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NIm

Multiplayer cooperative RTS

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It seems that Real Time Strategy players sometimes focus on one area of playing, such as micromanaging, general strategy, or using a particular kind of unit. Most multiplayer RTS gamesallow one plyer per team, period. THey allow alliances, but You still have to manage all aspects of your own team, even if you do have someone backing up your offence or defense somewhere. So what if Two players could control different aspects of the same team? player 1 can be micromanaging resources with player 2 fighting off the enemy. Or player one could order an attack, and player 2 micromanages that assault, leaving player 1 free to defend against the counterattack. Or player 1 can do general strategy and resource management, while players 2 and 3 manage seperate assaults on the enemy. What do You think?

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If I remember correctly, Warcraft 3 had an option where you could grant a teammate full control of your units. It was possible to split up the duties as you describe, but it never seemed to be that effective. Both players micromanaging seems to me to be much more effective, as you can perform twice the abilities/tricks in combat.

I think a co-op RTS is a strong concept, but I would think that forcing the players to perform separate tasks would be difficult.

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Rise of Nations allowed multiple players to cooperatively control a single side. This was fun to play with my wife, while I managed economy stuff and building, she was doing the military stuff, defense, attack, etc...

You can also do this in Supreme Commander if you start a multiplayer game with cheats enabled, and in the console do SetFocusArmy(x), where x is the index of the army you want to control, so if you chose the army of your friend you would both control the same side.

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I also did it in AoE II. It's basically identical to controlling one army, except that two (or more) people are doing it. A click by either player is treated the same, except that each of you can have different units selected (of course). I did it once with my little brother; it was pretty fun.

To do it, make sure both players are the same team and the same color in the setup screen.

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I think this idea has merit, but the division of duties should be voluntary. The only times I've ever played anything close to this was when I got defeated in Starcraft and moved the command center to an allied base. It wasn't one faction but the coordinated feeling this gave was quite interesting.

Coordination between players can be effective - with built-in voice chat it would be easy to delegate tasks. "Build more marines" or "take groups 2 and 3 and attack the upper left base". The workload is not constant though. Sometimes there is a lull when you are waiting for things to build or for more resources to become available. Sometimes it becomes more than a single player can manage, with multiple attacks going on or with an expansion being built. You don't want the player controlling the attacks to sit around doing nothing half the time, since they'll get bored. So let the players coordinate the management themselves.

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Thank you, lightbringer. Hmmm... I guess when designing a game with this mechanic in mind, it becomes important to make sure that players don't get bored. Maximize micromanagement possibilities, without maximizing micromanagement requirements, all the while ensuring that winning does not boil down to superior micromanagement.

If better micromanagement wins, one side could just have alot of players, with one manageing each little detail.

What do you mean by "the division of duties should be voluntary"? How could it be deterministic?

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Quote:
Original post by NIm
What do you mean by "the division of duties should be voluntary"? How could it be deterministic?


I was under the impression that you are proposing something along the lines of: player A only has control over structures, player B only has control over units. I thought that wouldn't be a good idea. Reading it now more closely, you do not really specify it like that :)

I think often in these types of games the winning does boil down to superior micromanagement. But what's wrong with that? :D

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Another aspect to this might be combining cooperative RTS with FPS. This was done REALLY well with BattleZone2. It's a 3D FPS where you can command units to move, attack, build ect. just like a RTS. I thought it was a pretty decent game. Also it's multiplayer, so you can have one player handle economy while another handles battles. Both got to get some good FPS action when the enemy was on the attack too. Another nice aspect was you could go into a command hut and get a top down view of the battlefield. It's a shame more games don't incorporate this...

*face brightens* HEY that gives me an idea to add to my list of projects to do! :-p

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Quote:
Original post by lightbringer
Quote:
Original post by NIm
What do you mean by "the division of duties should be voluntary"? How could it be deterministic?


I was under the impression that you are proposing something along the lines of: player A only has control over structures, player B only has control over units. I thought that wouldn't be a good idea. Reading it now more closely, you do not really specify it like that :)

I think often in these types of games the winning does boil down to superior micromanagement. But what's wrong with that? :D


If players are allowed to join whatever team they want, then whoever has the most players will win, because more players correlates to more attention on the battlefield == more micromanagement.

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Though previously mentioned I want to say that both warcraft and starcraft fully support this (especially starcraft). You should also note that no one knows about these modes cause they are not that popular. It is not a bad idea but I think it doesn't work, because of player to player conflicts. These don't usually work unless you play with your friends.

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Quote:
Original post by Axiverse
Though previously mentioned I want to say that both warcraft and starcraft fully support this (especially starcraft). You should also note that no one knows about these modes cause they are not that popular. It is not a bad idea but I think it doesn't work, because of player to player conflicts. These don't usually work unless you play with your friends.


I played StarCraft for years and never saw this. Guess it's the Big Game Hunters fallacy :D But playing with friends may actually be a large market segment also.

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I really enjoyed starcraft when playing, melee mode or whatever it was called. I think the biggest problem with it is, it simply wasn't advertised much. Most people that played the games, had no idea what that mode was, and the few people I convinced to play it loved it.

As far as the team with an extra player always winning, hardly the case. Me and my friends were all about equal in skill, and 2 on 1 after someone dropped, the 1 could still win even if the drop was early.

It really isn't any different than two players having control only over their own troops and not their allies, vs one person.

