Planetary Annihilation - A Next Generation RTS (Kickstarter project)

edited in General
Thought this was interesting, both the game and the business model.

Planetary Annihilation - A Next Generation RTS (Kickstarter project)

Don't have anything specific to say except "OMG blow up planets booooooom! whheeeeee!", and "you think kickstarter is a viable business model for a production quality game?", though this seems to be not quite triple-A, but bigger than an indie game (*shrug*). Either way, seems that if you have a good idea, Kickstart is a way to gain capital and a fan-base (which I'm sure will double as beta-testers :p)

Either-either way, I want to play this game!


  • Been watching this one since it started. TA is my favourite RTS, so I'm really excited to see how PA turns out. I hope it delivers!
  • That looks pretty frikken sweet dude!
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    Yeah been keeping an eye on this one, the concept of pushing planets? AWESOME :) Has influenced some of my thinking lately too :)

    Even though I totally SUCK at RTSs... Starcraft was always a big schlepp for me. Like DOTA much more :)
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    The Planetary Annihilation team claim to be much more influenced by Total Annihilation than by Starcraft (they don't even mention Starcraft).

    If they're competent, then Planetary Annihilation will be much more strategic and much less incredible-number-of-clicks-required-just-to-do-a-simple-task than your standard RTS (read Starcraft 2). Also much more hundreds (or thousands) of machines killing each other and much less like spreadsheet software. There won't be as many hard counters and strategy limiting resistances built into the balance and the game is most likely going to favor porc-ing up and raining death from across the solar system.

    I expect lots of intelligent base structures that actually automate the tedious operations that no human should be forced to do, games where the largest machines are thousands of times bigger and more expensive than the basic machines, and no unit limits at all (if they are true to their influences).

    Which is exciting! You all can probably tell I'm a total Total Annihilation fan :)
  • @BlackShipsFilltheSky

    They have already announced that there will only be Tech 1 and Tech 2, and they are considering experimental units.

    Someone on the PA forums mentioned that the problem with experimental sized units in SupCom was that you either had to zoom out enough to see your experimental units fighting - which would mean you could not see your tanks fighting - or zoom in to be able to see your tanks, which would mean experimentals would take up the entire screen. So I think as cool as experimentals are, I doubt that they will have the focus in this game. If they are present at all, they will not be many times larger than regular units.

    Myself, I'm wondering how they will handle moving around the faces of planets. Imagine you are looking at a solar system (scale reduced of course). You have settled on Planet A, but your base is on the rear of Planet A, facing away from you. Can you click and drag on Planet A to rotate it? Should it auto zoom to your base?

    I find the control issues they will have to face regarding multiple planets interesting, and although I have backed it, I'm worried that such issues might mean it ends up being not as fun as we think it will be.
    Thanked by 1EvanGreenwood
  • Hehe I can see that you're as anti-Starcraft as I am :P I haven't actually played TA so I can't really comment on that, but it seems like you're rabid about TA NOT being like Starcraft, which is awesome :) Thanks for the detailed breakdown :)

    I've always found a non-fixed north to be really irritating when dealing with games like this, after some looking around you start to get lost, or at least not intuitively easy to find your way. Will be interesting to see how that's taken care of.

    No unit limit sounds really scary to me, I remember C&C Tank rush days. It was more a logistical exercise than a game. Like you said, if they build in really cool intelligent systems then it'll be something interesting :)
  • I really hope they retain the ability to task as many workers as you like to any operation. That really made TA. You could always go bigger :)

    I would always assemble a force of 100+ builder planes and send them around building the really expensive experimental units, massive banks of high-end cannons, or working on a vast army of air units. Of course, this required the high population limit mod :)
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    Even if they don't do massive units on a silly scale, propelling large asteroids / moons into other planets is pretty epic. I'd love to see planet sized units, like death stars, that can by themselves be used to annihilate planets, but frankly, with the scope of this project as it is, I'd be impressed if they are able to make it manageable at all.

    It's also quite possible that they fall into the traps of the worst elements of Total Annihilation / Supreme Commander. The incredibly long, sometimes slow games and the possibility for deadlocks and the building of so many units that it becomes totally congested with wreckage (in Total Annihilation even wreckage is a precious resource). And the Planetary Annihilation team have to build a control system that allows for navigating around planets (and being able to build structures all around them).

    Still. More designers trying to solve this space is good.

    I wonder if you can build on the far side of planets to avoid being spotted by enemies O_O
    (Total Annihilation also had far more sophisticated stealth mechanics than Starcraft 2 does. Like hills that hide line of sight and radar jammers and submarines that travel under water and sonar jammers and mobile sonar and radar jammers and planes built for scouting or even with sonar or radar scanners on them and the ability to fire from across the map at enemy objects that your radar sees (but where you don't have sight) and building decoy bases to attract long range enemy fire, and then hiding your actual base beneath radar jammers, or building bombardment shields or anti missile missile launchers etc).
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    Looks awesome, had I the money to back them I'd be throwing my money at their faces. Loving the classical music, and the FX/explosions, animation seems decent. Their poly count looks super low on their assets, which hopefully means bigger, more epic battles than seen in Sc2.
  • had I the money to back them I'd be throwing my money at their faces
    You can't be serious?!? R170 +- to back them and get the completed game. Peanuts..
  • @BlackShipsFilltheSky

    Yeah there is still room for epic combat, with asteroids and death stars! And orbital units, and navies, and....

