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wraitii

Bringing something new

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I’m writing after reading a post in /r/truegaming about RTS : http://www.reddit.com/r/truegaming/comments/3961xs/what_happened_to_rts_games/

This will mostly be an “idea rambling” that I post here so that I can have a written trace somewhere but I do have some key points to make. I don't really expect a discussion though I'd gladly take part in one.

The reddit thread discusses the reasons why we haven’t seen any new “true RTS” in the vein of e.g. AoE2 in the last circa 10 years. Except for the last, all the big reasons have been stuff we have already stumbled upon when discussing the future of 0 A.D.:

  • It is very difficult to get an RTS right
  • An average RTS is not “OK”, it’s actually “bad”, which means you must get it right
  • The RTS community was actually divided between those that enjoyed the micromanagement, strategy and pressure (aka starcraft players), and those that relished more the overall macromanagement and/or basebuilding (those play Total War, city builders, Anno)
  • MOBAs took the remaining RTS players

The obvious problem here is that it is simply very difficult to make a good RTS that will strike the right chords for both the starcraft and the TW players. This requires having competitive MP and fun SP. Something that AoE2 had, and that for example AoE 3 failed (arguably SP simply wasn’t fun enough. Campaigns were subpar for the standards and the AI was bad).

My main addition to these points would be that indeed the TW/citybuilder crowd would mostly play SP/casual MP, whereas the starcraft crowd took over actual MP and made it competitive. So basically unless you had a few friends to play in LAN, playing MP means bowing to the starcraft crowd in a classic RTS.

I do believe 0 A.D. is on the good path to strike those two chords fine. We have a solid MP game, which can get fairly competitive (adjustments pending). SP is still very subpar, but the AI had gotten considerably better to the point that it might be time to start thinking outside the box a bit. Campaigns with triggers are now a possibility, and I have no doubt we’ll get interesting ones.

Now, the problem is that none of this is really new. This isn’t a huge issue because we don’t really have concurrence, but still.
The big thing that people want/wanted 0 A.D. to have is realistic ship movements and realistic formations combat. My personal opinion is that neither is achievable/really desirable given the current format.

So the question stands: how can you keep the classic RTS formula yet still bring new stuff?

Well, I do believe we have all the ingredients, except for one: map size. Imagine for a minute absolutely no gameplay changes to 0 A.D., but all maps are at least 20 times as big as a huge map right now;
Suddenly unit travel time is no longer irrelevant. Suddenly attrition can be simulated in a way that makes sense. Suddenly strategic economic position becomes a real thing. Suddenly the base building aspect can become as important as the fighting. Suddenly trading makes sense, suddenly raiding becomes closer to the real thing. Ambushes matter. Territory control matters. And all units suddenly get more realistic.
Now this would probably require some changes. The number of different resources might need to be bumped up a bit (perhaps with “raw/manufactured” variants of each material?). The “global stockpile” principle might need some adjustments, but I don’t think you’d need to go full Anno (perhaps with dropsites having “range” and some possibility for trading to move resources internally).

Resources would be less accessible on the map, more scattered, so terrain control and scouting would become more important. Strategic positioning of your buildings would probably become much more important (note that this fits well with a system where buildings would be costlier, and possibly need individual upgrades) . One could probably introduce a “maintenance” cost but it’s not certain that this is a necessity.
This means much slower games, more on the scale of EU3 or RTW. You’d start with a very simple base, discover your surroundings, and develop slowly into a full scale civ with multiple bases/towns, while still trying to crush your opponent.
Rushing would basically be ruled out, but you probably still would be able to strike at vastly different times depending on your focus. An hour attack or a 8th hour attack would become the new strategy.

Clickfest is almost automatically out. Yet it doesn't get boring because things would always be happening as you could vastly increase the number of actions before you have a complete city.

As for combat, this would make formations finally relevant because the scales would be right, and for the rest you could keep current simplifications.
I think this could be a very, very enticing game if done right. The fun of building a base and the fun of classic RTS warfare. It would shift the focus from “basically all military” to “50/50” and that would imo be a very good thing.

As a final word of conclusion, I am not suggesting this is the direction 0 A.D. should take, if only because it would be quite a dramatic departure and I am about 100% sure that we could never make it work (it’d be forever too slow with the current engine). I'm saying if someone ever wants to restart an RTS from scratch, this is the way to go.

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The big thing that people want/wanted 0 A.D. to have is realistic ship movements and realistic formations combat. My personal opinion is that neither is achievable/really desirable given the current format.

