RTS - RTT Game Design Ideas MEGA Thread Brainstorm (By an old fashioned fan)
Hi, I was motivated by the 3 hour long video of Frost Giant to share my ideas regarding creating an RTS game through and through. i'm going to spend less time discussing "surface" issues and more time getting into raw ideas, details and so on. however i'll briefly mention that, i know this team is very Starcraft 2 and Warcraft III centric in terms of mindset, and i'll tell you now that i'm going to intentionally try to bludgeon my way in talking about a total sum of 10+ RTS genres and games many of which i either actively play or have played some time recently in the years, not 10 years ago, more like 3-4 years ago so my memory is fresh and i'm ready to burst knowledge that i personally hold to be valued points of discussion.
My Archive of played RTS games: Rise of Nations and Rise of Legends (Actively play RoL every weekend online.) Warcraft 3 and am also an active custom mapmaker for altered melee Starcraft 2 Campaign and Co Op Command and Conquer: Generals, Zero Hour, Tiberium Wars 3, Kanes Wrath, Red Alert 3, Shockwave mod for Generals. Dawn of War 1 and 2. Age of Empires 3 to a great extend but 2 on a lesser extent. Battle for Middle Earth 1 and 2. Supreme Commander Forged Alliance They are Billions to a lesser extent and many other ones that i plan to play in the future. including a deeper dive into how is Halo Wars constructed.
And one last thing, what i say will not be in any specific order however i will bridge from point to point to keep things consistent. i hope i can provide a vast archive of information and be useful to the Team.
I'll start by mentioning that, Every major to minor RTS game that i have personally known to have a good and long standing impact for its playerbase is one that created a unique and interesting setting, art, music, lore and story. so lets expand upon that shall we ?
Art and how it impacts models, being from Blizzard i think most of you would agree that stylistic art regardless of the setting of your new universe should be dare i say, a very top priority when it comes to this specific category. Models would also benefit the most if they are independent of ingame lightning in order to look good. this not only helps with performance it also helps with visual clarity and keeping up good framerate. in an RTS game if i start a match and my FPS is lets say... 150. while it might seem quite a lot at first when push comes to shove in thicker battles it would probably turn into something like 60-70. so i beg you to keep this aspect in mind.
Story should not be left to a cliff hanger end in my opinion. its your choice if good or evil or no one wins in the end, also a nice moment to take a page from Warcraft 3's and somewhat Starcraft 2's book and say that, there is no real need for an independent existential threat, sure the Burning Legion Invasion was something big, but the main seller for the story is when you watch characters within the story progress and switch side and have specific goals they want to achieve and how set goals conflict with other characters in the story. are they dragged in ? invaded ? forced to invade for survival ? so on. Characters should be introduced in the campaigns in my opinion, either in terms of heros with unique abilities or commander units. and give the reason to create some of the mechanics that will be used by the custom community later down the line. whether or not you choose to then take those important story characters to the actual "melee" game is your decision. i'll discuss that later.
Music, sounds, and voice acting is rather critical nailing point to draw people in to find a game and call it home, you are already familiar with how this works in the games you have worked on so instead i'll offer an alternative suggestion and let you guys think through it.
In the game, Rise of Legends which i'll only mention once that the Team should seriously consider giving a small playthrough shot to see how it works. there is no unit response voice lines but amazingly enough the campaign is fully voice acted and the unit response "noises" that almost every single character makes is extremely unique, memorable and instantly noticeable and different from the others. so if voice acting budget is not up to the task of making something truly memorable you have this option and depending on the specific factions and races that you create it can be executed wonderfully. I'm not sure how the whole economic behind voice acting and producing unit noises work but for example, if creating funny unit response sounds is not really something the team can be bothered with, it is possible to code a series of numbers from 1 to 100 or 200 that use certain voice lines either coming from the story characters or other that add a lair of really fun interaction with players in the game. and i might add it is also functionally beneficial because it can potentially be translated to many different languages so people with different languages don't have to know how to talk to eachother when they press 5 and a voice line pops up and says ATTACK and some other player hears that in his own language so there is no barrier of interaction. then the player proceeds to ping set location and the siege of lordearon finally begi... ok nvm i'm getting too far.
