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Eliminating RTS Resource Management

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I have recently been thinking of various ways to get rid of the classical (much too classical, in fact) resource gathering system found in most RTS games. Those who have played Z knows that that game doesn''t have resources. Instead, you conquer territories and if that territory contains a unit producing structure you can begin producing units. Now, each unit has a set creation time you must wait before the unit is complete and since the units are entirely free you can just set your factory to produce light tanks and it WILL produce Light Tanks until it''s destroyed, or until you give it order to produce something else. The slight problem is that a very small difference in factory control quickly means death for the one player that controls the least. In a situation were player A controls 3 factories and player B controls 2 it''s most probably that player A will win. My idea is to use this system, although slight modified. It''s mostly suited for a c&c type game and will probably feel out of place in fantasy strategy games like Warcraft. *** The map is divided in territories. 12 is a good amount Each player at the beginning given one territory to control. Each territory is marked with a flag, and whoever has the flag secured controls the territory. There is nothing preventing a player from building outside of his territory. Factories can be built by the player much like in the C&C games, and there are no PREPLACED factories on the map (like there are in Z). Resources aren''t gained by using the typical "harvester" units but instead by controlling territories. For each territory you control you gain money with regular intervals. Not a set amount for each territory but rather income according to a table; Flags: Income/Offset 1: 1000 2: 1500 3: 2000 4: 2400 5: 2800 6: 3100 7: 3400 8: 3600 9: 3800 Etc. etc. etc. Well... What do you think? I''m open to suggestions :D

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I definitely think that this is the right direction, it gets the game back to the idea of fighting over something, rather than just fighting for the sake of it.

I like the basic idea you put forward, and the advantage of having a income based on a table like the one you describe is that you (the designer) have a great deal of control over how quickly the game balance changes as the game progresses. I think it could also be applied quite easily to a medieval fantasy style game - you can collect ''tithes'' from the indigenous population of the particular region, hence the income.

If you want a bit more complexity (just brainstorming here) you could use a multiple resource system instead of a pure ''money'' system. Lets imagine we have three resources: food, minerals, and oil. Each terrain could have a ranking out of 10 for each resources e.g F6/M9/O3, marked on the flag in some way. The income the player recieves is then calculated using a similar table to the one you listed, although using a different scale.

This extra complexity may just be a pain in the ass, but then again it could force some interesting decisions on the part of the player - do I want that mineral rich hill, or do I need to go for a more varied terrain region?



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Hi!

I like that idea, but there is still the same problem you described in the game Z.

E.g. When there are 7 ares at all and Player A has 5 flags and player B has 2, B has no chance of getting more resources, so A will produce more and more units and A will win...



The Wild Wild West - Desperado!

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quote:
Original post by WildWest
Hi!

I like that idea, but there is still the same problem you described in the game Z.

E.g. When there are 7 ares at all and Player A has 5 flags and player B has 2, B has no chance of getting more resources, so A will produce more and more units and A will win...



No, the problem with Z was that a small difference could win the game. The table in Ganryu''s idea is designed to reduce the effect of small imbalances.

If there is a large imbalance, e.g 5:2, then yes, the player with the bigger terrain area wins. Thats the whole point.

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Ok, let''s say there is only a small imbalance like 3:2. When the player B with less resources, can''t conquer an area of A prombtly after the imbalance occured, there also will be no chance to win the game.

The Wild Wild West - Desperado!

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Well do you want the game to go on forever?

Obviously the player with the most terrain will have an advantage. The point of Ganryu's table is to limit the advantage that the player gets. You want control of terrain to be important, but not necessarily so important that a player can't make a bit of a come-back right?

Personally, I reckon a slightly different growth curve might be better:


| +
|
| +
|
| +
| +
| +
| + + +
Money | +
| +
| +
|
| +
|
+--------------------------------------
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Num. Flags


(you get an idea of the shape, anyway)

Basically, the income from each terrain section increases rapidly at first, but soon levels off at 5-7 flags, which is the area you would expect to be at once all flags are taken in a two player game. At this stage, taking a new flag is not a huge gain, and you have to be careful not to overstretch. However, once you manage to get 9-10 flags the game is pretty much over, the extra flags give you oodles of money and you can squish your opponent fairly easily (keeping the endgame short)

Obviously the dynamics change in games with > 2 players - in a four player game for example, losing one flag is probably game over. Either you could rescale the graph according to number of players (to level out at the appropriate region) which is IMHO a bit hacky, or better, scale the number of terrain regions so that in a MP game there are 6 flags per player.