A classsic-style RTS achieve a balance of this in Battle for Middle Earth II. Ships did not turn on a dime, but movement wasn't 100% realistic. I think with ship movement, 0 A.D. pklayers just want something better than what is currently in the game. The ship movement in the game right now is just too clunky. And so many people keep making formations out to be more complex than they need to be. Simple powerful formations can work. It has been done, except there were no bonuses in BfME2. 0 A.D. would innovate on that.

Formations can be streamline and reduced in number. Battle Line is standard for infantry and ranged units. Wedge is standard for melee cavalry. Column is automatic. Then use modifying buttons: Open Order, Close Order, Locked Shields (this is the phalanx).

I do like your idea of making bigger maps and making exploring more important. Settling up forward bases or finding good spots for cities would be more important. And yeah, using a 'column' formation to speed up getting troops across the map would be more relevant. I think a separate git would be needed to test thing like this. More resources is intriquing, but maybe keep the same resources and make different ways of getting them, like large open pit metal or stone mines that can be captured.

Edited by wowgetoffyourcellphone
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[...]

I do like your idea of making bigger maps and making exploring more important. [...]

I think a similar thing could already be achieved if the (really) high movement speed would be reduced a little (say to the amounts you had in Alpha 16 for example) and the LOS ranges be reduced back to what they were in A17. (just my 2 cents).

A nice read btw, wraitii. :)

Edited by niektb

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Is possible have two path in the same game (0 A.D)?

I mean have a two options one named as Arcade (Starcfraft ) and other named Realistic/Real/whatever.

Arcade have the advanced gameplay off and realistic have those gameplay on.

Arcade mode is more similar to Sc and the classic Age of Kings and the mode realistic are full featured gamestyle.

Capturing is the path between both styles.

Both games have conversion. Mind control/ parasite and priest conversion, we haven't that yet.

About sea warfare: SC don't have sea warfare.

The other new ideas are over this layer, what means this? Means be more realistic or complex. Each layer give a complex to the gameplay.

I love adapt ideas from others RTS, lately I'm working to bring some AOM features, for example: "Underworld passage" is very similar to Sapping/mining( siege) concept.

Formations give slow to the battle but can work like Rise and fall: CaW. They are slow but not all like total war.

Maps few times more bigger huh? We need more environment/ eyecandy entities to be more fun gameplay , is boring if we have enoght things to do, AOE 3 have all kinds environment vs player features, the same have Warcraft 3 with some units. And if we have maps more big than before, we can have more big ships?

Now... Thinking outside of box... That's hard because needs to work and be fun.

About new resources... We can add rare resources to games that gives bonus to main resources or bonus to train units, must be controlled by a merchant unit, the merchants converts himself into a merchant building . See rise of nations.

http://riseofnations.wikia.com/wiki/Rare_resources

Or with this rare recourse becomes a existent resource one or two, example marble can generate bonus to stone stockpile. But the merchants need controlled that, and their building his independient by a territory ( neautral territory/Gaia), except when is into a territory allied or enemy.

Edited by Lion.Kanzen

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I like option between modes 'Arcade' (more like Starcraft and AOE2; faster, more micro, fewer techs with bigger effects, basic formations for movement only, not combat, etc.) and maybe call the other option 'Imperial' (more like Total War or BfME2; more macro, more techs about tweaking your army and civ just right, units fight in formations, more about city building, more realistic). Both modes can have different ladders. Would be a challenge to excel at both.

Edited by wowgetoffyourcellphone
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I think the game is already quite universal and you are going to overcomplicate it with two modes. Currently MP is indeed mostly about micromanagement and competition but the reason is not that competitive people 'took over' it; just citybuilder people face two technical issues:

  • lag on bigger maps
  • no possibility to save an mp game

Afaiu these issues will be solved in the near future and i believe that after this MP will become diverse in a natural way (those who prefer quick fun won't join 2-players games on giant maps, and vice versa).

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Ok updating guys here the last Age of Empires... ...really? No, is not like AOE but is made by several developers, this time the Ex Esemble Studios developers bring this

http://www.gamespot.com/articles/ashes-of-the-singularity-and-servo-two-sides-of-th/1100-6426530/

So they wants big maps and a bunch of units in a battle, I mean war...

