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suliman

RTS unit balance. Armour types?

8 posts in this topic

Hi

Im doing a topdown classic RTS (like dune 2, total annihilation, red alert, warcraft 2 etc).

Typically you have vehicle and infantry armour types (machineguns good vs infantry, cannons vs vehicles). I plan to skip infantry altogether since its so hard to get right graphically:)

 

Would this setup make sense in an modern military/slightly scifi RTS:

 

1. Normal land-units. Take damage from all stuff (scout units, artillery, support units etc)

2. Armoured land units ("tanks". Slow, expensive. Hard to hurt unless using anti-armour weapons). Damage soakers.

3. Flying units (all same "armour type" but only some units can engage air. Sort of like how air units work in starcraft). Low hp but untouchable by most.

 

This resembles the company of heroes setup (infantry, weak vehicles, tanks), where weak vehicles take damage from everything but tanks "only" from special AT weapons. I will skip infantry but use air instead (as units, not just off-map support).

 

I dont want "tanks" to simply have more HP than light units (im looking at you dune 2...)

 

What do you'all think?
Erik

Edited by suliman
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Makes sense to me. 
I don't know how expensive infantry-type units will be and how strong "tanks" will be in your game, but I suggest giving them at least some option to defend themselves against those. For example in Company of Heroes, you could place mines, throw grenades or shoot a rocket, but other than that, infantry was powerless against tanks. :)

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That sounds good, those damage/armor types would add depth and a sense of realism to the game. You definitely want big tank shells to be better against armored units than machine guns, and generally have the game match up to real world expectations.

 

The next question is how much of an effect you want the armor types to have; that is, how hard or soft the counter system will be. Realism would probably dictate a very hard counter system, where small arms would do next to nothing against tanks, but I think that tends to lead to less interesting gameplay.

 

The way I see it, the strength of the counter system is going to influence the player’s priorities in the game. Harder counters reward scouting, tech choices, and correct unit composition, while softer counters leave more room for micro to decide battles. Many games have a mix of harder and softer counters, but the overall balance really depends on what kind of RTS you want to make.

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Large calibre Artillery works well against tanks without specifically being anti-armor (large high explosives shock waves pulverize crews right through the armor or air compression or just blowing/shattering the metal apart like it was ice).   Medium and small calibre (more easily aimed) need the armor penetrating rounds.

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What do you'all think?
Erik

 

You may need some "regular" damage dealers/soakers included in the normal land units-category.

That is all.

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GaldorPunk and Ashaman73 seem to have summed it up nicely.  Without knowing more about your game, I'd agree with them that you're looking at designing a hierarchy of counters.

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Typically you have vehicle and infantry armour types (machineguns good vs infantry, cannons vs vehicles). I plan to skip infantry altogether since its so hard to get right graphically:)

Would this setup make sense in an modern military/slightly scifi RTS:
First, I salute you that you take into account difficulty of art assets, few people do it.

 

If it would make sense. In modern setup no, in harder SF yes. But... even if it makes sense, would it be fun? I have played some "vehicles only" RTSes and I would say infantry is sooo cute, intuitive, distinctive, etc that you can't afford to skip them. Yes, from the designer's point of view replacing infanty with light vehicles is perfectly identical, but from the point of view of a player I have to say it sux. I feel removal of infantry is a grave digging for any RTS :(

 

Perhaps you should ask for advice how to make infantry graphically right instead? (maybe consider different art styles like cubes (popular now) or "no legs" like in Prison Architect or make them very, very small like a swarm of hundreds few pixels humanoid shapes?) Anyway I would not give up on infantry so easily.

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Depending on the granularity of your game (lots of units, handful of units), you may also want to have front/rear armor for the tanks.  Many tanks, the rear armor can be penetrated by the lighter vehicles.  It also gives a person who doesn't have any dedicated AT weapons a chance against someone who managed to pump out just one Tank and sends it in as part of a 'rush to a tank' build before the opponent can build a tank or AT.

 

I wouldn't recommend that for a game in which you're building huge numbers of units, as it requires too much babysitting.

 

And I can understand the pros and cons of trying to get infantry right.  I did love running over infantry in Dune =)

Edited by ferrous
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