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#1 Mythos_Ruler

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 08:15 PM

Right now the game has a pretty standard combat system. Units have one or more types of attacks (hack, pierce, crush) and one or more types of armour (Hack, Pierce, Crush), and Health (or Hitpoints). Like most RTSs, units simply hack away at each other, with a simple combat formula of Attack Type value vs. Armour type values that slowly drains health. In a way this is very intuitive, but it's also extremely unrealistic.

What I propose is a system similar to the Total War games that uses a "dice roll" and a complex formula for each unit attack. First, I will give an example of the types of stats a unit will have. These stats are much different than the current system and function differently, but once you start to understand how it works they will seem very straight forward and intuitive.


ATTACK


  • Attack.Skill -- Dictated by Unit Type and Level (Basic, Advanced, Elite).
  • Attack.Melee -- This generally comes from Weapon-type.
  • Attack.Melee.Charge -- This generally comes from Weapon-Type and Unit-Type.
  • Attack.Missile -- This only comes with ranged weapons.
  • Attack.Bonus -- This is an additive bonus to Attack.Melee(.Charge) and Attack.Missile stats against the Unit Types listed.

Now, the actual attack of a unit is a combination of the above.

  • Melee Attack = Attack.Skill+Attack.Melee
  • Melee Attack vs. bonused unit = Attack.Skill+Attack.Melee+Attack.Bonus
  • Missile Attack = Attack.Skill+Attack.Missile
  • Missile Attack vs. bonused unit = Attack.Skill+Attack.Missile+Attack.Bonus
  • Charge Attack = Attack.Skill+Attack.Melee.Charge
  • Charge Attack vs. bonused unit = Attack.Skill+Attack.Melee.Charge+Attack.Bonus

DEFENSE



  • Life Points -- This is generally a low number, like 1. Most units only get 1 LP, while Super Units may get 2 or 3. Heroes get 5.
  • Defense.Skill -- Dictated by Unit Type and Level (Basic, Advanced, Elite).
  • Defense.Armor -- Denotes body armor and helmets.
  • Defense.Shield -- Denotes size and type of shield device.

Now, these Defense values are weighted differently during an attack calculation, based upon different circumstances.

Melee attack from the front

  • Defense.Skill -- 100% (The unit receives 100% of the value)
  • Defense.Armor -- 100%
  • Defense.Shield -- 100%

Melee attack from the flanks

  • Defense.Skill -- 50%
  • Defense.Armor -- 100%
  • Defense.Shield -- 50%

Melee attack from the rear

  • Defense.Skill -- 0%
  • Defense.Armor -- 100%
  • Defense.Shield -- 0%

Missile attack from the front

  • Defense.Skill -- 0%
  • Defense.Armor -- 100%
  • Defense.Shield -- 100%

Missile attack from the left flank

  • Defense.Skill -- 0%
  • Defense.Armor -- 100%
  • Defense.Shield -- 75%

Missile attack from the right flank

  • Defense.Skill -- 0%
  • Defense.Armor -- 100%
  • Defense.Shield -- 25%

Missile attack from the rear

  • Defense.Skill -- 0%
  • Defense.Armor -- 100%
  • Defense.Shield -- 0%

All that pretty much makes sense, right?

CALCULATION



Now, here comes the complex part: The actual combat formula. Unfortunately, I'm not very good at complex math, so bear with me. What happens is that when two units are attacking each other we add a "dice roll" or number randomization for each strike. Dividing the attack and defense values (the attack of the striking unit and the defense of the defending unit), plus using a function that modulates the number to keep it between the highest and lowest possible dice rolls, gives us a threshold over which this dice roll must come out to in order register a "hit" and take away the enemy unit's Life Point. A defending unit with higher defense values will be less likely to die from a strike and an attacking unit has a higher chance of taking a way the enemy's Life Point if they have higher attack values. I'm not a very good mathematician, so we'd need someone to come up with a good formula for this mysterious "function" that always keeps the defense and attack quotient between the highest and lowest possible dice rolls (let's say between 1 and 10 or 1 and 100).

