On RTS Games

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Yahtzee's idea sounds like an interesting experiment, and I'd certainly give it a whirl, but consider me one of the nerds who enjoy a good old straightforward RTS game and doesn't think the genre has any responsibility to cater to fans of other game styles.

I'm guessing Yahtzee never played Natural Selection (a free Half-Life Mod). It is pretty much an RTS where most of the players are grunts, playing as either human infantry or aliens. The humans have a commander who looks down and issues orders from 3rd person, while the grunts may either follow orders or not (though things generally go better if they work together). The aliens are all first-person view and have to work as a team to get things built and marines dead, without the benefit of a semi-omniscient commander. Overall, a very fun adaptation of RTS and FPS games; the concept was similar to the Savage games, but I preferred the graphics, gameplay, and mechanics in Natural Selection.

I'd always wondered why you hadn't reviewed an RTS. Well now we know, we shall never bug you gain...

YEAH RIGHT!

CitySquirrel:
Also, Yahtzee... maybe the FPS players could be playing a rail shooter where the rails are directed by the commander?

this.. is so stupendously simple.. that i find it genius, and declare it to work.
it might not be the BEST solution, but it is one that will work XD

Brings to mind BF2's commander who sat there being ignorred by people, occasionlly dropping artillery on a friendly base or giving an enemy a free car and then getting a gold medal for his trouble if his team wasn't a bunch of retarded gibbons. BF2142 has a commander too I think, he steered the Titan or something. Suffice to say being a commander sucked.

Widen your scope man. You won't find salvation in ignorance. Expect when Rockstar Games are involved. Screw you GTA (and its clones)!

It's a strange article when a professional game critic states he won't review a game because he doesn't get the genera. It's like Roger Ebert refusing to review something like Avatar because he doesn't get special effects.
It's specially odd because I do remember a review about Halo Wars, another about Super Smash Bros. Brawl (in which it was clear that Yahtzee didn't like the genera going in) and another with the frase "take this as the ignorant hate speech that it is".
I guess my point is that I never thought Yahtzee of all people,  would shy away from reviewing such a big title because of fearing of offending some Koreans.
Probably we all feel intimidated by things all the time, but when we call ourselves professionals (like in the frase "professional game critic. Shut up I am!"), the job comes before our personal feelings. 
Or maybe I "professional" doesn't mean what I think it means.

That mercenaries thing sounds like a bad idea. With that you're going to have the RTS players weighing their resources and wondering if it'd be cheaper to simply wipe out the mercenaries as opposed to paying them off. Starcraft could actually do something like this thanks to the map editor. In starcraft 1 I've played a map where there was 2 teams for regular build up a base people, and there was a team where people would play as just a beefed up hero character. It worked then because people would set up a game specifically for that, and it was quite fun playing either team.

Seems that the RTS/FPS crossover would be more fun for the FPS players than the RTS ones. I wouldn't know, I've never bothered to play one myself, but I think I'd have a lot more fun picking up orders and doing missions from an actual human player that I can talk to to give me supplies to help me on my mission than sitting back and hoping that the guy I picked to do the job isn't a total dick and won't just take your money and run. Still, kinda adds some realism since the world is like that. People are dicks, there's no escaping that fact, and FPS players are probably the biggest dicks of them all; I should know, I am one.

It also brings into question of who has the real power here. I mean obviously the commander has command of all of his units and a base the size of Texas, but once a merc is involved then it's really the merc who calls the shots because they can just tell the commander to go screw themselves and sabotage the mission if the commander tries to push things too far. However, the commander is the one who has the cash and the stuff that the merc needs so there's a little bending to the commander's will to do if you want that shiny new gun, jet fighter, APC or tank.

It's kind of symbiotic and would work in theory, you've just got to know who to trust; which, as I said before, when it comes to FPS players that's no easy task.

I would totally play the proposed RTS, either as FPS or RTS mode. Strangely that harkens back to a Starcraft Custom Map. Where 2-4 RTS players would play the game normally, and everyone else is a mercenary, although controlling their character via the normal SC interface. However I think the drawback was that you couldn't just leave by yourself, you had to pick a side (Unless player 3 or 4 is missing, then the script is still there to join said side). The other was you had no choice in character, it depended on your slot.

