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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.

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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:[list]
[*]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.
[/list]

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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.

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[quote name='LorenzoGatti' timestamp='1335266515' post='4934399']
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:[list]
[*]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.
[/list]
[/quote]

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.

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[quote name='Tiblanc' timestamp='1335269633' post='4934409']
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 :)[/color]

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. [/color]

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.[/color]

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.
[/quote]

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 :'(

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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.

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[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.
[/quote]

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.

[quote]
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.

[quote]
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.

[quote]
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.

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

'Maybe' [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img] But I'd certainly check it out.

[quote]
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.

[quote]
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.

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[quote name='LorenzoGatti' timestamp='1335345043' post='4934672']
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.[/color]

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.
[/quote]

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.

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[quote name='Sandman' timestamp='1335346219' post='4934679']
[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.
[/quote]

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.[/color]

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]

[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.[/color]

[quote]
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. [/color]

[quote]
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. [/color]

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

[quote]
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. [/color]

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] [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. [/color]

[quote]
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.[/color]

Moving on to your other questions:
[quote]
Would anyone play a game with a more strategic focus and TBS like mechanics?
[/quote]

'Maybe' [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img] But I'd certainly check it out.

[quote]
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. [/color]

[quote]
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] [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. [/color]

[/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.

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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.

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You will have trouble having many battles at once and not having the player swamped with unit creation. To have enough battles to prevent the player from affecting them all means you need to have a few battles going on all the time. If they are spaced out, the player will be able to affect them all. This means you need to continually replace units and if there's any process involved, it will quickly become a chore.

You also need to think about distances. If you want to have multiple battles, the player needs an incentive for splitting his forces. This means the distance between 2 point of interest is far enough that you cannot reinforce it in time when the enemy approaches. What will determine it is the unit movement speed. This is affected by the combat balance. For example a melee can reach a ranged unit in the time it takes that unit to shoot twice. Shooting distance is 400 pixels and fire cooldown is 2 seconds. The melee unit travels 200 pixels/sec. You want reinforcement to take 2 minutes at least. This means the distance between points of interest need to be 24k pixels. That's 20 screens worth of space. Multiply that by all the points of interest and you end up with a huge map. A very huge map.

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[quote name='Tiblanc' timestamp='1335369161' post='4934791']
You will have trouble having many battles at once and not having the player swamped with unit creation. To have enough battles to prevent the player from affecting them all means you need to have a few battles going on all the time. If they are spaced out, the player will be able to affect them all. This means you need to continually replace units and if there's any process involved, it will quickly become a chore.

[color=#ff0000]Well if the player is busy with non battle concerns like research, diplomacy, economy, or planning I wouldn't need a buttload of battles and I certainly wouldn't need them going on all the time. I do get your point though. [/color]

[color=#FF0000]This game is more set up for people who play Dominions or Warring Factions or something, so if your only desire is to do APM based twitch combat you probably won't like it. [/color]

[color=#FF0000]In Dominions 1,2,3 you had a process of moving your units each turn. You needed to hold a lot of territory to win on big maps and you needed to protect all your borders from invasion. In a way it was like a larger scale game of Diplomacy. Where do I think I will get attack? Given the choice to move to one of 3 provinces, where should I move these units. [/color]

[color=#FF0000]Managing unit chains from production centers to the front lines was a very critical part of the game. You also had to deal with unit comp to some degree. [/color]

You also need to think about distances. If you want to have multiple battles, the player needs an incentive for splitting his forces. This means the distance between 2 point of interest is far enough that you cannot reinforce it in time when the enemy approaches. What will determine it is the unit movement speed. This is affected by the combat balance. For example a melee can reach a ranged unit in the time it takes that unit to shoot twice. Shooting distance is 400 pixels and fire cooldown is 2 seconds. The melee unit travels 200 pixels/sec. You want reinforcement to take 2 minutes at least. This means the distance between points of interest need to be 24k pixels. That's 20 screens worth of space. Multiply that by all the points of interest and you end up with a huge map. A very huge map.
[/quote]

[color=#ff0000]Well, I am going to use slower movement speeds to make it harder to get around, as well as using a pretty large map. GAE can support some larger maps I think, although various modders and devs have different opinions on how large. The map had better be huge, there are multiple allied, enemy, and neutral "kingdoms" as well as unaligned towns, unaligned wizards towers and guilds, and unaligned factors like blacksmiths. [/color]

[color=#FF0000]A maximum size Majesty map would be perfect or maybe even too large for this scenario. [/color]

[color=#000000]I do agree that the game is not for everyone. [/color]

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I understand it's not meant for everyone. It should still be meant for humans ;)

The way you describe it, you want to overload the player with things to do in an effort to make him unable to do it all. What seems fine at the start of the game can quickly grow out of hand later on. Try playing Dominions with a 1 minute turn timer. Early on you have more than enough time to spare. Later on, your success will depend on how fast you can go through the interface to do whatever you want to do. That's the reason why 4X games are turn based. By going real time, you need to make concessions so the required actions remain within a tight range no matter the size of your empire. If it grows linearly, it will soon surpass human capabilities and become unplayable.

