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First of all, I would like to say a big THANK YOU to all the members of Frost Giant Studios
for a lot of reasons. First, for having made all the games I love. Second, for this exciting announcement. And third, for giving us the opportunity to share our thoughts and ideas and be a part of this.
I always thought that SC2 shouldn't be the last great RTS, and even though it is currently the best RTS, it is not perfect, but it feels very close to it. The world is in NEED of another RTS that offers competition to SC2. So, during these last few weeks, I have been thinking and planning on how to build my own RTS. But then, I saw your annoucement through Tasteless' video
and my world exploded!! (In the bests of ways, I mean)
I warn you, this will be a long post. So, bring some snacks and a cup of coffee, and join me with this love letter to the RTS genre. I'm really excited to share all the ideas I've wrote or compiled on what the next great RTS should consider. (Please, note that I don't own any of the ideas presented here. I'm just a guy who, just like most of you, is very passionate about the RTS games. Understand that I'm not demanding or requesting anything.)
A Song of Setting and Lore
Most of us would agree that RTS is the best videogame genre. But sadly, we are quite alone on that. Compared to FPS, MOBAs, Card Games or Battle Royales, the RTS genre is not as popular as them. So, the question is: how can we make the genre attractive to more people?
I understand how deeply the team wants to focus on the core audience and that they are still choosing the setting of the game. So, I would like to propose the following idea: what the game is set on a pre-made world
? I know nothing about intelectual properties or copyrights, but an alliance with other creators (artists and writers) could be very benefitial for both parts.
The RTS I was planning, the RTS of my dreams, would be set on the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender
, the Nickelodeon show that aired between 2006-2008. If you haven't seen it, please, do yourself a favor and watch it. It's one of the bests shows ever. The world-building is so complete. All the military and nations are inspired on real cultures. And each element portrayed in the show corresponds to a nation: Air Nomads, Water Tribes, Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom. Each one with their own distinct identity
The good thing about this is that you would gather all the current RTS gamers and all of the Avatar fanbase (let's say) into playing the game! Whether they love Avatar or RTS, or are just curious about how it merges together.
One could argue: "No! I don't want an anime RTS!". But please, hear me out, it doesn't necessarily have to be Avatar (and it's not an anime...)
. It could be anything: Harry Potter, A Song of Ice and Fire, Star Wars, Middle Earth, Lovecraftian Mythology, D&D, etc. There's plenty to choose from!
But being realistic, it will most certaintly be very complicated to form an alliance or get the copyrights to do something like that. Dreaming is free, you know? So, I will leave the idea of an 'Avatar RTS' to rest here. The rest of the post won't be focused on that. (But please, think about it!) (If anyone is interested, I can write another post explaining my ideas for an Avatar RTS)
Let's talk about Gameplay
SC2 has a brilliant and fluid gameplay. The unit responsiveness and path-finding is perfect. I have nothing to say about that, only that hopefully it will remain the same or better, if someone finds room for improvement. Amount of races.
I strongly support the idea of 4 races. The variety of matches would increase from 6 (from 3 races) to a total of 10! Creating a richer and more varied environment than SC2. Workers.
All workers should be different and they should have different ways to gather resources, such as in WC3. Units in common?
I think it wouldn't hurt if all races have one early-game unit in common, or late-game unit or both. They could have different physical styles. But it would ease the work of balance a little, I guess? Size matters.
One thing that makes SC2 so encaptivating is the variety and diversity of units, from their different attacks, attributes and their different sizes and how they interact with their environment. This is something difficult to do with a human-based setting. But I firmly believe that this should be taken into account. Upgrades.
Every upgrade should have a visible expression, as the Zergling's wings or the Marine's shields. Lots of upgrades in SC2 have a physical expression, but should every update have them as well? Why not? Resources.
I believe the current amount of resources of SC (supply, minerals and gas) is an excellent number. One could talk that Zerg has more resources: larva and creep. And going deeper, one could talk about more kinds of resources, such as time and attention. If you sum up all that, no wonder why SC is a complex game. However, I've noticed a way to handle the hero dilemma
(to add or not to add heroes) would be not by introducing heroes but to turn all units into heroes in the sense that all of them earn experience.
