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gamedogma

MMORTS End Game

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gamedogma    100
The MMORTS genre as a whole is young with maybe no more than 20 titles published and active. Most if not all of the active MMORTS games are by indie teams. The basic building block of MMORTS is about resource development and management. Typically there is a "safe" period where your zone is protected while growing. Once the "safe" period is up, a player is able to attack other players and also be attacked by the same. My question has to do with a specific facet of the MMORTS endgame. Zerging by other players who have been active longer as this results in grief and very possible exit from the game by the player who was zerged. Potential solutions 1. Not allowing zerging or other players to completely destroy a player. This results in a detente as players mass resources and troops but have no ability to trully affect the outcome of a game. 2. Some type of insurance or recall ability allowing a the zerged party to escape. I have generalized on purpose, but would like some thoughts on what potential solutions there are beyond 1 and 2 to allow for some flow to the game once it matures.

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kru    211
Change the paradigm. Instead of allowing players of asymmetric power to compete directly, give them (relatively) equality in their competition. This can be achieved by breaking the gameplay into discrete chunks that play similarly to traditional RTS games.

Another option to deal with asymmetry of power is to alter the goals for each side. Less powerful starting positions require less lofty achievements to secure victory.

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doomhascome    142
The real problem (which I still haven't seen a satisfactory solution for) with MMORTSs is the 'log-out' problem. You can't log on to find that you've lost crucial position/resources, or the game loses its worth. And you have to put something on the line with each battle, or it isn't interesting. So how can you establish a game where you build up an empire, and have to defend it while active, without having the player (should they be forced to leave during a battle) utterly squashed.

I'm not really sure how you could do that.

To start, try doing the following

Mandatory number of battles per week/month, with a penalty should they not be completed.. You can see a list of every player currently online, and may challenge them. Should they accept, the battle commences.

Victory is defined by securing key resource locations. So more like a capture and hold game than a 'squish the enemy' game. You couldn't build units during a battle, but could field any guys you have, up to a maximum equal to the challengee's guys. Defender can surrender and leave if they want. The challenges happen over new territory.


How, you may ask, can you then lose territory, and have your empire shrink?

Because if you are the challenger, and your attack fails, the enemy can push into your base, making a new, more intense battle occur. Victory will be hard, since you'll have towers and way better terrain, but you can gain a lot of tech.

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Wai    1007
Re: gamedogma

A paraphrase of your post:


Suppose players A and B start playing the game at the same time, but A plays more than B does, then after some time, A would have a lot more zerglings than B. Now, A attacks B with the zerglings. B is simply overwhelmed and is forced to quit the game. What could you do to fix it?


A comparison with MMORPG:

In an MMORPG with PvP, if you get ganked, you typically respawn at a point where you could choose to go somewhere else in the world, but you still retain your level before you get ganked. If you see some high level players around, you could just run away or hide. In an MMORTS, the situation is different in that getting ganked is to become Lv 1 again, also, you could see the enemy coming but you have no option to run away.


Your solutions:

1) Disallow zerglings from completely destroying a player.
This is similiar to the spawn point and the limit in the number of levels that a character could lose in PvP in an MMORPG. Your criticism is that if that is the case, the players can fight but can't really conquer.


2) An insurance method to allow the defender to escape.
This is similar to letting a low level player flee if they see a high level player in PvP.



Building on your ideas:


Big Brother Fleet

The Big Brother Fleet is a merchenary fleet that arguments a player when they send a distress call. The player needs to pay for the fleet, but they could pay in installments after the battle. While the player owes the fleet, the player cannot expand or attack other people on behalf of itself. While the player is still in debt, whatever the player gains or conquers belongs to the Big Brother. To repay the debt, Big Brother might contract the player to do missions for itself.

As long as the player is in debt, the Big Brother Fleet will continue to reinforce its presence in the territory until the Fleet is defeated.

For example, the Big Brother might organize a 15-player fleet to assault a 1-player territory. If the 15-player fleet captures the territory, Big Brother would write off some or all of the debt. Big Brother might provide some equipment in those missions. In terms of game design, the Big Brother is just a facilitated alliance to even out the odds between the powerful forces and the weak forces. When a player is in-debt, the player becomes part of the "mob".

This mechanism balances the zergling situation because if you are the owner of the zerglings, if your victim is sufficiently frightened and calls a Big Brother fleet, you will only lose your force. So normally, in addition to your zerglings, you will also have a set reserve fleet to deal with the BBFleet if it gets summoned.

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dietepiet    157
As Wai mentioned, the problem is that all your progress is lost when you are squashed by a stronger enemy. An obvious solutions might be to give the player, besides is earthly possession, some form of experience just like in a regular MMORPG. For example, you could gain building experience. When your city is completely destroyed by a strong neighbor, you move to another part of the map and start over and have your city up and running much faster than the first time.


On the 'Big Brother Fleet' idea, it sounds like an interesting option. Although I would prefer that something similar would simply emerge from natural interaction between players. When each player belongs to some race or clan, you could automatically send distress messages to all other members when the player is attacked. You could reward rescuing players with some reputation system or with extra resources. Having new players start out in one of a few large n00p clans gives them an initial safety net and a direct environment to start interacting with players.

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Edtharan    607
I have had some ideas for an MMORTS (just don't have the resources to make it at the moment).

First of all, I had to try and avoid the positive feedback loop that occurs in RTS games. This is when you use resources to gather more resource. In a typical RTS this is a good thing as it allows the game to reach an end point where one player wins. In an MMORTS, this can not be allowed to occur as it will mean that the game is no longer playable (not a good thing in an MMO game).

My solution was to limit the player in the amount of resource they could have. In my game the players fought over "Realms", fragments of a shattered world destroyed by magic.

They had a safe Home realm, but beyond that they could gain and loose them in the battles, however owning realms drained Manna (to maintain the rift gate to them). As players had a set manna regeneration rate, the more realms they owned the slower they regenerated manna. If they owned to many realms, then they could not regenerate manna at all and one of the things man was used for was to create rift gates which meant that once they had a certain amount of realms, they could no longer gain any more and setting a natural limit on their resource levels (it worked out at around 7 realms could be owned by a single player - there were going to be artefacts which were very rare that would enable an extra realm to be owned).

Manna was also used for many other things, including the super weapons (apocalypse spells - a bit like the one that were supposed to ahve destroyed the world in the first place), so this also meant that owning too many realms prevented you from using you super weapons as often. This also allowed new players an advantage and so created a ballance between them.

Quote:
The real problem (which I still haven't seen a satisfactory solution for) with MMORTSs is the 'log-out' problem. You can't log on to find that you've lost crucial position/resources, or the game loses its worth. And you have to put something on the line with each battle, or it isn't interesting. So how can you establish a game where you build up an empire, and have to defend it while active, without having the player (should they be forced to leave during a battle) utterly squashed.

