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Frost Giant Studios (ex Blizzard employees) making a new RTS

Discussion in 'Strategy and Simulation' started by Venser, Oct 20, 2020.

  1. Most strategy games/developers devolved somehow. It's strange. C&C 4 was crap that no one wanted. Supreme Commander 2 was a dumbed down version of SC1. The Stronghold series got worse and worse after Stronghold Crusaders. Petroglyph only made subpar games and never reached the quality of peak Westwood or Blizzard. Relic games also got worse and worse after Dawn of War 1 and CoH 1. The setting and look of Age of Empires 3 didn't work out either, while they could have simply made an improved version of Age of Mythology/Age of Empires 2. Strangely enough, new developers aren't able to produce anything of worth either. Creating good RTS gameplay, in the vein of C&C/Age of Empires/Starcraft/Total Annihilation, appears to be a lost art.
     
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  2. Zboj Lamignat Arcane

    Zboj Lamignat
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    I dunno. Despite liking SC overall, I distinctly remember being super disappointed that noone gave much shit about TA or AoE2 in potato internet cafes and thinking rts have no future. Which turned out to be right.
    DC was simplistic af, but super fun, like C&C or KKND. It was also rather challenging. Dark Reign is definitely one of the most underrated pure rts which did a lot of awesome things, but (rightfully) lost to TA in the "very good and innovative game that won't get as much recognition as it should" category.
    Yeah, I guess. Maybe it's just my blizzard racism, always thought their games are good, but ridiculously overrated.
     
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  3. DraQ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Really? I thought a damn lot of people were jizzing all over TA.

    Oldschool RTS is kind of a one trick pony, TBH. Although being offed by MOBA is just insulting.

    One of the best things about DC was that you could mod the ridiculously bloaty unit HP/damage values with just notepad.
    So you could just cut the numbers by 2x or more and it was less of a "a bunch of guys firing full auto into one another for half an hour, while larping broken blood hydrants" kind of spectacle.

    Dark Reign's chief sins were:
    • Lack of cohesive plotline and "it's all a simulation angle" for all but last mission. Playing a simulation of a simulation is a bit of a bonerkiller for me, TBH (ironically, should Egan be right).
    • Rather banal and nondescript Sci-Fi kitchensink stylistics. You have some cohesion (Empire loves their damn hover everything, rebels are fond of railguns, visually you can make good guess by just looking at sprites too), but overall it's a pretty randumb mix of "cool" sci-fi concepts and factions are pretty cliche too. SC is much more cohesive which adds to the character.
    OTOH it had really spiffy elevation and line of sight mechanics (SC was downright amateurish in comparison), terrain, recon, detailed mobility and firing on the move mechanics, artillery firing across maps, ability to power down buildings or pack up base on trucks and move somewhere else, setting up decoys, and all the little AI options - for example you could tell a bunch of speedy units to try to scout the entire map for you while avoiding engagement and coming back for repairs, or to harass enemy.
    :love:
    Pretty sure a competent DR reskin with good plot could roll over SC.

    To be fair SC did have some cool mechanics - creep, bunkers, nukes, flying Terran buildings, burning/regen/shields but it has always felt like more of a flavour stuff.
     
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  4. Hellraiser Arcane

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    I just hope they are not aiming for becoming an esport, otherwise whatever they are making is dead on arrival. Esport is the wow-killer pitfall of the modern gaming age. Starcraft became what it is because it entered the market with the right features at the right time. After all, Starcraft was not designed as a highly-competitive esport for koreans with ridiculous APM from the get-go, it evolved into one partially because it became popular triggering a snowball effect (the more people play the more competetive it gets etc.). When developing a new RTS might as well just fuck esport, add basic multiplayer support, make a solid singleplayer experience and worry about competitive balance and MP features in post-launch support if a MP community and popularity of it develops by itself, justifying the investment.

    Also the thing about Blizzard was they had good ideas, mostly on how other had good ideas which had more potential, and painstakingly polished them to make something that at least seemed new and original not being afraid of doing what they thought was good rather than what the fans expected. That was the strength of the creativity in the design of Starcraft.

    I think what we'll see instead is just a cargo-cult design with developers thinking they can capture lightning in a bottle by brainless imitation. I would like to be proven wrong, but at the moment no signs point to that.
     
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  5. Catacombs Cipher Patron

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    Make the Codex Great Again! Insert Title Here RPG Wokedex
    If their game is good, this is likely to happen but way, way down the line.
     