There's another game, the name escapes me, where one player is in RTS control over an alien swarm while the marines/humans players worked as an FPS team against the RTS player.

Come to think of it, for the grand 'omniwargame', the RTS player could base in charge of a base and pump out additional troops to support everyone else as they wreck havoc across the battlefield.

I can see Yahtzee's game idea becoming a bit of a grind fest. It would be cool while it lasted though.

how about a singleplayer RTS/FPS hybrid where you lay down your strategy beforehand (as RTS), and then go in the action( as FPS)?

Im pretty sure someday, someone will find a combination that works....

Poorly researched, pointless piece.

Lemsip and Split/ Second? Yeah, sounds like a winning combination to me.

As for the RTS/ FPS hybrid idea, I would happily do whatever the commander told me, as long he wasn't a completely incompetent tool. I'm a pawn, I know my place.

Labcoat Samurai:

absoul11:
Yahtzee has the right to review whatever he wants, and besides if he did review it, we already know what it'd be like.

Yeah, I mean, it's not like he's getting *paid* to do this.... oh wait ;)

EDIT: Kidding aside, you're sort of right, he has some latitude on what he reviews. On the other hand, it's not just a hobby. He is technically answerable for his content, even if not directly to you or me.

True, true however, like MovieBob he chooses what he wants to review.

k-ossuburb:
Seems that the RTS/FPS crossover would be more fun for the FPS players than the RTS ones. I wouldn't know, I've never bothered to play one myself, but I think I'd have a lot more fun picking up orders and doing missions from an actual human player that I can talk to to give me supplies to help me on my mission than sitting back and hoping that the guy I picked to do the job isn't a total dick and won't just take your money and run. Still, kinda adds some realism since the world is like that. People are dicks, there's no escaping that fact, and FPS players are probably the biggest dicks of them all; I should know, I am one.

It also brings into question of who has the real power here. I mean obviously the commander has command of all of his units and a base the size of Texas, but once a merc is involved then it's really the merc who calls the shots because they can just tell the commander to go screw themselves and sabotage the mission if the commander tries to push things too far. However, the commander is the one who has the cash and the stuff that the merc needs so there's a little bending to the commander's will to do if you want that shiny new gun, jet fighter, APC or tank.

It's kind of symbiotic and would work in theory, you've just got to know who to trust; which, as I said before, when it comes to FPS players that's no easy task.

The FPS/RTS concept doesn't work well for standard games because too much coordinated teamwork is required to have a fun. Not difficult to handle FPS players are the problem, unexperienced players are (once they are experienced, most of them are willing to help in any situation). The FPS/RTS mix is designed for competitive gaming, which makes it hard to get the game popular.

What Savage (XR) concerns, the genre blend is great, but the combat system is epic:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4EaaRoACrk

Giving this idea a little more thought, perhaps it could work kind of like Dungeons and Dragons does - With the RTS player being a sort of dungeon master who creates structures, monsters and defenses the FPS party needs to wade through in order to reach a previously defined goal (either a certain amount of kills, time survival or capture the flag/whatever)

that's the type of thing, that unless you have a team set up, it's going to be a race of who kills themselves last.

He has a right to review what he wants, really. Just because something is popular(!!!) does not mean he is professionally obligated to review it. Yahtzee has his reasons, and whether you find them consistent or not, it hardly matters. Until the Government of China enslave us all, he has free will to do whatever the FUCK he likes.

Didn't Command and Conquer try something like this with C&C Renegade that flopped miserably?

Arcthelad:
I'm surprised that someone like you who bashes his viewers/readers because they stick it 'safe' 'with games is not even willing to give rts's a try.

Hypocrites. Everyone is one.