The future of RTS (a segment of them) are focus now in have big maps and a lot of units, they ( the develpers of this last RTS) are trying mix Starcraft , Supremme commander and Age of empires and Halo Wars but Cartoonish look ( AOE Online again)

0hjMkno.jpg

About their pathfinder

"As Wardell and I chat, I stare at the screen loaded with futuristic ships firing at each other, and something strikes me: these are all land units, yet they all hover. None of them seems to touch the ground, and I wonder how important this detail might be in Ashes' pathfinding systems. Getting thousands of units to navigate around each other must be an absolute nightmare, and as it happens, hovering is a key component in solving potential bottlenecks. Says Wardell, "Dan Baker and Brian Wade pioneered the terrain system that we got together, so there's a couple interesting things about the terrain and pathfinding. One is, the way we build maps, we've already got pathfinding information, so we know how to get from one area to the other smartly, if you will, so we've already pre-calculated pathfinding for the majority of the map. We know where everyone's going, it's actually a pretty efficient cost for us. We basically do that up front and then you have to pay for that during the real time."

So if we are trying to mix other previous RTS and give big maps to the players, we are in the right path. That's my conclusion.

------

Evolve or die

I found in this very interesting page, that you must knew or need to know

http://waywardstrategist.com/2015/03/25/rts101-evolve-or-die/

The page have very great reviews about the RTS genre and about RTS mechanic even have some desing question like "is necessary have and interface?"

Edited by Lion.Kanzen

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wraitii: Very nice writing! (How could I miss this?)

I'd like to add some more things that IMO cause the lack of well done (if initiated at all) proprietary RTS game development:

- Software companies tend to focus more on visuals to have auto-generated material for advertising. That somehow rules out realistic and interesting scales for RTS games. This point is somehow valid for open source games also but not to the full extend.

- Software companies have the declared goal to raise the profit / "fun to play for x hours" ratio with the target of reaching that of cinematics. This suits the more fundamental goal unregulated markets tent to: To artificially raise the demand by making it's value decrease fast to ensure/better future profit. (This only works because the consumers often think short term). For open source games that's entirely different. So IMO we should focus (and AFAICS are) focusing on long lasting fun game experience.

- Some PPL seam to be bored by long games while IMO the actual fun comes with games that do last at least one hour. This tendency seams to increase. That is mainly true for the micromanagement fraction IMO. They also seam to be of the "more visible" kind making it good for advertisement to focus on their appetite rather than disappointing them and invoke their angered outcries.

I especially agree (well, mainly on everything but especially) on:

- It is very hard to get an outstanding RTS going.

- We should not focus to much on things like naval warfare like ramming or other features that are IMO edge cases mainly. Keep it simple to be able to get it right.

- Micro and macro oriented players should both be considered in game development (especially the scale of things). This way we can get the balance within our range of things. I like that we are more on the macro side but I don't think we should lean there to far or at least not exclusively.

- Scales like map size and attack range variety matters! It can make a game feel like an entire new one. To make this count things have to be implemented carefully and with the global picture in mind. To many features and hard capping should be avoided to be able to examine the change in feel with the change in scale (and other basic things like over all damage/life ratio). For me formations are part of the "crippling the ability for natural evolving stuff to appear", too.

I also think (while focusing on comfortable and casual gaming) we should keep an eye on competitive multiplayer.

I'm enjoying to see that others feel about the same as me ;)

Thanks much!

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I've given this some more thoughts, and I'm convinced that a good way forward would be to scale everything up, including time. It'd play out more like SimCity, with some basic actions taken and then a lot of fast-forwarding. With support for some sort of supply lines and seasons. With seasons things can get really interesting strategically, and it helps make the game not too boring at any time. A gameplay that's more automatic, like some sort of huge-scale Caesar game, but where you can give a lot of input on a lot of things if you want. Basically make it a game about supply lines with real season support and things will get interesting.

But really I'm also quite convinced that it's nowhere near being possible with the speed of current computers. It would require too much dialing down.

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Sounds good, but just a few things I've noticed.

Games that go from micro to full on macro tend to become games about rushing. There becomes this general formula for winning, build A, B and C then attack with X, Y and Z. What I like about 0ad is the diverse number of ways in which you can play the game, you have to ajust your plans when someone gets a little in front of you. "Bad" RTS games often kill diversity by advancing to macro too fast.

Secondly LAG (fairly self explanatory).

Finally games can get really monotonous at the end as time drags on. When an opponent puts up 4+ fortresses it adds another hour to the game and ends up being a competition to see who can run out of resources first.

I just don't believe it's viable to go from a micro management game to a full on macro game. AOE succeeded because the number of troops did not get out of control and it still mattered which troops you got at the end of the game.