Generally what you create as an RTS game needs to stand on its own feet in terms of branding, i know all of you are older Blizzard veterans but you need to establish a powerful identity instead of being remembered as "hey this new rts game came out by the makers of this other popular rts game". there is a certain degree of danger that you might create a Starcraft 2 (for example) but its not as polished and it will be "forgotten" and people will zone out after a few months of playing. so i can't stress enough how much establishing your own sense of identity is important so that even if in the early release days there is issues to deal with and things to address people will stick like a glue to the game for what it brings to the table as a setting and atmosphere.
And with that i'm just getting started on the actual gameplay and many other related discussions.
One of the things iv'e learned that makes an RTS game surprisingly easy to slide into is how C&C handles expansion building. to avoid turtle meta. an expansion can be put down and get going very easy and smooth early on in the game, one of the bigger things that impact turtle meta in my humble opinion is actually how the terrain of a map is created. if an expansion is behind a C shaped wall of trees and that wall of trees face the players first town hall, its less likely that the player will quickly go forward to grab it, but if the tree wall is shaped so that the opening is towards the player it will actually encourage them physiologically because they'll think the "enemy" team does not have a direct bee line access to smack their expansion. however, at the same time whatever building is used as an expansion tool it can also be destroyed easily and be remade easily just as fast depending if the player has enough money. so my suggestion is that the cost should be high but build time should be fast and smooth.
This bridges perfectly into the whole gameplay design idea that, should there be a "lesser" town hall sort of like a hall of workers that is only designed for resource extraction or not, and personally i would stress that it is indeed one of the great motivators of anti turtle meta. speaking about anti turtle meta i would like to say that what exists in a map of every match that encourages players to go out and do things and ultimately what they are doing will end up in a point of conflict with an opposing player is a great way to encourage people to get out there and start doing things.
Specifically: Neutral forces in a playable map area that can be traded with, bought, hired, conquered, killed for loot or bonus or special resource... so on. this can both specifically interact with a game mechanic or act as a icing on the cake reward. Maybe some Inn building that after being captured provides increased food and allows the player to hire extra mercs, or maybe an obelisk of power that allows after being captured to grant one of 3 area of effect bonus with long cooldowns in between. these strategic locations can also be where people decide to construct a forward troop producing building. i would say if a random player constructs not only an expansion but is somehow encouraged to build a small forward frontier to produce troops then that is a good minimum standard for people to actively engage and play the game. it also depends on the core game design idea that whether or not troop production buildings can be salvaged or not. maybe i salvage my 2 barracks get 25 to 50% return of cost then place 2 more in a newly acquired neutral Inn that can hire mercs to continue my offensive, and if someone threatens it i get to summon limited time duration mercs to fight them off.
Now who's going about doing all of these things ? i'm going to suggest that actually starting the player in a multiplayer match with a unique faction specific scout that's literally named "scout" is a good slap to the face of a player that they need to do something with this quirky little fella, and i heavily believe that it should have a more important role then just moving around and providing vision, Scouts should be fundamental to the game and be useful throughout the different stages of the game by being able to operate the neutral forces between the opposing players by having the ability to capture things.
More details about this, Idk if anyone remembers that one Starcraft 2 tower thingy that when you go close to it, it activated and provided some vision. well a Scout can have the ability to capture such structure. or it itself can have a limit charge of some form of vision providing banner or totem that would do the trick. i'll also mention that as a form of balance the scout units can easily be set to have a build limit because we do not want to have such unit to be mass produced it can cause quite a lot of issues.
Next topic i wanted to discuss is borders and towers: especially when these 2 subject interact with one another. the element of towers and tower rushing is something i personally dislike, so as many of my friends. and also more casual hearted people on whether or not its a suspension of disbelief that they are being defeated by a defensive structure. but on the other hand Sc2 and War3 share a universal accepted theme (By its pro players) that towers and tower rushing is a part of the gameplay. so i will try to provide 3 lairs of view-points to this discussion.
- Borders can be very specific on what they allow and disallow. meaning that while one can build any other basic structure, auto attacking defensive structures or structures with offensive abilities can be limited to borders of each player and their allies. one smaller element to this can be that lesser neutral captureable structures or some specific other structures can directly expand border "auras" so that some form of fast tower rushing is available as an option but not to the point of smacking down one directly where enemy townhall and workers are.• It can also be a research that if someone decides they want to play it safe by upgrading the anti tower aura/border but pay a resource cost at early game, or take the risk of a potential risk of being tower rushed.
