Races vs. techtree vs. doctrines – choosing from the start or not… – game design – gamedev. net


Briefly most classic RTS games hase predefined possibilities for each race, like Rise of Nations – each nations have some superpower units, cheaper technologies, etc. Cossacks is the same – Saxons have the best cavalry units, it is logically to choose Saxons because of that and to use these units. In other games like Company of Heroes it is similar, but here we have doctrines and “races”. Generally these races or doctrines have some predefined (or few predefined possibilities).

But what if the player has nothing predefined – or almost nothing – and it depends on him what will be the race doctrine? For example – you start with good infantry: researching upgrades, researching new units, new abilities, etc, but later you add tank doctrine and start researching tanks and armoured machines – instead of aircraft, navy, science, artillery, etc. This will totally remove the idea for doctrines and maybe for races. The start will be usually the same but with good versatility later.

Is that too stressing?

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The start will be usually the same but with good versatility later

No, the whole game will be always played in the same way. The issues with such an approach is, that you will have always a dominating development path and players are really good at detecting this path. In the end it is a rush for the dominating path, the one who is quicker will win. This ‘stick-to-the-best-strategy’ way of playing a RTS game has been observed in almost every game out there and it will although apply to games which have multiple different factions, but atleast here you need to change your strategy to counter the faction specific advantages.

A big question you have to ask yourself is: How is the game going to play out?

Branching tech trees are an option. Everyone starts with the same things, and then make choices based on the style of play they will attempt. One of the key things when doing this is to ensure your maps and combat can combine to allow situational advantages depending on choices made. (ie, if user A chooses an Infantry focus tech tree, and user B chooses to jump into the Air tech tree, then make sure that User A can still do things like hide infantry in forests or buildings. Users must then try and force battle into an area that matches their advantage while avoiding fighting while their opponent has the advantage.)

Ideally a branching tech tree would allow baiting and feinting, make your opponent think that you are taking one route, allowing them to invest in a direct counter to that expected route, and then you ambush them with a context/location sensitive counter-counter. (A invests in Heavy Armour ground units, B invests in ground attack helicopters, and then A surprises B with a unit of AAA or AA Infantry hidden in a group of woods.)

Thank you for your responces. But I think my first post was not enought clear. Wil try to explain in other words. In my game player cant choose the enemy (not possible yet and maybe in the future). The game is RTS but with some tower defence and RPG elements and City-Builder-like RTS which means the player will start always with the same “race” against one enemy “race” (noth enough time to finish the others) which is mutating during the game (depending on the map).

So should I leave the Doctrines choise from the start or remove them and the player will be able to develop the race as he want… Not everything, sure, but many things. Or even I keep the doctrines they will put some hues.

I think the problem is more related to the player psychology – imagine you start with the same race, the same few buildings, the same few units. Always. And then you make the difference.

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I think that a system similar to SC2 is likely the best there is: each unit has a few counters, and what keeps the game moving is the intent to always modify the current army composition to include more counters that are good against the bulk of the opponent’s army.

This creates very interesting late-game army compositions that are truly diverse and nothing like unit spam.

If you take a close look at competitive SC2, you’re likely to see that almost every unit comes into play in almost every match (assuming its not one that ends prematurely by a mistake).

Even more interesting is the fact there is more than one counter, granting the user a chance to determine which path they’ll take to try and outplay their opponent’s logistics.

For example, when faced with mass hydra, I could choose to counter with speed zealots with upgraded shields and weapons, or I could try the tech approach of going Dark Templar. If executed right, and if I manage to pull the hydras away from detection, I can get a lot of kills with much fewer units, though the cost in infrastructure and gas is a high risk. High Risk/High Reward is fun!

I don’t believe that locking techs to even more narrow trees (with no ability to adjust at a moment’s notice to compensate for your flaw) is all that fun. It would quickly show you you’ve made a strategic mistake you can’t compensate for, and the actual tactical implications will just be a display of that execution issue.