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black01

Unit restrictive RTS

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Hi, I'd like to start by thanking you for reading this
I just thought of a RTS type of game where you are only allowed to have a maximum of 30 units. You get your resources (gold and mana) by killing the other team. You can get 5 different types of unit (scout, archer, tank, mage, primarch).

Your primarch is the most important unit and spawns one basic unit at a set interval as well as acting as the unit spawner, it moves very slowly has a attack and lots of health. You can combine multiple units (apart from the primarch) of the same of differing classes by the use of a spell. These can lead to very strong units. You gain a gold at a steady rate throughout the match. You are defeated when your primarch is defeated.Gold can be spent though your primarch to spawn units
This is just an idea i came up with and if you like it feel free (just give me some credit) to use it as I probably won't take it any further as even though i would like to develop it further i don't have the rime nor the skills to code, produce it.

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Sounds like a cool enough idea, sort of like Demigod.

A question though: How might a player turn the tide once they've started to lose some units? If you only gain mana from killing enemy units, could a player recover from their opponent becoming more irresistable with each unit killed?

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Yes, you have a positive feedback loop in the game.

Killing units leads to being able to spawn more units which leads to killing more units.

Each step has a positive influence on the next step, that is an increase in the previous step gives an increase to the next step. And, because the last step loops back around to the first step again, the cycle just repeats, gaining more an more power each time it goes around.

In gameplay terms, if a player gets an early lead, then this gives them an increasing level of power, making it harder for the other player(s) to get ahead and win.

Actually, this is the type of effect you want to occur at the end of the game, not at the begining (the reason you want it at the end is it allows the game to end quickly once a player has established a clear dominance).

To counter act a positive feedback loop, you need to add in a single negative effect into the loop. So somehow, either killing enemy units or spawning units leads to a negative effect.

Now, one idea could be that mana is unstable, and your primach unit has to store the mana in it. When the primach gets hit, the more mana it has the more damage it takes.

This will encourage player to play defensivly if they have a lot of mana, or try to get rid of it. Playing defensivly will reduce the chance of them killing enemy units which will give the enemy player more time to build up plan a good attack.

A way to get rid of mana would be to have storage units that are slow moving, weak defensivly (they have a lot of unstable man in them) and have weak or no attacks, but allow the player to kill off their own storage unit types as needed. Creating these will use up a player's unit limit so it has an extra cost to the player as well. This woulod lead to interesting gameplay decisions as player decide whether to store their mana in these or to risk going into battle with a primach full of volitile mana.

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Yeah i like the idea of the negative feedback loop you mentioned. Another or additional possibility could be the fewer units you have the more gold you receive per unit defeated so this could mean you could spawn more units effectively creating a ant army to take down a tiger scenario.

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Here's a way to make the game work.

You need at least 2 tiers of units: Based Units, Combined Units.

When a unit defeat an enemy's unit of the same tier level: negative feedback
When a unit defeat an enemy's unit of a different tier level: positive feedback

This gives an effect that is similar to rock, paper, scissor, but only requiring a minimum of two.

Or, you can make it counter RPS.
If unit is at disadvantage: positive feedback (for tide turning).
If unit is at advantage: negative feedback (to decrease slippery slope).

Positive feedback can be a large gain in gold.
Negative feedback can be a small gain in gold.

This allow a player with a large advantage to quickly end the game, but a small difference in the advantage will allow the tide to turn.

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As long as there are more than two players, you can make the positive feedback loop into a gameplay feature. The best (board) games I've played were the ones where two or more players would gang up on the player in the lead... until another player took the lead, and all players, including the one previously in the lead, would gang up on the new leader. Enter diplomacy. Knowing that taking the lead would just mean the other players would gang up on you, you would have to play your cards/hand/dice/etc. just right. Appear weak. Make fake alliances. Backstab. Etc.

I've been pushing this indie title hard, but it just does so many of these things right that it's hard not to: Solium Infernum.

