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HeWhoSurvives

Ammo restriction/ logistics in RTS

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I have never seen an RTS which limits the ammunition that a unit can carry. They all grant their units unlimited firing times and never worry about the logistics that real armies use. For instance, an M1Abrams guzzles fuel and needs incredibly strong logistic backup to stay running. Taking such factors into account could have a profound effect on how an RTS game plays. On the gripping hand, manually managing your armies baggage train could be boring as well as frustrating. To counter that effect, which I suspect is what has kept it out of games, AI controlled logistic managers could take control of the creation and command of fuel/ammunition trucks, relieving the player of the tedium while adding the strategic element of supply lines to protect. The question is: Is the added strategic elements worth the allied AI controlled units and the frustration of having your soldiers run out of ammo if you lose your supply vehicles?

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Well its a matter of opinion. Adding in supply trains would add more depth to the game, but I really think it limits your audience. I know for one that I can't micromanage/strategize down to this detail while still having fun. But I bet if done right it could appeal to a certain group of people.

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I think the current breed of RTS is too fast paced for this. What we mostly do is build waves of mixed units and send them into a war of attrition on the open plains. For supply lines, I think we'd need trench warfare, and other kinds of taking advantage of terrain, and significantly slower gameplay. With current mechanics, your units could die twenty times over before supply ever becomes an issue.

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S.W.I.N.E. and Codename: Panzers come to mind. And if I'm not mistaken, Earth 2170 or such also has an ammo supply system. In the first two games however, it's limited to a few trucks that are just part of your force, except that you'll have them stay in the back and only come forward once the fight is over. No real supply line to speak of, and losing them was more of an annoyance than a strategic thing, similar to how destroying the enemies ammo trucks wasn't very usefull: it's not like they would run out of bullets before you'd be dead.

So as lightbringer already said, supply lines are a longer-term thing. Most RTS'es we see play on a much smaller, on-steroids time-scale. You could, however, use construction materials for a supply-line - without them, you can't build new units, which are sort of your ammunition, given the amount of them that you send towards the enemy, and the few that come back.
For example, instead of gathering from mines or tiberium/ore/supply fields, you could have transports coming at your base at a regular interval. Perhaps containing resources, perhaps reinforcements, but interrupting, or even just slowing down, these transports could seriously hinder a player.

Just a few (random?) thoughts on the subject.

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It was one of my favorite features of Home World 1.
The fighters and corvetts all burnt fuel, so you had to have places they could
dock up and rearm/repair.

I agree that if not done well, it could end up a collosal pain in the ass. But simple renditions of fuel, ammo, and remote resupply station
would definatly work. The focus would have to be on supply units (like the carrier or support friggate in HW1) that you just
have to keep near the front lines so troops can run back to it at get stuff.
NOT on supply lines that you have to maintain.

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Quote:
Original post by HeWhoSurvives
I have never seen an RTS which limits the ammunition that a unit can carry.

Unless disabled in the options, Homeworld limits the fuel supplies of smaller ships, which has much the same effect as limiting ammunition. Ships can refuel at carriers, but there's no "supply chain": the fuel just magically appears in the carrier ships.
Quote:

They all grant their units unlimited firing times and never worry about the logistics that real armies use. For instance, an M1Abrams guzzles fuel and needs incredibly strong logistic backup to stay running. Taking such factors into account could have a profound effect on how an RTS game plays.

C&C limits the ammunition of certain types of aircraft. Supreme Commander limits their fuel supply.
Quote:

On the gripping hand

Coincidentally (or perhaps not) The Gripping Hand contains the only reference I can remember to logistics in futuristic warfare: it is noted that, during battle, the MacArthur (a warship) is continually refueled by a chain of hydrogen tankers moving between the ship and one of the system's gas giants.
Quote:

The question is: Is the added strategic elements worth the allied AI controlled units and the frustration of having your soldiers run out of ammo if you lose your supply vehicles?

Yes. I'd love to see more strategy in real time strategy games. In fact, I'd love to see any strategy.

I think if you have the player worry about fuel and ammo, you must let them loot enemy bases and defeated enemies for fuel and ammo, so that units aren't completely useless if they're cut off from your main force.