To solve this problem I proposed a solution where while a player is logged off, any realm of theirs that does not have an enemy on it becomes protected and can not be attacked, but neither does it gain any resource or expend them (basically it puts it into suspended animation). IF a player accidentally logs out, they can log back in and take control.

This method also prevents grief logging out, where a player could potentially log out so as to avoid loosing a battle.

When a match is made, each player puts up an "ante" of one or more of their realms, and while you are logged in any one can request a match up to one of your realms (which you can reject). This would allow player to form guilds, where they log onto each others realms to give re-enforcements in battles, and to connect to enemy realms for battles. There would be a limit to the number of people that could connect to any 1 realm (I limited it to 6 realms that could connect to any other realm - including your own realms), so if you wanted many allies in a battle, they would have to traverse many realms (and possibly many players as well) to get to the battle field. So although you could have a large army with all the allies, any re-enforcements that would come form them would take a long time to get there.

All realms were randomly generated and players could always connect to a neutral realm (unowned by any player) and try to capture that. This meant that even if you were totally wiped out, you could payer a kind of single player campaign to gain new realms.

Realms would have artefacts (some rarer than others) that would enable a player to use its power in some way. These ranged from being able to own a realm for free, to special spells that only the artefact could cast, to being able to create extra resources, etc.

Research was not a global powerup, like current RTS games do. What I did is when you did research, you gained a "Scroll" which could be stored in a building. If this was a training building, then the unit you train there would have the researches ability. For example: If you had a Mage school, then you could research spells that your mages could cast.

You also had Libraries where scrolls could be stored long term (and research that needed them as prerequisites could be done). They could also copy scrolls so that you could use them in more than 1 building, trade them, etc.

What this meant is that if you made a raid on an enemy's buildings, you could destroy (or capture) their research scrolls and knock back their research (or steal their research for yourself). This game more reasons for fighting an enemy than just to take their realms, or resources.

The other thing I had in the game was an artificial life simulation (genetic algorithm) for your people. So a player could selectively breed their populations for a particular style. A units ability in various skills (magic, fighting, resource gathering, research, etc) and abilities (reproduction rate, healing, max health, etc) could be selected for at the cost of others, and each Realm a player owned, had their own populations which enabled them to breed different types of base units. If you captured a realm form a player, you got all the resource, research scrolls, and non combatant populaiton for your own.

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Stangler    152
The Travian set up is pretty hardcore and only appeals to a certain group of players. It has it's place but there is need for something else IMO.

I think the most obvious solution is to base it on a WOW type model. There are two sides, there is a strong emphasis on PVE, and most PVP is instanced.

Co-op RTS game against a computer can be fun. There can be a lot of different scenarios that require the player to only start the battle with a limited number of units or techs available to you in your "match."

You really want to keep players advancing. So you want to offer flat progression which fits in well with a system that limits the number of units you can start a battle with.

Of course you can also have Epic encounters that have very high limits and require multiple players.

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gamedogma    100
Kru - Remove asymetric gameplay with discrete chunks.

Very good, I like that. Rather than a winner take all mode, something similar to EVE where there are multiple paths to success. Success does not have to be defined by wiping out your enemy. I myself really liked playing the auction markets in MMOs and always thought an economic MMO would be cool.

Doomhascome - How to deal with troops when logged off and still defend territory.

Victory is defined by securing key resource points. This is definitely workable, rather than have one or just a few secure points have multiple that need to be defended. Loss of a single point while off line would not matter greatly and maybe would be expected. The battle for the destruction of a player's home base would need to scheduled to give the defender an opportunity to be online and defend. I think it would be reasonable to expect a player to check in once a day or every other day to be able to accept a challenge of the home base.

Wai - Use Big Brother or Mercenary troops/fleets to backup player against zergers. Player would owe debt to Big Brother for defense and can't attack until debt is paid off.

Definitely orginal mechanism. Something like this would work where you don't have alliance troops to back you up. My thought is you would still have to have a resource limitation as some players are incredibly adept at being able to build very large armies if there is no limit.

Dietepiet - Have players rewarded for helping other players

This was done in the MMORPG, Atlantica Online. I really liked how it was implemented as it encouraged players to help other players and created a strong community. All MMO games could learn from Atlantica Online regarding this to foster community within their game.

Edtharan - Home realm is not seen nor accessible within the game to other players. Battle for zones would only be against players that are online. Zones are not connected linearly. Battles are resource limited.

I was thinking mainly of a 2-D type MMORTS. This definitely solves the zerging/grief issue and would be a very different MMORTS than is out there today.

Strangler - Instancing the PVP

This is used in just a few of the MMORTS games out there now. The instancing PVP mechanism could definitely be developed further.

---

All great thoughts.

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Raskell    156
I feel that the current mass of MMORTS games currently available are missing the mark by a considerable margin because they are, for the most part, still focused on a primarily single player experience.

I think a more compelling and truly 'MM' experience would require a large group of players work together to build up a Fortress/army, though this in itself does nothing to address the OPs original question.

To that end there are a number of things that could, and in fact should be done, some of which actually add to the experience as opposed to just serving as an arbitrary restriction on older/more experienced players.

First, as has already been mentioned, limit resource stores. In reality, any stores require some form of storage facility. Grain silos, lumber yards, equipment sheds, etc. All buildings require space, upkeep, construction, become potential targets.

Fortresses themselves require fewer men to defend than they require to assault. With proper mechanics they also require fewer resources to defend than they require to assault. In a properly designed MMO environment, the offensive party needs to balance the consumption of their own resources against the benefits of defeating a lesser opponent and the risk of becoming a target by others.

Mechanics for a Declaration of War could be implemented. Such a Declaration would need to be made, and some period of time pass, before the attacking party could initiate their siege upon their target. The target of the Declaration could choose to seek diplomatic avenues that would cost them resources, but increase the period of time before the assault could actually be made, but not indefinitely so (even if they could obtain the resources to do so). Once that time had passed, the assaulting party would then be able to gather their forces and commence the march. Marching is fatiguing on an army. Causes them to consume more resources, and degrade their performance. To remain optimal, the march would need to be at a moderate pace (taking longer to get to the target). An army can only carry with it supplies to last short periods of time. This necessitates a supply train from their base fortress to their target. Such a supply train would need to be guarded or risk falling prey to brigands or being cut off entirely by the enemy, or allies, expected or unexpected, of the enemy. This would further subtract units from the actual assault. The opportunities for real strategy here start to expand rapidly.

As a corollary, surrender mechanics should be built into the framework as well, allowing an overwhelmed opponent an 'out' at the cost of some defined number of units and resources, without being completely destroyed.