Have you ever noticed how exciting is to watch when one worker stays alive after a huge drop? Or the single unit who has killed a lot of Drones and then escapes? It sounds like there should be a reward for that kind of hero
For this, I propose a new resource: experience
. All units can earn it, or age
if you prefer. There could be two ways to earn experience: by the passing of time they've been existing during the game and the units they've killed. The benefits of aging or leveling up shouldn't be huge. But a small buff wouldn't hurt. But now that I think about it, on the negative side, disposable units would be very damaged with this kind of resource... After all, the idea is to make the Ranks of SC to be relevant. and not just a mere title. The life and death of the units could be more valuable.
Another important thing is to keep the diversity of races
, each with their own identity and style of play. One of the things we all love about SC is how different the races are. The rhytmic mechanics (never heard of this concept before reading it from Neuro on Twitter) of the Zerg of injecting larva and spreading creep are very attractive. If you can invent more kind of mechanics or similar ones to each race, it would be great! Randomness.
This is a huge topic to discuss. Most of us know how assymetrical is BW compared to SC2. For example: things like scouting first or the position of the base are very influenced by luck. What is your posture on this? I think it would be benefitial to make it optional and to have the two kinds of maps: symmetrical and assymetrical.
The following are ideas from other non-SC RTS, and they could be optional for certain maps, also.
- Neutral Camps. Just like WC3.
- Mercenaries. What do you think about being able to hire mercenaries during a match? What kind of situations could this bring? For these two ideas to work, Gold (or money) should be a resource.
- Team games. One of the things I like about Age of Empires 2 team games is the fact that you're able to trade resources with your allies. And concerning the balance, one could just set different attributes or constrictions to races when 2v2. Another suggestion I read it was to be able to control the ally units, such as the Archon mode, but with each player with his own base. Or just to borrow some units.
- Global skills. Like Age of Mythology or the ones in the SC2 Co-op Commanders?
- Time cycles. To implement a night-day cycle, to increment sneakyness! Or seasons cycle, perhaps?
- And lastly, what do you think about adding water units, such as ships? It could be harder for map makers and balance... Ground units would be at disadvantage... But to break the air-ground kinds of units into air-ground-water could be interesting.
What can we learn from other genres?
Sometimes I feel the other genres learned a lot from RTS, but RTS haven't really absorbed anything from the other genres. And there's a lot to learn from them. Honor Great Plays
. This is something I've seen from Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
competitive scene. There's a list of memorials
to pro-gamer moments in some of the maps. And I found it to be very charming. Spectator Mode.
I think we all can agree that the observer mode of SC2 is one of the best ones. And also that is a very easy-to-watch Esport. However, a feature that is missing in SC2 spectator mode is to be able to see the player's camera location on the minimap. Another excellent idea by nice__username was to have a built-in spectator mode, such as DOTA 2, which I fully support. Encyclopedia within the game.
Oh, how amazing it would be to look at a close up of each unit, read their information, their values, their counters, etc. or read the lore of the game. All of that without having to leave the game or enter the campaign mode. Co-op Campaign.
Have you ever played the co-op campaign in Portal 2
? It's brilliant!! The RTS of my dreams would have a single-player campaign and a two-player story-driven campaign, so I could invite my friends to try it and finish the game. This would be in addition to the co-op commander game mode, of course! More after-game statistics for the nerds.
I love the current ones that SC2 presents, but I would love to see special stuff about the match I recently had. Things such as how many enemy workers I killed, in what minute I produced my first non-worker unit, what unit I produced more, etc. Things like this are smalls details and, we all know love is in the small details. Highlights quick-replays.
Like the Mario Kart
ones! To highlight the moments when it ocurred the most action. It doesn't have to be perfect, it would be funny even if it fails. For instance, for the highlights to show some INTENSIVE DRONING. Training mode.
