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  1. #1
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    Exploratory Strategy Game Map/Economy/Warfare Interaction

    I have been wondering for a while how to make the environment more important to decision making in an exploratory strategy game for a while. Exploratory strategy being focused on novel game play, interesting unit mechanics, radically different faction features and strategy, as opposed to competitive strategy based on APM like Starcraft. No obsessive balancing and generally designed for single player since that makes balance less important.

    What kinds of things would be interesting to play with? Currently I have a few different aspects to make a standard strategy per map less viable.

    There are some basics that are easy to handle like random resources, deadly to competitive games but fine otherwise. You would mainly want to randomize rarer resources, that changes the options for teching up but doesn't make one player doomed, or in my preferred case of single player let the computer roflstomp.

    Another method I had in mind was making some units better or worse in relation to map objects. Building the Order of Pyromancers' Motherhouse near the base of a volcano giving some sort of bonuses.

    Finally the third method I am currently implementing is a weather or biome type system. So some maps would have wet climates that rust metal or rot wood and such things. Or storms that endanger units with metal and so forth.

    But I also want to think of more original methods of doing things.

    On the city building side, because I believe that any strategy game can use more base/city building:

    One aspect of city building that is a perennial problem is that you have one optimal housing block that you mostly just place over and over. This mainly comes from my experience with Impressions games, but it was pretty much the same in games like Majesty and Hinterland with markets and what not.

    Part of the problem in my opinion is the separation of services from housing and I have a few ideas about this:

    To borrow from the pyromancer example, and apply it to Impressions games:

    In Impressions games housing that tiers up has more space per area of land used. And no matter what housing level all workers are effectively the same. This is both unrealistic and simplistic.

    First we make housing more sensible. You can decide what tier of housing to use, including how tightly packed it is. Houses still require services but they are calculated before a house is built. Houses can still tier up if you want them to but its not automatic. Citizens with more services than required for their housing type provide some sort of other bonus.

    So we have altered the supply method. Now we need to alter the demand. As I said following from the pyro example, pyromancers need top tier educated citizens to recruit. Pyromancers also prefer volcanoes as discussed earlier. So a block for mages in general takes highly educated classes to be supported. And then pyromancers in particular have a volcano breaking up the optimal block. Maybe housing around a volcano needs some other special things.

    And I guess we necessarily want a distance cap on labor, to prevent building perfect housing in some flat open land and having it move to where the demand is. Even terrain issues in Impressions games didn't help because of labor not having a distance cap.

    But as with the RTS game methods I was hoping people could provide some more ideas on how to keep things fresh.

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Wanna keep apm to limited influence? There's only a few ways I can see, either literally cap the number of orders players can make per minute, charge for orders in a in game limited or non exclusively for orders currency or thirdly introduce a lag between request and action (you could even have on map messengers)

    Even settlers 2: 10th anniversary (a perennial favourite of mine) can explode into a flurry of activity before the game is out despite its apparently lethargic pace.

    That or go turn based I guess.
    Last edited by Heliocentric; 02-01-2013 at 09:15 AM.
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  3. #3
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    Well actually I wasn't talking about APM but I do dislike it in any case.

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Sounds like 4X games are the closest to your ideal.

    As for APM RTSs, I tend to think that those have gone the way of the dodo outside of ActiBlizzard.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    Sounds like 4X games are the closest to your ideal.

    As for APM RTSs, I tend to think that those have gone the way of the dodo outside of ActiBlizzard.
    I play 4x plenty. I wrote out a lot of stuff to explain what I am doing currently. So that people would not repeat the same suggestions over. I am trying to find any alternatives to the things I am already doing.

    On the subject of APM though, MOBAs have taken up that banner. Generally they also have buttloads of boring down time, but fights are all about APM plus some organization type stuff.

  6. #6
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MoLAoS View Post
    On the subject of APM though, MOBAs have taken up that banner. Generally they also have buttloads of boring down time, but fights are all about APM plus some organization type stuff.
    IMO, MOBAs aren't RTSs or RPGs, but a specific combat model divorced from both and thank god for that.

    Still, as for your primary point, I can't think of anything that would scratch that itch that isn't a 4X game.
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    I don't want to scratch an itch, I want to think of other methods of making a given battle more dynamic besides the ones I talked about.

