Honest discussion, why do developers struggle to design good RTS?

Is that iambic pentameter?

@“Pan Calvus” said:
Empires Apart was released too soon for the good of the game, it’s a small dev team and they ran out of money and thus time. There are too many things still broken about the game, and the single player content is just bells and whistles for a multiplayer focused title, at least at this point. The game will need a big second chance to succeed financially, something already pretty uncommon for the first game a new studio makes, especially if they tackle something as complex as an RTS (the Age of Empires games really were a remarkable achievement). I’m not going to claim everything will be fixed. The development team is working really hard on it at this point, they’re dedicated fans of the genre, but there is going to be a moment where they will have to review together with a few financial folks from the publisher and wherever they found their start up funds in the first place whether it’s worth to chase after more improvements, given that the biggest chance for hype ad high sales, release day, has passed. One things that has already drastically improved since release is the AI. They have a cheating version now that gets extra resources, and combined with the coding improvements that means that even if development is cut short completely at the 3 months after release mark there will be an actual fun single player skirmish option in the game. (No campaign, I’m not saying it’s a brilliant experience, but it will work.) The multiplayer works peer to peer without dedicated servers so it too should stay in the air. And that’s where the game shines to begin with. (Player numbers wil be a problem in this scenario.)

However, if you say things like “you do see pretty well how a big chunk of garbage was put together and tried with nostalgia hype to get people to buy a completely broken game.” and “-you can’t even play the game, because you do too fast run out of resources” it’s pretty obvious you haven’t actually tried very hard to find out how the game works. Gold runs out after around 40 minutes on the standard maps (at my skill level, probably more like 30 or sooner for a match between two good players). For this game however, that’s plenty long. The equivalent of the imperial age (war 2 eco 2) comes in around 15 minutes of game time in a realistic match (again, at my skill level). If you build only for getting there fast it can be done in under 6 minutes using the Mongols. The mechanics of Empires Apart are simply not as similar to those of aoe2 as you were assuming from taking a look at the unit list. It can be a faster game because a lot of the factors that determine the pace are different, there are for instance less really important gameplay upgrades tucked away in semi-random places (bloodlines, ballistics) so learning to play at the required speed without missing something big is a faster process. It’s definitely not a “just spam, no time for micro” experience. (Not for me at around 30 APM anyway.) The resource balance is one of the things I wouldn’t note down as bad, incomplete or broken. It’s pretty spot on for what the game wants to be. As is the user interface. It’s a delight to learn to play on.

I’m not going to be fanboying some more here (I already did plenty of that in the Empires Apart thread in offtopic), but the game definitely has some merit, it’s not Big Rigs 2: more over the road racing. If a developer just wants to cash in they just make some idle clicker game with 10 dollar “microtransactions” after all.

The game still alpha, they have a year to fix the game. I hope they fix the game. Is quite of interesting mix Blizzard game with AoE2. The game right now are full of bugs and content.
Feels incomplete.

@Huge5000RTSFan said:

Considering the genre did went near extinction, perhaps its developers fault?
They have to design a game, players can enjoy to play,
so they don’t refund and write negative ratings about it.

And if people, who do play actually RTS games, have to hard try to find out how economy works,
than pretty sure the dev did really mess up economy right?

[I] It’s not the developers’ fault, but the divided player communities’ fault. Those divided communities can not have a compromise among each other to a product and any of them will criticize the game hard if the game does not follow their desire and meanwhile they treat other communities harsh as a heresy.

[II] In fact, those great RTS games do have a complex economy design in the age of golden RTS game.
For example, Starcraft:Brood War.

In SC:BW, Its economy is not a simple collect and spend action. There are detailed things at how do you collect resource.

(1) Minerals Gather Rate

Protoss has the fastest mineral gathering rate, while Terran has the slowest. The cause of this difference in mining speeds is due to the shape of the resource gathering centers. Contrary to popular belief, all workers move and accelerate at the same speed.

Worker Unit
SCV

Minerals Per Minute
65.0

Gather Rate
100.0%

Worker Unit
Drone

Minerals Per Minute
67.1

Gather Rate
103.2%

Worker Unit
Probe

Minerals Per Minute
68.1

Gather Rate
105.5%

(2) Saturation

A base reaches full saturation at approximately three workers per mineral patch. Total mineral mining rate increases at a linear rate up to 1.0x saturation, then at an approximately linear (but slower) rate up to 3.0x saturation[3]. Due to worker wandering behavior, minerals are returned at a somewhat random rate. Below is an example of SCV saturation in a base with 9 mineral patches. Note that mineral values are approximate and may vary in-game.

Number Of SCVs Minerals Per Worker Per Minute Total Minerals Per Minute
5 65.0 325
7 65.0 455
9 65.0 585
11 60.3 663
13 57.0 741
15 54.6 818
17 52.7 896
19 51.3 974
21 50.1 1052
23 49.1 1129
25 48.3 1207
27 47.6 1285
29 44.3 1285

liquipedia.net/starcraft/Mining

projekter.aau.dk/projekter/files/42685711/report.pdf

[III] I think most of players just do criticize games and do not make a constructive feedback and even can not make a solid feedback and I think this is the last straw to make the camel fall.

