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Modern vs Older RTS Discuss

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Are the genre becoming without ideas or...?

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Base building and diversity is the key?



I personally think a large problem with current RTS's is a lack of freedom for the players.

Star raft is successful for me because I can build my base anywhere anyway and have tons of units. Grey goose tried to put gimicks on systems, and while homeworks did the same with only one main ship, you had massive amounts of ships and formations to run them in.

Command and conquerd 3, generals, and red alert 3 were the last few good ones in the series, but my big highlights were three things: no population cap, freeform base building, and easy balance.

Firstly, the population cap. You had no limit to the number of sdiers you could field. Want 200 squads of rifleman? Go ahead of your comp can handle it. Deciding you need 50 mammoths to take down your opponents defenses? Get those factories rolling.

Base building was also a key factor. Bases in these three games were as simple as click the location, the angle, and build in the allotted area if nothing's in the way. Games out too many gimicks on it now, like the wall system in grey goo. The only other limits are power. Generals took this further by making it so there was no area limited by your buildings: you could send a worker right at start to the enemy base and build right next to it should you like.

Finally, the balance. I'll use generals cause I know their balance the best as my example. In the game, the three factions (USA, China, and GLA) have obvious but fair tradeoffs. The USA has some of the strongest units and buildings, but they require power and more money, resources. China has a medium balance of units, but relies on horde tactics for buffs with propoganda towers. The global liberAtion army relies on cheap, easy to pump out units, and requires no power source


Edited by Lion.Kanzen
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0 A.D is making this mistake?


RTS games are quite big,
so for example you have a game and its core is jumping. Problem is, you can add tons of feutures there. But if jumping doesn’t work, the game is considered to be bad, no matter what you did. I had dozens of games, where my character wasn’t able to jump high enough to pass an obstacle.

That’s where I think RTS do have a similar problem. There is a lot made around it, but at the core those games were not fun. Yes, you can place here and there a house and hire from time to time units, but a proper designed RTS does make it fun to do. A lot of RTS seem to simply made it, without to think what for they did add it.

I mean Empire Apart was also a team working on similar game, but despite all what was told to them, their game never got better, they did just add stuff and factions, but did not make it better to play. Why should it be here any different ? The ability to design fun to play base build seems lost.


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On 7/29/2019 at 8:33 AM, ethanray94 said:

I enjoy them all AOE2 however is my favorite. i'm really excited about 4, I just hope it's not ruined and sticks to its roots.

The best selling RTS. You can't compete with this. I can offer a link to their forums or you haven't  a phone?



Blizzard changed the game in 1998 with StarCraft, easily the most popular and profitable RTS of all time. The genre peaked then, in the late 1990s, where numerous franchises sold millions of copies. The boom of PC gaming had players looking for deeper, replayable experiences, and the rise of networking let them challenge each other from hundreds of miles away. RTS games were perfect for this new audience, and the games came hot and heavy for several years.


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Too much complexity

It’s kind of a given that as game genres mature, they tend to increase in complexity. The earliest real-time strategy games had a limited number of units, which were equal on both sides. As new games came out, they pushed the envelope so players needed to understand the strengths and weaknesses of more and more actors, as well as monitor an increasing number of resources and other factors.

That complexity can be an obstacle in other genres, but the often punishing nature of RTS games makes it even more frustrating. Executing advanced strategies at a breakneck pace is taxing for professional players, and the learning curve isn’t easy. Unlike fighting games, which introduced comeback mechanics to give losing players a way to rebound, RTS matches often end up with the winner steamrolling the loser.

A player on a Reddit thread sums it up exceptionally well:


“It’s just too much depth, complexity and content for most people to be willing to play and master. You can play a ton of other games out there and have an idea of what to do and what’s going on, but that is not the case with RTS games, especially Starcraft. As a new player, you have no idea what to do. You just get more money, make more workers, but then what units should you make? What units are best in that matchup? When should you expand? Etc. It takes many, many games and many, many losses to learn basic patterns and build orders. Basically…It’s a lot of work. And a lot of the losses people get are from things they never saw coming.”

That’s not the kind of gameplay that’s going to build a strong casual base, and let’s be clear: the majority of gamers aren’t pro e-sports players. They’re just looking to have fun. I read a recent statistic from one RTS developer who said that 80% of his game’s buyers never touch the multiplayer component at all. Considering that’s the main feature that ensures longevity in the genre, that statistic is painful.


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If its done bad, people play game always in same steps, which leads to simply who can faster click the same steps, and finally make the game extremely boring and repetitive.

Here some common encounters.
-exploit map’s style of play.

Age of Empires had so far a very good way to deal here, each map was randomly generated.
This means, don’t stuck by 1 map, they play all over again same way.

-exploit faction weaknesses
a very common mistake I see is, developers make factions differently, to a point where they completely break strategical decisions. Like for example a faction doesn’t have good ways to counter Air units, so enemy does only buy air units to fight that faction.

