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PCG Poll: Create the perfect RTS

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Ok so apparently PCGamer is running a poll were they try to compose the ultimate RTS or whatever. In the final question you get to answer which RTS series came closest to perfection. As a fanboy you could vote for C&C although other franchises probably did the RTS bit better.

 

https://www.pcgamer.com/lets-build-the-perfect-rts-game/

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Many of those listed I have never played at all or very much. Nevertheless, of those I am familiar with, C&C really is the best among them. That said, I think C&C holds an advantage in that it covers three different universes and has spanned a good number of years, giving it a lot of opportunities to be better in any given aspect.

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Many of these questions are irrelevant to begin with. Setting, resource paintjobs etc. should not be given that much attention as the style of gameplay does. And you can tell how detached from the genre they really are when base-building is a yes/no question :facepalm:

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50 minutes ago, Plokite_Wolf said:

you can tell how detached from the genre they really are when base-building is a yes/no question

I was a little surprised to see that one in there, I must admit.

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Seems more like a survey form to generate a semi-amusing mash-up name than any attempt to eve superficially capture what different people like in RTS games.

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Technically there are some questions that should be mentioned for a RTS such as:
e-sport (MP only)
microtransactions (MP only)
battle royale mode
better camera views
progress achievements (unlock items)
more unit options
support powers/upgrades
interactive menus

And what's wrong with a base building question? There are some games that don't use base building (glaring at C&C4, World In Conflict and some MOBA games).

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59 minutes ago, PurpleGaga27 said:

battle royale mode

Can you just stop drooling over whatever is the newest fad?

 

59 minutes ago, PurpleGaga27 said:

And what's wrong with a base building question? There are some games that don't use base building (glaring at C&C4, World In Conflict and some MOBA games).

No bases, no RTS.

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You can have an RTS without base building. Claiming that one mechanic makes a game part of a genre is ridiculous. It's just that the most successful RTS games had base building.

There is no "perfect RTS." What I like may not be what purplederp or PW like. This is an entirely subjective discussion.

Starcraft and Warcraft have done it the best with AoE and C&C right behind them. If the gameplay is good, the game is usually good.

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2 hours ago, Doctor Destiny said:

You can have an RTS without base building. Claiming that one mechanic makes a game part of a genre is ridiculous. It's just that the most successful RTS games had base building.

That's called Real-Time Tactics, then.

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13 hours ago, Doctor Destiny said:

You can have an RTS without base building

In the same way you can have an FPS without a first-person perspective, or a single-player MMO?

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Fen, Plokite_Wolf is correct. Real Time Tactics differs from Real Time Strategy games due to lack of base buildings and resource collection. So, certain mechanisms are crucial to define a genre.

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Mechanics have never defined game genres and never will. That's surface level nonsense. Look into the aesthetics of play. It's the reasons why one might play a game that's more important for defining genre than surface level elements. Is Portal an FPS because it's in first person? Is Mass Effect just a third person shooter because it's in third person and the combat revolves around shooting? RTS/RTT deliver on the same core engagement: being a leader... commanding and managing armed forces. If that's not functionally the same just because a few mechanics are different, you're holding games back as a medium.

I don't play Borderlands for the same reasons as Call of Duty despite them both being in first person with combat revolving around guns and shooting...

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1 hour ago, Doctor Destiny said:

Mechanics have never defined game genres and never will.

Says only you.

This is why Diablo is not categorized as a third-person shooter, nor FIFA a real-time tactics game.

Base-free RTS games do not exist. Base building has been present in every RTS to date, especially since all RTSes are built around the first game that we'd firmly and without question call an RTS, and which had that mechanic.

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No. Not just me. There are many people, especially in the industry, trying to get away from "mechanics = genre." Because mechanics don't make a genre. The emotions or the core reasons you play make the genre.

Diablo is an RPG if you want to get basic. Not because of the leveling system or its mechanics, but because it's about a narrative. Like most other RPGs are. This is why Mass Effect is an RPG and not a third person shooter, or why Portal is a puzzle game and not an FPS.

RTS/RTT evoke the same core aesthetics of play - being a leader. If you want to deny it, go ahead but you'd still be wrong.

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16 minutes ago, Doctor Destiny said:

There are many people, especially in the industry, trying to get away from "mechanics = genre."

Define "many people". AAA doesn't care about that stuff, and indies do hybrids all the time.

 

17 minutes ago, Doctor Destiny said:

RTS/RTT evoke the same core aesthetics of play - being a leader. If you want to deny it, go ahead but you'd still be wrong.

