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Telcontar

RTS: Each side w/ Diff Win/Loss Conditions?

7 posts in this topic

I'm in the early design stage of an RTS where the focus is on strategic play and variety. I want each "side" to be wildly different from each other. While this obviously introduces problems with balance, I don't really mean this game to ever become a mainstay of competitive tournaments. Just fun to play.

One of the elements of variety I'm toying with is giving each side a "win" and a "loss" condition all their own, in addition to the normal "If you wipe out your enemy you win" scenario. For instance, an Orc side might need to rack up a certain enemy body/damage count, or a traditional human empire side might need to obtain control over a certain percentage of the map.

The "Loss" condition is trickier, in that you win by forcing the enemy loss and that condition changes depending on who your opponent is. You might win against an Elven side by cutting down a lot of forest, for instance. I think it has the potential for some pretty interesting strategic choices.

Main Concerns:
-Makes balance harder by altering the dynamics of every race pairing
-May be difficult to think of fun Win/Loss conditions for each race
-Win/Loss condition may be affected by map

Thoughts? Has anyone heard of/played a game where this sort of thing is done? I haven't, but would love to see if it has been tried before and how successfully.
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Final Fantasy Tactics and Fire Emblem have something similar, though not in multiplayer. The army platoon standing 40 units strong will have the goal of routing your seven-man team, while you need to destroy their magical artifact or retake the throne, etc. It does make sense to implement this in multiplayer though, and I think it sounds really fun :3 A smart general doesn't really [i]need [/i]to kill every man, woman and child on the opposing side.

I would say try and avoid 'kill the leader'-style goals though. In addition to making it suddenly much easier, it just doesn't always make sense. It'll work in fights against groups with a more pack-like mentality, sure, but even then you'll still get a few guys who go berserk kamikaze instead of surrendering peacefully. In fact, that holds for many of the objectives. Try and make sense of the surrender as far as any sense of story goes; the effect on gameplay should come from that.
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Was playing Risk a while ago with my mates, cause we're that cool. At the start of the game you get given a random objective card that no one else can see. It could be take over all of North and South America, or wipe out the Blue player, etc. While one player builds a huge defence and looks seemly invincible, the other could be slyly completing their goal of wiping out a much weaker player. The strongest might notice that you're going out of your way to pick on a particular player and second-guess your objective.

I guess the fun comes from the uncertainty. The strongest might not be winning, players can bluff what they are trying to achieve. It creates situations where suddenly a conflict with your arch rival becomes meaningless if another player is about to complete their objective.
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Inblancing in a RTS game is hell and different army design is the gate to it.

In a competive RTS game I would try to make the game as interesting as possible without introducing differences in army design, there's really nothing more frustrating than to loose a game where you don't have a chance at all. I.e. fire mages(human army) could burn down the forest against an elven army quite fast, winning this game without any challenge. Balancing this additional to the burden of balancing all the units will give you a very hard time.
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I think however you try to do it it would become inballanced. Say for example one team has to own 80% of the map. You would then have to make sure thats just as easy to do as the other sides objective, which means altering the map layout to do so.
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[quote name='Telcontar' timestamp='1342552464' post='4960128'] I don't really mean this game to ever become a mainstay of competitive tournaments. Just fun to play.[/quote]Fun comes from the game being more or less balanced and more or less fair (multiplayer games). If you make is so one side is noticeably easier the game won't be fun anymore (in multiplayer).
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Just had a bit of a thought. If you made some maps so that you have to hold out from the enemy for a certain period of time, then you win i think it could be quite fun. I remember some of the best games i played where on maps where you had no chance at all at winning (lots of maps like this on BFME2), but it was fun to see how long you could hold them off for.
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[quote name='Fankadore' timestamp='1342598898' post='4960375']
Was playing Risk a while ago with my mates, cause we're that cool. At the start of the game you get given a random objective card that no one else can see.[/quote]

Ah, I remember playing that version once before.

[quote]I guess the fun comes from the uncertainty. The strongest might not be winning, players can bluff what they are trying to achieve. It creates situations where suddenly a conflict with your arch rival becomes meaningless if another player is about to complete their objective.[/quote]

That sort of "fooling the opponent into thinking you're chasing a strategy that you really aren't" is defnitely fun. It would complement the strategic focus of play nicely, as well, but it is harder to pull off without multiple opponents. I have to put more thought into how the win conditions might be tracked and whether or not your opponent would be told of your progress.

[quote name='Ashaman73' timestamp='1342602777' post='4960394']
Inblancing in a RTS game is hell and different army design is the gate to it.

In a competive RTS game I would try to make the game as interesting as possible without introducing differences in army design, there's really nothing more frustrating than to loose a game where you don't have a chance at all.[/quote]

I agree entirely. One of my focuses will be on making sure that sort of gross imbalance is expunged. There may be match-ups in which a certain army has a bit of a natural upper hand, but so long as there is always a way to win (and always a way to fight back) I would still find it fun. I liken it to playing Italy in Diplomacy. The odds are against you, but that would make victory all the sweeter.

Thanks for the thoughts, folks. Like I said, i know that balance in this game will be a nightmare. I'm okay with it. If I hit my design goals, losing will be almost as much fun as winning.
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