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MMORTS system

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According to the rules, I'm obligated to let you know that this discussion is meant to be hypothetical. As of right now, I don't actually plan on developing any kind of MMO. I've always been fascinated by MMORTS's. I've played a few (the ones my computer can handle), and I've come to the conclusion that no one is doing it right. In this discussion, I'm going to isolate the problems and provide my idea of what the ideal MMORTS would be like, and I want you guys to tell me if that sounds like a game you would play. The main problems are: 1)When you're offline, no one protects your civilization, and you can log back on to find all your buildings razed. 2)Resources - in most MMO's, when someone decides to move to a new server, it's because their current server is too crowded. The same is true for MMORTS's, but instead of experiencing a little bit of lag, the player's experience is essentially totally broken because he/she can't gather any resources to do stuff with. 3)Technical difficulties - Basically, in the MMORTS's I've played, all the units are always there and visible, regardless of whether or not anyone is actually fighting. It makes things messy and seems unnecessary for reasons I will explain in my solution to the MMORTS dilemna. MY solution: Each player has a main avatar that will basically serve as their general. Think of the general as a players' main character. He can do activities like quests and fighting on his own, independent from his army, like in a normal MMO. In addition to your general, you would have multiple platoons of units under your command (think Total War franchise). You would recruit platoons from barracks in cities. You would start off being only able to control four or so, but when your general reached the max level, he/she would be able to control up to twenty. Also, each platoon would be able to level up, and you'd be able to customize weapons, armor, and the like. Each player begins in a starting city (run by NPC's), like in a normal MMO, and around every city, there is a circle that will vary in size. Only generals are visible in this circle. When the player enters a friendly city, your troops are assumed to be "garrisoned" in the city barracks. The purpose of this army border is to allow players to trade, negotiate alliances, quest, etc. When the player leaves the army border, his army comes with him. Between each city, there are literally miles of relatively uninhabited terrain in which armies can clash. When you approach a city that your faction is at war with, you are given the option to leave your army at the border, and enter the city with just your general, or you can launch an attack on the city and take your army past their border. When someone chooses to attack the city, there is a 60 second waiting period, which lets members of both factions invlolved decide whether or not to enter the battle. During battles like this, there will actually be multiple, instanced (for those of you who don't know, "instanced" means it happens separate from the rest of the world, and random people can't just walk into your instance") skirmishes, each with a maximum of 100 platoons on each side (so there will be more than one general on each side). Think of it like the upcoming Tom Clancy's EndWar. The battle will include multiple, totally separate skirmishes, and the side who wins the most skirmishes after a set amount of time wins the battle for that city. Generals within a set distance to the battle can choose to join, but there will never be skirmishes in which one side has ten generals, and the other side has one. Skirmeshes won't start until there are an equal number of generals on each side. When your forces win a battle at a city, you don't get to destroy it, but you can occupy it, and extend your faction's empire, like in the Total War games. The players who were living in that city can then choose to either move to a different city, or live under occupied rule. I haven't worked out the specifics of living under occupied rule, but basically, it would be inconvenient, but it wouldn't totally break the game. Items would cost more, you would have limited access to your army, you wouldn't be able to go to certain places or do certain things, you'd be somewhat cut off from the rest of your faction, etc. Although you wouldn't be able to build civilizations completely by yourself, that's where clans come into play. A minimum of 50 players will be able to form a clan, which can collectively buy land to build a city on. From there, the clan leaders would create buildings (barracks, research centers, pretty much everything in a normal RTS) using the clan's money. The point behind a clan owning a city versus a player owning a city is that if you log off, there are dozens of people that can protect your territory, so you don't have to worry about it. Also, it prevents the land and the resources from being used up too quickly because there will be fewer cities. When Clan created cities are attacked, similar rules apply for NPC cities, but there will be a maximum of three skirmishes to determine that battle, instead of dozens. Also, if not enough generals join the battle, then the generals who choose to fight are supplemented by the Clan Army, which is comprised of all the units garrisoned in that Clan's city. This feature means that if a low level general is the only one guarding his Clan's city, he won't be restricted to using his small, low level army to defend his city. Lastly, when opposing armies meet in the expanse between cities, one general can choose to attack the other. If he does, then after thirty seconds (time for generals travelling with him to join the fray), another instanced battle starts. Players who come to where the two armies met will not actually see battle, but they will see a symbol that lets them know that someone is fighting in an instance here, and if they click on the symbol, they will be given the option to join (if the maximum number of platoons has not been already met) For these kinds of battles, there will not be multiple skirmishes. When the battle is over, the generals leave the instane and return to the world map. So, after that (lengthy) description, would you play that game? [Edited by - Zarmaka on March 31, 2008 8:18:23 PM]

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Let me understand if I got all your proposals.

