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RTS/tactical winning criteria

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Hi, I am working on a next version of our neuroarena game, which is a RTS/tactical and recently we (I and my friend working on this) got into conflict what the winning objective should be. I just want to collect your valuable opinions about this matter. Well, the game does not have a "production chain" - like buildings which produce you army for credits. The army is what you got at the beginning, and what entities you find during the battle and activate/touch them first - then they join you. Also - we have a HQ - the only one building in the game which serves as a radar. Every battle is time bounded to roughly 10 minutes. One of us thinks that winning criteria should be: - all of the opponent's entities destroyed - instant KO, OR - the opponent's HQ destroyed - instant KO (HQ serves as a weak point you need to protect), OR - after time expires, the player who did more damage to opponent wins Another opinion about winning criteria here: - the opponent's HQ destroyed - instant KO (the same) - after time expires, it's draw no matter who got more damage The implication of the second criteria is, that when all of the opponent's entities are destroyed, the one who still has living entities must find and destroy opponent's HQ to win KO, before time expires, otherwise it's a draw even when one player lost all entities. The player who lost all entities is kept in the game, despite the fact there is no way how to intervene in the game any more (the HQ is passive building, does not produce entities). Should the player who kills the opponent's entities win instantly? Is it a wrong game design decision to force the remaining player wander over empty map to locate the HQ, and call him winner after destruction of the lonely, passive HQ? Thanks for any opinions! Karol (from neuroarena)

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Original post by neuroarena
Is it a wrong game design decision to force the remaining player wander over empty map to locate the HQ, and call him winner after destruction of the lonely, passive HQ?

I get the impression you already know the answer to that question. Try asking your friend to explain to you how being forced to kill the HQ of a unitless opponent would improve the game.

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Original post by Dathgale
Quote:
Original post by neuroarena
Is it a wrong game design decision to force the remaining player wander over empty map to locate the HQ, and call him winner after destruction of the lonely, passive HQ?

I get the impression you already know the answer to that question. Try asking your friend to explain to you how being forced to kill the HQ of a unitless opponent would improve the game.


I tried to write the question neutrally, but you have discovered my preference :)
His argument is, that the player with entities should race with the harsh time limit and kill the defenseless HQ to earn the victory.
And that, the unitless player should "see", how his tactics before he got wiped out influences the chances of the remaining player to discover the HQ.

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Suppose we have two friends -- we'll call them Jack and Jill -- playing your game. There are 2 minutes of game time remaining and Jill has destroyed all of Jack's units, but has not encountered and destroyed Jack's HQ, which she must do to win the game.


Will it be fun for Jill to search out the HQ? Are there any tools at her disposal to help with this, or clues on the map (tire tracks, footprints, etc.) from Jack's troop movements to help with this? A race against the clock to reach Jack's HQ could potentially be a fun activity for Jill, but it will only feel rewarding if there is some sort of skill involved in doing it; if she is just wandering the unexplored sections of the map randomly she will probably feel cheated if she loses -- especially so if the time remaining after killing all Jack's units is longer -- in Chess a player who loses all pieces other than his King forfeits the game because there is no challenge remaining in hunting it down.


Now, what will Jack do while Jill searches for his HQ? Just watching the other player explore will probably get boring very quickly, and bored players will stop playing your game. Unless you can provide something else for Jack to do there isn't any incentive for him to remain in the game whilst Jill tries to claim her victory. Unless the players placed the HQ themselves or have options for trying to hide it there probably won't even be a sense of achievement for Jack if Jill is unable to locate his HQ.

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Original post by jbadams
Suppose we have two friends -- we'll call them Jack and Jill -- playing your game. There are 2 minutes of game time remaining and Jill has destroyed all of Jack's units, but has not encountered and destroyed Jack's HQ, which she must do to win the game.


