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What do you look for in an RTS?

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General response wanted, has no positive or negative (or neutral for that matter) impact on anything.

What do you look for in an RTS game, like Warcraft-pre-World, Starcraft, C&C, Empire Earth, etc... And also what would you like to see in RTS games to come? Unique unit customization, RPG elements, saved unit progression, Guild based play, etc...

Thanks for your time.

MedievalD

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What I have always been looking for in an RTS is a game where I play a commander, not a baby sitter.

I want the tools to command officers to take actions, defend this location, scout this region, coordinate attack here with units X, Y, and Z. And then my officers commanding given units are smart enough to have their soldiers fire anti-tank rockets at armour, and send infantry to screen the flanks of their own tanks. Have them call in and request reinforcements, and be able to click on another officer's icon and drag it over the first's icon, and they automatically pick up and rush to their aid.

Aircraft should automatically know to not fly over known AA sites. If I have horses they should know enough to NOT charge head on into the group of pike men who are set to defend against them from that direction. And they NEED to be smart enough to not rush head long into the stakes that were set up in the field and abandoned! (Nothing like Empire Total War killing half your horsemen because you didn't notice there was an abandoned stake fence placed randomly on the field that is no where near anything important.)

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My view is that if it doesn't have resource and macromanagement in some form that is critical to the outcome of the game, it is not real-time strategy, it is real-time tactics. Accordingly, if you want to have a good RTS, you need to make a good resource scheme a priority, and provide lots of different macromanagement paths. This includes balancing those paths; for multiplayer games in particular, balance is also essential.

I would actually say that balance is more important. There should NOT be a single winning strategy (or unit combination, or base layout) that works every time - otherwise every game will be a race between players to pull off that same strategy, and that gets very boring after a while for obvious reasons. That is probably the exact reason why Blizzard nerfed the Zerg Roach in the StarCraft II beta - they found that many Zerg players, when matched against other Zerg, were only massing Roaches against each other, and whoever had the most Roaches won. Another common complaint from StarCraft II is that the Terrans are overpowered. Why? Because they have so many different possible unit combinations and the AI seems to help the Terrans more. A common complaint is that Zerg and Protoss players often have to work harder to beat a Terran player of equal skill. Thankfully, Blizzard has been listening to the complaints and has recently announced a few nerfs to Terran. Moral of the story: focus a lot of attention on balancing the game once it's playable.


[Edited by - Oberon_Command on August 29, 2010 11:43:39 AM]

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Basically, playing with smart units, doing constant checks for this and that. That 'being a commander not a babysitter' is such a needed thing to say. I really thought about that and I know what you mean.

Kind of have reports from your leading units pop up on screen, with potential commands they can give your units, you select the best one for your situation, or multiple ones. Or set it to select the best option for situation automatically... Having both those makes it harder or easier for unit management.

Smart units...

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Stockpile and Logistics

The common gameplay of capturing enemy facilities and resources. It shouldn't take any special unit to do this. If the player has a stockpile of resource (i.e. 2000 barrels of gas), it should be physically store somewhere on the map that the other players can either capture or destroy.

If a player builds a mining satellite, the player must either have a transport the route to bring the material back to base (Which is visible and can be attacked), or use the material near the mining site. The players should almost never find a location rich in multiple resources.

Building an outpost with no resource nearby requires the player to haul building material.


Separate soldiers from equipment

Soldiers come from populated towns. Equipment (weapons) come from forges/factories. Some locations would have more equipment than soldiers, while other might have more soldiers than equipment.


Separate equipment from its fuel/ammo

Supported situation: A parking lot of tanks with no fuel.


[Edited by - Wai on August 29, 2010 1:44:07 PM]

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I will also add that I would like to see more games that focus on using what you have, not just pumping out a constant flood of units. (Yes, I love playing zerg, but I also want different games with different game play.)


Personally I do NOT like having to deal with resource gathering. I would rather have a realistic system of limited incoming supply, and then having to decide which units get what, than having to deal with probes and building new zealots.



How about a game where you get scored based on how well you actually do, and have it look at the 'bigger picture'. You can 'win' the game by having every last one of your units on the map killed, but you forced your opponent to draw on far more resources from the 'global pool' than he should have. Rather than having the game last 20-30 minutes and be over and done with, allow players to form up and fight 'campaigns'. Have a fairly 'light weight' high level strategy game at a regional level where you choose where to focus what resources. Do you focus on spending your high level resources on improving industrial cities to up your supply and equipment later in the game? Diplomatic avenues to improve outside aid/allies? Recruitment centers to get more boots on the ground? Then you have your existing troops and supplies that you can focus to the regional level, and decide where to concentrate your forces.