Edited by Giotto
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In fact, most old school RTS and their successors can be said "time-management" games. Multiplayer in AOE was about who was the fastest (all other things being equal). Same deal in Starcraft, same deal in most RTS in fact (there's this quote by a dev of Command and Conquer: "A player controls hundreds of units, dozens of buildings and many different events that are all happening simultaneously. There is only one player, and he can only pay attention to one thing at a time. Expert players can quickly flip between many different tasks, while casual gamers have more problems with this.”

The only way to make an RTS that's not a clickfest is to remove this need for time management, which is probably why a lot of the more strategy-focused games are turn by turn to some extent. My only idea on how to do it in a game like 0 A.D. right now is to upscale the map by a factor of 50.

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Sounds good, but just a few things I've noticed.

Games that go from micro to full on macro tend to become games about rushing. There becomes this general formula for winning, build A, B and C then attack with X, Y and Z. What I like about 0ad is the diverse number of ways in which you can play the game, you have to ajust your plans when someone gets a little in front of you. "Bad" RTS games often kill diversity by advancing to macro too fast.

Secondly LAG (fairly self explanatory).

Finally games can get really monotonous at the end as time drags on. When an opponent puts up 4+ fortresses it adds another hour to the game and ends up being a competition to see who can run out of resources first.

I just don't believe it's viable to go from a micro management game to a full on macro game. AOE succeeded because the number of troops did not get out of control and it still mattered which troops you got at the end of the game.

Well all those things can be balanced for the best result and new mechanic,s and features added to make it work with 0.A.D,

I think it would be awesome when you fight on a big map and have small skirmishes and small/big battles to build up your forces to lay siege to your opponent.

I love long games and big maps and if 0.a.d goes for that with ofcource some game host options to set up the game like they want then i think you would have some awesome games in the future even if they take longer then a normal RTS match i bet you won't even know you played that long because you are having fun! :D

FeXoR:

- We should not focus to much on things like naval warfare like ramming or other features that are IMO edge cases mainly. Keep it simple to be able to get it right.

I dont agree with that Naval battle,s sould get a real battle system and function. When every thing got a role and function you can do so mutch more. So that sould not be keep it simple to keep it right, No it sould be give everything a role and function to get it right:P And have some Awesome naval battles and beach landings!

Edited by RoekeloosNL
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Hi All! It's been a while!

I stopped a bit 0AD cause I was playing on Grey goo but I'm back and with a new PC. The new PC allows me to play on giant maps without lag (200 pop cap) and I actually love the idea of huuuuge maps.

The problem I see for this kind of gameplay is that defense is gonna be always easier than offense. I think aggressive player will have a very hard time on huge map. However I believe this can be ok if we are allowed to build more than just a CC outside of territory. some siege camp / towers / wood walls can help the "offensive" player.

Anyway I love this idea.

Alex

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Alekusu, try Delenda Est if you want to test buildings outside your own territory. You can build storehouses and farmsteds and (maybe it's the same in the original) put one guy in an outpost for small defense even if it may be actually worse than the garrisoned unit.

Instead of walls, you need scouting and large vision because units move much slower. With significant counters it makes it very important to be able to check what's coming and be prepared. I've played only against AI but always started fighting very early, on normal sized maps.

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Hey Karamel, I already tried a few months ago when I was active on 0AD. I'll give it another shot to see what's new. Thing is I don't have as much time as I used to have for games so I wanna focus on the main.

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Thanks for the comments Alex

The problem I see for this kind of gameplay is that defense is gonna be always easier than offense. I think aggressive player will have a very hard time on huge map. However I believe this can be ok if we are allowed to build more than just a CC outside of territory. some siege camp / towers / wood walls can help the "offensive" player.

Yeah basically my idea would be a full revamp, so basically destroying your enemy would be a combination of raiding their supplies (if they're unprotected and you can find them), harassing, and actual sieging when you've built a big enough army.

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I suppose this could be accomplished by downscaling all the player entities (buildings, troops etc). You would end up with realistically sized soldiers and the rest of the map could remain relatively intact as they take a while to make.

Edited by Giotto
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I suppose this could be accomplished by downscaling all the player entities (buildings, troops etc). You would end up with realistically sized soldiers and the rest of the map could remain relatively intact as they take a while to make.

This would need the pathfinder grid to be smaller to handle the smaller units correctly.

So for the pathfinder it's not a gain in speed.

If you scale down the trees that means more entities as well.

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OK sure but increasing the map size seems like it will cause alot of performance issues as well.

Yes, it would be about the same (just more terrain grids to handle as well)

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Love the idea :D As a player, I totally fall in the "Imperial" category.

