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Sandman

Army building: a new take? (RTS)

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This was inspired by Dauntless'' comments on RTS in treknerd''s thread, which also got me thinking about comments he made in a much older thread about balanced forces. The typical RTS game starts you off with a few peons and a base, and lets you build up from there. As Dauntless has said, this is an incredibly abstract and frankly rather stupid way of doing things. I have been thinking of doing away with the build factory -> build tank paradigm and replacing it with a reinforcements system for some time. But the initial parameters were in fact very similar to the standard RTS, namely, you start off with a small group of units and establish a field HQ and build it up from there. But could this be made more interesting? Why restrict the player''s starting units? It may be interesting, if before the battle starts, the player chooses his starting force, given knowledge of the map. Not only would the contents of the force be left largely up to the player, but the size of it could also be left open to the player, within some limits. The player could perhaps begin the game with a complete army. This might work as follows.... The server sets some limit to the biggest force a player can start with. We will say for arguments sake that each unit has a ''points value'' and the player can choose units until he has used all of his points. However, there are a few caveats which need to be taken into account when picking your forces content and size.... 1. The percentage of your points you spend at the beginning will have a direct bearing on the frequency and size of reinforcements you can call in during the game. Hence if you spend all your points at the start of the game you can expect a very long wait before you can get reinforcements - you had better not waste your forces. 2. Infantry units are required for the establishment of bases and depots and other buildings. Some of these buildings are *required* for supporting certain units. Without these buildings, those units will only have a limited useful lifespan. The difference between the size of the players starting forces is taken into account when the score for the game is calculated. Hence a player who starts with a very weak starting force could actually ''win'' against a player with a very strong force, even though his forces were completely wiped out. On the one hand, such a system could make for some interesting game play - you have to gamble on how much to take in, how quickly you should attack, and how much your opponent is likely to take in. On the other hand, it could be terrible. It may be that the first few seconds of the game can have too much impact on who wins. Even if the scores are adjusted accordingly, will players care, or will they base their ''victory'' on the fact that they wiped out three peons in the first 5 seconds of the game with their force of three thousand heavily armed battletanks?

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You're talking about deployment, which in of itself has a cost: transportation to the site. Deployment also takes time. If each player has equal resources to begin, what if winning has a great deal to do with how successfully they deploy their units?

An effective chain of command needs to be setup. Deployment depends on this and a good balance of resources: fuel, warehousing, refueling ability, rations, etc. What if the players were allowed to choose the components of their military in advance, and then were presented with the scenario. If the scenario requires access via naval forces and the player did not create a military that was strong in naval forces, they would be at a disadvantage. Winning could be dependent on a well balanced military that could handle any scenario thrown at it.

___________________________________



Edited by - bishop_pass on January 14, 2002 1:23:30 PM

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Sounds like an interesting idea, but I can see it failing if not done well.
For instance, you already mentioned that the beginning of the game may be too important. This will cause an imbalance that can ruin the fun factor for a lot of people.
Imagine if you get reinforcements every minute, but the opposition gets it every 10 minutes. That sounds like you have an advantage, until you think that you only have 5 units at first and the opponent has 50. All he would have to do is move out all of his forces all over the map. One minute might not give you all that much time to try to defend against it before your reinforcements come.

I think a lot more research should go into something like this. It could make for interesting handicaps and remove part of the micromanagement that might turn off some players, such as resource gathering.

What if you could play as either a resource manager or the military strategist?
For instance, imagine multiplayer battles where the military commander is in charge of only military units and buildings, while the resource manager is in charge of the domestic part. He would have to make sure that resources got to where they had to go (and created automatic routes would be good for that so he doesn''t have to micromanage). Repairs would be handled by him.
Medics and hospitals could be his domain. Destroy him, and the military will have to play a more defensive role, trying not to lose too many units since there is no way for them to be rebuilt or repaired/healed.

Lots of good ideas coming out of these forums.

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bishop_pass: The problem with choosing the force before you see the map, is that the choices are no longer interesting. You will nearly always pick a balanced force, since this gives you the best chance of winning, unless you know the map back to front, in which case you can pick an optimum force and you will always have the upper hand.

However, it could be interesting to introduce a ''home'' and ''away'' concept, where one player (the defender) gets a smaller force, but gets to choose it with knowledge of the map, and the other (attacker) gets a larger task force but has to pick his forces before he sees the map. The attacker can then choose a very large force, but risk it having a large proportion of unsuitable units, or pick a smaller force, take in more appropriate units as reinforcements, but must hold ground in the face of the defender''s forces.

GBGames: Currently there is no resource management in the design. The player''s time is devoted entirely to figuring out how to trash his opponent.

And yes, balancing this all could be a complete nightmare. Aside from the hassle of balancing units, you have to balance the reinforcements system and the scoring system. Details like map size could have an important effect on the overall balance of the system.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
hi
im a rts fanatic and ive played alot of them and i think the more complicated they are the more boring they are. take red alert 2 great graphics and sounds but they tried to make it more stratergy based . this is great for single missions but when it comes to multiplayer well i would like to say that i find myself falling a sleep. but take a real good look at the first red alert
by westwood and you will see that when you get good at the game
its a perfect balance in stratergy and the fun factor of killing things. seing your beautiful tanks just being built with there shiny new paint work just being shipped out to be destroyed is great fun but if u win the battle its rewarding as well. all of this in a simple little game that has not been beaten yet and may not ever be beaten. simplicity thats what u should think first then build on it from there . if you dont have red alert by westwood go and buy it then download the rules ini, the red 126 mission editor and the single player mission tutorial on how to get started on making your own single player missions for it and you will get a great feel on how much you can fiddle around with it its great!!!!!!

