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d000hg

Is there a market for old-fashioned RTS games?


33 posts in this topic

My issues always seem to stem from streamlining the pathfinder algorithm.

 

 Having more than 3 or 4 items on screen at once, slows the frame rate down a lot in Java .

 

Well, we can shoot in the head the "it's because Java is slow" argument for a start smile.png I definitely remember having concerns about pathfinding but in reality it wasn't an issue, I worked on a tiled map of 1000x1000 or something like that and used a very standard A* implementation I think.

 

If it slows down your FPS that suggests you are doing path-finding every frame, maybe that is the problem? I'm sure I cache the route and follow that until I find the route is blocked. Of course you can try to be more clever, if you have multiple units making the same journey you could try to calculate a single path for all of them, etc.

Edited by d000hg
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That's sort of my point. If you basically just had the gameplay from the games I mentioned, and created a decent campaign, or regular updates of new content, would people who love RTS buy them for their next RTS fix? Or would they only buy a game which does something new and exciting? 

 

That's really the heart of the question -- The classic games you mention already exist and already have mindshare, so why aren't they still being played? Is it because they're difficult to get running on a modern machine? Is it because its player base now prefers different kinds of platforms (e.g. tablets). Is it because the community of players has dwindled? Is it because the content has gone stale? Is it because the gameplay hasn't aged well? Is it because player expectations have outgrown them?

 

You're not selling fruit, so simply being a fresh rehash of some old games isn't going to cut it. Not without addressing the reasons those games have been left by the wayside. Likewise, can you determine what was good about those old games so that you can retain their core while bringing those ideas forward. And exectly how much *does* need to change to get to a game that's worth playing in this day and age, anyhow? Is it so much that you've essentially got another "modern" RTS?

 

Luckily you have 10+ years of hindsight to aid in your analysis, so finding things to improve shouldn't be impossible. The worst thing you could do is to assume the old games were infallible in their design, put them on a pedestal, and not add, remove, or evolve anything. If there were nothing to fix, people would still be playing those games en masse. They're not. 

 

Good argument but I do think "it's old" is a factor. Games do have a shelf life, and also people have had time to play the missions in those games to death. Plus, those classic games have technical restrictions, the biggest being resolution (in my view). They were the last big games before everyone went 3D, so they run in 640x480 or something like that which puts many people off, myself included. I reckon a spruced up Red Alert would still be fun, sort of like they did with Dune2000.

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Regarding resource gathering and logistics - I definitely think it has its place but it just depends on the style of the game. Fast-paced RTS games where you are micro-managing every unit, it can get in the way. I always disliked that gameplay style, I wanted to play at a more strategic level. I had put quite a lot of thought into logistics but never tried the ideas out - not only do you have to harvest resources and physically transport them, but you have to transport resources to the place they're needed too. Want a new building? Fine you can build anywhere you want (not only next to existing buildings) but you have to send trucks to take the resources, Want to build tanks - need to keep supplying raw materials.

 

I even considered making units require fuel/food so you have to set up supply lines, but this might be going too far.

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Regarding resource gathering and logistics - I definitely think it has its place but it just depends on the style of the game. Fast-paced RTS games where you are micro-managing every unit, it can get in the way. I always disliked that gameplay style, I wanted to play at a more strategic level. I had put quite a lot of thought into logistics but never tried the ideas out - not only do you have to harvest resources and physically transport them, but you have to transport resources to the place they're needed too. Want a new building? Fine you can build anywhere you want (not only next to existing buildings) but you have to send trucks to take the resources, Want to build tanks - need to keep supplying raw materials.

 

I even considered making units require fuel/food so you have to set up supply lines, but this might be going too far.

 

For an example of units that require fuel/ammo, you could look at the Eugen series of games, like Wargame Airland Battle.  Granted, they get away with that extra management by removing all building of buildings and peons.

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Good argument but I do think "it's old" is a factor.

 

It absolutely is a factor, and one which we remain unchanged in your "new" game if nothing of substance changes. To be clear, things as simple as updating the graphics to be more modern is something, new art is something, new content is something. Whether its enough is anyone's guess. But keep in mind that RTS games were the original sandbox games, and among the first to have good support for user-created maps and such. Many officially supported alternative art packs, or the community figured it out. So there has been new art and new scenarios, and in some cases new units in some of those old games 'total-conversion''-style. Why aren't people playing those in droves? Probably a lot of reasons, but I'd be willing to wager that SVGA resolution and lack of pixel-shaders are pretty low, and there's no lack of content to speak of -- or rather the community could keep making content if they were interested enough to do so.

