Other RTS's, what did they do right?

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Other RTS's, what did they do right?

Post by 3drts » 06 Aug 2010, 13:03

I will start with homeworld: No arbitrary modifiers or bonuses to create balance.

None of the BS like in most RTS games where a weapons damage is multiplied by different modifiers depending on the target.

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Re: Other RTS's, what did they do right?

Post by Tenoh » 06 Aug 2010, 13:06

i'll add earth 2150 series,defense buildings turret changeable.
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Re: Other RTS's, what did they do right?

Post by themousemaster » 06 Aug 2010, 15:20

3drts wrote:I will start with homeworld: No arbitrary modifiers or bonuses to create balance.

None of the BS like in most RTS games where a weapons damage is multiplied by different modifiers depending on the target.
Don't get me wrong, I loved Homeworld. I still remember taking the stage with the spherical defense grid of Ion frigates, and capturing 200 of them over a week period. Enemy fleets may get larger the more ships you have, but after getting 200 Ion frigates, even the largest defined fleet was nothing...



But to say that the lack of damage types was what makes them good and WZ bad is not something I can agree with.

If you were to apply that same logic to WZ, then a heavy-body tank would need somewhere on the order of 1 million hitpoints, assuming an AG fired rapid-fire 1 damage shots, just to represent EXACTLY how futile shooting a tank with a machinegun is. Yes, EVENTUALLY it will break through, but eventually, I'll also be 50 years old.

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Re: Other RTS's, what did they do right?

Post by Assault Gunner » 06 Aug 2010, 18:37

themousemaster wrote: If you were to apply that same logic to WZ, then a heavy-body tank would need somewhere on the order of 1 million hitpoints, assuming an AG fired rapid-fire 1 damage shots, just to represent EXACTLY how futile shooting a tank with a machinegun is. Yes, EVENTUALLY it will break through, but eventually, I'll also be 50 years old.
Hahaha, so very true. By the same note, borgs would have to have 60 hp tops to allow MGs to be effective against them

StarCraft 2: Pathfinding, pathfinding, pathfinding. The pathfinder really needs to be updated in WZ. The other things SC2 did right aren't really applicable to WZ, such as appropriate balance on spells (Psistorm, Yamato Cannon, etc.), appropriate charge rate for Voidrays, balance of research times for Protoss due to Chrono Boost... Obviously Not Applicable.
"There is no greater Void than the one between your ears." - Void Ray, StarCraft 2.
Especially the Void between the ears of people who think that No VTOL is a good idea, and won't lead to arty wars. I've won one, and I have to say: I hated it.

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Re: Other RTS's, what did they do right?

Post by 3drts » 07 Aug 2010, 03:44

themousemaster wrote:
3drts wrote:I will start with homeworld: No arbitrary modifiers or bonuses to create balance.

None of the BS like in most RTS games where a weapons damage is multiplied by different modifiers depending on the target.
Don't get me wrong, I loved Homeworld. I still remember taking the stage with the spherical defense grid of Ion frigates, and capturing 200 of them over a week period. Enemy fleets may get larger the more ships you have, but after getting 200 Ion frigates, even the largest defined fleet was nothing...



But to say that the lack of damage types was what makes them good and WZ bad is not something I can agree with.

If you were to apply that same logic to WZ, then a heavy-body tank would need somewhere on the order of 1 million hitpoints, assuming an AG fired rapid-fire 1 damage shots, just to represent EXACTLY how futile shooting a tank with a machinegun is. Yes, EVENTUALLY it will break through, but eventually, I'll also be 50 years old.
Just cause one game did something "right" doesn't mean those that didn't do it, did it "wrong".

And HW's single player campaign was boring after the first few missions.
MP was where it was at.
HW single player was a "salvage corvette-fest"
HW multiplayer.... while salvage corvettes did see use, they were only used in specific situations - after you had nuetralized the enemy fighters/strike craft.

HW managed rock paper scissors style balancing, without what I consider "arbitrary" modifiers.

I don't see your point about giving heavy bodies a million hp if one doesn't use damage types....
#1) currently, assault guns can take down tanks rather quickly.
#2) Changing their damage modifier against tracks will not make it any harder to allow AG's to take out tanks.

If you say it will be too easy;
If you have an armor system, as wz does, its really basic math that a high ROF weapon will be less effective, as the armor is applied against the damage for each shot, thus more shots = more damage nuetralized by armor.

You could easily make it such that cannons are more effective than machine guns against heavy tanks.

