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If you could build an RTS...?
Old 23 Aug 2008, 00:12   #1 (permalink)
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Default If you could build an RTS...?

If you had control of a development team tasked to develop the concept for an RTS game, that is its essentail features;

*Key Features

How would you go about designing this RTS? Would it be 3D 2D, 4D? Would you go for realism, wackiness or a mix? Would you want players to focus on micromanagement, micromanagement or Strategic decision? Any moral aspects to the game world or a no holds barred style? and why would you want it that way?


I've played alot of strategy games in my time (it's what I'm best at gamewise, can save a game and play it over a number of nights, or online spend an evening playing others while completing some other work on a pad of paper). In doing so I have become a fan of particular types of strategy games; those that focus the player on micromanagement and strategy, but allows micromanagement to play a part when the player wishes.

In such two games stand out as a base for me. Command and Conquer Generals (CCG) and Warzone 2100 (WZ). Both games have their merits, and both have their flaws. Yet to steal from another genre of RTT games I would also like to mention the Sudden Strike (SS) set of games because of the realism build into the gameplay.

On terms of realism games can become too bogges down in the details, SS did in the form that you could never leave units to commit an attack on their own. Either they ran out of ammo, or the tanks got stuck in path finding, or a piece of artillery was raping them. Hence you were forever trying to micromanage the map while commanding individual actions on a number of fronts. For a single player on a large map against multiple opponents this quickly became tiring to the point you would only command your tank corps and heavy artillery for the entire game.

On the other hand CCG has the trouble that 'spamming' is viable tactic in the face of unlimited or large scale games where the game isn't won on the players control but simply on being the first to get a particular unit and using it to great effect (Tibirum Wars suffers the same problem with the Mammoth and Walker units, unfortunately) yet this 'spam' tactic for CCG was off set by the ability to garrison cheep AT units in buildings and generals abilities/aircraft that were able to effectively decimate large monotype armies and did inject the game with balance so long as both players were of comparable techtree-economic might.

Then finally you had WZ with it's multistyle gameplay that forced players to consider Defence, Terrain and Airpower along with your more conventional offence. WZ was unique in the sense that unlike any other games bar the Earth 2150 it featured both a massive techtree and the ability to design your own vehicles. Add to this the fact that a good base defence actually was a base defence and you could build wall after wall and a plethora of defensive weapons it gave a player more than a reliance on units, but also a wish to expand across massive maps with multiple HQ locations which could each be mutually supportive in command of artillery units which had realistic ranges compared to other games where artillery ranges are nerfed in favour of smaller more frantic games.

Yet what makes an RTS fun to play? It’s certainly not sitting around waiting for things to take place, nor is it fun to have to have to think massively about how you put your overall strategy together. I.e. it’s not much fun if to win you have to plan your entire game in the first 5mins (if the game lasts any longer than that). A good RTS game in my mind should last between 20mins and 1hr and 20mins you want enough time to get into the game and like a good book it should have a middle and an end, but not an end where you must search the map endlessly. Nor should once a player begins to lose make that collapse the wavefunction on who wins.

That is, a game should be dynamic to the point where timing is important, but not macroplanning of timing is key. Hence your ‘buildlist’ should also be dynamic allowing multiple discrete strategies to be realised from the first 2mins of the game. (CCG) did this in the form of a General Ability (WZ) which route you took on the techtree (AT missiles or Big beefy tanks?).

So what does my game want to have? It wants to be complex, but not taxing with multiple options available to the player, but confined to a limit which insures that games can be finalised within a short time period. It wants to allow ‘underdog’ units to be able to take on much larger and physically more powerful units so long as the player can micromanage them, but the overall gameplay should be dominated by macrogaming at the level of map/location control and the ability for a player to be mutually supportive with his/her units without the game becoming too complex or fall into the rock-paper-scissors trap.

Overall it should not be historically accurate, as this limits flexibility and it should not introduce aspects that are wildly far fetched. The game should be both familiar on pick up but intriguing enough that will want to be played again and again.

+ + +

Right so now we have an overarching gameplan let’s examine what would be coined the ‘game engine’ or how does the game achieve the concepts layed down in the gameplan?

Firstly looking at both CCG and WZ a 4D environment is a must. The game must feature the XY grid as well as Z options, rather than split the game into two planes of action (still just a 3D gameworld) I would hazard 4 planes of height that players must consider. Underwater/Underground, Ground level, Low altitude and High altitude.

