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crimson fury

New Economic Model for RTS

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It's hard to be creative and make something COOL at the same time. So, since you guys have more experience, I'd like to hear what stuff can be added to make this gameplay concept more interesting. First of all, most RTS's resemble a totalitarian, socialist economy. Socialist, because all the buildings and everything is subsidized nationally (by the player). Totalitarian, because the government/player controls EVERY SINGLE UNIT. I can't find ANY RTS that simulates the psychological behaviour of individual people in the game (except maybe "Dawn of War" when they retreat or "Settlers"). A lot of the "Psychological Warfare" aspects are excluded from empire building. And economics is overly simplified, even for a totalitarian regime. My economic model is also socialistic, but simulates psychology too. The player controls production, plans where to build stuff, and coordinates warfare, but does not control individual units. Workers convert resources into guns and killy stuff at structures called "Military-Industrial Complexes" (the barrackses). The workers have an "Effort accounting system" which runs out when the individual worker is exhausted. After the worker runs out of effort, he gets paid by the government, and goes over to the "Consumer Complex" to shop and convert his money into "effort points" again. After having some fun, the worker heads over to the "Urban Complex" for some sleep, and the next worker in line goes to work at the "Military-Industrial Complex". "Urban Complexes" set the limit on the amount of workers there are. Each "Urban Complex" accounts for, let's say, 10-25 workers. Winning by war involves being able to outproduce the enemy. Production rate is determined by the size of the workforce and the proximity of the 3 different economic structures (military-industrial, consumer, and urban). But, there are also resources that have to be obtained, complicating matters for the player. Minerals and Uranium require "Mining Complexes" to be built near "Mineral Deposits". Minerals are used for building stuff, and Uranium is used to run "Nuclear Power Stations". To generate Energy, workers have to transport Uranium from the "Mining Complexes" to "Nuclear Power Stations". To supply Energy needed to operate every OTHER structure, player needs to construct "Power Lines" from the Energy source to every power consumer. For an economy to work, player would need a "Mining Complex" to get Minerals needed for building stuff, a "Nuclear Power Station" and "Power Lines" to power it and everything else, an "Urban Complex" to house workers that actually run these structures, an "Urban Complex" to reward them, a "Military-Industrial Complex" to defend all these important structures, and a "Mass Transit Network" to get the workers to all these places. Doesn't that sound fun? Imagine all the time spent trying to make the perfect economy... until another player comes and attacks you. A player would start with a complete set of this stuff, of course, but Minerals and Uranium would be running out, forcing the player to move to new places and build new cities. So, players would not only be competing Militarily, but also Economically, and if there's stuff like "Propaganda" that affects the worker effort system, then players are also waging Information/Psychological Warfare. That's the basic idea. I also wrote a sci-fi background for this gameplay concept, and had other ideas like, instead of using normal Workers from "Urban Complexes" to construct buildings, there would be Engineers from "Academies", and instead of actually building stuff at the "Military-Industrial Complex" there would 25-100 Mercenaries recruited by each one. Anyways. Anyone got more ideas? I can't write more mostly because of limited time, but if you spot an interesting concept, feel free to explore it here.

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This is just a thought: Consider de-emphasizing the focus on buildings. Yes, certain functions cry out for specifically designed buildings, but in one nation a barracks can be a run down apartment complex. (Heck, the Nazis used churches and castles as bases sometimes.)

What if the focus was more on the characters themselves? You might have more opportunities for psychology related material by throwing in a wider array of personality types. You might also make the mix more interesting by throwing in "shepard" types, a few characters who can be directly controlled who in turn control others. These could be named characters with special functions, or special characters that get trained and promoted.

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I say take the Sim City approach. Instead of building specific buildings, create zones, commercial, industrial, and residential.

Then you set you're different zones up to focus on different items. If you need weapons, you set you're industrial complex to building the weapon types you need. Then you set you're commercial area up for buying the weapons you need. The residential area focus's on different people.

Instead of focusing on the building you can focus on the production.

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This is just a thought: Consider de-emphasizing the focus on buildings. Yes, certain functions cry out for specifically designed buildings, but in one nation a barracks can be a run down apartment complex. (Heck, the Nazis used churches and castles as bases sometimes.)