Tracks/Wheels, etc, could modify armor : either fixed armor boost (ie tracks add +10 base armor, hftx only +5) , or an armor modifier - this wouldn't be the same as a damage modifier.
If I give tracks a 2x armor modifier, and say a specific body has 1 armor, and shoot at it with a cannon doing 60 damage, then factoring in the 2x armor, the cannon does 58 damage. Doubling armor didn't have the effect of halving firepower.

Anyway.... I thought the way they balanced HW was elegantly done.
I realized it more so as I did basic .big file modding and started playing with the stats, and seeing the range of values they had for each class.

I could completely break the balance, merely by changing projectile velocity - or type - give a ship that previously fired rather slow slugs an ion cannon - which is hit scan- with the same tracking rate, rate of fire, and damage per shot - and its balance was dramatically changed.

Nothing felt "arbitrary" though.

I think starcraft was the worst with "explosive" and "concussive" damage types.

Homeworld could have used an armor system though, not damage types, simply applied damage = weapon damage-target armor value.
Although systems like that are hard to use with continuous fire weapons like the ion cannons were.

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Re: Other RTS's, what did they do right?

Post by Zarel » 07 Aug 2010, 05:38

StarCraft II changed it to just damage bonuses to certain targets, which I think turned out better.

Personally, I rather like damage types. After playing Wesnoth, I went back to playing NetHack, and had trouble figuring out why arrows were more effective against skeletons than warhammers were. You'd think a warhammer would be one of the most effective ways to destroy a skeleton.

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Re: Other RTS's, what did they do right?

Post by 3drts » 07 Aug 2010, 11:36

Without damage modifiers and such, it is easy to fall into a situation where one unit just plain dominates.
IMHO, the lazy way to prevent this is to give another unit a "bonus" or "damage modifier" against that unit.

The gameplay effect is good, but it feels forced to me. Making a game balanced with proper counters, without using this mechanic, is probably much more difficult, so when a game manages to do it, without modifiers, I give them a Kudos.

There are other ways besides projectile velocity (which HW used extensively) to balance things.

Consider the Seige Tank in Starcraft, in tank mode.
When upgraded, its turret would be able to one shot kill Zerglings, if not for the damage type "explosive"
There are otherways to make a gun good vs heavy targets, but not good vs light targets. (when going vice versa, an armor system and ROF suffice)

Consider 1 cannon that does 150 damage every 5 seconds, and another cannon that does 55 damage every 2.5 seconds.
Mount them both on the same tank chassis (lets give that chassis 150, 250, or 300 hitpoints), the 150 damage tank dominates.

Now have the opposition be a force of more numerous light vehicles/infantry/zerglings/whatever, all with 55 hp or less.
Now your tank with the weaker but faster firing gun is clearly what you want to use, it will kill them twice as fast.
So now you have two guns, one of which is only half as effective against small units at the other, without having some 0.5 "explosive damage modifier" like the SC seige tank has against Zerglings.

Now starcraft focuses on balance a lot, and aims for very complex balance, its no wonder they take the easy way out and just add arbitrary modifiers to accomplish this.


Now lets look at another game, ORB- what did it do right?
The AI sucked, their "travelling formation" concept was a nightmare watching the AI try to break up into combat formations, or form back into a travelling formation when you wanted to retreat- simple modding limiting the travelling formation size to the combat formation size helped a lot.

Fighter Balance:
Their formation size was not adjustable in game (I heard it was in early beta, WHY DID THEY GET RID OF THIS)- this made the heavier, more expensive fighters, completely waste their firepower - with simple modding (I dont think modding the formation file in this way even cause sync errors), reducing formation size from 5 to 3, made the advanced fighters perform much better against the more numerous cheap fighters.
Also, dealing with the poor AI, fighter formations that had missiles, would fire the missiles, then fire guns when in range (which hit earlier), due to the formation size, often killing the target before the missiles hit- making missiles useless overkill- when missiles were intended as anti fighter weapons- breaking missile fighters up into even smaller formations, increased their effective firepower.
As it was, nobody bothered with the more expensive fighters, until they had such an advantage, they had won anyway - it was always mass the cheap basic light fighter, until get capital ships.

The Poor AI further reduced the effectiveness of the torpedo bombers meant to counter capital ships, sure they did heavy damage, and could be effective counters, but often their formation ai and collision avoidance AI conflicted, and they'd just dance around at the edge of capital ship weapon range like retards humping a door knob before starting their attack run for so long the capitals would just waste them before they got one torpedo off. Their poor formation AI really killed the game, they should have just gotten rid of it in certain cases.