This (like 3D Chess) adds complexity without adding a massive about of mental work on the terms of the player. With fours levels of attack a player must think about attacking without leaving him/her self open from attack from one of the other levels. Traditionally RTS has skirted round the 4D aspect because it is technically difficult to achieve yet it has been done.

RA2 came close, as did TibSun with underwater and burrowing machines/units, while still having conventional ground/surface vessels and air units, WZ came close with artillery as a 3.5D aspect in the form of counter battery and electronic warfare being part of the ‘information war’ that you would have to win to be able to attack an enemy position effectively.

Hence my game will incorporate these four different levels of play of course all 4 would not be ‘free planes’ having them as such would be physically confusing for a player to defend against hence both High Altitude and ‘underground’ would be limited to specific type units/structures which would infer them a bonus over other directly controllable units, but without fully fleshing that plane out to the nth degree.

From a point of isometric versus full 3D graphics I would have to argue 3D (but only because some of the fancy I want to include would require a fully 3D world) yet I still want to retain the finite grid and triangle system as seen with the SAGE engine because it is surprisingly flexible from the point of view of node construction (which we will get to).

Finally something that makes a good game great. Environment. TibSun had it, RA2 didn’t. CCG tried to have it. Tibrium Wars has it. WZ didn’t, DoW kind of has it. Ground Control has it in swaths! A good Environment should be a key feature of a game, the player should use it for effect or ignore it at their peril. A passive enemy to all. It forces a certain amount of thought to go before play as how to make use of the terrain available. It is most plainly seen in DoW with cover and it’s effect on where you leave units and consider a ‘strongpoint’ indeed in CCG buildings became a defence when garrisoned and radiation, ‘anthrax’ and trains provided something to watch out for.

The Tiberium Universe gives an excellent excuse for a wonderful terrain (what happens when aliens terraform our planet?) hence I would want to emulate some of this in my game environment. In doing so I would flesh out my 4D planes…

An area where only certain units can be taken and inhabited by some form of local wildlife perhaps one aggressive lifeform and two passive ones which could become a problem e.g. algae/kelp that slows water vessels down or icebergs that can damage some ships and push them away.

The land version of Underwater. Certain structures would be able to utilise underground areas where the rock was soft enough these areas could be linked by a node system to create a ‘tunnel network’ allowing for interesting ways to access other areas or another way to assault a base (through their own base). Yet to limit the spread of ‘underground webs’ and to decrease node computing time the build speed on such structures should be slowed such that tunnelling from one base to another would be a pointless (or near pointless affair).

As of course the ground/sea is opaque to our eyes visual access of both the proceeding terrain environments should be accessible by a flip button and by location bookmarking for more professional players.

Ground level
Buildings, these are a must to the level where I want to make a point out of them that Ground Control II started (and DoW II is going to finish) that is I want to move people about in my buildings I want to be able to see the floors and access ramps and fire ports.

How to do this? I am going to forward a radical idea that my buildings would be of a modular type that is when you select a building, let’s say a bunker. It incorporates a by b units on z[sub]2[/sub] (groundlevel) plane and c by d units on the z[sub]1[/sub] (Underground) plane. Likewise a guard tower takes up both z[sub]2[/sub] and z[sub]3[/sub] space OR you can build any module on top of another and like with the flip button have a feature to cross-section buildings.

Following this idea its obvious that the map wouldn’t be able to take a large number of buildings before the lag starts to set in so the most has to be made from a very little (this will influence the story and plot of the game as well as how it plays).

Also like the sea this area can be used to bring in a passive threat, and can also be used for moral ambiguity. Players hate being told what to do, they hate it even more when the game punishes them. How often have you played a mission where you have to insure XYZ lives, but then you could still win the game without that unit? Furthermore you’ll of often nuked a city, just because. Technically that second act is very bad, hence why we don’t do it in real wars.

Hence why not add civilians into the mix? You start high jacking locations and the locals start fighting back, perhaps not very well but enough to think ‘do I garrison this pub?’ or ‘Can I use carpet bombing if my supplies are coming from the spaceport here?’ If the game indirectly punishes you it would be a good way to ‘fight fair’ in the aspect that your not going to level a city without some repercussions (which you would get in real life).

But we don’t want these civilians to be a pain in the ass, so why not use them for an extra dimension? Evilness… CCG has it, kind of. The GLA would kill off civilians while the US protects them. Why not the same thing here? Like O.R.B. What if people become a resource? A bunch of civilians if converted could bolster your ranks or could be a way to strike at your opponents moral if you start erasing where their families live.

