Neo Generation Games


Best RTS in Game Maker, Eh?

Posted by neogenerationgames on August 16, 2011 at 2:05 PM

Today I will be addressing concerns about Ground Zero CLASH. One of those is how Neo Generation Games will release an competitive RTS that will rival commercial strategy games, using, of all things, Game Maker. We won't. Our goal is simply to createthe best RTS possible in Game Maker, and hopefully innovate in ways that commercial(or even indie) RTSes haven't. We have plans to reboot GZC in the Spring engine if it succeeds.

What sets GZC apart from other RTSes? Good question. The original goal of GZC was to incorporate classic RTS gameplay and not introduce anything too new. But as the design evolved, I realized that because this will be the ultimate RTS in Game Maker, I needed to introduce some new elements.

1. Semi-linear Campaign:

Linear RTSes are the norm. Games like Command and Conquer and the original Starcraft are examples. The player is presented a campaign of a certain faction that he is required to finish. The C&C Tiberian Sun game deviates from this formula, but player choices do not affect the story or the ending in any way whatsoever.

In the opposite end is the more rarer non-linear RTS. A non-linear RTS would be more like Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds or Rise of Nations. The player can engage in grand strategy before going into a more tactical view. The main drawback is that there is a lack of focus or wide objectives.

Of course, this is not always a bad thing, but the aim of GZC is not a grand strategy, but a player and character and plot-driven story. GZC's campaigns are semi-linear, somewhat like Starcraft 2's campaign but modified. First, there is the world map. The player is given a home base to manage, ala Warzone 2100. Most extraneous activity other than combat is done here. Stuff like economy or research or recruiting is heavily emphasized. Unlike Warzone 2100, you have the option to explore the world map and partake on missions or respond to enemy movements. But there is a story, a climax to attain. Of course the ending is determined by the player, but the flow of the campaign prevents a war of attrition/dead lock/unending war. 

The player is limited in their technology trees. It is not possible to gain all technology in one game. Technology also drives the story through paths. This can be seen in Starcraft 2 and Warrior Kings. Technologies must be researched, stolen, gained, copied, scrapped, and what-not. And then technology is used to make new units.

Most of the economy is done in the home base, but players can expand. However, it is cheaper and faster to transport troops than MCV(Mobile Construction Vehicle) type units to battlefields. Mining and recruitment outposts will generate more resources.

2. Variety of Mission Types

A different mission type is calculated for every mission. Sometimes it's because of random events(like weather) or the opposing AI's style(stealth attack or whataever) or something else entirely. You can also choose your mission objectives(provided you have advanced far enough in the leadership of your faction) and delegate AI assistants. This contributes to the variety of missions possible.

Some mission types would include a Tower Defense type mission, a Defense of the Ancients type mission, and a few others I cannot name.

Also, on the battlefield, Encounters, mini-missions generated by the Storyteller Medium, provide more variety than just restricting the mission to one type.

3. Independent Heroes

Unlike most RTSes(and games), where the player controls the hero, the hero is independent of the player. If they deem it necessary, they will use their special powers.

The heroes also advance their stories in the battlefield. When they fight opposing heroes, dialogue is exchanged, and an epic battle ensues.

4. No Premature Game Overs

So you didn't finish the mission objective? Big deal. Retreated to a nearby section? It's okay, you can invade again. You can leave a map without surrendering to deal with the world map and grand strategy, described in the next section.

The only time a game over happens is when ALL of your forces are destroyed or you yourself(your commander character in the game, very rare occurence) is dead. In theory, you can wage a guerilla warfare in an enemy-occupied city.

5. Real Time Grand Strategy

You thought that the world map actions were turn based? Spent too long in a map? You may be shocked to find out that your enemy wiped out a few of your bases while you were focusing on a single area. You can delegate AIs to fight some battles for you when you are away. See "Delegation of Powers".

Aircraft can scout on the world map. Off-the-map airstrikes on the battlefield, too, are dependent on the world map. The farther the aircraft is, the longer it takes for reloads.

This may be subject to change. 

6. The Storyteller Medium

Presiding over the storytelling of GZC is the Storyteller Medium. You can read about it in its own post.

7. Pausing Battles to Issue Orders

What I thought was a neat idea from Kingdom Elemental, an indie Real Time Tactics game, was pausing in the middle of the battle to issue orders. Of course, this cannot be done in multiplayer. This makes micromanagement more easier to handle than in a fast-paced Starcraft game.

This may be subject to change.

8. Delegation of Powers

Submarine Titans RTS had the option for AI Assistants. They either manage your economy or military or both for you. GZC takes this to the next level. AI Assistants are now characters with personalities. They can help you on the battlefield or on the world map. At anytime, you can take over for them. 

AI Assistants are exactly the same as the opponent AIs, but they are on your side.

So in retrospect, I did not list any new graphical elements. That is because there won't be any new graphical elements.

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