Cloak- was useless, duration was far too short, couldn't recloak unless fully charged, so no recloaking during combat, just a real short distance of undetected travel- nobody ever bothered with them. Its duration would have to be doubled, or allow recloaking at less than 100% charge, perhaps with auto recloaking like HW's cloaked fighters (or allow firing while cloaked, like SC wraiths)

Hyperspace jumping - One of the thing I think they did right.
I liked their recharging energy based system (where needing a full charge made sense, unlike their cloak).
In HW, your ships could dance around all over the map, if you had resources.
In ORB, it didn't matter how many resources you had, if your capital ship jumped to a location, it wasn't going anywhere fast for a while - This made jumping your ships (if you even had jump capable capitals - the jump versions being more expensive and a lot harder to get the tech for) a very important strategic decision (sureHW's was as well, but I didn't like the choice between moving my fleet, or the resources to build a new fleet- The maximum jump cost for frigates was 500 ru, and frigate only cost 575-650 RU, you could basically build a new frigate for the cost of moving one fast).
I also like the way the enemy could see the jump destination, before the enemy ships had jumped - 2 portals opened simultaneously, one in front of the ship, one at the destination, they expanded until the capital ship could pass through - this took a long time for the biggest ship class- the assault carriers, so your enemy had time to prepare for their arrival.

I also like how you could abort the jump before the portal reached maximum size- it allowed for tactical/strategic deceptions
If both sized have a jump capable fleet, you could order a portion of your fleet to jump to an asteroid base - the enemy might see the portals opening, and begin opening its own jump portals there so it could meet your fleet for combat a few seconds later.
- Then you cancel the jump: If your enemy took the bait, all their ships jumped away, and it will now be a few (several?) minutes before they can jump again- the portion of your jump capable fleet you didn't order the "fake jump", is now free to jump anywhere, without worrying about the enemy fleet arriving via hyperspace - ideally if timed well, right as the enemy fleet can jump to where your fleet is, a few seconds later your fleet can jump again, and the enemy has lost the initiative - it cannot contest your fleet's attack.

Jump capable ships can also be used as diversions if your main fleet was not jump capable - conceal your main fleets approach with sensor jammers, and jump your few ships to the farthest enemy asteroid base- watch at the enemy fleet moves away to engage, leaving your true target vulnerable.
I think the energy based system made gameplay better than HW's resource based system.

What it also did right:
A good map editor- all kinds of triggers and customization options: you could leave standing hyperspace gates on the map that made for interesting strategic areas of control and such.
What it did wrong:
Not a single stock map used any of these features it had- not a single stock map had useable hyperspace gates that people could fight over for control, no scenarios/maps where players could aquire ships of the NPC races - was somewhat remedied by map makers after release, but the small player community made this minor, a negative feedback system.

Mining bases:
Meh.... interesting concept, but not executed the best way- maybe if you could establish bases on asteroids that didn't have resources.
As it was to build a repair base within an asteroid, you first had to completely deplete it of resources, making it no longer worth fighting over much, and making its repair and rearming facilities not really useful.
By the time it upgraded to a military base with manufacturing facilities, you could guarantee the base was far from the fighting.
The only point in upgrading them was to increase the manpower/ population you could support.
Carriers which served as mobile bases, were way more preferable than upgrading old mining colonies.

A better system would be after X RUs are mined from an asteroid (indicating Y cubic meters had been hollowed out), then it could be upgraded from a simple mining colony to a base.
The # of asteroid you could build bases on was always too low IMO.

Graphics- particularly the planets and background- Awesome IMO.
Beautiful.
I wish I could say the same for many of the ship designs.

Capital ship balance:
Bigger = better, plain and simple, not much balance here, just build the biggest capital ship you have the tech for.
Bigger capital ships slaughtered the smaller capital ships on a per RU/manpower basis.

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Re: Other RTS's, what did they do right?

Post by Zarel » 08 Aug 2010, 05:25

3drts wrote:Consider 1 cannon that does 150 damage every 5 seconds, and another cannon that does 55 damage every 2.5 seconds.
Mount them both on the same tank chassis (lets give that chassis 150, 250, or 300 hitpoints), the 150 damage tank dominates.

Now have the opposition be a force of more numerous light vehicles/infantry/zerglings/whatever, all with 55 hp or less.
Now your tank with the weaker but faster firing gun is clearly what you want to use, it will kill them twice as fast.
So now you have two guns, one of which is only half as effective against small units at the other, without having some 0.5 "explosive damage modifier" like the SC seige tank has against Zerglings.
This requires a significant number of units to have 55 HP or less, which doesn't make for a very fun game if units die so quickly. Battles would be over too quickly to be fun - you could counteract it by having more units at a time, but most game engines can't handle having so many units.

What do you think of SC2's Immortal?

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Re: Other RTS's, what did they do right?

