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在RTS设计中呈现给玩家结果控制的重要性

作者:Brandon Casteel

我是在逐渐开发RTS游戏设计的时候领悟到这一理论的。我曾在有关行动RTS游戏《AirMech》的综述中简单提到了它,并再次于我的第一篇《RTS设计感想》的文章中讨论了经济自动化的含义。在某一时刻,我认为自己有必要好好坐下来将其完整地记录下来,但是我却不敢保证那时候的自己是否准备好这么做。所以现在的我将继续引用这一理论并讨论它的另一方面:玩家能力的意义或者说缺少这样的能力对于战术游戏结果会有何影响。

简而言之就是,能够和玩家达成共鸣并将玩家代理置于优先位置的优秀的RTS设计。这样的设计将提供给玩家成功或失败地拥有自己优势的巨大空间,这也将呈现出吸引玩家去争取胜利的元素;也就是这里将有各种让玩家凭借游戏去创造效能的比赛场所。而从传统意义上来看,最有效的工具便是游戏的战斗系统。

在RTS战斗中,“控制结果”到底意味着什么?

在RTS设计中呈现给玩家结果控制的重要性

RTS(from gamasutra)

有很多方法能够定义控制实时策略游戏中战斗互动结果的意义。为了本文,让我们从这个角度看待这一问题:首先,玩家在战斗中的行动可能会影响到战斗的成败。这与玩家对于战斗互动的准备有关系,但也是相互独立的。举个例子来说吧,在Relic的《英雄连》中,设置战斗包括为车子定位,涂抹泥灰,组装像MG或AT枪支并组织步兵团以获得一个有利的优势。如果后退一步来看的话,能够凭直觉去猜测敌人的计划并创造能够瓦解其他玩家策略的单位也非常重要。在战斗中,确保主要单位处于安全区域同时能够使用自己的战斗资源去化解最大危机都是非常有帮助的。

所以“控制结果”包含了3大元素:力量的位置,力量的组成,利用单位去推动战斗效能的能力(游戏邦注:如杀死更多可以销毁敌人单位的资源或获得主要区域的控制权)。

关于“控制”的完全形态的第四种元素是解除或最小化战斗变糟糕的能力。这第四种元素的重要性会随着玩家力量的增长(以及付诸于战斗运行的精力)而增长。对于玩家来说,更困难的是再次获取或保留丢失了的战斗资源(主要是单位),而更加总要的便是那些勇于保留或再次获取这些资源的系统。

在RTS战斗中,拥有精确的失败和胜利状态也很重要,就像拥有精确的经济控制和管理系统很重要那样。我想暂时先讨论一个重要概念:“技能层”及它与精确控制键的关系。

小插曲:讨论“技能层”

这整个思路都是伴随着备受争议的APM需求这一话题,或者我们可以将其称为游戏带给玩家的机械负担。

而这一机械负担其实也是一把双刃剑。首先就像我们在《星际争霸》,《魔兽争霸》,《命令与征服》和《帝国时代》等大受欢迎的RTS游戏中看到的,几乎每个游戏部分都让玩家能够推动效能并提高生产率。不管是收割机能力还是回程时机,扩展时机等等,始终存在一些玩家可以尝试的新内容,并且也存在能够继续发展的空间。

我们很容易发现,这些技能会在某种情况下带给玩家难以忍受的负担。就像在《虚空之余》中,部分简化的Zerg的“Spawn Larva”机制和Protoss的“Chrono Boost”机制便是暴雪承认这些机制过于浮夸,并不有趣,并且太浪费玩家的时间和精力的表现。而如果游戏能够更有效地使用这一内容,就像《星际争霸》那样,结果可能就会不一样。

没有太多可做的也没有太多可记录的。

《星际争霸》设计的突出之处便在于它会提供给玩家各种优势让他们能够按照自己的方式去获得成功。当你获得成功时,你的对手可能就需要面对失败的挫折感。这样的游戏设定让带有“微小”技能的玩家能够战胜那些带有更厉害的经济增长能力的玩家。

而现在的问题是,尽管《星际争霸》能够提供给玩家按照自己的方式前进的空间,但它同时也会惩罚那些未能在比赛中投入更多努力的玩家。对的,这便是技能层的双刃剑。

像Relic的《英雄连》和《战争黎明》系列,Cavedog的《最高指挥官》,Uber Entertainment的《横扫千星》或Stardock的《太阳帝国的原罪》和《奇点灰烬》等游戏都拥有各种不同的方法让玩家能够通过不同类型的控制在不同比赛中获胜。这些游戏并未使用APM需求,反而采取了各种其它方法去吸引玩家的注意。

