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"Realistic" RTS idea, feedback appreciated

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When you play an RTS game, do you ever notice how resources are harvested, buildings are constructed and units are assembled? You harvest a resource, count to 60 and your barracks is done, then you count to 30 and you've pumped out 3 infantry squads. It's incredibly unrealistic and incredibly unsatisfying (in my opinion). So, I formulated an idea for an RTS (as you might have guessed from the title). The setting is simple, fictional planet similar to earth, you're a high ranking officer in the military for a country that has been overrun by a hostile force, so you withdraw into the wilderness (mountains, trees, wild life, etc) and set up base in an abandoned warehouse building. You command your forces via radio and you observe their actions with a surveillance satellite you have access to (the excuse for the camera, basically). Your forces need water, food, beds, weapons and ammo to keep functioning, as well as cement, planks and other construction materials to make your base safe to stay in and able to withstand an assault. Your forces can't just walk up to something and *whoosh* it's at your base, they've got to physically bring it back before you can use it at your base, though it is possible for units to eat, drink and take ammo outside of your base (obviously). Vehicles are very valuable as they allow your units to load up many items and move them quickly, though the vehicles need refueling every now and again, so they do add an extra resource you need to find. To secure a lot of things, you'll either have to sneak or fight your way to them. If you find enemy camps, for instance, you can kill the enemy forces there, load up your truck/s with their beds, water, food, weapons, mounted weapons and ammo (and use the crates they have laying around to do this) and then bring it all back to your base. You can also take the enemy's uniforms, but you have to get them cleaned up at the base (it has a washing machine) Once your base is fully operational and secure (it's got mounted machine guns, guard towers and the walls aren't full of holes), you can start building a bigger army by convincing people to join you, the easiest way being to kill a hostile force that is oppressing them. It has a capacity (once fully restored) for about 200 soldiers, 20 officers, 20 engineers, 6 cooks, 10 gunsmiths, 3 janitors and yourself. To go into detail on those units mentioned: Soldiers are your main fighting force, officers help with micromanagement (such as making sure items get stored in the right areas and you can assigned them tasks) and help keep your men disciplined, engineers build things such as defences and maintain your base (as well as building things outside of your base), cooks use the food you gather and make it last longer and keep your men happier, gunsmiths can repair, recalibrate and make guns and also can produce ammunition and janitors keep your base clean (through, they're optional). So in total, the base building houses 260 people (yourself included). You can build bunkers outside where additional defensive troops reside (their sleeping quarters are inside the bunkers, so it doesn't effect your base unit limit), these troops man mounted guns and guard towers and preform patrols to keep your base secure. You can also take over factories, mines, farms and other such places if you have enough soldiers to hold the building, and then use skilled civilian supporters to start producing things for your army (like guns, ammo, food and vehicles). As well as getting civilians to help you make things, you can also train them in basic military tactics and discipline to form new recruits for your army. Through with them being raw recruits, they are weaker than your starting soldiers who are battle hardened. Also of note is that you can customize your character, your soldiers' uniforms and you can get gunsmith's to make you unique weapons for your army out of different pieces of weapons or new pieces from a factory. How does this sound? Unfeasible, simplistic, bad, good? Please give some feedback, it really shall be appreciated (unless it's negative, then it shall be grudgingly acknowledged).

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"We've taken out the enemy camp, sir!"
"Good job soldier! Load their beds up on that truck. Those look comfy!"

In my opinion, the biggest problem with your design is that it's too much to worry about. If I want to fight, I don't want to have to plan 400 years/turns beforehand, giving some grunt a job to hunt stones and commanding someone to grind them into powder, then training a blacksmith to melt it into metal, then training a gunsmith to craft barrels, etc, etc. By the time I have the guns I need, I've lost all of my will to fight, and just want to settle down and become a farmer.

In real life, I can just designate gun crafting to one individual and expect those guns to show up after so much time. Or even better, order the guns from my main base. It's extremely tedious (for me) to have to worry about growing tulips so that I can attack an enemy barracks in four years (tulips are used to make weasel stew, and my gunsmith works faster when he eats that stuff).

That's just my opinion. I think Civilization IV: Colonization suffers from this a little. You just can't do anything when you need to do it. You have to plan, plan, plan, build, build, build, train, train, train, store, store, store, just in case you need it.

