Why is RTS so heartless?

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Funny you say that. Homeworld sort of subtly encourages you to care about your ships - after all, there are only at most 700,000 of your entire species left, you know every loss will be felt hard after the game's finished.

Majesty 2 had you grow attached to your units since you could name some of them, they would level up and you could hire your named units in all your other missions. It was buggy for a long time though and it took them ages to make a german patch...

The Myth series did this by being damn hard and you needing every damn soldier you could get.

Raiyan 1.0:
War. War never changes.

God,this remminded me of Fallout.

fi6eka:

Raiyan 1.0:
War. War never changes.

God,this remminded me of Fallout.

Or every second FPS of the last few years.

Miles Maldonado:
See title.

Simply put, I'm just a bit frustrated about how RTS games as a whole seem to be "Go kill stuff, who cares about friendly casualties?" It's focused as a genre on just doing lots of damage, and never on what your men think and feel. Why is that? Why is there not a decent, character-driven RTS game where you are encouraged to look after your troops, but countless games where you are pretty much encouraged to not give a rat's behind about them?

Really the only game that comes close to character-driven RTS is a title called "Codename Panzers", and even then whatever importance you give your troops depends on you, there is no inherent importance on keeping them alive, which bugs me severely.

So, your thoughts? Why is RTS so cold and heartless, and why has nobody saw fit to try and change it?

Not sure if anyone has pointed this out, but the point of strategy games is to be kind of cold and heartless... like a general moving units around, deciding who lives and dies in pursuit of the objective.

That said, there ARE various hybrid games that combine RPG and story elements into the mix, things like say the old "Spellforce" series, or "Dragon Sphere" which made things a little more personal by having some pre-defined characters involved and a little more backround behind the missions.

You also have squad based combat games, which work like an RTS, but scaled down to focus on individual units as opposed to groups of units. Something like say "Freedom Force" for example is a RTS-like combat game, but one where you control a bunch of distinct super heroes with a more personal (if very goofy and campy) plotline. More towards the RPG aspects you of course have thigns like Baldur's Gate, or Icewind Dale.

I'll also say that to be challenging RTS games don't always use common sense tactics, sometimes you have to do the obtuse to win, and really if you got into knowing the name and life story of every grunt you send to die wearing down defenses it would actually get kind of annoying.

But again the operative word is strategy, and your detached like some general thouands of miles away from the fighting. Heck in some games they might conceptually have you sitting in a space ship in orbit or whatever, or as a napoleaonic-type general conceptually moving figures around a map while sipping wine and considering your purely intellectual detachment the height of elegance.... these aren't gritty war stories, there are other games for that.

Miles Maldonado:
See title.

Simply put, I'm just a bit frustrated about how RTS games as a whole seem to be "Go kill stuff, who cares about friendly casualties?" It's focused as a genre on just doing lots of damage, and never on what your men think and feel. Why is that? Why is there not a decent, character-driven RTS game where you are encouraged to look after your troops, but countless games where you are pretty much encouraged to not give a rat's behind about them?

You really can't get much further from truth with that statement. Every RTS rewards player for actually caring about their army. Players who just mindlessly send wave after wave after wave are players that never utilize basics of strategy.

Every unit costs resources and time, loosing that unit means You loose resources and time. Very good players keep retention high. Sure, there often are units You sacrifice en masse to achieve certain goals but it's always weighted about how much resources/time You loose due to that as compared to gains or opponents losses. That's how generally strategy works in life.

Character driven strategies often become tactical games, and loose the scale. You can't have 100+ units and care for each and every of them. And even then, like in chess, You have to sometimes sacrifice a figure.
You also have games like CoH/DoW in which training new units is much more expensive than reinforcing a squad, especially when You factor in upgrades and experience bonuses. You want to do everything to save at least that 1 last guy so he can run back to nearest base and get his squad to fulls strength.

teebeeohh:
supreme commander, i cry for every human killed in that game

That was my first reaction. Since a vast majority of your units in that are AI drones, the loss of an ACU or SACU with a pilot and fusion core onboard is made all the more tragic... and explosive.
How people can use SACUs as suicide bombers, I'll never know. Bastards, all.

OhJohnNo:
Funny you say that. Homeworld sort of subtly encourages you to care about your ships - after all, there are only at most 700,000 of your entire species left, you know every loss will be felt hard after the game's finished.

Agreed, I do sort of mourn for the loss of my ships. Especially my capital ships like Battlecruisers, Destroyers, or Carriers.