这些游戏的目标都是提供细微的差别并让玩家拥有更多代理,而不会强迫他们在特定时间段里执行越来越多的行动。RTS游戏总是拥有某种程度的机制要求,但是像《英雄连》这样的小规模的策略战斗游戏和像《最高指挥官》这样的大规模游戏都未曾依赖于APM/机制负担的系统去推动玩家的胜利。

微妙的策略结果实验

在RTS设计中呈现给玩家结果控制的重要性

act_of_aggression(from gamasutra)

我们已经讨论过《星际争霸》在战术上的成功:在我看来,实际上它并未正中目标,在很多情况下我们总是很难在战斗中脱身或从可能引出一种双向局面(即一次糟糕的战斗可能会导致游戏失去玩家)的失败中恢复过来,但很多情况下我们也能接近这种状况,特别是在创造具有较快速度和能力去摧毁敌人经济并“微观”赢得游戏的单位方面。

我们可以基于两种方式去讨论这种方式的价值:一方面,它能够提供许多“诱惑”去帮助玩家获取胜利。另一方面,这样的设计似乎会安置给玩家一些过度的负担。而这刚好形成一种微妙的平衡,《星际争霸》便选择倾向于其中的一面并完全侧重在玩家代理上。

像上面提到的其它游戏也采取了其它方式去执行这一方法。《英雄连2》便拥有一个非常微妙的战斗系统能够创造无限层次的“成功”和“失败”—-前提是玩家拥有必要的资金能够去使用这样的系统。

在《战争黎明》和《英雄连》等游戏中,单位会被划分成1至8个独立单位中的小组。我便听过许多这么做的原因,一个最主要原因便是“它能够减少所需要的微观控制”并降低游戏要求玩家的技能层面。但是在我看来这其实是错误的观点。这最终只会伴随着“后退按键”而扩展战斗系统的细微差别。

因为在更大的单位中的每个模式都会影响到一个单位的生命值和伤害详情,所以敌人可以在单位的某一部分,即在“杀戮”中部分获得成功,并迫使玩家不得不回到基地中恢复元气。而士气是影响步兵单位的另一种方法,即像狙击手和MG等单位既能破坏模式也会影响单位,并因此创造出效能和状态的亏损。在《英雄连》或《战争黎明》中失去一个部队是非常关键的,但这里还存在许多其它状态亏损的可能性,即暂时撤出某一领域并基于剩下的人员去重建一个部队,武器等等。

我们可以通过添加可能摧毁武器,放慢移动速度和转弯速度等破坏状态而将一些相似的细微差别整合到载具系统中。就像在Relic系统中,玩家可能需要被编入后备队或不得不撤退,而比起直接被杀掉这真的好多了,并且在呈现细微差别方面这也是一个非常成功的系统。

这种模式的一大基础便是撤退按键。它让玩家能够对战斗的投入具有更多控制权,同时他们的对手也能够想办法消灭那些重新恢复的单位(游戏邦注:有时候是沿着逃离路线重击单位)。如果没有撤退按键,整个《英雄连》/《战争黎明》中的战斗系统都会分崩离析,玩家也将不能逃离或尝试着去保留自己的力量以进行下一次的战斗。

关于这一系统的另一大关键元素便是胜利点数与资源节点在地理和细微差别方面的性质。而移除敌人在某一点上的控制以及在短时间内获取这一点都很重要。

让我们暂时转移方向去看看最近出现的一些RTS游戏:《家园:卡拉克沙漠》,《灰蛊》和《侵略行为》。它们属于怎样的范围呢?

很遗憾的是,《灰蛊》在这方面的表现并不是很好。基于相对缓慢的单位移动节奏,在糟糕情况下脱离,保留或恢复单位的投入是很困难的,这将导致玩家将快速失去对于战斗的控制从而导致他们不能真正沉浸于游戏中。排除一些飞机和终极单位的个体单位不大可能从微妙的控制中获益,这意味着“微观”游戏在战斗中扮演着一个微不足道的角色(游戏邦注:在这里间接射击是例外,但它们也很难去弥补单位数量的失衡)。就像在《星际争霸》中那样,经济是具有帮助的,即玩家将创造出足够的单位去保持敌人的不断前进,但一旦玩家在经济方面失利,那么结果就会像《灰蛊》中那样(有时候有些技术转变也能对此起到帮助作用)。《灰蛊》并没有一个优秀的支持系统能够阻止或缓解“灾难性的”损失,我认为这也是它不能从广义上吸引玩家的主要原因。而为了保持更简要的说明我打算不具体描述这些内容。

