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SatanAngel

Realistic RTS's anyone?

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I''m designing an RTS game at the moment set in the middle ages (like AOE II), and I wondered whether anyone would buy it. I''m trying to make it as realistic as possible, because I feel that there are no realistic RtS''s out at all. Everything will be realistic in my game, even time-scale (Build a castle with 5 peasants and it will actually take several years to build! - though obviously you don''t wait around that long but click buttons to speed up the game in days, weeks, months, and years). All buildings take the right number of resources to build, and there are over 100 different types of buildings available, and over 100 different types of units, and oover 100 different types of jobs (that''s a lot of 100''s). My game will also be part RPG, as you control a hero directly, but you can''t control any other units unless you give them ordes by being near them, or sending breifed officers to command them. You can advance your base from a village (of around 20 houses), to an empire (of around 100000000 houses+ (obviously you can build vast housing plots of up to 100 buildings at a time, but it takes time and effort to become an empire). The battle sequences are more impressive, as a unit can die from one arrow or sword thrust. The game has tactics too, such as Wall Of Spears (see Braveheart, battle of stirling). Archers are more impressive too, as they are more prone to miss, but when they do hit they can kill with one shot (best used in large numbers). Each civilisation will have different dress senses, and there are over 10 campaigns of around 12 missions each, giving an almost endless supply of interest, because I feel that games end too quickly and become boring after they end. I am also attempting to capture true barbarity in the battles, especially with barbarians, using dismemberment, guts, blood, and so on. Buildings will not go on fire from arrows (except fiery arrows) and weapons, but will slowly look more and more bashed until it collapses. I thought of having clips from films such as Braveheart and Gladiator as video clips. Units will gain experience from battles , and will promote themselves on their own. Tournaments will take place, and ceremonies. Knights will be have to be squires first most of the time. I want the AI to be brilliant, almost as good as a human player on multiplayer, and the graphics also to be amazing. The maps will be tens of thousands of miles long (obviously not to scale). I also want any reasonable computer to be able to play it. But is it worth it if no-one will buy it? E-mail (if not already shown) is: BombadGeneralx@aol.com "A man with no head is not very useful" "A man with no head is not very useful" "A man with no head is not very useful"

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I would potentially buy this product.

However, the amount of content that you are trying to create is enormous, AOE II while a good game slows down on many mid range computers (P3-500 ish, 128mb RAM).

Your suggestion while it is good, would require way too much micro management... basically the player would be unable to play it effectively against the AI because the AI can do things practically instantly, whilst the player has to click the mouse here and there... issuing commands.

Remember... there is a BIG difference between designing a game, and actually have a game "code and content complete". Basically, what I am trying to say is this:

1. You are likely to get team burnout because of the length of the development cycle.
2. You simply have too much content for it to be economically viable.

Not flaming you or anything but: you sound as though you just bought AOE II and thought... "wouldn''t it be cool if...". A RTS game requires enormous resources to develop, especially one on the caliber of what you are describing.

Try getting a design document up, detailing exactly what the 100 types of buildings, 100 types of units, and 100 types of jobs actually are, detail about game play, and various other points that you think need to be made.

Anyway... have fun



Regards,
Nekosion

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Well, let's be realistic now, shall we?

A good game design is all about balance. If one unit is obviously better then another, well, that means your game sucks. You're planning to have 100 units. Either you're going to have 100 variables per unit, or your units will repeat themeselves. If it's the first one, what are the odds of you balancing that game? If it's the second one, what's the point of having similar units? Same thing with buildings.

Also, who's going to keep track of all that #$%^? As a player I buy games for enjoynment, and fun. If there's a million units and building, it becomes a hassle. And I wouldn't want to pay for a hassle, would I?

Then if you can actually balance your game and make it fun, how are you going to develop it? How long will it take to produce all that art/scenarious, etc.? If you're going to spend 10 years developing your game... Well... I hate to break it to you, but noone's going to play it.

I don't mean to offend you or anything, but before designing something like this, try to get a Tetris clone up and running.


Edited by - kill on February 12, 2001 9:36:18 AM

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quote:
Original post by Nekosion

I would potentially buy this product.

However, the amount of content that you are trying to create is enormous, AOE II while a good game slows down on many mid range computers (P3-500 ish, 128mb RAM).