The cost of upkeep for a given army should also increase exponentially with it's size, providing a 'soft' cap on army sizes, and also providing some benefits to only maintaining a smaller standing army at any given time. This extends to all aspects of resource consumption such that an army twice as large requires 4 times as many resources to build, and 4 times as many resources to maintain, 4 times as many resources to move around, etc. Thus it would not be in the interest of an older/more experienced player to assault the newbie fortress with his 20 defenders using an army of 60 units. His costs for doing so would far outweigh any benefits gained from doing so, and cause a much larger depletion of his own resources thus making him far more vulnerable to attack himself, even given that his assault succeeds. However, he COULD choose to assault that newbie fortress with only a 20 unit army of his own and rely on his experience to win the day.


Back to the idea of making the RTS truly MMO, each player would only be capable of commanding an individual squad. The player itself would be represented by an immortal avatar that leads the squad. Various types of squads would be available each suited to different tasks, all capable of being led by any given avatar.

The fortress building and resource gathering activities would be guild focused activities. Sorry, a single player shouldn't be capable of building and running an entire fortress by themselves. That doesn't mean there can't be any place for a non-affiliated player in such a game. There are always brigands, mercenaries, traders, etc. And individual players could still be capable of building their own home, hideout, lair, tower.

It would be the guild's responsibility to define the overall layout of their fortress. Where the walls, buildings, towers, and other various structures are to be placed, but the individual players will have to command the appropriate squads to actually build said fortress, gather said resources, etc. Various obstacles could be put in place to make the more mundance tasks 'less' mundane. NPCs or PC Brigands to be killed when beyond the protection of the guild fortress. Resources outside the fortress will need regular protection to maintain control of them.

Alliances with other guilds could be made. Members of the guild could turn traitor. Conspiracy, deception, honor, diplomacy. There's infinitely more possibility to a fully massively multiplayer RTS type game than anyone has yet to attempt.

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ddn3    1610
Question, why do MMORTS even have an end game? Isn't that a carry over from single player RTS which have very distinct phases of gameplay?

Why can't you have a MMORTS which is continuously leveling, exploring and growing your armies with occasional PvP combat. Also RTS have more levels of player engagement than a MMORPG, for instance a single player can control a squad within a RTS army, while another player controls entire armies and still other players control the engines of the economy (trade, research, diplomacy). It seems there are many levels of gameplay which has yet to be explored within this model.

-ddn

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Edtharan    607
Quote:
Edtharan - Home realm is not seen nor accessible within the game to other players. Battle for zones would only be against players that are online. Zones are not connected linearly. Battles are resource limited.

I was thinking mainly of a 2-D type MMORTS. This definitely solves the zerging/grief issue and would be a very different MMORTS than is out there today.

The main point I was making is that the current paradigm of RTS games is that of a War of attrition where one player (team) is victorious and the other is defeated utterly. Under the current RTS paradigm one player must loose all to the other side(s).

To make an RTS truly MMO, you need to abandon this kind of gameplay. What you need is to have more of a feel where players put a bit of their resource on the line in the hopes of winning more (yes, it is a bit like a gambling paradigm).

The Zerging issue only really occurs in wars of attrition, because in those types of scenarios if you can stop your opponent from gaining resources it constitutes a victory.

In my idea, gaining resources occurs slowly and therefore mainly out of battle. Units are valuable (not necessarily costly though - just that you have to put a bit of effort into them) and therefore you will not want to risk them in a Zeg rush.

Also, as conquering a territory is not as simple as wiping out all enemy troops and buildings (it is worth while holding on to them as they are the resources you are after), it mostly eliminates the war of attrition problem.

The other important thing is the feedback loops. In current RTS games, there exists a positive feedback loop (more resource allows more buildings and more units which allows you to take and hold more resources - which allows more units and buildings...).

In an MMORTS such feedback loops are a problem as it creates a situation where someone with a slight advantage can use the feedback loop to create even more of an advantage (it is a case of the rich get richer).

What you need is a Negative Feedback loop (the opposite of a Positive feedback loop). In these, the more of an advantage you have the harder it is to keep that advantage, and if you are behind, then you can get a boots to help keep you up with the rest. An example is Drafting in car racing. When you draft behind someone, you get a boost to your speed, but this is at the cost of the car in front of you's speed. But then when you over take them, they can draft against you. So if you are in front, then you will get pulled back a bit, and if you are behind then you are helped along.

In my game, this was done by Manna and that the more realms you owned (and so the more resource you controlled) the less manna you had. As manna was a powerful force in the game, you had to balance your need for manna against your need for resources (and as each player had different needs for each of these, they was not any one particular balance between them).

Now of course you don't need to use manna in your game, but you do need to create a negative feedback loop to reign in the leaders and to give new players some kind of advantage.

Using Super Weapons is one way. If each player has a Command Resource, and they can spend this to get re-enforcements, or trigger their super weapons, but the more Nodes they own the less command resource they get, then this would allow new players (or players that have been nearly defeated) to get more of this command resource and so get re-enforcements quickly or fire off more super weapons.

Another way is to decouple the gaining of units from the amount of resource/nodes you control. This way as a player increases their holdings, they don't necessarily increase their power, so holding a large number of nodes or resources is not going to translate into more ability to capture them (thus breaking the positive feedback loop).

I feel that this second one is not as good as the first, mainly because it takes away the feeling of power that a player can get (a good motivator). In the first one, although the player still gets this feeling of power and achievement, they are ultimately limited in what they can get. The loss of power is also a good motivator (to avoid) and in the second one this too is removed. Although, both could be combined in the one game.

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Wai    1007
Re: The market of second-hand supplies and surplus

The natural, MMO-way to implement Negative Feedback that Edtharan mentioned is by setting up a second-hand equipment market. In short, when you upgrade your stuff (since you are a leading power so you have resources to do research and get upgrades), you could sell your old equipment.

This is not something you would normally see in an RTS, for the simple reason that you don't sell your old weapons at a discount to your enemy. But in an MMO setting it would make sense, because you are most likely selling weapons to your enemy's enemy, and that makes them your friend.


Re: Some social mechanisms against alliances

The following are some social mechanisms of negative feedback against giant alliance. The massive-army-versus-weak-player problem has a deeper root than the result of having more soldiers by playing longer. The situation remains even if you set a hard limit but allows alliance.

The natural solution to this problem is to singularize the reward of an assault, or to make the reward of being at the top of a group exponentially lucrative.

For instance, you could make it such that anything that is looted during an attack first goes to the leader, and all subordinates have no way to tell how much the leader got. Have unique loots that cannot be divided among the members of the alliance. They would just have to trust the leader and accept his decisions.

Another way is to allow the leader a unique ability that is granted by its rank. When the leader is the only one that has the right to use this resource, disputes could naturally arise regarding how that resource should be used. This helps break alliances from within.

A third way is to allow the immediate subordinates of a leader to assassinate the leader when a sufficient ratio of them vote to do so. This helps break trust.



