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RTS essentials

Black_Willow

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Oh yeah, RTS, my favourite genre when I was a kid!
Warrior Kings and Warrior Kings: Battles are a kind of "AoE2 in 3D" games, but with some neat twists, the biggest being that you don't pick your faction at the start of the game, but by constructing faction-specific buildings. The games can be a bit clunky and the graphics didn't age well, but I still recommend this, played it a few years ago and had fun.

Conquest: Frontier Wars: one of the last finished games made by Chris Roberts. A 2D space RTS (with 3D graphics) where you control one of 3 factions with uncanny resemblance to what we get to know in Starcraft. On the other hand, the gameplay isn't like Starcraft at all - you controll multiple of space ships and build your bases on rings around planets. The game has some neat twists, like having to support your fleet with supplies, but the nicest thing was that you had to play on multiple maps (systems) simultanously. All around very decent game.
 

Jack Of Owls

Prophet
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May 23, 2014
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Massachusettes
I was really getting into Warlords Battlecry III the last couple of days but it runs far too unstable on my i9 GTX1070 Windows 10 box. My mouse cursor will lock up intermittently and I have to task out (says it's not responding) and close the game. Totally sucks because I was really enjoying it. Tried both the GOG vanilla 1.3 version with a widescreen patch and The Protectors mod at 1280 X 720 and it makes no difference... game will lock up on me, though music and sounds go merrily on, mocking me in my agony. If anyone had a similar issue and found a solution hit me up. Based on what I played, WB III seems like one of the best fantasy RTS games.
 

JarlFrank

I like Thief THIS much
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Overall RTS games pushed the technology to the max in the 1990s but were exposed as mechanically dull and repetitive in the 2000's. MOBA's completely took over the space.

Did they tho? Age of Empires 2 multiplayer survived into the 2010s, then they released a HD Edition in 2014, then they released new expansions for that HD edition, then they released a Definitive Edition which still keeps getting new expansions despite AoE4 being a thing now...

And I still greatly enjoy playing AoE2 myself. It's a thoroughly solid game with great gameplay, not dull at all. Four resources, various factions with small differences in how they play, lots of important decisions that can decide the outcome of the game, macromanagement mixed with micromanagement (deciding what kind of army to build, where to expand your base, etc vs managing your units in battle), a big focus on map control, etc.

MOBAs are fucking banal shit boring. I tried League of Legends when it was popular, and it basically felt like Warcraft 3 without all the fun parts cut out. All you do is micromanage one hero. THAT is mechanically dull and repetitive.

In a game like AoE2, only the Dark Age is repetitive as you go for a standard build order to reach Feudal Age. Once you're there, everything is possible. Bunker up and focus on economy? Go for scouts to raid the enemy woodline, or archers? Stay in Feudal Age a little longer and focus on putting pressure on the enemy, or beeline to Castle Age to get precious knights? All the while you keep scouting the map and assess its geography for potential angles of attack and resource spots to secure.

The HD and DE releases only added more variety to the game by adding a ton of new map templates. Multiplayer maps are randomly generated based on a template. Arabia is the most popular (but I find it kinda lame tbh): an open desert map with few woodlines so it's not easy to wall up, but easy to raid. The opposite of that is Black Forest which has trees everywhere and only few passages that can easily be walled up. Then there's several water maps like islands where you need to build a navy to reach the enemy, completely changing the approach you need to take (and shifting the civ balance in favor of civs that have navy bonuses). Then there's maps like Gold Rush where there's a huge amount of gold in the center of the map, putting a huge importance on map control. Those are all original map types... HD added fun stuff like Socotra, a tiny African island where resources are scarce and the distance between you and the enemy is so small, conflict will start much sooner than usual.

But the best maps are Megarandom and Nomad. Megarandom tosses any regularity out the window and does whatever it wants. Sometimes it spawns more boars around your base for easier access to food, sometimes none at all so you have to farm earlier. Sometimes it gives you a free building at the start, like a stable or a bunch of towers (which make raids more difficult, directly influencing the viable strategies right as the game starts). It forces you to adapt and think beyond standard build orders, and makes scouting even more important because you really don't know what the map looks like until you uncover it.