- Full borders might be able to add a lair of complexity but in a really simple manner that is digestible by casual folks, some ideas that can go along with this however, can include things such as: • Healing/HPregeneration only being possible with a research inside borders. • Opposing player suffering attrition damage by entering enemy borders (which potentially opens the possibility of another anti attrition support unit to deflect this, by being a part of the attacking army) certain structures being permitted to be built inside enemy borders with a higher cost. • certain research providing vision within player-owned to allied territory. (Although this one negates the usefulness of the scout suggestion so take that into consideration).
- No borders, however, the issue of Towers/Tower Rushing is handled with a different design angle that it addresses the situation. maybe there will be no such thing as towers ? Age of Empires approach of limited towers is also something i really like and maybe it would be a great design idea that towers should be limited but powerful.
My personal favorite is the anti tower aura suggestion, but i do think just for the sake of having that mechanic exist if not for the campaigns or custom game community, borders are worth considering for an RTS game.
Next in the bucket list i can think of that bridges well from the border and towers topic to cities in general is whether or not structures are made by workers. or placed down from a build tab, or if the structures have addons to them. maybe entire cities/town halls should allow certain set of lesser structures to be attached to them. lets dive deeper:
Think of the Tech/Reactor labs in Sc2 (and how cities are constructed in Rise of Legends). its worth considering this idea. maybe... certain types of towers can be added as lesser structures to main cities ? or there can be certain military or economic/trading addon structures/districts added to main cities.
The main question to ask here is, what is the main foundation of a player after starting a match to play. and how will economics of the game play a part to the cities they construct. should cities of players even be captureable by a tier 3 upgrade for the Scouts ? who knows. (except medivh ofc he be old wise prophet yo) but i can provide 3 lairs of suggestions to this and this is a heafty topic so i'll merge this with the economic discussion.
1 - If the economics and resources available to the players are consistent of trading with neutrals on the map and atleast 3 types of resources, the topic of lesser buildings attaching themselves to major ones should seriously be considered not on a small scale but on a town hall building scale. we're talking something like being able to add a Merchant, Military or faction specific special attachment building to a main townhall and getting benefits from it, benefits such as Economic boost, Defensive building or free starting military units, being able to crono boost other structures after creating this advanced addon for a specific faction. you get the deal.
2 - If the economics and resources available to the players are consistent of 2 main resources and 1 side resource as a bonus then this idea can be heavily tuned down. maybe only a main castle structure limited to 1 build only can have such an option. or maybe your reactor addon to the barracks can do very special upgrade if certain special resource is founded.
3 - If the Economics and resources available to the player are consistent of 2 main resources. in this situation i would say there would be no real need unless you guys want to take the Sc2 approach and make small upgrade halls like they were.
Now i'd like to end this portion of the topic by talking about Walls, and touching on the topic of how many races/factions and so on. and later bridging into a full discussion regarding that.
So, whether or not walls are a viable option in your game is specifically connected to the amount of factions you may have in the game, and how one would balance it, the way i see it 3-4 factions with extremely unique gameplay styles don't really fit in with this idea, but an Age of Empires alike approach that factions are not too different from one another can easily allow the inclusion of walls as an additional complexity lair that's also easily digestible as a mechanic.
However, its worth to mention that there might potentially be a way to add this mechanic in the game but have it be balanced and specific to one of the major 3-4 factions. so that's a really neat idea it think. one faction can have really good siege weaponry while another can have really good defensive buildings even to the point of allowing the creation of walls, oh and a small note i wanted to add here as just a thought: Towers can act as nodes to attach walls togather.
So yeah just keep that in mind regarding wall mechanics that its worth considering if you want your game to include many factions with their unique looks and styles but ultimately not too different from one another, which might i add can make it so the parts that are unique from the other faction will stand out much more.
Now lets get on to the next topic regarding how many factions, what theme, and what foundation. alongside a mention for balance and how content would impact the game.
