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Kylotan

The 'rush': detrimental to RTS strategies?

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This quote from another thread made me think:
quote:
Original post by haro I''m not really fond of AOE/AOE2/AOM.. It always turns into 1. Try to win/kill his economy by rushing your opponent. 2. Maximize your economy while simultaneously pumping out the optimal number of units to continually attack him with.
Perhaps for an RTS to offer diverse and emergent strategy, it must bias the game overwhelmingly in favour of defence in the early stages so that a small advantage can''t be exploited in the form of a ''rush''. Obviously a rush is a valid strategy, but its mere existence often precludes the emergence of other strategies that demand a period of relative safety in order to develop. In other words, if there''s a chance that your opponent will rush you, you have to either beat them on their terms, or dig in. The first option implies copying the opponent, which is not terribly interesting. The second option only works if you have the defensive bias already mentioned, otherwise you''re just gambling at best and handicapping your growth at worst. One way of making this feasible would be to make your peons relatively dangerous vs. opposing forces, but poor at attacking opposing buildings. This forces the opposition to have a significant advantage before being able to conquer your home territory. Or start everyone off in a partly-fortified area, which will need to be worn down by a process of attrition. The flip-side of this is obviously avoiding stalemate. There must be some way of one side asserting dominance that doesn''t come down to ''sacrificing pieces'' as in Chess until one side has a peon and an archer vs. an opponent''s single peon. I actually found Age of Empires good in this regard as units had preferred targets and units to avoid, which meant that careful choice and deployment of units could break through any defence eventually. Any thoughts? [ MSVC Fixes | STL Docs | SDL | Game AI | Sockets | C++ Faq Lite | Boost
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Guest Anonymous Poster
Usually, the "main" building has a bit of firepower to stave off an early rush.

I don''t think a rush is all that common or necessary -- when we play around the office, he who rushes, almost never wins.

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I think that a solution to the "rush" is best found by examining why it doesn''t happen in real life. RTSes almost exclusively start with a single lowly peasant coming out of a hut. With this zero-based buildup, it''s no wonder that minor inequalities early on can have such a huge impact.

I suggest that all players start a game with a decent fortification, in terms of buildings and warriors, already in place.


How appropriate. You fight like a cow.

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One realism problem, ignoring gameplay for a moment, of all build-base-then-attack RTS games is that it leads to all sides becoming more powerful over the course of their battle as they develop, wheras in the real world fighting is not a very good method of promoting growth in an economy, or much of anything for that matter. A "rush" of any kind shouldn''t be possible in its RTS definition, devoting everything at the start of the game to an overwhelming wave.

Continuing along those lines, I think that one thing most RTS games miss is the idea of unifying the play to a smaller number of experiences. You are fairly dragged along from developing your civilization or whatever into smashing the other guy, or else you lose, and they are like different games played on the same board. Outside reinforcements are generally avoided in favor of building it all from scratch, and when items like power and food are used as limitations, our commander can at times feel like a economic planner, not someone building military forces and defenses. This disjointness has turned me off to RTS games...I played a few(C&C/RA 1, WC I+II) and then tired of it. They try to strike a balance between fighting and resources and really it just seems too needlessly busy and hectic.

There are games that go to the two extremes of all-resources or all-fighting, but they are fewer. (The Settlers series and Myth, for example) There is no doubt that the rush "problem" is eliminated in them, however.

Perhaps the real problem is that the real-time we are using is too fast; we should stop using awkwardly-formed scales that try to overlook how one tiny building can magically produce people that are bigger than its doors, and move to a more realistic one where it takes some time to move people about, and more attention can be given to thoughtful strategy and real logistical problems instead of limiting our units through quantities and construction times.

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RTF: "more attention can be given to thoughtful strategy and real logistical problems"

The game would then be less of an RTS and more of a turn based strategy game almost. The main selling point of RTS''s i think is that they effectively combine strategical thinking with fast paced action. So in order to balance these things out, of course there will be less realism and more ''disjointness''.

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I would personally like an RTS to have defensive structures powerful enough to be reckoned with instead of, as often seems to be the case, near-symbolic defenses incapable of doing more than slow down a force of any significant size. If towers were made enough of a threat to make infantry assaults truly costly - powerful enough that one would not normally tackle them without decent support by artillery or siege engines - this might stop much of the immediate rushing.

Of course, this would only move the rushing up a notch to a catapult rush, so siege units would have to be weak enough that even entry-level infantry could easily destroy them unless skillfully defended.

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Has anyone played RA2 online. Defensive structures get desemated withing 4 tank shots. And buildings can be destroyed so easily. Rushes are the norm it''s hopeless.