Nomad on the other hand is a more regular map, but it doesn't give you a town center at the start. Instead, you start only with villagers and additional resources and have to build your TC yourself. That involves initial scouting for a good position, but you shouldn't take too long or you'll waste too much time which you could have spent producing villagers from your newly built TC. You start without a scout and since nobody has a TC at the start, you also have no idea where the enemy will be until you stumble upon their base later on. It can be incredibly chaotic and relies a lot more on rapid decision making based on current circumstances than blind repetition of standard build orders.

AoE2 on Nomad and Megarandom is peak RTS. And it's very, very far from "mechanically dull and repetitive".
 

catfood

AGAIN
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Y'all niggaz need to be playing some Netstorm. It's a unique strategy game which blends go, chess and tetris into one. There is nothing else alike.

 

Hobo Elf

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Nocturne dumpster
The RTS genre never died a natural death. It was killed by corporations who refused to make more games in the genre because they decided on behalf of us consumers that we were apparently done with the genre. Well, in a way many were since they kept releasing subpar online PvP focused RTS' because dumb suits kept chasing that esports high. They completely misunderstood the part where RTS players want a meaty single player campaign as well and not just something that focuses on dull esports shit. MOBAs overtook the RTS genre as the big esports thing, but it didn't poach the playerbase. They appeal to very different people.
 

catfood

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The genre died because very game wanted to become the next Starcraft.
 

JarlFrank

I like Thief THIS much
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The RTS genre never died a natural death. It was killed by corporations who refused to make more games in the genre because they decided on behalf of us consumers that we were apparently done with the genre. Well, in a way many were since they kept releasing subpar online PvP focused RTS' because dumb suits kept chasing that esports high. They completely misunderstood the part where RTS players want a meaty single player campaign as well and not just something that focuses on dull esports shit. MOBAs overtook the RTS genre as the big esports thing, but it didn't poach the playerbase. They appeal to very different people.

It's the completely wrong approach because popular competitive online RTS games started by having a good campaign that got players interested, and then a community formed around them.
Star Craft, Warcraft 3, Age of Empires 2. They all had good campaigns which makes it worth buying the games even if you never want to play online. And then you get a big playerbase for the multiplayer once the game is successful, and from there it becomes an esport.

If you wanna make a popular esport RTS and focus on the online functionality, it is bound to fail because you're skipping the step of where you make a good game that naturally builds its own community by being fun in single player.

But the suits don't understand that. They only see SC, WC3, AoE2 having tournaments watched by thousands of people and wanna have a slice of that cake too. They don't understand why these games grew a dedicated esport community around them.
 
Joined
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Messages
4,230
'esports' is a gay concept and kills off good games.

Modern-day developers don't have the talent or skill to pull off a decent RTS, even if they wanted to.
 

Jack Of Owls

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I was shocked when I once saw an esports video or live stream about about 2 starcraft players facing off and the announcers sounded exactly like Al Michaels announcing Dave Henderson's home run in the 1986 Boston Red Sox/California Angels playoffs or any number of other slick, professional ABC sports announcers or color commentators over the years, and how excited these dudes were getting over two incels playing video games. Never felt the desire to ever watch another eports broadcast but it was startling how professional it all sounded. I guess there's an audience for this and big money in this stuff?
 

Johannes

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casting coach
I was shocked when I once saw an esports video or live stream about about 2 starcraft players facing off and the announcers sounded exactly like Al Michaels announcing Dave Henderson's home run in the 1986 Boston Red Sox/California Angels playoffs or any number of other slick, professional ABC sports announcers or color commentators over the years, and how excited these dudes were getting over two incels playing video games. Never felt the desire to ever watch another eports broadcast but it was startling how professional it all sounded. I guess there's an audience for this and big money in this stuff?
How is that any gayer than getting excited when a pack of niggers run after a ball?
 