Re: Some types of MMO players

I think it really depends on your players. There is no single type of audience that an MMO should be designed for to be a "true" MMO. There are three basic types of players.

1) Players that enjoy interacting with others but make their own decisions on how to play the game, and when they want to play.

2) Players that enjoy being in a team or a sub-culture and adhere to a common goal and group decision process responsibilities in the group.

3) Players that enjoy commanding others to work for them.

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Edtharan    607
Quote:
Original post by Wai
Re: The market of second-hand supplies and surplus

The natural, MMO-way to implement Negative Feedback that Edtharan mentioned is by setting up a second-hand equipment market. In short, when you upgrade your stuff (since you are a leading power so you have resources to do research and get upgrades), you could sell your old equipment.

This is not something you would normally see in an RTS, for the simple reason that you don't sell your old weapons at a discount to your enemy. But in an MMO setting it would make sense, because you are most likely selling weapons to your enemy's enemy, and that makes them your friend.

This is not actually a negative feedback loop, especially if you can use the wealth gained from such a trade to develop new tech (like say using the money form the trade and building new research facilities), or even just using the wealth from the trade to buy more raw materials (or even the resources needed to supply your followers to gather the raw materials) for making weapons.

A Positive Feedback loop is one where an action causes an increase in you ability to take that action again (eg: through frequency of that action or the effects of that action). Selling stuff (weapons) to gain a resource (money) what can be used to get more stuff (weapons) is a positive feedback loop.
Quote:
Original post by Wai
Re: Some social mechanisms against alliances

The following are some social mechanisms of negative feedback against giant alliance. The massive-army-versus-weak-player problem has a deeper root than the result of having more soldiers by playing longer. The situation remains even if you set a hard limit but allows alliance.

The natural solution to this problem is to singularize the reward of an assault, or to make the reward of being at the top of a group exponentially lucrative.

For instance, you could make it such that anything that is looted during an attack first goes to the leader, and all subordinates have no way to tell how much the leader got. Have unique loots that cannot be divided among the members of the alliance. They would just have to trust the leader and accept his decisions.

Another way is to allow the leader a unique ability that is granted by its rank. When the leader is the only one that has the right to use this resource, disputes could naturally arise regarding how that resource should be used. This helps break alliances from within.

A third way is to allow the immediate subordinates of a leader to assassinate the leader when a sufficient ratio of them vote to do so. This helps break trust.

Again, this is a positive feedback loop. If you singularise the reward and give it to the player at the top, then these rewards would allow the player to remain at the top and even make it harder for others to defeat them.

Any action that enables an increase in that action is a positive feedback loop.

Creating "dissension in the ranks", altogether it might seem like a good way to create a negative feedback loop does not actually do so. It will instead turn the game either into a massively single player game, or create small cliques of friends that know they can trust each other that end up using the positive feedback loop created by winning = more resources/rewards and dominating any new players that are not in those cliques.

I don't use the term alliances here as these groups are formed outside the environment of the game and are maintained, not for game reasons, but because a group of friends want to play with each other (for what ever reason). Now, if this was just how it was with no positive feedback loop, then it would be a good thing, but because of the positive feedback loop formed from winning games, these cliques would come to dominate any weaker group and with each victory they become more powerful. They will quickly reach a point where they become totally unbeatable by anyone that has not been playing for a long time. New player, and player that are not part of such a strong group will quickly loose interest in the game and you will loose player in droves and not gain any new players. Eventually the Ubergroups will not have any challenge and even they will leave.

For a MMORTS game to have any survivability, you must have it so that no matter who good you are at the game you run the risk of loosing (even if it is a relatively small chance) and even if this is your first game of it, you must have the chance of winning (even if it is a relatively small chance).

With these positive feedback loops, very quickly these groups and players will be come unassailable and you will loose these risks and opportunities. In Multiplayer RTS games (rather than MMORTS games) that exist now, these kinds of problems just are not important as each time a new game starts, every team is reset back to 0 and it is only your skill that determines how good you are.

IN MMORPGs, this problem also exists, but because they use a numerical value to determine how powerful a character is (the level), then they can use this to prevent players from fighting each other outside of what would be fair. However, in an RTS game, this "Level" value is not available and so no such measure can really take place. One could match the amounts of resources/army size/etc between players, but this would still have a problem of some players being so far above or behind that they have no other players with which they can be fairly matched, also, some player could manipulate these values (dumping a lot of resource/troops/etc to fake being a lower ranked player just so they can smash a newer player to get their resources (in a positive feedback loop).

Quote:
Original post by Wai
Re: Some types of MMO players

I think it really depends on your players. There is no single type of audience that an MMO should be designed for to be a "true" MMO. There are three basic types of players.

1) Players that enjoy interacting with others but make their own decisions on how to play the game, and when they want to play.

2) Players that enjoy being in a team or a sub-culture and adhere to a common goal and group decision process responsibilities in the group.

3) Players that enjoy commanding others to work for them.

You are definitely forgetting:

4) Griefer: Player who just wish to make it harder for other players

5) Munchkins: Players who seek to exploit the rules to become the most powerful they can.

Although these two types of player are similar, they are different is certain, important ways.

Munchkins are not really interested in harming other players, but if they do get harmed, then that is on no importance. Where as Griefers are only out to get a laugh for themselves at other's misfortunes, but this does entail exploiting rules so they can more easily grief other players.

What both of these groups will do is to exploit any positive feedback loops that exist to become more powerful, and these can really harm the rest of the other players in your game as they end up being manipulated or even exploited by both of these groups. The only real solution (for the MMORTS games) is to not allow the positive feedback loops and to create Negative feedback loops. Doing so will make griefers be as powerless as any player and so can not reliable grief other players, and Munchkins will still be able to strive for more power, but they too will not be any more powerful than any other player could be.

Although it does not eliminate then, it does limit the amount of damage that they could cause.

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Wai    1007
Re: Surplus Market as Negative Feedback

I agree that it could be both.

It is a negative feedback in the sense that it is a force that closes a gap between the advanced and the not as advanced. Everytime you advance, the gap between you and your opponent becomes larger. But the game provides a force that allows the opponents to reach your level easier. This force contributes to close the gap, therefore it is a negative feedback, with respect to the gap. It is a force that tries to drive the gap to zero.

Just for a comparison, if it were a positive feedback with the gap being the variable, the game could have a mechanism where the first player that achieves a technology has the exclusive right to use that technology.

Imagine this situation:

Your planet originally had 100% resources. You take 40% of it to reach your first stage, used 20% making stage 1 weapons, another 20% to reach stage 2, then 20% to get your stage 2 weapons. Since your stage 1 weapons aren't really compatible with your stage 2 weapons, you sold your stage 1 weapons to get back 10% resource more stage 2 weapons. Now you have 30 units of S2 Weapons.

