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RTS: which style would work best?

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(2D graphics/style question very linked to gameplay design so I put it here)

 

Im switching my rts from medieval to modern style, but still have two very different ideas/design decision to choose from:

 

On the left: traditional RTS seen from above, rotating turrets and vehicles. Problem to make graphics for buildings and more work with units as well

On the right: abstracted icons for units and buildings. No rotation, units simply slide like in many turnbased war games.

 

Terrain is also harder to do in the left version, so likely i will go for a desert setting with little to no vegetation. The right version would have more abstracted terrain types such as "forest" and "hills", more like a map than actual terrain.

 

What is your input? Left version will probably be easier to make more action oriented, while right can be more tactical with different terrains and easier to add stuff like "fortify position" (just add icons for that since no need to animate).

However, right version feels much more stiff and lifeless as nothing can rotate...

 

(best would probably be to do all units in 3D and render 8 direction of it from an angled view, but no resources to do that)

 

1rgdO8Ci4.png

Edited by suliman

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I find the less cheap variant (left) already too ugly for a RTS. I'm used to the isometric or 3D style of Warcraft II and Starcraft, and I consider proper animation, shadows and perspective necessary in a RTS.

 

If you only have resources to draw icons, choose a game design that looks good with icons.

The most obvious option is turn-based combat on a hex or square grid of map cells, like Advance Wars or (toning down the gorgeous graphics) Battle for Wesnoth.

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Well it's a hobby project with just me in it, so have that in mind:) I made turnbased games already, wanna do realtime now:)

 

Im leaning towards the left version. It has a nice retro feel to it (dune 2!). And i guess i can pull it off eventually. More comment? I think icons in a RTS in this scale (not armies moving on a world map) is a bit too wierd for people.

Edited by suliman

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Both versions are very good, I would play them! However, you are currently in the dilema many game developers face, you could spend more time on graphics and animation and less time on game development. Or you could spend less time on graphics and animation and more time on game development. I personally would prefer to play the game on the left, but code the game on the right haha, but in all honesty both ideas would work. For example, many good games have great graphics and animations but less of a story or world etc, and then on the other side is Dwarf Fortress which just has letters and symbols, but an insane world building engine and scenario creator etc. The choice is entirely up to you, but for ease of playing and attracting new players, I'd go for the one on the left with animations as it is also nicer to look at...

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Both have their place. I think it's completely up to who your audience is (you) and what you want to make. When I look at the the pictures I prefer the left one and I think the right looks bland but I have played many a game that look like the right version and find them deeply engrossing. As you said, with the right one you can get away with things being abstract which means you can add features a lot faster and make it more a more complex game.

 

Look at Minecraft, if you wanna mine you just hit some blocks with a lumpy blocky thing and everyone is ok with it. If you want to mine in some AAA fps game.. different story and would probably be so impractical as to not be worth doing. Sometimes that simplicity is very freeing. Abstraction is great where you can use it.

 

If it was my decision I would be going with the left one. It looks more appealing, it adds things I am interested in and I think the cost of going that route is not too much and would be worth it. It also looks immediately more appealing to people too (in my opinion). Either way I don't think you can make a bad decision here, both options have pros and cons.

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Well, keep in mind IF you have access to a 3D engine, and some basic 3D modelling skills and/or access to simple 3D stock art, you could switch to a SIMPLE 3D art concept without spending too much time on it.

 

Yes, probably level design will take more time than tile based. Probably modelling the units takes more time even if you go with a simplistic style (save going with geometric forms only). But you will not have any troubles like drawing your units for multiple orientations or stuff like that. And with an RTS, you could foregoe any kind of animations which might cut down the time needed a lot.

Simply create chunky tanks with not too much detail as a polygon object, paint a rather coarse texture on it, render it small enough so that details are not really visible but big enough that the objects still look distinguishable from each other, and simply move/rotate/scale the unanimated objects in the engine to create the illusion of living things. Works pretty well for vehicles. Might work for very small infantry.

Add some simple particle effects for smoke and dust, or gunfire, and the player might not even notice that the tracks or wheels are not animated at all.

 

 

Of course, that is slightly OT... I like the left version better, looks more "coherent" for me. Really, even if the art for a single object in itself is crap, the total can still look convincing giving you are using a coherent art style. I get that from the left version (not saying anything looks crap ;) ), I miss that from the right. Trees, units and building don't mesh really, and I get the feeling they are not to scale. Left looks coherent and to scale.

Edited by Gian-Reto

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Continuing:

(im using a strict 2d engine)

Any example of infantry done right in such a game? Im thinking each "unit" is up to five individuals, and there must be some individuallity when it comes to position and roations to look decent, but is that viable?

 

Game such as dune 2000 lets you train inf individually but you can fit 5 of them to each tile, might be messy to do for me though...

(easiest to just skip inf entierly, and might make sense in a near-future desert scenario (modern armies use mostly vehicles in open terrain), but dont want to give it up just yet).

Edited by suliman

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(easiest to just skip inf entierly, and might make sense in a near-future desert scenario (modern armies use mostly vehicles in open terrain), but dont want to give it up just yet).

 

I say this is spot on (save the mostly vehicles part, but I come back to that). Vehicles can always look believable with minimal or no animation, and you can hide the missing animation easely with rather simple effects like kicked up dirt or engine smoke.

 

infantry without animation looks off.... or creepy, if that fits your background. Some kind of mechanized zombies floating above the ground with very simple attack effects representing how they don't even have to move their arms to do damage for example.

Not really your average everyday infantry, but might work in the right context.

 

Given it is a near-future background, why not come up with smaller drones that take human infantrys place on the battlefield? Not 100% believable in near-future scenario given all futurologists tend to agree that drones will first take on support roles alongside the infantry before making the human completly redundant on the battlefield (if that ever happens).