Your suggestion while it is good, would require way too much micro management... basically the player would be unable to play it effectively against the AI because the AI can do things practically instantly, whilst the player has to click the mouse here and there... issuing commands.

Remember... there is a BIG difference between designing a game, and actually have a game "code and content complete". Basically, what I am trying to say is this:

1. You are likely to get team burnout because of the length of the development cycle.
2. You simply have too much content for it to be economically viable.

Not flaming you or anything but: you sound as though you just bought AOE II and thought... "wouldn't it be cool if...". A RTS game requires enormous resources to develop, especially one on the caliber of what you are describing.

Try getting a design document up, detailing exactly what the 100 types of buildings, 100 types of units, and 100 types of jobs actually are, detail about game play, and various other points that you think need to be made.

Anyway... have fun



Regards,
Nekosion


All that stuff that you mentioned... I have or I am.
The AI will take as long as the player does to issue commands (just like it was a real player)
I know it will take a very very very long time to make (I reckon a year for the design, and several years for the development and programming)


"A man with no head is not very useful"

Edited by - SatanAngel on February 13, 2001 8:04:57 AM

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quote:
Original post by kill

Well, let''s be realistic now, shall we?

A good game design is all about balance. If one unit is obviously better then another, well, that means your game sucks. You''re planning to have 100 units. Either you''re going to have 100 variables per unit, or your units will repeat themeselves. If it''s the first one, what are the odds of you balancing that game? If it''s the second one, what''s the point of having similar units? Same thing with buildings.

Also, who''s going to keep track of all that #$%^? As a player I buy games for enjoynment, and fun. If there''s a million units and building, it becomes a hassle. And I wouldn''t want to pay for a hassle, would I?

Then if you can actually balance your game and make it fun, how are you going to develop it? How long will it take to produce all that art/scenarious, etc.? If you''re going to spend 10 years developing your game... Well... I hate to break it to you, but noone''s going to play it.

I don''t mean to offend you or anything, but before designing something like this, try to get a Tetris clone up and running.


Edited by - kill on February 12, 2001 9:36:18 AM


It will take a long time to make, but everyone is guaranteed an extensive but fun game.
PS. I am past the Tetris stage, and with programs like DarkBasic, some people don''t even need that stage even more (www.darkbasic.com)


"A man with no head is not very useful"

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I also had quite a few ideas about something similar to this, so I thought i'd throw them in. This is not supposed to be a proper design really, more a kind of 'wish list' that I might refine some time in the future...... in the meantime, feel free to steal any of these ideas that appeal.

The map
....needs to be pretty big. And I was thinking of a 3D interface a bit like homeworld - rather than a free roaming camera, it must be centered on one of your units. This way you can only see what your troops can see. The map would probably be split (invisibly) into regions of similar terrain. A player expands his realm by capturing these regions.

Resource management
...should be largely automatic. Micromanaging every single bloody peon on the map is NOT fun. The amount of resources you have made available to you depend on a number of factors - what terrain regions you have claimed, what the population of these regions is, etc.

Buildings
....will be built automatically. Cities, buildings etc. will spring up where it makes sense for them to do so. Of course, as king, you have the power to found a city or order the construction of a building wherever and whenever you want, but this will cost more.....

Military units
.... this is where the fun begins.

1. Military units are units, not individual people wandering around with swords, and move and fight as such. Some units my be organised (eg roman style formations etc) others may be a disorganised rabble, but they will still function as a group. For some units, the formation may have a massive impact on their effectiveness, eg. pikemen will be best when they are in units several ranks deep.

2. The player only gets partial control of the amount of each unit type he has. (in other words, your army cannot consist of nothing but elite cavalry) Some people simply arent cut out for being in the kings honour guard. Furthermore, you dont get much control over the numbers of troops you have. Only a certain percentage of your population will sign up. You can raise levies, or conscripts, or even raise the soldiers wage to attract more men, but the game will not have any 'build tank' buttons - this is supposed to be about strategy, not who can build the largest number of super units first. (basically, I hate the standard "build tank factory then build loads of tanks" interface that 99.99999% of RTS's have, I want to move towards something that takes the emphasis off resource management and puts it on the actual strategy)

3. Morale. If a unit is getting a serious beating, it isnt likely to hang around. This could have knock on effects too, lessening the morale of other units as it runs away - if your elite cavalry breaks, your levies certainly arent going to hang around. This would require careful balancing though, if the chances of a unit breaking are too high then it would just get annoying with all your men running off and doing their own thing.