Your enemy's planet also has 100% resources (compared to yours). In the beginning of the game, the enemy is in defensive and did not do much research. You bought the 20 units of S1 weapons with 10% of your resources, spend 10% additional resources to reverse engineer it to get to stage 1 technology level. Now, you spend additional 20% to get to stage 2. So far, you have only spent 40% of your resource. You spend the rest making stage 2 weapons. Now you have 60 units of S2 weapons and 20 units of S1 weapons.

In this situation, the gap got reversed because you sold your surplus.


A perhaps simplier way to implement negative feedback is to automatically reduce the cost of research that someone else had already reached.


Re: Social Mistrust as Negative Feedback

This is negative feedback in the sense that the primary force that holds an alliance together is the trust among the alliance. The power of the alliance comes from having people to count on that will protect one another. A leader does not ask some stranger to watch your back while you are asleep.

A leader has no power to be "at the top" other than the fact that the leader is trusted, and others provide service.

When you increase the gap of power and intelligence (information) between a leader and a subordinate, you increase the chance that the subordinate would overthrow the leader and take the power for themselves.

Friends playing together:

Friends compete among themselves also, and if you have enough unique rewards that cannot be divided, friends would turn on themselves. Two friends meet one good girl and you have a problem. But in terms of the context, I am talking about the context with an alliance of 10+ players protecting a system around the clock. In most cases the people in the alliance aren't people you meet in real life on a daily basis. They are probably people you don't know in real life. They are people who, if they don't tell you that they found a unique item, you will never know. You could visit their base, but you cannot tell how much money they have, or whether they have additional bases that you are not aware of.

People disagree on objectives, methods, and efforts all the time, so even without added mechanism, there is a limit to the number of people that would be in an alliance, as long as the alliance is not some kind of nominal thing like a friend list on facebook.

When a small alliance attack a small target, the investment of each player is small. A three-player team might destroy a target in one sitting. The team members are attacking in the same vincinity, so the amount of total reward could be approximated. When the leader splits the reward, it is relatively easy to tell whether you got a reasonable share. If the leader ditches you, you have only lost a few hours of play. So, it is relatively easy to meet good friends in the game and do small alliances like this. Since it is easy to coordinate small attacks, the alliance could rotate leader and do it a few times if they like.

When a large alliance attack a large target, the investment of each player is larger, because it takes longer to end. No member of the alliance can see the entire battlefield at once. It becomes more uncertain to estimate the total amount of reward. If the leader kept 20% for himself, the rest of the alliance may not be able to tell. Since it is harder to coordinate a large attack, the alliance has fewer chance to rotate leadership, and even with rotation, the total reward will vary much more due to the differences in the targets.

Trust is what holds an alliance together. The rule set reduces the chance that a player would trust another player as an alliance gets bigger. In this perspective it is a negative feedback loop. The question was whether this is a positive feedback loop in practice.

Power corrupts.

Depending on the size of the world, it might not be a simple task even for a dedicated group to take over the world. The following are some important contextual features of the world:

1) Logistically, forces lose power when they are disconnected from their military support zone
2) Attacking remote places is therefore very expensive
3) Weapons are expensive
4) Most targets are undefended
5) It takes considerable time and resource to turn an area into a military support zone
6) Most targets within one's territory are not military support zones
7) Logically, weapons do not stand guard at important areas. They are dispatched from military zones to intercept incoming attacks.
8) Each military zone guards a number of target areas
9) Military decision is in how much force, and where, to send the forces
10) Alliance is about letting someone else's troop to be in your territory and eat from your military zones.
11) When you allow some one's fleet to rest at your station, you allow them to consume your resources
12) Military installment at production zones slow down production rate.
13) A fleet that makes an emergency stop at a production zone could destroy the production zone
14) No player has complete information of everything that are inside their territory, unless the territory is extremely small.
15) Patrolling is required for a player to check what is at a certain location.
16) It takes exceeding effort to patrol the entire territory of a player
17) Small groups of enemies sneaking in a territory is almost never detectable.
18) Forces that are small enough do not need a military zone to support their combat forces. They can be based in other zones
19) There is never enough people to manage a territory as it expands.
20) There is never enough resources to fix all problems inside a territory as it expands.

In short, inside each territory that a player think he owns, there could be numerous small gangs and small wars fought among other players under the player's radar. Sometimes the player might know of them, but has no reason to deal with them because they will not attack the military bases.

Imagine that you are a warlord with a lot of lands. In your territory, you have villages, and castles. Your main forces can only station at castles normally. On your land, there are petty thieves, gangs, robberers, bandits, and rebellion forces. All of them are played by other players. On top of them, you have rivaling lords. You know that your bandits are taking your resources, but as long as you are getting a reasonable bulk of the resource, you can't really spend troops on them, because your main troop needs to fight the legitimate wars against the other lords. You form alliances with other players to deal with problems inside and outside your territory.

The flow of resources in your territory is like water in a leaky wick basket, instead of a mount of gold mine waiting to be mined (as in how it is represented in most single-player RTS.)


Re: MMO players types

I group Griefers and Munchkins the same as Type 1, if they are mostly trying to do solo things inside the MMO environment. If a griefer plays as a member of a griefer clan, than that would be Type 2. The types are not about what they want to do, but their behaviors in grouping with other players.

Type 1 is the people who like the environment but want to play independently

Type 2 are those that want to play interdependently

Type 3 are those that want others to be their dependents.

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Edtharan    607
Quote:
Re: Surplus Market as Negative Feedback

The system you described is so dependent on many other factors of your game (and its economy) that although you could make it work, it would take a lot of effort and there are bound to be loop holes that you could not detect.

If it is a player run economy, then it is not in a player's interest to aid what might be a potential rival. You later state that the larger an alliance grows the more likely that betrayal will occur, then you can't just trade with allies, also if you trade with allies all you do is shift the problem from a personal one to one of an alliance bloc (even if there are some members that will move in or out of the bloc).

If you have a developer set economy, then you have to very carefully balance all the prices of all potential trades to such a degree that there does not exit any net gain for any player in any trade. If such an imbalance exists in your system, it will be discovered and exploited, players will use that to create wealth (resources/money/etc) and to get a positive feedback effect.

If the power of the weapons is not balanced with respect to the price that they are sold for, then this can also lead to unwanted effects. If the price that the weapons can be sold for does not match or exceed the power of the new weapons they can create, then it is not worth them selling the old ones as any player they sell it to would get a net advantage against them. If the power of the new weapons they can create with the resources gained from the trade exceeds the power of the weapons sold, then this creates a positive feedback loop and thus does not achieve the effect you are trying to get (ie: not have a positive feedback effect).

So, in your example, for the trade to work without a positive feedback effect, then the power of the Level 2 weapons must translate to exactly twice the power on the battlefield. If it is less than twice the power, then you do get a negative feedback, but player 1 would not make the trade because it is harmful to them. If the power is more than twice, then it is not in the interests of Player 2 to accept the trade as this would create a positive feedback loop.