    I never played that much of TA, but at least for SupCom1, the problem I had with it was that contrary to what was said about it, it was too micro intensive. You had to upgrade individual factories, individual mexes, and to get the best out of mexes, you had to put mass storage around them.

    For SupCom, I know they talked about having your support commanders act as AI extensions of you, capable of supporting and running a base. I think this was not included because a lot of people are afraid the game will end up "playing itself". Myself, depending on how it is done, I dont think its a huge risk, but you might have a problem where your support commander wants to build an artillery gun, and is draining all of your mass. Or something else like that, devoting too many engineers to a project and draining your mass and/or energy. So I think they will probably not include them. It could cause cases in which a player loses, not because of their own mistakes, but because of something their own AI did.

    The other issue is that we might start to run into limits regarding how many tasks players can perform at once and still keep of track of what needs doing. Build a naval base here, an asteroid base there, farm this gas giant for energy, farm this lava planet for mass, etc etc. Lots to do. Team games with shared control could be absolutely awesomely epic though.


    They have said they want to keep things fairly simple - its to do with visibility. They want to make sure you can identify a unit from high up easily, so shapes and colours will be simple and bright.
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    Both TA and Supreme Commander have round about the same amount of micro... Where TA was innovating in that space, it came first obviously, Supreme Commander didn't push automation much further (I've played vastly more TA than Supreme Commander).

    I don't think that AI driven helpers, like "support commanders" is a good solution at all though. No player wants decisions made for them. TA goes a long way further than Starcraft in minimizing the amount of non-strategic clicks required and allowing the player to set up systems that perform actions endlessly (like allowing endless queuing of unit production, like setting up builders endlessly supporting the unit production, like being able to give the orders to build things that you can't afford yet).

    I was a little disappointed that Supreme Commander didn't minimize the base micro more than it did. I love micro-ing my units (not at Starcraft 2 levels, but I like ordering units around and watching them blow up stuff), and I don't find being dragged back to my base to do mundane, low strategy, things (like upgrading stuff) interesting.

    I have no idea whether the Planetary Annihilation team are interested in avoiding tedious micro. I've only seen their video and they didn't mention it.
  • I know a lot of people hated SupCom2, but one thing it got right was the research system. It made for a very macro way to upgrade your forces and income.

    A combination between TA and SupCom could actually be a very good thing. The same amount of micro as TA (maybe a little less!), with the some of the scale of SupCom in terms of map size. Maybe not unit size scaling, I'm actually starting to think its better that there not be much in the way of unit scaling.

    The other thing that I think has been confirmed is base templates. So, perhaps you could give a group of engineers an order to fly to a remote asteroid and then build a base there according to your template. Could make such things a lot easier.
  • Nice! I wonder how that'll play... (because I enjoy building bases... but I also don't like spending loads of time repeating myself)
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    I'd just like to point out that the distinction between macro and micro in RTS is actually one of outcome, not control. Whatever game you're playing, chances are that you'll be playing it at the limit of instructions you can reliably give per minute, unless it's a really boring game.

    So if you're playing at 100 APM or 400 APM the difference between macro and micro is rather "is this a long term action that rewards later" (like building more production facilities, units and upgrades) or "is this a short term action responding to immediate situational requirements" (like moving individual units, scouting and map awareness). You're always going to have to split between micro and macro, one of the key ideas of RTS is trying to get the other guy to spend too much time on one or the other and thus either slip up and lose an army investment or fall behind and not have enough invested in production to survive in the future.

    Personally, the thing that made TA/SupCom bother me was the built-in obsolescence of low tech units - they simply weren't useful later in the game - and the whole infinite economy problem. Not battling over resources means there's no need to establish new positions on the map, which means that long range siege tactics end up being your ultimate late-game flavor. Same thing happened in Generals: there's little to no "pulling a player out of position".
  • Yes, its tactics vs strategy.

    The infinite economy does not encourage turtling as you describe - what encourages turtling is when it is more effective to build mass converters/generators than mass extractors. In other words, when it becomes more effective to simply build more buildings that generate resources, rather than control particular spots on the map that produce resources.

    SupCom: FA changed the economy significantly so that turtling was no longer so effective, forcing players to expand in order to keep up resource generation.

    It does mean you have to change your way of thinking - since resources are infinite, the rate at which you collect them is the only thing that matters. If another player simply controls more of the map than you do, he will acquire resources faster than you, and thus be able to out produce you, or out tech you, or both. Unless you have a strategic advantage in the direction you have chosen - ie going for mass air when he has little air defense - you are screwed.
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    @Ancalagon: I think you just said the same thing I did about map-position being an important factor in longer-term RTS play. My premise: Infinite resources with no map-position element = late-game deadlock and siege weapons. Your premise: Map-position element inserted into infinite resource generation = less late-game deadlock and siege weapons.

