Wednesday, February 10, 2010

RTS: Not so RT after all

I'm probably not the first one to realize it, most likely not the first one to blog about it, but I still have to say it: Where's the Real Time in Real Time Strategy?

I started playing Starcraft again, if only because I picked up a book at the library (Liberty's Crusade) that followed the SC1 original storyline. I'm also hoping that Karma will be with me and that they will release SC2 soon - so I'll be brushed up on the story already. So anyway, as I'm playing this I suddenly realize (again) how completely ridiculous the time is in StarCraft and any other so-called "RTS" games. I mean, it takes, what, about a minute to build barracks, a bit more to train a marine (yes, *train* a *marine*, as in the US navy, only better!), it takes 3 minutes to build a command center, etc. Yes, it makes for better gameplay and a way to defend against the oncoming Zergling Rush, but to me, that's no excuse.

An RTS for me, would really be a game where your base is already established when you start your level, and you have no option of actually building new large structures. Gun emplacements yes, if you have a reserve in a workshop, but building a 2-3 story structure out of metal, complete with power station, a mess, seats and 50-inch plasma screens... I don't think so. This would not only make it more real, it would also make sure that your *strategy* will be what makes you survive, not your ability to quickly construct 50 marines and rush the n00b on the other side of the map!

But how do you get new technology, build new machines like tanks for example? Well, on the one side you could already have a reserve that's limited and no option to build new ones (at least, not more than one or two). On the other hand, the storyline could be made such that a bit of time elapses between "battles" so that those forces are replenished - also offering the obvious possibility of using a different base that might already have more resources at their disposition.

This gives rise to the challenges of building a different engine with this more logical way of making war - but I'm sure someone will rise up to that challenge... eventually. Soon, I hope.

OOps! Zergs are a comin'! Gotta go!

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