Low Altitude
This is the CAS environment basically where air units would inhabit at a level where triple AA batteries can take down aircraft but too low for SAMs populate the game with units capable of this level under your direct command and you have added a feature of mutually supportable command.
Air units can’t deal with underground/underwater/inside buildings threats, but they lead support on the open battlefield and can be used against spamming. Yet at the same time are vulnerable to dedicated AA attack and units able to hide but still fire back leading to them being an element for micromanagement.

High Altitude
Remember the US and China shooting missiles at satellites? What kind of altitudes do B2 bombers fly at? High Altitude, the level where a unit is safe from all that normally goes on, on the ground. But is never safe. I can’t think of a game where satilites ever became part of the war plan or where you mark a location for a cruise missile to fly in. Yet this could be the realm of that.

If your satellite was only overhead for 30s every 2mins and that’s all the time your opponent has to track and shoot it down then it adds a dimension of probability (particularly if you could choose the orbit, more frequent-more vulnerable less frequent-less vulnerable) and your heavy ordinance comes from here to deal widespread destruction. Without a conventional plan of attack it brings an element of strategy to the game and makes every base vulnerable (although damage control should say you can’t win by this method alone). See now by having that Underground level pays off quite well as a way to hide from this terror if a player is able to saturate the skies…

As you can see the game is becoming dictated by the features I want to include hence let’s look at the GUI, Units and techtree.

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Old 23 Aug 2008, 00:12   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: If you could build an RTS...?

As you can probably tell I’m going down the pseudo modern warfare line (Don’t sigh!).

I have a resource: People
I have a GUI: Three cross-sections cut through the game world
I have a ‘superweapon’: Space and vulnerable off-map support

But let’s add a few more…


First off, ground vehicles will be assumed to have unlimited fuel (it would be so annoying to have to fill you vehicles up) but planes and choppers I think need to have fuel, a lot of it, but not enough that they can sit in the sky forever…

Why two types of ammo? Bombs and shells are different from bullets and as resupply is going to be a feature of my game to incorporate a macrogame complex it limits the ‘big guns’ thus allowing them to be more powerful, but without becoming ‘uber’ thus what I said about timing comes into play…Kind of like Earth shaker shells in DoW or and Orbital Bombardment at just the right time…

Power. All bases need it and if you’ve got a sprawling bunker complex and defensive wall then it gives players a way to go straight through it if you haven’t defended it’s power supply (yet power will be key for some things not all things).

Moral. Again another way to attack your opponent indirectly, or a way to make yourself some shock troopers. If the actual effectiveness of units vary then fuzzy logic has to apply and therefore you can’t assume outcomes (this makes a game more of a challenge for ‘pro gamers’. For instance in CCG I know that a Raptor takes any tank out in one attack run. I know that three Missile Defenders can take out any tank. But what if I didn’t know the effectiveness all the time? What if when I send my infantry in it’s not numbers that win the day. It’s how I manage them, what they are up against?

I propose a very simple form of moral each unit has a bar that starts 0.5 full, certain global things push it up or down or specific training/combat action for the unit can push it up or down. The lower it falls the worst the unit becomes in accuracy and/or taking hits/using ordinance (for example throwing grenades). A unit with high moral will become very effective, but also consume more resources in an attack (will use ordinance more often) on the defence will take one more ‘hit’ before becoming a causality and because is more accurate anyhow will use ammunition better.

Finally people most games have about 30 individual units on the map at any one time hence let’s explore 30 soldiers perhaps each is equip in a futuristic fashion in the latest power armour that would make the Mobile Infantry, Zone Troopers and Space Marines jealous along with perhaps 5 or 6 on map vehicles. You know, let’s beef those soliders up a bit!

Remember WZ and it’s modular tank design? What if this ‘infantry’ have the same abilities you could mix and match their weapons systems, ordinance and perhaps even upgrade a few in a ‘mech’ fashion at a large cost. Traditional ‘tank’ units would still rape these heavy infantry, but it would allow players to customise their attack and defence force.

I’m not imposing a unit limit (I hate those) but if people are a resource it makes sense that you want to treat them well…If defences are manned by a ‘standard solider’ which you define as you unlock/research new weapons systems who you can take off the defence at any time you want…who knows that could be interesting.