Anyway, so you can see how we can add randomization to the combat, but with Life Points we can keep valuable units from succumbing to just one random hit. With most standard units (Citizen-Soldiers) they will have 1 Life Point, so they will be more subject to the whims of fate. With Super Units and Heroes we add additional Life Points so that a Hit hurts them, but they have a little more staying power.
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#2 Ykkrosh

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 10:14 PM

Hmm, interesting suggestion. In terms of details, I think it's probably useful to approach it from the other direction: What is the desired behaviour of battles?

Considering the simplest case of two identical units fighting each other, under the current system the fight will always take (for example) 10 seconds and the unit that initiated the attack will win but have 1HP left. If it's 2v1, it'll take 5 seconds and the 2 will win and one will have full HP while the other still has half HP, so you're significantly better off (especially if you have healers). The consequence is that you win by micromanaging all your units to focus on a single enemy at a time (because the sooner you kill an enemy, the sooner you'll reduce their total damage-per-second and shift the balance in your favour), and by withdrawing heavily injured units. If two players micromanage equally then whoever has most units wins and the outcome is entirely predictable.

I think your suggestion makes a fundamental change: there is very little value (actually negative value) in focusing all attacks on a single enemy. (Warning: maths ahead). Say each unit rolls the dice once per second, and there's a 10% chance of killing the enemy each time. If two units target separate enemies, there's a 1% chance of both getting a kill, 81% chance of both missing, and 18% chance of getting exactly one kill, so you'll get an average of 20% of an enemy casualty per second. If two units target the same enemy, there's a 1% chance of both killing that enemy simultaneously (so one of their kills is wasted), 81% both missing, 18% one hitting, so you'll average 19% of an enemy casualty per second.

Similarly, with 10 units attacking different enemies you'd get an average 100% of a casualty per second; with 10 attacking the same enemy you'd get 65%. So it's better to attack more enemy units at once (the opposite of the current system), but it doesn't make such a huge difference anyway. Since standard units can't be in a partially-injured state, you can't withdraw them from battle to heal. So it seems this would greatly reduce the effect of micromanagement on combat. Is that a goal or an antigoal?

It may be useful to compare graphs of the probability that a unit kills its target after a given time, in a 1v1 battle. In the current system there's 0% chance of killing it before (for example) 10 seconds, and 100% after 10 seconds, so you get a shape like this. With a system where there's a 10% chance per second of killing it, you get a shape somewhat like this: there's a 65% chance of killing before 10 seconds, 88% before 20 seconds, 96% before 30 seconds, 99.8% before 60 seconds, etc. (In theory they could carry on forever). It's a far more gradual curve than the 10-second-step, so the length and result of the battle is far more unpredictable.

But in larger battles, the randomness gets averaged out. In 10v10, every second there's a 35% chance of killing nothing, 39% of killing 1 unit, 19% of killing 2, 6% of killing 3, so there's quite a bit of variation. In 100v100, there's a 90% chance of killing somewhere between 5 and 15 - the variation is much lower. Total War games presumably have large numbers of units (does its dice-rolling match the number of graphical units, or is it an independent number?) so most of the randomness gets averaged out and the battles tend to go the way you expect. The danger of using the same system with a much smaller number of units is that the outcome depends much more heavily on fate-whims, and players will be unhappy if the game feels totally unpredictable and uncontrollable.

Increasing each unit's Life Points is a lot like increasing the total number of units: the randomness will get averaged out. The extreme case is when a unit has maybe 100LP, i.e. exactly like our current system of hitpoints, where there's basically no randomness left. Similarly, increasing the rate of attacks (say a 1% chance of killing the target every 0.1 seconds, vs 10% every 1 second, vs 100% every 10 seconds) will reduce the random variation.

So I think the critical questions are: How many units do we want in battles, and how much randomness do we want? If I put up 5 units against 10 equivalent enemy units, is it acceptable if I have a 30% chance of winning, or a 2% chance of winning, or what? If I put 50 up against 100, what chances are acceptable?