1. Avoid being killed while offline - have an "emperor" city where no battles are allowed.
This sounds just possible when properly justified but I fear you couldn't have much of these, depending on world size this could be an issue.
"This is the city I've chosen for my palace. Go prove your valour where I cannot see, nor hear."
Ok. :)

2. Find resources - city barracks
I'm not sure about that one.

3. Balance battles by requiring same number of generals
I don't think this metric provides much. Maybe a "platoon hit point count" could be more effective but I believe a meaningful evalutation to be non-trivial so I'm not 100% sure the hit count would make sense.

4. Separate conquest from total destruction - avoid being destroyed too much
This sounds nice and I believe it can make sense. However, no one will ever surrender without fighting first (assuming they are given the possibility to surrender by the active attacker) and this means that this mechanism cannot be used to save completely offline players.
There are other issues with this one: how can an "occupied" player gain back control? I suppose it'll take to wait until the occupied attention is somewhere else and start a production race. I suppose this could work depending on the context. How can the "occupying" player avoid riots?

5. Clans to have always somebody looking the stuff
Sounds ok but I personally wouldn't spend much looking at the cities to make sure our occupied militia doesn't grow out of control... unless I can do something else in the meanwhile such as laying out the new roads so I can write my name! ;)
Watching the borders would probably be more fun but I suppose people will always prefer to go on attack. The "barracks" could help this but I fear it would be like a 2nd choice anyway.

6. Instancing terrains and battles - technical difficulties
Sorry, I'm pretty out of date with this. Aren't they doing this already? I would consider this to be absolutely necessary considering all the traffic that could go for battling. Moving the instancing to another internal machine will undoubtly help.

Would I play that?
I'd probably give it a try.

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Each player has a main avatar that will basically serve as their general. Think of the general as a players' main character. He can do activities like quests and fighting on his own, independent from his army, like in a normal MMO


What about something like Total Annihilation? You have your all-powerful commander in that game, maps start off with just your commander who then builds a self-sustaining base to produce combat/repair/defense/factory units/structures. A PC controlled base with Krogoth's and nuclear warheads would be pretty hard for a lone commander to penetrate let alone get established in, which would encourage multiple players to join in an assault.

For development you could allow players to customize their commander with bigger resource/energy supplies, adv. research items like Krogoth's, sub-commanders, or stealth generators, etc. Supreme Commander covers some of those things.

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Original post by Krohm
Let me understand if I got all your proposals.

1. Avoid being killed while offline - have an "emperor" city where no battles are allowed.
This sounds just possible when properly justified but I fear you couldn't have much of these, depending on world size this could be an issue.
"This is the city I've chosen for my palace. Go prove your valour where I cannot see, nor hear."
Ok. :)

Well, I'm not sure if we're on the same page. Have you played WoW? The capital city in this game would be like Orgrimmar or Stormwind, all the players of that faction would "share" it. The main idea is that players would have to choose one of the major factions (there would probably be two, but maybe a max of four).

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3. Balance battles by requiring same number of generals
I don't think this metric provides much. Maybe a "platoon hit point count" could be more effective but I believe a meaningful evalutation to be non-trivial so I'm not 100% sure the hit count would make sense.

Ok, not the same number of generals, but the same number of platoons, or squadrons, or whatever you want to call them.

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4. Separate conquest from total destruction - avoid being destroyed too much
This sounds nice and I believe it can make sense. However, no one will ever surrender without fighting first (assuming they are given the possibility to surrender by the active attacker) and this means that this mechanism cannot be used to save completely offline players.
There are other issues with this one: how can an "occupied" player gain back control? I suppose it'll take to wait until the occupied attention is somewhere else and start a production race. I suppose this could work depending on the context. How can the "occupying" player avoid riots?

Like I stated earlier, players and clans would belong to factions, like the Horde or the Alliance in WoW. If your city gets taken over, you and the other generals are given the option to make another city in your faction their "base" or "home". Then you can launch a counterattack from the other city to take back the first one. Also, if you're living under occupied rule, you can overthrow the enemy by fulfilling certain requirements, such as killing/assasinating key NPC's.

