Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
AoS

Non Standard RTS Model

This topic is 2238 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

Wall of text and overly ambitious feature creep design incoming.

So I am designing an RTS scenario/mod/game mode for GlestAE. Because its a tie in to my mmorpg that I eventually plan to make and that I work on slowly over time I wanted to introduce some of the RTS/RPG hybrid type gameplay that I am designing into it.

Obviously as this is an RTS and not an MMORPG I have to come in from the other end. Many other games like Warlords Battlecry 3 and Majesty The Fantasy Kingdom Sim introduce some RPG and limited virtual world elements. But I want to go a little farther.

I was wondering what you guys think of the following model:

Firstly you have a hero character. This character is similar to a WB3 hero in that it can build all the buildings and spawns at the start of the game. It has a magic system which is quite similar as well. It differs in that it cannot really perform a tank style role. It functions as a builder and a powerful mage only. The magic system is pretty complex you have the option of selecting any of 300+ upgrades. Some upgrades provide stat bonuses like attack range or damage and some provide skills or unit summons.

Unlike the previously mentioned games every unit in the game can be upgraded in a variety of ways. Each unit has a series of "morphs" in the GAE slang which is basically like the class systems in some MMOs. There are 3 trees per units. They focus on different sets of stat increases mostly. Longer range vs damage vs attack speed to proc effects. Some lines also get special abilities.

There are also class wide upgrades, subclass wide upgrades and role wide upgrades. If alchemists research poisons all attack units, besides mages obviously, get bonus poison damage, some units have unique poison damage which stacks with this. Better arrows may affect all ranged units like archers longbows rangers and snipers. Better bolts would only affect crossbows and its specialization lines.

Some people within the GAE community have argued that all the various "morphs" and "upgrades" and abilities involve quite a bit of micro and will overwhelm the player. However I always intended the gameplay to be somewhat different from normal GAE and also WC and SC style play. Being different was the whole point.

The movement speeds will be slow down from the standard GAE speeds, by about 50%, although possibly more based on playtesting. I am considering lowering attack speeds also but it is not definitive as movement speed is. GAE does not support time scaling ala Majesty as far as I am aware. Which would probably be preferable.

Further it is not my intention that every fight be microed. Much like the customization is reminiscent of TBS games like Dominions3 so is the strategy, and I mean strategy and not the tactical and APM focus of more popular games, again like WC or SC.

There is a lot of focus on producing effective army compositions with the proper amount of ranged and mages as well as specific things like snipers in a choke point area. Also important is your troop assignments. Instead of using mostly focused attacks the map and gameplay are set up so that you have to choose what fights to micro control. Alternatively you might pick units to control such as only directly controlling ability heavy units like mages.

Again this is sort of a TBS feature. You have a garrison at important points like critical resource producing structures, your castle building, chokepoints and other strategically important areas and also around areas with many research structures. A battle might be over before you can bring in reinforcements or counter attacks.

You do have the option of focusing on resource intense but fast response units like teleporting for mages and maybe transport gates and/or air units with higher move speed and obstacle avoidance. You might also focus on intelligence and dedicate a mage guild to crystal scrying, scrying pools, or limited all map reveals. More advanced powers include farstrike which allows for long range or global spells.

The mage system is designed so that you cannot access all spell lines and there is a 7 mage limit in guilds and 2 in towers so you can't spam them and so that even a fully upped mage guild doesn't give you total dominance.


Has anyone got any suggestions or criticisms of this format?

Would anyone play a game with a more strategic focus and TBS like mechanics?

Does the RPGish mechanic detract from RTs games or add interesting possibilities?

Are you a fan of massive research trees? Aside from niche RPG/RTS games such as WB3 the research system is also more reminiscent of TBS games like Gal Civ and maybe SoaSE.

Thanks for any feedback.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
When I played Starcraft, sometimes I wasn't sure of what buildings provided the niche units or advanced upgrades I wanted. With a giant upgrade graph, less casual players are going to be in more serious trouble: how do you plan to manage upgrade complexity?

If you want battles to be decided by sending the right troops rather than by better micromanagement:

  • How do you avoid rock-paper-scissors lotteries? An upside of micromanagement is that it requires genuine skill rather than luck.
  • How do you deal with overspecialized units? The most common unit lifecycle appears to consist of creation for a special purpose, victory and high survival rates in the first battle (which they are designed to win), and disaster after the enemy brings an appropriate "counter" to a successive battle.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This feels like a massive brain overload. Way too many features that are not fully compatible with each other.