    And I wasn't talking about tactics/strategy or micro/macro distinctions, I was merely pointing out that you're going to be playing any RTS at the limit of the number of things you can do at the same time as a player and that they will always be split between immediate vs long-term outcome.
  • What I'm saying is that the infinite economy problem is not as you describe in TA and SupCom (have you played either?) because map position matters in both. Metal and mass extractors are still the most efficient and effective means of obtaining metal/mass.

    Late game deadlock in either TA or SupCom only happens if mass converters are unbalanced relative to mass extractors, as I said. Also the shields available in SupCom make turtling much more effective.

    Ehhh your first sentence was regarding the distinction between macro and micro?

    I would say that the outcome of an action governs whether it is tactical or strategic, but not whether it is micro or macro. Control still matters for that one.

    For instance:
    Selecting a building and choosing to upgrade ground weapons - a micro action with strategic consequences
    Selecting the research menu (not tied to any building) and choosing to upgrade ground weapons - a macro action with strategic consequences.
    Selecting your nuclear missile launcher structure and launching a nuke at the enemy base - a micro action with tactical consequences.
    Selecting the nuclear missile icon on your HUD and launching a nuke at the enemy -a macro action with tactical consequences.
  • I just hate all kinds of management. I want a secretary that asks me when things are done upgrading and there're free resources to upgrade... Or I just say "do this upgrade when there's resource available", or "I want this upgrade ultimately, do all the upgrades as they become available".

    I'm lazy like that, and was ultimately unsuited for Starcraft. Haven't played TA so can't speak on that level...

    So it would be nice for me to be able to say "go grab that asteroid" and the game would set up the right units in a carrier with the right resources and start building the right things for it to happen, instead of having to do all of that tiny bits of stuff to achieve that goal manually.

    Is it just me?
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    It's not just you Tuism. But the majority of current RTS players are content to play suboptimal control systems designed to create dexterity gates (that create challenge through difficult control) which exclude people like you (and me) from enjoying games like Starcraft.

    Although to be honest I could enjoy Starcraft if I wasn't so aware of the purposefully difficult to operate systems. I loved the game until I played TA. Now the inelegant parts of Starcraft really get on my nerves.

    There is certainly a demand for more casual, more elegant, and more strategic RTS's. The response to Planetary Annihilation proves it. But more dexterity focussed RTS's appeal better to the hardcore gamer market (which is the big majority of RTS players) (and so AAA RTS games these days can't digress far from the Starcraft formula). Hence the need for Kickstarting Planetary Annihilation.

    @Tuism Have you tried playing Majesty? It's nowhere near as well executed as Starcraft 2 is, neither is it much like Total Annihilation, but it manages to be a RTS without the hectic clickiness and with much more time spent enjoying mastering the interplay of systems (because indirect control is at the core of the game). Technically there are still management aspects to it. It's not Dota. I'm curious as to how you feel about that sort of game.
  • hardcore is a word that's bandied about and seem to have become an excuse for not building intelligent systems. I was hardcore in Diablo 2 (collecting stuff and microing my stats, not the hardcore mode). I'm hardcore in Tekken (you could parallel the microing to the "purity" of not assigning shoulder buttons to button combinations, but that to me is a bigger discussion). I'm hardcore (was) in Pokemon, breeding 100 pikachus to find the right one with the right stats. I just don't want to be hardcore about finger dexterity over a million unfocussed things running against a clock... That's just chore-like.

    So here's hoping they make something for the hardcore as in expertise and knowledge and not finger speed.
  • @Ancalagon: We're saying the same thing: Map position-based resource gathering in RTS games helps to alleviate turtling and siege problems. I'm just going a step further and implying that all infinite resource systems in RTS games make that problem worse, especially when not meaningfully tied to map position. What I'm not doing is taking a dump on your fav game, so chillax... Yes I've played TA and SupCom, though probably not as much as you have. Different strokes, etc. I'm just very used to taking systems apart and I've spent a hell of a lot of time thinking about RTS systems over the years. Hence making blanket statements like "infinite resources in RTS games cause deadlocks".

    I also think you're missing the point of micro/macro and why I brought it up. I was talking from the perspective of actual player action count and the idea of attention as a resource (which Tom "Zileas" Caldwell and I used to chat about extensively). An RTS game is going to be operating at the limit of player attention because a good RTS will always have a system complex enough to always require optimisation, so you'll naturally hit your limit of actions you can reliably think about/perform/predict while playing one.

    Your definition of micro/macro seems to rely on in-game selection mechanics and if something is a menu or not. That doesn't make much sense, especially when any good RTS is going to let me assign a building to control group and let me upgrade via hotkeys, essentially turning your in-game "micro" action into a menu-driven "macro" action in your definition. SC2 even goes further and puts control group systems on the HUD, so you don't even need to hit a key and can build/upgrade irrelevant of your map positioning. Your first case, purchasing an upgrade is borderline, but always a macro action - it can be made more macro by streamlining the access to information through hotkeys, so that I can tie other actions to it and send an army across the map to arrive at the enemy position just in time for the upgrade to be finished, for instance. Your second case is always a micro action that you prepared for with macro - the nuke is being targeted, so position matters immensely, but you had to do everything up until that point as macro to be able to get the nuke... Basically, the difference between micro and macro is a continuum of eventual outcomes, not a measure of which type of interface an action is performed through.

