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How should a RTS be...

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I´ve planned to make a kind of medival RTS game. Based on a deep story. I will probebly not even begin with the real game this year (Maybe I´m a Wannabe that just has to much hope) I have just made som graphics and music :p Well here is the thing. How do YOU want a RTS to be? How do YOU want to raise soliders and figth with them? How do YOU want the economic part? // POWA Creations // [Edited by - POWA Creations on November 8, 2006 11:29:08 AM]

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How do YOU want a RTS to be?
...
Based on a deep story

^^ Not that, not until the game rocks ass. Not only because it is entirely unnecessary for most RTS games (which it is), but also because if you can't spell (which you can't) then I'll be damned if you can write a compelling story.

No offense meant by that, but forget the story and give me a fun game.

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How do YOU want to raise soliders and figth with them?

With good and customizable AI. I don't want to have to micromanage every character to make sure they do exactly what they should do. I'd rather be the overlord, the commander that handles the more abstract concepts of what they should do. The "attack this guy, use this ability in this situation" should be handled by AI unless you choose to override it. Between battles the player should be able to customize their armies behaviors, so instead of each battle being a separate case you are creating a custom army that you can modify based on your past experiences. It would be like customizing your deck of Magic: The Gathering cards or your FFXII Gambits, basically it would be creating a situation where the best players are not the fastest clickers but the best strategists. After all, isn't it a real time strategy game?

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How do YOU want the economic part?

Secondary to the strategy. I'm sick of having to build/rebuild all of my millions of armories and farms and mines and etc. I want to be able to zone off a city, set some properties in it, and let it run itself until I choose to intervene. Consider giving more SimCity-like control over your buildings, where they can run themselves unless bad things happen, and they will train units and produce new technologies without you having to babysit them.

Basically, the RTS that I want to see eliminates the micro-management drudgery that Warcraft started (it was good back then, but it's getting old), no longer playing as "God" and instead gives you the role of a military commander.

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I would like a fantasy RTS with good graphics, a good interface like in AoE (Age of Empires), lots of strategy involvement. IMO RTS games are less strategy and more of a race to see who can build the more powerful army first, strategy games like Rome: Total War appeal to me, you make negotiations, build up armies, set taxes, and control trade. An RTS where you set up taxes on specific things, handle revolts, build up fortresses, and make alliances and other things on a large map with it looking in any shape you chose because it is a whole different world, so basically a Total War game with the look of the Battle field map, not the campaign map and some totally wicked graphics. If this is possible for a programmer to do then you would have an awesome best selling RTS strategy game like no other.

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Original post by POWA Creations
How do YOU want a RTS to be?
How do YOU want to raise soliders and figth with them?
How do YOU want the economic part?

Let me answer that with some different questions...

How do YOU want a RTS to be?
How do YOU want to raise soliders and figth with them?
How do YOU want the economic part?

You're the game designer, yes? So the important thing is that the game turns out like you want, and becomes something you can get excited about.

JBourrie: Keep in mind not everyone have english as their first language. It is however, possible to write deep stories in other languages. Or even, get someone else to translate it to english. [wink]

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Original post by Spoonbender
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Original post by POWA Creations
How do YOU want a RTS to be?
How do YOU want to raise soliders and figth with them?
How do YOU want the economic part?

Let me answer that with some different questions...

How do YOU want a RTS to be?
How do YOU want to raise soliders and figth with them?
How do YOU want the economic part?

Well, it could be good with some ideas. I love Rome:total war. But the 3D and all this factors :/ I don´t think I can do such a great game, at least not on wile...
I was thinking lika a mixture of American Conquest and Stronghold (ecept the fantasy thing of the later games)
and make economic thing large. BUT controllet by AI if you arn´t there. I wanted it to be like a Citybuilder-RTS. For example if you don´t have swords you can not make a Swordsman, even how much gold you pay(if you not import it). The sword must be made buy the blacksmith who need Iron, wood and workers, then you need a mine and a woodcutter (or import wood and iron). The workers need homes, food and entertainment to keep happy, and that makes the whole settlement popular.
I.e I don´t want it to be like the old classics. I want more depth, not just a competition of who makes most soliders.