Thanks for reading.

@Huge5000RTSFan said:
For Example Age of Empires III,

You have to take this rail station points, to get that cards and resources or you loose.
You are forced to fight and your defence towers do have a limit, so you can’t play properly defensive at all.
Sure you have this infinite resource generating things, but for that they did sacrifice all the depth, variety and strategy of real resource harvesting. And you have to anyway to dominate on the battlefield or you do lose.

Assuming standard supremacy mode;

  • You don’t have to build trading posts, some maps don’t even have them and for several civs they aren’t that useful and typically ignored.
  • Forced to fight? Not sure I understand, but if you don’t want to fight, you can instead try the treaty peace mode where players are unable to fight for a set period of time. Otherwise, fighting each other is not unheard of in RTS games…
  • Stacking towers for defense is absolutely not worth it, any base or an important gathering position should have one tower at most, otherwise you’re simply wasting resources. If you are attempting to build more than the build limit, you are overestimating the value of towers. For a proper defense, you should rather have walls and ranged units behind them - like archers or cannons. Defender’s advantage is pretty huge in this game due to TC strength, TC minutemen defenders, cards and batch unit training. Overcommiting under an opponent TC can often be a death sentence.
  • If you are using the infinite resource generating things, you are most likely on your way to lose the game quickly. It’s totally inefficient and not worth it unless the game goes on so long that all natural resources are depleted. The way to win games is as you say; strategy of map control and harvesting raw resources.
  • Dominating on the battlefield should not win you games? Should it lose you games? I don’t understand.

@Augustusman said:
The game still alpha, they have a year to fix the game. I hope they fix the game. Is quite of interesting mix Blizzard game with AoE2. The game right now are full of bugs and content.
Feels incomplete.

Em, if somebody does deliver a fail,
people don’t buy it, so devs stop support.

@sjyworld said:
[I] It’s not the developers’ fault, but the divided player communities’ fault. Those divided communities can not have a compromise among each other to a product and any of them will criticize the game hard if the game does not follow their desire and meanwhile they treat other communities harsh as a heresy.
[II] In fact, those great RTS games do have a complex economy design in the age of golden RTS game.
For example, Starcraft:Brood War.
In SC:BW, Its economy is not a simple collect and spend action. There are detailed things at how do you collect resource.

Yes, but it Blizzard is a team who do same game and do know what they are doing.

Each other team today somehow does do it wrong.

Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak= you run after 30 min out of resources, you can’t play it.

SpellForce 3 = resources are storaged and needs time till they get to production buildings,
which does lead to a have a huge logistic/ way find problem.
Also they are quite limited and there is except for food no other way to generate them.
Once you run out of metal/magic, you are stuck in spam basic units.

Dawn of War III= the game was designed for team play, all people share economy,
problem is quite obvious, nobody in the team does upgrade the resources
and for 1vs1 upgrades are too expensive, so you can’t play it properly.

@Eaglemut said:

@Huge5000RTSFan said:
For Example Age of Empires III,

You have to take this rail station points, to get that cards and resources or you loose.
You are forced to fight and your defence towers do have a limit, so you can’t play properly defensive at all.
Sure you have this infinite resource generating things, but for that they did sacrifice all the depth, variety and strategy of real resource harvesting. And you have to anyway to dominate on the battlefield or you do lose.

Assuming standard supremacy mode;

  • You don’t have to build trading posts, some maps don’t even have them and for several civs they aren’t that useful and typically ignored.
  • Forced to fight? Not sure I understand, but if you don’t want to fight, you can instead try the treaty peace mode where players are unable to fight for a set period of time. Otherwise, fighting each other is not unheard of in RTS games…
  • Stacking towers for defense is absolutely not worth it, any base or an important gathering position should have one tower at most, otherwise you’re simply wasting resources. If you are attempting to build more than the build limit, you are overestimating the value of towers. For a proper defense, you should rather have walls and ranged units behind them - like archers or cannons. Defender’s advantage is pretty huge in this game due to TC strength, TC minutemen defenders, cards and batch unit training. Overcommiting under an opponent TC can often be a death sentence.
  • If you are using the infinite resource generating things, you are most likely on your way to lose the game quickly. It’s totally inefficient and not worth it unless the game goes on so long that all natural resources are depleted. The way to win games is as you say; strategy of map control and harvesting raw resources.
  • Dominating on the battlefield should not win you games? Should it lose you games? I don’t understand.

But in Age of Empires 1 and 2 you don’t have to,
the nice thing about Age of Empires 2 you can play tactic Turtle.

You have a choice, you can simply build a world wonder.
it’s a huge problem if the game is designed for only 1 way to be played.

That’s Empires art is dead. This devs “fans of AoE” like FE…
So greedy.
Blizzard makes same RTS Warcraft / SC is the sci-fi version. The bad thing is, more cartoony and childish every new release.