Even more so if I take some inspiration from

WZ had its hardpoints. I think that emulating this idea along with the module system I’ve already got going, why not make most defences remotely controlled turrets from a control tower. A typical tower might only be able to mount 3 turrets but through modular building upgrades get up to 9. Again you fight your way into the control tower and kill off the ‘technicians’ at the terminals you gain control of any turrets you didn’t destroy. In this sense base building becomes a tactic in its own right, because now you must cover yourself against your own base, protect your power plants and restrict access routes into your buildings.

Again to steal from Earth 2150 I propose that modular buildings have access points and would be connected by walkways to prevent this (again at a cost and build time making it more of a detail for longer games than short skirmishes).


Ok this is starting to look like a Luna base type thing, hence let’s stick it in space, on a newly colenised planet (gives us liberty to design a planet now. It’s political issues and it solves the problem of massive cities creating lag.).

But how do we prevent generic sci-fi? We steer clear of stereotypical factions, but again don’t want to make anything that requires much thought (man we’ve already got a very technical game above).

Good (US/NATO) Versus Evil (Soviet/Eurasia) has been done to death same as machines, rebels or aliens so how do we avoid the pitfalls yet create something cool?

Moral ideology? Or Forgotten planet? To behonest it’s difficult to get away from the clichés, so I think thinking up a universe might be more useful…


Ok The year is 2380 (far away enough such that we can be in space but still use today’s stuff). Mankind in 2270 found a way to punch bubbles in spacetime to accelerate ships somewhere in our galaxy in a decent amount of time. Unfortunately two way travel cannot take place until the colonists can build their own machine to travel back.

Something goes wrong slightly and the colonists from 2280 find themselves 4 years into their colonisation confronted by an armed force from 2380 which rely to them that in the 4 years they have experienced 110 years have gone past and Earth has had it’s second Solar war or something and the colonies are cut off (prevents their politics getting involved) the armed force decides to build it’s own colonies on this planet and tensions start mounting then something sparks off the conflict.

The armed force believes its survivalist ideology is required in a time when mankind is in turmoil, the colonists think that their ‘utopia’ is being infringed upon and without anyway to leave the system (yet) to verify the newcomers story their believe they are in the right to get rid of these new comers. There you go 5min plot which now allows a campaign storyline as armed force tries to gather the civilians to their way of thinking, while the colonists are frantic to check what’s going on with mankind and prevent these new comers ‘destroying’ everything they built.

And then what happens when they do send a party back to earth…

It’s a cosy apocalypse!

So perhaps we have a highly trained, high moral but poorly equip force with a few high tech weapons versus a medium poorly trained, well equip force with mediocre weapons both feeding off one another, the colonists want some of the future tech stuff, while the armed force just needs basic stuff and people.

Sound good?
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Old 23 Aug 2008, 00:18   #3 (permalink)
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Very interesting stuff, I've been thinking about it and I'll post more later. Now, though, could you please think about resizing that image a bit? I love it, but its bigger than my computer screen's max resolution by a good third... :P
For me graphics are secondary to gameplay mechanics and depth. So I'd want to make my graphics decent, yes, but lightweight enough that you can still have extreme numbers of complex units and such. Hence Isometric or basic 3d. Nothing fancy, but nothing that makes you wonder why they used stuff from 15 years ago.

I generally tend to dislike micro management, its mostly about the macro management. Unit abilities are silly to me, at least the types where you click a button and then target and then wait for it to recharge. Occasionally a unit ability might be found on a very elite unit, but thats about it.

What I really want is full and complete control. By this I mean that at the start of the game you'd load a pre-configured Tech Tree Preferences File witch you made earlier. This would "Guide" your tech tree research automatically for you, giving special preferences to this or that. The specific techs would be grouped into a few categories, like defenses, weapons, armor, propulsion, etc. When you make your tech tree file, you'd get to specify all sorts of stuff- so you could say that developing Propulsion is high priority, and that you want to specialize in this sub category- say jet engines. This ability would range from high control to low control- if you don't micro manage so much you get your technologies faster, but you never know what you'll get, forcing you to adapt as you play the actual game. If you want you can specify say I want the Assault Rifle III technology as fast as you can make it, so you wouldn't waste any time on other technologies, but you'd get it slower as a punishment for being so single minded.

As you play you then get to configure various units. All infantry units start with an unarmed man; you can then give him technologies you've researched. This will create user-defined classes of infantry- your light infantry might have a carbine and no armor, while your heavy infantry could have full body armor and carry a 50 caliber SAW with underslung grenade launcher. What you give your units would effect how much they cost to produce. Training would also be a technology, to increase their accuracy, morale, and determination or leave this relatively low.

