Ongoing RTS design issue, unit with too long attack range to have proper overview.
One major overlooked problem by RTS, is that you can’t by really lot of games properly overview the battlefield anymore. I have no idea where it started, but bigger monitors/screens and more “realistic” long unit ranges kind of break one essential game feature, to see what is actually going on, on your screen.
As Example I did pick up Red Alert 1 unit V2 Rocket Launcher “Long Range Artillery” vs Locust in Halo Wars.
also put into “comparison” the monitor sizes. Well I have now 1920 x 1080 monitor, for old games I used to have 1280 x 720 monitor , maybe even smaller lol.
here original pics
Red Alert 1
Halo Wars 2
here put next to each other, considering RA1 was played on smaller monitors.
How will it be by AoE4? RTS designers these days seem to be quite unaware of it.
I think developers are aware of this.
AoM measures the range in feet, the range of Toxotes (Greek default Archer) is 15 feet (4.5 m) while in real like a good archer can hit something reliably at 50m range and for mass fire the range is even bigger of course.
Tebuchets have like 300m range in real life that would be nearly an entire map.
I’d say the range is about 1/10 of reallife
Screen size is less important for 3D games as they don’t render 2D sprites 1 to 1 (AoE1/2DE have zoom too now) and a 1080p and a 4K screen render the same image just more or less pixelated.
Play original AoE1/2(HD) on a 4K monitor and you have so much on one screen.
But the question is for what resolution are you designing the game. A lot of people still use 1080p, some even less, but is that the target audience? The average screen resolution is obviously going up in then future and I think it’s better to design a game to be best with future hardware because it’s going to be played most in the future obviously. Optimizing a game for 1440p makes it easier to scale it for 1080p and 4K.
If you want to see a 3D RTS that makes long rage weapons work, look at Supreme Commander. It allows you to zoom all the way out and get a perfect overview over the complete map. There are a lot of very long range weapons on the game and the game has a good way of visualizing those projectiles when zoomed out. It has so much more going on than AoE in most matches and still stays relatively readable.
Range, Damage and Unit Speed have to be balanced. If Archers have low range and units are fast they need to do a lot of damage because melee units can catch up easily while when they have a very long range they can be efficient without high damage.
That can be adjusted with some other things like slowing down units when they get attacked by arrows or making a unit stance that makes them way more resistant against arrows but slower (shield wall).
But are the developers today aware of it? AoM and SupCom were made like 19 and 14 years ago.
Modern RTS like Halo Wars 2, Grey Goo, Act of Aggression, Dawn of War 3, Iron Harvest, SpellForce 3 and so on don’t zoom enough out. There seem to be some kind of mental wall by modern teams, to get a very basic feature done right.
We have seen across the genre for years very similar feedback for the overview.
Here some examples
Act of Aggression
Act of Aggression
Dawn of War 3
Dawn of War 3
Red Alert 3
Red Alert 3
Sudden Strike 4
Is it going to be by AoE4 any different than by other modern day RTS games? So far we have seen some “leaked screenshots”, is that’s the max zoom for AoE4? Especially if unit ranges will be like by Halo Wars 2. I don’t this will be enough, Once people star use large armies and artillery units, this screen rate simply won’t depict properly what is going on.
I hope that you can zoom out as much as you want (or your hardware allows) no reason why you wouldn’t allow it.
It’s also easy to replace units with LOD models when zoomed out, you can just base it on zoom level. And than replace them with icons when zoomed out very much.
Same with the terrain, it would be really awesome if you zoom out the map gets replaced by more map looking view.
Some games do that like Hearts of Iron 4 or Crusader Kings 3, the map has environment and terrain when zoomed in and turns political when zoomed out.
AoE4 won’t have borders but a map with simplified terrain can still work.
Generally Supreme Commander solved that so good that the minimap become useless. But the game really needs it because every unit is ranged and many have very long range.
I understand, ideas to add more and new tools do come up. But most important task is to get the basics right. You should not rely on tools like in SupCom, to see properly what your units are attacking.
Default zoom should cover it up.