From there players could agree/spend command points to force a battle in a region, then pick which sector of that region they will control themselves.

If they call on too many off map reinforcements for their own sector, they may still find the other sectors of the region over run and the battle lost anyway.

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Re:

I think it is not about making it as realistic as possible, but to expand the chain of dependencies so that a player can perceive the plans of the opponent, and take actions to defeat specific plans. The consideration is less about what unit to make, but where on the map ought to be defended and where ought to be captured.

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The right thing to do at any moment should depend heavily on what your opponent is doing. Many RTS games lack this -- i.e. you pick a way to play at the start and don't need to adapt, all you need to do is follow your plan properly.

There should be multiple ways to win, but they can be countered by the opponent, so that it is often wise to change your plan.

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Two things I think would contribute to RTS games are: Asymetric Warfare and getting away from Wars of Attrition.

With Wars of attrition, the games are essentially about who can wear down the opponent fastest. Even in games where there are "Strategic Points", the game is won by wearing down the defenses of the opponent at these points and the game is usually won or lost by attrition long before the strategic points come into play.

The solution to this is to allow players to effectivly fight even if they don't have much resources (therby attrition is not a major factor).

This brings me to the other concept, that of Asymetric warfare.

With AW, it should be possible, for a player to fight and even achieve victory when most (if not all) of their units/basees have been wiped out. This would involve being able to bring in fresh units without having a base to build them from (it could be possible to have an off map base to build from and bring in units by drop ship/teleport/magic/etc).

These units would be designed not to use overwhealming force or firepower to defeat the enemy, but either use their own power against them or use underhanded techniques (infiltration, cloaking, etc).

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Having played a lot of warcraft 3, I really identified with the hero. I think a great way to do RTS would be to merge a game like modern warfare 2 with some RTS features...

basically each player in a 1v1 player vs. player match would have one personal character, maybe with some mw2 like features. In addition to their personal character, each player would have a matching personal squad of AI soldiers at their command, possibly based on the player or map or some combianation. Winning could be done via completeting an objective, like bombing the other guy's flag, killing the other player's character (may look similar to the AI), or killing all the units on the other team including the player. With reasonably competitive AI that is equal on both players, the emphasis would be on giving orders in first person view to your AI in order to outmaneuver and win against the other player who is also ordering his AI around in first person.

Some HUD elements might help, including many of those from MW2. Command giving would be done differently than in traditional RTS, with commands being given locally with a menu, maybe on x or c, with squad divisions and movement directions, as well as potentially highlighting popular premarked map destinations, like certain large buildings or other key visibile markers.

Command tools such as radios, HUDs, iPhones, predators, scouts in humvees, satellite communications, maps, and whatever may also be realisticly or otherwise modeled in the game in a variety of practicable and technologically feasable and fun ways.

I think it would also be neat to do more to-scale RTS games, such as ones with buildings and humans of appropriate relative size, and in other wise max-realitiy-capable RTS. One key factor in this is civil resources and manufacturing, which is not typically done on the battlefield, and is more at home in a civilization style game. However a civil RTS (also possibly as a paired package with a war RTS) might model a city realisticly, as a few games have tried such as sim city, etc, however making a realistic one that is to scale and in first person might be impressive, sort of like GTA except with an emphasis on production and mining and resource harvesting all modeled in gloriously educational realsitic detail, from earth to computer, along with possibly giving the player control over a large number of AI units and timespeed to make building a pyramid more time efficient.

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Quote:
Original post by Talroth
What I have always been looking for in an RTS is a game where I play a commander, not a baby sitter.

I want the tools to command officers to take actions, defend this location, scout this region, coordinate attack here with units X, Y, and Z. And then my officers commanding given units are smart enough to have their soldiers fire anti-tank rockets at armour, and send infantry to screen the flanks of their own tanks. Have them call in and request reinforcements, and be able to click on another officer's icon and drag it over the first's icon, and they automatically pick up and rush to their aid.


Sounds like Majesty is right up your alley!

Thuogh, I would say their AI is smart enough to ... well perform awesomely.