4. Casualties. Men go down after one hit, although some special units might (if they are very lucky ) take two or three, albeit with some horrible penalty after each one. However, not all men who go down are necessarily dead, and provided you win the battle, you may be able to reclaim a percentage of your lost men.

5. Fortifications. You can certainly try and knock a castle down with a sword but you would probably die of old age before you made any significant damage. Therefore, proper fortifications are, to all intents and purposes, completely impervious to normal attacks. If you want to take a castle you have three basic options - lay seige, try and undermine it, or use seige engines. The first is relatively risk free, but slow. The second is rather quicker, but will still take some time, and may involve losing some men (tunnels collapse etc) The last is the quickest of all, but you still have a good fight on your hands. Which brings us on to the next point......

6. War Machines. Mangonels, Trebuchets, Ballista etc. do not roam freely around on wheels, nor do they magically function of their own accord. Further more, they arent particularly expensive or slow to build - the expensive part is the military engineers who build and crew them. Oh, and you dont just build them in a 'Seige factory' and roll them to where they are needed, they are stored in pieces on a baggage train and assembled in situ. Once built, they are pretty difficult to move around, and so are effectively fixed in position until they are destroyed or until the battle is over and you dismantle them. This balances them by making them relatively ineffective againt moving targets - even with special tricks like the pots of greek fire in gladiator, you will only be able to kill those units stupid enough to stand near your target point.Another thing - a bloody great big trebuchet made out of solid wood isnt going to fall apart just because some guy smacked it with a sword a few times. I think certain RTSs have been guilty of trying to artificially balance these things by making them really easy to destroy. The actual trebuchet is bloody tough - its the crew you have to get rid of. Fire is about the only thing that is going to do real damage in a useful timespan. Of course, if you lose a battle, any war machines you left lying around on the battlefield are lost automatically.

One final word about battering rams. Provided you have a suitable source of trees near the castle you can build a battering ram practically for free. Lets face it, all a battering ram is is a bloody great big tree with a few big men pushing it. It certainly isnt rocket science.

7. Unit types. At the end of the day, it is quality, not quantity. Every unit must have a purpose, be it cannon fodder (conscripts) or elite cavalry. Of course, since the player doesnt get complete control over what units he gets, you can actually introduce redundant units (ie units that the player wouldnt normally use) - he has to make the best of what he has - this means that you dont have to unrealistically balance all the units in the game.
One thing I thought would be nice was if the units the player had adapted to your playing style. eg. A player who plays aggressively, using a a lot of cavalry and hit n run tactics, might end up with an army resembling that of the mongols, whereas a more cautious, steady approach and you have roman legionaries, or whatever (completely different time periods I know, but I am just trying to make the point)

Technology trees
Ive never been to keen on tech trees, least of all in the way they are presented in RTS's. Although there would probably be a tech tree of some kind, I was thinking of making it a little more subtle - smaller steps, but more of them, and perhaps the player wouldnt be directly exposed to them in the same way. Instead the players scientists would do pretty much their own thing, the exact advances they research might also vary according to the players game style. Again, the player can exercise some control over the scientific process (e.g by offering a reward for whoever discovers greek fire or whatever) but this would be more expensive.


Hmmm. Thats a pretty long post. I think Ill leave it there for now.


Edited by - Sandman on February 12, 2001 5:59:15 PM

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this realism thing is a phase you are going through, when it comes down to it gaming isn''t about realism. In real life we do a variety of tasks to help us survive. Those who liked doing the tasks had an edge, because they worked a bit harder. So people evolved to get pleasure from stuff. Now you see we aren''t perfectly tuned to the actual activity, just its essence. When you make a game you want to figure out what the fun part is and amplify it and trim away the rest. So games are a sort of distilled reality, just the best parts altered to be even better. When you find a real life activity and figure out where the fun comes from you create a new genre. War was converted into strategy gaming, and sports. Fighting was turned into deathmatch. Exploring and other stuff into RPG. Now that the basic genres are laid out, try to get closer to the ideal. Refine and figure out how to get even closer to the perfect activity, reality is just a starting point. We''re far beyond it now.