The general idea is that you have complex macro-management abilities but you don't have to do all that tech-tree choosing in game if you don't want to (Obviously you can always change it should it suit your needs). When you build researching units and buildings, it just starts working on your tech tree for you and will alert you when a technology has been researched. This way you have to adapt- perhaps you really want to get some heavy units since they are your preffered method of attack but your researchers have only been putting time into light infantry and scouts.

I've been rambling some, so perhaps I should make clear that this tech-tree method would apply to units and buildings and building modifications.

Controls should have lots of bookmarking ability yet be very intuitive. Your HUD will be customizeable to a degree to give you the information you need as efficiently as possible.

Another big feature I'd love to see is hierarchical teams for multi player matches. Not 3 independent armies fighting on a team, but User A is the grand commander and sets tech trees and grand strategy, Users B, and C manage independent bases, and Users E, F, G, and H all micro-manage attacking units. This would require a hell of a lot of power but give you the opportunity for some truly epic battles- not on a skirmish scale but on a very, very large scale like a whole front.

As for the game itself, i'm more concerned with the engine. You could adapt this tech tree method to any sort of theme you want; historical, futuristic, silly.
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Old 23 Aug 2008, 10:09   #4 (permalink)
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I generally tend to dislike micro management, its mostly about the macro management. Unit abilities are silly to me, at least the types where you click a button and then target and then wait for it to recharge. Occasionally a unit ability might be found on a very elite unit, but that's about it.
Agreed. Hence any 'special ability' should automatically activate when needed...

On the GUI front I'd like to flesh vehicles out somewhat. In most games you control planes or tanks by left and right clicking. Yet somehow because this game would see fewer of these units I wonder if they could be commanded by control button. That is, when you purchase a helicopter gunship (requires 1 min to fly on map and land at a helipad) you get a little button on the top left of the screen which allows you to select your aircraft even when its not on screen so that you can call it in to a location while you are dealing with an attack.

Perhaps not for ground vehicles, but for satellites or aircraft it gives you a way to see whats available for support.

I think I wouldn't go down the C&C base building, but I certainly would prefer a side bar command area to a bottom of screen control. A mini map is required, I think I would operate mine on a principle of you need to put a satellite in orbit first to do radar and almost like a camera have the ability to have a general picture of the entire map or zoom in such that you can se your units from directly above. Allow a player to have multiple satellites and a little tab above the minimap and you can now keep tabs on multiple map areas at whatever level of detail you want.

When a unit is selected it should be that, selected. No fancy stuff on multi-select or right click to select. No. click ---> drag box ---> group selected ---> right click to move/commit action, left click deselect.

When an individual unit is selected on it's own a fancy box should drop down under the minimap with any information on it. I.e. training programs available, and current equipment. For vehicles it should list the ordinance and options. If a unit is in an area where they could change equipment (landing pad/arsenal/ammocrates) then they can select a new weapon from the list available, rather than having to build a new unit.

On the side bar you would have a buildings pane, a production pane, a research pane, and an outlay pane. The buildings pane allows you to place the footprint for a building, buildings build themselves over XX amount of seconds decreased by XX% if they are connected to a powergrid [a certian area arround powered buildings] (thus meaning you'll 'want' to build a base, rather than place buildings down everywhere. All buildings cost is time to build.

This means that you can call in a very fancy base before your into unit production which keeps you occupied at the early stage before you have units to command, but the more buildings you build simultaneously the slower each one is to build.

Units are similar costing only time initially to train into one of a number of classes or for it to be deployed on map. For instance soldiers require a barracks which can build: Soldiers, Medics, Officers, Snipers, Technicians and Pilots.

Soldiers can use all weapons/equipment, medics heal casualties and can be used to heal your enemy and perhaps convert his men... officers create moral radio in [to you] when they come under fire and can diplomatically 'attack' civilians to get them on your side a small chance of working each time that decreases with each time you do it. Snipers can used scoped weapons to snipe when stationary and technicians are required to do technical stuff like manning gun turrets, fixing vehicles, shutting down an opponents power plant etc. and pilots are there for vehicles (hence you might find abandoned vehicles on the map...)

Vehicles are 'designed' by your tech tree when you 'discover' a new hull/frame technically you would only have control over the weapon and systems on the vehicle to create variants.

