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Suggestions from an AOE/Starcraft player


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Hi everyone,

Been following this project for many years now and am glad to see it in working condition :D

Here's a few suggestions based on my experience with other RTS's. I know that "realism" is a big influence in your game design choices, so some suggestions you may not agree with.

  • Game speed needs to be increased dramatically. I'm not just talking about gather and train rates, but the speed that units move and, of almost equivocal important- speed of the animations. I could possibly help you on this (animation)... but not for another half a year.
  • More feedback - I need to hear when a unit's training or a construction finishes. I need to see when units die (preferably with a loud "URGH" followed by a gush of blood). I units to say "yes sir" in their language whenever I give them a command. Whenever a mine runs out or a farm has finished it's harvest, I want to hear some sort of feedback.
  • Unit pathing for a group of units is really awkward at the moment. Game breaking almost.
  • Attack-move function and Idle villager button.
  • Again to do with speed, but buildings really need to die faster.
  • Territorial borders seems like a gimmick "feature" to me I'm sorry to say. And it seriously hinders strategies involving forward building or rushing. AOE3 had a similar problem.

Other than that, it's looking great. The art is fantastic (albeit getting dated). However I think you should divert resources to fixing gameplay rather than improving the engine and assets (most importantly, the speed, feedback and pathing).

:cheers:

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There is an idle units button near the minimap.

You may also use the shortcuts: , for idle military units . for idle workers

Attack-move function

This is being implemented, so should hopefully be included in Alpha 8.

Again to do with speed, but buildings really need to die faster.

For speed in general: there will be a way to change the overall speed. For tearing down buildings: Perhaps we can include a "weak buildings" setting for people who like quick games? (Also, you need to use the correct units, a dozen catapults tear down buildings pretty quickly :) )

More feedback - I need to hear when a unit's training or a construction finishes. I need to see when units die (preferably with a loud "URGH" followed by a gush of blood). I units to say "yes sir" in their language whenever I give them a command. Whenever a mine runs out or a farm has finished it's harvest, I want to hear some sort of feedback.

Definitely coming.

Territorial borders seems like a gimmick "feature" to me I'm sorry to say. And it seriously hinders strategies involving forward building or rushing. AOE3 had a similar problem.

Not sure what's stopping you, Civic Centres can be built in neutral territory (i.e. a forward base) and I fail to see how our territories hinders rushing :unsure: Rise of Nations territories did as they had attrition (i.e. enemy units in your territory took damage) and supply (your units did not take damage in enemy territory as long as they were near supply units). Other concepts, like citizen soldiers, do have some impact on rushing as a useful strategy though. I suppose rushing will be more confined to raiding than actually taking out/seriously damaging the enemy.

The art is fantastic (albeit getting dated). However I think you should divert resources to fixing gameplay rather than improving the engine and assets (most importantly, the speed, feedback and pathing).

Art/sound/music and programming is done by different people, so having the artists work less will not make the programming happen faster =) But yeah, the focus is more on the gameplay and related parts of the engine (i.e. not graphical improvements and the like).

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Some general comments and rebuttals from me:

-- In all of the Starcraft 2 videos I have seen, usually HuskyStarcraft videos, none of the players build "forward bases." These are pro players, mind you. They build new command centers at pre-designated "expansions" (basically a place where a bunch of resources are dumped), build some nearby rax buildings of various types, and send units out from these heavily defended bases. AOE-style forward building is generally not a Starcraft gameplay feature, namely because resources are all clustered together at various points to create areas of contention or quasi control points. 0 A.D.'s style of play in this regard seems to be a combination of SC2 and Age of X. You first need a "Command Centre" (i.e. Civic Centre) to create an area where you can build rax. You can do this in a forward position relatively close to the enemy territory, while in SC2 you would not do this. In 0 A.D. there is freer placement of your command centers because resources aren't as concentrated together at expansion points.

-- Units will have running and charging implemented within an Alpha or two, greatly speeding up combat. Plus we plan to give a movement bonus to units in column formation. Units fall in to column formation when tasked to move a long distance. This will speed things up as well. We also don't have things implemented like speed techs and the like. Lastly, there are some plans to include different game speeds in game setup. Something a little slower than the current game speed will be "slow", something a little faster than current will be "medium" and then there will be "fast."

-- Pathfinding is being looked at. Trust us--we're as frustrated with the pathing as you are. :)

Hope you appreciate the feedback to your feedback. (y)

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Thanks for the info guys :)

I think the main point I was getting at about the territorial borders, is that it doesn't really add anything to the experience or enjoyment of the game. It's an artificial restricter, and players don't like that.