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Upgrades and Small group missions.

Ill start with small group missions, now rts is generally known for its large armies, but i really enjoy when you have a small specialized team to take out a goal..

Aoe using a monk to convert an army onto your side, sc using a solo ghost or similar cloaking unit to wreck havoc

This is prob cause im not good at managing 20+ units with different strengths and weaknesses

Also why i suck against real players, they wipe out my small force tactic with a giant army T_T

Upgrades, I like to feel that im building up my small team, not as numerous but each better trained..games where you can customize the units are even more fun, like sc2 upgrades you can make during storyline.

One of my favorite games would be Spellforce..its rpg/rts hybrid you generally are in a small group, and its only when you face an enemy base you have to build up your own base to get enough units to take it down.

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Quote:
Original post by Edtharan
Two things I think would contribute to RTS games are: Asymetric Warfare and getting away from Wars of Attrition.

With Wars of attrition, the games are essentially about who can wear down the opponent fastest. Even in games where there are "Strategic Points", the game is won by wearing down the defenses of the opponent at these points and the game is usually won or lost by attrition long before the strategic points come into play.

The solution to this is to allow players to effectivly fight even if they don't have much resources (therby attrition is not a major factor).

This brings me to the other concept, that of Asymetric warfare.

With AW, it should be possible, for a player to fight and even achieve victory when most (if not all) of their units/basees have been wiped out. This would involve being able to bring in fresh units without having a base to build them from (it could be possible to have an off map base to build from and bring in units by drop ship/teleport/magic/etc).

These units would be designed not to use overwhealming force or firepower to defeat the enemy, but either use their own power against them or use underhanded techniques (infiltration, cloaking, etc).

What you are describing is guerrilla warfare. Being able to recruit soldiers by loyalty to a cause rather than by money. Like the cuban revolution.
You wouldn't have as much shooting, nor unit production. It would be more like an intelligence and espionage war.

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Quote:
Original post by hiigara
An RTS that almost plays by itself. No micromanagement. I only give high level orders.


You might have liked Command HQ.

By the way, can someone please explain to me this animosity towards micromanagement that I keep hearing? What is it about micro that makes a game less fun? I actually enjoy micro, as it actually takes some skill and strategy and it makes matches more exciting. I love the thrill of pulling off some micro tactic well. But then, I "grew up" with micro to a large extent since I mostly play StarCraft, so maybe I'm biased.

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Quote:
Original post by Oberon_Command
Quote:
Original post by hiigara
An RTS that almost plays by itself. No micromanagement. I only give high level orders.


You might have liked Command HQ.

By the way, can someone please explain to me this animosity towards micromanagement that I keep hearing? What is it about micro that makes a game less fun? I actually enjoy micro, as it actually takes some skill and strategy and it makes matches more exciting. I love the thrill of pulling off some micro tactic well. But then, I "grew up" with micro to a large extent since I mostly play StarCraft, so maybe I'm biased.


When I play a micro RTS against a human I feel so stressed that it doesn't seem entertainment but rather work. For example, I love playing AOE 1 against the computer, because I can do things at my pace. But against a human no way jose.

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Quote:
Original post by Oberon_Command
Quote:
Original post by hiigara
An RTS that almost plays by itself. No micromanagement. I only give high level orders.


You might have liked Command HQ.

By the way, can someone please explain to me this animosity towards micromanagement that I keep hearing? What is it about micro that makes a game less fun? I actually enjoy micro, as it actually takes some skill and strategy and it makes matches more exciting. I love the thrill of pulling off some micro tactic well. But then, I "grew up" with micro to a large extent since I mostly play StarCraft, so maybe I'm biased.

I personally like a bit of micro in game, but too much can spoil it. It is a balance that is hard to get right.

As a person with a physical disability (due to an injury), I have been finding it harder to play games with micro.

IF a game is decided in who micros the best, then players who aren't as good (or arn't as physically capable) don't have as much fun as the effort they put into the game was intended to be strategy, not button clicking.

I agree, though, there is strategy in micro, but the main problem is that in current games, micro is a more powerful gamplay element than pure strategy (as I siad the balance is hard tog et right). I think micro should be balanced that with two players with equally good strategies the winner should go to the better micro, but if player have different levels of micro and strategy, the game should go to the player with the better strategy (after all the games are not RTMs - Real Time Micro).