So the only way this would work is for there to exist no net gain for the feedback loop, that is for it so be a neutral feedback loop. Such loops are so unstable that it would be almost impossible to create. Any change in the game (say patching for gameplay reasons, or an expansion pack) would, without massively extensive (and expensive) testing destroy any such neutral feedback loops.

When I was designing the feedback loops in the system I described, I dealt with all these problems. I tried, like you are doing, you use the economy to create the necessary feedback loops. What I repeatedly found was that you can not use trade between players as the feedback loop. Because if the loop was a negative feedback loop (which we are trying to achieve), then it is never in the interests of the stronger player to make the trade, and if the loop is a positive feedback loop, it is never in the interests of the weaker player to make the trade. The only way it can exist is if the loop is neutral, but as we are trying to create a negative feedback loop, a neutral feedback loop is not going to achieve that end.

Quote:
Re: Social Mistrust as Negative Feedback

The purpose of a negative feedback loop is to effectively discourage that type of action. So this negative feedback loop involves the cooperation between players, then you are effectively discouraging interaction between players. On an MMO, this is a bad idea to say the least.

I don't deny that this will occur in games, player will have falling outs. But what we are looking at is a way to make sure that no player or group of players have an unfair advantage over any of the others. In the case of social mistrust, if it was the norm that players could not trust each other beyond a couple of friends (say 5 players), then any group that can achieve a regular alliance of greater than 5 players would have a massive advantage between them. This then makes it unfair to any of the other groups.

As other players learn of the way this group managed to hold together, then eventually they all would start to adopt this management style. Any groups not using this style, or new player, would not be able to compete with any of these blocs and so would not want to play the game. You would have no new player to replace players that stop playing. Any bloc that could not maintain the alliance would split, those players could no longer compete and so stop playing (if they can't get into another bloc - and as these are based on trust, they would have no reason to trust a random player from a bloc that broke up due to mistrust).

In the second half of this section, I agree that in the real world what you describe works. But a game is not the real world. Your whole argument for this kind of balance depends on the minutia of management and logistics. In most games there is nowhere near this level of detail and without this detail existing, the problems associated with it do not exist either, so relying on these problems to create the feedback loop (when they don't exist) will not work.

If you added this level of management and logistics into a game, it would be so complicated that most computers would struggle to run it, and most players would not be able to play it.

In theory it would work, but do to the practical limits of player attention, computing power, and what is fun, it would not work in practice.

Quote:
Re: MMO players types

I still think that the Griefers and Munchkins need to be separated out from those 3 you describe. The descriptions you made are where the player's purpose is the same as the intent of the game. Both the Griefers and the Munchkins have purposes outside the intent of the game.

Both Griefers and Munchkins are potentially disruptive and if you don't take their existence into account then they will certainly be disruptive. It is possible to take their behaviours into account and actually exploit them and turn their behaviours into something good the rest of the gaming community.

If you create a role for them and factor their behaviours into the game design, you can actually prevent the disruption that they would normally cause and utilise it.

If you think of the Griefers as pirates, or warlords bent on world/galactic/universal domination, then you can create this role in the game for them and factor in methods to control them.

If you think of Munchkins as the Mad scientists or Grand Viziers of the world, then you can create a role for them and give them a purpose in the world.

There is a saying: "If you fail to plan, then you are planing to fail." If you don't plan for these disruptive player types (and so acknowledge them as a separate player type), then you can not plan to manage them.

It is kind of like the prohibition era in America. They banned alcohol, so many people started making their own. This "Moonshine" was not known about by the government, and so was not under government control. Much of this moonshine, because there was no government legislation that could control it, contained more Methanol (as opposed to Ethanol) than was good for the drinker (it can make you go blind, and kill you). Methanol (Methylated spirits) is actually far more toxic than Ethanol is to us and is really bad for your health.

Once the government removed prohibition, regulation could take place again and the quality of alcoholic drinks could be established.

It is like this with games. You can put in place all sorts of protections in an attempt to stop Griefers and Munchkins from disrupting the game, but regardless of any system you place, they will still exist in your game. So instead of trying to punish any player that does try to disrupt the game, why not reward them for doing so? Why no remove the "prohibition" of Munchkins and Griefers, and accept that they exist and "regulate" them.

All this starts with them being acknowledged as separate player types, and not part of the regular player types. By lumping them in with the other player types, you either have to think of them separately (in terms of their actions and intents - which means you are putting them in as separate player type any way), or ignoring them altogether which only leads to not being able to manage them.

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VimesBP    122
Just found this and scanned the huge posts - Im just amazed you all managed to type so much with so little existing evidence cited. There are a number of actual released games with different methods of dealing with players being wiped out and the inherant problems this brings, which long term players have given much thought in the game forums about. None of these have been quoted and compared it seems. Why do devs always try to reinvent the wheel lol.

Quote some real game experience and the mechanic involved and we might start getting somewhere. I can say, from my eight years in this genre and the developers I have spoken too, that the genre isnt young, just underinvested. Mankind was released in 1998 and was the pinnacle at the time of the idea of mmorts - many shorter or real time tactical examples had been tried up to then. This is simply a genre that demanded a tech capability server side we are only just achieving. Packet size and consistent connection matters hugely and has resulted in game communities imploding far more than the greifing/restart options. In fact, I would just expect more and more reduction in the reality of defeat as the developers in this genre attempt to cultivate the carebear community from MMORPG games and their obvious money benefits. This is something that killed MMORPG dead for me as no consequences led to a change in folks play style which bordered on reckless. This has no place in strategy games imo but ive occasionally been wrong before ;)

Ive seen plenty of threads about this so forgive me if I dont delicately step in providing info for you folks - Id like to feel you had done some investigation on this already. Comment on any game and I will be happy to post my thoughts but so far all I have seen are ideas attempted already and discarded. I do know that most of the recent ideas and attempts bypass most of the issues here and have created new complex issues the genre must grapple with quickly before RTS asserts its easy dominance with only online rankings/schedules being the benefit gained. True persistence is what marks this genre out from previous attempts.

Hope I didnt sound too pompous but I do hope developers can smell passion and counter my assertions without flames - none was meant (though some incredulity did appear lol)

Btw
ddn3 - Question, why do MMORTS even have an end game? Isn't that a carry over from single player RTS which have very distinct phases of gameplay?

This is true but I think here the discussion may be more about the players experience of endgame ie personal loss not the culmination of the entire game into one final experience.

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Wai    1007
Re: Surplus Market
You were talking about potential loop holes and balancing issues. Could you name one loop hole? How will those be different in your implementation of negative feedback?