I heard C & C Generals had done good things to stop that sort of tactic. I agree that defensive structures should be worth building but you run the risk of stalemate with impenatrable defenses. Maybe buildings could come with there own defenses like machine guns/AA guns already installed. So you could build without fear of being wiped out by 5 enemy tanks.

I personally quite like Myth style games where you can''t churn out units at a teriffic rate.

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I agree with miserable. In real life, a persons instinct is surely to protect his own ass instead of kick another''s, (excluding extraordinary circumstance). At least, it''s true for me .

By the same token (as mark woods states) defensive units/buildings need to be beatable. Perhaps a system of irrepairable structural integrity may help:

Building built, 100% HP, 100% Structural Integrity
Building attacked until 30%HP and 85% SI
Building Repaired, 100%HP, 85%SI
at which point further attacks deplete HP''s at an increased rate, proportional to the missing SI.

Another option is to make SI prohibitively expensive to repair, or only under special (say cease fire) conditions.

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There are games that don''t allow for rush tacticts but they are not well known by people. Perhaps because they do want rush tacticts. I have seen one or two of those games but I can''t even remember their names now. That being said, I am not very fond of games that allow for the opponent to simply build a huge army of whatever unit is the biggest,hardest and meanest of them all. Then using it to crush the opponent. Gets kind of boring after a while, no matter who is winning. I personally think that a point system like warhammer epic would be much better.

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Does anybody remember KKND and KKND 2: Krossfire? I think those games had exactly these elements.

1) Your opponent was damn hard and tried to rush you every five minutes or so. These games were in fact the hardest RTS games I''ve ever tried. But fun.

2) Defense facilities were very good. You could only build four or six of the best towers, but that was enough to destroy hundreds of enemies - if you repaired them while they were being attacked. Additionally, you could build some super units - usually snipers - and you could find some ancient robots in bunkers and make them fight for you.

Due to the fact that these games were damn hard and that you had to fear an attack at every point of time, it was really satisfying if you found a strategy in the end to overwhelm your opponent.

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A good measure against Rush''s might be negatively affecting the unit''s power based on their distance from the nearest friendly base. For example, lets call this distance "Morale," for the Unit''s general attitude. The Morale will suck when the unit knows its being used as an expendible part of a rush. Therefor, a Rush would only work if the base were nearby, I.E. a strategic growth into the enemy''s frontline. Now, to defend from a rush, having the unit near the base makes him more powerful. Being placed out on the frontline, miles from the base, makes him feel a little worthless. Double edged sword, defense only works around bases, and doesn''t work at arbitrary locations.

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I''d have to agree with the warhammer point system suggestion. In fact I think giving the ability to produce unlimited units and buildings lends itself to this sort of play style. Why not start with x number of units that you purchased and modified to begin with and you select a drop point on some map where all you have to do is lead your force(s) around and destroy any hostiles? The ultimate in resource management as you''d be very evenly matched unit-wise and it would rely entirely upon your own resourcefulness as units wouldn''t be thrown about as much.

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I like the idea where moral decreases as the unit gets further from the base. The only problem is that in my game, i was planning on having all unit be robots of one kind or another, which don''t really have moral... I guess they could in my ''world'', but robots with moral seem kind of odd...

One solution might be for robots, or people who don''t moral... Make it so that units must be constantly supplied by supply lines so they don''t run out of /electricity/ammo/food/repair parts/etc... If this proccess is made to be fairly expensive...

I think though that it is very hard to find that happy medium which doesn''t force too much micromanagment/buildup and doesn''t allow for rushes or makes them very impractical...

Dwiel

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It is native of RTS games. THere is always some cheap fighting unit. The only way to stop rushes is to jack up unit costs or make a trigger.

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It is native of RTS games. THere is always some cheap fighting unit. The only way to stop rushes is to jack up unit costs or make a trigger.

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quote:
Original post by Tazzel3D
I like the idea where moral decreases as the unit gets further from the base. The only problem is that in my game, i was planning on having all unit be robots of one kind or another, which don''t really have moral... I guess they could in my ''world'', but robots with moral seem kind of odd...



Hrm, robots eh? Well, robots would have to receive commands from base, and the commands would need to be encrypted and such, and being too far from base could subject the robots to have broadcast encrypted orders that have some kind of interference. Or for those orders encrypted digitally, requiring a lower frequency to transmit further, taking longer to receive and decode.

I suppose you just have to play with stuff to get it to make sense, but as long as you get the underlying idea, it''s all good.

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Balancing the game play does not need any input from you because:

If your oponent can build a rushing army, you should be able to build one as well. So, when he/she attacks, you have a defense already built (and will possibly have a slightly larger army than the attacker because you can still build units while he/she is traversing the map). If you choose not to attack, then you have effectively stale-mated the rush. If you choose to attack, then you may have stale-mated the entire game and will have to restart, having learned from your experience.