Post by digt » 08 Aug 2010, 20:14

1 Pathfinding, I agree with Assault Gunner
2 Zoom Out More, it doesn't have to go as far as Supreme Commander but further than now
3 Polish, I know this is hard with a 10 year old game that is now community developed with volunteers spare time!

The best games seem to have a caring community and a lot of extensibility (I agree with 3drts about editors, although I'd never use it), Warzone 2100 seems to have both down. When I think about StarCraft, Warcraft, Total Annihilation, Supreme Commander, Command and Conquer, they also seem to have a style and personality that is all their own.

As for polish, Warzone needs a bit of work all over, work that would be much easier if it were a normal centralized project. I'm still new so forgive me if I'm missing info. There are threads about improved pathfinding and improved pathfinding through map making. Are all the standard maps the best they could be? As a new player that doesn't play that much the tech tree is difficult to grasp, yes I know there are threads on this too. A lot of games have a visual in game tech tree which makes it easier to understand where your research leads and I think this would help this game as well. I'm not talking auto research or a queue, just visualization. Lastly the interface seems so dated. It's not that the graphics look old (although they do, hey it was made 10 years ago!) but there seems to be little on screen information. You can only have one panel open at once. There does not seem to be a good overview of what is happening, so I end up cycling through F1, F2, F3, to see. Another idea might be to have a commander or teams panel stay open, except from what I gather commanders aren't used that often in skilled games. These are things that nag at me as a new player (aside from not having any skill haha).

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Re: Other RTS's, what did they do right?

Post by 3drts » 09 Aug 2010, 12:34

Zarel wrote:
3drts wrote:Consider 1 cannon that does 150 damage every 5 seconds, and another cannon that does 55 damage every 2.5 seconds.
Mount them both on the same tank chassis (lets give that chassis 150, 250, or 300 hitpoints), the 150 damage tank dominates.

Now have the opposition be a force of more numerous light vehicles/infantry/zerglings/whatever, all with 55 hp or less.
This requires a significant number of units to have 55 HP or less, which doesn't make for a very fun game if units die so quickly. Battles would be over too quickly to be fun
Well, few games have weapons that do 150 damage in one shot, if they have units with only 60 hp. Such weapons are all special attacks (SC yamato cannon- 260 damage, marines 40 hp, zerglings 35)

Consider one cannon doing 50 damage every 4 seconds, and one gun doing 10 damage every second.
The 50/4 has 20% more firepower. Now Imagine a group of units with 60 hp.
The 50/4 sec unit takes 8 seconds to kill each one(2 reloads per enemy), the 10/sec takes only 6.
(for the very first unit, it will be 4 and 5 seconds respectively, as the first shot is already loaded)
The heavier cannon takes 33% longer to kill the small unit, despite having a 20% higher firepower rating.
These won't kill units much faster than siege tanks already kill marines or zerglings in starcraft, and would be on units you have fewer of. Starcraft has its share of units that go kaput easily.

Now lets say both these weapons are fired at an enemy armored vehicle with 150 HP (like the SC seige tank), and say.... 3 armor.
The 50/4 weapon does 46 damage per shot, 4 shots are needed, for 12 seconds to kill 1v1 (first shot, then 3 reloads).
16 seconds for each one thereafter.
The 10/1 weapon does 7 damage per shot, 22 shots are needed, for 21 seconds to kill the first, 22 seconds for each one thereafter.
22/16= 37.5 % more effective against the 150 hp, 3 armor, chassis units.

Now, without using arbitrary damage modifiers, we have a two weapons with different purposes. One weapon is 33 % more effective against low HP targets than the other, despite the other having 20% more firepower (and this 20% is realized when enemies have HP with multiples of 50, and no armor).
When some armor is added, the balance falls even more in favor of the heavy, slow firing cannon (within certain thresholds, adding 1 armor will still require the same amount of "additional shots" from the slow firing cannon as 3 armor, for units that take less than about 15 shots to kill, so a 50 hp 1 armor unit, is still killed easier by the rapid fire gun, despite having armor, as the rapid fire cannon now needs 6 shots for 6 seconds, the slow firing cannon now needs 2, for 8 seconds - there is a range where armor values just make them resistant to rapid fire weapons, without favoring the heavy hitting slow firing weapons).

And of course, there are concepts like splash damage that also make some weapons more suitable against smaller more numerous targets (particularly if the splash is applied against armor first).