To have a Standarized Format for writing build orders and to be able to copy/paste them outside/into the game and to have a training game mode where the game indicates what to do to follow the build order. For instance, Magic: The Gathering Arena
has their own text format to import(export) to(from) the game. On the other side, I love the idea of the racing sim style ghost to learn build orders from replays
. Rematch button.
You don't imagine how much I wish this button exists in the SC2 ladder. How I miss the old famous "GG WP RE?". I think I read this idea here in Reddit, but I believe a lot of other games have this button.
Modern Problems require Modern Solutions Graphical aspect.
If we want the game to stand the test of time, it must have every modern graphics requirements: RTX, 4k, 120 FPS, etc. I know you're certain of that. But the main thing I would like to see is the ability to be able to zoom in and be able to see the face of an unit, their eyes filled with terror when facing the imminent war and brutallity!
If following a human-based setting, I strongly believe that when generating an unit, *it should be women or men, randomly, like the villagers in *Age of Empires 2
. Going further, one could also consider random facial aspects for each unit. Of course, it must follow the principle that each kind of unit should always be easily recognizable and to have the same attributes. In these current times, diversity is a must
It would be nice to see more kind of advices on how to play the game in the loading screen, such as obscure gameplay elements. And kind advices also would be beneficial, like health advices. Something like: remember to take breaks, to rest your eyes, to drink water, to go to the bathroom, etc. Also, a little and friendly reminder for the players to not get angry, to promote fairness, respect, good sportsmanship and the right mentality would be really appreciated. Surely, most of us have fallen into the darkness of toxicity and unhealthy addiction.
Now, the most difficult part of making a game is the balance
. How can we make all races to feel fair? How we make no race stronger than the other? Or even further, how we make no race easier than the other? This is the most ancient issue, but surely modern tools would help with that. What do you think about using Machine Learning for balance? What do you think of generating millions of simulations to test balance? It sounds very complex, but in the end we could solve any problem or test any idea using science and AI.
Lastly, the era of consumption is real. I'm in total favor of a reward system. To be able to advance, and earn not only experience (real experience and user experience), but to collect things (not only achievements). So, *one of the things I missed in the early years of SC2 were the Skins, Announcement Packs and etc, until finally, they all appeared. Want it or not, I think this is a must for a modern game. It would benefit players that like to consum and the company, as well. *(I don't mention P2W content, but in case anyone is wondering: *no.
A Strong Sense of Community
Ok, we reached the point where I talk about how the chat system in SC BW and WC3 were perfect for creating a community and making friends, while the SC2 chat was not.
I can say that until this day, I still maintain the friends I met in BW. I still remember the times where I played custom maps with strangers in WC3. But the only community thing I remember from SC2, besides content creators and the competitive scene, is that when facing an opponent, if I'm lucky I would receive a "gl hf" back. I've rarely talk with my opponents. And the chat seems obscure and it's like nobody is talking. Also... what is the real purpose of clans or guilds
Communication and the facility to do so is a thing that must be considered. One could argue that Discord covers all of the necessities. But what if I want to invite someone that never played videogames to try the new game without installing Discord? Or if I want to chat with strangers? As far as I know, Battle.net
has their own mic settings, chat and friends list. Something like this is a must for the next game. Just imagine how interesting would be a voice chat channel built within the game.
If I caught your attention with any of the ideas presented, please feel free to ask me.
I don't consider myself as a gamer
, I'm more of a filthy casual
. I played lot of games (mostly RTS) during my life and started playing SC2 seriously about 2 months ago (currently D3 on NA, yey!). IRL, I'm a student of MSc. in Physics and all this daydreaming project of my own RTS it was a project that I was pretending to start soon after I finished my thesis, because I know one thing or two about coding.
We all are very passionate about RTS games. And above all else, we desire quality. In that sense, we could say that papa Blizzard left us very spoiled.
But what I really want to do with this post is to express gratitude, share ideas and inspire more people to share their thoughts too. These are very exciting times to be alive, and we can not miss the train!