Only entry-level players fear a rush attack, because anyone who has been rushed quickly learns how to defend against it. For this reason, a rush attack is usually only effective against lower-skilled players, and this is all fine, good and harmonious in the world of online competition. As soon as you start breaking the possible use of strategies, you are forcing players to adopt the strategy that YOU are most comfortable with, and that''s never a good idea.

Last thing to go through a tortoise''s mind before it hits the ground at 40mph? "D3DXVec3Add (Tortoise.Pos, Tortoise.Delta, Tortoise.OldPos"

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Just to add to the above:

To develop a rush attack/rush defense, you are going to be building relatively low-value units. For the deep player this is seen as a waste of resources (you are spending money just fend off an annoying rush). You should be trying to mitigate this loss. Perhaps you could allow units to be permanently upgraded at some future point. I quite liked Homeworld where you could link two smaller units together to make a stronger unit, or like War3 where you can combine hippogryphs and archers.

Last thing to go through a tortoise''s mind before it hits the ground at 40mph? "D3DXVec3Add (Tortoise.Pos, Tortoise.Delta, Tortoise.OldPos"

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@SoaringTortoise

I agree with your theory that if one player can make a rush so can the other so skills will evolve from that.

About only new players being rushed succesfully: This may be true but it doesn''t make your game very popular if new players
to the game keep getting killed in exactly the same way over an over.

Also you''ve missed one variable in your thinking and that is the type of rush, land, sea, air etc... You might build a land force and over comes an enemy air strike and you get obliterated.

It''s true again that if one side can do it so can another. But I don''t find this sort of play fun at all. It can degenerate into a kind of formula.

Build base
Build Barracks
Build 20 jet pack men
attack.

A lot of games have overcome these problems already. I think starcraft is brilliantly balanced, I love the bunkers you can put men in, there great.

Also units that can deploy are very good. Since they can defend better than they can attack.

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quote:
Original post by SoaringTortoise
Balancing the game play does not need any input from you because:

If your opponent can build a rushing army, you should be able to build one as well.

Which means that the existence of a single strategy forces you to play a certain way. That''s boring.

quote:
Only entry-level players fear a rush attack, because anyone who has been rushed quickly learns how to defend against it.

Not always. If you simply don''t know how to churn out the units as quickly as other people manage it, then you''ve not much chance.

quote:
For this reason, a rush attack is usually only effective against lower-skilled players, and this is all fine, good and harmonious in the world of online competition.

I couldn''t disagree more. A lower-skilled person should be able to beat a higher-skilled person if the higher-skilled person is using a predictable strategy.

quote:
As soon as you start breaking the possible use of strategies, you are forcing players to adopt the strategy that YOU are most comfortable with, and that''s never a good idea.

Er, no. The idea is that by taking away one imbalanced strategy, you allow for a more diverse range of strategies to prosper.

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I have an issue with the "Skilled players can repel rushes" thinking. The psychology of it turns the entire game into a rush-or-be-rushed game.

For example, lets take starcraft. Player A picks Terrans, Player B picks Protoss. B immidiately starts building a rush force of Dragoons. Player A immidiately builds a rush force of Firebats. Firebats beat dragoons, player A has enough of a force left over to take out the pylons and probes, player A wins.

BUT, Lets change the situation around a bit. B starts and focuses his resources on Zealots, A still does Firebats. Zealots beat Firebats, B successfully rushes and wins.

AND AGAIN. B decided not to rush, and works on trying to get Reavers, but A builds a rush force of Firebats. B has no opposing Rush force and gets rushed.

The only situation where we have an actual strategy game is where both players decide not to make a rush force. But that won''t happen because both players fear getting rushed. Its the classic Libertarian Mutual Advantage argument. Both players would have to reveal their bases to the other to assure that Rush forces aren''t being made.

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The way I thought of tackling the "rush" tactic is not to look at the units, look at the logistical support the player gets in order to make the rush.

Maybe a credit based system is the wrong way to look as the sole method of limiting construction and force size, more cash = more units/more structures, seems fundamentally flawed, and would a synonymous to the situation of making a Yugo 25 faster by adding a bigger engine, you''re trying to codge a fix together for something that appears to be already ''broken''.

Methods of approach to finding an alternative solution ''should'' be investigating by looking at the logistical draw backs of getting a large army into the battle zone(we will ignore rush tactics in real life for now ). Many problems spring to mind, being ammo/fuel/medical/hardware/water/food supplies to name just a few. How do these get into the battlefield? Answer.. a convoy/supply chain.

How this would affect the gathering of a rush team..

