Economy, how little nuances change the gameplay experience, even do break it

Economy, how little nuances change the gameplay experience, even do break it.

This is my Part 3.0 Analysis of the mayor Fundamental issue RTS did develop over the years:

The RTS experience is, harvesting & investing resources.
But a lot teams seem not to understand how this simple concept works.

The question is, what is the minimal and maximal amount a player needs to handle?
People do complain for a while that they have an odd feeling by new games.

Its actually more psychological than math. It’s based on expectations, a tactical game like Company of Heroes where you keep your 1-5 tanks alive by always repair them, is fundamentally different from C&C where you send out 20 tanks to die, than another 20 tanks, than another 20 tanks.

Let’s pick C&C, because it’s easier to explain by 1 resource.

A tank needs 1000 credits and is build in 30 sec, so if you always expect to build 1 tank so as long your economy does give you more than 1000 credits in 30 sec, you have the feeling like economy is ok.

If you go in an say “lets speed it up” and make tank 1000 credits/10 sec, and double economy:
While the game would be 2 times faster, people are going to get the feeling they do run out of money.
tank 1000credits/30 sec vs income 1050credits/30 sec= buy next tank

tank 1000credits/10 sec vs income 2100credits/30 sec = not buy next tank
sure you have 2 tanks, but 100 credits left and wait 10 sec for more,

gives you the feeling like eco is broken, because you start to wait for eco.

Next question is, do you loose control because its too much to do?
1 tank in 30 sec are 10 tanks in 5 min
1 tank in 10 sec are 30 tanks in 5 min

lest pick up as example actual games with similar units
Medium tank (Tiberian Dawn 1995) Cost $800 ### Build time 0:53
Predator “Medium tank” [Tiberium Wars 2007] Cost $1100 ### Build time 0:11

so while in old game you need 800/0:53= 15 credits in sec
in new game you need 1100/0:11 = 100 credits in sec

So basically to give same old school “good funded game” feeling, you need to provide player with 6 times more resources. Another issue is, by new game you need suddenly to handle 5 times more stuff in same time. Already by this simple example, we see how much it does influence.

what are the expectations for AoE4?

Calculating each piece of wood, stone, meat and gold is tough, even more if we consider you can change game speed by AoE2. So I think it would be clearer to speak about simply economy pace.

My personal impression is AoE2 pace is too slow, AoE3 is too fast.
I would like to see AoE4 pace somewhere in-between. What do you think?

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AOE2 pace is great. It’s an empire building game after all. It doesn’t happen in 5 minutes.

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Problem is Dawn of War 3 exists, a game with Starcraft unit durability and
Company of Heroes Economy, clearly complete mess on all merits.

How are they suppose to make AOE2 pace up-to-date?
After 22 years, even if its still good game, it did age a lot.

Personally i find AoE2’s pace perfect. You have enough viable strategies to go for faster paced games(e.g. rushing->drush,trush,flush) or for more slower paced games(e.g. FC->boom with walling). The good thing is that the player decides mostly about the pace. Obviously if both players play passive and boom into oblivion then the game will be slow paced. And what is even an “up-to-date” pace? Do you want 10 minute games?
According to https://aoestats.io/stats/RM_1v1 lets say the average game is 60 ingame mins long. With the standard 1.7 speed this is 35 min which is perfectly fine for a RTS game.

It feels like it didn’t age a single day. There are barely any clunky mechanics in this game.

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The question is still in the room how to make it better.

There are some quite awful and very possible scenarios
-developers tend to steamline economy
-developers tend to not provide enough resources to play the game
-developers tend to mess up the pace

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If people do play passive and boom into oblivion, its not slow paced in C&C , Generals, Total Annihilation and Starcraft 2. While pace in Starcraft and C&C maintains, pace in Generals, Total Annihilation does increase quite a lot.

Pace for AoE4 should clearly be not slower,
but are we doing a favor for the game to keep or speed up the pace?

While mid and end game pace is by AoE2 still OK in my opinion, i think the early game pace can get some buffs. Like build in same time 2 workers for same price, like zerglings in Starcraft and that each new house for 50 wood should give another worker.

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Just check this recent indie released Base build game " Factorio" with over 25.000 people play it.
It does outmatch by far all RTS from last 5 years combined.

Summary

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8SBp4SyvLc
https://store.steampowered.com/app/427520/Factorio/

I think it does hint for the main issue is, what RTS genre did lost over time

  • fluent gameplay

Problem is Developers focused too much on the units, but units by themself can’t pull it.
It’s over evident how base build focused games are even today very popular.
Base build focused, do focus to make economy work, the entire game.
They are maybe complex, but fun to play.

Lets pick up old C&C Generals/Supreme Commander/Age of Empires 3 vs
Dawn of War III/Act of Aggression/Grey Goo/Forged Battalion/Empires Apart/ Halo Wars 2
RTS games on the other hand, very clearly did loose this ability, new games dont have fluent gameplay.

Let me quote this of RTS development.

https://www.gamereplays.org/redalert3/portals.php?show=page&name=red-alert-3-strategy-guide-economy-guide

This significantly factor of old School RTS experience was the “Eco-Boom” where players would amass large amounts of cash quickly to produce large numbers of units.

And let’s be clear, in comparison to other old school RTS like Starcraft, Age of Empires, KKnD, Total Annihilation, C&C was the simplest title. Somehow gaming industry did come to conclusion it has to be even more simpler. And I see there a big problem for Age of Empires 4.

—Is Age of Empires 4 going to have:-“Eco-Boom”?
A valuable RTS tactic that went extinct 10-12 years ago.
You can’t Eco-Boom in modern games, they are too dumbed down for it.

—Is Age of Empires 4 going to have old school economy? Even there it clearly needs to be buffed, but gaming industry was nerfing it into oblivion for last decade.

—Is Age of Empires 4 going to have different rich and rare economy maps? Modern dumbed down games have just 1 map type.

—How will Age of Empires 4 deal with early, mid and end game economy? I mean you have to transit from harvest-able to regenerative resources and also trade. Modern games already fail by 1 type.

And worst of all, they try to make RTS more accessible by reducing economy.
I understand, some people think casuals might like the game more, if it’s easier to play.
Problem is, that’s not how gaming functions. Remove the challenge, you remove the game.

Age of Empires 4 designers have to stand up against a lot of wrong things,
that have been ongoing for years.

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