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Quote:
Original post by Kest
"We've taken out the enemy camp, sir!"
"Good job soldier! Load their beds up on that truck. Those look comfy!"

In my opinion, the biggest problem with your design is that it's too much to worry about. If I want to fight, I don't want to have to plan 400 years/turns beforehand, giving some grunt a job to hunt stones and commanding someone to grind them into powder, then training a blacksmith to melt it into metal, then training a gunsmith to craft barrels, etc, etc. By the time I have the guns I need, I've lost all of my will to fight, and just want to settle down and become a farmer.

In real life, I can just designate gun crafting to one individual and expect those guns to show up after so much time. Or even better, order the guns from my main base. It's extremely tedious (for me) to have to worry about growing tulips so that I can attack an enemy barracks in four years (tulips are used to make weasel stew, and my gunsmith works faster when he eats that stuff).

That's just my opinion. I think Civilization IV: Colonization suffers from this a little. You just can't do anything when you need to do it. You have to plan, plan, plan, build, build, build, train, train, train, store, store, store, just in case you need it.


Actually, I had planned it very action oriented. Shoot the enemy, take their stuff, load it up, use it. Also, the civilians are already trained in their jobs, you just take over a factory with your military as opposed to the other guy having said factory.

Also, once you get your first officer, they're meant to micromanage for you, so that would alleviate the stress of a growing army... kind of like how they don't have one guy directing an army by himself in real life.

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sounds a bit like stronghold to me.
Before you can build Walls you need to gather stone. Before you can gather stone you need a working agriculture to keep your people working.
"Hiring" new people for your castle includes supplying enough food for them.
You want to build an army? You need farms first so you have cows for leather.
You need someone who can make armor out of this leather, you need people who manufacture bows, spears, maces etc.

This kind of game is actually a lot of fun in my opinion. To me it's more rewarding than the typical "pump out an army and rush your enemy down" kind of RTS gameplay.
So I would really like to see that kind of thing with a more modern setting.
Not to say the medieval setting of stronghold is bad. But you get the point I guess :)

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The old outpost 2 game did a lot of this.. you hade to build specific ore-smelters to use iron-ore etc which trucks transported goods to.

I actually like the idea of micro-managment, but don't make it an requirement :)
It should be optional.

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Hi there,
I like your design idea and short description of the scope of your game.

However, as this subforum concerns game design and not game story pitch, i'd like to ask you to detail more the mechanisms on how the various activities will interact, what the length of the activities would be, what game states structure your project could have, any sketches or layouts to enhance our picture of the game, any calculations or notes regarding the units and their relative strengths or weaknesses as well as any ideas you have to the users' interface to the game as well as the style of graphics (realistic or stylised, 2D or 3D) you think would fit.

It would also be nice if you could detail a typical session of a new user from the start to the endgame, with descriptions of specific important points so as to communicate the 'flow' of the game. Are you planning on levels? Skill sets as used by current MP games and MMOs?

The story idea is interesting, but you should try to determine the target audience (casual, hardcore, RTS with or without Action) so that you can prune your ideas to a more concrete level and scope. It will help you concentrate your design efforts.

I wish you success in the construction of your world.
Greetings.

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If you actually care about realism a medieval setting would work a lot better since your industries would be a lot more self contained. A lone gunsmith making a modern firearm and ammo in a small workshop starting from lumps of metal ore, charcoal, sulfur and saltpetre doesn't seem much more realistic than making troops from money.

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Quote:
Original post by Hairein
Hi there,
I like your design idea and short description of the scope of your game.

However, as this subforum concerns game design and not game story pitch, i'd like to ask you to detail more the mechanisms on how the various activities will interact, what the length of the activities would be, what game states structure your project could have, any sketches or layouts to enhance our picture of the game, any calculations or notes regarding the units and their relative strengths or weaknesses as well as any ideas you have to the users' interface to the game as well as the style of graphics (realistic or stylised, 2D or 3D) you think would fit.

It would also be nice if you could detail a typical session of a new user from the start to the endgame, with descriptions of specific important points so as to communicate the 'flow' of the game. Are you planning on levels? Skill sets as used by current MP games and MMOs?

The story idea is interesting, but you should try to determine the target audience (casual, hardcore, RTS with or without Action) so that you can prune your ideas to a more concrete level and scope. It will help you concentrate your design efforts.

I wish you success in the construction of your world.
Greetings.