  8. #8
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mickygor's Avatar
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    I used to make up map based rules for RTS' that I'd play with my friends. The most fun I ever had in Supreme Commander is when we had a match where you were only allowed to attack someone else's base if you had a hydrocarbon power plant built on the centre of the map. Completely changed the dynamic of the game (though we had to disable nukes to make it viable). Not great if you wanted to tie it into the lore, but eh. It's surprising what such a minor thing can do.
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  9. #9
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    See now that kind of thing could be interesting. And there are loads of variations which you could try as well.

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    I'm a little confused as to what sort of a game you're talking about. You mention initially an exploratory strategy game with randomised resources, which brings to mind any number of 4Xs, or something like Conquest of Elysium 3. Then you reference Starcraft (in the negative, admittedly, but presumably you're thinking of an RTS). Then you talk about units getting a bonus from the terrain that produces them, which sounds nice (see Warlock for something a little like that, with upgrades tied to map resources being granted for free to units produced in that city). Then you go on a discourse about block layout mechanics in a city builder, which is a little dissonant to discussions of RTSs or RTS/4x-ish hybrids. Because it ends up sounding you're talking about an RTS/4X/city builder hybrid, which would somehow require low APM. Presumable by running at a treacle-like pace or having a ton of task automation (in which case you wouldn't be laying out city blocks).

    So, er.... what were you asking again?

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    Well you could use majesty like automation for combat units, and city builders are mostly automated unit wise. You could view them as separate questions or as a combined question, either answer may be useful to me. I am talking about a real time game as opposed to turn based though.

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    I have to admit I'm a big fan of clever automation in RTSs. AI War is miles ahead of the game in that front; its complexity is only possible because it's willing to take so much labour away from the player without diminishing control over the important and interesting stuff.

    I have to say, the idea of a Majesty-style game on a grand scale sounds pretty good. Leave the player in charge of getting all the infrastructure in place and making resource allocation decisions. When war happens the player dictates the grand strategy but the minutia is handled by an AI. Perhaps you could acquire or train generals, whose sophistication on the battlefield would come from their statistics. Sort of city builder meets Gratuitous Space Battles?

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    That is something I have worked on. I designed a hierarchy system from squads to mighty hosts where higher level generals learn new command abilities or become more effective by level. But its on the backburner till I write the all new AI because it needs some stuff. I have a newly written and functional Majesty-like AI now so that's where the focus is, plus a poorly implemented warcraft AI that came with the opensource engine I am modifying.

    I think I had a thread somewhere here about how to implement extensive automation and hierarchy in an RTS adjacent game. Basically you designed various sizes of groups for different goals, city defense, sieging and so so forth. You could apply various settings like focus fire arrows or spread and use flame arrows, and which unit you wanted them to fire on, you list a type or just all and it calculates the most dangerous enemy unit based on damage types and aoe and what not. Also you could give healing priorities and crap. But that's a pretty big derail for this thread.

  14. #14
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    MoLAoS.. this thread is a little confusing.

    Are you looking for ideas on how to write a better game yourself or looking for suggestions on games which fulfil your criteria?

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    I don't want to know how to write a BETTER game. I want to discuss ideas for making strategy more dependent on resources and geography and for making games less static strategically.

    If you have some games recommendations that sound like this it could be useful to know as well. I can hardly object to learning more about unique strategy games that already exist.

  16. #16
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    There was a WW2 wargame whose name I am blanking on which had a very well realised command hierarchy with solid AI to interpret and carry out your orders. I remember Tim Stone talking about it. I want to say Air Assault, but that seems to be something entirely different.

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    I had some discussions during my automation thought phase on The Wargamer about their various methods of automation. Panzer Command and such things. There is one company that is known for their really big focus on AI iirc.

  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus sonson's Avatar
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    Age of Mythology did it very well. In order to increase your population had to fight over fixed settlements, of which there were only a few on the map. If you didn't expand and conquer, you would get swallowed, but you could also lose that advantage as well so battles usually occurred around said areas and were a good tussle rather than someone just reaching critical mass and steamrollering you. The original Battle for Middle Earth had the same feature, which they then ruined in my opinion in the sequel by allowing bases to be built anywhere.

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    Fixed settlements is pretty nice for a straight RTS game. I plan to do a less citybuilder type game in the future where I plan to implement fixed settlements. Its going to be more focused on AI diplomacy and other stuff. Kinda like the Game of Thrones RTS but not with shitty combat.

  20. #20
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus pakoito's Avatar
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    Have you tried Eador: Genesis?
    Last edited by pakoito; 02-01-2013 at 10:15 PM.

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