    @BlackShipsFilltheSky @Tuism: I feel that modern RTS games have seriously reduced the dexterity gate issue, often despite "hardcore" fans screaming and shouting about it. The lack of unit selection limits, intelligent spellcasting, building hotkeying and rallying, etc. The new SC2 expansion even starts mining FOR you when the game starts, no more homage to the "perfect split" bullshit. People like to feel that their "hard earned" skills in a particular game are worthy of protection and elevation, while in reality they were often just technical limitations at the time. Ever tried to go back and play Warcraft 1? 4 units selected at a time! Hit m to move! Ack.

    I've always wondered about what an RTS would feel like if we removed the time-axis compression of actions and things that could be optimised by players, see if there's still a space that you can have something that feels like an RTS (instead of a TBS or civ game, which are both still valid, just different to play) that moved as quickly and fluidly as a fighting game. The best setting for something like that seems to be hardcore space combat, stuff with actual trajectories and mass and setup time for attacks. Ironically, removing the hecticness of trying to hit massive APM spikes seems to result in a game that plays slower, kinda, but ends faster... At least, that's sort of where I'm headed with this sort of idea.

    Thanks for suggesting Majesty, I was going to bring it up otherwise :) In the end, RTS is that feeling of being overwhelmed under the weight of actions that you need to perform. At least, until those actions meld together and become second nature, at which point the RT part becomes like an instrument you're playing and the S is your unique music. Just like there are different instruments out there, there are different kinds of tune for people to play. I think that's pretty rad, because it means we get crazy shit like Achron!

    That said, I think Uber Entertainment has some interesting work ahead of them. I kinda worry that they're setting themselves up for massive player disappointment, because the expectations between players vary so wildly - many aren't even possible or are diametrically opposed in terms of mechanics. But hey, they did some cool shit with Monday Night Combat, so I'm keen to see what they produce.
  • @dislekcia

    No worries, I wasnt getting defensive, I just dont agree that "there's no need to establish new positions on the map", as you put it. It makes both games sound extremely unexciting, but in my experience, thats not the case. I hardly played TA, I enjoy SupCom but single player only. I mean, both games have their faults - I stopped playing SupCom originally because it felt like work.

    Anyway, I think my point is that I disagree with the assertion that in TA/SupCom, there is little need to expand, but, agree with the assertion that deadlock is more likely to occur in an unlimited resources game, whichever game that is. Or at least, if it occurs in a limited resources game, it wont last as long, because somebody is going to run out of money.

    I would define anything that requires a particular unit as micro, no matter how you access it. Micro would pertain to one unit or a group or units, macro, something larger than that. Hence menu = macro, unit upgrade from a building - micro.
  • @Ancalagon: I'm afraid I have to disagree entirely with your menu/unit distinction between macro and micro. Both words already have existing definitions that have nothing to do with menus and more with scale. Hence macro being about long-term, whole game impacting proactive actions and micro being the right-now reactive actions.

    If you want to get really technical in RTS terms, macro is the production of more leverage over time, whilst micro is the preservation and best use of current leverage. Macro is deciding when to expand based on what you see your opponent doing, micro is preventing the sniping off of the worker unit sent out to expand when you see movement on the minimap. Macro is building units as efficiently as possible and not having a huge store of excess resources, micro is spreading incoming damage over available units to maximise damage output in games where units don't degrade relative to health. Having to involve a particular game's interface doesn't help frame a concept or discussion in new ways, as far as I can see, so why bother with the distinction?
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    @Tuism Sorry. I used "hardcore" in a ill defined way. I meant that group of gamers that consume a lot of AAA games and gravitate towards challenging and violent games and put a lot of emphasis on immersion.

    "Hardcore" was probably totally the wrong word. I don't know, maybe "mainstream console/PC gamers"? Anyway I think my point was that the demographic that plays AAA RTS games aren't typically "casual" gamers. And then that's just another ill defined word. But essentially all I'm saying is that one of the core tenets of casual game design is that the control system should be simple and powerful... and Starcraft style RTS's have complicated and inefficient controls (but this is okay, or even preferable, for the demographic that plays these games). Near one end of the spectrum of possible RTS games you have Starcraft and near the other end you have Majesty, and TA is somewhere in between, probably closer to Starcraft. I'm certainly not trying to suggest you're a "casual" gamer or a "hardcore" gamer based on whether you like Starcraft :)

    ^ If you can make sense of any of that. I think I'm failing at communicating today.

    @Dislekcia I did first bring up the increased possibility of the TA / Supreme Commander system to become deadlocked and the increased effectiveness of turtling. I totally agree that with infinite resources come problems that should be solved and so far haven't been solved (and maybe even cannot be solved).

    But to be accurate. Skilled TA play is just as much about expanding rapidly and harassing outward positions (which obviously dramatically decreases the possibility of deadlocks). And, while unskilled TA play can result in epic deadlocks with hardware stressing armies, unskilled Starcraft play can result in prolonged wars of attrition (which is perhaps a quicker outcome, but is possibly more unpleasant).