Why do developers struggle to design good RTS?

Because starcraft2 has been doing to RTS games what World of Warcraft has been doing to MMO’s.
So a new mmo is about to come out? WOW launches a new expansion the same month and nobody cares about the new mmo (which also happens to get DDOSed like hell so the server crashes weeks long), all your friends are pulling you towards WOW because they need you to complete dungeons…

It’s just hard to compete with SC2 now the RTS- genre has been declining. The aoe- series should be able to compete at some level, but there is no real money being invested by microsoft, and ensemble studio’s doesn’t exist anymore. Besides that microsoft never believed in the power of Esports to be the best marketing a game can have.

@BAJOLI said:
Why do developers struggle to design good RTS?

Because starcraft2 has been doing to RTS games what World of Warcraft has been doing to MMO’s.
So a new mmo is about to come out? WOW launches a new expansion the same month and nobody cares about the new mmo (which also happens to get DDOSed like hell so the server crashes weeks long), all your friends are pulling you towards WOW because they need you to complete dungeons…

It’s just hard to compete with SC2 now the RTS- genre has been declining. The aoe- series should be able to compete at some level, but there is no real money being invested by microsoft, and ensemble studio’s doesn’t exist anymore. Besides that microsoft never believed in the power of Esports to be the best marketing a game can have.

I would say it’s not fault of Starcraft2 and World of Warcraft to be good games,
but of developers/publishers to make simply bad copies of them.

For example right now a lot companies do copy “Battle-Royale-Mod”
like Call of Duty Black Ops 4 or Red Dead Redemption 2.
It should be for any sane person be obvious those games won’t benefit from such game mode.

If you want to play Battle Royale,
you stay by PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and don’t switch to other similar games.

@BAJOLI said:
It’s just hard to compete with SC2 now the RTS- genre has been declining. The aoe- series should be able to compete at some level, but there is no real money being invested by microsoft, and ensemble studio’s doesn’t exist anymore. Besides that microsoft never believed in the power of Esports to be the best marketing a game can have.

Why do they have to compete with Starcraft 2?
Age of Empires 2 and Starcraft are completely different games.

But it’s indeed a Problem that developers do think they have to compete with something,
by making a similar game. A game should be able to stand on its own.

Perhaps the question should be how could they make decades ago good games ?

here is a good video. Seems like even Blizzard almost failed. I am pretty sure their Starcraft version from 1996 would have been today pushed to release shortly after presentation, 2 years too early despite it wasn’t ready.

So in fact by AoE4, it’s a question if “they”
actually planned a real BETA test and will listen to actual feedback for the game?

If I take a look at other games it some kind doesn’t happen at all.
For Example SpellForce 3. The game has a nice story, but you could not play it because it had too many bugs at launch. Empires Apart did completely forget to make one, man I am really glad for steam refunds.

And if big chunks are not approached,
also smaller things with big impact on gameplay experience stay untouched.

SpellForce 3 and Empires Apart are today pretty much the same game as from day 1 beta presentation.
Same goes pretty much for any other RTS.

It is explained to the gaming market each time what isn’t OK with their products,
but they never listen, never approach, never understand and never fix.

Its kind of a common problem these days, there is planned only 1 shot,
they don’t even aim properly and if does miss, they give up.
So it should not be a surprise, that people did become sceptical in buy never products.

Look just recent Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia

I am pretty sure they were warned that simplifications will backfire
and bad/weak games AI should be common sense to make troubles to enjoy the game.
But anyway the gaming market somehow does assume peoples loyalty is granted no matter what they do.

OK this might sound out of context,
but situation by Thundercats kind of does remind me what is happening with the RTS genre.
You know your typical 1980s cartoon like He-Man, G.I. Joe, Voltron.

So to recap there was a cartoon 1985—89, that is quite famous.
Later was a reboot(2011—12), but nobody watched that.
And now ThunderCats Roar (2019) on low budget, that is already hated.

I did find this sentence from their discussion interesting.

“While 1980s cartoon was the product of its time,
the following ones never found a way to reconnect with the old
or to connect with the new audience.”

Is any of 80s cartoon still, successful today ? We had back there lots of them,
but except for Transformers that is life action Michael Bay Movie
we kind of did never did hear again of them.

Stop support from games are based in nostalgia and made to be a cash grab.

If they could create a mode where one was for that quick 20 minute stomp or select an extended “empire-build” mode where you have the nostalgia of RTS (play 60+ min), you could hit both audiences.

Personally, I like the lax speed of the older RNG and never worry on the ActionsPerMinute/build queue stats. When I occasionally play with friends, it is usually vs Bots and see how to beat the cheat-ai or do vs each other in FFA or teams.

Some people want that quick pace though with quick reaction and proper build queues, etc. So have an alternative feature built around that.

Please both by creating 2 modes to embrace both sides of the audience: the Empire/Strategy Builders as well as the Quick/Tactical Action-MoBA crowds. With mod support and (not over-)reaching to both sides, game would be great with this as a basis!

I recently tried RTSs until 2005. Not one memorable feature.