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which is better-- real time or turn based?

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Guest Anonymous Poster
turn based

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Guest Anonymous Poster
real time

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I agree with that third response. It is all taste-dependent.
I used to love Civilization and Colonization. I still enjoy playing them, but I prefer real time strategy. My first RTS being Total Annihilation, I was concerned that it would be too hard to control all your units at the same time, but then I got into it, and I fell in love with RTS games ever since. I am not a big fan of turn based anymore, since I now find them tedious, but maybe if I can look at Civ3 and see if they removed the tedium, I might be compelled to play it.
So if you are asking which type of game you should make, either way should be fine, but you have to make it fun.
If it is turn based, make sure I don't have to tell a guy to move EVERY SINGLE time. Colonization had this great feature (or it was supposed to anyway) where you can create trade routes. Once you establish a trade route, you can send a Wagon or Ship out to do something that would otherwise be tedious, such as dropping off Ore at Jamestown, and taking Jamestown's Tools to Washington.
If it is real time, allow me some freedom. I don't like being told what to do a lot unless there is a story element to it. Starcraft rocked at that. I had plenty of freedom to do what I wanted, but when I HAD to do it the way the game did, at least there was an explanation.
One feature request: How about branching quests, ala Wing Commander?
For example, if I fail to complete the objectives for a mission, I don't have to play that mission again, but I move on. Eventually I can either become victorious, or find that I have to fight back from a disadvantage. I remember when I lost a few major battles in Wing Commander, the end of the game was in trying to keep the enemies from attacking the Tiger Claw while it makes it's escape.
Then you can easily make a sequel that takes these major endings into account, ala Wizardry. Take a saved game, and use its ending as a way to start the next game, while keeping a starting point specifically for people who never played the original.
B-) A lot to ask, but hey, why not?

Edited by - GBGames on January 13, 2002 1:19:34 PM

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Personally I prefer Turn-based, but only because real-time suffers too many flaws in it''s current implementation in games to be useful

Perhaps it would be better to define Strategy, rather than look at whether you want to do turn based or real-time. What do you consider strategy? Let me sum up what most RTS''are made today:

1) start with no units other than "builders"
2) use builders to scout out for resources
3) use resources to build "factories"
4) use resources+factories to start churning out fighting units
5) amass an army, with no centralized control over them
6) send chaotic mass to annhilate other sides amorphous mass before he does the same to you

There are other slight variations on this...such as having a preset amount of units to begin with, or sometimes you get to keep your units from level to level...but that''s the generic formula. Scout, build infrastructure, build army, attack, repeat

Personally...that''s not strategy gaming to me. Let''s attack each point by point:

1-3) Why on earth would I start with no units? Let''s attack the premise even more deeply...why should I worry about building at all? TO me, there is fighting, and there is planning. The planning should be done BEFORE the fighting. Why on Earth would a commander have to worry about if he needs factory A to build unit B? Think about real life. In WWII, did Germany have to build all of its factories from scratch? What was the first thing it attacked? Czechoslovakia for it''s munitions and arms factories.

In my idea, the factories are already there...the resources are already there. Yes, you DO need them and as a matter of fact, they will be key goals in winning. So you do your planning in a pre-turn phase, which will alot of your units and supplies. SO as in point 2, you may want to scout for your opponents factories and resources...and take them as your own.

4) I don''t think you should build and fight at the same time. It''s too distracting, and not what real battlefield commanders do. What RTS try to make you do, is be both the leader of your nation, AND the battlefield commander at the same time. On some levels, this abstraction is necessary, but I think they do it the wrong way. Again, think of real life. When you commit your forces to battle, it may take some time before the units you created back in your home province can help you out. So instead, you have to learn to use reinforcements and reserves. For some countries, this is even more problematic (think of the US that has to ship all of its units overseas...there is significant lag for them to travel)

5-6) Ahh, here''s my REAL beef with RTS''s. I don''t care what other people say, but you just can''t control your units effectively in RT. Let''s examine the word strategy. Strategy are the means by which you can implement tactics on a small scale, to reach an overall goal. In other words, Strategy looks at the big picture...not the miniscule one. But that''s what RT does...it forces you to micro-manage (at the tactical level) rather than focus on overall plans. And the real reason for this hand-holding is that orders in RT don''t reflect how orders are done in real life (and if you want to be realistic with real time...why not be realistic with how orders are given?)

Real orders are done by a chain of command. You have your Generals, followed by your colonels, down to your majors, captains and lieutenants. They in turn give orders to NCO''s. Why would you the player, acting as a general tell a single squad when and how to attack? No, orders are sent down through a hierarchical command structure, which takes into account unit integrity, organizaion, and even unit communication.

In otherwords, orders filter down through a chain of command. You break down order types, who gives them, and how much independent action each officer level type can have. When this is done, you can effectively organize and lead large groups of differing units effectively, without having to clickfest on them. Admittedly, you will lose some amount of interactive freedom..but again, this models real world behavior. By freeing your hand and mind from having to micromanage every unit...you have time to concentrate on what to do.

So ask yourself...what is strategy to you? Is it about grouping small amounts of units and clashing with another small groups of units...rushing back to see if your builders are producing the right kind of units/factories, and then reacting to an attack your opponent made on your flank? Or would you rather have combined arms units operating on predefined or alterable protocols set by you the commander, not having to worry about whether your peasants are killing the right livestock to create a new super soldier?

Until someone comes up with an effective chain of command system with good enough AI to respond to events without too much player intervention....real time is too much about micromanaging to me.