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I've played this type of thing (2 people control one "player") in starcraft with friends... the problem is that unless you clearly define roles you end up in conflict, ie I want to build a tank and my buddy wants to upgrade armour. so when there's enough cash to upgrade and he goes to do it, he can't because I've already built a tank, or vice versa. That equals conflict!! We found it easier to just be allies.

I think the idea of one person having control of the economy and the other person control of the military would work quite well. kind of being Minister for Defence and the Treasurer.....

Either way, I guess the key is communication!!

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I'm fully in support of voluntary separation of power. Mandatory separation would become tiresome and complicated.

Imagine in Star Craft that you're controlling the military. You schedule to have a squad of marines produced, only to be met by your economics manager who says "I'm sorry, but its just not in the budget. Can we stretch the troops out a little?"

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I played it in Starcraft and it was quite fun. My friend and I would play against two computers, so it would be 1v2 and it was challenging. What made it most fun, though, was that each player started with a builder unit from the race they chose. So if he chose terran and I chose zerg, our base would be terran, but we would also have a zerg drone. So a bit later, I would head out and build a zerg base.
Ahh, if only wow wasn't so successful... we need a sequel.

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You ought to check out Ground Control II if you want a good co-op RTS.

I really like this idea, such that I want to elaborate on my own thoughts. I'm in favor of two players swapping control of the same units and buildings, but this feature has to have constraints.

Resources:
For starters, each player could have separate resource pools. This would be extremely easy to implement in a gather system, because you'd simply split resources evenly among each team member as they come in. If someone wants to share his/her resources, it would operate like a tribute (without the overhead cost). This would of course be optional; if you'd prefer to have a single, shared resource pool (to allow faster response time during a crisis), you can specify this when setting up the match.

Buildings/Units:
Control of buildings and units should operate on the basis of who made it. When a player builds a structure, that structure is under that player's exclusive control (i.e., owned by that player) unless s/he toggles a "shared" option for the building, in which case his/her teammates can use the building normally. The building's owner has absolute control and can commandeer the building arbitrarily if needed; in other words, while a building is selected by its owner, no other teammate can use it. Players can transfer ownership to their teammates, of course.

Units would function basically the same way: units are owned by the player who owns the building that produced them, but they inherit the building's shared status, and of course this status can be toggled by the owner. As with shared buildings, shared units can be selected and assigned orders by the owner's teammates unless the owner presently has them selected. Ownership of units can also be transferred.

This system could even work for pickup games. When a new player joins the team, s/he can immediately take control of any shared resources the team has available. If there are no shared resources (i.e., players are greedy), one of the existing players may be kind enough to transfer ownership of a few units to the new guy (this is how some of the missions in GCII worked, so it's only reliable if you're (a) a good sport, or (b) playing with friends).

That's all I got for now.

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Interesting Division system, Tom. Rating++. IT seems there needs to be some way to keep n00bs or l4m3rz from ruining the game, and your way seems to be it. Perhaps the starting units could be unowned, so that even if a new player drops into a greedy team, they still get to start somewhere.
What does everyone think of this system?

The other possibility I was considering was giving each team a "commander" who, in addition to controlling units, controls what payers have control over. I guess its better for the commander to have limits, in case he's a n00b. The commander can be impeached democratically. The commander cannot restrict control over a certain set of units. WHat does everyone think?

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It seems like a game like this would need high amounts of communication as to who is doing what. I mean along side the massive amount of micromanagement. For instance a building that a player builds could have a system that controls how it's used. On the side of the game hud a list of all the major buildings and what and how they are being used to keep players from doing redundant things that would slow down the whole. Also a list of how many "workers" are doing what. How many military units are idol and also where they are at.

Maybe even a quick messaging system to set on a group of units. Like player 1 could select a small amount of units and put a tag on them that says "defending this position" to let other team mates know that they are being used.

Okay Last idea and probably the best I can think of at the moment:

When you join a game you choose a class like, "resource management", "defense", "offense", "scout" kind of things. So right when the game starts everyone has their resources in a base and players can queue up seperate kind of buildings. Defense would manage building up small defense buildings or factories that create defensive units (slow moving high attack power, but can be offensive if needed). Then they rely on scouts to find resources and track enemies. Seperate the resources around the map and make more than 2 of them forcing the players to hold onto key locations. The defense player backs up the resource player by doing escorts and overall defense of the key locations. The resource person would be able to build small cheap defense buildings and manage the tech tree along with major upgrades to technology. They may or may not have offensive/defensive units. The offensive person just stays centered on the larger war front and doesn't need to micromanage resources or defense. The scout backs up all three groups by building fast moving offensive/defensive units or assistant units and also manages radar and fog of war destruction to make sure players know what's happening. Only flaw I can quickly see is keeping all of the sides happy when it comes to gameplay. I mean if resource management is boring then it might be hard to find a person to do it even though they are extremely needed.

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I still think the best and easiest way is how StarCraft did it, where each player can do everything. Yes, there is always the issue of Player A building something with money Player B wanted for something else, but you have the same issue with every other multiplayer game.

Is your friend deciding to upgrade all your unit's armour over your building a new tank any worse than say, your ally attacking before you are ready to join and wasting an army? Or in an FPS, when a teammate decides they'll take a different route and maybe kill a few from the other team, rather than supporting you where you want?


When me and my friends played, we never really had many problems, we got two bases going fairly quickly, and money wasn't really that much of an 'issue', not like two players fighting over the money of one player, but two players sharing two player's money.

You need to tell your other player what your plans are, but it requires no more communication than playing with normal allies to be effective.

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