Well, first the interface. I was planning that it would look somewhat like the Company Of Heroes interface, only with more options... if you follow my meaning.

Second, you mention activities. I assume that means basically, how the game works, right? I hope I'm right. Well, again, I had envisioned a Company Of Heroes style of playing, but you drag and select to make squads out of clusters of individual soldiers as opposed to having locked groups.

For instance, in the beginning you have 30 soldiers, with those soldiers you could have 2 squads of 15, 3 squads of 10, 6 squads of 5 or 1 squad of 30.

You select all of the soldiers you want in a squad, select "make squad" below your mini-map and they form up in order. The squads stick together until you tell them to de-group or combine them into a bigger squad, if your squad gets big enough, it can become a battalion or even a full-blown army in it's own right.

You know how in Company Of Heroes, when you select a squad, you can select it's "powers" from a tab on the right?

Well, that is how I had imagined you selecting what your squad does with items. You'd have a "consume" button (for eating and drinking in the field), a "take ammo" button, a "take weapon/s" button, a "pick up items" button (when you select an item to pick up, you get a pop-up menu asking if you want to take all items of that type within a short distance or not), along with the basic "attack move", "crawl" "sneak" and other assorted options you would have.

The style of graphics would probably be "bland" as I imagined this in a wide open world, like Metal Gear Solid 3 (style of world) meets GTA 4 (space of world), if you will.

That would be a lot of space and it'd be easier if it wasn't too graphically demanding... probably something like Company Of Heroes on medium quality, only a little bit prettier.

The basic set of event that I have planned for the game is: You get trained as an officer (tutorial), you invade a town with 350 men armed with various weapons (a simplified battle against militia, to ease the player into the game) and the player gets a feel for handling moderately sized groups of soldiers and how to manage them, then his country is invaded, his forces decimated and he is forced to retreat with only 30 of his 350 men still alive and he spends the rest of the game trying to retake his country and repel a hostile force.

The power of the player is represented by how many areas support you. If you defeat hostile forces in a town and drive them from that area, the populace there will assist you, which will allow you to function at a higher level.

So liberating the civilian populace and gaining access to production structures, willing soldiers and resources in general is this game's form of leveling.

Lastly, you mention an audience. I think this would be a pretty "hardcore" game, a lot of RTS fans would probably like it, people who like thinking about things a lot would probably like it.

But I had hoped that the officers micromanaging for you to a degree would help make it somewhat approachable by casual players, as well.

Quote:
Original post by Kaze
If you actually care about realism a medieval setting would work a lot better since your industries would be a lot more self contained. A lone gunsmith making a modern firearm and ammo in a small workshop starting from lumps of metal ore, charcoal, sulfur and saltpetre doesn't seem much more realistic than making troops from money.


The gunsmiths would be in a factory with civilians operating machines stamping out guns, about one crate of guns a day.

The gunsmiths make high-quality guns, such as sniper rifles and pistols for officers and my character to use. Regular guns are assembled by factory workers who are assisting in the war effort (much like WW2 America's weapons industry, I do believe).

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Hi again,

thanks for the additional information. A more technical game design query this time:
- What are you planning to release as part of this design? Is there going to be a design document of sorts. Mock-ups? Wiki or web site?

- How are you planning to validate your design against your target audience? How gather feedback on the games' ideas, ergonomics, accessability, playability, mechanisms and such things?

- How far are you taking the design? Are you designing the whole game until ready for active pre-production or just up to a specific 'level of detail'?

- Do you have any designs/ideas for related game elements distribution model, target user age limits, support infrastructure and patches, online support, DLC?

As a tip here:
-You need to produce a design document preferably on a Wiki or web site, although it doesn't need to be coded and could use placeholder art or rough sketches. Although I know the game you reference, i'd prefer to see your design skill and what unique ideas above the available you would bring to the game. It's easier to get constructive critism if there is something there to critisize.

- Get some books on Game Design, or read things to that effect on the Net. It will show you the steps required to design a game, as well as how to document your design correctly.

Keep going!

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It would be cool if you had something like Oblivion, where all the civilians had their own lives and schedules. They could have a block of time for "work", doing what you tell them to do, but the rest of their time is to automate and have them take care of their basic needs.

I think this would serve to both form an attachment to your civilians, and take away the drudgery of micromanaging all your civilians to eat, sleep, etc.

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