Troops need food which needs to be supplied, and this doesn''t come quickly. Armaments need to be driven into the battlefield, and wouldn''t ''appear'' from some building which at first also ''appeared'' out of the ground. So it all lies in the supply line, which of course, needs to be defended.

Also... since when does an army start without a pre-built base of some description? command center, comms tower, tent-barracks..

{any grammatical errors/typos can be ignored }

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After reading other thoughts and having some time to think about it, I''ve decided that really, the problem with allowing rushes is that it chokes off the potential complexity of any strategy by making the time given to develop and position yourself before the first attack non-existent. Inmate''s Starcraft example shows that pretty obviously; if, to play for higher-level units is rendered a guessing game or mutual agreement over the "will the other guy rush" question, then the people who have no interest in innovating their strategies can consistently win, stagnating the lasting complexity of the game.

The best thing to do, I think, is to take a page from probably the best strategy game ever, Go. Both sides are forced to develop equally in Go, with few quick victories to be found; it is how they use their resources that count. Therefore, anyone''s strategy has plenty of room to let itself develop and prove its worth on an equal basis, and the crude shoving, eye-gouging, or backstabbing that rushing conjures images of cannot exist.

To build an RTS following the play of Go does not mean to eliminate resources or base-building, however; it should instead eliminate balancing economic development against military development. This turns the game away from the simplistic "strategy" of getting weak units now or strong ones later, opening the gates for lots of other concepts that involve using what you have. An exact implementation of a no-resource-juggling RTS could vary, but it''s certainly not impossible.

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I will now defend:

The first rule of war is to know yourself and know your enemy. If you do not know what your opponent is doing, or you do not know how to use your own troops, then you can never hope to win. This is why I say,

"Only low-skilled players are effected by rush-tactics".

If you know what your opponent is doing (building an air/water/land rush), then you can counter that attack. Scouting out the enemy is a vital tactic, and costs you practically nothing (normally just a single peon). This is why games like starcraft and warcraft give you the ability to choose a Random race... so that you force your opponent to send a scout to figure out what kind of strategy to use against you.

Secondly, I never said that the game should have no defensive structures (ir2 that post about terran bunkers in Starcraft). Choosing to spend resources on defensive structures or a defensive force is all part of the strategy.

Thirdly, a rush-tactic may be part of a larger "economic denial" strategy (where you consistently attack your opponent to prevent them from effective expansion/teching), so disabling it or heavilly stacking the game against it doesn''t just stop one form of strategy, but two. If you deny rushes you may as well just give everyone full economy and tech trees from the start. And that may well be the most realistic way to set up a RTS, but... there''s a reason why we have to expand and tech in these games, it''s so people can develop critically timed attacks, yet another form of strategy.

And as for that comment about all games desolving into an attack or be attacked mess... If you want to build empires, then play a nice CIV game instead of a combat game. The point of the game is destroy your opponent, so ultimately the game has to come down to attack or be attacked. Whether you can do it successfully with low-tech units or later on with the sexy big beasties is really kind of unimportant.

Lastly, every attack is won or lost based on an imbalance in the two forces'' strengths. This can happen at any time in the game (because of better expansion techniques, well chosen teching, opportunistic attacks at points of weakness, whatever). If a player can get his/her build orders snapped down in the first few minutes of a game to get a single unit out faster than the opponent, then why deny them the ability to use it? And, if you can successfully defend a rush, you have two choices. You can either take advantage of the possibly weaker economy of the rusher and attack, or you can further your defenses and try and bed-down for the long, economic battle.

I see rush attacks as being very similar to the three move check-mate in chess. They''re cheap and nasty, they do the job, and ultimately they require the co-operation of your opponent. You don''t hear anyone saying, "How do I break the rules of chess so that the three move check-mate is not valid."

Last thing to go through a tortoise''s mind before it hits the ground at 40mph? "D3DXVec3Add (Tortoise.Pos, Tortoise.Delta, Tortoise.OldPos"

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quote:
Original post by Inmate2993
I have an issue with the "Skilled players can repel rushes" thinking. The psychology of it turns the entire game into a rush-or-be-rushed game.



The flaw in your thinking is that skilled players tend to build varied forces, rather than spamming one particular unit.

Also, defensive forces tend to have a slight advantage, particularly since in the time it takes the agressor to find the enemy, the defender has had a bit of extra time to build units. This means that the 'rushing' player has to either be much better at the early stages of the game, or very lucky to succeed.

That's not to say you shouldn't be agressive, but mindless rushing tends not to work - at the very least you need to find a weak spot in his defense before sending your forces in.

Of course, none of this seems to deter those morons who like to zergling rush you, and then disconnect if their attack gets repelled.

[edited by - Sandman on May 6, 2003 6:03:43 AM]

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