You may want to explore an hybrid system between turn based and real-time. The linearly growing decisions would happen in the turn-based part while the combat resolution could be real-time.

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[quote name='Tiblanc' timestamp='1335377299' post='4934831']
I understand it's not meant for everyone. It should still be meant for humans ;)

The way you describe it, you want to overload the player with things to do in an effort to make him unable to do it all. What seems fine at the start of the game can quickly grow out of hand later on. Try playing Dominions with a 1 minute turn timer. Early on you have more than enough time to spare. Later on, your success will depend on how fast you can go through the interface to do whatever you want to do. That's the reason why 4X games are turn based. By going real time, you need to make concessions so the required actions remain within a tight range no matter the size of your empire. If it grows linearly, it will soon surpass human capabilities and become unplayable.

You may want to explore an hybrid system between turn based and real-time. The linearly growing decisions would happen in the turn-based part while the combat resolution could be real-time.
[/quote]

Not all 4x games are turn based, SoaSE isn't. I'm not overloading the player with things to do to fill up his time. Most research takes almost no player action. Click a button wait for research to fill. And its not like you need to follow all the units as they travel to destination either.

I am pretty sure that all RTS games focus on navigating the interface. I mean sure you can set up hotkeys but that just means each player starts clicking hot key just as fast as they did interface buttons before.

For the timer thing, assuming you play a person and not a computer whether you have 30 minutes or 5 doesn't really matter. Whoever can navigate the interface faster will win both in this game and in dominions.

I do agree that that things can get out of hand later on. But consider this, the map doesn't grow larger. The enemy AI isn't going to attack 2x then 4x then 8x as many spots. It will send larger armies. Does the number of actions really explode? Also there would be periods of lull after the enemy attacks while it builds back up. So you would catch your breath.

I do understand your point but I disagree that its a huge issue. In any case GAE doesn't support any sort of turn based capability so I couldn't do what you suggest even if I wanted to.

I think that the alpha testing stage will be critical to determining and optimizing for playability. Its nice for both of us to speculate, but we can't know until we see it in action.

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So I have gotten pretty far on this. Weirdly as I go I keep trending towards more simmy gameplay ala Majesty and Emperor; Rise of the Middle Kingdom. I also abstracted weapons from the unit. Each unit requires a weapon, which tends to cost wood and metal or maybe stone, of the proper type instead of having the wood and metal and stone costs directly on the unit. Mostly this is to help me maintain and make changes. Basically I can adjust the res cost of all the units of a given weapon type by editing only a single file, as opposed to gong through several files changing the values.

This is especially important for mages because there are so many kinds even excluding guilds and towers multiplying the number of files I need to edit. Given that the magic system is the most complex part of the game this is really worth a lot to me.

I am however trying to consider how much annoyance it would cause players to build the weapons separately.

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So I have been getting really behind on this due to getting into the GAE source code. Man, I have to say my favorite part about GAE is that all I have to do is the fun part of game design. No dealing with graphics or GUIs or any of that stuff. Just pure game mechanics. I have been expanding the capability of the engine with unit capturing, lifesteal and manaburn, allowing units to generate resources on a timer with source instead of doing it in LUA and thus restricting it to Scenarios, and also shield bars, instead of just health. More recently I added optional modifiers to increase the cost of a building, or a non building unit, based on how many you have constructed.

I am currently in the process of implementing a hero system, which entails some new classes and functions and also drastic modifications to the upgrade system. Currently you can only use an upgrade once which I dislike.

I honestly enjoy this aspect of game design more than making mods. Primarily because mods/games/scenarios involve that damnable art requirement. Modelling is not my favorite activity.

I am also learning a lot about working with source code not purely designed by me, and boy is it a pain. Functions are not documented and confusing and its hard to figure out what I actually need to deal with to add a given feature. I used to think documentation was boring to do and unnecessary but I was so, so wrong. This was way more effective than a CS teacher just reminding the class over and over to remember to document.

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You have to beware of overspecialization, and obsolescence. These are the two main limiting factors that a designer needs to keep in mind when trying to manage the complexity and scope of their game almost regardless of genre.

They are in fact the main difficulty for all customization-style designs like this one appears to be, especially for RTS games. You have to have a very very tight design if you want to provide very specific customization options.

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