Yes in SC2 buildings are usually built around the mineral line, however rush strats are possible due to Protoss' warp tech, Terran's bunkers, Zerg's speed as well as a few other ways. However considering 0AD is closer to AOE gameplay, I was more referring to it. i.e. unrestricted building placement.

In terms of using a civic as a precursor to foward building. Well I'm not sure how useful that is, because to begin with you need at least a dozen guys to even build it within a reasonable time. All those guys take up time to build too. I don't know, maybe I'm just too used to AOE's speed; and in general it's best (due to ever decreasing attention span and spare time) to make game speed at least as fast as the predecessor's (I know AOE3 isnt really your predecessor, but you know what I mean).

Again, really love what you all have done :drunk: These are just the issues I had which if/when fixed would increase mine and hopefully others' enjoyment of the game :)

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Well, if you don't want any restrictions there should really just be one civ and one building from which you could build all units (if there are more than one, having more than one means that you have to choose which to build ;) ).

On a more serious note though: the territories does add something, currently not as much as things like capturing and technologies (to enlarge the area your buildings influence for example) aren't implemented. They can be used to limit your enemies access to resources and by placing your civic centres strategically you could essentially block him from expanding. So the "rush" in 0 A.D. might end up being more of grabbing as much of the map as possible (or at least the useful areas with resources or chokepoints) than quickly taking out your enemy by overwhelming him with a small (relatively speaking) group of soldiers.

One of the benefits of not having to sell the game is that we don't have to rely on catering to people's lessening attention span ;) And one of the benefits of the game being open source is that if we don't make options that make it fast enough someone else is able to :) That said, it's not too unlikely that we will have some kind of deathmatch mode as in AoK where things are sped up and you could start with all technologies researched etc, and it's a possibility that we will include an option to turn off territories. It will not be the default/most tested/balanced though, but something to cater to people who want a quicker game is likely :)

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Game speed needs to be increased dramatically. I'm not just talking about gather and train rates, but the speed that units move and, of almost equivocal important- speed of the animations.

Seconded. Play any successful RTS game, then play 0AD: Unit movement feels like they'd be moving underwater.

there will be a way to change the overall speed.

I don't think this is a good idea as typically that results in one 'standard speed' with the other speed settings not being optimized and awkward. Different speed settings could also cause dispute in the MP community. You'd better focus on one speed and polish that out from my point of view.

Units will have running and charging implemented within an Alpha or two, greatly speeding up combat. Plus we plan to give a movement bonus to units in column formation. Units fall in to column formation when tasked to move a long distance. This will speed things up as well. We also don't have things implemented like speed techs and the like.

This sounds nice on paper but you forget that without these advancements units are still slow. Overall sluggishness will thus continue to be an issue with every unit that does not benefit from at least one of these bonuses. That in turn might cause additional frustration: "Why the heck is this unit so slow compared to my other units that are in a formation or charging?" In this vein, consider as well that running/charging are only temporary bonuses.

Solution: Radically increase movement speed for every unit in the game for one of the next alphas (absolutely NO unit under a speed of 6!!! And it's not only that you have to beef up faster units accordingly; it's much more those super-slugs with a movement speed under 6 that make things so tedious). Then see what people think and start balancing. But this overall sluggishness really has to end if you want people to immerse in your alphas.

EDIT: Wow I do sound very negative here. Please keep in mind that I still love the game :).

Edited by Android GRRR
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Not sure how you play the game/when this is an issue, but it's something I personally have trouble seeing how someone could have time to think about in the middle to late game at least (I feel like I'm always tending to this that and the other, making sure I have new resources coming in, maintaining one or more attacks, perhaps defending somewhere, expanding), and in the beginning if you have time to sit and study the units move around I'd say you could probably scout more ;) . I don't mean this as a criticism of you, and there are certainly things we'll do to reduce some unnecessary micromanagement, so there's probably plenty of room for adjusting things. It's more that I'm surprised as to someone feeling it this way as I have not experienced it to be a problem myself :) At least not in multiplayer, against an AI there might be time to sit and ponder for a while, but against another human being - not so much :) (And partly that I don't think we should speed things up too much until the game is more finished and we know how things play in more detail, especially in the end-game as you then can have up to 300 different units to manage. In practice it's never going to be that many as cavalry and ships take up more than one pop space and units might be killed, and there are formations and control groups, but just something to remember so the decision isn't just based on how a unit looks in a video or on it's own. ;) )

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@Mythos_Ruler that is a good idea, but perhaps name them good old Conquest (with the territory and) and Supremacy (normal)? Either way its shaping up to be good :)