How many factions can easily be decided, i don't think one should first decide how many factions then decide what theme and setting, but infact, the opposite. so lets discuss how this all goes down.
The Theme of the faction is mostly something i would stay away from commenting because its the fun of the developers. and their game. but i would suggest some surface level things later down the line. but for now i would simply point out the obvious. that the setting of a race or faction needs to be flexible. A Sci-Fi themed game can potentially run into the risk of too many units being futuristic and range based elements/units so the ebb and flow that a medieval or fantasy inspired game would have would be lost there. with the difference between melee, long range melee. short range projectile, long range projectile. instant ranged unit. artillery, air units, and so on a lot of verity can be put on the table.
Whatever is the lore of the universe that is created, i think it would be wise to remember that a lot of it can be explained and done away with in an acceptable concept if its executed correctly. so i would say go full crazy, and make it however and with whatever combination you like and never forget that this is the moment that time stops for you, where you have the momentum to make the perfect swing so do not shy away from going crazy if you think you can pull it off, whether its a SteamPunk Faction vs a Sci-Fi faction vs a Magic heavy faction, or an all fantasy faction with different types of hard magic, or an all Sci-Fi faction with different branches technology. the lore can explain it all and good writers and execute on the whole concept. just make sure to try and stand out artisitcally, i can't stress this enough.
But that doesn't really answer the question on what's the number of factions. that's a more simpler answer for me. if you want your games factions to have a very glaring showcase of uniqueness but ultimately one that isn't too different, then going 5-10 Factions is the obvious choice.
If however you want to create factions that are fundamentally different from eachother then the obvious choice is 3-4 Factions. however there is a lot of room to stress additional suggestions here.
1 - I think one suggestion i can open up with is 3 Factions, but those factions are like gigantically huge, so huge they would allow entire new branches of them be added after their initial release.
2 - Another suggestion is starting with 2 factions but over the years gradually adding 2 more along with their own respective campaigns and progression of story. this suggestion is mainly directed if the Team working on the project wishes to have more breathing time to think between the actions they take and slowly taking things forward. it doesn't have to be this all revealing and perfect setting at start.
On an ending note to this section i would stress that my personal favorite suggestion is 2 even though my favorite faction number would be 3. and i'll explain. being in many different RTS communities, especially viewing Sc2 from a far and being heavily invested in Warcraft 3 i would say that over the course of years people get tired of the same old metas and talking about the same old factions. and they long for something new to shake up the system from the core. in Warcraft 3 for example even though we have 4 factions i truly believe after a certain point in time you either start producing new factions or introduce radically new improvements to the game. there would always be the part of your community that would be longing for something fresh and new after the initial release of the game, do not leave those people dry. or the game will become stagnant.
You're a much smaller team with a soon to be newly born universe for an RTS game so the whole notion of selling different skins of your factions might not be the most profitable option, not exactly the best possible way to reskin a human faction as high elves or blood elves and call it a day, if you know what i mean. so creating a system to satisfy the modding community, or the people who want to play with brand new content is absolutely important. and it should be a faction in your decision over new factions.
• Gameplay and mechanical ideas, I'll try to discuss this on a surface level and not a deep dive on too much specific details, and it would mostly be filled with suggestions.
- Mechanical idea: Projectiles being deflected back by some form of barriers in the game, or better yet there would be specifically unique defined types of projectiles that can have interesting interactions.
- Gameplay Idea: Water combat should be considered, but wisely, i think the argument over water combat often comes from the angle that air combat is just a given, but i happen to think that ground combat is the only form that is just no brainer, if air combat is to be a fully constructed thing then water combat will always feel shallow and weak, as if.. why is it there. (besides being used in Campaigns) i believe if Water combat can have a chance it needs to be properly constructed, and be a primary role after ground combat, and air combat and units then take only a very minor and symbolic role. that's the only possible way i can think of that would solve the decades old question of why water combat could never truly be a thing.
>> However, regarding this i have 2 mini suggestions to give, i really think the Age of Empires 3 idea of there existing ships that could reach the shore and produce units was an excellent idea of encouraging activity on the high seas, and Red Alert 3's path that buildings could be made on water, and many different water units and ships were available to have fun with.
