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sunandshadow

RTS (features and story)

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So, it seems I am going to be designing an RTS, which I have never attempted before. [smile] I'm mainly familiar with the Warcraft/Starcraft series, although I've played a few other RTSes and several TBSes. I don't really want to get into discussing specific existing games. I just has two general questions for you all: 1. Are there any features you think are particularly cool/fun in an RTS? 2. What do you like in a story for an RTS? I want to do something that is like an anime or western cartoon in between missions. The overall tone should be somewhat comical, not too dark, and I definitely want to avoid a 'good vs. evil' type story.

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Well, I'll tell you what ISN'T fun for me in an RTS. having to sit there and micromanage each unit to get the best (or even reasonable) effectiveness out of them.

Ever play a game where a group of units are told to move a long distance, and half way there (while you're busy somewhere else) a single machine gunner or something opens fire on them. In most RTS games do the units stop, take cover, fire back, and attempt to flank the opponent on their own? I haven't found a game that does that yet.

In most games it is usually 1 of 2 things.

1. Units keep going, maybe getting down to crawl so they take 'less damage' but stay in the zone of fire even longer.

2. Stop where they are and fire back, usually in an ineffective manner.

Keep 'special' functions for units to a minimum and make their usage as easy as possible. In the middle of a battle I don't want to have to click on each of my "Super Units of Doom if you use this one function!" to fire it off, and then be scrambling around trying to find one with enough energy to fire it!
If there are any special functions/attacks, make them 'smart'. Have a single button that you use and then Click on the target, flag the target as something to use 'special features' on, and the game should be smart enough to figure out what kind of special function you on it (And these should be simple enough to have no ambiguity.) If a unit is in range and has a special power to use, then it fires it off.

Another option would be that no unit have special functions, and instead have 'global powers' that work the same way, but are instead reliant on controlling a building or something.

Biggest thing to keep in mind while designing an RTS is that the S is suppose to stand for Strategy, and there are very, very few games that come even close to involving real strategy, and are instead low level reactive tactics.

[Edited by - Talroth on February 22, 2010 8:08:35 PM]

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I thought the main strategy of an RTS was what units to build for a given mission? Like, do you build tons of cheap weak ground units or a flock of expensive air units or try to blend archers and tanks despite them having different movement rates...

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1) The best RTS feature ever is the camera/zoom system in Supreme Commander.
As posted above, being able to give higher level orders and automate things (rally points, build cycles, patrols, pre-planned attack paths, etc) is very helpful as well.
For example, in SupCom again, you can tell a particular factory to repeatedly build a scout, 2 tanks and an artillery, and have all new units follow a patrol path.

2) Always loved Red Alert's tongue in cheek humour.

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If you want my opinion about RTS, then here http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=529516 will show some elements of strategy and tactics differentiation. Wai and I have a discussion to help clarify the difference between strategy and tactics. A strategy game should focus more on the strategic elements, or else we consider them to be tactical games. Supreme Command is a Real Time Tactics game out there, and you will understand that it's mechanics such as the coordinated attacks are consider tactical nature. What I want is a rule template of command. Units are to follow the template command and they will have to evaluate the situation on their own within the limitation of the template. The AI needs to do most of the micromanagement work.

Off topic: The original idea for my post is to create a new terminology for something higher that Grand Strategy, but it seems that people are not willing to develop another word for something too abstract for them to comprehend.

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Original post by sunandshadow
I thought the main strategy of an RTS was what units to build for a given mission? Like, do you build tons of cheap weak ground units or a flock of expensive air units or try to blend archers and tanks despite them having different movement rates...
Most RTS I have played are tactics games, with a tech-tree and a little resource management to justify the word 'strategy' in the title.

You cite that you have played StarCraft, but playing StarCraft is very different from playing it at a competitive level. I would advocate watching a few of the high-profile competition matches on YouTube - the guy who wins isn't the guy who builds the most BattleCruisers, or the guy who reaches the top of the tech-tree fastest. Instead, it is the guy who sits there popping a single Reaver in-and-out of a single transport over-and-over for twenty minutes, just to whittle down his enemy's resource gathering operation.

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Quote:
Original post by swiftcoder
Quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
I thought the main strategy of an RTS was what units to build for a given mission? Like, do you build tons of cheap weak ground units or a flock of expensive air units or try to blend archers and tanks despite them having different movement rates...
Most RTS I have played are tactics games, with a tech-tree and a little resource management to justify the word 'strategy' in the title.

You cite that you have played StarCraft, but playing StarCraft is very different from playing it at a competitive level. I would advocate watching a few of the high-profile competition matches on YouTube - the guy who wins isn't the guy who builds the most BattleCruisers, or the guy who reaches the top of the tech-tree fastest. Instead, it is the guy who sits there popping a single Reaver in-and-out of a single transport over-and-over for twenty minutes, just to whittle down his enemy's resource gathering operation.


Personally I am interested in the single player campaign, not so much the multiplayer, especially not at a highly competitive level.

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Original post by sunandshadow
Personally I am interested in the single player campaign, not so much the multiplayer, especially not at a highly competitive level.
I think this is probably a good strategy. I personally don't think that in general you have it both ways: that is, a game that plays good "for fun" and that also plays well competitively. At least not in the RTS genre (Starcraft was a bit of a fluke, IMO).

I think variety is very important in a good single player game. Not just "expand base, wipe out enemy" kind of things (for example, protect this asset, find this object, escort this cargo, etc). I also liked how, in some of the C&C games, a couple of missions would be played on the same map (possibly expanded). So in the next mission, you've got the same base layout, but there's some new objective to achieve.

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I can't really say I'm a big RTS-player (AoE 1 & 2, Warcraft 2 & 3, and (as of last week) Red Alert 3), but I always thought it'd be neat to be able to have some kind of attack planning a la Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear. You could pre-position your units, then send attack commands to the units (or groups of units), without having to scramble over the map to find your unit of cavalry...

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