Fen, I'm not quite sure what you mean because its pretty easy to scout in the beginning if you just use the shift key to make your horse or other scout run to rally points. My gripe with the speed is for buildings; it takes forever to even build a house with 3+ villies! Also, I think some of the hunt move wayyy to fast...the deer can really haul a$$ lol

Edited by fiasco
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Some testing:

"Big House" (Hellenes, Persians, Carthaginians, Romans)

1200 Health

+10 Pop

150 Wood

1 builder = 120 seconds

3 builders = ~40 seconds

5 builders = ~25 seconds

12 builders = ~10 seconds

"Little House" (Celts, Iberians)

800 Health

+5 Pop

100 Wood

1 builder = 80 seconds

3 builders = ~27 seconds

5 builders = ~17 seconds

12 builders = ~8-9 seconds

Conclusion:

Don't use 1 guy to build a whole house by himself. ;)

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I'm in the process of increasing walking speeds. Some have already been committed if you have the SVN version.

Thumbs up :). As I said please do something about the ultra-slugs that have 6 speed or less because units that are slower than that really kill it. Sorry for being so harsh haha.

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Playing a few multiplayer games (against experienced players) has really taught me the value of territories. If you only play against AIs, you won't see this at all, because they hardly support territories. You need to expand if you want to gather resources safely after your base runs out, which places you that much closer to your enemies. The risk is having more land to defend, the benefit is more resources and additional/larger bases with defensive structures. Diplomacy and possibly technologies will add another dimension to territories. Don't be surprised if they continue to be tweaked and possibly end up as a game setup option :)

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I've had problem with villagers' speed while hunting, once the villager had to run through to the other corner of the map just because he wasn't fast enough or strong enough to kill the animals faster. Besides some of these speed changes, i strongly disagree with the other suggestions, imo 0AD should have the RTS style adapted to the historical background, and NOT the historical background adapted to the RTS style. Blizzard made Starcraft 2 in a way the matches are too fast, focusing more the graphics than the game itself (unlike AoK), that's okay for competitions, where you really want to end it as fast as possible with the skill of the players, but it's not okay for campaigns, where you want the battles more balanced, to enjoy the other aspects of the game (i, personally, hate when they destroy my barracks with just 2 hits!).

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At the same time you really need to concentrate on competitive play. I understand that a lot of people play scenarios and campaigns and whatnot, but competitive play is the essence of any real RTS game. Just look at AOE2--the main reason people play that is because of its competitive play (they still have thousand $ tournaments). With that being said, adhering to historical style too much would be very harmful (it is a video game after all). Also, the battles are only balanced in campaigns because a lot of players are not that good who play them -- that is, just because people can beat you in a faster game does not mean the game is unbalanced. It merely means the players who win are [usually] better (not trying to be mean, but its true). This game won't get a good base of competitive players if games take 40 minutes to play, although I don't think they should hyper fast either. (Btw, Starcraft 2 is not historical...unless you are from the future :ninja:).

@historic_bruno: do you think that territories should only be implemented in conquest? (meaning there should be supremacy and conquest). I think having territories is a good idea, but what about people who like to rush and build forward bases? I think territories align more with Rise of Nations, but considering a great deal of players come from aoe/aom it might limit the games appeal.

Edited by fiasco
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I've had problem with villagers' speed while hunting, once the villager had to run through to the other corner of the map just because he wasn't fast enough or strong enough to kill the animals faster.

You should send ranged citizen-soldiers to hunt for wild animals - like in real life.

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Star craft 2 requires a few things to become skilled at it but the main thing is apm (actions per minute) so often the games outcome will be determined by who has the fastest reaction time and who can click/hotkey the fastest. This type of thing makes for a very fun but shallow game and the game really does not require players to think, plan and adapt the way that many of the rts games do. Its more just about knowing the protocols for each situation. Players are often to busy having to keep up with apm to really do much thinking anyway and i would hardly call following a build order to produce zerglings + banelings or banshees+ marines a strategy so i really would hate it if sc2 had any impact on o ad other than showing everybody how not to make an rts game. As for raising the question if aom players would appreciate the borders, i have played aom for years and i like the border idea, aom has a tonne of variety and really nailed many of aspects of a great rts game in my opinion but it also lacked many things, the main one being historical accuracy. To give an example they have the Norse civilizations best known as the vikings, in the same period as the Ancient Greeks LOL. Yes some historians do believe that that it was foreign sea invaders who wiped out the Mycenaean empire (Greeks) but the info aom gives you relates to the Norsemen in the middle ages so its not a bad thing that o ad is going down a different path to aom.

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