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Modern vs Older RTS Discuss

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2 hours ago, Lion.Kanzen said:

Well, that thread gives a sample player's attitude against the Auto-queue:
Oh look! You now have the computer to manage your economy instead of yourself. How NooB / lazy of you."

I also don't have a problem with the auto-queue feature. The fact that I love 0 A.D.'s removal of manually seeding fields makes me consistently like auto-queue. It's one of my fave features in Battle Realms, too.

Gameplay-wise, you don't generally have your buildings auto-queue until you're confident in your economy.... something you want to think less of in the mid to late game. The only thing I want to worry about economy in the mid-game is the enemy raiding them.

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I feel like a lot of this discussion centres around a key sort of point made at a lecture for GDC about 'cursed designs.'  Essentially games can sometimes have two or more contradictory goals that make the end game experience they plan to make impossible.  The classic RTS game essentially does this by having two components to the game: the economy and the military, both of which require attention to win, but given the realtime nature of the game, this makes it difficult to immerse oneself in.  For instance, a player could be having an intense battle when they realise that they've forgotten about the harvest season.  This oftentimes leads to designers attempting to rectify the issue by putting the focus on one aspect or the other.  Company of Heroes relies purely on area control for the basis of economy while the emphasis remains on a company level with the military.  City-builders represent essentially the opposite camp, letting the economy be the driving force of the game.  

This sort of dichotomy I would say is essential to recognise for the future of 0 A.D, and depending on which aspect is preferred, the developers should work to streamline the other as much as possible.  Of course it isn't a matter of going with one extreme, but the limitations should be recognised.

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On 3/6/2020 at 9:48 AM, Lion.Kanzen said:

The development of the thread just made me an auto-queue supporter. To think that I believed that feature is just a trivial thing to argue for.

To think that currently the strongest argument against AQ is
"It's boring because all you do is watch buildings spew out units towards the battlezone."

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Well lets take a look at those AOE3 maps. Again, do they provide as much freedom and variety like the maps from AoE2? Of course not. Trade posts are resource generating buildings.
This maps are prime example of those simplified footballs fields, where they do force people to take middle. And completely are breaking Turtling gameplay.
It’s an issue if the map does force you to play it merely a limited and intended way.






AoE3 map is already shaped and pre-defined.
Compare it to AoE2 map, you are the one who does discover and shape the map.

As its up to you where you build your base and you can play as turtle, actually AoE2 is one of the handful games, where it’s not a simplified rush for key locations.

I also do not understand why developers are including chores into games. This collecting of XP to update city new cards and each early game collecting of treasures feels like s Quick-Time-Event in a shooter or RPG, completely unnecessary.

PvP gameplay experience was quite awful, once you have secured middle of the map, people are leaving the game. This is a main issue by Foodball maps, once you have the key position , people do leave the game. This is extremely annoying.

And worst of all, you don’t have your base build freedom. In AoE3 you merely need to follow the way from trade post, to find enemy base. As I really like to use siege equipment vs buildings, but in AoE3 nice defense structures area a rarity as most people have to focus on mobile units.

I think AoE III is one of prime examples, where RTS are heading in wrong direction. You have ideas stitched together, without a proper consistence and gameplay variety, with some quite annoying parts. And that where ideas become not important, as you are going to have overall bad gameplay experience.


1 With the info so far sounds like they are doing what you want, a game with " different factions" and new mechanics.

2 Did you like and play their previous games DoW3, AoE-Online and Universe at War?
Despite they had there their freedom, those games ended up very bad.

3 We have seen so many flopped projects, who share similar approach.
War Party, Empires Apart, Year Of Rain, Grey Goo, Act of Aggression
It just doesn’t sound to me, like the games market is asking for such game.

4 Experimenting with games mechanics in case for AAA game for year 2020, sounds like a very bad idea.

5 After around 25 years of genre existence, we should actually ask ourselves what kind of game people do want to see


As you mentioned, map control in Age of Empires III is more important then in Age of Empires II. Clearly you don’t like this cause it makes defensive play, such as turtleing, less viable. But just cause you don’t prefer that design choice does not mean its “bad design”.