[edited by - Sandman on March 22, 2002 9:34:06 AM]

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Another interesting possibility is the idea of ''contested'' regions. Simply put, a contested region is one which is occupied by military forces from two different sides.. and even though only one of them actually owns the flag in the center, the terrain generates no revenue at all. Hence you can cripple an opponent''s resource production simply by maintaining a military prescence on his territory, resulting in a very aggressive, attacking game.

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Another idea is to have 2 or more different flag-areas where you get money depending on your technical development.

e.g. when you have the technical level to make money out of oil an area where lot of oil is good for you,
but when you decide to invest in gold mines an area with oil will give you no advantage

The Wild Wild West - Desperado!

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I think there should be a delay between capturing the territory and getting resources from it. A time-based delay would be the simplest, but requiring the player to build "mines" with his existing resources would add more strategic possiblities. Player could also have the option of mining(as in mines that kill stuff ) the area so that neither of the players could get resources from it.

I also suggest that you find yourself a copy of Total Annihilation. It´s resource system is a bit like your porposal. Even though there are builder-units, player income is dependant on the terrain he controls, not on harvesting.

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What if you have all the usual units in a RTS, but also some
super defences, and some super-single units,
so that if player A have 7, and player B have 3, then player A can easely build a big force and kill B, while B will setup a super-defence, and have super-single units attack week points of player A.

You have to make it imposible to both have a giant army, and the specialists:
to have a big army, you need factories, big tanks airbases and so on, while the other player will use mobile units, and smal rocket lunchers, just like a gerilja war...

This means that when one player have more territories, this player will build one big army for atack, while the other player will use smal stealth units.
Just like the afganistan war: usa have carriers, and the taliban have caves... a tank rush is no god if you cant find the enemy...

the big army player should have a advantage of corese, and nobody like the : ''find and kill last enemy unit to winn'' part of a game...

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Yeah, I really like this idea as well. Potentially, you place a lot of interest on manuever in order to capture enemy territory. You could have a great deal of variety, too, in terms of placement of flags and map layout. For instance, you''ll have a different game if flags are mostly in the middle (a constant conflict game), versus more evenly spread out.

quote:
Original post by Sandman
If you want a bit more complexity (just brainstorming here) you could use a multiple resource system instead of a pure ''money'' system. Lets imagine we have three resources: food, minerals, and oil. Each terrain could have a ranking out of 10 for each resources e.g F6/M9/O3, marked on the flag in some way. The income the player recieves is then calculated using a similar table to the one you listed, although using a different scale.



Now this I really like. I would actually make these different flags, though, and make sure that different resources correspond to different tactics. Food, for instance, for soldiers, fuel for tanks... etc.

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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Warlords Battlecry had what I think is a very original approach to resource gathering as well. I think it has some similarities to the idea proposed above, so I thought I''d explain it a little further (maybe it''ll help)

Across the map, different types of mines are located all with their own type of resource (gold, metal, rock and chrystal).

To take control of those resource spots, the player has to move his hero unit towards these spots, then choose the ''convert'' option. This will start the process of conversion, which takes a couple of seconds.

After the resource spots become yours, you can start sending peons to these spots in order to increase productivity.

BUT...

Another (enemy) hero unit can come by and convert the spots to his side at any time (again, this process would take a certain amount of time. When an enemy hero tries to convert your resources, you get a warning message, so that you have a chance to interrupt the attempted conversion).

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quote:
Now this I really like. I would actually make these different flags, though, and make sure that different resources correspond to different tactics. Food, for instance, for soldiers, fuel for tanks... etc.