MelasZepheos:
I think we all know what happens next:

The fanboys will wail and wail for months on end, eventually he will cave,. just as with Borderlands and Smash Bros Brawl, and then he will review Starcraft II. He won't like it, will tear it apart in a review, and all of the fanboys won't understand how he couldn't like it despite his having expressed the opinion several times.

History repeats itself people.

Anyway, nice idea, but I don't personally think the two can ever be integrated fully. FPS/3rdPS players want that freedom to do what they want, RTS players want total control. The two don't mesh, not now not ever.

Yahtzee didn't cave in to peer pressure to review Mario Kart Wii. and i think he was genuinly interested in reviewing Smash Brothers Brawl. he didn't enjoy the game, but seemed to look forward to reviewing it. or maybe thats just how i saw it. Borderlands, you have a point on though :)

and does history repeat itself? i'm sure you'll be able to suggest examples but i can't really think of any (though I really do suck at History), other than the Trojan Horse often being used in Cartoons and stuff as a joke.

Weird to read this having LOVED the online multiplayer of Battlefield 2 where they've done this exact thing successfully: Having a commander order around units on a map, dropping supplies and airstrikes while the rest of the bunch is executing his orders.

So it's been done, and well done indeed, why shouldn't it work?!

I'm sure someone has already pointed it out but RTS/FPS has actually been done by Savage. I personally think it worked quite well. Each team has one commander who is in charge of placing buildings controlling workers and researching tech upgrades. Players initially start with just their melee weapons and the humans have bows. The commander has to balance researching new weapons and items with building outposts which act as forward spawn points and resource dropoffs. They can build towers to hinder enemies too. The commander can issue commands to players and following commands gives experience which in turn gives the player upgrades at certain milestones.

All in all it worked kind of well, sure there was the inevitable frustration when a good commander sees their entire team get slaughtered despite having given them every advantage or the opposite when a good team dies because they're still using crossbows whilst their enemy is fielding predators, but that is pretty much unavoidable and the same kind of feeling you get if you're unlucky enough to be the only competent player on your team in any online game.

I hope the fans don't try to pressure him into reviewing it. We'd have an SSBB level shitstorm on our hands.

I'm unconvinced that having the human players as third party menaces to an RTS battle would be a good idea, all it's going to mean is that the RTS players are going to be frustrated and the action gamers are ultimatly going to be left cut off from their upgrade system. What would work better is if the action gamers were the "hero" type characters in the RTS player's armies, not so vital that their co-operation is needed to win (as can be a problem with RTS/FSP hybrids) but capable of givning a boost in battle. At the end of the day I think that playing as part of a large battle with scores of NPCs to hoe through while getting to a small number of really challenging foes is fun. The battle in Mount & Balde were frantic and fun for example. The one thing that would make this go stale really quickly is if the enemies all acted the same way in every battle. Having human player control an army of NPCs you have to face will vary their tactics somewhat as well as change map layouts by building in different places. That said any game like this would require a lot of effort in the A.I department. It always irritated me that RTS minons just kicked each other in the shins until one fell over, why not include A.Is that fight as though they were in an action game using a variety of fighting moves, taking cover, maneuvering for advantage and the like. Not only would this make the game more interesting to veiw it pens up a whole raft of ne gameplay dimentions. Inteligence becomes a viable stat indicating the abilty to use cover, flank, etc, meaning that players can choose between shifty geurillas and heavy marines depending on terrain and cercomstance. Likewise it makes combat less predictable since a low level troop might get a lucky hit or two and take down a better equiped one.

I've actually thought extesnively on the subject before (Why? No clue. Cuz I'm insane probably) and I think I can solve some of its problems...

For one, the whole allies in the merc camp thing is easy. Say we have 20 mercs. 10 are independent, 10 are "official", 5 work for the Red team, 5 work for the Blue team. That should handle our "friends within the mercs" problem.

Give mercs a level up system similar to Red Dead Redemption: Equipment acquired in-mission disappear after mission. Equipment can be purchased off mission using XP. XP is gained by completing missions and by killing other mercs.

Independent mercs get more experience per mission than official mercs do, BUT official mercs get a huge amount of experience if their army wins.