JarlFrank

I like Thief THIS much
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Playing it yourself, whether it be a PC game or a sport, is always more fun than watching other people do it.
 
Joined
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Playing it yourself, whether it be a PC game or a sport, is always more fun than watching other people do it.
Some people like to vicariously experience some of the gameplay of good games without having to put up with the unbelievably awful experience of actually playing them (i.e. Dota). I don't agree with it but I can understand it.

By my comment above I didn't mean I don't think games can be played competitively, I just mean that design-by-committee aiming at 'esports' always produces shit and kills off potentially good ideas. This has happened to fighting games and there's no going back once it happens.
 

Modron

Arcane
Joined
May 5, 2012
Messages
5,258
Playing it yourself, whether it be a PC game or a sport, is always more fun than watching other people do it.
I generally agree but I'll make the caveat that sometimes it can be interesting to see the story of a game you might suck at/not like the gameplay of or to see a really creative player do some interesting stuff in say a hitman game. I guess I should include god awful games being creatively edited to be funny since I watched a couple of episodes RK47 LPing Dragon Age Inquisition years ago.
 

flyingjohn

Arcane
Joined
May 14, 2012
Messages
2,282
I generally agree but I'll make the caveat that sometimes it can be interesting to see the story of a game you might suck at/not like the gameplay of or to see a really creative player do some interesting stuff
This is why people watch e-sports.To see peak gameplay that most people could never pull off.
You can still enjoy playing the game and watching competitive game play.
 

Gaznak

Educated
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Oct 6, 2021
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The Fortress Unvanquishable
The list is redundant IMO, too many almost identical games frome the same series.

I'd say that RTS essentials could be something like:

Dune series (2, 2000, Emperor - all three are priceless; no need in C&C because Dune games are just better in every aspect)
Age of... series (Age of Mythology preferably) - the best pseudohistorical/mythological RTS (though Seven Kingdoms 2 comes very close too)
Dungeon Keeper series (no WftO though) - the best RTS to play as the Big Bad Guy;
Majesty series (only the first game in fact) - the best RTS with indirect control;
Total Annihilation and TA Kingdoms (no SupCom(s) though) - the best RTSs with unending resources;
Some good economical RTS, Port Royale(s) for example;
Warlords Battlecry series - the best incarnation of Warcraft/Starcraft formula), though Submarine Titans comes close (while being paradoxically quite different from WBC games);
Some space-based RTS (personally I don't like Homeworld, so feel free to choose another one from this abundant family);
Z, of course, as the best tactical chess-like RTS;
Kohan with addon (no Kohan 2 though) as the best 'turn-based-like' RTS;
Metal Fatigue - the best RTS with giant walking war robots, AND the best RTS with 'multi-floored' main map.

It could go as 'essentials' for someone who wants to get an aquaintance with RTS genre in its variety.

Can't help but mention my personal favs, two exceptional War Wind games. The best RTS games no one knows, no one likes and no one plays. They are just pure Magick.
 

Jack Of Owls

Prophet
Joined
May 23, 2014
Messages
3,327
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Massachusettes
Oh, FFS. I only watch those YT videos of playthroughs or whatever just so I don't have to RTFM or play some in-game tutorial that gives you pop-up overload. People actually watch them for entertainment value like you would a favorite TV series? The idea that fanboys worship speedo-wearing, sunglasses-indoors, cowboy hattin' gamertards like Dr. Disrespect is sad.
 

thesecret1

Arcane
Joined
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
2,627
Missing from the list: Original War. Highly experimental in that each character had skills that gradually developed as he did relevant tasks, and that those characters were NOT replaceable – you start with some number of dudes, and if they die, then that's it, you ain't getting a replacement. The game then gives you a wide array of ways of how to fight without putting your dudes into undue danger, and is pretty creative with it (remote controlled vehicles, AI vehicles, training monkeys on how to use guns, or even using them to drive suicide cars, tether cars... there was a lot of stuff). You also get three factions that are entirely different in everything (different research, vehicles, buildings, etc.) and a kick-ass campaign (two campaigns, in fact) that also happen to have real C&C (they branch depending on your decisions) AND which carry over the people you managed to recruit/who died on you throughout the game. So if some random mook dies on you in mission 1, you might find him missing in mission 5... All of that is coupled with a unique setting that's got an entirely different resource model from your average RTS, and has many other neat features.