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  6. Hellraiser Arcane

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    Starcraft's popularity was the result of lack of decent competition in what was at the time a niche of online games as a whole not just RTS games, it was maybe not first to market but it did benefit from a less competitive market with fewer real alternatives (Quake? Red Alert? I have no clue what else people played 1v1 online on a large scale back when SC was released). You played what was available on the market (or in the internet cafe) and the chance of getting into the game "by accident" due to the lack of alternatives was high. You walked into an internet cafe and you saw it and became familiar with a game, like it or not. The rest was snowball effect.

    If the RTS genre froze in place after Warcraft 2 or Red Alert with no new releases, and Starcraft was made 10 years later, it is very likely it would end up just as a well received title in it's genre like say Age of Empires 2, Supreme Commander or Dawn of War, with a dedicated community, but not turn into an online gaming sensation. The factors that made the "next big online gaming sensation" changed a lot, the gamer demographic changed a lot and internet accessibility exploded. Even fucking consoles got online gaming. The result is that shit like FIFA is considered an esport nowadays, because apparently enough people play it regardless of whatever competitive design and difficulty-to-master it might actually have.
     
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  7. DraQ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Even most good games don't seem capable of escaping this shit for some reason.
     
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  8. Hellraiser Arcane

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    As I mentioned a few times in the past, most modern game designers are hacks. 10 years ago I would say that publishers are to blame for the above, wanting less risk and more guarantees "playing it safe" leading to cargo-cult design, but with the advent of middleware such as Unity lowering the entry barrier, not to mention with crowdfunding and steam in theory eliminating the need for meddling suits, it is clear the problem are also the people making the games.

    From my side I see two main problems, one is that nowadays artists-by-trade take the lead in projects, resulting in pretty artsy projects where gameplay is somewhere in the back row as a project focus behind emotional engagement, a cinematic experience, storytelling, pretty art and other superficial features. The other is that unlike the people who made games back in the 80s and the 90s, people who had to invent shit along the way, the current generation looks at other games, or worse at movies, as an inspiration, without having to invent anything to even have a game in the first place. The filter effect is gone and we get creative bankruptcy running rampant, besides there also being more consumers on the market with simpler tastes.
     
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  9. raw Arcane Patron

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    I won't say that is entirely wrong, but a much bigger factor that old blizzard was instinctively aware of and most others fail at is offering a fucking 'Play' button. You click it and bam, you're in a game against another player about on your level of ability.
    You may say 'but raw why does such a small button make such a big difference you're crazy'. Several reasons.

    1) Technical excellence. Having a play button also means you have a network infrastructure behind that button where games can actually happen on. This is no small feat. There is a reason old blizzard massively invested into battle.net. They instinctively understood the importance of the then emerging broadband internet and deliberately decided that they wanted to make games on the edge of what is possible and claim technical dominion. And they did.

    2) Competition. A play button allows for rapid games in succession against players all over the world. We take this for granted now but this has only become possible with the advent of the internet. This is basically the extension of the first point: Blizzard realized that by having the technology in place you could do things never done before and design a game in an inherently competitive way, that is, just like we have designed all the offline games for thousands of years. They understood that by underpinning the play button with a chat & ladder system you add replay value and foster a community.

    3) Humans before machines. All classical Blizzard games are deliberately designed to be consumed by humans, not by machines. It is important to understand that. In any game of Starcraft there is just the units of you and your opponent and the board. Nothing else. You play the game. Within the rules and boundaries set out by the game developer.

    This is why World of Warcraft was a betrayal of literally mountain shattering proportions: Not only did WoW directly betray the principle of humans before machines. Suddenly you weren't playing with and against humans but against machines, puppeteered exactly in the way the game developer wanted them to. You die when the developer wishes so. You deal exactly as much damage as the developer wants you to deal with a weapon that you found where the developer wished you to find it against an NPC that is exactly in the place where the developer wants it to be with exactly the amount of health the developer wants it to have. You were made a slave to the machine. But the betrayal of Blizzard went even far beyond that: It completely shattered the eons old mountain of thought that humans play games with each other and not with against the machine. By violating this core principle, Blizzard, with their dominating position inside the industry back then ushered in an entire eon of "games" where you are made slave to the machine and it lasts to this day.

    After the Faustian pact Blizzard made by giving birth to WoW their demise was sealed and the remaining core values (and engineers) were quickly thrown over board. Sure, Blizzard wasn't the only Company that has 'lost it'. But they are exemplaric as their fall from grace was truly the highest. And where they landed there was nothing but hell.
     
