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Active vs Passive Resources in RTS games

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I was wondering about the advantages and disadvantages of each. For me I feel that active resources feels like your people are doing more, and the game feels more alive than passive resources, but I know some people like passive better. Any thoughts?

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Passive woudl be like a stat boost. Say in the game you would get 5 gold every 10 seconds. A passive upgrade would make it like 10 gold every 10 seconds.

Active would be like, for example, in an RTS game. An active bonus, could be 1, special ops guy, to help you fight. Active you can see, and immediate results.

My opinion, is.. both are very vital. It's all about the player's style, and situation. Back to the RTS example, if you are in the heat of battle, you don't really want something that slowly helps you. You want soemthing right then to help dominate the other guys. And vice-versa.

It's really hard to make a good game, that uses only one, because gamers each have their own style.

Matt

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I think he's talking about:

Passive: Farms in Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth. You buy them, they produce cash

Active: Tiberium in C&C. You send harvesters to the tiberium fields, they gather stuff & bring it back to a repository.

Both active & passive can be limited or boundless. Though generally active is always a finite amount (you can exhaust tiberium fields).

Honestly, there's no difference between bounded active and bounded passive (outside of point of vulnerability attacks: kill the one harvester production stops v. you have to kill all the farms). It's mostly just an aesthetic/fictional/art decision. What fits best in your universe?

-me

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Yeah, sorry. I was talking about having units harvest like in warcraft and starcraft versus having buildings harvest or maybe even in Age of Empires 3, units have to harvest, but don't have to drop resources off.

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As far as personal preference goes, I have always preferred passive. But really it depends on the scale of your game. For a game like supreme commander, active doesn't make sense due to the scale and the nature of the resources. However in a small town based rts game, it makes more sense to show more detail, ie the actual workers. It also depends on how micromanaging you want the gameplay of your game to be. Having the abilities to control gatherers gives the player more control, but at the same time more responsibility. So really its more than an aesthetic choice and really depends on your game.

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Active resources provides more strategy to the game. With passive resources, one is very limited in how, if at all, they can stop the flow of resources to their opponent. And, once they do, the other player is effectively in a world of trouble.

With active resources, one can destroy individual workers, slowing down resources. While it can both be easier (siege tanks on a cliff overlooking some probes in Starcraft) to take out many workers, it can also be more difficult (wisps in a gold mine in Warcraft III). It also gives the defending player more of a chance to respond and not have his resource gathering stopped completely.

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While they do add strategy to a game, the player can only be handling so many things at once. So if you have a very strategic combat system in place, having active resources may or may not detract from it. It all really depends on the context of the game. Active resources give the player more control and the game more depth, but it also shifts the focus to more managing and less combat. If this would benefit game play, then it would be positive, otherwise it could just prove a hindrance.

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Active resources add another dimension of strategy to the game. Do you expand to another resource node and risk a temporary lack of money and troops, or do you build more factories and risk falling behind economically? Do you take out your opponent's tech-tree buildings and force him to build lower-level units, or do you go straight for his workers?

Starcraft does it very well.

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One thing I like with active resources is the ability to harazz my enemy's base and cripple his economy. However, even if the resources are "passive" (using your definition), the passive resources mostly comes from buildings or key-locations on the map. Therefore, by harazzing his base and taking out his economy-based buildings, it doesn't count wheter his eceonomy is active or passive as I've managed to cripple his ecomony anyway.

I have to agree with Deleter. Personally, I think the active resources in Warcraft III is a great example of how it contributes to the depth of the gameplay. Handling your workers are in fact very important, since they have functions even in combat. The Night Elf Whisp dispells magic (and harming summoned units at the same time), while the Human Militia has great purpose for early creeping and defending your base. They are even unique for each race. For instance Acholyte can unsummon buildings when you need the extra cash and Orc worker can protect themselves in burrows while doing pierce damage. This gives a twist to the workers and gives a purpose to having active resources.

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One method I've always liked is third party resources. Where resoures come from controlling an independent resourse node. Thus forcing player to compete over these noded to expand.

One good example is that of "workers" being independent units, with each town having a number of workers. That gathering resources or build structures for whatever player controls that town. In this way players can't build more resource gathers instead they have conqurer new towns to increase their work force. Killing enemy workers rather then capturing a town means depriving that town of its resource gathering potential and making the town less valuable should you capture it later. Of course a player could also choose a scorched earth policy of killing off workers in their towns rather then allowing them to be captured and used by the enemy.

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I think the resources are both. I mean that it should be relatively easy and painless to set harvesters to harvest some resource just like it is to build an some sort of an extractor building there. You can always go after the harvester or the building that harvests it does relay differ much. I think there is far more difference between limited and limitless recourses.

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