Archive for the ‘RTS Design’ Category

June 24th, 2009

RTS Design, Minor Comment


A couple of months ago I was writing an article series about real-time strategy game design. I never finished it (and I should!), but I wanted to make a small comment about one thing I wrote in one of the articles, let me quote myself:

In the current alpha build of Starcraft 2 the only remaining hero unit is the Zerg Queen. [...] Hopefully they will rename her, and allow the player to use strategies that involve building several.

Well, it turns out that I was right :)

Now all I want from the Starcraft 2 design team is to move the health bars to the feet of the units instead of flying around above their heads. Pleeeeaaase?!

December 12th, 2008

RTS Game-play Part 7: Abstract Balancing

jeb <3 RTSIn this part I will describe in more detail what abstract, or “hidden,” balancing is and how it can be used in your game. This is the last part I’ll post for a while, since I’m going on vacation for a few weeks, but I’ll be back next year! :)

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December 9th, 2008

RTS Game-play Part 6: Visible Balancing

jeb <3 RTSMaybe it’s time for me to continue on this blog series, so here it goes… Got some interesting feedback on the previous posts, which is great! I really need to hear some criticism, so I know in which direction to take the completed article in. I’m going on vacation next week and wont be back until next year, but I’ll try to post as much as possible until then (though I doubt I’ll have time to write everything).

In any case, as I wrote in the previous post there are two main kinds of unit balancing, visible and hidden balancing. (I will alternately use the terms “concrete” and “abstract” balancing as well.) In this post I’m going to describe in more detail what visible balancing is, and give some examples. It’s worth mentioning that a lot of these suggestions aren’t restricted to RTS games only, but to game design and balancing in general.

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November 26th, 2008

RTS Game-play Part 5: Introduction to Unit Balancing

jeb <3 RTSThe most widely discussed RTS topic is without question unit balance. How to design units, their attributes and their build costs, is a game design equation with infinite solutions. This part is a short introduction to a number of basic definitions, which I will refer to when I further descend down into the topic.

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November 22nd, 2008

RTS Game-play Part 4: Macro Limits

jeb <3 RTSThis time I will discuss a topic which is very game-specific, the topic of “macromanagement limits.” These are limits such as how much resources or how many units you may have. It strongly depends on what kind of game you are trying to make, and the technology you have available. If your game can’t handle path-finding for 1000 units at the same time, then maybe this limit should be included in your game design…

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November 21st, 2008

RTS Game-play Part 3: Build Options

jeb <3 RTSIn this post and the next one I’m going to tackle the topic of macromanagement. As I’ve said before, macromanagement (or “macro” for short) is closely related to strategy, so when designing the macro part of a game you will strongly influence the strategies which will be available to the players.

I will begin with the topic of build orders and technology trees. In the next part I will discuss some imposed macro limits that are used in a lot of games.

Hit the jump for the stuff…

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November 19th, 2008

RTS Game-play Part 2: Resource Systems

jeb <3 RTSThis is the second part of my RTS game-play article series, and we’re finally getting on with the more beefy stuff. This time I will discuss the subject of RTS games’ resource systems. The order of these blog posts may seem a little bit random… which is completely true! However, resource systems are quite independent from other game concepts, which makes it an easy place to begin. When I feel finished with all parts, I will post the whole document in a more organized manner. Until then, try to keep up with my floating idea blobs! :)

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November 18th, 2008

RTS Game-play Part 1: Terminologies

jeb <3 RTSIn the first part of my RTS game-play article I will discuss a couple of basic RTS terminologies. Most of these are probably obvious, but can be useful to define what I mean when I use them. There are a lot of other terms that I will use in my articles, but I will explain these as they are brought up. Please let me know in the comments if I leave out something that should be better explained.

Hit the jump for a couple of initial terminologies… Read More

November 17th, 2008

Game-play Mechanics of Real-time Strategy Games

jeb <3 RTSThis ridiculously long post title comes from an article that I was writing during the summer. As the clairvoyant would presume, it was an article about design and balancing of real-time strategy games, with focus on core game-play mechanics rather than the old boring rock-paper-scissors debate. Unfortunately I never finished it, and now it has been gathering dust for a couple of months. I thought this was a little bit sad, so I decided to divide the article into a number of blog posts instead, which hopefully will give me some new inspiration and motivation to finish the thing.

In this series of blog posts I will take a look at unit movement, construction, resources, macro-game rules and similar topics. Though I will mainly inspect these objectively, I will apply my own opinions on the different subjects. One thing to remember, though, is that there’s rarely a “right” or “wrong” when it comes to game design. The question is rather, what game are you trying to create,  and for whom?

My original plan was to begin with some background history, but the article at Wikipedia already does that flawlessly. For mortals it’s only necessary to recall that Dune 2 (Westwood Studios, 1992) defined the RTS genre, and for geeks it can be interesting to know that there were games with RTS-like elements earlier than that. Dune 2 was however the first RTS game I ever played, and it has strongly influenced my taste in games.

I will post the first parts in the following days. Since you are reading this, it means that I’ve created at least 3 drafts already, because that’s my criteria for beginning this series.

/ jeb