 

Its a question of endless mario-clones; plenty of great mario-style platformers exist with tight controls, original graphics, or whatever, but when they have no strong hook of their own, I'd rather just be playing the real thing. In my opinion, you need to provide more than a fresh coat of paint. There was an indie freeware game that put Link (or link-like) character into a 2D platformer that was sort of a mash-up of Castlevania and Super Mario World style platforming. That was a great game, despite few or no truly original elements, it was all done by distilling elements from three great games and putting them together in a new way. I'm not saying you need to go that far afield to make a fun RTS with retro sensibilities, but I really do believe that the worst thing you can do is stay too close to home. Especially in an RTS where things like character and plot aren't the differentiation they are in other genres.

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I have to respectfully disagree with you on that. I would personally be put off playing an older game since low-res, pixelated graphics annoy me, but I know enough not to base my decision on that since lots of people love playing games from their younger days. However, games like C&C & WC2 are nearly twenty years old (holy crap how did THAT happen?!) This means that not only are there game players today who weren't playing games when WC2 was released, there are people who weren't even born when these games were already retro classics :) If those game aren't being marketed and sold anymore, people have to go out of their way to find they exist and then find an old copy floating around, and get it to run somehow.

 

I actually think something like WC2 re-released with token polish as a cheap RTS could sell. Not topping any lists, but of course we're not trying to be a best-seller - a few thousand sales is wonderful.

 

Anyway, that's my opinion, I'm happy to agree to disagree. I don't plan to make a total clone, my motivation is to make an RTS which I want to play, but my thoughts are more incremental than massive genre redefinitions. Well - I have much bigger plans for a half-dozen RTS games, but making a "bog standard one" would seem a better bet first.

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My point is not necessarily that you have to capital-I "Innovate", and certainly not just for the sake of innovating -- Its more that I think one needs to go into an endeavor like this with an open attitude about what might really need to change for the better, not just superficial things, but more central things as well. And not just things that might really need to change, but also things that might be changed to make a game that's substantially different than what's come before it but still capture the essence of the games that inspire it. Challenge the assumptions; if the assumptions are true, let them stand, but you can't know without first asking the question.

 

If you're making a game to scratch your own nostalgia, then fine, accept that it will have limited appeal to yourself and others who are similarly nostalgic. But nostalgia itself cannot appeal to new players -- if the mechanics you remember fondly are strong they will appeal to new players, but if they appear limited or outdated to anyone who lacks the reference point of the original games, they won't -- younger gamers today grew up with different expectations. Their generation views NES games not much differently than I view Pong or early Atari games -- that is, not very appealing from a player's standpoint, and not from an aesthetics standpoint alone, although that's part of it--because the scope of what I'm accustomed to being able to do in a modern game is so much different than the scope of those older games.

 

You also have to be aware of what the competitive landscape is today -- there may not be any WC2-likes on the market (I think, more likely, there are and they simply go unloved for the reasons I mention) but there certainly are 10s of small-to-medium-sized games that fit into the RTS umbrella genre, most of which are reasonably polished and are free, freemium, or inexpensive to buy. Regardless of whether any other offerings compete in however narrowly a niche you'd like to carve out, you're still competing for those same eyeballs and dollars. That's why I'm saying that its more important to create a great game than to hold unflinchingly to the tropes of the past.

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They were the last big games before everyone went 3D, so they run in 640x480 or something like that which puts many people off, myself included. I reckon a spruced up Red Alert would still be fun, sort of like they did with Dune2000.

 

I'd actually like to jump in and point out that because they weren't 3D,they have actually aged much better. The Command and Conquer games will happily run at whatever resolution you give them, you just see more of the playable area because it's sprite based and isn't scaled. Playing at 1920x1080 is perfectly viable, though you'll have a good portion of the playable area visible at a time (which isn't necessarily a bad thing!)

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They were the last big games before everyone went 3D, so they run in 640x480 or something like that which puts many people off, myself included. I reckon a spruced up Red Alert would still be fun, sort of like they did with Dune2000.

 

I'd actually like to jump in and point out that because they weren't 3D,they have actually aged much better. The Command and Conquer games will happily run at whatever resolution you give them, you just see more of the playable area because it's sprite based and isn't scaled. Playing at 1920x1080 is perfectly viable, though you'll have a good portion of the playable area visible at a time (which isn't necessarily a bad thing!)

 

I don't mean that 3D is the issue, just the resolution. Most of those games do not let you change resolution IIRC, certainly not all anyway. Back in the days those games were current, you could level the same complaint about Dune2 which ran at 320x240 or something equally awful.

 

I found most of the early 3D RTS games were pretty terrible, with the exception of Total Annihilation, which was basically a classic RTS with 3D graphics rather than a "3D RTS".

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