Original War is true to its name in that it's a highly experimental foray into the RTS genre that is, nevertheless, extremely successful at what it does, and an absolute must play.
 

Vlajdermen

Arcane
Joined
Nov 19, 2017
Messages
864
Location
Catholic Serbia
The RTS genre never died a natural death. It was killed by corporations who refused to make more games in the genre because they decided on behalf of us consumers that we were apparently done with the genre. Well, in a way many were since they kept releasing subpar online PvP focused RTS' because dumb suits kept chasing that esports high. They completely misunderstood the part where RTS players want a meaty single player campaign as well and not just something that focuses on dull esports shit. MOBAs overtook the RTS genre as the big esports thing, but it didn't poach the playerbase. They appeal to very different people.

It's the completely wrong approach because popular competitive online RTS games started by having a good campaign that got players interested, and then a community formed around them.
Star Craft, Warcraft 3, Age of Empires 2. They all had good campaigns which makes it worth buying the games even if you never want to play online. And then you get a big playerbase for the multiplayer once the game is successful, and from there it becomes an esport.

If you wanna make a popular esport RTS and focus on the online functionality, it is bound to fail because you're skipping the step of where you make a good game that naturally builds its own community by being fun in single player.

But the suits don't understand that. They only see SC, WC3, AoE2 having tournaments watched by thousands of people and wanna have a slice of that cake too. They don't understand why these games grew a dedicated esport community around them.
That's right. My fps essentials thread was about campaigns, I did so specifically because I was tired of all the muh competitive peeepeepoopoo, and it's just as much of a problem in rts as in fps. Is it so hard to understand some of us wanna chill by the computer alone, playing vidya?

Besides a long and well-designed campaign, I also miss when rts games had some thematic flair, when they didn't all have to be clean and e-celeb friendly. Brood War was the best at it, but I also saw it in Supreme Commander. I like how they gave each unit a unique name, despite not really having to, since this isn't like Starcraft where they're all different.
https://supcom.fandom.com/wiki/Complete_unit_list
It's just that little extra, you know. Whatever else you may or may not remember from the game, you will definitely remeber the Cerberus, the Monkeylord, the Soul Ripper, the Plan B, the Flapjack, the Governor Class, the Broadsword, the Fatboy, and the Galactic Collossus. Just like you may or may not forget that the Valkyrie was useless, but you're not gonna forget De-lighted to, sir!.

Yeah, is there any good fan campaigns for Supcom? I liked what I got but it just wasn't enough.
 

Johannes

Arcane
Joined
Nov 20, 2010
Messages
10,255
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casting coach
I generally agree but I'll make the caveat that sometimes it can be interesting to see the story of a game you might suck at/not like the gameplay of or to see a really creative player do some interesting stuff
This is why people watch e-sports.To see peak gameplay that most people could never pull off.
You can still enjoy playing the game and watching competitive game play.
Also helps you improve your own game potentially, to watch how the top guys do it.
 

Alpharius

Learned
Joined
Mar 1, 2018
Messages
201
The last sort of RTS with a sort of decent campaign i played was They are Billions. (released in 2017)
I thought its kinda clever, instead of trying to make the AI not suck so hard by giving it bonus income and free units the devs made the opposing faction totally assymetrical from the get go. As in your objective is to survive x days agains zombie hordes that come once in a while, with the last horde pulling in all the zombies on the map that you haven't killed yet, so map control is extremely important.
Perhaps the other devs could have copied this approach.
Got tired of it because its actually more of a series of skirmishes on random maps and because i routinely got my ass handed to me on max difficulty. :argh:

I echo the praise for Supcom, probably my favorite RTS, a shame that all its clones were so inferior. :negative:
Btw one can still easily find opponents to play against here https://www.faforever.com/
 

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