Griefers can be mildly dealt with using a nice little system Demon's Souls used: grade. At the end of each mission, the commander grades the merc A-F (or S-F if you like the japanese system). Mercs don't see what grade they got until the end of the game. The grade is visible to all commanders before they hire a merc AND the grade affects they XP gain (so if your average grade is S you get 1.5 times XP, if the average is F you get .5).

Independent mercs are invisible to commanders unless units have line of sight (not RTS line of sight, more like Splinter Cell line of sight). Give mercs a wide variety of skills and equipment, including scouting, stealth, sabotage, so on so forth. Part of the commanders job would be having ways to detect infiltrators (motion detectors, thermal detectors, guards, alarms, dogs) while the merc has to upgrade his suit accordingly to offset them.

A merc can propose a job to a commander just as well as the opposite. So someone could go to Blue's base, take pictures of the place and offer to sell them to Red commander, for example.

There's a million ways this could go...

A MMO war game would not be all commandos. I like doing squad based missions, as long as my squad mates aren't window licking, Scooby-Doo lunchbox carrying retarded, as are so many NPC mates in the COD franchise. Seriously? You guys can't push ahead without me? Isn't flanking military tactics 101? THEN DO IT!

*ahem* Excuse me. What I am saying is, it is a viable opportunity. You can also have gun emplacements for those unfortunate souls who *shudder* enjoy rail shooters. And RTS fans could update and re arrange the squads, and assign goals to the commando units. Or, even better, RTS fans could control the enemy army. Have all the "in the action" fans on one side, and the RTS fans on the other side. That sounds like the beginnings of a flame war,though. The racing fans would enjoy driving the tanks. Just make it semi-realistic and have a gunner as well. It worked in Halo.

I for one, would also like to see a real sniper element. If you attach a company of 5 snipers and spotters to each full company, urban combat takes on a whole new element. Add in free roam ability and the tools to create a proper nest, you have yourself one helluva realistic game.

I am getting aroused just thinking on the epicness of this game. If it were done, right that is. Go away Treyarch and Infinity Ward! We LIKE dedicated servers.

I would have really wanted to play that mercenary RTS game, until Yahtzee mentioned all of those problems. Sounds like it has potential though, and I hope a developer comes up with something similar.

I've always thought this was a good idea. I think the best way to deal with it would be the command character supplies significant boons to his commands, so attack commands grant a damage increase pathing system (a bubble of damage up moves at a relatively brisk pace towards the objective. Defense armor up near the objective, maybe a stealth command so snipers/scouts don't blip up on the minimap, or cant be seen by the other commander. Then squad leaders designated by commanders can choose to throw down their own commands, for a smaller buff.
Players can choose to follow commands, and play with buffs, or choose to tell the commander to wank off, and play at a disadvantage, even more so if the other team is following commands.

Further command can make requested squad composition, so a squad of four would be appropriately mixed for the task at hand. if the game plays right squads with specific battlefield roles will get the support they need to perform the tasks the commander wants.

Mix resourcing in like the dawn of war series, where capturing key points gives resources, and commanders have an incentive to keep their players moving.

As I recall battlefield 2142 had a pretty good head start into this concept, the command character would make suggestions to the squads, squad leaders had local buffs for their squads, and the commander supported with resupplies, orbital strikes, and map pinging. its a shame that bad company (the battlefield I played after 2142) felt the commander was not a useful part of a team anymore.

I'm not one to encourage badgering people to review this or that, but...Starcraft 2 is so accessible my mother who hates all video games that aren't Wii Sports was able to get into it.

Also a lot of the reasoning Yahtzee gives to avoid it do not apply to Starcraft 2's campaign since the single player is not a pure RTS, but a hybrid of RPG and Adventure genre elements as well as some actiony micro management missions. Every mission plays vastly different and they each have their fun little twist on the standard play everyone is used to, such as a zombie level you have to defend your base at night and destroy infested settlements during the day.

Seriously if there was any RTS title that Yahtzee would enjoy despite hating the genre it's this one. That alone should be reason enough for him to at least give it a chance if not review it. Heck he reviews Diablo style games, there are a lot of micro management missions in SC2 that play similar to that style.