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  10. karoliner Magister

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    People actually liked Dark Reign?
     
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  11. sser Arcane Cuck Developer

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    Not sure I get the Starcraft hate. It's a great game. You get three completely different factions, great singleplayer, great multiplayer, and all of it combined with very high production value. It completely blew the doors off the genre which was already stale at its release. Red Alert 2, Age of Empires 2, etc. were all sequels to an already archaic formula. As good as those games are, Starcraft is far more fresh in concept and execution than either title. The only one that is superior to Starcraft really is Homeworld, but Homeworld wasn't intended for the multiplayer scene so even that's a poor comparison. And you can see the withering staleness of the genre when Warcraft 3 lands and its biggest catch is a mod scene, and when Starcraft 2 lands and it is practically dead on arrival despite heavy duty resuscitation by Blizzard.
     
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  12. Endemic Arcane

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    Hey, I'm that one guy that never played Starcraft back in the day. :P Then again, I don't really play strategy games for the story (it's just a bonus) and I suck at competitive multiplayer.
     
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  13. DraQ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    It's not as much Starcraft hate as blizztard fatigue combined with recognizing a lot of SC gameplay elements as fairly limited and even sub-par.

    I fully agree. OTOH mechanically SC was more polished than innovative. Contemporary and earlier games have done more, newer and more interestingly on mechanical side of things than SC (for example DR mentioned above).
    Even if you consider SC superior, baking DR gameplay elements into SC would result in far superior and much fresher game to SC we actually have got.

    Given that SC's initial allure (before it snowballed a large e-sports scene) was largely storyfaggotry, I'd say that Homeworld mention is apt.
     
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  14. sser Arcane Cuck Developer

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    Starcraft has three 100% unique factions that literally play nothing alike whatsoever. At the micro-level there's so much skill hanging beneath the surface that there's no wonder there's an eSports scene based on it. "Subpar" reads a lot like you just suck at the game, because there's nothing particularly subpar about any aspect of Starcraft's gameplay. The fucking balls to call SC "subpar" when it has outlived and outpaced literally every inch of competition, wow. The only RTS game that comes close is AoE2 which got grossly overlooked for multiplayer but now is seeing a revival as people realize just how skill-intensive it is.

    Homeworld is not a good comparison as far as multiplayer goes. Starcraft had a very heavy multiplayer focus right from the start. Did you even buy SC when it came out? Do you not remember the hype about Bnet? The big draw of Blizzard games back then was Bnet as Diablo and Warcraft already existed on the 'grid' so to speak. Starcraft sold on the back of their successes and Bnet was a big part of it with emphasis on multiplayer, making your own maps, etc., and Blizzard was on top of balancing the game for multiplayer right out the gate. The ease of playing multiplayer and creating content was a huge selling point.

    There was no "Blizztard fatigue" in 1998. Starcraft was one of the most anticipated games of the year and blew the doors off. Maybe Blizztard fatigue now in 2020 when they're just vomiting mediocrity for a decade straight, but 1998 was them striking while the iron was hot.
     
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  15. what am i doing Prophet

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    StarCraft is part of that same formula. And if you've already played games like AoE, StarCraft feels extremely stale. And then when you play a game that DOESN'T follow the AoE template, like TA or SupCom, the AoE template honestly comes off as complete dogshit. Yeah it was fine at the time, but it's aged terribly. No intel or counterintel systems, no strategic camera, no build templates, static economy, no reclaim, no tac/strat missiles or their corresponding defense, no navy, "air" units aren't meaningfully different from land units, no relief dependency, unit instructions are crap/simplistic, doesn't really have artillery, etc.

    But StarCraft was basically the Halo of RTS. It succeeded because it pandered to a lower, and wider audience. We can forgive the original StarCraft games their shortcomings because development was probably fairly set in stone by the time TA showed up and explained how to do an RTS, but with StarCraft 2, there's no excuse for it being as bland as it is.
     
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  16. What interesting mechanics did Dark Reign have ? I barely remember anything from it.
     
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  17. Zboj Lamignat Arcane

    Zboj Lamignat
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    You could queue more than 5 units lol.
     
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  18. Remarkable; could you also select more than 12 units at the same time ? Perhaps they were unto something.
     