Indeed. Different flags, different tactics, different goals.
That red flag that gives money might be wanted by players 1 and 2, but player 3 already has enough money, and will focus on the blue flag which produces [insert resource].
OR player 3 realizes that even though he has enough gold, he will benefit from denying the other players the red flag.
OR player 3 wants to create a monopoly position and attempts to control every single red flag in the area, ignoring most of the other flags. That way, he alone will have gold. He might be able to trade some gold with the other players, or simply produce units that require gold only, and create a numerical advantage.

This element of different flags giving different resources and thus different tactics, is another thing that Battlecry did. Different races required different resources. Humans needed lots of gold, elves needed lots of chrystals.

If your game has different types of sides that a player can choose from, perhaps each side could rely on different color flags for their main production.

What I see happening is the following:

Players start out controlling one or more flags. They create some units, scout the map for more flags. Once they find a flag they get to decide if they want to control it or not (could be a color they don''t need, could be in an area where they don''t think they can remain in control). Once they take control of a new flag, they get all the benefits that come with it. But they have to defend it against the enemy, so the reward comes with a price.

In the mid-game phase, the players have pretty much scouted the entire map, and each player now controls a few flags. These flags have most likely been taken into control uncontested. But now that no ''free'' flags remain, the battle for the flags begins. Players will try to find enemy flags in areas where the enemy is weak and where they themselves are strong. Or flags of a color that they need, or of a color that they don''t want the enemy to have. They can choose to go after the flags of weak players first, or to go after the flags of the strong players (while the enemy forces are away, trying to find new flags for their own).

Gameplay could shift from ''build, build, build, then massive attack'' to ''build for specific purpose, achieve small goal, build more for next specific purpose''.

Hm, this sounds a lot more interesting than current RTS games.

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That sounds sort of similar to how Kohan works. Instead of harvesting resources, you simply create buildings that automatically work on giving the player a specific resource, therefore there is no need to micromanage any harvesting units. It also has a basic concept of supply lines. Units automatically resupply themselves if they are within a certain range of a main stronghold. IF they go past this, then they do not automatically regenerate.

As for actual unit construction, I think it''s too distracting to try to plan what units to build while fighting. In the real world, contracts are developed well before battle losses can predict what units a country might need. Therefore, I''m more into the idea of seperating the game into Real Time and Turn Based much like Shogun. When battles commence, then the game goes into real time and battles are fought. After a preset amount of realtime, or if a battle is won or lost, then it can switch to Turn mode. In this mode, the player can figure out what units he wishes to create. Also, I''m not keen on the idea of being able to change unit creation queues at the drop of a hat. If a player can do so, it must a country that specifically has this sort of advantage (the ultimate in just in time inventory). Otherwise there should be some kind of penalty or delay while manufacturing facilities are revamped to process the new order. This has the effect of necessitating good forethought and not just reacting to immediate events.

As for conquered territories, I''m not sure if I like the idea of using them as your own. It takes a good amount of time to restructure things to suit your own workers. Factories need skilled workers, and most importantly they may not be familiar with the equipment (or language!!) of the conquered area. As for harvesting resources, while they may be available, it takes specialized equipment to gather the resources and will have a lot of the same problems that factories have (you still need ores to refine metals, lumber facilities for wood, farms for food, etc). In my own game, if more than 2 game years have passed, then this is permissable, but otherwise, the advantage of conquering territories is not to add to your own strength in the short run, but to subtract from your opponents. when you are able to utilize an opponents resources, it''s a double whammy...you add to your resources while taking from his. So for example, if you originally had 3 factories each and Player A captured a territory with factories in it, now he has 4 factories versus Player B''s two. It went from even odds to 2-1 odds.

I think something should be said about conquering territories as opposed to just defeating them militarily. If you actively try to use a conquered territories resources for you own country, the local populace will just see you as another invader and hate you. However, if you leave the populace alone, then they will stay out of your way. Hitler lost an incredible opportunity in Russia when he rolled through Ukraine. Instead of portraying himself as a liberator from the Russians, he subjugated them and used their facilities much like he did with the Czechoslovakian munitions factories.

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Many interesting ideas there guys (any girls?) :D

Anyway.

Having different coloured flags for different resources would be quite interesting. But what i wanted to strive after, though, is a game where there is only ONE resource... Money. That money is given to you by your "authorities" (need to look that word up) at regular intervals depending on your own progress.

