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treknerd

which is better-- real time or turn based?

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GBGames    217
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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Dauntless    314
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:

Type1
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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treknerd    122
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,

-treknerd

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Kylotan    9991
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.

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GBGames    217
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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Argus    118
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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Krunk    122
Again, it depends how you define strategy. For me, the strategy in RTS games is more about economical and technical decisions than battlefield strategy. The main reason for that is the poor controls which only cater for micromanagement. Playing a current RTS to me is like painting a huge mural with a tiny paintbrush. I want to see a control system that lets me plan my overall strategy in broad brush strokes, but still lets me take control of the details. The important thing for me is that it''s up to the player to choose what level of involvement they want.

I would like to see some kind of smart formation support, as GBGames suggested, coupled with a decent waypoint system so you could preplan the overall strategy. It would be nice if you could set a path for a squad to follow, and give them orders to hold position until another squad was in position before proceeding, for example. That way you could set up a pincer manouver without having to scroll back and forth constantly to position your units. If a "leader" was chosen for each group, that would mean fun moments where sarge gets nuked and all the rookies he was commanding freak out until someone takes over

Personally I think there''s some really great ideas here Hopefully some RTS developers are watching and will make an game that deserves the have the word (macro)strategy in its title.

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
There should be a ban on anything but turn-based games...the other ones are really crappy. j/k RTS ROCKS!! j/k again =)

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Bill6    122
Personally I think turn-based is far better, but I like playing chess too. I think its a matter of whether you''d like to actually think, or memorize strategies and just click a bunch of times to execute the strategy. I''m developing a small scale turn-based game (spent only 2 weeks on it so far) and will post a link to it in the near future. It takes terrain elevations and LOS into account, which no turn-based I can think of does. Well, at least not any that use hexes (some square tiled ones do, but they''re much simpler). Other than that it''s pretty much the same concept as most other turn-based strategy wargames. Might not work on all machines but should work on most (I fear something isn''t being set right for some machines). I''ve got a puzzle game on some server as well, but I can never remember the address.

Bill6

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Sandman    2210
quote:
Original post by Argus
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.




Actually, the ''chaotic mass'' tactic is pretty much dominant in every RTS I have played - sure, an expert micromanager can maybe tip the odds a little bit more in his favour, but ultimately 3 hydralisks are *never* going to survive long against 20 seige tanks, however well micromanaged they are. There are some exceptions - correct use of units like defilers or science vessels can help a lot to even the odds, but doing so successfully is more about fast mouse movement than strategy.

In a recent game of SC with my flatmate (both playing protoss), we defeated our 4 opponents with a combined force of 46 fully upgraded carriers , and 36 mind controlled zerg guardians. The whole lot was accompanied by around 8 arbiters (cloaking the whole fleet) and several observers. Wiping out the enemy was a simple matter of attack-moving around the map, completely obliterating anything that got in the way in a matter of seconds. Fun? Yes it was in a way. Strategy? Not really. But it was completely unstoppable. In theory, a well coordinated zerg + terran response, making use of defilers and science vessels to drain hitpoints and shields, and a load of scourges could have taken the fleet down very cheaply, but to do this successfully would be incredibly difficult/impossible for a human player, and a AI player is too stupid to think of it. So in the end, it boils down to a chaotic mass of units.

So I would agree that the potential for strategy is there, but actually implementing the strategies is too difficult for the average player.

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Dauntless    314
Argus,

Actually Germany did already have most of its factories built up prior to 1939, and was in fact breaching the treaty of Versailles even before the 1930''s. Yes, they were still building factories from 1939 on, but the bulk of their fighting force was already in place by that time.

And while I have not played every single RTS out there, of the few that I think got close to how it should be modeled, the majority simply let you group units by hitting CTL+ a function key to "group" them, then you can order them as a whole, rather than one at a time.

Now one, of the exceptions is Kohan, which I haven''t played, but I heard does do a good modeling of giving "orders" and doing combined arms warfare. In the majority of RTS games, you simply amass your groups, and then hand-hold each unit (or group) what to do. That''s not how the real world operates.