In a real-time based game, it would be a lot harder to implement such diplomacy. Using a headset for communication might work to a degree ("Hey, players A and B, this is player C. We should keep an eye on player D because he already is two steps ahead of each of us, and will only get stronger.") but you may have to implement a separate diplomacy stage in order to give players a chance to plot against one another. Let's say you implement a day/night cycle, and at midnight, the game clock stops for X minutes, and each player is allowed to send messages to the other players.

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I think a way you can implement negative feedback is by giving new units full mana, and let old units recover mana slower or not at all. You could also make it impossible to heal a unit, so that older units that are upgraded are powerful, but also fragile.

The Pattern of First Strike:

So to get the most powerful units, a player would merge new units that have never fought (thus they have full mana and health). This means that the player must first defend itself with fewer units than he could possibly use. If the player is able to keep the units being upgrade away from battle long enough, the player is rewarded with a fresh powerful unit. (And once that starts fighting it depreciates, so that player needs to use the first strike of the powerful unit decisively.)

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Quote:
Platinum_Dragon
Positive feedback can be a large gain in gold.
Negative feedback can be a small gain in gold.

These are both positive feedback. They differ only in the scale of the positive effect. For this to be a Negative Feedback effect it would have to reduce the amount of gold a player has when they kill an enemy unit.

Quote:
Silvermyst
As long as there are more than two players, you can make the positive feedback loop into a gameplay feature. The best (board) games I've played were the ones where two or more players would gang up on the player in the lead... until another player took the lead, and all players, including the one previously in the lead, would gang up on the new leader. Enter diplomacy. Knowing that taking the lead would just mean the other players would gang up on you, you would have to play your cards/hand/dice/etc. just right. Appear weak. Make fake alliances. Backstab. Etc.

This is not exactly a feedback loop (more a psudo negative feedback effect), but it is a response to a positive feedback loop (or just plain vindictivness :D ). A really good example of this is the card game "Munchkin".

The reason this occurs is when there is no other valid strategy to prevent a runaway leader effect. The reason it is a psudo effect is because it is an emergent property of the game, rather than a rule of the game. The effect is not so much built into the actions the player can do, but emerges from the way player use the rules.

The big problem with using this type of effect as the negative feedback effect is that unless you point it out to players then not all player will see it (players will see it as underhanded and not very fair - in munchkin the rules point out that you are not supposed to be fair).

With Diplomacy, I have known friend have falling out over these kinds of actions because the players felt it was not in the spirit of having fun that that the backstabber was just being nasty.

Also, players might not even think of this at all and come to the conclusion that your game is unfair. This is especially true for new players as they learn the game and vers player who have played for a while. These new players will get quickly discouraged and feel that they have no chance in the game. This will mean that you will not pick up many new players and the game will rapidly loose market appeal.

So, even though it can lead to very interesting gameplay, using this kind of effect carries some risks. However, if it is pulled off well and players know that this is what was intended, then it can provide a a solution to the runaway leader effect, but I generally don't think this is a good solution as the risks are too high.

It also needs a high level of communication between players to allow it to work effectivly as the main source of the challenge is predicting the behaviour of the other players from non verbal cues. Without these cues, the ability to predict the other player's actions is very much harder to achieve.

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Edtharan, a smaller positive feedback has the feeling of a negative feedback to players that expect a large positive feedback. The psychological feelings of the players matters more than the absolute effect of the game.

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Warcraft 3 added a negative feedback mechanism to the game in the form of upkeep. If your army got too large, your gold income was reduced by a certain percentage. The idea was to give a small amount of negative feedback to an overwhelming force so that losing players had a chance of making a comeback. In practice, the enemy was probably still going to roll your army. However, I think a similar mechanism, adapted for your game concept, might work well in your situation.

I'll also add that the concept of a central unit summoning other combat units has been done in a different method in Tactical RPG games like Phantom Brave. Your RTS idea is obvious quite a bit different then a TRPG idea, but if you're interested in developing the idea, you may want to take a look at what Phantom Brave has done and see whether anything can be adapted.

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There's nothing run with a positive feedback look as long as it doesn't lead to an early runway situation. There needs to be an equilibrium so that small wins provide a cumulative advantage until you reach a tipping point and quickly dominate. But those wins shouldn’t be so great that a small number equals victory.