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JBourrie: Keep in mind not everyone have english as their first language. It is however, possible to write deep stories in other languages. Or even, get someone else to translate it to english. [wink]


I have corrected all in the first post now. I´m Swedish but a misstake like putting a "d" in "maby" was´nt very proffetional.
The fact that I havent passed school maby a clue to the other misstakes.

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You need to keep in mind that RTS is a very broad genre. The answers of your questions depend upon what kind of game you want to make and for who. Some people like micromanagement, even though very few people admit it. People often ask for more emphasis on the strategy element, however very few people would think too much strategy is fun.

In some RTSs you have a very big army which you can control (AoE, Warcraft, etc.), in these games micro-management is often a big part of the game play. You could quite easily however get rid of lots of the micro management, the question is, would it make the gameplay any better? This might seem obvious that it does however I think the companies which have made actual market research disagree with your obvious interpretation of gamers' needs.

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How do YOU want a RTS to be?

Remember when asking this question on this forum, most responses will be from experienced players who is a little geeky. This might not represent the general gamers' opinions.

That said I'd like a game where I could assign different strategies to an AI, and the AI should be able to carry this out without being ten times worse than me.

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How do YOU want to raise soliders and figth with them?

Simply put the soldier's in a queue, I don't want a message saying that my workers were ill, it might be more realistic, but it isn't as fun in my opinion.

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How do YOU want the economic part?

If I were only to consider existing systems, then I'd prefer a one-resource system (like the C&C series use). It takes to much unnecessary management to consider several kinds of resources. KISS (keep it simple, stupid), that's my opinion anyway.

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Secondary to the strategy. I'm sick of having to build/rebuild all of my millions of armories and farms and mines and etc. I want to be able to zone off a city, set some properties in it, and let it run itself until I choose to intervene. Consider giving more SimCity-like control over your buildings, where they can run themselves unless bad things happen, and they will train units and produce new technologies without you having to babysit them.

Couldn't economics increase and "complexify" the number of strategic actions (more factors to consider and more choices). Couldn't some of the properties you set be related to economics? How fast you want the development? The faster the more it costs. Which kind of resource do you want to primarily rely on? (if the game already have a multiple resource system anyway)

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You're the game designer, yes? So the important thing is that the game turns out like you want, and becomes something you can get excited about.

Very few people thinks this way, personally I feel I have succeeded as a game designer if I have either a large audience or a previously not targeted audience (see casual games for a very good example of this).

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Well, it could be good with some ideas. I love Rome:total war. But the 3D and all this factors :/ I don´t think I can do such a great game, at least not on wile...

You are trying to create your own game right? Why would you have to copy the graphics elements? Couldn't you just use a couple of the same basic design goals with a 2D/isometric engine?

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nd make economic thing large. BUT controllet by AI if you arn´t there. I wanted it to be like a Citybuilder-RTS. For example if you don´t have swords you can not make a Swordsman, even how much gold you pay(if you not import it). The sword must be made buy the blacksmith who need Iron, wood and workers, then you need a mine and a woodcutter (or import wood and iron). The workers need homes, food and entertainment to keep happy, and that makes the whole settlement popular.

Wouldn't this just add to the micro management of the game? If you can get an AI to control this, then there is no reason to use such a complex system, to the player it will basically be "do I have enough resources". Don't add realism just for the sake of realism when you're making a fun game.

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I have corrected all in the first post now. I´m Swedish but a misstake like putting a "d" in "maby" was´nt very proffetional.

To be honest, that line is much worse of than the "maby" word.

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The fact that I havent passed school maby a clue to the other misstakes.

Yet you feel you can write a good story? Your players aren't going to consider this when judging your game, if you focuses on your story then you better make sure it can compete with other strategy games' stories. Many people here aren't done with school yet, but we don't use this as an excuse, because if we did then we weren't mature enough to be here (personally I still have 3 years left until I'm done with high-school). Of course if you plan to make the game Swedish-only then you don't need English, but do you only target the Swedish audience? Also you'll look much more professional and serious if you write proper English.

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Original post by POWA Creations
I was thinking lika a mixture of American Conquest and Stronghold (ecept the fantasy thing of the later games)
and make economic thing large. BUT controllet by AI if you arn´t there. I wanted it to be like a Citybuilder-RTS. For example if you don´t have swords you can not make a Swordsman, even how much gold you pay(if you not import it). The sword must be made buy the blacksmith who need Iron, wood and workers, then you need a mine and a woodcutter (or import wood and iron). The workers need homes, food and entertainment to keep happy, and that makes the whole settlement popular.
I.e I don´t want it to be like the old classics. I want more depth, not just a competition of who makes most soliders.