That's not part of what places them in the RTS or RTT category anyway, so find a better argument.

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It's a growing trend, but not getting enough publication. This is the basis for the entire idea, which has always been there... just not fully explained. Genre is never defined by mechanics, art style or camera views. Do we define movies by their camera style? Do we define books by their narrative style? No, we do not and doing the same to games is a fundamental lack of understanding of art, media and expression.

Can you actually try countering an argument instead of saying I need a new one? Rather, stop trying to cling to a model that was never accurate and broaden your horizons beyond your minuscule, misinformed box.

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We don't define books and movies by those styles, but we can certainly categorize them by those styles.

Your argument this whole time has been that the discussion is pointless because there are multiple ways to define an RTS, or a Genre.  But the whole point of this discussion is to talk about what the best description of an RTS is. What a "perfect" RTS is. And lets face it.  An ideal RTS game has base-building. It has been a core component of every successful RTS game I can think of, and when I think of an RTS game, I include base-building as a part of that.

Is it a mechanic? Sure. But It seems silly to say that just because it's a game mechanic, it doesn't help define RTS. It is a huge game mechanic that can (and absolutely does) change the entire way the game is played and perceived.

You can't say the model was never accurate.  The model has simply changed over time the way gaming has changed over time.

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The discussion is blase at best. There isn't a perfect RTS or a singular set of mechanics that make for a great experience 100 percent of the time. Those mechanics may very from upgrades to waypointing to base building to even resource collection. Things I like may not be what you like or Plokite likes. Sure, we can discuss what the best games had but the games weren't great solely based on their mechanics either. There's the narrative and campaign design, multiplayer design, maps, aesthetics, flow and multitudes of other things. Oh yeah, you can point out what great games had mechanics-wise but they're not the only thing that makes a game great. Starcraft isn't great just because the game mechanics are flawless. C&C, AoE, Starcraft, Warcraft, TA... they all had personality and reasons to get invested in them. That's what separates them from games that fall flat. Universe at War, while an okay game, doesn't have the same punch as say... Warcraft. It falls flat despite the same mechanics.

Had this been "best RTS mechanics," that's a more concise thing to determine. Still subjective but there are ways to play common between all RTS juggernauts... and even those unsung classics like Dark Reign.

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6 hours ago, Doctor Destiny said:

Can you actually try countering an argument instead of saying I need a new one? Rather, stop trying to cling to a model that was never accurate and broaden your horizons beyond your minuscule, misinformed box. 

Drop the attitude. You are not an omniscient diety, nor an authority on anything.

 

5 hours ago, Rabbit said:

We don't define books and movies by those styles, but we can certainly categorize them by those styles

There we go.

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10 hours ago, Doctor Destiny said:

The discussion is blase at best. There isn't a perfect RTS or a singular set of mechanics that make for a great experience 100 percent of the time. Those mechanics may very from upgrades to waypointing to base building to even resource collection. Things I like may not be what you like or Plokite likes. Sure, we can discuss what the best games had but the games weren't great solely based on their mechanics either. There's the narrative and campaign design, multiplayer design, maps, aesthetics, flow and multitudes of other things.

This is why you shouldn't even bother replying then.

If you don't care for the discussion, don't join it.  Let the rest of us talk about what RTS means to us.  Let us duke out what we feel is important or unimportant. The conversation had 7 replies before it turned into an debate about game mechanics.  Game mechanics, like you said, are just one thing.  So instead of calling the entire discussion "blase" before it even fully took off, go be negative somewhere else.  Everybody was talking about what makes sense in an RTS and what doesn't matter in an RTS, until you had to turn the conversation into what the definition of a game genre is and how people who debate this have no idea what they're talking about.

It seems as though the conversation (and survey) as a whole was mostly about game mechanics to begin with.  And why is that? Because it's hard to define what makes a game great otherwise.  It's hard to put into words why I prefer one game and you prefer another, without referencing at least one mechanic, because while mechanics don't define the game, they sure as hell define the gameplay.

In this thread, we can talk about all of these different things, mechanics, artistic direction, or otherwise.  If you really feel like you need to shit on the conversation just because it isn't up to your standards, then go shit on it somewhere else. Everybody else has already bailed because of this argument about basically nothing.

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The fact of the matter is that mechanics alone do not make the game great. They're important as part of the whole, but very rarely do they alone actually make the game great. If you want to make a great game, RTS or otherwise, you need everything to do with it. Consider this. Take 8-bit Armies and the original Command & Conquer. Which one would you say is better? I'd venture you'd say Command & Conquer is better even though, fundamentally, the mechanics and gameplay are nearly identical.