For instance you could have it so that I win a battle and kill 3 units, lose 2 of my own but gain enough gold to replace one. Now in that situation I’ve got a net gain +2 units a small win, but enough of them should allow me to come out the victor.

If you look at Risk for instance the more territory you capture the more units you have at your disposal each turn, but at the cost that the faster you spread the less units you have in anyone place making it easier for other players to capture your territory. In this way player have a balance between growth and units until one take total control.

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I had originally planed for their to be multiple players (my idea was 8) and have two teams of 4 in a fragile alliance style set up. I thought this would add a interesting game play mechanic as they would have to team up to take down the leader but could then back stab their team mate to get more gold and take care of potential threats

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Quote:
Original post by black01
Hi, I'd like to start by thanking you for reading this
I just thought of a RTS type of game where you are only allowed to have a maximum of 30 units.


I wonder if this would lead to a stalemate most of the time? In most RTS' it takes an overwhelming force to defeat an enemy.

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Quote:
Original post by cdoty
Quote:
Original post by black01
Hi, I'd like to start by thanking you for reading this
I just thought of a RTS type of game where you are only allowed to have a maximum of 30 units.


I wonder if this would lead to a stalemate most of the time? In most RTS' it takes an overwhelming force to defeat an enemy.


Yes but the combined units (and maybe teamwork) could be used to break such a stalemate especially if you implemented a system like rock paper scissors where one unit would do double damage again't another.

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Quote:
Original post by Platinum_Dragon
Edtharan, a smaller positive feedback has the feeling of a negative feedback to players that expect a large positive feedback. The psychological feelings of the players matters more than the absolute effect of the game.

True, it might feel that way to the players, but as we are talking aobut game balance, then the feel, although important, is not actually the subject here.

I have played some board games that feel like the game is balanced, but the game actually suffers from a runaway leader effect. If you pay attention to the ruels and try to predict who will win in these games, it is almost always the player who gets the early advantage. However, when playing the game it doesn't feel like it.

These games have very short lifespans because players are not stupid. They will recognise these effects and will be able to know who is going to win, and if who is going to win is sorted out in the first few rounds of the game, then why would they want to keep playing all the other rounds of it? The game becomes boring and players quickly stop playing it (why play for an hour when the game is won or lost in the first 5 minutes - I've played games where the winner is effectivly determined on the draw of the cards at the start of the game).

So, yes, it might have the feeling of a negative feedback, but it is not a negative feedback and when it comes who who wins or looses, how it feels is irrelevent.

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However, every instances have to be in a certain context.
In multi-player games, the balance does not need to be as exact as one-on-one. The runaway leader will always fail in a multi-player game if the players understand the runaway leader effect(unless the players are clueless).

The concept I am making is this:
A positive feedback to the underdog is a negative feedback the leader because both method decrease the gap between the leader and follower. The net result is what matters, not the method.

Edit:

Developer's perception:
`There is not such thing as fair system that is balance, or a balance system that is fair.
-Fair: Victory is decided by chance.
-Balance: Victory is decided by skills of the player.
`The two state are mutually exclusive, yet players will always demand both.

Player's perception:
-Fair: to win more often then losing
-Balance: to win without effort

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What if when a unit died, the creation cost went back to the player who built it, as well as half the mana?

I think that would offset the need for a loop, since as long as each player was killing and combining, they'd all be evenly matched.
You could have investment units, which have a low gold return per piece of gold spent on death (possibly higher end combination units), return units, which give back the amount you paid (base units) and fodder, which give a higher return per piece of gold spent (possibly bi-products of combinations).

This way, players are rewarded for killing and reimbursed for dying, as to prevent steamrolling.

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{quote]In multi-player games, the balance does not need to be as exact as one-on-one. The runaway leader will always fail in a multi-player game if the players understand the runaway leader effect(unless the players are clueless). [/quote]
This is true if the other players can work together to bring down the leader. But not all games allow this level of communication, or encourage this leave of co-operation and trust between them.