If we have answers to that, then we could calculate whether giving every unit 1LP would be acceptable, or if giving them all 2LP or 10LP etc would be much closer to the desired behaviour. I think the maths is a fairly straightforward use of statistics - the important thing is work out the game design first (to a rough level - details can be tweaked later), and then we can design the computations to implement that. How much combat micromanagement do we want to be possible, and how big do we want battles to be, and how random should they be?
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#3 feneur

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 10:22 PM

It's an interesting idea, and it might help to differentiate 0 A.D. compared to other games, but I think we have to consider carefully whether this is adding complexity for its own sake or if it improves the game, most importantly if it makes it more fun.

A couple of questions:
Does the game currently support units having a direction?
Does it support attacks coming from a direction?
If directions aren't supported, how hard would it be to implement them?

One of the reasons for the current design is so that things wouldn't be too random, therefore I'm curious as to what benefits this method would have in gameplay terms? Apart from perhaps being more realistic, does it make the game better/funnier? Adding randomness might make the game realistic, but what would you say is the benefit to the player?

A combination of those questions: to me it seems a bit tedious for the player to do something about it, I mean it makes sense for a player to micromanage a formation so that it faces a certain direction, but individual units?

Are you saying we should do away with hitpoints altogether? I.e. most attacks will not actually do any damage, but it only takes 1-5 successful hits to take out a unit?
Also, if we change to your system, how do you suggest we do with siege weapons?

All-in-all, an interesting idea, but I want more info before I can make up my mind about what I think about it :)
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#4 Mythos_Ruler

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 11:11 PM

To address Erik's concerns first, directional considerations are already important to our game, or else why use formations and flanking and all those other things we want? :) So, yes, I think sometime we need some way of determining the directions of attacks, because we want those flanking bonuses and such. We really haven't talked about things like this for a long time, mostly because it has taken this long for the game to reach such a state to where we can actually talk about these things with consequence.

I don't look at it as adding complexity for its own sake. I look at it as 1.) differentiation, 2.) realism, both visual and tactical, 3.) adding that minor bit of randomization and chaos (electrolytes) that plants crave. Personally, I don't like how it's just a matter of draining down Health points. It doesn't feel real to me and I think something like this adds immersion to the battles.

Philip's right, in that such a system probably works better with larger battles (as with Total War games), but I also think it works well for smaller battles, skirmishes, and even RPG aspects when you actually have to worry a little bit about your hero being negatively affected by randomness. You have to be more judicial how you use your individual units if there is a possibility of them dying from one arrow or one strike. I think it adds a small element of fear/excitement that a simple subtraction game (the current system) lacks. In the current system your hero in an RPG scenario could hack through one enemy unit after another, while being healed by a priest, which seems weird to me! In my system there's the (very small) possibility, depending upon how the stats shake out, of the Hero getting struck down by a heroic squire fresh out of the fields. I like this.

I also like how the stats make a little more real-world sense. A defense.shield stat makes more sense to me than an abstract armor.piece and armor.hack. I like that authenticity. It's cool to say these Spartans have a "Large Metal Shield" which gives them (and all other units with this shield type) X Defense.Shield, than just an abstract "25 Pierce Armour."

I know this would be a huge change from the current system, but I think it's worth examining.
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#5 Ykkrosh

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 01:25 AM

About the attack/defense stats: In theory, we could just make a giant table of every unit type vs every other unit type, with two numbers in each cell giving the frequency of attacks and the probability of reducing LP on each attack. Any system of skills, shields, bonuses, etc, is just a shortcut for defining that table, to make it easier for us to design and easier for the player to understand the relationships between units - I think that's an independent issue and less fundamental, gameplay-wise, than the concept of making randomness significant and the consequences that the statistics will have on how players micromanage units and perceive risk.