不过我仍然觉得《灰蛊》很有趣,它也是我最常玩的一款RTS游戏,但从经济和策略上来看,它则更多地倾向于自己的方式。

《卡拉克沙漠》则有点不同。它继承了更多《战争黎明》或《英雄连》的精神,带有能够影响单位交战能力和交战效果的地形优势。然而它在战斗中的“失败状态”比《英雄连》等游戏中的更苛刻,即处于守势的玩家将很难逃离出糟糕的战斗境况。此外,因为拥有较少的“兴趣点”或基于1比1地图的区域,这里关于地图控制的细微差别较少。将这个与拥有双向胜利/失败机制的5点胜利条件相结合,你创造的便是一个不能提供给玩家像Relic系统那么多胜利空间的设置。

我并不是在贬低其中一款游戏,我只是在传达我的立场。我真的也非常喜欢这两款游戏,但我也认同上述提到的它们未能与多人玩家社区形成共鸣的原因。当玩家对于自己的命运拥有更多控制权,并且能够面对更多策略结果时,他们便会“觉得”游戏更出色。这也是为什么像《星际争霸》,《英雄连》和《最高指挥官》等拥有微妙系统的游戏能够与玩家形成共鸣的原因:它们都提供给了玩家非常微妙的工具控制以及各种能够帮助玩家获得成功的工具。

虽然本文的长度已经大大超越了我的极限,但在总结前我还是想简要地描述下《侵略行为》和《奇点灰烬》。

我认为《侵略行为》做得最棒的一点便是它会在战斗中提供给玩家各种帮助他们获得成功的工具。即包括单位速度,范围,能力以及升级系统,《侵略行为》会让玩家始终觉得自己拥有可操控的空间。而在我看来这款游戏所具有的问题是源于迟钝的科技树以及让人受挫的经济要求,即一旦玩家获得资源,游戏便会发生彻底的改变。但只要游戏中的战斗互动继续维持下去,玩家便拥有许多成功的空间,如此便能够弥补它在战术上的失策。如果游戏能够处理其它问题的话,它的战斗系统便能够支持玩家更有趣且更有意义的游戏。而振兴《侵略行为》的一个最大障碍,同时也是其战斗系统非常灵活的一个原因,即单位遭到了削弱。而在不改变玩家感受的同时解决这一问题则是一个非常艰难的任务。

规模的细微差别

在RTS设计中呈现给玩家结果控制的重要性

ashes(from gamasutra)

大规模RTS游戏的一大优势便是它们对本文提到的好多问题都存在免疫力。它们的规模排除了“微观”战斗,同时它们也以力量构成形式呈现出了细微差别。就像《英雄连》中的单位通过部分成功和失败状态去呈现细微差别那样,游戏也可以通过战术和策略方式去创造伤害详情和军队。而大规模游戏更容易做到这点,因为它们在某处程度上都拥有经济和战术上的细微差别并且都与本身的游戏规模相联系着。

像《最高指挥官》的系统便带有一些能够提供给制作和资源结构不同利益的不同结构邻接物,并提供给玩家通过分配额外工程师到一个建设项目中而进一步消耗资源的能力,从本质看来这也是在提供给玩家通向成功的不同方式。我敢保证关于该主题我们可以写下无数内容。但我已经聊了太长时间了。我只要说RTS游戏中的规模具有创造出有意义的细微差别的可能性(尽管它可能会限制任何玩家做出的单一决定的影响)便足够了。

结论

上次我们谈论的是经济上的细微差别。而这一次我想要定义,或者至少是描述出战术上的细微差别。这是一个更大谜题的两个组件。单位和群组设计,以及引申出来的游戏对立系统在战斗中扮演着非常重要的角色,而这也是我在本文中不怎么提到的内容。我的底线是:以通过玩家行动的效能去提供给他们获得成功或失败的自由为目标,让他们能够采取各种不同的方式获取成功,并在事情黄了后提供给他们“退身”的机会—-即使他们的预备策略非常冒险。

本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,拒绝任何不保留版权的转发,如需转载请联系:游戏邦

The Importance of Control Over Tactical Outcomes in RTS Design

by Brandon Casteel

I have this theory I’ve slowly been developing about RTS games design. I touched on it briefly in my overview of action RTS AirMech, and again in my first “RTS Design Thought” article where I briefly discussed the implications of economic automation. I suppose I need to, at some point, sit down and write it out in full, in bald words, but I am unsure I’m prepared at this point to commit it to writing in that way. So, for now, I’ll continue to reference it and dance around its circumference in a partial and fragmentary way, by discussing another of its facets: the implications of a player’s ability, or lack thereof, to meaningfully influence the outcome of tactical play (mostly, combat interactions) .