And there you go again on the economy tour. ;) I don't want to be bothered about the number of swords available, I want to lead armies. Not a handfull of men that don't know what to do when there's no swords around. Almost any decent army can get their hands on swords.
Adding a complex economy structure doesn't solve the 'soldier count' problem. In the end, it's still about who creates the most soldiers, except that creating them becomes harder. Yes, this infrastructure is a great target and crippling it prevents your enemy from creating more troops for a while, but that was present in older games as well: destroy the barracks and you're done.

Complexity doesn't guarantee depth. Maybe you know the board game Settlers of Catan. The basics are really quite simple, there's just 4 distinct things you can build/buy, there's 5 resources and a few other special cards. That's all, roughly spoken. Yet dispite it's simple setup, it's pretty deep. There's multiple approaches that work, each with it's own advantages and disadvantages. There's several techniques built in to keep the game balanced and most games are pretty tight.
It's not about the complexity. It's about the interaction between the various objects, and their purpose. Throw away those things that add little depth and much complexity, keep those things that are inherintly interesting.

Rather than using a wide variety of resources, you could move this decision part to the military side. Let the player decide between a siege unit and a fast unit (assuming scouting delivers actually valuable information), or between an all-rounder and a specialist - which is where scouting comes in handy: if you know nothing about his army, using all-round units is a safe bet. But once you know what units he uses most, you can create specialist units that excel against his units, without the risk of encountering other unit types that may excel against your specialists.
Because, the more time a player spends on the economic side, the less time he has to think about the strategies he's going to use. The simpler the economy is to manage, the more depth can be put in the strategy / tactics part.

Just my 2 cents. Obviously, I like the military side more. ;)

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Original post by CTar


In some RTSs you have a very big army which you can control (AoE, Warcraft, etc.), in these games micro-management is often a big part of the game play. You could quite easily however get rid of lots of the micro management, the question is, would it make the gameplay any better? This might seem obvious that it does however I think the companies which have made actual market research disagree with your obvious interpretation of gamers' needs.

Well, when I think, the game could auto-import the iron if you have enough gold. Is that a god balance?
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How do YOU want to raise soliders and figth with them?

Simply put the soldier's in a queue, I don't want a message saying that my workers were ill, it might be more realistic, but it isn't as fun in my opinion.
[/quote]
In reality soliders isn´t trained one by one. The trainer will train at least 20-30 soliders, just like a schoolteacher have big classes.
Example:
One spearman takes 2 minutes to train. 20 spearmen trained in a row will take 20 minutes. But if you train them all at once. They will just take a little more than the 2 minutes.
I got your point in that you don´t need the info about that someone is ill.
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How do YOU want the economic part?

If I were only to consider existing systems, then I'd prefer a one-resource system (like the C&C series use). It takes to much unnecessary management to consider several kinds of resources. KISS (keep it simple, stupid), that's my opinion anyway. [/quote]
Well I want many resources in my game. But everthing will be possible to import by the town hall.

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You're the game designer, yes? So the important thing is that the game turns out like you want, and becomes something you can get excited about.

Very few people thinks this way, personally I feel I have succeeded as a game designer if I have either a large audience or a previously not targeted audience (see casual games for a very good example of this).[/quote]
Well it must be some audience even if I make a compex game. But I will try to take away unesecery details. But I will mostly make it my game. I don´t need my audience for economical survival.
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You are trying to create your own game right? Why would you have to copy the graphics elements? Couldn't you just use a couple of the same basic design goals with a 2D/isometric engine?

It was most as an example.
I´m working with some 2D graphics. And some music. And, well I will try to make as many new good ideas as possible. I promise.

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nd make economic thing large. BUT controllet by AI if you arn´t there. I wanted it to be like a Citybuilder-RTS. For example if you don´t have swords you can not make a Swordsman, even how much gold you pay(if you not import it). The sword must be made buy the blacksmith who need Iron, wood and workers, then you need a mine and a woodcutter (or import wood and iron). The workers need homes, food and entertainment to keep happy, and that makes the whole settlement popular.