-exploit early game weaknesses
a common problem by RTS is rush play, because there are no working measurements to stop enemies early attacks.

Problem is, investigating it all needs time and skill. And time is money, something that is rare.


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AoE4 Base Build Gameplay. A New Hope for the Genre or just another Menace of too simplified design?

In my opinion the RTS main problem as genre, it did simply lost its ways and simply didn’t get better.
Sure units did learn in last decades some tricks, like go to cover behind other objects, switch weapons and activate magic abilities, but everything else didn’t really improve.

In case of modern games, Base Build isn’t the fun Part of the gameplay, due to be extremely simplified and developers not handle it well, there are various examples:
-You have no free base build
-You have no access to defense structures like Gates and Walls
-You have no variety, due to limited funds and map design

How is modern design supposed to be a good concept again?
You merely move a group, of very same units, to very same locations, that does get boring very fast.
These days you can barely afford 1 buildings to wait awhile for 1 unit, that’s embarrassing compared to old times.

Like the RPG character creation of Warrior “balanced” , Paladin “defense” , Barbarian "Offense, Rogue “fast”, Archer “ranged” the way you build your base, defines the gameplay experience.
Like have 1 of each building Barrack, Archery Range, Stable, Siege Workshop, Monastery, Castle
for a balanced army, or build not only several 5 Stables but also be able to produce from all of them lot of fast Knights. You have there a very big variety what kind of army you can create.

Just think of it, what was again the actual greatest achievement of our RTS genre in past 10 years ?
A yes, take something made like 20 years ago and make an HD, Definite, Reforged, Remastered Edition of it.

My concerns are for upcoming game:
1 AoE4 team has from Base Build point of view rather experience with “simple” strategy games.
2 these days “modern” design rather stands to make games simple and that’s does heavily contradict what is fun by RTS games.
3 “Modern” Different base build for each faction, does contradict gameplay variety. As it does enforce 1 play style, instead of be able to switch and change what you do.
4 It has been a while since we had RTS games, where you could very good use tactic to Turtle. Turtling is in modern games non exist, while in older games it offers to other people a lot of variety like have a siege warfare as the other player does build nice defenses to destroy.
5 By conditions of “modern” competitive multiplayer gameplay focused games, resources are often limited, to force people into fighting. That does contradict to build nice bases.
6 A lot of gameplay issues do come from Map designs, as those tend to be very similar to each other, because you have to make them very similar for “modern” competitive multiplayer. Worst thing ever, as it does take away gameplay variety.

So how should AoE4 base build be design and logically developed?


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check those icons (in he GUI) this isnt what @Nescio means?



cavalry archer

catapults (artillery)


check the impresive minimap.

I didnt like the gameplay.

now to the point.


Why Aoe have a more large fanbase and new RTs dont have that.

Ancestor legacy example.


The game got very good rating and looks really awesome, but had no good retention of player base.
While everything is there, I mean it was very well presented in the media, it had several PR campaigns, got a lot of support from developers and its player base, has very decent AI, nice story mode, there is simply one point missing:

It simply lacks variety.

-1 by modern games we have this “odd” eco points mechanic, like 4 till 10 points on the map.
Ancestors Legacy does even call them A, B, C, D, E, F. Sure in game like Company of Heroes where you have a focused “Squad management game”, it might be an appropriate approach.

But I think its neck breaking for an actual base build RTS.
This means, it doesn’t matter what you do, you have to be with your stuff between 2 or 4 locations.

So you get your buildings and units together, capture first and second expansion. than there is some kind of small playground between you and the other player.

Modern RTS map design kind of reminds me of sports fields like “ice hockey table games”




Problem is very obvious, it does limit the way you can build your base and defenses, as the focus is shifted to simply control some points and a narrow line between them. It does even more limit where the units have to be located and have to scout.

It doesn’t matter if I pick up Halo Wars 2, Grey Goo, Etherium, Dawn of War 3, Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak, A Year of Rain, Forged Battalion or what ever was made in last 10 years, you secure some point on map and fight between them. You have completely different Publisher and Developer teams, from Indie till AAA. But in the end by all those games, you end up at playing move point A, B, C and fight between C and D.

What happened to diverse battlefields we once had?

-2 You can do very little in terms of your base by modern RTS, as resources are merely enough to produce 1 unit at a time and very small infrastructure, you merely generate a group of like 5 till 30 units. What happened to large armadas we once had? What happened to the base creativity?

Each village, city, camp and castle, people build in AOE2, did really neat represent their play style people and offered so much replay-ability. Can AoE4 really pick up there the large and heavy torch AoE2 has to pass?



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28 minutes ago, Lion.Kanzen said:

It is not necessarily a problem if this option can be turned off by the host. And if the option must be turned off in higher ranking game.

There is a lot of players staying on single player game or playing online exclusively with friends without any competitive attitude.


They never had to learn one of the most foundational and important skillsets in all of RTS. Until it was far to late in their development.

Actually it gives more time to focus on resources and buildings in early game, letting noobs the opportunity to masterize this aspect first.