Customizing individual units and sending them off in battles that you will not see will not give any feedback to the player about his unit design. This will make him not care about fine tuning the designs and the customization will become a chore.

How long do you plan a game to be? The way you laid it out, it seems to me a game needs to last a few hours or features like split armies and deep tech tree would not be exploited to their fullest.

My advice would be to find 1 key element that will define your game and build the gameplay around it. Ditch the rest and find ways to create strategic depth with that 1 feature only.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I played Starcraft, sometimes I wasn't sure of what buildings provided the niche units or advanced upgrades I wanted. With a giant upgrade graph, less casual players are going to be in more serious trouble: how do you plan to manage upgrade complexity?

If you want battles to be decided by sending the right troops rather than by better micromanagement:

  • How do you avoid rock-paper-scissors lotteries? An upside of micromanagement is that it requires genuine skill rather than luck.
  • How do you deal with overspecialized units? The most common unit lifecycle appears to consist of creation for a special purpose, victory and high survival rates in the first battle (which they are designed to win), and disaster after the enemy brings an appropriate "counter" to a successive battle.



Well you can't really "design to win". If you set up a group of units to garrison a far away building its not like you know what is going to attack you. I am currently only working on the single player mode, so no humans to deal with. I should have clarified that, my bad. The skill of the game is in the strategy and not the tactics. Deciding what to defend, whether to disperse troops evenly across buildings or focus on specific ones and such like that. Strategy has always interested me more than micro because it isn't 100% dependent on APM.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This feels like a massive brain overload. Way too many features that are not fully compatible with each other.

[color=#ff0000]I like brain overload :)

Customizing individual units and sending them off in battles that you will not see will not give any feedback to the player about his unit design. This will make him not care about fine tuning the designs and the customization will become a chore.

[color=#ff0000]If you have played Dominions 3 and you liked it the customization here might actually feel too simplistic. I do recognize that most people won't like the game. However its not like its designed for commercial release, GAE is open source, so you can't make any money. Its more about designing a game I want to play and if other people like it, cool.

How long do you plan a game to be? The way you laid it out, it seems to me a game needs to last a few hours or features like split armies and deep tech tree would not be exploited to their fullest.

[color=#ff0000]Something like a large size dominions or SoaSE game. So anywhere from 8 to 24 hours? I am not sure. The size of the tech tree is mostly about choices. So in a given game you may only use 1/4 of it or less.

My advice would be to find 1 key element that will define your game and build the gameplay around it. Ditch the rest and find ways to create strategic depth with that 1 feature only.


I totes did that, complexity :P


Although, some other GAE modders warned me that so many units might exceed the games allowed memory usage, so it might be that I am forced to cut it down :'(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What I called a "rock-paper-scissors lottery" in the case of multiplayer or generic games is replaced by predicting and exploiting AI choices in the case of single player campaigns.
For example, if the player knows that on a certain level the AI wizards invest heavily in summoning ice dragons before making an all-in assault he can efficiently slaughter them with fireballs, which isn't particularly fun.

How long do you expect units to live (e.g. as a ratio of units at the moment of winning, or maximum army size, to total units in the level)?
Expensive, less disposable units (maybe with combat rules in which retreating and recovering is more likely than dying on the spot) would reduce the impact of overspecialization as the unit is expected to fight many times against varied opponents.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was wondering what you guys think of the following model:

Firstly you have a hero character. This character is similar to a WB3 hero in that it can build all the buildings and spawns at the start of the game. It has a magic system which is quite similar as well. It differs in that it cannot really perform a tank style role. It functions as a builder and a powerful mage only. The magic system is pretty complex you have the option of selecting any of 300+ upgrades. Some upgrades provide stat bonuses like attack range or damage and some provide skills or unit summons.


I've not played WB3, but this sounds vaguely similar to the Commander unit in Supreme Commander. Early on in the game, it was a relatively strong unit, and could repel any poorly thought out rushes, but as T2 and T3 units started to come in to play, it's effectiveness as a combat unit diminished - barring certain stupendously expensive upgrades of course. At all stages though, it's core value is as a powerful builder unit.

In SupCom I enjoyed the mechanic, but to be honest, much of the time I dislike 'Hero' units as they tend to devalue and distract from all the other units. I found this particularly true in Warcraft 3, where mucking about with upgrading and leveling the heroes was just an annoying distraction from the main objective, which is to build units and wipe out the enemy.