However, having recently played a lot of AoE2HD multiplayer, I do worry about the time necessary to "build-up" before actual fighting occurs...

My suggestion is gto go for the two separate game modes ("Arcade" and "Imperial") and then, in "Imperial", starting with a map 10x bigger and with far more costly/complex Age upgrades, so that player can still enjoy early Age fights...

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Indeed, growing the map will make rebalance the game in something more strategic than tactic . But a virtual solution will be to make units walk simply ... slower.

This can lead to make games very long and, i'm afraid, more likely to finish in a kind of statut-quo situation ( very slow ping-pong game between detected champions invasion and full garnisoned fortress ).

_____________________________

If you want to resize the importance of the positions on a map (its a good idea) , you will have to consider NO LONGER that a new CC build is simply a extension of your inner CC territory..

By now, you ressources gathered are just available everywhere for every of your CCs . Its irrealistic, and doesnt make you pay the consequencies of a long ennemy siege attack.

--> This makes me think that if we want to underline the importance of position and make the game more macro (but without slowing the game in order to keep the micro) , one need

to make ressources less Virtual after they have been gathered.

Here some idea.

- Each ressources gathered belongs to the CC where it has been gathered

- You can delivery more ressources to a CC (even to allies ones) thanks to traders (with added values?) and ennemies can steal the value by killing it (like now). Roads existance in the game will be then relevant.

- Rather than make each unit a one-shot investment, make them a charge for your city : each unit work but also consum food on time ! As a result, garnision cowardely unlimited units will lead to starvation.

- Buildings and units can be convertable : convert units to you, but also convert buildings or siege engines or even make them a source of wood and/or stone (like ruins)

- Make a lake of ressources a reason to revolt (some units convert to gaia ?)

- Each CC detroyed/captured will offer the goods in it

- ... :)

I think make the ressources more material and less virtual can be a good way to underline the importance of position and put an added macro value to the game and even a micro ! as the player would have to

protect the cities but the roads as well ! (like did the succesfull Romans )

Edited by JC (naval supremacist)

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Games that go from micro to full on macro tend to become games about rushing. There becomes this general formula for winning, build A, B and C then attack with X, Y and Z. What I like about 0ad is the diverse number of ways in which you can play the game, you have to ajust your plans when someone gets a little in front of you. "Bad" RTS games often kill diversity by advancing to macro too fast.

Fully agree, to make a good RTS, you always should have somewhere a downside of a dominant position. More pop , should lead to more stomach to feed. More CC, should lead to more road to protect if you use your colony CC simply

like a military position with no workers .. (if you suppress the virtuality of ressources)

How many times did a see a good player resign after 10 mins just because he did wrong his grow spam combinaison (A, B and C then attack with X, Y and Z) .. its so pathetic. Each game should be different and all things who can make game more complex (but not complicated) should be considered :)

thx

Edited by JC (naval supremacist)

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Indeed, growing the map will make rebalance the game in something more strategic than tactic . But a virtual solution will be to make units walk simply ... slower.

This can lead to make games very long and, i'm afraid, more likely to finish in a kind of statut-quo situation ( very slow ping-pong game between detected champions invasion and full garnisoned fortress ).

_____________________________

If you want to resize the importance of the positions on a map (its a good idea) , you will have to consider NO LONGER that a new CC build is simply a extension of your inner CC territory..

By now, you ressources gathered are just available everywhere for every of your CCs . Its irrealistic, and doesnt make you pay the consequencies of a long ennemy siege attack.

--> This makes me think that if we want to underline the importance of position and make the game more macro (but without slowing the game in order to keep the micro) , one need

to make ressources less Virtual after they have been gathered.

Here some idea.

- Each ressources gathered belongs to the CC where it has been gathered

- You can delivery more ressources to a CC (even to allies ones) thanks to traders (with added values?) and ennemies can steal the value by killing it (like now). Roads existance in the game will be then relevant.

- Rather than make each unit a one-shot investment, make them a charge for your city : each unit work but also consum food on time ! As a result, garnision cowardely unlimited units will lead to starvation.

- Buildings and units can be convertable : convert units to you, but also convert buildings or siege engines or even make them a source of wood and/or stone (like ruins)

- Make a lake of ressources a reason to revolt (some units convert to gaia ?)

- Each CC detroyed/captured will offer the goods in it

- ... :)

I think make the ressources more material and less virtual can be a good way to underline the importance of position and put an added macro value to the game and even a micro ! as the player would have to

protect the cities but the roads as well ! (like did the succesfull Romans )

THIS. Local resources.

Please make this happen :D

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