    Also I do know that Starcraft 2 made some controls easier (like being finally, and belatedly, able to select units properly). But Starcraft 2 has a lot of artificial dexterity gates (new ones and old ones) that have nothing to do with hardware constraints (the original selecting only twelve units wasn't a hardware constraint either. Total Annihilation is older than Starcraft).

    "In the end, RTS is that feeling of being overwhelmed under the weight of actions that you need to perform"

    Starcraft certainly feels that way :)

    But personally I love RTS's because I can command massive armies in realtime. I do like making lots of decisions, I LOVE decisions, but I don't like having to perform lots of unnecessary actions per decision. I suppose I've made that abundantly clear now o_O

    Different strokes obviously.

    Also, it seems you're defining "Macro" and "Micro" in very Starcraft-centric ways. Almost like you're replacing the words "Strategic" and "Tactical". Which doesn't seem that useful a definition of those terms. If I'm understanding? Surely "Macro" and "Micro" refer to degrees of control? (like in the original business sense from where these terms come &

    The Micromanagement in Gameplay article mentions this distinction between Starcraft and Total Annihilation. Interesting that this is such a common debate.

    Basically this is what I like in RTS's I freaking love designing systems in the games I play, that and blowing up enemies.
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    @BlackShipsFilltheSky: I've actually had loads of debates about this over the years, so my leverage-based definition is the least game-centric definition those discussions have been able to produce. The concept of leverage is defined as in-game advantages, which you're essentially trying to collect over time against your opponent. We used to decompose things further into current force, projected force and the change in both over time. This sort of structure allowed conversation between TA and SC players without silly "my game's better" comparisons.

    Essentially, I care about useful definitions and distinctions. I mean, sure, we can talk about the difference between strategy and tactics, heck, I can even start talking about the two in real-life situations as relates to things like self defence. But again, I care about usefulness of concept: What does seeing these things a particular way allow me to think about, frame or conceptualise differently? With the leverage-based definition of micro/macro, I can look at any particular game structure with a player-attention resource and make useful calls on how to play it better, possible problem areas, etc.

    Even a game like Majesty has micro and macro - you can spend money on individual spells to keep specific heros alive and thus maximise current leverage, or you can spend the same money on upgrading your blacksmith so that future heros have the potential for better survivability and thus hope to collect future leverage. It's the balance and finesse at doing both that seems to be what keeps people playing.

    This is something that always pops up in RTS discussion, but oddly enough wasn't important to my primary point: Which is that the RT aspect of RTS games produces an enormous possible space of player actions at any given moment, a good RTS game needs to have a large number of those actions be "optimal" in different ways. This means that players are always going to be butting up against their in-game attention limit as they play. I'm not talking about specific instances of "not being able to build infinite workers with 1 click" or something, because that's a false economy: As long as there is leverage to be gained through refinement of an action, players with more attention management will refine it. A different economy model produces different sorts of refinement action, that's all.

    That said, I'm interested to hear what you're talking about as dexterity gates in SC2, I'm pretty certain those things come out of the game's economic model of spending resources up-front.
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    Honestly I'm not too sure of all the semantics you're using. You don't seem to be using words in the way I understand them. I feel like you have a custom set of jargon that I've never heard before.

    "the difference between macro and micro is rather "is this a long term action that rewards later" (like building more production facilities, units and upgrades) or "is this a short term action responding to immediate situational requirements"

    I would call an action that has a long term result a strategic action and an action that is an immediate response a tactical action. Or maybe an action with a tactical or strategic benefit. Or simply actions with short or long term consequences. "Micro" and "Macro" mean pretty much what Wikipedia says for me.

    Are the things I'm saying not making any sense? It's weird having a debate over semantics... I feel like this is pretty normal design stuff we're discussing.

    About dexterity gates. For example the zerg queen in SC2. To play zerg you have to keep on manually runing shortcuts that cause the queen to spawn more lava. To play well you have to minimize the time this takes you and time it perfectly. The more bases you have the more difficult this becomes.

    There is no need for this system to work like this. There can still be a cost to rate of spawning extra lava against transfusing structures or creating creep tumors without all the clicks. But in SC2 there is no way to queue an action that you cannot afford yet. And there is no way to do this action (which you have to do regularly in every game you play as Zerg) in one or two button presses each time either (it can be done in one button press and a minimap click per queen but you have to be accurate).

    Deciding to spawn lava at an optimal rate is a pretty trivial decision. Yet its really hard to do in Starcraft. There is no strategic benefit to the difficulty of this design, it is a dexterity gate. Systems like this are there on purpose to provide levels of mastery in the interface of the game that benefit competitive play.

    Like you suggest. The Starcraft economic model produces dexterity gates. I'm going a bit further and suggesting that Blizzard don't seek to alleviate this but instead cultivate it.
  • @BlackShipsFilltheSky: I don't know if I'm using private definitions - I've tried to make them quite transparent when I write about them. I also use these terms regularly in interactions with other people, especially people who I play RTS games with. In the end, if you call something strategic and I'm calling it macro, it doesn't really matter - unless either of us feels that the particular label is better used elsewhere in the same discussion. Personally, I tend to use strategy as a label to talk about long-term goals and emergent results from lots of tactical decisions, which is why I wasn't using it to define "macro".