Right clicking on a units production icon would bring up the info box like selecting an individual unit where you can select its weapons/systems up to a maximum and its doctrine (how it might use these features on initial build and in AI terms when it automatically retaliates or decides to break off the fight, again a micromanagement tool that means you don't have to micro abilities).

Research I would have limited to about 50 or so technologies each one the result of a few stages of incremental researchers and finally the outlay pane allows you to shut down sections of your base, change the turrets on things and control your satellites/off map abilities (these would also pop up on the left whenever they are ready to be used so they don't go forgotton about).

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Old 23 Aug 2008, 10:41   #5 (permalink)
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I prefer RTS without much economic focus. Games like Age of Empires can be decided in the first fifteen minutes then take hours to end. My record is 8 hours battling someone with every resource place in the map, no chance of victory ever in the game.
So to reflect on this, I really like Rome: Total war.
Good graphics, no economic base, just highly strategical fighting.
But, I guess games do need some building and resources, bringing me to another favourtie: Warcraft III. This has two resources, is based on the individual soldiers working together instead of mass spamming something, and features four very unique races.
Still, unit customization is still important, and I'm hoping Dawn of War II will suit my tastes perfectly here.

So, back to the list.
Very important, if the world is more 3D, with mountains, tunnels etc. than I'd use a 3D map that has to be very easy to change angle and toggle an X-Ray view on or off.
A clean, simple, non cluttered GUI is essential to a good game IMO.
Not important at all. I'd rather something completely unrealistic to something like Age with our oh so similar factions.
While many would say this to be unimportant, a compelling story is essential. as the campaign is the thing which teaches you how to play. Everyone needs to learn, and the glorified tutorial called campaign mode needs to draw people in.
Not related to earth at all. Such things over glorify a tiny planet and also tend to have humans in them.
Completely unique. Four or Five uniques are much better than 15 clones with an extra unit each.
A mix, every race should specialise in one type to a degree, while not turning into a one trick pony
Please don't focus it on these, regardless they should be tough to take down without turning the game into a "Who can turtle most" war
Voice chat between players would be nice. Other than that, 12 players is a good max.
*Key Features
Being unique. Being tactical. Not being about a spam. Special abilities all being auto for ones you'd do all the time if you could click them that much. Like buffs auto casting on self, but perhaps manual to others. Having an ability to customize your individual units. Being squad based combat, but only lightly, 3 or 4 for basic men. An ability to replenish squads but not like Dawn of Wars. Perhaps they come back if they're left out of battles for a while. Having heros that don't completely dominate combat, yet not being weak either. Having some resources, perhaps 3, with out the game needing them. If the game didn't need armies, making the indiviudal warrior somewhat expensive, but being able to retreat and heal to max health without much hassle. An example: Warcraft III, If my group (usually 12 men designed to tackle anyone and anything) wasn't going to win a fight outright, taking heavy casualties to kill the enemy, I'd warp them out with my heroes scroll of town portal (warps all nearby men to base) then buy healing items and heal them all. Which brings me to, being able to buy items for your heroes and perhaps one or two for squad leaders.
If something could follow these, I'd have my dream RTS
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Old 25 Aug 2008, 12:48   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: If you could build an RTS...?

If I could build an RTS…
hmm, going off your list, I suppose its best to explain point by point.

GUI: This would be as unobtrusive as possible, perhaps even going so far as to be hidden until called up, or a response is needed. Pretty much all menus would be context sensitive. Perhaps a ring-select menu something like Kane's Wrath on XBox 360, this would also be linked to hotkeys, again, context sensitive. Hopefully a system that would make using the menu/hotkeys become intuitive.

Realism: In terms of technology, probably not really that realistic, or currently realistic. Tech stuff would be mostly hard science fiction style, with a few extra items thrown in. The effects of tech would be realistic though. Deformable landscapes (perhaps even full geo-mod). Intelligent units that can act on their own initiative if left idle, without orders to just stand ready. Realism would also filter down to the little things, soldiers need to reload, they can only carry so much ammunition, not all wounds are fatal. Logistics management would also play a key role in the game.

Storyline: Something compelling, I don't know what, but it starts simple. You begin on earth, near future, just before the breakthrough to create the jump-drive. As soon as you get jump-drive tech the game advances off the planet and gains elements of a 4X game. War can then be waged at any level you see fit. You could leave everything to the AI, using smart choices, and play at a strategic level. You could control each and every invasion/insurgency/battle from an RTS perspective, getting tactical play. You could even scale it down smaller, direct a critical squad to take down a critical objective. (If you ever played Urban Assault, you'll know what I'm getting at).