About directions: Currently units do have directions but they can turn instantly - you can only hit them from behind once before they'll turn to face their attacker. We can't get rid of instant turning, because it would make pathfinding way too complex (since units would move in curves instead of straight lines). But we could do things like calculate a flanking bonus that is triggered when attacking from a certain direction and then remains for 5 seconds (maybe decaying down to 0% bonus over that time) so it's more persistent. Also we could reduce the value of direction-micromanagement by calculating how recently the unit turned to face its attacker (if it turned 0.5 seconds before the attack then it reduces the flanking bonus by 25%; if 1 second before then reduce by 50%; if 2 seconds before then no flanking bonus at all; so you don't gain anything by rushing to turn all your units a millisecond before they're attacked). Alternatively, if we had rigid formations then we could calculate damage based on the position in the formation rather than based on the individual direction of each unit.
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#6 Wijitmaker

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 01:59 AM

I think hardcore players generally frown upon randomness. Though the degree of randomness could be controlled. Chance in the favor of the player can cause delight, and "bad luck" can cause frustration.

Due to the volume of units participating in a battle, the early game designers didn't think you would notice randomness. An instance when you would notice it is when you take your lone scout out into the wild and get screwed by a lucky hit from an enemy. We wanted to emphasis tactical advantage. I'm not sure if the game still has this, but there was intentions to weaken a unit's defense if it was attacked from the rear (being occupied attacking another unit - when 2 units are attacking a single entity). This would place an emphasis on real life tactic of flanking. The other tactic we wanted to use, was the advantage of high ground. This was useful on battlefields in both melee and missile combat.

So, in short, we felt that micromanaging position and terrain was adding enough degree of randomness that we didn't need to add anything further. If we continued to push the scales to the replicating "real life" the game would cease to be a game, becoming instead something more of a simulator (perhaps loosing the fun factor for a majority of players).

Randomness in games is interesting though, here is a good article on it: http://playthisthing...-blight-or-bane
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#7 WhiteTreePaladin

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 02:02 AM

Very interesting discussion. It could certainly change the feel of the game. Right now, a single unit attacking ten enemies of the same type would accomplish basically nothing. This system would give that unit a theoretical chance?

Would units have health bars? Perhaps just a number of stars or just a numeral above their heads? Or even texture states (different levels of weariness, fatigue, or injury)? These might all be possible since there wouldn't be that many points total (apparently 5). I know that texture states has been mentioned before, but that was just as a general state of the HP level, not an actual measurement of health.

Also, units probably wouldn't use that system against buildings, or else it might need some modifications.
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#8 Mythos_Ruler

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 05:17 AM

Would units have health bars?


I figured it could be like Starcraft, with the green blocks (or something similar).

I think hardcore players generally frown upon randomness.


Total War games have a hard core base. Yes, a scout could "get screwed" by a random arrow, but the same could be said about the scout running into a pack of wolves or something unintended like that.

And I think the "randomness" of this idea is kind of overplayed; the "randomness" evens out over time as Philip illustrated. The exciting parts to me personally are the stats.

Also, units probably wouldn't use that system against buildings, or else it might need some modifications.


Right. Since we want siege units to take down buildings we could just dispense with "armour" for buildings and just give them Siege Points that are ticked off with every strike of a ram or catapult stone.
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#9 Thorfinn the Shallow Minded

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 11:35 AM

If this is implemented, does it mean that there would possibly be blocking animations?

Edited by Thorfinn the Shallow Minded, 09 March 2011 - 11:38 AM.

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#10 Mythos_Ruler

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 04:20 PM

It would be possible, but since we don't have an animator currently it shouldn't be a consideration yet.
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#11 comp3820

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 09:53 PM

I can see how complete randomness like a single-hit loss could get really annoying, but a compromise might prove to be the best way. Giving units a random attack, ie ranging from 10 to 20 or something similar, might produce the same effect, but keep players from randomly losing scouts to a single arrow.

If you want to throw math into it, make the unit's attack a normal distribution centered around the nominal attack value, with most values near the center, and some further away that could cause considerably more (or less) damage.