It's important to realize that logistics would have a big effect on how an RTS plays. For example, in a typical RTS, if a player's base is virtually undefended but there is a large force between your base and his, it's reasonable to rush the front line with tanks in the hopes that a few would get through and make it to the base, which you could then destroy at your leisure. With logistics, those tanks would run out of ammo before they could do much damage: you'd need to get supply trucks, and lots of them, to the base as well.

Of course in reality you wouldn't use tanks to destroy a base, you'd use artillery stationed on the other side of the map. That artillery would also need ammo, though, and it would be hard to hide artillery in some corner of the map and pound the enemy to dust, since the enemy could track the supply vehicles going to the artillery.

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I really like the idea of supply lines, but I've never actually seen it implemented realistically, and all the implementations I've seen have, as KulSeran said, focused on the supply units themselves rather than the lines. Conquest: Frontier Wars was another game that utilized supply, and it had three dynamics. The first was supply stations, attached the planets, that would resupply any ships in the vicinity. The second was supply ships, which carried a limited amount of supply and would automatically feed out to ships within its effective radius. When these supply ships ran out, you simply flew them back to a supply station.

The third involved building gates to other systems, as the game revolved around the idea of conquering separate star systems, which were attached via warp holes or whatever you want to call them. You could fly through these warps all you wanted, but you had to construct a gate at the other end, attached to a system you already controlled, to extend your supply line to that system. Then and only then could you start building planetary installations in that system. By destroying an enemy's gate, you effectively cut off a major part of his forces.

I've considered for years how this might be approached in a land-based game, but I haven't come up with anything solid yet. So, the idea of supply lines is viable, and it does appeal to a certain crowd, but it depends entirely on implementation, in that it has to add something to the game rather than detract from it. To do that, of course, it has to be a major focus of the game, rather than a tertiary consideration; otherwise it feels like you're punishing the player with unnecessary mechanics.

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Going by the rule of seven, a common player could manage a MAX 3 cities and 4 armies depending on the game. This is because an army is almost like 1 person in real life. You control the army as one unit. The cities are more difficult, but each has it's own needs like a single person.

Can you imagine how hard the game would be if you had to keep up with 200-400 people in the game tending to each of their needs? You just might make the most frustrating game ever concieved. However, there is a solution.

If you want to keep your people realistic, why not take the black and white approach. People are sufficient by themselves, but during times of plauge, famine, drought, war, ect. they need your help. People are self sustaining to a point, but as all civilizations, they need guidence.

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Quote:
Original post by Tom
To do that, of course, it has to be a major focus of the game, rather than a tertiary consideration; otherwise it feels like you're punishing the player with unnecessary mechanics.

Right. You can't just add logistics to an existing RTS without making any other changes and expect the result to be playable. I think much of the criticism is based upon the assumption that that's how it would be done. (And also based upon the straw man argument of "if you implemented it in the worst possible way, it'd be pretty rubbish, therefore it's a bad idea.")
Quote:
Original post by TheKrust
Going by the rule of seven, a common player could manage a MAX 3 cities and 4 armies depending on the game. This is because an army is almost like 1 person in real life. You control the army as one unit. The cities are more difficult, but each has it's own needs like a single person.

What RTSes are big enough that they have entire cities in them? What RTSes treat an entire army as a single entity?
Quote:

Can you imagine how hard the game would be if you had to keep up with 200-400 people in the game tending to each of their needs? You just might make the most frustrating game ever concieved.

Well, no, I can't. I don't know what you're saying "their needs" are. Adding ammo only adds one attribute to your units: amount of ammo. You already have to worry about the health of each of your units.

Homeworld, SupCom and C&C all manage to restrict how long certain units can stay in battle between resupplies, and I don't think any of those are "the most frustrating game ever conceived".

It's not as if anyone is suggesting that you'd have to manually instruct each unit to restock their ammo when they run out. When out of ammo (or, ideally, just before), they'd make their way to the nearest supply vehicle or station to restock and then return to what they were doing. (Or, alternatively, a dedicated supply unit would ferry supplies between the supply points and the units that needed them.)

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