Universe: Ours, in the near future. Basic rules apply, obey physics, aliens are likely to be very alien if they exist at all, that kind of stuff.

Faction(s): Terran. Taking the current superpowers and putting their style in to slightly more futuristic units. Everyone and his dog will probably still have access to an AK-47. IT's kind of important on colonisation missions that your gun works, no matter what. AK's are that rugged.

Units: Mostly built as squads. Some specialists built/trained individually and then have to be 'integrated' later. Important to have a proper tech-tree. Range from your basic infantryman to full sized starships/black ocean warships when jump tech is discovered. Basic units lack customisation, but can have specialists added. Bigger units (vehicles and larger essentially) have full customiastion options, from basic hull right up to the paintwork and weapon caliber.

Buildings: Important, and next to impossible to destroy if you're not using the right tools. Some may be able to be dropped from low altitude, or even orbit, later in the game as pre-fab structures.

Team/multi-play: Unknown at this point, probably yes, but starting with jump tech already researched.

Key Features: See: All the other categories.
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Old 25 Aug 2008, 16:19   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: If you could build an RTS...?

I think that I would concentrate on being able to get right into the battle. Although you would still need to maintain a good economy and use a lot of strategy.
I would make it 3D, sort of like World in Conflict style graphics.
The game would take place over a full continent though.
Super Weapons:The main feature would be the missiles you can use. Different sorts of missiles such as bio missiles, nukes, and HE missiles. You would have to deploy strategies such as fire a chemical missile at a city, than the enemy would have to deploy soldiers, etc to evacuate the city. Now that there army is split you attack where they are weaker.
Realism. Fairly realistic, but in the not to distant future.
Factions: Most likely different just different countries. One may be better with missiles, one has better soldiers, etc.
Units: They will be deployed as companies. They can be armour company, recon companie, infantry company, etc. Builders would be civilians.
Buildings: Cities would be the main type of building. You have to make sure every city has a good income and make sure that you are giving it enough food, energy, etc. You would also have military bases, missile silos, ans powerplants.
Resources: Energy, economy, food. Energy is obtained by making power plants. Economy/money is obtained by making cities and making sure that they are growing and getting a good supply of energy and food.
Food is harvested with farms.
Storyline: Not sure yet. Something like the world has been divided into several great powers and are now at war.
Key Features: The ability to use chemical weapons and missiles.
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Old 25 Aug 2008, 22:45   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: If you could build an RTS...?

I'd make an RTS based on Realm of Dissonance: Age of Strife.

So, what would I include:

Background: I'd set the game around 3925, on a border planet. I'd include five factions primarily - the Humans (Greater Humanity), the Masurii, the Moth're, the Evacians and the Karen'Din-Ai.

Buildings: In an attempt to obtain "realism", I would remove the ability to build new structures. Each player begins with a pre-built base, complete with sufficient defences to massacre any "Zerg Rush" attack that may come their way.
The battlefield would contain various neutral buildings, which can be captured by infantry and used. These buildings range from bunkers to communication facilities to resource-gathering spots.