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quote:
Original post by Sandman

I also had quite a few ideas about something similar to this, so I thought i'd throw them in. This is not supposed to be a proper design really, more a kind of 'wish list' that I might refine some time in the future...... in the meantime, feel free to steal any of these ideas that appeal.

Edited by - Sandman on February 12, 2001 5:59:15 PM


Thankyou.

quote:
Original post by Sandman
The map
....needs to be pretty big. And I was thinking of a 3D interface a bit like homeworld - rather than a free roaming camera, it must be centered on one of your units. This way you can only see what your troops can see. The map would probably be split (invisibly) into regions of similar terrain. A player expands his realm by capturing these regions.

Edited by - Sandman on February 12, 2001 5:59:15 PM



My map will be big (about 100 to 100000 km long - not in real life, obviously)
I'm not sure of the Homeworld 3d camera, because that would make it harder to get to an army ten thousand miles away from a simple scout riding in the desert. There will be a lot more use of the mini-map in my game though, as the empires and armies will be so big.
I'm not sure about the regions either.



quote:
Original post by Sandman
Resource management
...should be largely automatic. Micromanaging every single bloody peon on the map is NOT fun. The amount of resources you have made available to you depend on a number of factors - what terrain regions you have claimed, what the population of these regions is, etc.

Edited by - Sandman on February 12, 2001 5:59:15 PM



Definitely. People care for themselves on there own (unless you leave them in a situation where they can't, eg. an army in a desert in the middle of nowhere with no food)
Near the start of the game all you do is assign a couple of people to construct a lumber camp (a temporary wood-collecting site - until a timber yard is build), gather enough wood to build a Timber Yard, then assign about 10 more people to the Timber Yard and they will continue until they die, then there's a strong chance their sons (if any) will continue the business, or if they were childless then an unemployed will automatically ask you for the job or just take it.

quote:
Original post by Sandman
Buildings
....will be built automatically. Cities, buildings etc. will spring up where it makes sense for them to do so. Of course, as king, you have the power to found a city or order the construction of a building wherever and whenever you want, but this will cost more.....

Edited by - Sandman on February 12, 2001 5:59:15 PM


No way.
quote:
Original post by Sandman


Military units
.... this is where the fun begins.

1. Military units are units, not individual people wandering around with swords, and move and fight as such. Some units my be organised (eg roman style formations etc) others may be a disorganised rabble, but they will still function as a group. For some units, the formation may have a massive impact on their effectiveness, eg. pikemen will be best when they are in units several ranks deep.

Edited by - Sandman on February 12, 2001 5:59:15 PM


Yep, sort of.
quote:
Original post by Sandman


2.
The player only gets partial control of the amount of each unit type he has. (in other words, your army cannot consist of nothing but elite cavalry) Some people simply arent cut out for being in the kings honour guard. Furthermore, you dont get much control over the numbers of troops you have. Only a certain percentage of your population will sign up. You can raise levies, or conscripts, or even raise the soldiers wage to attract more men, but the game will not have any 'build tank' buttons - this is supposed to be about strategy, not who can build the largest number of super units first. (basically, I hate the standard "build tank factory then build loads of tanks" interface that 99.99999% of RTS's have, I want to move towards something that takes the emphasis off resource management and puts it on the actual strategy)


Edited by - Sandman on February 12, 2001 5:59:15 PM


Yep, sort of (but not the partial control bit - it's the player's choice of what he's putting in his army (an all elite cavalry charge in an army could be decimated by rows of spearmen using the Wall of Spears tactic))
quote:
Original post by Sandman
3.
Morale. If a unit is getting a serious beating, it isnt likely to hang around. This could have knock on effects too, lessening the morale of other units as it runs away - if your elite cavalry breaks, your levies certainly arent going to hang around. This would require careful balancing though, if the chances of a unit breaking are too high then it would just get annoying with all your men running off and doing their own thing.

Edited by - Sandman on February 12, 2001 5:59:15 PM


Yep, morale (something very bad for the opponent's army's morale is a volley of arrows into the enemy)
quote:
Original post by Sandman
4.
Casualties. Men go down after one hit, although some special units might (if they are very lucky ) take two or three, albeit with some horrible penalty after each one. However, not all men who go down are necessarily dead, and provided you win the battle, you may be able to reclaim a percentage of your lost men.

