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Real Time Strategy Games, A Look At The Future


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#1 IMG News

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 08:09 AM

Gamasutra has posted a new article examining real time strategy games and their weaknesses. The author discusses the narrow "fight to the death" focus of the majority of RTS titles and offers some suggestions for introducing political and strategic depth to future RTS offerings.

Take, for example, StarCraft, one of the most popular -- and, in my opinion, most fun -- RTS games of all time. The player directs drone-like units to collect resources, turns those resources into buildings and combat units, and then directs those units to seek out and destroy the enemy.

If the player chooses, he can simply wait for the enemy to come to him, trusting in the power of defense to wear his opponent down. But he cannot win unless he finds the enemy base and destroys it. In other words, StarCraft models total war, or war in which a combatant uses all available resources to the very bitter end. In total war, though, there is no second place, so a strictly defensive stance is a recipe for defeat.

StarCraft is fun; it's just not as politically compelling as it could be. The problem with the StarCraft model of who gets what, when, and how is that there is really only one core value under dispute: the opponent's destruction.2 Rarely is it more valuable to a player to leave his opponent alive and well, but compliant, than to destroy him.

In other words, there are few political options when dealing with external opponents. On the other side of the same coin, a player's control over "his" units is never in question: he can collect and allocate resources as he sees fit, without ever worrying about being thrown out of power for managin his resources unwisely. In other words, there are no internal political opponents to deal with, opponents that could add a fascinating level of strategy to the game.
The full article is available at the link provided below.
Return to Full Article - InsideMacGames News


#2 dojoboy

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 08:15 AM

I'll go read the entire article, but there are some games by Paradox (Mac versions through VP) that offer internal political issues, economics, etc.  I hope they're mentioned, or else this guy didn't do his homework.
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#3 Tesseract

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 01:14 PM

View PostIMG News, on January 26th 2008, 01:09 AM, said:

The player directs drone-like units to collect resources
It's always seemed weird to me that the Zerg workers are called drones. Drones do nothing but sit around, eat, and mate.

#4 Janichsan

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 03:09 PM

View Postdojoboy, on January 25th 2008, 03:15 PM, said:

I'll go read the entire article, but there are some games by Paradox (Mac versions through VP) that offer internal political issues, economics, etc.  I hope they're mentioned, or else this guy didn't do his homework.
Obviously, he doesn't mention them. I suppose that is because – although Paradox' games are RTS – they are very different in gameplay terms from the archetypical RTSs like StarCraft and Age of Empires. As he mentions: most so-called real time strategy games are in fact more real time tactic games.

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#5 bobbob

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 03:32 PM

View PostJanichsan, on January 25th 2008, 03:09 PM, said:

different in gameplay terms from the archetypical RTSs StarCraft and Age of Empires. As he mentions: most so-called real time strategy games are in fact more real time tactic games
StarCraft has strategy, though. i.e. resources and production. An RTT would be something more like Myth.

What he's looking at is not tactics vs. strategy, he's looking at breadth of strategy, which is different. Your archetypes (StarCraft) are kind of stupid in that respect, since they have enforced boundaries on tiny maps with no carry-over between missions, but they still have strategy even if it's entirely ill-conceived.

#6 dorkhero

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 10:10 PM

View PostJanichsan, on January 25th 2008, 03:09 PM, said:

Obviously, he doesn't mention them. I suppose that is because – although Paradox' games are RTS – they are very different in gameplay terms from the archetypical RTSs like StarCraft and Age of Empires. As he mentions: most so-called real time strategy games are in fact more real time tactic games.

I disagree. Real Time Tactical games would be from the individual unit skirmish level, to a small unit operational level of a company or less. The most logistical input would be in regards to maintaining supply lines at the operation level, not building and running factories. Just imagine the absurdity if the first actions after securing Omaha Beach on D-Day was to build a 'barracks' and a 'jeep factory'. Best examples of RTTs would be Bungie's Myth series or Atomic Games Close Combat games. Possibly Homeworld 2, but I consider that a unusual situation. Historically most fleets have not taken their 'shipyards' with them...

#7 Tesseract

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 08:00 AM

View Postbobbob, on January 26th 2008, 08:32 AM, said:

Your archetypes (StarCraft) are kind of stupid in that respect, since they have enforced boundaries on tiny maps with no carry-over between missions, but they still have strategy even if it's entirely ill-conceived.
There was that one mission in Starcraft where you could take out the enemy's ability to produce either nukes or battlecruisers, and it affected the next mission. There should be more of that sort of thing. Only more so: you should have been able to take out both within the time limit if you were good enough.