About unit creation: I was thinking along the lines of Command & Conquer, ie: Simple to use interface which allows for queueing (another word i need to look up :D ) and quick unit creation.

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Ganryu

Money isn''t the only thing that helps a country build its war machine. Look at Japan in WWII. They were essentially forced to fight America because of a lack of oil and America did not back down on its embargo of oil. Japan also invaded China primarily for more natural resources. There really is only one resource worth having...good land. From this everything else springs, arable lands to yield good crops that yield a healthy populace, enough land to house that populace, and enough natural resources like fuels and minerals. One thing that is neglected in most games is an "education" resource.

I think the problem of resource management is two fold:
1) managing your economy and industrial capacity to support the war machine.
2) Then when you have enough materials and manufacturing capacity, you have to worry about building units while you are fighting.

To deal with the first problem, I''m not really sure who thought it would be fun to have to micro manage "harvesting units", but it''s a pretty stupid concept if you ask me. Get rid of harvesters entirely and subsume them into other buildings. There are really several steps to manufacturing (and this is incredibly simplified of course). First you gather the raw materials necessary (the harvesting part), then you refine the raw materials into something useful (wood gets turned to lumber, ore gets refined into metal sheets or rods, etc etc.). These refined materials are then used by manufacturing facilities to be turned into complex materials. Where I think games tend to go overboard on the management part is having to build several types of buildings in order to create certain types of units. For example, you need to build barracks, archer ranges, stables and squires to build cavalry archers for example.

I think one possible solution instead of this "tech tree" style solution is to have ratings in skill and technology. If you have the skill base and the technology, then it is assumed that your generic "barracks" can produce cavalry arches instead of having to command your units to build a new building everytime. While its true that sometimes new buildings will have to be built for new unit types, I think this can be "built-in" to your city centers.

Actually I just realized this begs another question and one that I took for granted. In my view of a strategy game, everything is on a MUCH larger scale than most other games. Think Masters of Orion or Imperium Galactica instead of the traditional style RTS''s like Starcraft or C&C. Just as a military is composed of several elements and defined by several characteristics, so too is a country (or faction as I prefer to call them).

1) Natural resources including (but not limited to) Arable Land, Size, Fuel, Minerals
2) Soft resources: Technology (the knowledge to create devices), Education (the amount of people able to utilize technology), Skilled (the
3) Hard Resources: Gathering centers (farms, mine shafts, oil drills), refinement/processing centers, manufacturing facilities.


That seems obvious of course and almost all games have this. However, most RTS games make you explicitly create each kind of manufacturing facility so that you have one kind that can produce tanks, and you have to explicitly build another kind for infantry. What if unit creation worked the other way around? Instead of having to create the buildings to create the units, you simply "requested" what kinds of units you wanted, and then an industrial/military complex "manager" built them for you?

I''m not keen on the idea of having physically seperate manufacturing centers or refinement centers that are specifically targetable. In the real world, these facilities are located in cities (most of the time) and you capture or destroy the city to stop production. This is what I meant earlier by scale. In other words, cities become almost like characters in that they hold valuable resources that need to be defended. In essence, what I''m proposing is having "City Managers". Instead of trying to find an area on the map to build your manufacturing centers, City''s have a list of what they contain, and what they are able to produce. As the player, you simply request what you would like to build and the City''s will comply as they are able to, and if they do not have the capacity to fulfill the request, the player will be informed where the weak link is.

I think if you use resource management by dealing with tables rather than specifically trying to pick what units to build and where, it simplifies things a great deal. And instead of figuring out what types of building you need to create, you look at certain "ratings" and determine if you it is possible to create the unit you want (or in the quantity you want)

Hope that all made sense, for some reason my brain seems cloudy today

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I guess it all depends on how realistic you want to get. This is a good way to reduce micromanagement in the game. Just use a cash flow and build with money. Another way to balance the game more is to charge money for unit upkeep. So if player A has 8 territories and player B has 5, player A may be able to build more units, but he will also have to pay upkeep which will keep him from building tons more.

