Sign in to follow this  

RTS (features and story)

This topic is 2846 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am a big fan of starcraft, because it has a strong balance. Altering unit production from one contigent to the next trully affects the outcome. It becomes a game of what counters what, and how you plan to attack, etc.

I'm currently doing some research on Tiers, as they are an important part of balance... You'd be surprised how little theory there is on RTS tiers, even though it is a key element to making a good rts... I suppose that explains why so many rts suck...

On the other hand, I like Starcraft, but it is a game that requires a lot of adapting. Most people won't go too deep into the meta-game, and I think getting the players to trully immerse themselves into the deeper side of the balane is actually the real first challenge. Without it, balance and gameplay elements is nothing.

So how do you convince someone to bother going deep into the logics?...

We'll figure it out someday :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The problem with most RTS is the less efficiency of higher tier units make player spam the low tier units. On the other hand, if you get higher tier units stronger, the player whom reach the higher tier first will always win, so either it is a game to race up tiers, or it is a game to reach the most units.

Meta game does not tell you the correct balance of the game because it is not "Perfect Game." Perfect Game is the solution to a game. All game has a solution to it, but not many players reach this level of game play. Solution is the result of a game at the highest level through Perfect Information, etc....

Good RTS will not have tiers that will cause units to become redundant. Units in the higher tier must be equally efficient to lower tech units or else the higher efficient units are preferred. That's why some game have infantry spamming. Spamming comes from the higher efficiency of lower tier units.

In Supreme Commander, if you can set up your tech 1 units so that you build at the same rate that your units die, you can out flood any other players, and maintain your units at unit cap. If you want the game to run faster, upgrade your units to tech 2, and later to tech 3 when all of your mobile units are tech 2. Once at tech 3, the game should end or stay in a stalemate. That's the basis against low quality players, but a different strategy is needed against stronger players.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
StarCraft stands as a model RTS for me because it found a balance between three races with units that were truly different (not just reskins of the other races' units). It makes the strategy and tactics--at least for the average player--different for each race. That is something most RTS's should aspire to IMO.

I know that many players find hero units cliche, but in a single-player game, hero units can help facilitate the story if they interact with each other and respond with commentary to events on the map during a mission. StarCraft and WC3 are examples of how this is done. Having Darth Vader just walking around the map slaughtering things with his red lightsaber and never advancing the story during a mission is not a good use of a hero character.

I personally like a campaign map that shows where a mission is taking place in the game world/galaxy. It doesn't need to be Total War style, just something so I can see where places are relative to each other. I think it helps keep the player aware of the story progression.

One feature I liked in the original Blitzkrieg allows the player earn and control a couple of units that are brought from mission to mission which can be changed/upgraded during the campaign.

One of the Lord of the Rings RTSs has optional/side missions that the player can undertake to gain certain units or unit upgrades.

Storywise, I'm for having the player be a character in the story recognized by the other characters. If one is really ambitious, this could even allow for some RPG-style choice and consequence dynamics.


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Echoing what has been said, eliminate the micro-managing so that I can stop playing a hyperactive tactics game and start playing with real strategy. Tactics aren't so bad if its turn-based as it eliminates the hyperactivity portion of the problem making it just an annoying part of your turn instead of a time and thought consuming task in real time.

But anyway, yeah, get ride of micromanaging.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
All I can say, that one feature of an ideal RTS (to me) is that it's long.
I hate those games, that I can go through in 2 or 3 days (with all parties), like Read Alert 3 for example (or can't go through at all on hard, but if I could, it wouldn't take much longer).
But of course that requires a very good gameplay and story.

I often dream of RTS games (while sleeping), and they all have 2 important features: flexibility, and survival. So the game can take many directions: all your bases are being destroyed, but still have a few surviving units, which can win the game, or rebuild a base. (Warcraft II, Beyond the Dark Portal, is a bit like this, and that is my all-time favorite of RTS games.)
Flexibility is a feature of some RTS games, but I'm talking about non guided flexibility (when there aren't any 'optional quest' to take out a power supply, for example).

But I guess this would only mean annoyingly hard gameplay, so I guess it only works in my dreams.

So this post is nonsense.

EDIT: As for the story (I've finally read the op :P), I'd prefer a dark story, but a survival story, or getaway story (in epic scale) (so not good vs evil type, but in the end, you will need enemies of course, so it will be good vs evil).

So this post is nonsense.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In my opinion I like the following traits but it all depends if you are going for one of those micro-managing ones (which I like but others don't) where you get to design every uniform and every weapon in order to make yourself feel like your in control. Where as other games make you adapt to your units.

1) Cover, been used in a lot of games recently notably company of heroes and dawn of war 2 (both by the same creator I believe) I like the idea that you can use the environment and even other units to cover and fire from.

2) Adaptation, I know you haven't really got time for it in an RTS to be changing all of the little details but perhaps in between games you can change to match the map or enemy.

Just my little opinion there. As for stories, Good vs. Evil is always going to be told to the people, we were good, they were bad. Perhaps a story which involves companies as they tend to have less morals and ideologies. Now I'm just talking so I'll stop.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
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.
Right, but the same deal applies. All the StarCraft/WarCraft games since WarCraft II have required a very high level of micro management. While you can win the campaigns without much micromanagement, that is only because the campaign missions are heavily stacked in your favour.