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Quote:
Original post by Oberon_Command
Quote:
Original post by hiigara
An RTS that almost plays by itself. No micromanagement. I only give high level orders.


You might have liked Command HQ.

By the way, can someone please explain to me this animosity towards micromanagement that I keep hearing? What is it about micro that makes a game less fun? I actually enjoy micro, as it actually takes some skill and strategy and it makes matches more exciting. I love the thrill of pulling off some micro tactic well. But then, I "grew up" with micro to a large extent since I mostly play StarCraft, so maybe I'm biased.


The problem that I have with needing to use micro to be highly effective is that it requires my attention to be highly focused in one area at a time, and that somewhere across the map can't be effectively micro-ed.

I enjoy micro and having close control over the units if we're talking about smaller games that have a tighter focus. However there are LOTS of games that focus on micro. Vanilla ice cream is great, but when you are allowed nothing but vanilla ice cream then you start to want something else.

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Quote:
Original post by Oberon_Command
Quote:
Original post by hiigara
An RTS that almost plays by itself. No micromanagement. I only give high level orders.


You might have liked Command HQ.

By the way, can someone please explain to me this animosity towards micromanagement that I keep hearing? What is it about micro that makes a game less fun? I actually enjoy micro, as it actually takes some skill and strategy and it makes matches more exciting. I love the thrill of pulling off some micro tactic well. But then, I "grew up" with micro to a large extent since I mostly play StarCraft, so maybe I'm biased.


I don't hate micro management, but I can't play with others, since a lot of people seem to play it like work, where they do it as fast as they can and hope it's over without entertaining themselves. I've tried to emulate taht sort of... where I try to play fast, it gets real tedious and I really don't feel like I"m having fun.

I like campaigns for Warcraft 3 and StarCraft 2 though. They were really fun.

That said, I think I have a great idea for an RTS... but like everyone else, an idea is just an idea... and realizing it is probably impossible for me any time soon.

[Edited by - pothb on August 30, 2010 12:27:23 PM]

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Re: Micro

I am also against micromanaging if it is required to win. In a strategy game, if a pattern of micromanangement can be defined, it should become a operation mode that the player assigns to the units. The player takes the role as a commander, not a pilot. The pilots should be smart enough to execute tactics on their own.

Some common tactical modes:

o Attack: Attack the target and avoid the frontal line of fire
o Berserk: Attack the target, do not avoid the line of fire, do not retreat
o Build: Construct a list of buildings according to the order on the list
o Commission: Build a fleet according to the defined composition, activate the fleet to attack when the composition is complete
o Energize: Transfer all energy to the leader and nearby allies
o Formation: Stay in formation and fire the main weapon forward
o Flank: Attack the target from the sides of the target
o Group Attack: Attack the enemy but do not fly too far away from the leader
o Hold Position: Attack nearby enemies but do not pursuit
o Protect: Deploy the energy shield and transfer extra energy to the leader
o Reinforce: Rebuild lost units for a battalion, send reinforce units immediately once built
o Repair: Stay close to the leader and repair any damaged units nearby
o Retreat: Return to the leader and stay close
o Skirmish: Attack the enemy with long range weapon. Stay out of the range of the enemy when weapon is charging

Modes of target selection:

o Attack the closest
o Attack the weakest
o Attack the strongest
o Attack enemy leader
o Attack turrets
o Attack production buildings
o Attack the leader's target

I think that some of these modes should be automatically assigned by the attack leaders according to the situation. But the situation can be difficult for the game to perceive. In the game, the player can override any command and even pilot a spacecraft manually. Piloting is just for fun, it won't win the game.

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I whole heartedly agree with Talroth. If we're looking for any sort of realism in an RTS (and, sometimes we are, and sometimes we're not), his chain of command idea is key. When I first looked at CoH, I thought to myself "wow, those little squads are great, no more building a million single units. wonder what their AI is like". Of course, their AI was minimal, but imagine if each of those squads had a sergeant in them, who Would do some command routines based on your more general orders provided. Think of how many concurrent battles you could manage that way, gameplay could get way more indepth, and a war or battle would feel much more realistic (which I think is great!)

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One thing noone's mentioned yet-

I look for modability and LAN support. In fact, I bought Warcarft III only to play the user created maps. I'm pretty sure it's the main reason WC3 lasted so much longer then competing games.

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