  1. Turtleing in General:
    In any RTS turtling is a strategy that is only effective in the short term, and should not be employed for the entirety of the game if you want to win. Any smart player who sees a player who is only turtleing is going to maximize map control, get greedy, and build a much better economy.
    Short answer: If you like to turtle the entire game you are going to loose, it does not matter what RTS you are playing. If you are playing a game that DOES allow turtleing the entire game to win the majority of the time, the game is poorly designed. No one strategy should be that dominate.

  2. Map Control Importance in Other games:
    Map control in CoH, CoH2, and DoW2 is incredibly important (much more the AoE III) to winning because your resources are directly tied to your map control. These games are good games that did well and were plenty popular.

  3. Relic Has a Good Track Record
    Just because Relic’s latest game DoW3 did not do well, and has some ideas that were not well received does not mean all of their next games are going to be bad. Give them a chance to learn from their mistakes.

Its totally find that you like AoE II more then AoE III. I don’t have a problem with that. Most people agree with you.

But saying that the decline in RTS game popularity is due to game design decisions that you personally don’t like is silly. There is no evidence for that. There are tons of variables that go into deciding if a game does well: marketing, price, release date, other games being released at the same time, initial reviews, release platform, etc


1 And that is a good thing, the civs of AoE II arent really unique but purely buffs, most civs look alike.

2 I didnt play those, but that is not the point i am making. It has nothing to do with what i said. I dont care which studio makes it as long as they make it a new and refreshing game not a copy of AoE II.

3 The market really, isnt also asking for another copy of AoE II, we just got the definitive edition.

4 Because EA sets a bad example doesnt mean its bad, it is actually a good thing. If all studios stopped doing experimental stuff we would keep getting the same games which gets boring real fast. Same critisism games get, that they are toi similair to their predisessor.

5 That is what i exactly did. A lot if people liked AoE II resource system, so reimplement it. A lot of people like it or hate it enjoyed the trade posts and natives so add that. Heck have an option to turn it off if you want. The building limit of AoE III got a lot of critizism so dont impliment that. Etc. It isnt a bad thing to add different things from the games of the fricking same franchise.


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Counter question, how many new RTS games were declared at least average by gamers? Strategy games are still popular, its just developers are making these days bad Real-Time Strategy Games.

Let’s compare for example a modern Turn Based Strategy game vs Real-Time Strategy Game.
Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Relics of War TBS from 2018 vs
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III for RTS from 2017

Both games do take place in same universe Warhammer 40K
But the way how games market did receive both games is very different.

Dawn of War and Relic are very well-known franchises and studio. There was zero competition, game was advertised and praised by the press. 3 factions with unique gameplay mechanics.
Died 2 or 3 months after release, received abysmal ratings and got no support or patches, was very quick abandoned. According to players it had very bad story mode and lame gameplay.

In same time Proxy Studios and Gladius are no name franchise/studio, had like almost no advertisement at all. And still managed to prove itself despite having several mayor titles around like Age of Wonders, Endless legend and Civilisation. They did just by gameplay copy /paste Civilisation. Was launched with 4 faction more and received tons of DLCs and patches, has 7 faction unlock now.
Despite some flaws, people are actually liking and praising it.

So how can it be, that we still have AAA Total War, Turn based strategy games and City Builder like Anno. But if it comes to Real time, people do not like it?

My point is, Real-Time Strategy Games developers these days do make fundamental mistakes.



Random note: I thought this review was super interesting!
https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Employee-Review-Relic-Entertainment-RVW18568693.htm 4

People loved Dawn of War I, most loved Dawn of War II, and almost everyone hated Dawn of War III.

Each of these games has completely unique factions. It follows pretty logically that unique factions were not the problem. Literally no one complained about DoW III’s unique factions.

But everyone did complain that it played like a MOBA. They complained about the lack of base building. The size of the maps, other game play features.


Well you are right with your points too, but I think that’s the combinations of those things.
“not appealing design, odd gameplay feeling and missing of tech tree branches can only lead to impression you have a bad and inferior game.”

And my personal impression is so far, is that they did not learn from previous projects.

1 Unit Proportions and Cartoony design. Those excessively bright and flashy colours, units that have odd big sizes. Like a AoE4 Rider with too big sword or that DOW3 Hero who is much bigger than the soldiers and does backflips and jumps in very heavy armor.

Does make the game look bad. Because it can be done better.
The impression is always make a Realistic character is harder than a cartoon character.