An interesting idea, but ultimately unworkable, in my opinion.

The same things that make me love Starcraft and hate RISK would be in full force: arbitrary victory. The ability of the defenders to win when outnumbered by a factor of five would likewise make the system you propose much of the same, with the variance a result of skill level instead of luck. Further, systems like this have been tried, though admittedly not to the degree you propose, in games like MAG (APB?).

Another problem is that, unfortunately, this sort of project is not well suited for market. Single player would have to conform to either the RTS or FPS part of its multiplayer, or would simply be removed in hopes of promoting multiplayer play. The latter, which has has been the case with games that have done this in recent years, has proven to be a blunder, and the former would simply be seen as a tack-on to the multiplayer.

In the end, it just seems unworkable.

As for the start of the article, I'm willing to give you a by, despite my opinion on the matter. You've reviewed an RTS before, though it seems you didn't like it. And making the sort of procolomation you did without even considering the quality (or lack therof) of the game seems to me to be a bit unprofessional. I'm not going to tell you to review the game; that is your perogative, and I'm not going to tell you how to do your job. But as someone who has played the game, I recommend you at least try to play it.

Actually, there IS a game like that. It's called Free Allegiance, the freeware continuation of the old Microsoft space simulator Allegiance. It's totally free to play, and you get exactly the same gameplay described in that article.

There are two or more waring factions placed on a huge map, divided into smaller sectors connected with jumpgates. There is one player elected as Commander, and he mostly plays from an RTS point of view. He builds stations and buildings, sends out miners, researches new tech, places turrets/mindfields/etc, and he can order his team around. While his team, also consisting of real players, can fly ships of all kinds, fight and either be team players and do what the commander says (if they are more experienced they already know where they can help out the most so go there), or they can totally disregard orders and just fly around goofing off. But at this point, the Commander most likely will boot(kick) the renegade player from the game. Of course the Commander is not a demigod. If the team feels he is not suited for the job or messes up big time repeatedly, the team can mutiny and elect a new commander on the spot.

Its a really old game with really dated graphics, and it really sunk into obscurity so not many people know about it, but it does exist, and there is a very active - albeit small - playerbase. The learning curve is like a brick wall, so members of the community actually put together a Cadet training program, where new players can volunteer and experienced members teach them the basics of the game. Like a live, personal tutorial. Then there is Cadet II and the Command School, where eager players can learn more advanced stuff and how play as a commander. It's a really great game when you get past the obviously lacking graphics, because the gameplay and the community is great.

k-ossuburb:
Seems that the RTS/FPS crossover would be more fun for the FPS players than the RTS ones. I wouldn't know, I've never bothered to play one myself, but I think I'd have a lot more fun picking up orders and doing missions from an actual human player that I can talk to to give me supplies to help me on my mission than sitting back and hoping that the guy I picked to do the job isn't a total dick and won't just take your money and run. Still, kinda adds some realism since the world is like that. People are dicks, there's no escaping that fact, and FPS players are probably the biggest dicks of them all; I should know, I am one.

then the RTS players will team up and destroy the dicks. RTS players are not fools and in most RTS game there is a team up order.
It also brings into question of who has the real power here. I mean obviously the commander has command of all of his units and a base the size of Texas, but once a merc is involved then it's really the merc who calls the shots because they can just tell the commander to go screw themselves and sabotage the mission if the commander tries to push things too far. However, the commander is the one who has the cash and the stuff that the merc needs so there's a little bending to the commander's will to do if you want that shiny new gun, jet fighter, APC or tank.

It's kind of symbiotic and would work in theory, you've just got to know who to trust; which, as I said before, when it comes to FPS players that's no easy task.

Stilton:
The point at which Starcraft becomes, as you so put it, chess with an orchestral score, is in multiplayer, in terms of which Starcraft is the kobe beef to Bioshock's spam.

I would rather compare it to sweet potatoes. Other people like it, but I can't stand the taste...

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