I mentioned something about protocols earlier, and that''s exactly how real world armies and navies fight. There are sub-units which are organized hierarchically and operate at various levels of abstraction. For example, the general may tell his brigade commanders, "We need to take that hill at 43ax63f, use whatever force you have, we need it bad". So then the various regimental commanders come up with the plan: "wheel your forces to strike at the enemies left flank. Take the ground along the ridge, and hold until the center comes up". Now the company commanders are told what the general plans are, and are told that they are to engage and advance at all costs, but to be mindful of any enemy counter attacks to their flank.

Do you see what I''m getting at? You have presets of orders which filter down level by level, each getting from more abstract to more specific. Also, each level will have a certain level of autonomy depending on the forces cultural bias (American forces tend to have lots of liberties...most communist forces have very limited independent actions). So basically what you do, is you goal orient your forces, and then let them act on their own. You set priorities and the troops will act on their objectives based on those priorities you assign them,

It also goes further than that because of combined arms warfare. In most RTS''s, you just lump your units together, and then you try to click on one subgroup to use its special attack...hopefully not while you need to click on something else. Instead, combined arms forces also have to be set with a protocol, such as when supporting units attack, and at what hierarchical level they can be used (can a mere lieutenant call in for artillery strikes or air support?). In mechanized units, they are trained to support one another (the IFV''s and infantry I mean) so that they will effectively act as one whole, rather than two disjointed units...although they can act as such if required by the commander).

When you have a true "order" system in place, rather than a "select unit(s), select action, repeat" style, then you will be able to concentrate more on strategy. Indeed, I think it will elevate the game to a higher level of strategical gameplay. The trouble with my idea is that it requires a vastly improved AI system for the differing unit commanders to be smart enough to understand the protocols and levels of priority.

I have lots of other beefs, but they aren''t specific to RT, but I definitely think that with a few exceptions, the RTS games being made today have no originality to them...and are missing great opportunities for something truly innovative which would require a different style of gameplay.

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Dauntless    314
Krunk (and everyone else)

I think you said it right. It depends on your idea of strategy for many players. What I think might be happening though is that because of the prevalence of the RTS paradigm of strategy...that''s what players think strategy is. To me, there is a different, and imho, a better way of implementing strategical thinking.

I agree that I think a better pathfinding/waypoint system is needed, along with better morale, a better logistics/supply setting, and scads of other considerations to be made. Some will say this will just make things more complex, but it will also introduce a much broader gameplay. Sometimes that''s what bothers me about many people, they just want simpler. They want to be able to jump right in and hack and slash. But I think like most things in life, the more effort you put into something, the greater the reward.

Ah well, that''s a rant for another subject

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GBGames    217
Another problem with the AI you talk about is that the game will need to have some way of determining how to move about a map with intelligence.
Imagine the AI not only having to find a way from one point to another, but being able to determine how it''s forces should use the terrain to their advantage.
For instance, you might say, Hey attack that base.
The AI will have to determine that the base is on a cliff, and the that there are two ways to attack. By air and by the land up the behind the base.
Now the AI must determine AIR, LAND, or BOTH.
This might be more easily implemented on the basic maps but what about custom maps? How would the AI determine the "best" way to attack? There will undoubtedly be flaws when these ideas are first implemented.
Still, it will make for an exciting game.

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Focus    122
I would say allow both, but that might make battles too long for turn-based, and too difficult at real time. Shogun is an excellent example of an RTS done well, with very few logical incosistancies. Separating resource management from combat is the way to go I think, but there would still be probs for multiplayer.

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Bill6    122
The only thing I see wrong (well, maybe not wrong, but I don''t like it at least) is that battles are incredibly slow. The user spends most of his time watching units move from point to point and fight in huge masses. Don''t get me wrong, I like the game, but there doesn''t seem to be enough interaction for the player.

Bill6

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black_mage_s    103
It would be a hell of a lot of work, but why not give the user a choice?