>> On that same note i would like to give a suggestion for Air units, Command and Conquers: Generals. handling of air units was an absolute blast in my opinion. air units for certain jet fighers in that game could not simply stand still in the air and would always have to constantly circle around themselves, it was also not a "mass produce" type of thing. taking off from the air ports they almost certainly needed to have an identified target to speed towards and unload their ammo. it gave a "grounded" ( xD ) feeling to these air units mechanically. and its something that should be considered in my opinion. it also gave them a far more specialized role that needed momentum instead of just feeling like ground units that happen to have the ability to walk over everything.
- Mechanical idea: There could potentially be a really smart following system where the units that follow one unit not only follow him through movement but also copy commands that are given to the unit. such as hold position. attack a specific target. stop, so on. this is especially important to mention for worker units, a great addition from Supreme Commander that one can learn is when a worker is set to do a task and it has a build order set by the player through holding shift, and another worker is set to follow the other worker, that additional worker set to follow the other one would copy the entire build order and help the first one.
- Gameplay idea: Heros and commander units are not the only option to insert unique game changing abilities in the game. there could be universal abilities unlocked through some form of resource directly connected to actions and interactions.>> Such as: first player to get certain kills, first player to make certain number of army, first player to capture certain number of buildings, first player to raid enemy x number of times.
- Mechanical idea: Grouping up units with ctrl+(Number) can produce a small sound to indicate unit is now grouped up. and there could be an option to group up units using ctrl+ any unused key on the keyboard.
- Mechanical idea: The buffs and debuffs in the game can be generalized, but then taken advantage of, there is no 3 types of slow, 5 types of burning and 10 times of stun. all are of one type and then they can be take advantage of with unique interactions of abilities and units effecting others under the effects of these buffs and debuffs. ideally there would be one lair of complication to this, generalized buffs and generalized debuffs. (or how i like to call them, negative buffs :P)
I didn't know how to fit this last suggestion into my own categories but, the idea of some form of environmental effect should not be left off the table of consideration. personally, kind of disliked how Blizzard RTS's never had anything effect any unit that so that some terrain would have strategic importance.
And with that said, i thank you all for reading through this Mega thread of ideas. i'm drained of thought as i've been writing this for a few days. i might drop in now and then to see how things are going but i knew i had to share this, even if it was a token of humble thanks that this team is even considering to create a AAA or AA RTS game in this day and age.
submitted by brokensledgehammer
You can get free digital copies of your games!
| || | C&C The Ultimate Collection, as seen in the Origin Game Library. submitted by FlatlineXL to commandandconquer
I've seen you posting your wonderful collections and I thought of something...I know that by now we all loathe EA and everything it stands for but for some of you there may be some value in getting free
digital copies of every C&C game
(still no love for Sole Survivor though).
For those of you who may not know, you can get Command & Conquer™ The Ultimate Collection for PC on Origin for free if you have retail copies of some of your games. You can't exactly do it by opening up Origin and introducing your keys because these are retail (as opposed to digital) keys of fairly old games and the system won't accept them. You have to submit a ticket using their customer support (I think these are the appropriate options to select): https://help.ea.com/en/contact-us/?product=command-and-conquer-the-ultimate-collection&platform=pc&category=codes-and-promotions&issue=invalid-code
You have to provide the email address associated with your Origin account and send photos of the box, game media, game key and purchase receipt (they will accept it even without the receipt). Also, maybe a note with the date and number of the support ticket written on it (they will tell you the exact requirements). Once everyting is in order the games will appear in your Game Library. You can also contact them by phone but the bill may be rough and they don't exactly make it easy to actually find the number to call, but it will set things in motion faster than the regular ticket (a ticket will be created in this case as well).
Throughout my childhood, for various reasons, I didn't have the opportunity to collect games and I only have a retail copy of The First Decade, but by submitting it I actually got The Ultimate Collection. A suprise, to be sure, but a welcome one. I think it's because the digital copies are not sold individually but only as part of the collection, so if you get one you get everything. My friend only had Generals Deluxe and he got it as well!
The keys have to be visible when sent to them (obviously)!
I know it's kind of a hassle and this way you have to go through Origin and some of you may not like that all games are on their latest official patch (Arnie Frankenfurter, Flint Westwood and Sammy Stallion come to mind) but it's an option and it's free!