Factions: Each faction has a distinct playing style, aiming for "unequal" play and encouraging gamers to use their faction properly.
Greater Humanity: All-rounders. The Greater Humanity have a reliable core of units, but are bolstered heavily by Mercenaries. These range from Alakittean combat teams (very fast infantry) to Makari Insertion Teams (very stealthy warriors). Mercenaries are very cheap to build, but constantly drain Credit while alive. As such, it is best to build them only when needed.
The Greater Humanity also allows players to dictate how they want their force to work. Their base can be upgraded to suit a specific faction. For example, taking the Merchant Station upgrades makes mercenaries cheaper and more common; taking the Republic Outpost upgrade provides access to Kairm Pact Republic formations, granting the Greater Humanity elite infantry; the Naval Base provides Navy Federation forces, improving the vehicles available; the Icon of Sin removes most of the Mercenary units, but grants access to As'noth and Genator formations, ranging from very cheap cannon-fodder infantry to super-weapons that inflict untold damage.
These upgrades are not available in single-player; the campaign forces the player to take the Navy Base upgrade, though the other formations appear as computer controlled enemies.
Evacians: Evacians combine numbers and strength to deadly effect. Their vehicles are the most powerful available, and their high-end Infantry is amongst the best in game. Evacian gameplay revolves primary around vehicles; super-heavy tanks, Anthropomorphic Battle Constructs (think Mechs) and artillery pieces combine to grant the Evacians unmatched armoured dominance on the field. However, Evacian armies still need plenty of Infantry to capture buildings. This is further complicated because their Heavy Infantry, the Iron Dragons, cannot capture buildings - this in turn makes the commander choose between killing power and capturing terrain.
Moth're: Moth're emphasise long range firepower. Their Flux technology is brutally efficient at tearing apart even heavily-armoured units, and in a firefight little can stand against a Mothrean unit of the same type. Flux weapons are far more powerful against vehicles than other infantry weapons, and their guns in general are very powerful. This is offset by a lack of armour, making the Moth're a "first fire" army - they can cause heavy damage, but cannot last long under return fire.
Karen'Din-Ai: The Karen'Din-Ai are crystalline serpents. They are masters of defence, being the hardest to kill, and have limited building capabilities via "Crystal Singing". This means the Karen'Din-Ai can reshape the battlefield to their own ends. However, they lack vehicle units, which makes them both quite slow, and vulnerable to armour-rushing. Karen'Din-Ai must build defences to channel and sabotage enemy tanks. The KDA's heaviest units, Bloodsingers, cannot capture buildings either, so again there's a choice between power and control.
Masurii: The Masurii are a rush army, pure and simple. However, due to the game's mechanics, they cannot simply storm the enemy base from the offset. Instead, Masurii must land-grab and do as much damage as they can early on.
To aid the Masurii in this, many of their cheaper units have their cost and recruitment time reduced as the enemy casualties mount up. This makes their low-end units increasingly desirable as the game progresses, as you can more easily overwhelm the enemy!
The downside of the Masurii is they lack heavy hitting power - they do not have the all powerful formations other armies do. The Masurii defeat the top-tier opposing units by swarming them, or ideally by never letting the enemy get enough resources to build them!

Resources: Each faction uses "Credit". Credit is granted in various ways depending on the faction. Each faction gains Credit for holding ground (territory is expanded by capturing buildings). In addition, some buildings grant more Credit, such as drilling stations or mines.
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Old 25 Aug 2008, 23:55   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: If you could build an RTS...?

My real time strategy game would be totally different to all others (I hope... actually I hope a game like this already exists because it would be sweet) because it would actually be a first person shooter... and no I don't mean the type of game which is nothing but a shooter with a few unit commands like "camp" or "move forewards". Oh no, the game I have in mind is something so awesome it would be incredibly hard to create, something along the lines of this:

Gameplay: Essentially this would be an exclusively online multiplayer FPS. In those terms it would be relatively standard in its approach. There are two teams, who'se objective is to capture different parts of the battlefield through the use of spawn points. So where then does the RTS come into it? One player on each team are the Generals of their respective forces. These players have a great amount of control over the other players on their team. The Generals can choose at which spawn points those under their command will spawn at, thus they are the ones responsible for reinforcing beleagued outposts or swamping enemy positions. Not only this but the Generals can also assign missions to their men, using a system like that used for missions in Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. If you dissobey your General by not attempting to complete your mission, you don't get points and thus you don't advance your rank. Hopefully this will create the incentive for players to not be jerks. The Generals have access to an overhead map that allows them to see everything their troops can see and this allows them to make battlefield wide descisions that could help swing the battle in favour of their team.

As for who gets to be the General, games will operate on a turn system, every time a new round or map starts the General will be replaced by another player. In order to avoid General twattery the players will have the option to vote kick their General if they are not satisfied, although only the General has the ability to instigate a vote kick against their troops. General may also elect to switch with another player who can either refuse or accept the offer.

The Generals would also have access to several powerful weapons and resources for their men, meaning that the General can descide where vehicles and supplies are spawned and have several other abilities which they get either with time or with the accomplishments made by their troops. For example the team that holds the radar station will afford their General a complete overhead map showing enemy positions aswell, the team who holds the artillery positions will allow their General to summon artillery barrages etc etc. This would give the Generals a way to be more directly involved in the battle if they have nothing to do.

As for everything else like story line and stuff... I guess it would have to be set in modern times, although doubtlessly expansion packs would offer up World War 2 or Sci-Fi scenarios.

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Old 26 Aug 2008, 12:43   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: If you could build an RTS...?

There are modifications for the source engine that has created a game like that Tim, although it doesn't really work unless there are a large number of players for both sides, until then whatever the 'general' does is pretty much useless.

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