But maybe in your game something happened that speed up this process.

 

Result would be infantry-like units, that would look more like small vehicles or air units than human drones. Given how much todays engineers struggle with basic two legged movement, and how unstable even multi-legged drones often walk, while small tracked drones are getting pretty good at navigating pretty uneven rubble, this is more fitting to a near-future drone than a humoid form.

Also, the humanoid form might not be that desirable at all, unless we build bots that have more of a social than fighting function. Even then, the uncanny vally will most probably dictate that humanoid bots either look completly like humans, flesh and skin and all, or keep a healthy distance from looking to human.

 

Those bots in "I, Robot" really looked off. Good for making the bat bots look creepy, bad for the good bot looking sympathic. Should have leaved the face away and gone with a simple display, or faceplate. Emotions could have been symbolized rather than shown with a humanoid face so completly unfitting to the rest of the bot.

 

 

As to the "use mostly vehicles"... yes, and no. Its true that infantry in modern wars are extremly vulnerable in open terrain thanks to modern weapons introduced in WW1.

At the same time, vehicles actually are even more vulnerable thanks to the modern antitank weapons pioneered in WW2 and developed further in the cold war. Even a modern composite armoured tank is extremly vulnerable to precision airstrikes, modern guided artillery, or a lone RPG that is well positioned.

 

Even today, combined arms warfare is mandated in all kind of terrain. Ground vehicles without air support quickly run in to troubles as mobile ground based AA fire often is not enough, and a supportive airstrike can be pretty effective in case of a stalemate.

In the same tune, tanks always bring their infantry along. To take the lead should the fighting move into urban or other cramped terrain... but also to dismount and spot and maybe also take out enemy infantry well hidden, and posing a potential threat to the tanks that might get shot into their sides oder backsides by them.

Modern tanks have a huge array of sensors to spot even infantry sized targets, but as far as I am aware still in a rather narrow sector. Dismounted infantry units will maybe not be able to spot threats as far as a tank, but certainly they will be able to spot infantry targets in a wider sector up close. And they can do so while keeping a low enough profile to not be spotted themselves, which is almost impossible to do even for an armoured car unless this armoured car is just laying in wait and is camouflaged up.

 

What has changed is that you hardly will see infantry units on the battlefield without their own transport, often an armoured vehicle with its own breed of support weapon. Mechanized infantry has supplanted all the footsloggers in almost all roles in most modern armies, as their utility is just far greater than a bigger mass of soldiers moving about at a mere 4 km/h, or having to rely on big lorries organized into their own units to move around on the battlefield.

If anything, the infantry soldier of the future will be way better equipped, is far more mobile, but fewer in number. But he still has a place in ALL kind of engagements, because vehicles still cannot deal well with well dug in enemy infantry even outside of cities. As long as precision airstrikes often lack the precision of a well executed infantry attack (were every shot could potentially be made at a distance were friend could be told from foe, instead of through the blurry view of a night vision cam at max zoom), and tanks still have weakspots exploitable by infantry weapons (which will most probably be the case forever), infantry will have a place on the battlefield. Well trained infantry is hard to spot, hard to hit (try hitting an infantry man that has gone to ground with a direct fire weapon... sure, you can saturate the area, or use HE.... still, a pretty darn small target), and can use a wide variaty of weapons lethal to all targets. They are ideal to navigate areas made for humans like cities, and will alwas have a huge advantage there. They are light, and flexible in some harsh terrain where tanks would get stuck instantly.

Last but not least, they are cheap. Even as a well equipped and trained mechanized infantry unit, they will cost less than a modern battle tank even with their AFV.

Of course they cannot blow up things as spectacularly as a tank from afar. And if they end up as target for the tank from afar in their AFV, they will have a bad time. But they can do many things a tank can't, at a fraction of the price, save from going 1-vs-1 in a straight vehicle battle against the tank. If they can use their strengths while making sure the tank cannot use his, they have a good chance of disabling the tank anyway.

Edited by Gian-Reto

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It's becoming a scifi-esque game with influenses of the real world. I really like the style of dune so some of that will slip in.

Typically in a game like this you divide weapon damage in anti-personell and anti-vehicle. I'll do light and heavy vehicles instead and skip infantry i think.

 

Im going with a combat model where each unit belong to a armour type:

 

1 light (recon, armoured fighting vehicle, artillery, AA, AT)

2 heavy (tanks, the main frontline unit)

3 air (both choppers and planes)

4 structure (defenses and economy/production buildings)

 

Each unit has damage ratings against these 4 armour classes (although many cannot engage air at all).

Choppers work like air units in starcraft 1/2 (hoovering above the other units, fully controllable).

Airplanes will work as offmap call-ins that return after a strike to repair (if surviving) (or maybe like in total annihilation if i can get that to work, seems harder).

 

So basically each unit may be strong in 3 fields (vs light, heavy, air) since structures are normally not present in a fight outside of bases. I think only artillery will be specifically anti-building.

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Left one is unaccepable in my opinion, you won't get away with such assets on a commercial game nowadays. The right one is much more promising since it looks abstracted, not the best one, needs work but... if combined with the right mechanics it might work (especially the infantry icon looks very interesting).

 

BTW, the right one combines especially well with your other post and the concerns about infantry units (the right one solves it).

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Not a commercial project though.

Well it's a hobby project with just me in it, so have that in mind:)

I'm persuing the left one right now. It's more vivid and the player get more feedback from the units.

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Not a commercial project though

Oh, then it's another story :) Disregard my previous comment.

 

 

Regarding infantry: I think Dune 2/2000 style would fit there. Especially if you go for retro feel.

 

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