But aren't churches and castles, in the process of being used as bases, being specialized?

Actually, that doesn't matter. I doubt there are many structures besides Military-Industrial Complexes capable of making and managing tanks, soldiers, missiles, etc.

Military-Industrial Complex is an all-inclusive term. Same goes for the other ones, so we can't realistically substitute one for the other. After all, this IS supposed to be a futuristic RTS.


By the way, if the gameplay concept is unclear ->



Construction would center around mineral sources, since workers have to move back and forth to move all the resources from building to building. Smaller travel distance means faster production.

The affect: empires would resemble collections of "mining towns". Maintaining large amounts of land would require vast resources. Warfare would involve trying to break enemy's economic chain.


Quote:
What if the focus was more on the characters themselves? You might have more opportunities for psychology related material by throwing in a wider array of personality types. You might also make the mix more interesting by throwing in "shepard" types, a few characters who can be directly controlled who in turn control others. These could be named characters with special functions, or special characters that get trained and promoted.


I don't know how they would affect the gameplay... can you give me a typical example of how it would play out?

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Sounds a little like the oldgame Populous on the Amiga (was v cool head to head with a null modem cable). It was obviosly much nore simple but as a God you could change the lands shape and send disasters etc but has no real direct control over your peaople. The flatter the land the bigger the house etc. I can't remeber it in great detail but i think there was some kind of totem you could use to attract your followers.

I like the shepard charactor idea, but one would have to be careful of not falling into the problem of having "hero" characters that are almost like a RPG charactor.

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I say take the Sim City approach. Instead of building specific buildings, create zones, commercial, industrial, and residential.

Then you set you're different zones up to focus on different items. If you need weapons, you set you're industrial complex to building the weapon types you need. Then you set you're commercial area up for buying the weapons you need. The residential area focus's on different people.

Instead of focusing on the building you can focus on the production.


That sounds good. I lay down some zones around a "Mineral Deposit", and watch the town grow! It's like growing germs in a petri-dish... and then using them to attack a friend's petri-dish. =D


Trying to imagine how this would all work... there would be these types of land zones:

- Mining
- Nuclear Power
- Urban
- Commercial/Consumer
- Military-Industrial


The buildings would develop and grow based on how much their capacity is used... like muscles.

As urban population grows, more jobs can be filled, causing development in the other zones.

The limits would be scarcity of minerals and uranium, and the physical constraints of the zone (size).

Maybe, soldiers/mercenaries can only be created when there's an excess population (when workers can't find jobs)?


I really like this idea. Let's keep exploring...

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There are of course certain things that will need specific buildings in order to work. With this situation each specific building that needs to be built it gets attached to the correct type. You need a power plant, zone an industrial complex the build a nuke plant on it.

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Yes, why not let those buildings grow in specialized zones too? It simplifies the process if all buildings grow in their own zones. Plus it will make everything look more 'natural' if the buildings develop according to demand.

Now that I think about it... this resembles more of an ant-colony behaviour rather than petri-dish bacteria. =/

Maybe there could be "Prospector" ants.. err, workers.. sent out to find more mineral deposits? Then when they find a deposit, they leave scent pheromones for the workers to follow... hehe. Something like that.

Maybe these "Prospectors" would be the player-controlled "shepard" characters? And maybe the "Engineers" too, who make new construction projects?

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If you create too many zones then each zone becomes just another building. Now the key is creating the generic zone to adapt to the surroundings. You don't need to build a zone for mines, you create an industrial zone around ore deposits and then set them to mine. The zone will then develop according to your directions.

The goal here is to be more a conducter than the god operator.

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So...

- Industrial zones for mining and power
- Urban/Residential zones for population growth
- Commercial/Consumer zones for incentives/rewards
- Military zones for missile silos, tanks, soldiers, and everything fun

Right?

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Original post by crimson fury
So...

- Industrial zones for mining and power
- Urban/Residential zones for population growth
- Commercial/Consumer zones for incentives/rewards
- Military zones for missile silos, tanks, soldiers, and everything fun

Right?


Industrial for Power, Mining, and production.

Urban/Residential for population growth and recruitment.

Commercial/Consumer for incentives, rewards, and supply.

Military zones for Training, staging, and storage of military units.