That was a bunch of flowery language, but in short: good RTS design, RTS design that resonates with players, puts the agency of the player first. That is, such design will give players ample room on which to succeed or fail own their own merits, and it will give them multiple ‘hooks’ on which to hang a victory; that is, multiple arenas in which to succeed and to drive efficiency and effectiveness in their play. One of the most effective tools for this has, traditionally, been in games’ combat systems.

What Does It Mean To Have “Control of The Outcome” in RTS Combat?

There are a number of ways to define what it means to have control of the outcome of a combat interaction in a real-time strategy game. For the purposes of this article, however, let’s look at it this way: first, that the player’s actions during combat can influence how successfully the combat goes for that player. This is related to, but separate from, how successfully the player has prepared for the combat interaction. For instance, in Relic’s Company of Heroes titles (as an example), setting up for combat includes positioning vehicles, mortars, set-up weapons such as MGs/AT guns and infantry to ensure an advantageous engagement. Going back even further, being able to intuit and determine the enemy’s plan and to actually produce the units which increase the chances of overcoming the other players’ force composition and engagement strategy are essential as well. In combat, keeping critical units out of harm’s way while dealing maximum damage with one’s own combat resources provides the third leg of this tripod.

So, “control of the outcome” encompasses 3 major factors: force position, force composition, and ability to leverage control of one’s units (also commonly called micro) to drive efficiency in combat (e.g. killing more resources worth of enemy units than one loses, or retaining/gaining control of critical territory).

There is, however a fourth element to the overall gestalt picture of “control” – the ability to disengage or minimize losses in some way should combat go poorly. This fourth element increases in importance as the size of one’s forces – and the percentage one must typically commit to a combat operation – increases. The harder it is, generally, for a player to reacquire or preserve lost combat resources (units, mostly), the more important it generally is that some system be provided to preserve or reacquire those resources.

It is also important to have nuanced loss and victory states in RTS combat, just as it is important to have nuance in economic control and management systems. I’ll continue on with this after a brief break to discuss an important concept: the “skill floor” and how it relates to nuanced control (tl;dr – reliance on player APM, as StarCraft does, is the simplest way to allow nuance, but it’s far from the only way to introduce it)

A Brief Interlude To Discuss the ‘Skill Floor’

Please note, I don’t feel that I’ve done the topic of the “skill floor” justice in this piece and plan to write about it more in future articles. I hope my meaning is able to shine through my muddled words.

This entire line of thinking goes hand-in-hand with the much-discussed and incredibly controversial topic of APM requirements, or as I like to call it, mechanical burden the game puts on players.

Ultimately, mechanical burden is a deviously double-edged sword. In the first case, as we see in many popular RTS franchises such as StarCraft/WarCraft, Command and Conquer and Age of Empires, virtually every aspect of the game allows the player to drive efficiency and increase productivity. Whether it’s fiddling with Harvester capacity and return timing, or SCV saturation of mineral lines, expansion timing, scouting, army ‘dancing’, harassment runs… there’s always some little new thing that the player can be doing, always room for continued fractional improvements.

These skills, it’s easy to argue, can put an incredible and in some cases intolerable burden on the player. We saw, for instance, in Legacy of the Void, the partial simplification of the Zerg ‘Spawn Larva’ mechanic and the Protoss ‘Chrono Boost’ mechanic as one sign of Blizzard’s acknowledgement that such mechanics can be overly fiddly, not interesting or engaging, and overly demanding of the player’s time and attention. The problem, if the term may be accurately applied, with StarCraft remains the same as it’s greatest benefit.

There’s too much to do and too much to keep track of.

The genius (again if the term may be accurately applied) of StarCraft’s design is that it asks so much of the player that it allows players of varying strengths to succeed in their own way. It is possible to win, however frustrating the loss might be for one’s opponent, with a single Banshee, or a single Reaper, or Dark Templar against an unprepared opponent. Such play allows players with good “micro” skills to succeed against players with more polished economic growth abilities.

Now, the issue is, while StarCraft provides ample room for players to float at their own level, it also punishes players for incredibly minor errors in execution in any arena. And this is the double-edged-sword of the skill floor.