Although I'm not sure how much of an RTS it counts as, and there's no statistical reason to keep track of them, I always got attached to my troops in Cannon Fodder.
Each soldier has their own name, and if they die, have a permanent gravestone on the hillside where you see the new troops arrive ...

a game that i think kind of does what your describing is the blood bowl game - although a turn based strategy rather than real time, each character has there own name stats and bonus's and perks and such, when one of your team gets killed you do get annoyed or upset.

i think this is because each unit is a single character and they progress getting better after each game, so an RTS where you control single characters that level up and get stronger could give a close experience to the one in the op.

but of course the attachment is only one of stats, you dont have an attachment to the character itself but just his stats

It's not an RTS but it does have real time battles - the Total War series is very heartless. There is good reason for this however. Throughout most of history, generals have cared little for the wellbeing of their armies.

It is only really since the atrocity of warfare that was the First World War, and then the subsequent development of mass news media through the C20, that has led to us caring about the armed forces. Even now military brass and politicians only really have to care about the troops because they'd have a PR shitstorm on their hands if they openly didn't.

best rts's (imho) are the ones where you only get X number of units, and when one dies, you can't replace it. No buildings pumping out units. So you tend to care in such rts's when a unit dies, because now your force is permanently smaller. You have to put each unit to its best use or lose the battle.

First one i played like this was the first myth, then myth 2. Loved the multiplayer. Still remember the jack nicholson sounding "casualty".

None of the warcraft clones are too interesting to me except for a very short while sometimes when I have friends drag me into one for a stint. Games like myth proved that rts's don't have to be warcraft clones, however.

I guess mobas kind of count (league of legends, etc...), you have just one character and only one, you lvl it up, buy items for it, it has stats and a name and a bio, and its all real time.

lithium.jelly:
There was a small scale RTS - well, Real-Time Tactical would be more accurate - back on the Amiga in the nineties called "Cannon Fodder". Each individual soldier had a name and when you lost some on a mission, the between-mission screen would have have a little grave marker for each dead soldier. These grave markers stayed there for the whole game, so by the end of it the hillside would be covered in little graves, each one with the name of a lost soldier. It was quite poignant, really.

"War has never been so much fun! Go to your brother, kill him with your gun, leave him lying in his uniform dying in the sun."

I remember that game, it was great xD.

I think the idea that every soldier matters is fairly recent (maybe from the vietnam war). Back in the days, the average human leader cared more about inflicting debilitating damage to the ennemy than keep his guys alive

Also, most RTSes place you in a situation where you winning is imperative. For example, sacrificing dozens of protoss to stop the murderous swarm from closing in on a city in starcraft, building a bridge of corpses with the imperial guard so that you can stop the necrons from killing everything in dawn of war, sacrificing waves after waves of troup in medieval 2 to keep the mongol away from your population centers in Medieval 2, in all those situation it's the need of the many that wins out.

I guess some commanders are bad and some are good.

but the birds eye angle most rts titles favor does feel abstracting and in general battles in rts feel quite frenetic and generic so there is little characterization in troops or environments which are both generally quite static.

personally i feel rts would greatly benefit from a dose of rpg; shogun two is my favorite thus far in that direction simply because of the way it encouraged the player to feel deeply for every decision they made on and off the battle field (in the campaign).

dobahci:
Why would you want to empathize with the soldiers in a strategy game? It'd get in the way of the... strategy.

Strategy at its highest and purest level is by driven by dispassion and logical thinking. Empathizing with each soldier and mourning every loss would only obstruct your ability to win a battle (or the entire war) by preventing you from being able to make the sacrifices that would allow your side to secure an expedient victory.

It obstructs nothing, simply adds meaning to your decisions and kinda gives you a secondary optional objective above and beyond simply winning, why use people as units in a strategy game if that has no consequence on the gameplay? You might as well just be playing with chess pieces.

(Edit: deleted because what I originally posted didn't have much of a point to it. Didn't know how to get rid of the post completely though)

I think starcraft killed RTS. It like the only RTS game worth mentioning nowadays. Not speaking about strategies in general of course (I love Civ5 yeah) only real-time ones.

lubchoh:
I think starcraft killed RTS. It like the only RTS game worth mentioning nowadays. Not speaking about strategies in general of course (I love Civ5 yeah) only real-time ones.

Starcraft came out in 1998,2010 Command and Conquer came out with games in 95,96 99,00,07,08, warcraft came out in 94,95,96,02,03 all of which are RTS games worth mentioning and those are just the ones from two companies. Starcraft didn't kill RTS' Starcraft didn't even do anything new, it just had an exceptional story, but so did Warcraft and C&C.

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