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Friday, January 25, 2008

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Real Time Strategy Games, A Look At The Future
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 6 comments

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.

Gamasutra: The Future Of Real Time Strategy Games

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