Wouldn't this just add to the micro management of the game? If you can get an AI to control this, then there is no reason to use such a complex system, to the player it will basically be "do I have enough resources". Don't add realism just for the sake of realism when you're making a fun game.[/quote]
If you make a good city in SimCity, Stronghold or Ceasar, the city doesn´t need you to solve problems every 10:th second. It works fine and you have a perfect resource generating, war-machine feeding city.

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I have corrected all in the first post now. I´m Swedish but a misstake like putting a "d" in "maby" was´nt very proffetional.

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To be honest, that line is much worse of than the "maby" word.

Oooops, it´s "Mabey" sorry, But the teachers at school just got (even in the 7:th grade!) this ribiclus text in their workbooks.
Chapter two: Fast Food
trying to learn us what a Hot Dog is I learned one new word "herrish" but the rest I knew allready.

// Will be editng some other spelling-errors//

[Edited by - POWA Creations on November 8, 2006 11:06:28 AM]

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I didn't mean to start a spelling/grammar war. [oh] I didn't notice Sweden in your profile.

That being said, my point still stands that the story should be the last thing you are worrying about. If you don't have a solid game, then nobody is going to give a crap about it no matter how good the story is.

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I have corrected all in the first post now. I´m Swedish but a misstake like putting a "d" in "maby" was´nt very proffetional.

Oooops, it´s "Mabey" sorry, But the teachers at school just got (even in the 7:th grade!) this ribiclus text in their workbooks.

For future reference: Maybe

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The fact that I havent passed school maby a clue to the other misstakes.

This one's especially obnoxious, because in this case it is "may be", two words [grin]

You mentioned 7th grade, and books that they "just got". So are you in 7th grade? If so, you definitely should avoid falling into the whole "story" trap because it will detract from actually creating your game. If you can write a meaningful and entertaining story on top of learning game development in the 7th grade, you should be given a medal.

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Couldn't economics increase and "complexify" the number of strategic actions (more factors to consider and more choices). Couldn't some of the properties you set be related to economics? How fast you want the development? The faster the more it costs. Which kind of resource do you want to primarily rely on? (if the game already have a multiple resource system anyway)

Complexify? I like it!

Exactly my point, having control of these values in an intuitive way will leave more room open for thinking and less of a focus on fast clicking.

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(Maybe I´m a Wannabe that just has too much hope)

That will only be true if you believe it. Otherwise you are a motivated to achieve your goals, an option that I prefer :)

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How do YOU want a RTS to be?

Here are a few ideas I have had for RTS games over the years or improvements I have though would be good (and might have seen in other RTS games):

1) Have the terrain effect the units:

This is not just about movement modifiers, but have different terrain effect the units. You could have a rocky terrain that slows down cavalry units (this is the movement part), but also allow infantry to use it to take cover (it might make them take less damage from ranged weapons).

It could also change lines of sight (increasing or decreasing them) and the ability to fight (like a forest might reduce the effect of ranged weapons). Hills could reduce the effectivness of fast moving units and weaken ranged attacks if they are attacking up hill (but down hill it could enhance these types of attacks).

Generally in a combined arms system (like which is used in most RTS games), there are situations that reduce or enhance the effectiveness of one unit type over another, or even reverse it. It would be the player's ability to utilise these locations that best aid their army composition.

2) Don't just make upgraded units more powerful:

Most games have the 1st tier units weak in comparison to the 2nd or higher tier units. This means that once you have achieve upgrades to reach the 2nd or hier tiers, you never need to use those lower tier units ever again. This to me seem like wasted development and not that much fun.

The solution is to use lower tier units as generalist units and have the higher tier units as specialists. Therefore the generalist units are more flexible and the higher tier units, while being more powerful in a specific situation, are also weaker in all other situations.

If done properly, this would give the player interesting and strategic choices for all units. Even later in the game it might be better for the player to still use the 1st tier units as they would be better at handling rapid changes in the opponents strategies.

Most games almost have the opposite. The 1st tier units are so specialized at defeating other specific 1st tier units that they are useless against 2nd tier and above, where as the higher tier units are so powerful that they become generalists, able to take almost anything thrown at them.

3) Supply lines:

These are difficult to include in a game as they usually incur micromanagement overhead. I don't think this is a inescapable outcome.