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Haven''t any of you Ground Control??? It''s an 3D RTS with NO resource gathering... It won alot of prices! Check it out! http://www.massive.se/massive/index.asp (oh yeah, the programmers/developers are swedish)

}+TITANIUM+{

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Hm.. Let''s have a look at real-life warfare. (I''m assuming the time is present day or somewhere in the future)
Usually, the attacker knows a good deal about the map already.
At least the map will be known (I think every government can get hold of a decent road map ), and more often than not the attacker has satellites and spy planes so they know roughly where the enemy has his strong points and weaknesses.
That''s a major flaw in current RTSs, you as a commander often have to lead countless soldiers to death as the enemy has some huge cannon building (think Tesla cannons, SAM sites etc in RA for example) just waiting for soldiers to march by (or planes to fly over) and kill them all in one shot.
I don''t think the inhabitants of a country would appreciate the government knowingly killing their men just so they know ''ah they all got killed. Good, now mark the artillery on the map''.
It would be quite realistic if the player could see a satellite image of the battlefield before choosing his units. For example, if there are some bunkers, he could spend some of his money in bombing them with planes. Then he could move past those without trouble, but his army would be significantly smaller as he doesn''t have much money to buy tanks and all.
A problem here is, that most countries buy their military gear in times of peace, or at least not hours before starting a battle. But still, this is a game and not a simulation, right?
I liked the Cannon Fodder idea. In that game, you had to finish a level with a number of units, and every time you lost, new soldiers (fresh out of boot camp) could be used to try again, but there was a limited amount of reserves. If you advanced a few levels, of course new soldiers arrived, but not fast enough to be a real loser at the levels. Needless to say it didn''t have a save function (well, I believe only to save the level you were in and the number of troops you had left)

OK that''s more than enough for today

---
Allow me to clear my head for once...
Stop polluting the air!

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Here''s my take on the RTS genre:

PEONS:

In current rts games, the standard procedure is:
build base in middle of nowhere, pump peons, mass peons in big group, order mass-attack.
I guess this works fine for the types of games it''s used for.
But, whenever I see fantastic battles depicted between large forces, I always dream of having a battle like that made into a good computer game.
Peons (troops) should be persistant within the game world. If they weren''t there before the battle started, they wouldn''t be there during the battle. If they get killed during the battle, they won''t be there after the battle (unless you use resurrection methods). Players (generals) should build up their army outside of the actual gameplay.

Player opens up game. He creates a general to play with, then starts to gather troops. Troops are equiped and trained. Troops are put into units and given specific instructions (unit AI is set by player). Once all this is done, the player can take his army and move out into the game world.

The game world could (should) be a persistant world. The designers create an entire world map. The armies move around on this map. When an army gets within range of another army, and when one of the armies scouts notices the other army, the player is made aware of this and can act upon this information. If the opposing army seems small, the player might decide to attack it. If the opposing army seems big, the player might decide to flee.

The player might know the surroundings. Maybe the player knows of specific places where an ambush can be setup. Maybe certain spots give strategic bonusses. The player can try to maneuvre the two armies into a situation that will be beneficial to him.

The battle itself is another thing. But important is that the units that are fighting will have their very lives at stake. If a unit dies, he dies. He''ll be gone once the battle is over. Units that live gain experience and can loot the conquered army. Surviving members of opposing army might enlist in the winning player''s army. The losing player''s army might be completely wiped out.

------------

I just want to do away with the ''build during battle'' type of RTS. That''s fine for some people (I guess for a lot of people) but not for me personally. Hopefully enough people agree so that the genre will change, or perhaps a new genre can be created.

In my opinion, players shouls be able to make the logistic decisions and actions before and after battle, so that the actual battle is there purely for action. Send those scouts out to survey the battlefield, hold off those cavalry men for a surprise attack in the flank, line up those archers on higher ground, use those pikemen to stop a cavalry assault, slip around the enemy with a small force and attack them from behind, flee the battle when all is lost, spot the enemy officers and take them down, fight, fight, fight.

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quote:
Original post by Sandman
bishop_pass: The problem with choosing the force before you see the map, is that the choices are no longer interesting.



There''s a difference between not knowing a scenario and not seeing the map. We did not really know about the Afghanistan scenario before we realized we would have to deploy forces there, but we did have a map. Thankfully, the U.S. has seen fit to continually keep its military balanced, having carriers, stealth bombers, special forces, and so on. However, we were not omniscient: we realized we had a distinct lack of intelligence officers who could speak various languages, etc.

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quote:
Original post by Sandman
The server sets some limit to the biggest force a player can start with. We will say for arguments sake that each unit has a ''points value'' and the player can choose units until he has used all of his points.



The table-top wargames that I''ve played used this principle, and it worked very well for them. Basically, you first build up an army with a specific points value (usually 2000 or 3000 points). Just building this army is a huge step, because it involves buying the right miniatures and painting them, getting people REALLY attached to their units . Then, you play against opponents that have armies of approximately the same points value. The terrain is usually decided by taking turns setting various elements, which is not viable for a computer game, but it can be adapted to a fair distribution of terrain.

Sometimes, games are run where one of the two has a distinct terrain advantage, such as bunkers and buildings to hide in. These have point values too, based on playtesting. So, with the right buildings and terrain, you could play a 500 point defending army against a 1500 point attacking army, and still have a good chance of winning.

In a computer game, the point system can be easily replaced by unit costs (to buy, or to hire, or whatever works in the game context). So I think it''s definately a viable alternative to building-while-battling...




People might not remember what you said, or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.

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