Edited by - Sandman on February 12, 2001 5:59:15 PM


Yep, sort of (units have a minimum, medium, and maximum attack (which increases when they gain experience but falls when they are low on food or stamina) Eg. for a swordsman the minimum attack would be about 8, medium 12, and maximum autokill (25)(The average soldier has a toughness of about 15 - once a major wound is suffered (8-12) - the soldier may fall and will get what's called "blood damage" which is extra damage after the initial attack caused by the loss of blood or damaged organ problems - the damage will gain 1 a turn until the soldier is healed or dies))
quote:
Original post by Sandman


5.
Fortifications. You can certainly try and knock a castle down with a sword but you would probably die of old age before you made any significant damage. Therefore, proper fortifications are, to all intents and purposes, completely impervious to normal attacks. If you want to take a castle you have three basic options - lay seige, try and undermine it, or use seige engines. The first is relatively risk free, but slow. The second is rather quicker, but will still take some time, and may involve losing some men (tunnels collapse etc) The last is the quickest of all, but you still have a good fight on your hands. Which brings us on to the next point......

Edited by - Sandman on February 12, 2001 5:59:15 PM


Definitely (and wooden buildings won't go on fire from swords and non-fiery arrows (unless there's explosives in it fuel...) and castles will hardly ever go on fire unless fire goes through the windows (a rare possibility)))
quote:
Original post by Sandman


6.
War Machines. Mangonels, Trebuchets, Ballista etc. do not roam freely around on wheels, nor do they magically function of their own accord. Further more, they arent particularly expensive or slow to build - the expensive part is the military engineers who build and crew them. Oh, and you dont just build them in a 'Seige factory' and roll them to where they are needed, they are stored in pieces on a baggage train and assembled in situ. Once built, they are pretty difficult to move around, and so are effectively fixed in position until they are destroyed or until the battle is over and you dismantle them. This balances them by making them relatively ineffective againt moving targets - even with special tricks like the pots of greek fire in gladiator, you will only be able to kill those units stupid enough to stand near your target point.Another thing - a bloody great big trebuchet made out of solid wood isnt going to fall apart just because some guy smacked it with a sword a few times. I think certain RTSs have been guilty of trying to artificially balance these things by making them really easy to destroy. The actual trebuchet is bloody tough - its the crew you have to get rid of. Fire is about the only thing that is going to do real damage in a useful timespan. Of course, if you lose a battle, any war machines you left lying around on the battlefield are lost automatically.

Edited by - Sandman on February 12, 2001 5:59:15 PM


Yep, and they need people to push them.
quote:
Original post by Sandman



One final word about battering rams. Provided you have a suitable source of trees near the castle you can build a battering ram practically for free. Lets face it, all a battering ram is is a bloody great big tree with a few big men pushing it. It certainly isnt rocket science.

Edited by - Sandman on February 12, 2001 5:59:15 PM


There are two different sorts of battering rams - just a simple log or tree, or one with a roof to it, or one with a cover and wheels, with men inside pushing handles to make it move.
quote:
Original post by Sandman


7.
Unit types. At the end of the day, it is quality, not quantity. Every unit must have a purpose, be it cannon fodder (conscripts) or elite cavalry. Of course, since the player doesnt get complete control over what units he gets, you can actually introduce redundant units (ie units that the player wouldnt normally use) - he has to make the best of what he has - this means that you dont have to unrealistically balance all the units in the game.
One thing I thought would be nice was if the units the player had adapted to your playing style. eg. A player who plays aggressively, using a a lot of cavalry and hit n run tactics, might end up with an army resembling that of the mongols, whereas a more cautious, steady approach and you have roman legionaries, or whatever (completely different time periods I know, but I am just trying to make the point)

Edited by - Sandman on February 12, 2001 5:59:15 PM


Not sure about the second bit but good for the first.
quote:
Original post by Sandman


Technology trees
Ive never been to keen on tech trees, least of all in the way they are presented in RTS's. Although there would probably be a tech tree of some kind, I was thinking of making it a little more subtle - smaller steps, but more of them, and perhaps the player wouldnt be directly exposed to them in the same way. Instead the players scientists would do pretty much their own thing, the exact advances they research might also vary according to the players game style. Again, the player can exercise some control over the scientific process (e.g by offering a reward for whoever discovers greek fire or whatever) but this would be more expensive.