Even so, most of the campaign missions can be completed much more efficiently through micromanagement tricks with siege-tanks/reavers/ghosts/etc.

Now, I am not saying this is a bad thing, but it is something that most casual StarCraft players never cotton onto, and at that point, one should consider trying to eliminate that aspect - especially if you aren't including multiplayer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
IMO there are two main types of RTS games.

The first of these are the "Grand Strategy" games (eg. Starcraft, Supreme Commander, Warcraft) and usually involve base building, resource gathering and large numbers of units.

The second are the "Thinking Strategy" (can't think of another name at the moment) games (eg. Ground Control, Desert Rats vs Africa Korp, Dawn of War II) and will usually involve smaller numbers of units choosen prior to battle.

These two types will generally produce two different styles of playing. "Grand Strategy" will usually revolve around through as many units as possible at the enemy as quickly and as often as possible. In contrast to this the "Thinking Strategy" is about doing the best to keep your own units alive and hence will general be less frenetic.

There is also a third type, but I don't know too many games that do it. These are games where you choose your troops before hand (just for that battle or built up over the course of a campaign) and set the strategy before the battle begins. Your units then carry out the strategy and you can only make minor influences. Examples for this type are History Channel: Great Battles of Rome and Legion Arena.



In terms of story I like having the Cinematics whether live action or cg (anime/cartoon style would work also I think particularly with a humor based story) (eg. C&C) over having the story told through in-game cutscenes (eg. Warcraft III), but they should only be full screen before or after missions not during. If they are needed to be during missions then I think they are better done as small videos in the corner.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Dragoncar
The first of these are the "Grand Strategy" games (eg. Starcraft, Supreme Commander, Warcraft) and usually involve base building, resource gathering and large numbers of units.
Supreme commander certainly fits your category, but you need a new category for the Blizzard games.

For example, WarCraft III has a food cap of 70, which in practice makes it hard to field more than 25 combat units, and the entire game is about power-leveling your 1-3 hero units.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Populous: The Beginning was a 3D RTS where you could alter the terrain in different ways to aid in attack and defence. If you're doing a 2D game, I'm not sure how well it'd work but it's a feature that I liked quite a bit and haven't seen much in other games.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1. I would vouch for a tree-like mission system, something done in the original "Dune II": depending on which route you choose to take as you conquer across your map, different missions open and close, with different parameters based on what's already been accomplished. If Mission 1 has three possible locations to pursue, then Mission 2 may close off one of the two you didn't choose, and open others down a specific path.

As for parameters, as an example: let's say you have the option to either attempt a capture of an enemy supply depot, or an enemy armory. If you go for the supplies, then your next mission gets a unit cap increase of +10, but if you shoot for the armory, you'll have advanced tank technology and creation speed.

Just something to reward the player for their particular choices.

2. Story in an RTS to me just seems more about providing a reason to be playing. Usually RTS is about the S, like solving a dynamic real-time puzzle. Anything that can elicit some personal stake in a handful of protagonists and ramp up to create a stronger feeling of victory at the end should suffice :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by swiftcoder
... tricks ...


And thus the reason I stopped playing most multiplayer RTS games. If some neat 'trick' that makes use of an abuse of a feature or glitch becomes the best way to win a game, then the game design has failed in my eyes.

An example from StarCraft: Loading a Reaver into a Shuttle, dropping him near the opponent's harvesting and then rushing it back into the shuttle to run away after a shot or two. A seemingly valid tactic, but honestly it does little except piss off your opponent because he has no solid mechanics to defend against such an attack. A squad of marines strong enough to take down the shuttle does not have the range to guard against such an attack if placed in any single spot, and thus requires the defender to pull his focus away from the real battle to swat a fly and command the marines himself.

Honestly I would consider getting rid of resource gathering mechanics all together. Have them slowly trickle in to each player at an even rate, and be able to capture resources from the other side. Maybe add a few control points scattered around maps that could give a minor boost, but as much as 90% of resources should be fixed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Non-linearity would be nice, but you have to watch out for making the player repeat too many missions on second play through and also watch for missions its easy to miss after two play through. You don't want to drive away players with repeat content they aren't interested in nor do you want to risk wasted effort on missions the player never plays.

I think generally one really long campaign with a strong story is better than two branches, two stories, and two half length play throughs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'd agree with BCullis's second point; in general, it's all about the strategy, story is little more than fluff to provide a bit of background to the proceedings. In general, I prefer it that way too - I'd take a dynamic, strategic campaign map like the Total War games over a linear, plot heavy storyline any day.

Also, a personal pet hate of mine is 'character' missions in RTS games. You get an overpowered hero character, a bunch of minions, no base, and a labyrinthine map with isolated blobs of idling bad guys waiting for you to stumble upon them. It's like taking all the worst elements from the RTS genre, all the worst elements from the RPG genre, and combining them together. 'Strategy' in these missions basically consists of attack-moving your hero and his amorphous blob of attendants around the map until you reach the end of the maze. These missions are incredibly tedious and will usually result in me abandoning the campaign and going back to skirmish/online play.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This topic is 2846 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this