Will it be fun for Jill to search out the HQ? Are there any tools at her disposal to help with this, or clues on the map (tire tracks, footprints, etc.) from Jack's troop movements to help with this? A race against the clock to reach Jack's HQ could potentially be a fun activity for Jill, but it will only feel rewarding if there is some sort of skill involved in doing it; if she is just wandering the unexplored sections of the map randomly she will probably feel cheated if she loses -- especially so if the time remaining after killing all Jack's units is longer -- in Chess a player who loses all pieces other than his King forfeits the game because there is no challenge remaining in hunting it down.


Now, what will Jack do while Jill searches for his HQ? Just watching the other player explore will probably get boring very quickly, and bored players will stop playing your game. Unless you can provide something else for Jack to do there isn't any incentive for him to remain in the game whilst Jill tries to claim her victory. Unless the players placed the HQ themselves or have options for trying to hide it there probably won't even be a sense of achievement for Jack if Jill is unable to locate his HQ.



That's the line of thinking I had. Forcing the in deed defeated player to watch passively whether the in deed winner finds the HQ is just letting the luck/randomness decide whether the better player wins or draws. This could pretty much piss off a winner since he could be robber of victory very easily. And also keep weak players never winning anything in the middle of the high-score list...



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I personally think that being forced to wander around a empty map in search of the HQ to destroy would be more aggravating than fun, even for the victor. In fact, I can see myself running under house rules that we'd declare victory if all units on one side are destroyed, and ignore the in-game restriction. At the least, it drags out a forgone conclusion, and really adds nothing in return.

Really, unless the HQ produces units, and/or can defend itself and provide the losing player with a chance to win, it's not going to be a fun mechanic at all. Weaker players, and new players, will be turned off quickly by being forced to wait several minutes for inevitable doom, while older players will grow bored with the constant searching.

You might also look into additional objectives, just to provide some variety. One in which you have to control key points at end game, with the winner holding the most of these points. Or at all, with just one location . Or one in which you engage in a fighting withdraw. One side's objective is to pull as many units as possible out, while the other is to destroy as many as possible. The winner being the side that destroyed/withdrew the most units. Or perhaps rescuing npc units, which don't fight. The rescuer has to assault the other player's base, free the units, then protect them to the exit point.

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Quick question: Any chance the HQ can be a mobile / hostile unit, like the Commander in Total Annihilation? That's the only point I see in having to search because even if mostly defeated the losing player can get a little revenge.

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some decisions need to be made early, this is not one of them. You could program both sets of victory conditions into the game and then when you are testing you could decide which is better. You could even leave both sets in the final game and let the players decide which they want to use.

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I personally think that being forced to wander around a empty map in search of the HQ to destroy would be more aggravating than fun, even for the victor. In fact, I can see myself running under house rules that we'd declare victory if all units on one side are destroyed, and ignore the in-game restriction. At the least, it drags out a forgone conclusion, and really adds nothing in return.


The counter argument of my friend who I tried to persuade is that:
"The player does not know that he destroyed all the opponent entities (fog of war), so the only winning criteria - destroying HQ - is sufficient."

Also, my friend thinks, that at the end of the battle - when the victor sees that he killed all entities, but not the HQ - the "victor" would not be pissed off that it's draw, and won't feel robbed of victory, because killing the HQ was the winning criteria.

Quote:

Really, unless the HQ produces units, and/or can defend itself and provide the losing player with a chance to win, it's not going to be a fun mechanic at all. Weaker players, and new players, will be turned off quickly by being forced to wait several minutes for inevitable doom, while older players will grow bored with the constant searching.

... Quick question: Any chance the HQ can be a mobile / hostile unit, like the Commander in Total Annihilation? That's the only point I see in having to search because even if mostly defeated the losing player can get a little revenge. ...


No, HQ is completely passive, can't move, can't produce anything or defend itself.
The player can place it at free will (almost) at the beginning of each battle however.

Quote:

some decisions need to be made early, this is not one of them. You could program both sets of victory conditions into the game and then when you are testing you could decide which is better. You could even leave both sets in the final game and let the players decide which they want to use.


That's how we end up, for now.

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You could set it so that total elimination is required to win before a time limit, and after that you just have to be ahead by a certain margin. Or something like that. Think hybrid.

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