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5. Clans to have always somebody looking the stuff
Sounds ok but I personally wouldn't spend much looking at the cities to make sure our occupied militia doesn't grow out of control... unless I can do something else in the meanwhile such as laying out the new roads so I can write my name! ;)
Watching the borders would probably be more fun but I suppose people will always prefer to go on attack. The "barracks" could help this but I fear it would be like a 2nd choice anyway.

You're right, no one should have to be forced to watch the city, but I was thinking of giving people the option to teleport back to their "home" city whenever it was under attack.

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6. Instancing terrains and battles - technical difficulties
Sorry, I'm pretty out of date with this. Aren't they doing this already? I would consider this to be absolutely necessary considering all the traffic that could go for battling. Moving the instancing to another internal machine will undoubtly help.
In my experience, the amount of lag on a server doesn't change too much with instancing, but I know it helps the lag in a specific area on the map.

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What about something like Total Annihilation? You have your all-powerful commander in that game, maps start off with just your commander who then builds a self-sustaining base to produce combat/repair/defense/factory units/structures. A PC controlled base with Krogoth's and nuclear warheads would be pretty hard for a lone commander to penetrate let alone get established in, which would encourage multiple players to join in an assault.

I haven't played Total Annihilation, but I think I know what you're talking about, and the problem with giving everyone their own base - even if it can't be killed on its own - is that it means you have to spread out the map a lot to allow players to grow their city. Boundless Planet (a MMORTS) is kind of like that. Unfortunately, the map in Boundless Planet is so huge that you literally have to travel miles to even encounter any other players. In my game, I want you to interact with other players from the very beginning.

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For development you could allow players to customize their commander with bigger resource/energy supplies, adv. research items like Krogoth's, sub-commanders, or stealth generators, etc. Supreme Commander covers some of those things.

Gyrthok

Yeah that sounds good. I was hoping for a lot of customization of individual armies, like in any RTS.


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Would I play that?
I'd probably give it a try.

Good to hear.

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Most MMORTS's that I've played avoid the "killed while offline" issue by making it take a long time to completely destroy someone, and/or making attacks take a long time to carry out with intelligence being able to detect them before they occur.

E.g. It might take a week (real time) of fighting to destroy someone. If they log in once a day (or once every two days) then they get plenty of chances to fight back before they get crushed.

E.g. #2. It might take 40 hours after giving the order to attack before your army begins attacking. If a player logs in once a day and carries out counter-intelligence, then they get a chance to mount a defense against your attack.

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Original post by Zarmaka
Well, I'm not sure if we're on the same page. Have you played WoW? The capital city in this game would be like Orgrimmar or Stormwind, all the players of that faction would "share" it. The main idea is that players would have to choose one of the major factions (there would probably be two, but maybe a max of four).
Only a few hours using a friend's account (I didn't like it much). In that case, what would prevent the opposing factions to slain each others - besides obviously disabling the attack action?

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Ok, not the same number of generals, but the same number of platoons, or squadrons, or whatever you want to call them.
Ok, "some metric X". It'll have to be figured out sooner or later. :)

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You're right, no one should have to be forced to watch the city, but I was thinking of giving people the option to teleport back to their "home" city whenever it was under attack.
Luckly there will be town portals! However, is the NPC kill mentioned above considered an attack? There's the need to setup some way to guard the key factors.

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In my experience, the amount of lag on a server doesn't change too much with instancing, but I know it helps the lag in a specific area on the map.
It depends on implementation and link congestion, by sure it could have benefits, a different issue is exploiting them.
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I was hoping for a lot of customization of individual armies, like in any RTS.
Copy.

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Only a few hours using a friend's account (I didn't like it much). In that case, what would prevent the opposing factions to slain each others - besides obviously disabling the attack action?

They would be on opposite sides of the map. Think of the world as a chessboard. One faction is the white pieces, the other faction is the black pieces. There would be plenty of stuff to do other than fighting the enemy faction though, so you wouldn't be forced to go to the edge of your faction's territory.

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Luckly there will be town portals! However, is the NPC kill mentioned above considered an attack? There's the need to setup some way to guard the key factors.
I suppose it could be considered an attack. The occupying group might get a message like "insurgents at 'X' city are attacking 'X' NPC".
This would happen inside the city, so you wouldn't bring in your whole army to stop one assassination, but you'd be able to send your main guy (your general) to fight. And of course, other people could send in their generals too.

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Most MMORTS's that I've played avoid the "killed while offline" issue by making it take a long time to completely destroy someone, and/or making attacks take a long time to carry out with intelligence being able to detect them before they occur.
I've only played one "slow-motion" MMORTS. It was extremely boring, and frankly, it didn't seem to solve the root cause of the problem.

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