Please keep in mind that you are not just going to build these three things over and over again. But as you build and assign priorities you'll see different things take shape. It focuses more on Macromanagement instead of micromanagement

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I can't find ANY RTS that simulates the psychological behaviour of individual people in the game (except maybe "Dawn of War" when they retreat or "Settlers").
Well, there is Majesty, and Populous as someone mentioned. I think the key is to have further gameplay elements beyond production, because the truth is that many RTS games are won by the player with the highest level of production.

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Similar to Wavinator's idea, you could eliminate the idea of this building does that and replace it with this building assists with that. Yes I know that sounds like the same thing but hear me out...

What I have in mind is turn the focus more to the characters. Each character has skill levels that can (or not depending on implementation) increase with use. Character X has 5% skill in swords, ranged weapons, training soldiers and 85% skill in forging swords. Take the same approach with buildings and instead of saying the barracks is for training and the forge is for forging swords and make it that the barracks have +5% defence, +10% training, -10% forging swords and the forge has +10% forging swords, +0% defence and training.

From here each character would the automatically do the thing they are most trained for at the nearest location that is best suited for their activity, or the player can tell the character to do a given activity at the building they specify.

This would allow more of a long term RTS game where the player can build the strength of his units instead of simply building as fast as he can...

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Well, there is Majesty, and Populous as someone mentioned. I think the key is to have further gameplay elements beyond production, because the truth is that many RTS games are won by the player with the highest level of production.


Never seen those games. Is there something that can be incorporated from those games into this gameplay concept?


Quote:
What I have in mind is turn the focus more to the characters. Each character has skill levels that can (or not depending on implementation) increase with use. Character X has 5% skill in swords, ranged weapons, training soldiers and 85% skill in forging swords. Take the same approach with buildings and instead of saying the barracks is for training and the forge is for forging swords and make it that the barracks have +5% defence, +10% training, -10% forging swords and the forge has +10% forging swords, +0% defence and training.


That's an interesting concept, but... this is going to be a nightmare to implement. It's an incomplete concept because there's so many redundant, specific skills and building-functions I would have to design.

And it's supposed to be a futuristic, sci-fi RTS. So, swords wouldn't fit in. =S

And I thought we already agreed that buildings would get built automatically according to demand, like in Sim City 3000/4.



Quote:
This would allow more of a long term RTS game where the player can build the strength of his units instead of simply building as fast as he can...


Isn't there some other way to make this into long-term strategy without making it an RPG on the side? More complex economy? More natural resource besides Minerals and Uranium?



So far, this is how I expect a typical game would go:

I begin the game with:
Mining Complexes near Natural Mineral Deposits,
Nuclear Power Stations,
with power-lines leading to all other structures,
small Military Complex,
Consumer/Commercial Complex,
and growing Urban/Residential Complex.

As urban population grows,
the rest of the city grows on its own based on demand/capacity.
I zone some more areas for future development.

Use "Prospector" characters to explore
the map for enemies and resources.
I spot a new Mineral Deposit.
Send "Engineer" characters to this place.

Zone Industrial area for new Mining Complex construction project.
Build roads and run power-lines to it.
Zone Industrial area for Nuclear Power Stations near it,
and Consumer/Commercial zones,
and Urban/Residential zones.
Then, zone Military area around it all.

Watch cities grow for a while.
When a population outgrows physical confines of the zones,
many workers become mercenaries to find jobs.
Meanwhile, my Prospectors find enemy's base.

I build an army, and then
order an attack to disrupt enemy's economy
using "General" characters.

A few attacks go back and forth,
a few more cities are grown and destroyed,
and then someone emerges as the winner.

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This sounds to me, a lot like an overly macromanaged hybrid between: Command & Conquer, Black & White and Age of Empires (et al...), with elements from "Sim" games like Caesar series, Sim City series, ad infinitum...

The only difference I see here is that your "villagers", "peons", "plebs", "whatever" actually have realistic downtime. Even older games like Outpost and others had the same systems of "build this type of building, with X output and these requisite buildings".

Making minor tweaks here and there do not strike me as resoundingly "different" or new and radical economic models. Even Caesar III had the ability to click on individual "citizens" and get a short little blurb about how they felt the city was running.