Games like Relic’s Company of Heroes and Dawn of War series, or Cavedog’s Supreme Commander or Uber Entertainment’s Planetary Annihilation, or Stardock’s Sins of a Solar Empire and (potentially) Ashes of the Singularity have a variety of other methods for players to succeed in multiple arenas, through different types of fine control. These other games, in their various ways, strain the player’s attention without resorting to the mechanical demands of APM requirements.

The goal is always to provide nuance and allow the player to have as much agency as possible, not strictly to force/allow them to perform ever-escalating numbers of actions within a specific time frame. RTS will always have some level of mechanical demand, but both small scale tactical combat games like Company of Heroes and large scale games like Supreme Commander have implemented systems which are less dependent on APM/mechanical burden to drive player success.

Experiments in Nuanced Tactical Outcomes

(Why Act of Aggression? I’ll get to that in a bit.)

We’ve already discussed StarCraft somewhat in relation to tactical successes: it actually misses the mark somewhat, in my opinion, in that in many cases it’s quite difficult to disengage in combat and/or recoup losses leading to incredibly binary situations where a single bad combat engagement can lose one player the game (not optimal) but it comes pretty close in several aspects, especially in controversial decision to create units with enough speed and power to completely wreck an opponent’s economy and win games through “micro.”

The value of this could be argued both ways: in the one hand, it’s certainly providing a plethora of “hooks” on which to hang a victory. On the other hand, such design can be seen as putting undue burdens on defending players. It’s a delicate balance and StarCraft has chosen to err on the side of complete and total devotion to player agency.

Other games, mentioned above, approach this in various other ways. Company of Heroes 2 has a incredibly nuanced combat system that allows for almost infinite gradations of ‘success’ and ‘defeat’ – if the player has the wherewithal to capitalize on the systems it provides.

In the Dawn of War and Company of Heroes games, units are grouped into squads of between 1 and 8 individual units. I’ve heard lots of reasons for this, one of the primary being that “it decreases required micromanagement” and lowers the skill floor for players. In this writer’s humble opinion, this is exactly wrong. What this does is actually increase, in conjunction with the ‘Retreat Button’ the nuance of the combat system.

Since each model within the larger unit contributes to the hit points and the damage output of a unit, it is possible for an enemy to be partially successful in “killing” a part of a unit, decreasing its performance and forcing the player to return to base for repairs. Morale is another way to impact infantry units, with units like snipers and MGs damaging models as well as morale, allowing non-binary loss of efficiency and loss states. Losing a squad in Company of Heroes or Dawn of War games is incredibly non-trivial, but there are a vast array of other loss states possible, ranging from being pushed off the field temporarily to having to rebuild a squad, weapons and all, up from a single remaining trooper.

Similar nuance is incorporated into the vehicle system with the inclusion of damage states that can disable weapons, lower movement speed and turn rate and more. With Relic’s system, being put out of commission or forced to retreat is a lesser failure to being killed outright, and this has proven to be a monumentally successful system in providing nuance.

One of the cornerstones of this model, however is the Retreat Button. This allows the player to have tons of control over their commitment to combat, and whether their units are preserved, while allowing their opponent to attempt to kill off retreating units (sometimes via putting high damage units along escape routes). Without the Retreat Button, it is arguable that the entire Company of Heroes/Dawn of War combat system would entirely fall apart, as players would be unable to disengage and attempt to preserve their forces to fight another day.

Another key element of this system is the geographical and nuanced nature of victory points and resource nodes. There is value in removing enemy control of a point, and there is value in capturing such a point for a short while.

Let’s switch gears for a moment and talk about some of the more recent RTS to come out: Homeworld Deserts of Kharak, Grey Goo and Act of Aggression. Where do they fall on this spectrum?

Grey Goo, sadly, doesn’t stack up well here at all (or didn’t before the release of Descent of the Shroud). With the relatively slow pace of unit movement, disengaging or otherwise preserving or reclaiming the investment of units is incredibly difficult in a bad situations, allowing combat to rapidly spiral out of control for a player caught in a bad engagement. Individual units, with the possible exceptions of some aircraft and Epic units, have very little ability to benefit from nuanced control, meaning that ‘micro’ plays a relatively small role in combat (indirect fire units are an exception here but even then they have a very hard time making up for great imbalances in unit quantity). Economy can be a salvation here, as in StarCraft, with one player churning out enough units to keep an enemy advance at bay, but often once a player falls behind economically it’s pretty much “all she wrote” in Grey Goo with few exceptions (some tech switches can help with this, on occasion). Grey Goo doesn’t have a good support system to prevent or mitigate ‘slippery slope’ losses, which I think is a major reason it has failed to catch on with players in a broad sense. I am glossing over this for brevity, I know that there are a plethora of counter-examples and a lot more analysis that can be done on this system, and on Deserts of Kharak’s.

