Console RTS Not Hopeless

Posted: June 17, 2011 in Game Design
Tags: , , , , , ,

I’ve only played a couple RTS games on Console, and only a few more on PC, and generally speaking, the PC ones were a lot better. Although the console ones could provide a bit of entertainment, they tended to be too simple for any deep strategy to emerge. My experience with console RTSs was mostly with Halo Wars, and Brutal Legend, which have very different ways of compensating for being on consoles.  Well I also played a demo of Endwar, which I can only hope was a poor representation of the game, cause that demo sucked.

So first of all is Halo Wars. Unlike Brutal Legend, which has a very distinct play style, Halo Wars, is basically a very simplified version of Starcraft or other PC RTS. You gather resources, build a base, build units, and send them to kill the enemy base. Notable shortcomings include very few types of units, can’t build buildings anywhere, only at specific bases. These and other simplifications are basically necessary to make up for the lack of hotkeys. Having all the buildings in a few locations around the map makes it very easy to switch between. Overall it was a generally enjoyable game but far to shallow to be of lasting interest.

Brutal Legend was quite a bit different in its approach. It was hardly a strategy game, it was mostly an action game, hack n slash, whatever. There were only a few strategy parts to the game, and Tim Schafer himself tell people not to play those sections as an RTS. We already have action RPGs, so action RTS seems acceptable to me. The core idea of all the soldiers basically being there to support you, and focusing on your own character seems like a solid game concept.

Brutal Legend might be the prototype for future console RTSs which have small scale largely centered around your character, instead of larger multifronted battles. It certainly gets around the problem of not having enough hotkeys that traditional RTSs would have on a console. Of course as great as brutal legend is with its new gameplay style, Tim Schafer himself says its not a real RTS and I tend to agree. For a real RTS to work on consoles they still have to get over the hurdle of hotkeys, or have a very simplified strategy game.

Well their might be a way for consoles to have a replacement for hotkeys, through speech recognition. I understand Endwar did this, so its unfortunate I only played the demo and not the whole game, to judge how well it worked, but the concept is solid. Actually I don’t think I would use speech commands in the same way as Endwar. The controller would still be the primary way to control the game. Hotcommands would just be used to quickly select groups pf units, or buildings from around the map. As I understand it Endwar didn’t really have buildings, so its not exactly a good example of what I’m trying to say.

Microsoft Kinect might be good for this, and not cause of the motion tracking cameras or anything like that, but because of the speech recognition software. Before developers could make use of the microphone to make use of speech commands, but they would have to write their own speech recognition software. Now speech recognition is built into Kinect, developers can use it without a lot of hassle.

Since speech recognition allows hotcommands to be used in the place of hotkeys, and the lack of hotkeys are the only barrier to console RTS, their is no longer any reason to not make RTS on consoles, or at least Kinect, until the others get speech recognition as well.

  1. J-P says:

    I just played prototype7.
    1. pressing wasd + arrowkeys = running?
    2. when are you going to make it possible to walk along walls without stopping? its kinda frustrating to get stuck between a spider and a wall and not even be able to shoot him.

    • maxff says:

      Thanks for playing!

      1. Yes, I actually should put that in the instructions on how to play, but yes, WASD + Arrows is running. It was emergent behavior based on the way the controls are programmed, but I decided there was no point in adding a run button if the ability to run already exists.

      2. Right, I almost forgot to fix that, been trying to add more enemies, rooms, weapons, that I almost forgot to fix that. Basically whenever you move it checks to see if their is s a collision with a solid object and if their is it stops you from moving. If you are between a spider and a wall, it will always detect a collision hen you try to move. There might be a number of ways to solve this, but the simplest thing I can think of is to make the spider not solid, so you can go through it, and it should keep you from getting stuck. I’ll have to see if this works.

      Other than that how was the game overall. Did you just get frustrated with spiders and stop playing, or is it fun enough to explore a few rooms? And I’ve been playing so much the entire game seems easy to me, but I have no idea how difficult it is for anyone else.

      I should have another prototype up soon, which may fix the problem, as well as have many more rooms, but there is no way to carry over saves between different versions so you’d have to start over.

  2. J-P says:

    I think the best way to handle it is to test for a collision and not allow movement in THAT direction. That way you can be running diagonally and hit a wall and simply continue running along the wall. (like this maze I made in flash a number of years ago:

    As far as making spiders not solid I leave that to you. I noticed that some of the enemies were not solid but I can see reasons for enemies of both types in one game.

    I played through v1-4 (as far as was complete) without getting too frustrated. Then I skipped to v7 and made it a little further before messing up and being trapped in a room full of baddies and no life. I was mostly just getting tired of redoing the same rooms by this point so I quit.

    • maxff says:

      Although GameMaker has a scripting language, i haven’t been using it too much, which is why the collision is the way it is. There’s a way to check if two objects are colliding and do something, without using the scripting language. to check for collisions from specific directions requires slightly more work, but I’ll have to add it in.

      I guess that’s major weakness of the way I’m releasing these prototypes, is by adding a bit more on to each one, so that means the beginning is the same rooms every time, with maybe slight changes. Hopefully by time I get the final game, you will be willing to give those rooms one more try. There’s little point in releasing prototypes on a regular basis, that all have the same beginning.

      I don’t know where you got trapped with no life. I may have made a mistake, and all the practice I’m getting is making me far too good at the game to judge the difficulty, but I thought I managed to make it so you wouldn’t be stuck in a room. If only I had more people to try and test out the game. I’ll have to see if I can figure out where it happened.

  3. J-P says:

    I did something kinda stupid: I tried to rush and ended up with an auto-save state that basically had no way to survive even if I backed out of the current room (the previous room was full or monsters too). Maybe you would be skilled enough to fight off the baddies but I’m not. I like seeing the progress keep releasing!

    Maybe you could add in a temporary testing phase cheat that makes the character invincible. Something that can be toggled on and off for the purpose of getting through the early rooms in order to test out the later rooms. Just an idea. Anything that speeds up the parts I’ve already tested would be appreciated.

  4. maxff says:

    Toggleable Invincibility sounds good for the testing phase, and should be trivial to implement. I’ve already written the script that checks what direction you are colliding with a wall. It wasn’t difficult, so that should improve the experience, I just overlooked it until now. I should have another prototype soon. I wonder if Gabe would be interested in testing this game.

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