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  19. DraQ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    DraQ
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    A bunch.
    • Elevation mechanics. Starcraft technically had rudimentary elevation mechanics with up to 3 levels and some range/accuracy rules when shooting up/down. DR had 10 levels and elevation + elevation differences affected pretty much everything - firing arcs, movement, line of sight, etc. Elevation was visualized by shading and there was also utility to automatically apply appropriate terrain tiles to steep ridges.
    • Very detailed LOS rules. To the point where infantry hiding among vegetation gained a lot of edge against enemy armour simply because they were continuously slipping in and out of detection just by moving around (and faced less obstruction doing so).
    • Extremely detailed terrain and mobility rules - hovercrafts could easily cross swamps and water but had to navigate around steep inclines, didn't benefit from roads and stuff like rubble or gravel slowed them down something nasty, OTOH wheeled vehicles could not pass swamps or water, but could scale fairly steep inclines, got a speed bonus on roads and weren't as brutally affected by rough terrain, then there was infantry that was overal slow and pathetic but could do swamps and scale any incline. And then you had hybrid kinds of propulsion, like amphibious APCs or hoverpack infantry.
    • Units with working turrets. Anything with turrets could fire on the move and it had a lot of impact when trying to harass enemy or do hit and run. Ok, so could siege tanks in SC (and I guess goliaths?), but that didn't have nearly as much gameplay impact - in DR you had a lot more stuff with turrets, a lot of movement while shooting and line of sight rules that really helped make use of that.
    • VERY long range artillery that really needed spotters.
    • Resource flow rather than finite resource supply economy.
    • AI options. You could give units orders to scout the map (basically move semi-randomly and try to reveal as much as possible but avoid enemy contact), harass enemy (same as above, but attack enemy units until fired upon - really good for turreted drive-bys), search-and destroy (mopping up stuff that might bite you in the ass later), pretty complex patrol route mechanics, ability to set-up your forces to automatically rotate - retreat to get healed/repaired, then return to battle.
    • Very fast movement and shooting. It really ecouraged use of AI options and combined with flow economy made it very hard to turtle.
    • Fairly advanced base micro - cutting off power to selected buildings if low on power, ability to pack up and move, ability to set up decoy buildings.
     
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  20. darkpatriot Arcane

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    Well that makes this a skip.
     
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  21. I remember that terrain had an influence on movement and that resource gathering was a bit different. But i have zero recollection that elevation and line of sight were more sophisticated than usual. I guess some of the finer points eluded my younger self. The two discriminate factions and the fairly large number of units caught most of my attention back then. The release of Age of Empires 1 also drew my attention away, as it was a lot more popular with my buddies and the RTS game that we played mostly in LAN at that time.
     
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  22. AMG Arbiter

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    Starcraft was good because it had great unit design (both mechanics and flavour) and 3 truly unique factions (which wasn't the norm back then). You can admire your realistic ballistics, elevation, massive armies and whatever you want, but when everything in your game is some variant of generic tank/mech then it's fucking boring.

    I don't really have much hope that these guys can pull anything off. Seems to be mostly Starcraft 2 people, which is still a solid game, but chock full of cargo cult and taking the easy way out. To be fair, that game was kinda doomed to never reach greatness, since koreaboos would lose their shit if they changed things too much.
    That said "ex someting employees making a new X" has a really low success rate. I can't even think of a single positive example actually, but I'm sure it exists somewhere...
     
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  23. Zboj Lamignat Arcane

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    Sure! You can reply to: proper 3d engine with all that entails, destruction physics with collateral damage and things like foliage fires, persistent wrecks that influence battlefield and can be scavenged, proper ballistics with huge differences between kinetic and rocket weapons, different chassis performing differently depending on terrain, proper power grid simulation with different sources of energy (wind, solar, nuclear, thermo, hydro) performing based on conditions, planes behaving and fighting like planes, radar warfare, proper long range artillery and rockets, including decent simulation of deploying and protecting from tactical nukes, naval warfare including things like sub warfare, sonars, torpedo planes, unprecedented options for automating units orders, behaviors, queues and whatnot, great mod support, many other things that I forgot - all in a simple, classis RTS releases a year before Starcraft - with: three different factions. And then proceed to use said factions to repeat the same apm-infused build orders and rush thresholds. Just remember that the end result is still the same: genre completely taken over by chinese moon"people" and going into extinction. Enjoy.
     
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  24. Van-d-all Arbiter

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    Depends which one. First was pretty big in Eastern Europe. Second not so much, since release was squashed between Ground Control + Metal Fatigue and Red Alert 2. And yes, they were pirated, but still the dates mostly lined up the same.
     
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