You can have buildings share supply if they are within a certain radius of each other. This way you might have a collection building where resources are collected (say a gold mine) and then this would automatically share this gold with near by buildings, which in turn share it with other building near them. It is only if you build outside this "share" radius that you would need to have units transfer the materials.

This transfer could automatically occur with certain units (peasants/builder/gatherers for instance). If idle they will look for any building that is needing resources (say a barracks needing to train soldiers and requiring gold) and transfer them from the nearest available building (linked to a supply of the resource).

The same could be applied to units. There could be a building called a "Supply Dump" that will automatically supply units within a certain radius of them (fairly large) and will allow the transfer of supplies between nearby "Supply Dump" buildings.

If a supply dump is outside the automatic supply radius, then idle units able to carry materials (peasants/builders/etc) will transfer it to the needed building. The Supply Dump buildings can be created like a chain (with peasants transferring the resource from one to the other) and this creates your supply lines. Once built, the player does not need to do much other than maintain the link (and even if it is broken, it will just mean that the supply might be delayed until the carriers carry the supply to the next Supply Dump building.

Of course you should not penalise a player for not having a supply line, but you should reward them for using them. So troops might not be able to heal, or recover energy (Manna, Stamina, etc) unless they have the supply line to them. This means that you could have troops stationed near a supply dump and then make a quick strike outside the supply radius but then have to retreat back within your supply radius to recover (gives defenders an advantage and sieges become posible).

In current systems, the resources you gain are universal. Once you gather them, any building/unit can used them regardless of where they are on the map. This means that in a siege a small resource gathering building could still supply the besieged units without any penalty - so this is then not a siege.

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1) Have the terrain effect the units

I was also thinking that complex formation (Phalanxes, Cavalery triangel, etc.) should be less efficient, and move slower if they face rocks. They will have to wait for the other soliders to have much effect in their formation.
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2) Don't just make upgraded units more powerful

Exactly! All RTS should be more like that. Warcraft III had some diffrent armour and attacks, but I don´t thing it was enougth.

Historicaly. ligther troops have ben used for being flexible, and mobile. In old Greece some pelastas (javelinmen) with ligth armour can take a slow moving phalanx of hevily armed hoplites. By frowing spear and run away. Horse archer was used for several thusand years for their mobility.
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3) Supply lines:

You can have buildings share supply if they are within a certain radius of each other. This way you might have a collection building where resources are collected (say a gold mine) and then this would automatically share this gold with near by buildings, which in turn share it with other building near them. It is only if you build outside this "share" radius that you would need to have units transfer the materials.

These supply buildings is a good idea. You could raise solider without all money, (if you are very popular, mercenaries will join you, but their moral ratings is not good, and as some greek said: In battle men vote with their feets.) but they will not wait for ever for salary... and your popularity will drop.

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In current systems, the resources you gain are universal. Once you gather them, any building/unit can used them regardless of where they are on the map. This means that in a siege a small resource gathering building could still supply the besieged units without any penalty - so this is then not a siege.

What if I get this new unit, not seen in any other RTS the Supply Cart. Not only for transfering goods, but also for getting a cheaper, faster supply track, that can be moved.
But "Warehuses" (sounds better than supply dump for me) will be for buildings
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This one's especially obnoxious, because in this case it is "may be", two words

Sorry i was tired, and stressed. I noticed like, 3 minutes after I shutted the computer :P
Be glad I didn´t spell it: "mejbi" or spelled all "th" "F" :P
If I have some wrong-spelled words in this post, please post. But not just for the grammatics, say how you want a RTS.

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I like the supply lines idea, along with intelligent 'peasants'. The question is, could the OP write a computer player intelligent enough to build sensible supply lines? That's the trouble in most (even commercial) RTSs, the computer-controlled enemies don't make a good job of base building.

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I like the supply lines idea, along with intelligent 'peasants'. The question is, could the OP write a computer player intelligent enough to build sensible supply lines? That's the trouble in most (even commercial) RTSs, the computer-controlled enemies don't make a good job of base building.

And I think this is the main reason that supply lines are not used in RTS games as the AI for them would be fairly difficult to code.

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These supply buildings is a good idea. You could raise solider without all money, (if you are very popular, mercenaries will join you, but their moral ratings is not good, and as some greek said: In battle men vote with their feets.) but they will not wait for ever for salary... and your popularity will drop.