    I agree with the queen dexterity gate thing, each race has something similar as a mechanic that increases cognitive load (having to remember to do that thing) but interestingly can be used in multiple ways. Terran have the choice between dropping mules and comsat, Protoss have chronoboost that they have to spend efficiently. I agree that the option to have queens auto-cast spawn larvae would be more usable, as would auto-casting mules and setting specific buildings or upgrades to be continuously chronoboosted in sequence. I'm sure ways could be found to still allow the interesting tactical decisions that those systems currently allow for: You wouldn't be able to drop mules to repair mech units out in the field if you never had energy to do so because your CCs were constantly auto-muling your resource lines, for instance. But that's stuff that can be worked around.

    I've always wanted a heat-map of where resources were being spent in spend-as-you-build economy model games - that would make dealing with production management a whole lot less tedious for me ;)
  • Spend-as-you-build economy model games being ones that use resources continuously while building or operating? As apposed to spend-then-build economy models?

    The differing resource consumptions and productions could certainly be better telegraphed. Learning them requires a fair bit of mastery. Though I like learning systems (and the differing resource productions/consumptions are kind of intuitive for me now).

    It's pretty obvious by now, but the thing that excites me about RTS design is player designed systems. I even prototyped an attempt: Though it's a super simplistic attempt. I'd love to try again.

  • @BlackShipsFilltheSky: Combine SpaceChem and RTS, GOGOGOGOGO!
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    Yes! Yes! Yes! After the next two other game ideas I have in my queue. (One is about the pitfalls of homing missile worship and its effect on societies of the future).
  • I'm quite stoked that PA got to $2 million. I gave them (or pledged at least) $40 for 2 digital copies of the completed game. I'll give one to a friend.

    That being said, a music producer mentioned that we would likely not be able to tell the difference between a digitally arranged score, and an orchestral score. So part of me actually thinks they should spend the money on more development and playtesting time, rather than a soundtrack.

    That being said, would they have got to $2million without the soundtrack being a goal? Probably not. It might result in a win-win situation compared to a digitally arranged soundtrack.
  • I was reading about the orchestral stuff, and there's this line: "Also, Howard says he will add +Sing to the game if we can reach this goal!"

    What does +Sing mean?
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    I don't think the orchestral recording makes that much difference. Not to a casual consumer. But it still excites me (good music in games is like porn for me).

    Remember the Total Annihilation soundtrack was composed by freakin Jeremy Soule. There's precedent for mind-blowingly awesome music in this sub-genre of RTS.

    I've pitched in $40 as well.
  • I never liked TA's music anyway, so the 2mil tier didn't matter too much for me. I was hoping they would get to 1.8 though. That was the important one (and metal planets!).

    Glad it has succeeded so well though. Too few games went down the TA path of RTS gameplay :)
  • I'm fairly excited about this game. I've wanted this since TA.
    Heh, maybe I'll now be able to put my own RTS ideas to rest, knowing someone has made a proper advancement on TA. (I wish! More likely it'll just be more meddlesome inspiration)
    It's a bit depressing that the industry is in a state where it has taken so long for something like this to appear, but it is also very exciting to see new possibilities opening up with things like KickStarter and other more liberating business models.

    It will be interesting to see how this game actually plays in the end.
    I really would like it if strategy games were more about strategy and less about command-per-minute rates. The most awesome games, to me, would be where the player's imagination and ideas are what make the difference, not just controller input and following the one 'correct' strategy.
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    I loved how TA didn't have all that artificial balancing that Starcraft-likes have.

    Where one unit arbitrarily counters some other unit which arbitrarily counters a different one (due to resistances and damage bonuses against types). Some counters in Starcraft seemed elegant (like marines sucking against Ultralisks) but others seem silly and had to be memorized (like marauders do extra damage to roaches but not to hydralisks, and corruptors can hover above ground units, can spit at buildings, but cannot fire down).

    I loved how in TA units could actually fire and miss. Missiles could hit friendlies even! Movement speed and movement direction was so much more relevant to strategy/tactics. Sometimes a long range siege weapon would fire and hilariously improbably hit an enemy aircraft and destroy it. Things behaved kind of like you'd expect them to. There were far fewer rules and the emergent play managed to be just as complicated (if not more complicated) than its contemporaries.

    I loved how there were no choke points built into the levels (obviously choke points wouldn't have worked in the more defensive TA). So battles happened far more organically. Many maps allowed enemies to travel round and attack from any angle meaning covert harassment and surprise attacks had more possibilities. (Although frankly most of the TA multiplayer maps were quite horribly designed and the single player maps were pretty linear.)

    There's lots of good strategies in Starcraft, it's a very complicated game obviously. But so many of those strategies have been designed in, so they feel like you're following "the one correct strategy", as you say @DarkCarnivour.

    It is pretty weird/depressing that all we taken from Total Annihilation in Starcraft-likes is the ability to queue orders (if primitively) and the decent selection system. TA style RTS's really do seem to me to be a very fresh, but frankly very challenging, design space (because emergent behaviour is much trickier to design and vastly trickier to balance than guided behaviour).