I don't have a problem with weapons that can "one shot" other units, RTS's involve many units, and two units that can "two shot" a unit have the same effect as 1 unit that can one shot.
Lots of units in HW could be "one shotted" by other units - pretty much anytime an ion beam came into contact with a fighter, it exploded, I think the same went for corvettes (if not from a single ion beam contact, then from the full weapon complement of a heavy cruiser or destroyer with their turreted ion beams that could keep the beams on target without turning the whole ship)

Then there are other aspects of balance, particularly evident with space RTS's that have capital ships, where even with many, many units cannot one shot the enemy- if the capital is equally effective in terms of aggregate firepower and armor, as the swarm facing it, as the battle goes on, enemy firepower decreases, and the capital wins decisively. So you can balance this with added firepower for the small units, and added speed, making them tactically more flexible.
Capitals in HW were just generally too slow to be used as resource raiders/defenders, or if hyperspace jumping was used, they were too expensive.
Give the fighters a speed, and firepower per RU advantage, and they may still lose to capitals, but are the best option for killing weak targets quickly, and leaving before help arrives.

If you accept "one shotting" then you can really achieve different roles for units without arbitrary modifiers.
Consider a 1,000 damage, 10 second reload weapon, vs a 40 damage, 1 second reload weapon.
Now put them both up against 110 hp enemies,
One weapon kills every 3 seconds, the other every 10......
And obviously the unit with the 1000 damage weapon is priced higher than the 50 damage weapon, and would likely come on units with more HP than those with the 50 damage weapons.

Then you can easily have a 3 tier balance system...
Without putting much effort into it (as I said, its harder to do balancing without modifiers well)
30-150 hp units, with rapid firing 5-25 damage weapons, cheap..... and countered by
500-1000 hp units with 30-60 damage, rapid fire weapons, moderate cost.... countered by
1000+ hp units, with 1000+ damage slow firing weapons, expensive.

Rather than damage modifier co-efficients, you end up with "overkill co-efficients"
Basically, how much damage is wasted by the killing shot being overkill, compared to the total HP of the unit.
One can get the highest co-efficients with 1 shot kill weapons (arbitrarily close to 1.0, as in a 1 hp unit, and a 9,999,999,999 damage weapon)
With 2 shot kill weapons, this can get arbitrarily close to 0.5 (5,000,001 HP unit, against a 5,000,000 damage weapon)
With 3 shot kill weapons, this can get arbitrarily close to 0.3333
4 shot.... close to 0.25
And so on.....

The problem is this sort of balance is much more complex and varied, and harder to do.
A high damage low ROF weapon high generally have a high overkill co-efficient against low HP units, but that co-efficient is different depending on the exact strength of the enemy unit.
The balance/overkill factor also changes with upgrades (occasionally, these upgrades will cause thresholds to be reached which alter balance).
Thus I understand why it is generally not done. But when a game manages to pull it off, I give them kudos.

There was a reason HW heavy corvettes had higher damage, slower firing weapons than the multigun corvettes, and also a reason that multigun corvettes didn't always focus fire on the same target. The heavy corvettes, while still being a fighter counter, were also intended as an anti-corvette ship type as well. Multigun corvettes were even more effective against fighters, but lost to heavy corvettes.
Of course, the multi's were also much faster than the heavies, allowing them to intercept fighters much better (the multi's nearly being able to keep up with attack bombers).

*edited to remove long discussion about tactics and balance specifics of HW*

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Re: Other RTS's, what did they do right?

Post by noccy » 21 Aug 2010, 18:38

digt wrote:2 Zoom Out More, it doesn't have to go as far as Supreme Commander but further than now
That idea is getting +1 from me :)

Oh! And bridges and ramps! What's the state of the bridge code in trunk?
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Re: Other RTS's, what did they do right?

Post by Wisler » 23 Aug 2010, 03:57

I duno why people keep mocking how ineffective MG would be if it were real life.

They already have armour piercing, explosive rounds today wtf will they have by 2100, so get ya facts straight people! :lecture:
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Pm me to try out for RBL.

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Re: Other RTS's, what did they do right?

Post by Jorzi » 23 Aug 2010, 15:12

@Wisler armor piercing mg means that it can pierce up to a few centimeters of steel armour, which is enough for most light vehicles, some apc:s and airplanes etc. Armor piercing rockets, missiles and cannons means that they can penetrate up to 1m of steel armour or 2m of reinforced concrete. This is required to take out the front armour of a tank.

Anyway, one thing I liked about total annihilation was the newtonian physics and the realistic projectile trajectories. You could actually target anything with anything (I once shot down a fighter plane with the big bertha (super-heavy plasma artillery) and it was awesome, but it was pure luck). SAM missiles could attack ground units too, but considering that they were quite expensive and not that powerful, it was only an emergency tactic. Also, homing missiles could lose their targets and hit anywhere, dealing damage where they hit.
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