As for changing the unit you are building quickly, in games such as Starcraft or C&C, you were able to do this not because of supply on demand, but because everything was built from raw materials, you just tell it what to do with it. Since these are super advanced robotic factories, I woudl find it unbelievable if they could not flip a switch to change unit types.

As for using build queues, I came up with an idea that would take it one step farther and reduce the amount of micromanagement required down even further. Most of the time you have multiple types of factories. And each factory builds maybe 4 or 5 different types of units. Since your factories should be constantly churning out units, unless you shut them off, each factory could be set up with a percentage based build queue. These percentages would be based on the current number of units in circulation. ie.

Factory A
----------
Scout 10%
Infantry 50%
Armour 20%
Aircraft 10%

So if I had 0 of everything, it would build 1 scout, 1 infantry, 1 armour, 1 aircraft, 1 infantry, 1 armour, 1 infantry, 1 infantry, 1 infantry. Then I would have:

Scout 1
Infantry 5
Armour 2
Aircraft 1

Then the cycle would start over again.

It would work best later on, say you have:

Scout 100
Infantry 500
Armour 200
Aircraft 100

Then you enter a battle and come out with(no scouts or aircraft were invovled):

Infantry 450
Armour 20

Your factory would then automaticall build armour until the numbers were more even, then build infantry and armour until everything was even.

The player would also be allowed to micromanage it by selecting units to temporarily not build if say, you don't need any more tanks for a while. Or you can change the numbers at any time. You can also order X number of something at any time.

---
Make it work.
Make it fast.

"Commmmpuuuuterrrr.." --Scotty Star Trek IV:The Voyage Home

[edited by - CaptainJester on March 25, 2002 12:52:55 PM]

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Guest Anonymous Poster
quote:

by Dauntless
I''m not keen on the idea of having physically seperate manufacturing centers or refinement centers that are specifically targetable. In the real world, these facilities are located in cities (most of the time) and you capture or destroy the city to stop production. This is what I meant earlier by scale. In other words, cities become almost like characters in that they hold valuable resources that need to be defended.



Even as far back as World War II, factories and very specific installations were targeted and this was before we could guide a bomb within a few feet of its target. I very rarely say this, but Dauntless, you are wrong. You must remember the scale of the space you''re fighting in. Cities are defended because of those assets and defenses are spread all around a city but this is because cities are big. A city might have dozens of factories and refinement centers(probably not all geared to military production).

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Anonymous, I know what you''re trying to say, and I didn''t word myself very well at the time When I meant that targets like factories or resource centers shouldn''t specifically be targeted, I meant more in the sense that when you are looking at the actual battlefield, I think that the scale of battles is just all wrong, and you shouldn''t be able to march your troops into a "city" and then blast the resource centers.

The way I envision it to work instead is that if you are playing in a city, the entire map will be the city. It will be street to street, building to building. Like you said, it really is a matter of scale. But in war, usually knocking out resource centers is a task for strategic level heavy attacks, i.e. bombing, long distance artillery shelling, or cruise missle attacks. Very rarely are troops actually sent into take out centers, as if troops can get that close, they''d rather capture it intact.

So I envision that cities are almost an abstract concept, and just a blip on the map (unless like I said you actually fight in a city). If you wish to target resource centers, then you do so indirectly, via bombardments. The trick is getting your aircraft, spacecraft, magicians or other heavy duty firepower units close enough to make the attack. What I object to in RTS is the ability to send a few infantry up to a city and proceed to attack a vespene gas center or some such thing. It just doesn''t jibe right with a sense of scale. So if as a player you do want to knock out resource centers...as just one more means of reducing micromanagement, you order bomber sorties, cruise missle attacks or artillery shelling (if close enough) to do the dirty work for you. I just can''t see sending a few infantry companies or tanks to blow up factories. Usually if you can get this close with your troops, you capture it instead (another thing I liked about Kohan was that it modeled this too...the ability to capture facilities and towns instead of destroying them).

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Homeworld had a dffierent Resource Management option in multiplayer games. You could eliminate the use of harvesters and instead rely on Kill bontys and time triggered resource injections. I am not sure if it was popular or widely played...

::aggression is the result of fear::

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