There's a certain fascination (and realism) in watching a horde of arrows being fired at a single unit, and that unit still surviving. I think it was Stronghold that had this - most arrows seemed to miss, but some arrows hit and produced random effects on the unit. [completely unrelated -> an arrow-hit animation, or a unit pausing slightly when hit, but not killed, might be really cool]

Also, I think realism would actually go down with a one life point unit because it would remove any idea of a wounded, tired army struggling to finish the last goal of the campaign. There's nothing like a bunch of red bars hovering over your troops to keep you on the lookout for potential ambushes.
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#12 Alpha of the Eagles

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 08:12 AM

I'm not a developer, but I have some experience with modding Total War games like Rome and Medieval 2. While it is true that random kills could occur, it is also possible to guide this randomness. We usually give higher defence values to units that should live longer and citizens soldiers have smaller attack ratios. The result is that in a combat situation between professionals and levies, the professionals will suffer some casualties, but generally win the fight.
Now, in Total War, you don't control one soldier, but units of soldiers (formations), but the individual soldiers are still calculated. So that means, units will instantly turn to face attacks from flanks and rear, but these penalties to defense generally means that the enemy gains a critical first strike that severely lowers the amount of enemies. But the greatest threat is the morale penalties given by the game. A unit attacked from several sides is much more likely to rout, compared to one that's fighting an enemy head on, even if he's gradually losing.
Also, in Total War games, a unit with low attack values can defeat a statistically much stronger one. How? Attack speed. It also plays an important role. Ex: a levy spearman is able to deal two blows by the time a two-handed knight deals one. Both miss on the first strike, but on the second hit (while the knight is still in motion from first swing) the spearman manages to kill the knight (random luck). This will of course happen extremely rare, as knights with two-handed swords can hit multiple opponents (I imagine this won't be implemented :P ).
Given these factors, we manage to get battles that produce generally the same result when same units are pitted against each other in smaller format, but during large scale battles, tactics must be employed, not necessarily to annihilate the enemy, but to rout him. A timely cavalry-charge in the rear or flanks or the slaughter of his general to make his more fragile levies rout. Then the professionals get bogged down, and finally they will either fight to the death (if you have trapped them) or rout. Of course, due to different morale bonuses, it's much more difficult to rout Spartans than Hastati, but it's possible if you play your cards right.

On the subject of heroes: in Total War, generals have an amount of Hit Points that generally makes you have to kill them 5-8 times before they succumb. His bodyguards also have 2-3 HP. This makes them live longer.

I could go on and on in detail about the mechanics and details, but that wasn't my point. My point is that you can guide, if not control, the randomness by which death ratios are dealt. So basically, you can choose to trade away the classic way people play RTS (with the super-rushes people devises as time pass by) and get a slightly more realistic way of portraying combat. If the math is done right, it won't be completely random, just a little.



Also, the chances for making a kill resets after each attack is calculated. It isn't an ever-increasing possibility of kill/death. ;)
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#13 Salesome

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 10:56 PM

I've got a suggestion for simplifying the combat system and making it more transparent without any random effects. What do you think about it?

New Damage/armour calculation

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#14 LordLee

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 04:53 PM

Practically, How big can armies get in the game? Can the Engine/people's computers handle a larger scope?

That aside:
Ancient armies were centered around formation combat. The trouble with creating a game between 500 B.C. and A.D. 0 is that lots of military advancements occurred across cultures. Marius and Philip of Macedon are two notable reformers, but there were a variety of formations available to each nation besides the basic one. Most formations are also equipment specific, and something like sciltron wasn't used until a thousand years later when a tradition of cavalry was more widespread. Terrain/Geography governs the usefulness of Chariots/Horses.

Games nearly always go the "unit type" route simply for practicality. Obviously, involving terrain/Geography beyond a superficial level of high/low ground and river/forest becomes horribly impractical. Still it would be nice to see formations play a role on the same superficial level, where units actually held together (and to their standards) during a combat, and stragglers simply were wiped out. TW builds its game around tactics to the point where slowing or stopping the game becomes popular (managing archer ff, individual unit formations, "charge" versus "digging in" bonuses). IMO, 0AD should probably not emphasize these kinds of tactics. It's simply too much with so many unit types and so little time.

It would be nice to involve flanking, hitting two sides of a formation. Even something like a wedge formation versus a phalanx is quite complex, and The effectiveness would become limited without a "charge" bonus and against deeper ranks....it depends a lot on momentum and splitting a shield wall formation in half. If it doesn't the wedge is itself flanked. There are lots of other factors too which haven't begun to play a role, but I would encourage a somewhat superficial, yet more realistic formation system. Include formations, incorporate wedges, phalanxes, and testudo formations, but only have 2 or 3 different kinds for ALL the units. Formations and flanking can enrich combat, but also need more units. (Scouts should be a small formation, not a single unit).