Unlike the previously mentioned games every unit in the game can be upgraded in a variety of ways. Each unit has a series of "morphs" in the GAE slang which is basically like the class systems in some MMOs. There are 3 trees per units. They focus on different sets of stat increases mostly. Longer range vs damage vs attack speed to proc effects. Some lines also get special abilities.[/quote]

Is this on a per-unit basis? I really wouldn't want to fool around levelling up each and every single unit unless the game is relatively small scale (5-10 units per player). It's a pain to do, a pain to keep track of, and I would end up not caring at all. If it's on a unit-type basis, that's not so bad.


Some people within the GAE community have argued that all the various "morphs" and "upgrades" and abilities involve quite a bit of micro and will overwhelm the player. However I always intended the gameplay to be somewhat different from normal GAE and also WC and SC style play. Being different was the whole point.[/quote]

I tend to think of micro as being either 'good micro' and 'bad micro'. Good micro is micro that involves a certain amount of twitch ability and out-clevering your opponent - this tends to be fun and involving. Bad Micro is micro that involves ui navigation to accomplish in game tasks, bookkeeping and group organization - these tend to feel like makework. Games like SC promote the former, and provide features to minimize the latter.TBS's on the other hand, can get away with bad micro provided it adds interesting depth.

Too many options and upgrades - especially at the per-unit level - run the risk of overloading the player with Bad micro.


Further it is not my intention that every fight be microed. Much like the customization is reminiscent of TBS games like Dominions3 so is the strategy, and I mean strategy and not the tactical and APM focus of more popular games, again like WC or SC.[/quote]

I'm not sure what aspect of Dom 3 you are referring to here. Are you referring to the way you can customize your heroes with magical items, or the way in which you customize your strategy using scripts? Or both? Or something else?

I'm not sure Dom3 customization OR battle scripting would work in an RTS. Setting up a really good Dom3 battle script takes a bit of time - doing it for every army every turn can drag your turns out to hours (along with everything else you have to do), which is fine in a single player or PBEM game for players who have the patience. In a real time game? No chance. The customization would have to be much simpler. As for customization, we're back in the land of Too Much Bookkeeping.


There is a lot of focus on producing effective army compositions with the proper amount of ranged and mages as well as specific things like snipers in a choke point area. Also important is your troop assignments. Instead of using mostly focused attacks the map and gameplay are set up so that you have to choose what fights to micro control. Alternatively you might pick units to control such as only directly controlling ability heavy units like mages.
[/quote]

Sounds like you're going for a sort of mix of pre-scripted battle and interactive battle here. It's an interesting idea to explore, but could do with thinking out in more detail.

Moving on to your other questions:

Would anyone play a game with a more strategic focus and TBS like mechanics?
[/quote]

'Maybe' smile.png But I'd certainly check it out.


Does the RPGish mechanic detract from RTs games or add interesting possibilities?
[/quote]

In my opinion, based on other games which have attempted to blend the two genres, it usually detracts. RPGs and RTS games are probably the two genres I enjoy the most, but their mutant offspring nearly always exhibit the worst in both genres.


Are you a fan of massive research trees? Aside from niche RPG/RTS games such as WB3 the research system is also more reminiscent of TBS games like Gal Civ and maybe SoaSE.
[/quote]

In general, yes. I think in an RTS you need to be a little careful with huge research trees, as too many options can potentially devalue each choice. Perhaps some lower level, exclusive branches to split the tree up into certain specializations might be the way to go here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What I called a "rock-paper-scissors lottery" in the case of multiplayer or generic games is replaced by predicting and exploiting AI choices in the case of single player campaigns.
For example, if the player knows that on a certain level the AI wizards invest heavily in summoning ice dragons before making an all-in assault he can efficiently slaughter them with fireballs, which isn't particularly fun.

[color=#ff0000]Well I don't really want the AI to focus too much on a single unit like that. And you would have to play literally hundreds of hours to find such a bug since the scenario can last a long time. I was thinking of having some randomness in the AI so it won't always do the same thing on a given difficulty but that only adds a little more time to the issue. I don't think an AI that can fit on your home computer can ever take down a person over a long period in any case. I would say that the AI will probably use a balanced mix of troops on any difficulty though.