2 As for gameplay like Turtling and different factions = missing tech tree branches.
DoW3 was launched unlike DoW 1 and 2 without defence towers. They were later added with a patch.
Just think of it for a person who liked to play defensive, in DOW1 you have by each faction mines and defence towers that can be upgraded, you have a sequel by DOW3 game without mines and defence towers. Also faction Space Marines missed: Transport units, Healer Units, Heavy Infantry, long range Mechs and anti vehicle upgrades.

That’s why I do have a very bad feeling to see different factions in AoE4.
For me it sounds like to have again missing tech tree branches.
And if a tech tree branch is missing, you miss its strategy.

3 Gameplay, AoE2 is like the best complex base build RTS ever with very clear counters and counterparts. The last work of the current AoE4 team is simply a direct opposite of it.


The unit proportions of AoE IV in the image you provided isn’t off.

Still unique factions wasnt a criticism. And you said i believe the Mongols are denied of the last Age. This means they need to rush, so they are a rush civ. Seeing rushing is already a thing i dont see why there cant be a civ designed for rushing. There are a lot of gameplays where people rush feudal or castle age and winning withouth even reaching the imperial age. Seeing i believe AoE IV has just like AoE III five ages, the mongols will have 4 ages to rush.

You can also not act like the AoE II civs arent designed for certain purposes. The Teutons for example are designed for a defensive form, unlike the Huns which are more designed to play agressive.


RTS games are also heavily criticized for factions balance and that is actually a result of unique factions.

Well Zerg are a rush faction, but still you have access to defense buildings and late game counter and counterpart units. You don’t have to rush, its optional.

You don’t have to play Teutons defensive, you can play them aggressive.
You don’t have to play Huns aggressive, you can play them defensive.

I still can as Hun, build lots of turtle and win by world wonder.

Turtling, Rush, Hit and run and so on strategies should be available across all factions.
Or else game might as usual turn out very boring.

An Age of Empires 2 player can anytime surprise what he is doing, like wow here is a wall or wow he is using a lot of horse archer to harass economy, here is knights rush, there is mass spam of spear soldiers, or wow he is using a lot of priests to steal my units. And what are doing 3 castles over here next to my base. Also oh no, not again he did build walls around my place. AoE2 is maybe old, but there are so many ways to play it. So many ways how people do approach you. And they can anytime simply switch their tactic, suddenly somebody does send lots of archers/skirmisher, but was harrasing early game with scout horses.

And that’s possible already to experience with very casual players.

If I take a modern RTS, it does not matter if player has 1 or 1000 hours experience, my enemy is always going to make same move each game, because modern game offers no variety, as it is merely stitched together to do 1 thing.

Universe at war, a yes the same huge walking unit as usual.
DOW3, a yes the same rush to middle, build Barack as usual.
C & 4: Tiberian Twilight a yes the same rush to middle.
Grey Goo, a yes the same mass spam of same early units.
Deserts of Kharak, a yes the same mass spam of same early units.
C&C Generals, a yes the same scud bug as usual.

And for mid game, we have a very nice lack of counterpart and countering units/ buildings.
While having very lame economy, ineffective infrastructure, boring victory conditions.

Non of the teams does think outside the box, they do follow all some kind of odd design Dogma.
And deliver therefore very comparable failing results.

I am very aware AoE IV won’t be the chance for RTS to take opportunity to fix ongoing genre issues.


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  • 1 year later...

My Top RSG have been Age Of Empires, Rome Total War, and Warhammer 40, Down of war, first series...with the Ultimate Apocalypses mod...and now post 2020, 0 AD because of the constant evolution in to making it better by its own community... I. find that fact about 0 AD, something very cool.

Edited by Belisarius17
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As a kid I thought Red Alert 2 Yuri's revenge was super cool.

After I got into competitive gaming and was used to hotkeys and returned to Red Alert 2, I felt the controls where horrible.

With RA3, it was reverse. I felt like how can you do all the things a player ideally wants to do. When returned later and was used to hotkeys, it suddenly felt good.

On 31/05/2021 at 7:23 PM, Lion.Kanzen said:

A discussion on creating better tutorials for complex games.

If I think about complex games as Knights&Mercenaries or the stronghold series, where you need to manage your village, because if your food runs out it is trouble. The thing what new players can do, is only focus on the few features which are absolutely needed(getting food and the easiest units) instead of all features.

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  • 1 year later...

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