what give variety to the game and therefore strategy.

Perhaps you could try and point the player towards having these ratios by say aeroplanes costing a lot more than a GI, to do this you would have to have a much larger seperation of costs unlike current strategy games where 1 aeroplane is equivalent to about 5-10 GI (in cost).

I think as soon as you try and lock the player into anything you are reducing the fun (and strategy) of a game. By putting definate advantages by having your troops in a certain hierarchy players will tend to lean towards this, but i don''t believe they should be locked into doing it (by giving them a certain ratio that have to stick by).

What do you think??

Doolwind

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Kylotan-
I don''t think it''s to far of a stretch to say that''s exactly how the world works right now. Basically, every country throughout history has had their own doctrine of warfare that suits their mentality, their budget, their geography and their strategies. For example, America and England, being island nations have always advocated superior naval assets, and they have yet to be seriously challenged in naval power. If you know the geography of your region, and you have in your mind''s eye how you''d like to use your troops, then you should design your armed forces around it.

If you lived on an island like Japan or England, it''d be rather foolhardy to concentrate your military assets on land troops, but if you are a landlocked country like Austria then you''d be a fool not to.

The fun will be in designing not just the composition of your military, but also the integration of it. What do I mean by that? Does your country integrate it''s ground, air and naval power? At what level do you group your artillery....en masse like the Russians, or piecemeal like the Americans? Is med evac a priority for your nation, or do you treat you troops like cannon fodder (i.e. China or Iran). What is the smallest level of command....a 30man platoon, or a 120man company (American 2nd Lieutenants have a great deal of freedom while in Russia a platoon is commanded by a senior NCO who can not order fire support).

In fact, it is these very organizational details that are lacking in RTS games. In RTS games today, you just have a mob of units that you order willy nilly. I believe it not only offers a lack of depth for gameplay, but THAT is more frustrating than having to chose how your armed forces are organized.

I posit that today''s RTS games are truly tactical games, not strategic in scale at all. Their very nature does not let you make any grand plans. So personally, I think that there are FAR more many interesting choices you can make with a detailed organizational structure. What you perceive aas a lack of freedom in chosing how units are composed of, I see as a weakness in strategical thinking.

Tell me, what warfare style sounds more interesting to you?

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
"Captain Carlson watched the little blips representing the NEG 22nd armored Recce column moving abreast of the ridgeline just 1km north of his position. He knew that this was just an advance force, and that NEG main force was just behind it....

"damn it all" Carlson thought....

Carlson looked at the readout display on his mobile headquarters Tac scan, quickly noting his weakened company''s strength. Delta company, 4th battalion (the "Cheetahs as they were unofficially known)...the company Carlson inherited after Major Brickmore unfortunately took a piece of shrapnel to the head...was in shaken condition, but still capable of holding off the 22nd Recce''s forward elements, IF Major anderson and Bravo company from the Irish Light Guard could link up to him in the next 20 minutes or so. The NEG had mauled the McAlpin Freezones forces in a surprise Orbital drop earlier in the day...punching a huge hole in the 45th Division''s left flank. Johnson''s Brigade had fared the worse...the same Brigade that Carlson was in...and who now had to fight a rearguard action before the NEG forces rolled up the 45th''s left flank altogether.

Carlson noted on the tac scan that 3rd platoon still had its Dragon2 anti tank team.
"with ammo no less....small miracle" thought Carlson ruefully.

While some of the squads still had their man portable PIAT2 anti tank rockets, these were generally found to be last ditch weapons used only in an emergency. Quckly sizing up the terrain, Carlson decided that he had no time to lose.

"Geiger, get your platoon situation by the lip of the basin at HG24 on the double...if you encounter the 22nd, DO NOT fire until I give the order" barked Carlson through his throat comm to 2nd lieutenant Geiger, a man he had come to trust for his level headedness.

"Byrne, move your men oblique to Geiger, just to his south east. Get your Dragon team on the perch of that ridge...I''m going to give you Ramirez''s FO team as well...fire at my mark"

"Sheehan, I want 3rd platoon in a skirmish line extending to the west of Geiger''s men, I have a hunch the 22nd''s commander is going to hunker down and dismount his troops just behind the ridge. If you spot infantry....shoot to lure them into Geiger''s position"

"I''m going to take 4th platoon myself in reserve....God speed"
Carlson took a deep breath and watched the little blips from the 22nd draw closer to his men. Damn it....they had two Meerkat AFV''s and 2 Fuch APC''s along with two other vehicle blips that the sensor team hadn''t been able to pick up yet.

"That can''t be good...." swore Carlson under his breath

Then it got a lot worse, the blips changed from unknown to 2 JagerFaust exo frames. Carlson took one more look at his Tac scan and with a sense of dread saw the 2 klicks distance between his unit and Major Anderson, and it looked like he was about to run into trouble himself.

Sighing in resignation, but knowing his duty, Carlson resigned himself to his fate. A small squawk on the secured channel of his ear piece startled him...

"Delta Company 6''er, this is Valkyrie4 6''er, do you copy?"

Carlson''s head swam....a Valkyrie unit? here?

"This is 6''er Delta Company, I copy. What is your inbound?"

Though Carlson was a military professional, even he was sometimes bemused by military jargon and the history that produced such anachronisms. But he replied in kind, calling himself 6''er, which by some obscure military history precedent had come to mean "leader".

"inbound ETA of 5 minutes. Bravo Delta decided you could use a hand here".

Although Carlson was elated to hear the news...even he was somewhat doubtful of how much the Valkyries could really do for him. Still, he could still recall how he had seen these genetically altered humans literally punch through brick walls, sprint at 30mph and seemingly dodge bullets (at least to his eyes). And if a squad of 8 of them was coming his way....the more the merrier.....
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Just a little taste of what ORGANIZED combat would look and feel like. You really can''t get that feeling of immersiveness and history and esprit de corps from RTS games...so tell me, would you rather imagine your battles to look and feel like what I described above, or just send little units piece by piece...that have no history, no sense of organization...and no personality?

BTW, if you read how this narrative works, it will be VERY similar to how the gameplay will be. You will have officers who recieve orders from the players who then carryout the actual actions of the units.

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Oluseyi-
You pretty much hit the nail on the head. Most countries select their armed forces composition based on their military doctrine. The United States and Nato have constructed their militaires around a defensive core, but have established units capable of quick and rapid deployment should offensive capability be required (for example Aircraft carriers deploying air power, and Marine Expeditionary Brigades for land insertion).

Generally, the terrain of the land will always be known ( at least on a one planet type of background) and therefore you can suit your military forces to adapt to whether you wish to fight a defensive type of war (for example, if you played the Swiss, the mountains are your best ally)

So I think Kylotan''s position taht all militaries will be roughly the same really isn''t so. Afterall, look at the difference between the US and Russia, or in the past between say England and France. The force composition and the unit organization will very much depend on how the player wishes to fight, and can be an interesting study in strategy in and of itself. Do you want to play the "mass em up and overwhelm them" style of play? Or do you want to play the "sniper style" and cut off the head of the chicken? The only real problem with my style that I see is chosing the geographical region to play in. Obviously, a player will want an island nation to protect his borders, or one blessed in natural resources.

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