I still find Grey Goo to be enjoyable, and it remains one of my most played RTS, but in terms of economic and tactical nuance, it’s getting in its own way more often than not.

Deserts of Kharak is in a somewhat different position. It has more of the spirit of a Dawn of War or Company of Heroes, with terrain bonuses having impact on units’ ability to engage, and the effectiveness of combat engagements. However, its ‘failure states’ in combat are harsher than in Company of Heroes games, with the player on the back foot having a very difficult time disengaging or getting out of a bad combat situation. Additionally, with fewer ‘points of interest’ or regions in contention on 1v1 maps (I haven’t tried the new map out yet sadly) there is less nuance in map control. Combine this with a 5 point victory condition (each Artifact is 20% of a win) that has a very binary win/loss mechanic, and you have a set up that is, arguably, not giving players as much room to succeed as Relic’s system.

I don’t say this to disparage either game, but instead to illustrate my position. I enjoy both of these games very much, but feel that the above are reasons they have failed to resonate with their multiplayer communities. The more control (to an extent, but that’s probably a topic for a future article) players have of their own destiny, and of the outcomes of their strategies, that players are given, the better the game will ‘feel.’ This is why games with nuanced systems, such as StarCraft, Company of Heroes, and Supreme Commander have such resonance with players: nuanced control of the tools the player is given, and a wide variety of tools with which to succeed.

This article is already getting unsupportable in length, but I’d like to briefly address Act of Aggression and Ashes of the Singularity before I conclude.

One of the things I actually think Act of Aggression does best is to provide players with a variety of tools to succeed in combat. Its combination of unit speed, range and capabilities, along with an upgrade system that Bruce Geryk rightly criticized for “giving all players the same toys” (I’m paraphrasing here, sorry if I’ve misquoted him), Act of Aggression actually leaves players always feeling, tactically at least, that they have room to maneuver, and options. The issues with this game stem, in the humble opinion of this writer, from an obtuse tech tree, frustrating economic requirements, and a game that changes completely once resources are mined out (which happens pretty quickly). But as far as combat interactions go, players are given lots of room to be successful, and to make up for tactical missteps and miscalculations. If the game can address the other issues (and there are sadly, several major obstacles in play), its combat system can actually support interesting, meaningful play. One of the biggest hurdles, however, to reinvigorating Act of Aggression is that one of the reasons the combat system is so flexible is that units are, effectively, watered down. Altering this without simultaneously stripping players of options is a tall order.

The Nuance of Scale

One of the strengths of large scale RTS is that in some ways they are immune to many of the issues addressed in this article. Their scale precludes ‘micro’ battles, at least going into the mid-game, while simultaneously introducing nuance in the form of force composition. In much the same way that units in Company of Heroes provide nuance through fractional success and failure states, with hundreds of units, it’s possible to craft damage profiles and armies in a plethora of ways that are tactically and strategically significant. Large scale games tend to resonate as they have both economic and tactical nuance baked in part and parcel with their scale.

Systems like Supreme Commander includes, with different structure adjacency providing different benefits to production and resourcing structures, and the ability to further drain resources (driving inefficiency with resources but efficiency in production) by committing additional Engineers to a construction project, by their very nature provide players with experientially (if not necessarily actually) different paths towards success. Thousands of words could be written on this topic, I am sure. But I’ve already drawn on too long, I am afraid. Suffice it to say, scale in RTS comes with many possibilities for the introduction of meaningful nuance, though it limits (for good and ill) the impact of any single decision a player makes.

In Conclusion (?)

Last time, I talked about economic nuance. This time, I attempted to define, or at least circumscribe and outline, tactical nuance. These are only 2 pieces of a larger puzzle. Unit and faction design , and by extension a game’s counter system, play an enormous role in combat and I scarcely touched on that in this article (though again, the outlines are present, if you read carefully). My bottom line is this: the goal is to give the player freedom to succeed or fail through the efficiency of their actions, to allow them numerous ways to be successful, and to give themselves an “out” when things turn south, even if their backup strategy is incredibly risky.

Thanks for your time. If you have any thoughts about this article or about my larger theory on RTS design, please do share it with me.( source:Gamasutra

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