What I was saying is that the resources (eg money) collected at one building can be transferred from one building to another automatically and instantly until it reaches the building that is using the resource (either to build that building, construct units or perform research/upgrading), but only if the buildings form a chain (that is within a certain distance from each other). You would still need the resources, it's just that you have to get the resources to the required building/unit somehow.

This can easily be graphically shown on screen by having a circular line that shows the supply/transfer radius of already constructed buildings and the building that you are about to construct, or some other highlight (like an alpha blended overlay or such) which is only visible to that player.

It even opens up some more research possibilities, you can do research to increase these radii to give you better supply/transfer distances.

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What if I get this new unit, not seen in any other RTS the Supply Cart. Not only for transfering goods, but also for getting a cheaper, faster supply track, that can be moved.
But "Warehuses" (sounds better than supply dump for me) will be for buildings

I though of supply dumps as being temporary structures that any unit could build. That way an army could build Supply Dumps as they moved and then pack them up after they leave. This way you could move an army out into the map and build your supply rout as you go. However as these dumps would take time (and tie up your units as well as costing a small amount of resources), it would slow your army down and leave them vulnerable to attack while you are constructing the supply routes.

You could also have Warehouses as a more permanent supply point. If you also make them able to store any resource types (supply dumps might be limited to what they can store - mainly used to supply troops, rather than anything else), then they would also become an integral part of the base and general supply chain.

This has also made me think of another feature of RTS games that might be good to include:
4) Capturing building rather than destroy them.

In most RTS games you need to destroy all enemy buildings. What if you were able to capture them as well. the player would have a choice to either destroy them or capture them. Capturing a building would be fairly difficult, but doing so would allow you to take any resources stored in that building, or if it is a production building (like a barracks), use it to produce your own units. If it is a research building, then you might be able to have access the research done in that building (ie free upgrades).

Economics:
I have been thinking a bit about economic system for RTS games over the last few days (just reading this thread started me thinking about it - thanks :D).

Besides the local resources (that is they exist in specific buildings and need to be transferred between them, rather than being a global pool as they are in most RTS games) and the supply routes/chains system I have previously suggested, I think that more can be dune for economic systems.

you could have a basic crafting system (more like Resource A and B are needed to make resource C) that transmutes one or more resources into another through specific buildings (like a Smelting Plant would change iron ore and coal into steel). Using the supply chain system, this would be simple to use and can be automated.

To make it simple you would have each transmutation building (like a smelting plant) able to have the player specify a number of resource units to transmute (just like building normal troops, but it stores the produced units as resources instead of spawning troops). You would also use the supply chain to be able to feed back along the chain to get the materials to construct such units.

For example: If the player wanted to produce a soldier, they would need Armour and a Sword. The supply chain would look to see if any of those items are already stored/stockpiled. If they are then it would just get them and transfer them to the barracks building and produce the soldier.

If there as no Swords or Armour in the supply chain, then the system would notify the buildings that produce them to build them (a weapon smith and an armour smith). These building would then need steel and coal to produce them and would look for these in the supply chain. If these didn't exist then the system would then notify the Smelting Plant to produce the steel. The Smelting Plant would then source Coal and Iron Ore to do so.

All this would occur without the player doing anything but selecting the Barracks and selecting "Build Swordsman". They could, if they wanted to, tell the smelting plant to produce steel or the weapon and armour smiths to produce swords and armour and have all these stock piled. And doing so would speed up the production of Swordsmen as they would not be waiting on each component in the chain to be produced.

Also if the various components can be used for more than one thing (say the steel can also be used to produce ploughshares that allows the player to turn a peasant into a farmer (which produces food that is used to supply troops) then the player has more incentive to stockpile various components.

By having the supply chain and the economic system automated like this then the player can choose to micromanage or not. If the action is getting too intense, then they can ignore the supply chain and the AI will still keep it operational, or they could (in less intense times) micromanage their supply chain and get the best performance they can out of it.

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About micromanagement, when it's available, and offers higher gains than higher-level decisions, the game still sinks back into a click-fest. The solution might be eliminating the ability to micro-control everything, but it's probably more interesting to design a system where high-level control is most effective. Something like allowing the player to express his intentions directly, rather than the list of controls he has to translate it into. Don't look at what buildings the player should be able to control, look at what decisions he should be able to take, and provide that kind of control.

Just some loose thoughts, and easier said than done of course. :)

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