Quote:
Using Super Weapons is one way. If each player has a Command Resource, and they can spend this to get re-enforcements, or trigger their super weapons, but the more Nodes they own the less command resource they get, then this would allow new players (or players that have been nearly defeated) to get more of this command resource and so get re-enforcements quickly or fire off more super weapons.


Here I can readily name a loop hole: A player or a group of players could arbitarily use characters will few nodes just to stack Command Resources. So all the sane players would exploit this loop hole and form huge alliances. The Command Resources, designed for occassional use, are now used like plain bullets. Instead of having armies, you just swamp the enemy with heros.

Quote:
If it is a player run economy, then it is not in a player's interest to aid what might be a potential rival.

There is no direct implication here. Suppose A is fighting against B and C is fighting against D. A would sell its surplus to C simply because C is not an immediate threat and it helps A to recoup some expenses. Then it is in A's interest to sell the surplus. It is good for both A and C.

Re: Social Trust
Quote:
this negative feedback loop involves the cooperation between players, then you are effectively discouraging interaction between players. On an MMO, this is a bad idea to say the least.

You were basically saying that any anti-alliance measure is anti-MMO. But what I said was not against all types of grouping nor against having players playing cooperatively and share control of one force.
Quote:
In the case of social mistrust, if it was the norm that players could not trust each other beyond a couple of friends (say 5 players), then any group that can achieve a regular alliance of greater than 5 players would have a massive advantage between them. This then makes it unfair to any of the other groups.

When the threat is great enough, groups that normally don't trust one another will team up to fight against the threat. Because the players will still need to think of their own survival. So these are the landscapes of alliances:

1) When the risk is low, the players will group together.
2) A large group that exists on its own without external threat will tend to break apart on its own
3) If for some reason a large group exists that threats the others, the others will also team up. This counter alliance will exist only if the threat exist. If the external threat does not exist, goto 2.

What kind of logistics are you talking about?

Say in an MMORTS, you only get money by killing enemies, and you cannot tell how many enemies there are until you fight. When you fight, you can see the enemies on your screen. When you have a three-player group, let's say that during a fight, all three of you are fighting side-by-side and all of you can see the enemies each of you are killing. Suppose you counted that your team killed 99 people and your leader only gives you 28 coins. You know that there is a problem. That would only add up to 84.

On the other hand, say now your team has 11 players , but on your screen, you can only see 2 of them. You killed a lot of enemies. You think that you alone probably killed 80, since as far as you can see, you and the two next to you killed approximately 240 enemies. You got 75 coins. You think that that is probably correct, but the fact is that each player should have gotten 80, but the leader gave 75 to each person, but kept 130 for himself. Now you cannot know whether the math added up, because with big alliances you are attacking more things (if there aren't enough to attack it wouldn't worth going together), so you lost count. Since the cash flow is large, if the leader just tax each player a little bit the leader will be rich, and the players will not be able to tell.

Re: Grouping types

That was a classification based on grouping behaviors. So in my case lone Griefers will be Type 1, Griefers in a clan would be Type 2. Griefers don't get their own type simply because it corrupts the classification. This classification is about grouping expectation. It is for highlighting that some people who enjoy playing MMO actually don't enjoy grouping with other players. For instance, they are just trying to play as a serial killer. They want MMO because there are a lot of people to kill and not be identified. It was a response to this assumption:

Quote:
I feel that the current mass of MMORTS games currently available are missing the mark by a considerable margin because they are, for the most part, still focused on a primarily single player experience.

I think a more compelling and truly 'MM' experience would require a large group of players work together to build up a Fortress/army, though this in itself does nothing to address the OPs original question.

The assumption that the only right way to design an MMO is to design it such that a lot of people must cooperate to get something done.

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szatuchny    122
Like you VimesBP I just noticed this thread and read through it. It is true that most of this thread both talks about failed ideas and ignores successes in the genre.

The first thing you should try to establish is what type of game you are trying to create. Mostly here I am reading about a massive RTS game not an MMORTS. The main difference being that MMORTS games should not end, not for any player and certainly not for the world.

Once you decide that it is ok to put in a mechanic that knocks a player out of the world regardless of them either being completely destroyed or reset to level 1, you’re talking about a different type of game. Really an MMORTS should be World of Warcraft with armies.

I am actually the Marketing and New Business manager for Silverlode Interactive http://silverlodeinteractive.com/, an interview with myself and our president was just published on Gamesindustry.biz at http://tinyurl.com/ncszml. I think we’ve done very well with our game SAGA. I would very much love to see someone take the concept to the next level and improve on it.

We have over 1000 quests that can be done either solo or for the larger boss encounters with friends. Unfortunately only 2 players can join cooperatively for a quest and I anxiously look forward to the day when we implement technology to increase that to 5 or even 10 players.

Your nation gains levels, your troops gain levels, you find weapons and armors that can be enchanted to further customize your troops. This is the heart of MMO. There is a lot going on, markets, tournaments (soon) etc. but at no time does someone get utterly destroyed.

A player builds a city after choosing one of the factions, Undead, Magic, War, Light, Nature, or Machines. The player then gets access to neutral units and units belonging to that faction. As the player gains in levels he can conquer other territories for his city. These new territories can be PvP enabled by the player giving him a resource bonus but making the territory vulnerable to attack. The main city can never be attacked except in a player to player challenge.

There is a lot more to it and I could probably go on for many pages discussing what took 3 years to build and has been improved over the last year and a half since launch but instead I’m just going to give you a link where you can register for free. www.playsaga.com/tactics.php. If you have specific questions about the game feel free to post them here.

I believe our main downfall is the difficultly to learn the game. Many guides have been written on the subject. The best one is at http://www.sagablogs.com/files/1239818416_newplayersguide.pdf written by one of our players. If I had unlimited resources the very first thing I would do is improve the new player experience.

As VimesBP suggests, I highly recommend that before any discussion continues you look at the many games already on the market and try to duplicate their design successes and avoid their failures.

There is a full list of all MMORTS games on the market at http://mmorts.com/index.php?cmd=games although IMO not all of these games fully qualify, but its a great place to start.

There are many things we did right with Saga and many more things we would change in a new game. I hope to someday have the opportunity to do so.

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Wai    1007
Re: Saga

In the manual, I did not notice logistics or troop movement from one location to the next, nor where in the existing world the new player's nation would be inserted. Does your game have a connnected or disconnected world map?

Where is the world map of Saga?

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szatuchny    122
Moving troops from your main city to garrison territories is done in the keep. The rest of the map is instanced very similar to Guild Wars. The world map AKA quest map which can be seen in the temple has various quests. As your nation gains levels more quests will open. Once you defeat a quest it turns silver and becomes harder but the loot gets better, Defeat it again and it turns gold the final quest level, harder still but even better loot. Clicking on any quest will allow you to accept the quest and you will be instantly teleported there.