    Mostly what I miss about TA is that I could set up a massive plan to unfold in my base and leave it and focus solely on the combat for a while. I actually got to do kiting and stuff in TA. Which isn't anything to do with superior strategy options but just about having controls that alleviate the click-per-minute burden.

    I loved that units would autofire in TA. I didn't have to tell them to (unless I wanted a specific unit killed). They could all move and fire like actual vehicles can instead of the retarded stop starting that happens in Starcraft. It made me feel bad-ass to be actually able to coordinate my forces instead of them spazzing out or happily running past enemies letting themselves be killed. I felt much more like I was fighting my opponent and much less like I was fighting the interface.

    Although there are some things I hope Planetary Annihilation do better than TA (though don't really think they will):

    a) The TA story was kind of pants. It was told horribly in massive sheets of text if I recall correctly. It was narrated well, but, so what.
    b) The two sides were pretty close to symmetrical. I know it's much harder to balance a game like TA than a game like Starcraft, but I do love that Starcraft has 3 distinct sides to choose from. I'd love even more sides.
    c) The games could go on way too long in multiplayer. I'd like for the damage output to escalate faster and for the level design to avoid overly benefiting porcing (too many TA maps were very porc friendly).
    d) Even though TA was advanced in its 3D graphics it did look kind of shitty. In terms of graphics, Planetary Annihilation just has to not look shitty and I'll feel its $40 well spent.
  • Speaking of variety in sides, balancing, etc, what did you guys think of Age of Empires? Personally another one I hated to play but I remember it had a super cult following too.
  • @BlackShipsFillTheSky

    PA will only have one faction unless plans change, for the precise reason you mentioned - they were symmetrical with only minor differences. If it means adding more units, I think I'm quite okay with it. I want missile bots and missile tanks, artillery bots and artillery tanks, hover tanks, amphibious robots, assault bots, siege tanks, rapid fire tanks, light scouts, armed scouts, cloaking sniper bots, etc etc. More is better!

    It also wont have a story, and the campaign will be Risk-like - click here to attack Area A.
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    Sad about the story. Although I'd rather have no story than a weak story. I played a hell of a lot of Dawn of War: Dark Crusade. And Dune 2 of course. Which both had Risk style campaigns.

    And missile bots sound REALLY sweet.

    @Tuism I'm not a big fan of Age of Empire style games. Far less so than Starcraft style games.

    I felt that those games (Empire Earth etc) tried to combine the best of Civilization and Warcraft (the grand scale and strategy and the interesting consequences to choices over the course of the game from Civilization, and the furious combat of Warcraft), which is a noble goal. But I feel that they ended up combining the worst of their influences. They're basically Warcraft with many times the amount of going back to base and upgrading stuff, with an actual rock paper scissors level of combat tactics, with a essentially linear upgrade progression, at a far slower pace than Warcraft and with the worst population capping of any of their contemporaries.

    I did enjoy them for a while (I like RTS's). I did find the possibility of attacking a bronze age enemy with my howitzers appealing (though that rarely happened). But once I knew the rules I lost interest in them.

    I have not played any Age of Empires after 2. So I can't speak for the recent games.

    @Tuism I'm curious. What RTS's have you enjoyed? (if any? and why)

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    Well to be honest I did enjoy Starcraft 1 - mostly I think becaues I had people to play with (those were the 10 mates lugging their boxes and playing all over the living room on the floor or anywhere you can days) and learned the game together.

    Homeworld. That was a mindfuck. Enjoyed it initially cos it was such a fresh take on it all, but then it got WAY too overwhelming.

    If I had to analyse myself, I don't enjoy the real-time pressure of dividing my attention and dropping balls cos a certain formula needed to be followed. I want a game that asks for my attention and not laugh at me when I forget things. Assassin's Creed Recollection the REAL TIME card game is great, I love it cos I most likely won't forget that I haven't upgraded this thing in that corner that wasn't shown to me, you know?

    DOTA. I enjoyed that thoroughly even if all could remember was how to make a Perseverance :P And while that's technically not an RTS, I think that an RTS based on that model would be good - having a focus instead of upgrading this and that and the other and building this that and that and oops I forgot to click that now I'm behind 10 minutes oh no...

    No I haven't played DOTA2 yet, I'll get into it too sometime, I guess.
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    @Tuism: You should see if you can find a copy of Sacrifice somewhere. Really smart third person perspective RTS in which you play a single hero, summon units and learn spells. You had to harvest the souls of creatures and capture mana-producing buildings as your resources.

    5 factions, each a representation of a specific deity, although in the (excellent) single player you could choose which god you worked for each level, meaning you'd have a custom progression of god units and abilities. So far ahead of its time it wasn't funny... Shiny knew this and built the game with tech that would make it use more polys if your machine could handle it :D Spells were hugely impressive, some creating volcanos or carving away the terrain... Bovine Intervention (earth spell) dropped a fucking cow (with a halo) from the heavens onto a target unit.

    And the kicker? Stratos, god of air, was a continuously popping balloon with a smiley face drawn on it, voiced by Tim Curry!