How long do you expect units to live (e.g. as a ratio of units at the moment of winning, or maximum army size, to total units in the level)?
Expensive, less disposable units (maybe with combat rules in which retreating and recovering is more likely than dying on the spot) would reduce the impact of overspecialization as the unit is expected to fight many times against varied opponents.


I expect and am trying to design for Majesty style casualties, although without resurrection. So most units will not live more than 50% of the length of the scenario. I know that a lot of people insist on moment to moment gameplay and purely tactical thinking but I prefer strategic thinking. Don't worry about a single unit too much. Also I don't see why making a unit to achieve one goal and then having it lose most of its effectiveness afterwards is a problem.

I am weird I know.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote name='AltarofScience' timestamp='1335228299' post='4934291']
I was wondering what you guys think of the following model:

Firstly you have a hero character. This character is similar to a WB3 hero in that it can build all the buildings and spawns at the start of the game. It has a magic system which is quite similar as well. It differs in that it cannot really perform a tank style role. It functions as a builder and a powerful mage only. The magic system is pretty complex you have the option of selecting any of 300+ upgrades. Some upgrades provide stat bonuses like attack range or damage and some provide skills or unit summons.


I've not played WB3, but this sounds vaguely similar to the Commander unit in Supreme Commander. Early on in the game, it was a relatively strong unit, and could repel any poorly thought out rushes, but as T2 and T3 units started to come in to play, it's effectiveness as a combat unit diminished - barring certain stupendously expensive upgrades of course. At all stages though, it's core value is as a powerful builder unit.

[color=#ff0000]Heroes in Warlords Battlecry 3 exist independent of a given map, as part of the campaign. They have retinues ala Dawn of War and you can either focus on combat or magic damage or unit summoning. They also have the building value.

In SupCom I enjoyed the mechanic, but to be honest, much of the time I dislike 'Hero' units as they tend to devalue and distract from all the other units. I found this particularly true in Warcraft 3, where mucking about with upgrading and leveling the heroes was just an annoying distraction from the main objective, which is to build units and wipe out the enemy.

[color=#ff0000]Ah I really don't like Warcraft that much. Although I thank it for MOBAs. You can't really afford to mass a single army like in WC or SC in this game. Its not about massive pitched battles. Well I hope I can make it so that's a bad idea. Players have a tendency to find some little thing you missed and totally fuck up the game :)

[color=#FF0000]OTS has way less focus on combat. Their are several neutral and allied factions plus the enemy faction. There may be some neutral factions that ally with the enemy. You have to focus on diplomacy, building your economy, and research and so forth. I know some people dislike non fighting features but I enjoy them.


Unlike the previously mentioned games every unit in the game can be upgraded in a variety of ways. Each unit has a series of "morphs" in the GAE slang which is basically like the class systems in some MMOs. There are 3 trees per units. They focus on different sets of stat increases mostly. Longer range vs damage vs attack speed to proc effects. Some lines also get special abilities.[/quote]

Is this on a per-unit basis? I really wouldn't want to fool around levelling up each and every single unit unless the game is relatively small scale (5-10 units per player). It's a pain to do, a pain to keep track of, and I would end up not caring at all. If it's on a unit-type basis, that's not so bad.

[color=#ff0000]The game is slower paced than traditional RTS games. I definitely think that in SC or WC having to deal with lots of upgrades would suck. However in WB3 a lot of focus was put on certain factions with morphs and per unit upgrades. I am taking it a bit further though. There might be long game periods when you aren't under constant assault so I would tend to do this stuff then.


Some people within the GAE community have argued that all the various "morphs" and "upgrades" and abilities involve quite a bit of micro and will overwhelm the player. However I always intended the gameplay to be somewhat different from normal GAE and also WC and SC style play. Being different was the whole point.[/quote]

I tend to think of micro as being either 'good micro' and 'bad micro'. Good micro is micro that involves a certain amount of twitch ability and out-clevering your opponent - this tends to be fun and involving. Bad Micro is micro that involves ui navigation to accomplish in game tasks, bookkeeping and group organization - these tend to feel like makework. Games like SC promote the former, and provide features to minimize the latter.TBS's on the other hand, can get away with bad micro provided it adds interesting depth.

[color=#ff0000]I think that bad micro is relative, I know that myself and some of the people I game with have an affinity for complex and time consuming micro, but that most people dislike it. I am not a huge fan of twitch, even though I am relatively good at it. That is what I like about TBS games. In Dominions I used to get like a max size map and grab 300 provinces and farm gems by spamming mages with 4 magic classes and then summon a whole bunch of Seraphs using wish and deck them out in crazy good gear and boost their stats. This isn't as bad as that, because no game called an RTS could handle that, but it does have quite a bit of non combat involved.