The game im working on is an RPG, but you can see the same sort of problem there, so what we have done is implemented a way to let the player choose.
1. Turn Based: Old FF1 Style, just in case a player wants to use it.
2. Active Time: FF6-FF10 Like, lots of people like it.
3. Real Time, This Was PHENOMINALLY HARD to implement, as we had to create an entirely seperate battle system and enemy placement, it still has a hell of a lot of bugs and we cant decide wether or not you should be able to kill civilians, and levelling is an issue too

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Argus    118
Sandman - you will note that I was referring to "decent" players of an RTS game. If you seriously think that you can tear up a decent player with that kind of "chaotic mass" you''re in for a shock. The strategy is actually getting to that stage - it''s quite difficult.

Dauntless - This is what I originally said :
quote:
Germany did in fact have to build all of its factories from scratch. The difference is where you think the war began.
If you say that the war begins as soon as the first offensive is made, then yes germany had some factories built. RTS games start the war before the war factories are built - which is not unreasonable. And Germany certainly did have to build its factories from scratch.

Saying that a game doesn''t model what happens in the real world (which is what you seem to be arguing for) does not say anything about the level of strategy in the game (which is what you seem to imply).

I did actually play a *lot* of Kohan, and it is a great game. But you still have to think fairly quickly, which seems to be the downfall of a lot of those who dislike RTS games.

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Kylotan    9991
quote:
Original post by Argus
Sandman - you will note that I was referring to "decent" players of an RTS game. If you seriously think that you can tear up a decent player with that kind of "chaotic mass" you''re in for a shock.

I say: "If you can''t beat a decent player with a chaotic mass, then your chaotic mass just isn''t big enough."
Some games have gone some way to countering this by utilising scissors/paper/stone balancing methods, but you can nearly always beat a careful defence by making sure your chaotic mass is as diverse as possible.

Also: your counter-definition of the word ''strategy'' is fair enough as far as the general public is concerned, but in military terms there is a clear distinction between strategy and tactics. Often there is another level, ''operations'' in between the two, although some people call tactics "operational strategy". Either way, one good definition of strategy is "the art of distributing and applying military means to fulfil the ends of policy" . This is compared to tactics which address exactly how these military means are applied. As Carl von Clausewitz said, "Tactics is the art of using troops in battle; strategy is the art of using battles to win the war."

I''m not saying your definition is "wrong" - language means different things to different people. I just believe that as far as game design is concerned, I would think that it serves us best to have clear and precise definitions so that we know what we are talking about. And in this case, a clear distinction between strategic and tactical games would be helpful when discussing them.

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Sandman    2210
Argus:

I gave an example of how my 'unbeatable' fleet could be defeated. I have no doubt that it is theoretically possible to defeat such a force.

Unfortunately, the reality of the game, is that it is too difficult. Maybe there are a few really 1337 starcraft players who could implement such a defense, and pull off a victory against all odds, but for your average Joe playing the game, he doesn't have a snowballs chance in hell. So if I can beat all but the very best players with an amorphous mass, I would call this a dominant strategy.*

Of course, against most players I would be lucky to get a force even a quarter of that size. This is because the real key to the game is peon pumping, something which I suck at.

I want a strategy game that places good strategic thinking over fast mouse clicking.


Edited by - Sandman on January 14, 2002 8:36:44 PM

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Argus    118
Sandman, Kylotan - I realise that a chaotic mass of large enough size can defeat any kind of defence (provided game balance is reasonable), but as I mentioned before, the strategy in those kind of RTS games is actually getting to that point. And believe it or not, there''s more to it than "peon-pumping". I might just as easily sum up strategy in conventional turn-based wargames as "attack the enemy". But I know there''s more to it than that.

As far as my definition of strategy, I was using the term as it is used in game theory. I''m fine with people using "strategy" in the large-scale wargaming sense, but when people say that RTS games have little to no strategy they mean it to imply that there is little thought involved. If that''s the case, then the word is being used in the game theory sense but defended as though it was being used as the wargaming term..

Most RTS games require strategic thought and fast mouse clicking. If you don''t like games where you have to be pretty quick with the mouse, then fair enough, I can''t blame you for not liking the current crop of RTS games. But please don''t insult RTS gamers by claiming they are lacking in strategy.

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