This isn't a flame, I just don't see a single really original idea being generated here and it makes me sad. RTS and sim games have been some of the most fun I've ever played, spending hours and hours for their fantastic replay value (heck, Sim City 2000 and Caesar III are still installed as well as Age of Empires: Age of Kings w/ The Conquerors Expansion...). So, while the RTS/SIM genre has been done over and over again, it still manages to be succesful for the number of different strategies that can generally be employed as well as the simple fact that no two real games ever turn out the same even if you try your hardest to recreate the same conditions.

Random maps are a big benefit here, or at least psuedo-random maps, generally "custom" maps where everyone knows where certain players start as well as where the resources are are generally where you find your twinks that rush you in about two minutes when you've got maybe one military unit and the beginnings of your infrastructure system going up.

Anyway, I won't try to dissuade you from this idea of making the next "ground breaking" RTS, just be aware that you have to have a truly new and unique concept, because the ideas as far as features have been pretty much played out as far as I can tell.

My two cents, something to chew on.

Vopisk

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Original post by crimson fury
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Well, there is Majesty, and Populous as someone mentioned. I think the key is to have further gameplay elements beyond production, because the truth is that many RTS games are won by the player with the highest level of production.


Never seen those games. Is there something that can be incorporated from those games into this gameplay concept?


Majesty and Populous are two games that I'm using as sources for ideas for my strategy game, so I can give you a brief design synopsis (my game design is the single player "man vs. nature" type like SimCity or RollerCoaster Tycoon, so it's not strictly RTS).

Majesty is a fantasy themed RTS which on one level has the staple ingredients that most RTS have; you use gold as a resource to build buildings which provide units, then upgrade the buildings once you get more gold etc. The unique part is that you have no direct control over your units, which are all fantasy themed heroes (knights, wizards, thieves etc.). Instead you influence your heroes by placing rewards on what you want them to do, such as placing exploration flags deep in the "fog o' war", or placing bounties on enemy buildings or units. The heroes will also gain levels with experience, and become much more formiddable. I quite liked Majesty, but I would have liked a bit more personality with the heroes. By the way, my present game is also a fantasy themed hero based thing too, although quite different from Majesty in a lot of regards (still in design though, so nothing is concrete).

Populous is one of my most favourite games of all time, and should be regarded as one of the forerunners of the RTS. In Populous, you are a deity with a series of god like powers, uup against a nemesis deity with similar powers, and the goal is to wipe out all the other players believers before they do the same to you. Your only resource is your believers, the more of which you have the more your "mana" increases. Like Majesty, you don't have direct control over your believers, but you can manipulate the shape of the world through your powers. The simplest power you have is to shape the land, which you do to provide fertile flat land for your believers to prospect. Then you have a series of natural disasters to unleash on your enemies. Also of note is the holy icon, which you can place anywhere on the map and instruct your believers to go to (the only way you can tell your believers where to go), and the "heroes" (originally a knight) when you can turn the leader believer into a crusader that will go slaughter the enemy. Once you start losing in Populous you are pretty much going to keep losing, as your opponent will gain more of your land and gain more power. Populous also had the interesting "Armageddon" power at the top of the range, which will cause all the believers to fight to the death to end the game (this should be used more often in RTS that drag on for too long).

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Vopisk, thanks for the info. I don't really care if it has similarities to other games, as long as it creates interesting results together. Right now, it seems to me like a mix of Sim City and Majesty (from what I've read about it).

My goal is a deep sci-fi RTS with more realistic economy and an intrigueing, evolving AI element, the first of its kind.

I wanted to make it 3D for more realistic physics and graphics (mass transit, chemical warfare, missiles, land deformation, cut-away mines, etc.)

The "effort accounting system" holds the economy together, and it's an original idea as far as I know.

Unexplored material that the "effort accounting system" makes possible:

- psychological warfare (propaganda/disinformation)
- inter-competition between structures/firms
- inter-national/inter-player economic dynamics


BTW... here's another illustration. I expect these would be the typical zoning arrangments (zone proportions out of scale, though).

If a more complex resource-based system was devised, and an evolving AI system were added, I expect there would be a lot of interesting results.




Trapper Zoid, thanks for the synposis! I need to try these games to see if I can find more interesting material.

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