A great RTS and great RTS mechanics and gameplay are not the same thing. Great RTS mechanics are finite, mostly definable. However, it wasn't phrased that way. Regardless of that, a great RTS is more than just its gameplay.

Also, I didn't even start this bullshit. I said an RTS didn't need to have base building and Plokite took it in the other direction so don't give me any bullshit about shitting on the conversation.

And Plokite, I just roll my eyes. I'm just going to ignore you for the most part from now on.

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2 hours ago, Doctor Destiny said:

I said an RTS didn't need to have base building and Plokite took it in the other direction so don't give me any bullshit about shitting on the conversation.

What, contesting your opinion is illegal now?

The issue here is that in every "discussion", you present your thoughts in an extremely agitated way and without much to back it up, like a fanboy saying "what I say is true because I said so, everyone who doesn't agree is an idiot". Your conversational skills are incredibly poor for that sole reason. Tread lighter.

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Fen,

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Real-time_strategy#Tactics_vs._strategy

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Real-time_tactics#Genre_classification

 

In general terms,

military strategy refers to the use of a broad arsenal of weapons including diplomatic, informational, military, and economic resources, whereas military tactics is more concerned with short-term goals such as winning an individual battle.In the context of strategy video games, however, the difference often comes down to the more limited criteria of either a presence or absence of base building and unit production.

That difference alone changes the way you treat your resources in game, since in real time tactics, the value of your existing units increases in a grotesque way since you often can't replace them. You have to focus on how to win battles losing the least amount of units as possible. In RTS, you need to focus on how to manage your economy to build the best combination of units to beat your enemy armies on most of times. The emotion changes, your motivation to play the game also changes... but the main reason is still the core mechanisms on it. And this isn't just me. It is the majority of the game industry and fans that considers it.

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Banshee, that's fair but disparate mechanics don't have mean entirely different genres either. Look at JRPGs versus Western RPGs. Wholly different yet they engage us similarly, despite their differences in play. RTS and RTT deliver in much the same way.

Regardless, straying a tad further off the point than I had intended. Since this is about the RTS specifically, let's break down what makes for a great one. First, and most importantly, the game will serve its core engagement with every element within. To build a great RTS, you need a narrative with a great hook with characters and events to deliver the narrative; you need a consistent world with a consistent, coherent aesthetic, meaning consistent graphical and sound design choices; and, of course, everyone's favorite, great mechanics to bind it all together. A great RTS is the sum of its components. If any of those fails, you'll end up with an okay game or a forgettable one... or one worth a couple of campaign playthroughs and little else. This is why Command & Conquer still resonates today but things like Empire At War and Universe At War don't have the same prestige. This is why Starcraft and Warcraft maintain massive playerbases while the 8-bit RTS series is little more than a footnote.

Sure, we can quibble over specific mechanics like unit upgrades versus global ones, builder units versus construction yards or resource fields versus resource blocks (note: list not comprehensive). Won't get us anywhere if the atmosphere sucks or the characters are forgettable. Shit, I bet most of you can recite lines from C&C1 and Red Alert, or remember voice quips from Starcraft! Those showed us what a great RTS is and can be, and the lasting power they have. Now if someone capitalized on it... I think we'd all be happy.

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The differentiation of JRPG and Western RPG as genres is something questionable, as you can see in the "Cultural Differences" section of the article of the wikipedia below. Anyway, it is mostly due to "cultural mechanisms", but hardly any game mechanisms itself. However, due to the globalization, the tendency is that the cultural differences between RPG games made in Japan with the western ones may fade away in the next years.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Role-playing_video_game

Regarding how to make a perfect RTS as the article in the first post points out, I don't think most of the questions there are valid as a template for creating great generic RTS games. Maybe as one specific RTS game. But my opinion is similar to what Fen has posted in the post above, as I also tend to pay more attention to the campaign aspect of the game than skirmish and multiplayer. My disagreements is that while the game concept, artistic style, resources and gameplay mechanisms must be based on its storyline/campaign, Fen seems to ignore skirmish and multiplayer. These elements are very important for the replayability of the game. Afterall, what do you do when you finish playing the campaign? And also, a proper ballance  of the armies is critical for the success of the game, as well as aspects that may vary the gameplay experience on skirmishes and multiplayer games, such as non-predictable  map design and events and a well designed AI on micro and macro management aspects.

I also disagree with Empire at War not having prestige. While it may not have the same prestige as Starcraft, Age of Empires and the older Command & Conquer games, it is a well designed and fun game worth of many gameplay hours.

 

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