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lexicanium

level balance

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lexicanium    122
I am studying games design at Bolton university and was wondering if some of you guys could please point me in the right direction for some material for an assignment. I have to create a map in Spring (an open-source RTS engine based loosely on TA) and the focus of the work is game balance. The map side of it I can do fine but I am having trouble finding information on level design theory within RTS games specifically. This is the main thing I'm being marked on, more why I chose to make the map in a certain way with relevant sources from others to back up my reasoning (they tell us our own opinion on it means jack really). Any books or websites you can point me on RTS level design theory would be greatly appreciated. paul.

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Captain P    1092
I haven't created many RTS levels - mainly some single-player Starcraft and Red Alert ones some years ago - but I've created FPS levels for 7+ years. What's especially important for level-design, and game-design in general, is playtesting. I used to spend months polishing the looks of a level, only to find out it was boring to play in. I didn't see that because I had become biased towards my own map: after all, I had been nurturing it for months.

That's why it's a good idea to build several prototypes first just for gameplay sake. After a few playtest sessions, you'll have a much better idea about what works and what doesn't in your map. You'll see how players actually go around in your map - which can often be quite different from what you'd expect.


You may want to check out some RTS modding and mapping sites. You'll likely find a few articles on subjects like these. Studying popular maps and player strategies can be helpfull, too. But most importantly, playtest your maps with others. Good luck with this! :)

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lexicanium    122
yeah naturally, however I am on a bit of a time limitation, I've got three weeks to put together the level and create the video diary of why I made it the way I did. Also this Spring engine doesn't seem to support AI opponents so I can't use those for testing balance either.

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Talroth    3247
Look at what factors influence play on an RTS game.

1. Resource location and amounts.
2. Terrain, what units can move where.

Maps can be Symmetrical, or Asymmetrical in both design and goals for players. A map can still be balanced if one side has limited resources, but a vastly superior defensive position than the other.

One way to mathematically judge maps is to analyze their layout of resources and control, and map out the optimal expansion of resource gathering. Compare how much each side can take in, and then evaluate it based on strategic positioning. This will give you an idea of how powerful one starting location is vs another.

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Funkymunky    1413
good question! If it were me, and I had 3 weeks (wow I never had 3 weeks on a project in college. I mean, I did, but I never started that soon. kudos)

ha, you're the third result on this google search. The first result looks promising though.

Next, I would read all of the wikipedia's references for Real-time strategy, especially if it was citeable.

...

I found this page, which has a very interesting quote:

Quote:
In Spring resources (Metal and Energy) are unlimited, unlike in most other RTS Games. This means that once you have built i.e. a metal extractor(Mex)/Solarplant you will get metal/energy out of it until it's destroyed (as long as you have Energy for the Mex). There are 2 major following Issues because of this:

* Your economy will grow exponentially (always more and more) if you invest most of your resources into it.
* You never end up with no resources to gather, but the battle builds up till one side is overpowered.


After reading that, I would actually cite Sun Tzu because the map I would make for an RTS like that would be either near-symmetrical for 1-2 players or a king of the hill central gold-pot for 3-6. Seems like you'd just try to maintain the fastest rate of cranking out units, flooding your opponents until they're overwhelmed.

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