That is why I asked how big the scope was, because practically formations require LOTS of units, and fundamentally revolutionizes combat. Maybe 0ad wants to do something like that, maybe this draws too much emphasis to combat arena. Its something worth thinking about.
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#15 Thorfinn the Shallow Minded

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 05:31 PM

The armies aren't anything incredible, but still pretty decent. The highest population you can reach is 300. (infantry cost 1 population slot, horsemen cost 2 slots, and chariots and elephants cost around 3. There will be an importance in formations in this game. Phalanxes, syntagmas, wedges, and skirmishes are some of the more unique formations that give bonuses, but you still have formations such as box, closed/open line formations, etc,... These have small bonuses too. For instance, the box gives additional defense against archery. Ambushes, charging, and many other cool kinds of tactics are to be included. Therefore, this game will have pretty decent tactical scale.
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#16 LordLee

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 06:35 PM

The armies aren't anything incredible, but still pretty decent. The highest population you can reach is 300. (infantry cost 1 population slot, horsemen cost 2 slots, and chariots and elephants cost around 3. There will be an importance in formations in this game. Phalanxes, syntagmas, wedges, and skirmishes are some of the more unique formations that give bonuses, but you still have formations such as box, closed/open line formations, etc,... These have small bonuses too. For instance, the box gives additional defense against archery. Ambushes, charging, and many other cool kinds of tactics are to be included. Therefore, this game will have pretty decent tactical scale.


I believe that the main resource in RTS is time, and in order to make formations important you have to make it worth the time to use it. I like having a variety of formations, but practically speaking, they get lost in rts games, because the time spent solving problems like this is better spent building an army to replace it that is twice its size. Ideally, everything in RTS can be reduced to a problem in time management.

In the best RTS games, if choice exists at all, there are basically 2 formations: Line and staggered. The rest is almost always extraneous. There is a good reason for this. A game like TW focuses all its energy and time on tactics and still has to pause and slow. Besides that, what you have is what you get, whereas in rts reinforcements are very real. In an rts game its much easier to build a new army or approach the problem through an army backed combat structure. A small bonus isn't going to convince me to use a box formation. The bonus has to be really substantial. I have to be able to beat a substantially bigger army before I will consider using it. You open a whole pantry worth of worms in that case. If you have a good solution to that, by all means offer it. But I'm more afraid of combat becoming frustrating.

Develop a comprehensive flanking system with useful formations, but make sure they aren't inflexible. Control groups will take over because they make army organization infinitely easier and more organic than rank and file. Fussing with box formations and the like is impractical. Better to use terrain or numbers to cover your flanks. Having a whole set of formations is nice, but really impractical. The mechanics involved with the wedge and shield wall are significant. Something like skiltron is like choosing the persian military position instead of being forced into it by the Greeks (battle of Marathon). The technology of the age doesn't support the position. In ancient times, Cavalry is too valuable face-to-face against a phalanx formation. Formations tend to rely on mechanics that aren't always in a game. Bonuses should be kept to a minimal, they often make the game feel fake. Wherever possible if a bonus is introduced it should be tied to mechanics. i.e. a morale system of routing, surrendering, fighting to the death, heroes, high ground can solve a lot of problems and express a lot of bonuses in what seems to be real. Giving a square formation a fat 30% bonus makes little sense. unless you consider that formations won't work without it. (you lock up lots of attack value) You have to create a game mechanic to suspend disbelief.

Edited by LordLee, 11 March 2011 - 06:42 PM.

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#17 Mythos_Ruler

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Posted 12 March 2011 - 01:46 AM

I believe that the main resource in RTS is time, and in order to make formations important you have to make it worth the time to use it. I like having a variety of formations, but practically speaking, they get lost in rts games, because the time spent solving problems like this is better spent building an army to replace it that is twice its size. Ideally, everything in RTS can be reduced to a problem in time management.

