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What makes an RTS Great?  Like StarCraft?

Posted on 2012-12-26
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Last Modified: 2012-12-28
Anyone with clarity in their answer will be awarded, because there is no right or wrong answer here.  I'm considering building a Real Time Strategy Game, and looking for insight as to different player's perspectives.  Please try to answer any of the questions below, or just give some general feed back.

What features in existing RTS's do you really enjoy, or think is vital to the game?  I.e. Mini Map, Invention Trees, a Plot?

What features would you like to see in an RTS, that you either haven't seen, or haven't seen done well?  If it was poorly done, how could it be made better?

What parts of RTS's that you like, do you not like?  I.e. I like StarCraft II, but there are no lulls any more.  Its a click/second or bust.
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Question by:hpdvs2
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Element1910 earned 250 total points
ID: 38725662
Hello hpdvs2,

I'm a game developer myself and have been for years, so I enjoy these types of questions. Hopefully my feedback will help you build your RTS and take into account some of the pitfalls other RTS's have experienced.

What features in existing RTS's do you really enjoy, or think is vital to the game?  I.e. Mini Map, Invention Trees, a Plot?

Personally, a plot does gives gamers who are playing the game a reason to play your game. A plot or storyline allows people to easily relate, but realize it can also make or break your game.

Another feature I like is the ability to build/invent/research and seeing some type of immediate change. Not just more damage being applied to my pawns, but actually seeing why there is more damage being applied (i.e. special effect on ammo, or new weapon, etc...).

What features would you like to see in an RTS, that you either haven't seen, or haven't seen done well?  If it was poorly done, how could it be made better?

I'd like to be able to see more permanent building being done in RTS's or map control. For instance, say you have an entire world filled with individual game maps that you can gain control of and when you gain control you get rewarded with some type of bonus for gaining that control. If it's multiplayer, then maybe have some sort of race vs race type of map control that when enough real players from one race gain enough points (by winning matches against other races), then eventually everybody who plays that race who have also won on that individual map, will gain an advantage of some sort. One of my favorite RTS's was The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II. They did some great RTS game design in this game and I'd recommend playing it if you haven't already.

What parts of RTS's that you like, do you not like?  I.e. I like StarCraft II, but there are no lulls any more.  Its a click/second or bust.

If you don't like the type of clicks per second or bust type of game play that StarCraft 2 offers then I'd recommend going with a timed turned-based type of RTS. But realize, if you give the players too much time to react, it will slowly start diminishing the "strategy" part of it.
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by:☠ MASQ ☠
☠ MASQ ☠ earned 250 total points
ID: 38726614
I think we are witnessing the end of the "traditional" RTS game.

RTS has been driven most recently by the need to pitch opponents against each other in a time frame that works well for an audience (See HoN and SC2). We're now talking 3D RTS "speed chess", miss a move, leave a lane uncovered, and your team is doomed, no chance to play a second strategy or damage limitation.
 
I think these forms of the genre  have now evolved enough to deserve a separate classification.

What I think is missing is the development of hybrid RPG/RTS & what's missing is the ability to play a longer game with more depth.

Most RTS games have a back story which helps set the rules of engagement but denies alliances (what happens for example when it turns out the  Xel'Naga set up the Terrans as enemies for their own ends ;))

So place game resources deep in enemy territories, allow uneasy political alliances to be formed to share scant resources and a market to develop ("We have the Tiberium you need and we want your Spice!")  Develop your forces but be aware that once you attack your fuel/food/resource supply will cease and you will need to either quickly find an alternative or fail!  Or exchange territory, mine until you find the elements you need or encourage migration from outside your territory to bring the skills you are lacking.

So really build a political sandbox of an RTS with a liberal mix of RPG :)
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by:hpdvs2
ID: 38726706
@Element1910 - I like the idea of more permanent buildings, and a world that is a series of maps.  I almost imagine a risk board (but a little more 'squary') where you start out with one map, and once you dominate that, you can start deploying forces to other maps.  And once those are taken, attack other places as well.  All the while, maps you own will be attacked by other forces as well.  If you left a particular map alone, and haven't fortified it, it would be vulnerable.  If you raided your interior maps, to supply boundary maps, and one  gets busted through, then all your interior could be wiped out quickly.  Aided by boundaray maps, but still pretty defenseless to start with.  I think this would be a great addition to Single Player, but tougher in a multiplayer world. (PvP would suck for people just starting with one map, when adjacent maps are backed by dozens of maps of resources)
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by:hpdvs2
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@Masqueraid - I like the Politics you bring into this.  That's a good point.  A lot of star craft is politics free.  Its war, there is no avoiding politics, why leave out.  I like the idea that even with enemies that you will most likely be fighting at the end, you can still make touchy alliances for resources.  I'd even go so far as to bring up convoys, to send resources back and forth, armed/protected.  If a player were to back out, transferring the convoys would be the best time, because they could take the resources you were sending + keep their trade.  So you would send large squads to protect it from 'outside' forces, and to protect it from your partner.

If a good system were setup, where players could make offers, and select a convoy meetup point, then real players and AI could enjoy the same setup of offers.  I remember in Master of Magic, the politics were often set by the AI's sending you messages, but you could not send them back.  It sounds not too tough to setup either.
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