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Dauntless, I agree with you completely. Real time warfare can be tedious. In my opinion, it would be best to take care of resource gathering and other such things in a turn based style of play, while having the actual battles in real time. You are also correct in saying that there has to some chain of command or somthing. The player should be able to organize units into groups and just order the groups what to do instead of each individual unit. This has been done to a limited amount in games like StarCraft, where you can group units together, but it is still rather difficult to control them. Especially if the groups contain different kinds of units. They each can attack different things, move at different speeds, and may even take different paths to reach the enemy (i.e. via land or by air). The result is a disorganized group that is quickly slaughtered as they reach the enemy one by one. I would like to implement a more advanced real time control system in the game I am planning. I have posted some info about it in the forum called "What would make the best space strategy game?", also in the Game Design forum. Take a look at it if you haven''t already and give me some input. I will add something about this chain of command stuff soon, I hope.
Thanks for everyone''s input,


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Nice post Dauntless.

Personally I''d love to see the term ''RTS'' fall out of general use and be replaced with RTT (Real Time Tactics) as a more accurate description.

So, yeah: it depends on whether treknerd just wants to know "which type of game best models strategy" or "which type of game best models a thinking approach to combat" (which is the best way I can think of to encompass strategy and/or tactics).

With regards to some of the criticisms in Dauntless''s post, I think that to make an "RTS" into more of a strategy game, it would be important to group soldiers into squads/regiments/whatevers, and assign general orders to the squads. The squads then do whatever is necessary to accomplish those orders. I can see this not appealing to some players as the level of direct control is diminished. But being able to say "secure this area" or "destroy that squad" could be useful. You could set parameters such as how many casualties should be taken before the squad withdraws, what formation to travel in, and so on, any particular tactics to employ (attacking from the side, trying to cut through the middle, etc). Of course, these orders could be queued, and when they were completed the player would be informed.

Hell, you can simplify this down to a couple of basic tenets:
(a) make most units have a ''leader''
(b) orders applied to the leader automatically apply to all their followers, with a little AI thrown in to make it sensible.

That way, you only have to control the leaders. One click to send 100 men into battle. One click to flee. One click to move them. Many RTS games come close to this with the grouping mechanisms, but generally the groups are limited to 10 or so, and require macro keypresses to activate them. So why not organise the groups around one leader unit per group, giving you effectively unlimited groups and no keypresses needed.

I think the way to move from tactics to strategy would be to reduce the control over individual units, but increase the amount of higher level control. This sounds painfully obvious when you think about it, but how many games allow you to have more than a basic control over the AI of a unit without you having to physically direct who the unit shoots at, where it stands, and so on?

Now, don''t misunderstand me, I actually love micromanagement, but it would be nice to see micromanagement that was actually about strategy rather than giving individual orders to each and every unit and building.

[ MSVC Fixes | STL | SDL | Game AI | Sockets | C++ Faq Lite | Boost ]

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I agree with the issues you brought up, but I think the fact that you are leader and battlefield commander is fun for a lot of people.
One of the things I would like in a RTS is to allow for changing plots depending on how well you do in battle. Kinda like Wing Commander.
Anyway, the ability to control your units better would be nice. Imagine telling 5 marines, a medic, a dropship, and 3 wraiths to attack the enemy, and instead of the marines going on their own, they jump in the dropship, which drops them off near the attack point and goes back to its original launch point to avoid attacks.
The wraiths, instead of just going, wait till the dropship is ready to leave.
Formations might be what would help in this case. I noticed that in Homeworld it is a lot easier to control your units since they don''t break formation for the most part unless attacking.
Also Starcraft didn''t give much of a reason as to why you had to restart your army building each time. I mean, it made sense for Protoss and Zerg forces since Protoss could easily just warp things in, and Zerg need to have creep (or crawl or whatever that is) in order to establish anything. But Terran? They could just fly their bases in and there they go.
Total Annihilation made sense because warping from one planet to another took a lot of energy, so Commanders were made to build up whole bases while only using the energy to send one unit.
It was explained in the story, and it made some of the levels fun as you try to take control of a hostile planet using only one unit at first. Imagine being attacked and having to fend for yourself at first, then building more units as you establish yourself.
Some games like Homeworld:Cataclysm allow you to keep your units, but when you lose a mission and it asks you to restart it, you lose everything, which puts you at a disadvantage again.
Still, in that case, you are only a fleet, and you have no control over bases or anything like that. Resource gathering, however, could have been better if you shared with your allies I suppose, instead of having to fend for yourself.

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Hmm I usually prefer turn-based strategy, but some of the claims made against RTS games here are plainly ridiculous.

Typical RTS games are rarely won by sending a "chaotic mass to annhilate other sides amorphous mass before he does the same to you". At least not if any decent players are involved.

Germany did in fact have to build all of its factories from scratch. The difference is where you think the war began. A lot of strategy in RTS games comes from balancing economy with military - something that is no simple task.

In a battle situation, especially in small-scale conflict simulations, you really don''t have all the time in the world to ponder your opponent''s actions. Real-time makes this a factor, turn-based eliminates it. Limited time doesn''t necessarily limit strategy - in many cases it adds to it.

Furthermore, the word "strategy" refers to any decision-making process in a game. You can have small-scale and large-scale strategy (often referred to a macro and micro). But it''s all strategy.

I do agree with some of the criticisms of RTS control interfaces - often they leave a lot to be desired for. But lacking in strategy? Hardly.

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