I don't see how learning scouting later will impact negatively your game. Scouting is easy, only time and click consuming.

On 1/22/2020 at 2:33 AM, Lion.Kanzen said:

Modern RTS map design kind of reminds me of sports fields like “ice hockey table games”

Yup. Ancestor is really nice the first hours and then you are bored to hell. I have no issue with dedicated base if it lets the opportunity to build the other buildings like you want. AoM was limiting but it wasn't an issue. Starcraft has also dedicated locations for the base but lets the player build as he wishes. I really hope they will make a Ancestor Legacy 2 with more features and more freedom in the building sets.

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Good RTS Gameplay Handling like, Smart select, Auto Production, Smart Gathering, Auto Attacks, Resources Abundance, Pathfinding, Build Grid, Compact UI, Map clearing size & Choke Point…

Well after play a lot recently AoE2 and more modern RTS like Cossacks 3 or StarCraft II.
I did notice there might be some very big difference between what would be considered for 2020 basic and self-explanatory Gameplay elements.

Sure for StarCraft: Remastered and AoE 2 Definitive Edition people did accept it does play the way it was. AoE2 is after all over 20 years old and there have been some very heavy changes within the genre. That do greatly change the Handling of an RTS. Let’s take a look at some points, maybe you have more.

Smart select
well you are able to select all combat units with one key
also you are able to select only combat units, even if workers are on the area
in AOE2 you still have max 40 Units and can not by mass selection leave out workers, which is bad as you have to assign them again to their work places.

Auto Production
Cossacks 3:
well you can swap between produce 1 unit or automatic produce units, even if you dont have the ressources yet, the game will wait up till you have and start the unit production.

Smart Gathering
I find it very odd how in C&C the harvester can easy start to look for new resources by himself and even find them, but in case of AoE something like a fishing boot you have to manage him.

Auto Attacks
that’s very controversial, as you can simply assign units to attack first what they are supposed to counter, like skirmishers would first attack archers, than other units. I don’t know if its really fitting into AoE, as it would simply very dumb down the gameplay. Another thing is if units are set to search the map and auto attack first thing in sight.

Resources Abundance
maybe the most critical point for an RTS,
resources run out, so you have to fight over their control with your enemy.

This can result in so many design issues

-resources are infinitive, so the fight never ends
-resources are too much, no strategy just spam-
-resources are too rare, no strategy just control 1 or 2 map areas
-resources run too early out, game get extreme boring

Well a very lost feature is as units move in formations, archers and priest move behind trooper,
but not simply that they do fast assemble and move very fluid all together
you might not believe, but that feature is for very odd reason lost these days.

Build Grid
C&C and Starcraft2
OK, why is a feature that does show buildable space and size the building will take not everywhere?

Compact UI

Especially this feature did very downgrade over the years.
Just compare a modern game vs old game

I have there a very simple question, there is already a lot happening on the screen as it is RTS, why aren’t the essential informations like mini map and current resources and population, idle workers not together ? Especially this should be fixed, Monitors are these days way bigger and UI is these days a very big mess. And why do they all just make one default option for UI?





Map clearing size & Choke Point
Another thing RTS do these days is to have very small place for the buildings and a lot of “natural” not destroy-able obstacles, compared to the wide areas we have by AoE.

I personally think this Starcarft2 like map design is a bad thing, as most other RTS are not about flying units, but anyway it is copied and pasted almost everywhere. I really would like to have again or big, clear and clear-able areas from AoE. Like if you use Onager to clear trees.

What you think ? And Any ideas of other handy gameplay elements AoE4 needs or shouldn’t be there?


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The gameplay improvement from AoE1 to AoE2 was Technology and Programming Creativity. Machines that could handle more computations went hand in hand with the programmers who implemented ideas that weren't yet possible with the earlier machines.

Nowadays, we got oversaturation of both fast processors and gameplay ideas. So much so that you don't know what to put in unless there are strict guiding principles of what kind of RTS you're trying to make. - One mistake is having all these ideas blended together that it made a Frankenstein's Monster of a game.

Also in today's corporate AAA industry, Game Companies no longer care what their game looks like from the inside (and even in this department W3: Reforged breaks that apart), as long as it "looks" great to play. The Open-Source world can't compete with this kind attention-grabbing competition. - That's another possible mistake: poor/false game advertisement

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I don't get the problem with the infinite queue.  I can't say I'm totally correct here, but the amount of resources that could be collected from a site in Rise of Nations were virtually infinite, which is a reasonable basis for the feature.  

It's a simple quality of life feature that is optional; the same can be said for things such as rally points.

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21 hours ago, Thorfinn the Shallow Minded said:

I don't get the problem with the infinite queue.  I can't say I'm totally correct here, but the amount of resources that could be collected from a site in Rise of Nations were virtually infinite, which is a reasonable basis for the feature.  

It's a simple quality of life feature that is optional; the same can be said for things such as rally points.

AoM have this feature. 



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