Edited by - Sandman on February 12, 2001 5:59:15 PM


Hmmm (They'll be introduced as time goes on - especially in the learning campaign)
quote:
Original post by Sandman



Hmmm. Thats a pretty long post. I think Ill leave it there for now.


Edited by - Sandman on February 12, 2001 5:59:15 PM




"A man with no head is not very useful"

Edited by - SatanAngel on February 13, 2001 7:26:52 AM







Edited by - SatanAngel on February 13, 2001 8:07:55 AM

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AP: I agree with you in as much as realism should not be pursued to such an extent that it ruins gameplay, but I think that the RTS genre could really do with some lessons from reality.

quote:

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Original post by Sandman
Buildings
....will be built automatically. Cities, buildings etc. will spring up where it makes sense for them to do so. Of course, as king, you have the power to found a city or order the construction of a building wherever and whenever you want, but this will cost more.....

Edited by - Sandman on February 12, 2001 5:59:15 PM



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


No way.


why not? if you were a king, would you really want to bother yourself with commissioning every single timber house, blacksmith etc...? No, you leave that to the peons. you would have to commission big things like castles, but most of the rest would be taken care of for you, leaving you to concentrate on important things (like strategy)

As for the rams, I dont believe that there is any evidence of properly engineered rams ever being used - there is no point. There is no point in building something like that and lugging it miles across the countryside. A roof can be made from animal skins and stored in a baggage train - wheels can be made out of smaller logs used as rollers, or just bolt on purpose built wheels, which would be kept on the baggage train.


Edited by - Sandman on February 13, 2001 8:23:19 AM

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quote:
Original post by Sandman

I also had quite a few ideas about something similar to this, so I thought i''d throw them in.



Dude, if I ever get the $2 million to spare, you can design my AOE-killer anyday! Nice ideas.

quote:

Resource management
...should be largely automatic. Micromanaging every single bloody peon on the map is NOT fun. The amount of resources you have made available to you depend on a number of factors - what terrain regions you have claimed, what the population of these regions is, etc.



It almost seems that resource management should be a function of some greater overall strategy. The kind of just-in-time factory logistics you see in typical RTS games wouldn''t really work here. Maybe this could tie in to a sort of Risk like campaign, where what you have in supply is based on what you did a few winters ago...


quote:

Buildings
....will be built automatically. Cities, buildings etc. will spring up where it makes sense for them to do so. Of course, as king, you have the power to found a city or order the construction of a building wherever and whenever you want, but this will cost more.....



This I would really like to see. All you really care about is that the right buildings are built in the right place. A template could even work here ("build me a military city", "build me a trade city") Players might even configure their own templates.

quote:

4. Casualties. Men go down after one hit, although some special units might (if they are very lucky ) take two or three, albeit with some horrible penalty after each one. However, not all men who go down are necessarily dead, and provided you win the battle, you may be able to reclaim a percentage of your lost men.



Hah. Very nice. If you tied in the chance to hit with troop quality this could make elite troops DEADLY. Then you''d be creating quantity vs. quality strategy players could follow (can mass attacks, for instance, overwhelm your elite guards?)

quote:

5. Fortifications. You can certainly try and knock a castle down with a sword but you would probably die of old age before you made any significant damage.



You mean no more soldiers setting buildings on fire w/ their swords?!?!?!

quote:

6. War Machines. Mangonels, Trebuchets, Ballista etc. do not roam freely around on wheels, nor do they magically function of their own accord.



Very nice. You''ve now given players another reason to take and hold ground, and you''ve introduced realism w/o killing the fun.


quote:

Technology trees
Ive never been to keen on tech trees, least of all in the way they are presented in RTS''s.


For a game like this, I''m not sure they''d actually be needed. Think about it. Tech trees really only serve to slow down and channel the player''s build strategy and introduce a sense of leveling up. There''s no build strategy here, and leveling up can be done with the idea of veteran troops.

Nice design. Every give any thought to space-based RTS games??? (I''m designing one now)


--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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