An RTS world that is not instanced quickly runs out of room, similar to Ultima Online. When you allow players to build on the map eventually every spot is filled and new players are discouraged from joining.

I would love to figure out a way to have a seamless world that didn’t seem so large that traveling became tedious yet was large enough to house players. Until that day an instanced world seems best.

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Wai    1007
Re: Connected world doesn't mean seamless world

By connected I mainly meant that a graph exists that dictates which location is adjacent to which location. I didn't mean that the world is one big piece of continuous map.


For example, what I wanted to know is whether there is a situation such as:

C
/
A - B F
\ /
D - E - G

Suppose you are at A, and the enemy is at E. Then this map dictates that your troop must travel to location B, then D, before you could attack E. This is different from a system where you just select E from a drop down menu and gets teleported to E's front door.

This has a lot to do with strategy because now the players need to think about where the enemy plans to attack so that they could allocate the troops accordingly. In addition to using resources as incentives for a player to take control of a location, the game also provides strategic reasons (i.e. Enemy could think: If I can control and defend B and D, then my nation is safe from A.)

The root of an RTS is on troop movement and placement, not really tactics during a battle. Being able to equip the troops and to hire 100 different unit types is a good detail, but that is not the essence of strategy.

The essence is in looking at the world map, and to imagine/predict how the enemy is going to attack you based on where they have positioned their troops. You decide where you could afford to defend, where not to defend and where to attack.

As far as selection goes you could still use a dropdown list, but the options would be limited to the adjacent locations. (I suppose that is how location selection in your quests and campaigns would work.)



Re: Hierarchical Map, from Village to Nation

In each location of the map above, you could zoom in to see additional locations that are at smaller scope. For example, the outskirt of B could have three villages that are connected to one another and each is connected to B:


.--------C
|
V1--|--V2
| \|/ |
A---------B---------D
| | / |
'--V3--------V4

In the arrangement above, I am trying to show that V1, V2, V3 are all connected to B, but there is no path from A directly to V1. To get from A to V1, a solider must first get to B. On the other hand, there is a back road that connects V4 and V3, although V4 is really in region D.

The size of the troop determines what path they could take. The rank of the player determines what type of location the player must use as a home base.

In terms of rank, this structure would support an MMORPG/RTS mix, such that the player starts as a peasant (not a general of any kind), then enlists to a faction and must climbs up the ladder before he could command troops. But the following assumes that the only gameplay is RTS and the player starts as a low rank general with options to build its force and/or territory to build structures.

If the player starts as a general, the player might get to choose where to start, and whether to have land. Suppose the player chooses to have land and start in region B, the game would create a new village under B. This village is connected to all other villages in B. B is a gateway to all of the villages that the player should help defend, if it is attacked and conquered, the invader can subsequently takeover (destroy) all of the other villages one by one.

The amount of resource that a village could get is inversely proportional to the number of villages in the region. A fixed percentage of the natural resource is given to the WarLord that controls the region. At any moment, the player can choose to "revolt" and stop letting the WarLord from collecting the tax. When this happens, the WarLord has the right to invade the village and destroy it. Other villages that are still paying tax can also invade your village. But you cannot invade the other villages. You can only attack the regional castle.

When the castle is captured by a player, the player becomes the Warlord of the region. There are only a limited number of player on the map that could be Warlord. A Warlord gets all of its troops from the villages. For example, if one of the villages has specialized and became a magic acadamy, that is the place where the Warlord will get the mages, wizards to fill its personal army (unless the Warlord's home village also had a magic academy). However, in general, each village can only have a few types of production structure. So if you started as a village that trains melee warriors, then once you become a Warlord, you are definitely relying on other villages to supply you other units.

The Warlord will also decide how to set the tax and how to distribute the money. For example, when the Warlord determines that siege weapons are needed, the Warlord can pay a village to turn into a siege workshop just to build siege weapons.

Commissioning is the process where a Warlord prepares an army for battle. A Warlord can maintain a personal army, and ... (** Post is too long! Bad! **)

[Edited by - Wai on June 6, 2009 6:52:30 PM]

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szatuchny    122
I am sorry but you are talking about a turn based strategy game not an RTS game. I have played many WWII simulations where troop position is important. A fun RTS game allows you to blow the crap out of your opponents by maneuvering your troops on a battle map and using their abilities.

The game you are describing may be fun for you and your friends but if you hope to enter the larger market you need to give up that concept.

To answer your question; no, the concept of position does not exist in Saga by design. You want players to be able to jump into a battle and have some fun, not sit there worrying about the global picture. That is not RTS.

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Wai    1007
Re: RTS

I am talking about RTS. In my description, there is a front line that is visible on a global map. Players that want to fight real time battle can go there. It would include all the movement Saga would have during a battle.

Example player involvement: able to send soldiers from one side of a castle to another side of the castle while the battle is taking place to help your other soldiers that are defending the gate, able to select when to use special attacks of soldiers, etc...

I actually call the above level of involvement 'tactics'. Tactics are what you do during a battle, it is able what you tell your troops to do during battle.

Strategy would be about what battles you choose to fight. Warcraft has strategy because you could have two, both know where the other is but are not fighting. But once their armies meet, the player is actually playing tactics.

Saga has strategy in the sense that the player chooses what to build and what territory to fight. But not in the sense that it has strategy during the battles. That is tactics. Tactics is something you can execute from a grove often times. Strategy is the part that requires more thoughts into the future states the world.


My impression is that Saga does not have an actual frontline other than the contested areas that can be attacked by anyone.


What do you mean when you say troop positioning is not important? In Saga, suppose you own three territories:

T1 - Your home world that cannot be attacked unless you want to be attacked
T2 - A contested (invadable territory)
T3 - Another contested territory

Suppose someone attacks your T2, and you are online, do you get to teleport everyone from T1 to T2? If not, then you did prepare some troops at T2 in anticipation of someone's attack. The only difference between Saga and a Connected map is that there is no notion of order that the enemies must go to invade your territories. But you still have to think about where to put your troops.

(I know that we are talking about two kinds of positioning: 1) The physicaly location of a territory and its adjacent territories; 2) Where the player assign the troops.)

[Edited by - Wai on June 6, 2009 7:14:22 PM]

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szatuchny    122
I am saying there are some things you need to be ready to give up when designing a mass market game. Anything that gives a player an advantage for being online 24/7 is BAD IMO because it then gives the perception of disadvantage for those who can not be on as long. The number of players who can't play all day or even every day far outnumbers those who can. So sure you can make a nitch game that allows you to defend in real time, but make sure you do not create one with any type of illusion that it will be a mass market success.

In Saga when you are attacked the AI takes over and defends, when you lose you dont actually lose THAT much, so you can't be too upset at the AI. Sure there is room for design to allow some player interaction but it needs to be minimal and not discourage play by those who can't be online 24/7

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