As an example:

In most RTS games you can have a 3 on 3 (team or individual) match. But rarely do the loosing players/teams co-ordinate their attacks on the leader for best effects.

Often, when I have played, these weaker teams have ended up more often than not attacking each other as this was the easiest way for them to score points.

In games where then can only be one winner, co-operation between weaker teams is discourages, and when in games there are various ranked positions (first, second, third, etc), and these confer some measure of victory (eg: on a victory ladder ranking system), then co-operation ends up being discouraged because a definite position of second is more preferable to an uncertainty of any position (because you could be betrayed, it could go wrong, etc, etc).

Co-operation is a risk, and if there is no real benifit (eg: greater risk), then this actually discoruages co-operation.

Well this is starting to get off topic, so I'll end my discussion here of it. If someone did want to continue this, I am happy to contribute to it in another thread.

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Quote:
Original post by Pencil Case
What if when a unit died, the creation cost went back to the player who built it, as well as half the mana?

This way, players are rewarded for killing and reimbursed for dying, as to prevent steamrolling.


Steamrolling would be mitigated by such a reimbursement only if unit creation is fast: even if lost units were converted into resources with a long term increase of net worth, if reinforcements are slower than losses the size of both armies keeps decreasing and the bigger force's advantage keeps increasing (e.g. 25 to 23 becomes 5 to 3) until the last defender of a great useless stockpile of resources is exterminated.

Even without getting rid of steamrolling, this approach could be used to keep the action moving, causing an army that avoids combat to get only a trickle of gold and an active army that kills many enemies at the price of many losses to earn, on the whole, more (even if losses match kills).

This reward structure would of course make a difference only with three or more factions in the same battle: two factions would simply demolish each other or not symmetrically, rewarding skill but not aggressiveness.

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Quote:
Original post by cdoty
I wonder if this would lead to a stalemate most of the time? In most RTS' it takes an overwhelming force to defeat an enemy.



In WiC you have between 4-8 units - games last 15 mins.

-----

Overall idea sounds good. They key to a game like this is to make it very tactical and structure the environment in such a way that not only defense is easy earlier on (to help prevent rushing) but also that a very smart tactician can lay traps if his main force has been crushed and slowly rebuild his force.

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Quote:
Original post by LorenzoGatti
This reward structure would of course make a difference only with three or more factions in the same battle: two factions would simply demolish each other or not symmetrically, rewarding skill but not aggressiveness.


It would encourage a different style of play.
Fusing units to counter other units as fodder are destroyed, fueling your counter attack.
Flanking enemies with units to distract them while you create more units.

You could get quite creative with your strategies if there was no real risk of loss, trying to pinpoint the ever moving source of reinforcements.

Obviously the player with the least amount of losses would have more points, but every battle would eventually result in casualties, so why not take advantage of it?

I don't see any downside to the system, as long as the unit creation was given a short timer but the fusion was instant.

We're not even taking into account what different functions or abilities differing factions would have, if any.
So it could even be a balancing point for some factions.

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If you choose to have players start with an even amount of units, and have their initial reinforcements spawned at exactly the same interval, then, the battle won't be as much about unit choices as much as micro management. I think you are emphasizing one aspect that is mostly disliked in RTS.
By micro-management, I mean that the first skirmish won't be about who brought which counter-unit to what, but how quickly they can assign the right units to the units they counter and how they can quickly get a surround or concave thus dealing more DPS on the enemy forces. An early lead in that regard would lead to insta death:
Say I get your army at the turn of a river: my troops are all lined up, yours are coming single file.
I shoot your first unit in one volley without any counter (and possibly a few more before you realize what is happening).
I've got more units than you, and we're both spawning units at the same pace. All I have to do is chase down your army for the rest of the game and get a good surround to prevent you from escaping.

Unless you are a micro-management god (which you have proven you aren't in the initial portion of the game) there is 'no way out'.

this is extremely frustrating, and you are removing an important part of player decision making process. A player needs to be able to choose between economy and military (aka, spending economics and slowing down their economy to attempt to gain the upper hand militarily). This is the single most important dynamic of RTS.

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