    P.S. Also, AirMech. Remake of the game that started it all, Herzog Zwei. Pilot a single ship around, pick up units and drop them off to fight off enemy units and/or capture production buildings around the map. Transform into a mech and fight yourself.
  • Oh I remember that - I did play it a long time ago, at that time we weren't playing as much anymore so it kinda came and went. Giants was also like this, I played that a bit.

    I was actually trying to remember these two titles while scouring my memory for RTS I enjoyed :)

    What happened to Shiny...? MDK was like Unreal before Unreal was Unreal :)
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    Kickstarter released some new guidelines for kick starting projects:

    Amongst the new guidelines is this:
    New Hardware and Product Design Project Guidelines

    The development of new products can be especially complex for creators and seductive to backers. Today we’re adding additional guidelines for Hardware and Product Design projects.

    New Hardware and Product Design Project Guidelines

    The development of new products can be especially complex for creators and seductive to backers. Today we’re adding additional guidelines for Hardware and Product Design projects.

    They are:
    -Product simulations are prohibited. Projects cannot simulate events to demonstrate what a product might do in the future. Products can only be shown performing actions that they’re able to perform in their current state of development.
    -Product renderings are prohibited. Product images must be photos of the prototype as it currently exists.
    I might be misunderstanding, but I think these new guidelines don't prohibit what the Planetary Annihilation team did for their promotion. My understanding is that the promotion of Planetary Annihilation showed a simulation of what their product would do rather than showing what their product was actually able to do in Planetary Annihilation's current state of development. But it seems like these guidelines only apply to hardware products... although it is a bit ambiguous?

    I gave Planetary Annihilation some money... But frankly I'm very skeptical about whether they can actually pull it off and I really don't like that they were able to be given so much money for a 3D animation without having to seriously prove themselves (beyond saying "Hey I've worked on strategy games in the past, take my word for it, we're capable to excelling in a genre of game that is arguably the most difficult to develop").

    I think it is doesn't require much in the way of game development skills to produce a really impressive 3D animation and idea sheet of the game you want to make. It is certainly far far easier than showing existing development. Maybe I don't like this happening because I actually have game development skills and so I see showing off a simulation as cheating. But I don't think the pitch by the Planetary Annihilation team, or many other Kickstarter game projects, are nearly transparent enough to give supporters a fair idea of what the team is actually capable of.

    If simulations of game products are not prohibited on Kickstarter the cynic in me is very tempted to exploit this in the future. It seems foolish to follow open development strictly when this is the alternative. (That last bit was a bit of a rant I know)
  • Without any empirical data of whether the current spate of kick starter game projects are going to fruit as they promised, or whether theyll run aground and disappoint a lot of people, it's kinda hard to talk about this.

    Mostly cos this kickstarter x games phenomenon is really pretty new, most of the successfully started projects hasn't had to deliver yet.

    Whether this turns into another intranet bubble of the 90s that will end unhappy, or a bunch of happy obscure games and gamers.... We shall have to see...
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    True. It was definitely premature of me to have suggested this.

    I believe Kickstarter updated its guidelines in response to physical products that were crowd-funded failing to deliver. This hasn't actually happened with the successfully crowd-funded games yet.

    I suppose my concern derives from looking at the system and seeing that over-promising-through-animation-trickery and concept art to backers is possible. And because Kickstarter developers are effectively competing against each other for backer money, this means that over-promising-through-animation-trickery and concept art is effectively encouraged (<- and that's the part that irks me).

    I'd like for everyone to be kept honest. Of course this approach would benefit me. So I'm not saying this wholly out of some noble cause. I've seen a lot of pie in the sky projects fail without Kickstarter funding. I don't think having Kickstarter funding makes them that much more likely to produce something good, just able to spend more time producing something bad.

    (But I'm certainly not against Kickstarter funding... just games that are just ideas by teams that have too little experience that get funding)

    I suspect there won't be that many vapourware games projects... just mediocre ones that disappoint and which would not have received funding on the strength of their team's development skills.

    Maybe when the data is available Kickstarter will do something about it. Though a bad game is much harder to evaluate than a physical product that has a stated purpose.
  • Well I don't disagree with you, I do feel that a team could lure the heck out of its audience with animations and other trickery, and that is a danger that could befall kickstarter projects.

    I don't really follow it all that closely but I haven't heard of a significant kickstarter project fail yet, maybe it won't happen, maybe it will still. But at proof will come out and maybe the bubble will burst, and people start to see that kickstarting are potential gambles and not sure fire affairs.

    So maybe as devs it's best to try and get on this high before the bubble bursts, and + points if you can actually deliver. of course that's not a good attitude to have, hopefully it'll prove itself in time.
  • There have been some physical product disappointments from Kickstarter.

    I do think the Kickstarter system is much more likely to produce good results than approaching publishers or even finding the money oneself and then working in secret.

    The very fact that backers are interested in the project and eager to give feedback makes developing with the Kickstarter system more likely (than work in secret) to produce good results.
  • That is absolutely true, and hopefully that doesnt drive a culture of over eager and gullible backers... And malicious kickstarters. The chances aren't high, but a single major ponzi scheme is enough to fuck everyone over.
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