Too many options and upgrades - especially at the per-unit level - run the risk of overloading the player with Bad micro.


Further it is not my intention that every fight be microed. Much like the customization is reminiscent of TBS games like Dominions3 so is the strategy, and I mean strategy and not the tactical and APM focus of more popular games, again like WC or SC.[/quote]

I'm not sure what aspect of Dom 3 you are referring to here. Are you referring to the way you can customize your heroes with magical items, or the way in which you customize your strategy using scripts? Or both? Or something else?

[color=#ff0000]In Dom3 you can't control fights. That is what I mean. GAE doesn't support super complex scripts for player units, although allied factions and Lua scripting lets the AI do some cool stuff. Essentially you have to look at your resources and decide on the best distribution of forces and expect that there will be plenty of fights where you are too busy to micro control every single one.

I'm not sure Dom3 customization OR battle scripting would work in an RTS. Setting up a really good Dom3 battle script takes a bit of time - doing it for every army every turn can drag your turns out to hours (along with everything else you have to do), which is fine in a single player or PBEM game for players who have the patience. In a real time game? No chance. The customization would have to be much simpler. As for customization, we're back in the land of Too Much Bookkeeping.

[color=#ff0000]I do not intend to have scripting, but the Hero functions similar to a pretender and some powerful units like the 7 archmages function like mage commanders in Dom. Mages can even set up communion style systems to use better spells or restore mana and so forth. Some rituals specifically require communion like behavior. Summoning a Primoridial Stone Titan for instance requires 7 Archmages(adepts of wizards guilds, adepts of wizards towers don't get archmage status) [color=#ff0000]to pull off. Of course you don't have to summon one of those to win, there are even strategies which do not involve mages at all.


There is a lot of focus on producing effective army compositions with the proper amount of ranged and mages as well as specific things like snipers in a choke point area. Also important is your troop assignments. Instead of using mostly focused attacks the map and gameplay are set up so that you have to choose what fights to micro control. Alternatively you might pick units to control such as only directly controlling ability heavy units like mages.
[/quote]

Sounds like you're going for a sort of mix of pre-scripted battle and interactive battle here. It's an interesting idea to explore, but could do with thinking out in more detail.

[color=#ff0000]Well there isn't scripting. But unit placement and group comp is important. I might do a post on it when I get farther into it.

Moving on to your other questions:

Would anyone play a game with a more strategic focus and TBS like mechanics?
[/quote]

'Maybe' smile.png But I'd certainly check it out.


Does the RPGish mechanic detract from RTs games or add interesting possibilities?
[/quote]

In my opinion, based on other games which have attempted to blend the two genres, it usually detracts. RPGs and RTS games are probably the two genres I enjoy the most, but their mutant offspring nearly always exhibit the worst in both genres.

[color=#ff0000]I think that WB3 and maybe DoW did it well, but I agree so many games do it poorly.


Are you a fan of massive research trees? Aside from niche RPG/RTS games such as WB3 the research system is also more reminiscent of TBS games like Gal Civ and maybe SoaSE.
[/quote]

In general, yes. I think in an RTS you need to be a little careful with huge research trees, as too many options can potentially devalue each choice. Perhaps some lower level, exclusive branches to split the tree up into certain specializations might be the way to go here.

[color=#ff0000]I do have that, but also lots of other choices. The non magic tree isn't too intense I would say [color=#ff0000]but the magic tree in its entirety would probably drive you insane based on this post. However its unnecessary to use the whole tree.

[/quote]

I'll try to work on some of the stuff you talked about. I can't promise to avoid TMB because I kinda like bookeeping. Thanks for such a detailed reply, such things are usually hard to get.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In the interests of reducing unnecessary complexity as well as file size I have decided it would be a better idea to implement custom levels based on number of kills instead of morphs. So each basic unit has 3 morphs but gains more skill in that area through having kills as opposed to the player having to morph them each time. I am currently deciding on the number of levels to implement. Definitely no more than 20.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

We are the game development community.

Whether you are an indie, hobbyist, AAA developer, or just trying to learn, GameDev.net is the place for you to learn, share, and connect with the games industry. Learn more About Us or sign up!

Sign me up!