In the best RTS games, if choice exists at all, there are basically 2 formations: Line and staggered. The rest is almost always extraneous. There is a good reason for this. A game like TW focuses all its energy and time on tactics and still has to pause and slow. Besides that, what you have is what you get, whereas in rts reinforcements are very real. In an rts game its much easier to build a new army or approach the problem through an army backed combat structure. A small bonus isn't going to convince me to use a box formation. The bonus has to be really substantial. I have to be able to beat a substantially bigger army before I will consider using it. You open a whole pantry worth of worms in that case. If you have a good solution to that, by all means offer it. But I'm more afraid of combat becoming frustrating.


I agree with everything here. Formation bonuses should be substantial enough to make them worth using! It would be good to make 100 soldiers in formation as powerful as a simple mob of maybe even 200 enemy soldiers. These bonuses should be realistic, though, and intuitive. Other benefits to using a formation would be the nullification of focus-fire. For instance, it would benefit you greatly to put your hero into a phalanx of hoplites because then the enemy has to target the entire formation and cannot focus-fire just on your hero. So, it's not just bonuses that can make formations worthwhile, but practical gameplay mechanics like that.
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#18 LordLee

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Posted 12 March 2011 - 03:20 PM

I agree with everything here. Formation bonuses should be substantial enough to make them worth using! It would be good to make 100 soldiers in formation as powerful as a simple mob of maybe even 200 enemy soldiers. These bonuses should be realistic, though, and intuitive. Other benefits to using a formation would be the nullification of focus-fire. For instance, it would benefit you greatly to put your hero into a phalanx of hoplites because then the enemy has to target the entire formation and cannot focus-fire just on your hero. So, it's not just bonuses that can make formations worthwhile, but practical gameplay mechanics like that.


My question becomes: why should I ever use a formation other than box for my archers? (staggered formation aside due to area of effect) Even if I don't have melee/archer units i would still use the box for the armor bonus. In which case ideally it becomes a mechanical step in the combat process (if you made me build melee units). build order: "build archers"; "group archers"; "set formation" that doesn't really add anything to the 2 formation system except for an extra hotkey. In such a case I would argue to eliminate any other formation because they are just extra.

Also I'm not sure why a box should have an extra armor bonus. In an ideal world, if you've really blown it tactically (or your enemy is trying a last ditch flank), a box would be used to split your front if under the threat of being flanked. I.e. so your archers aren't hit.. In this case your archers have to be valuable and vulnerable, and your troops meaty; flanking has to be a really big deal, and the battle has to last long enough to make tactics like this worth it. (i.e. remember that for every second you spend on your battlefield, your economy suffers as well, that is why better players never fight battles they can't use to their advantage).

Besides all this. In order to do that, you're archers and catapults have to be in the same formation as your swordsman, which almost no one is willing to do because it makes combat terribly inflexible (i.e. people want special control of catapults). You can see how this problem is becoming increasingly more complex.

I would like these things to be the case, but games like AoK, SC, and other RTS's don't incorporate these features on purpose. even formation driven rts games like RaF completely sidestepped multiple formations. Because, it takes time from other aspects. I used to work with Devs on other RTS games, all the pieces have to fit together neatly, and even then gameplay takes time to tune.

Edited by LordLee, 12 March 2011 - 03:30 PM.

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#19 Mythos_Ruler

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Posted 12 March 2011 - 04:03 PM

I'm not sure what kind of bonus a simple box will end up having. Personally I would like Box (we call it Line) and Column to be basic "default" formations that units naturally fall into when tasked in groups. Line when tasked over short distances and column over long distances (with a speed bonus). I really don't want to decompile and chew over each and every formation in this thread though.
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#20 wraitii

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 08:41 AM

Do you plan on having "wounded" units inflict less damage? It's something that as always bugged me in most RTS: while a unit is alive, it will inflict maximum damage, even if it has 1HP. It's also why it's better to focus on one unit than to "average" damage.
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Lancelot de Ferrière le Vayer [ aka Wraitii ]
Wildfire Games Programmer, AI developer, auxiliary map designer, dealing with anything water.
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