In lots of RTS games, specifically many of the classic franchises, video game maps are mostly fixed. They may end up being denuded of resources (like trees) gradually, which opens up brand-new motion choices to target opponent holdings, but in a lot of cases this is not a major tactical consideration throughout many competitive matches in those video games.
To me, the most significant con for dynamic map aspects is that they may not fit into the video game based on the overall design objectives. Though once again: even StarCraft 2 has managed to discover restricted expressions of this sort of thing in the type of destructible particles.
Tanks breaking through the ice in Company of Heroes 2 is among my preferred examples of vibrant map interactions.
When units like the Aeon Illuminates Czar pass away, they create obstacles to system motion that are also important sources of earnings for either player, developing a location of high value on the map that didnt formerly exist.
I need to be mindful here: Im particularly using the term “vibrant map aspects” rather of “vibrant terrain” due to the fact that in practically no case is the actual surface of the map able to be customized. By contrast, a dynamic map aspect is in some ways comparable to a player-produced structure: its something that can not move, that can be destroyed, but in the case of a dynamic map component it also serves some tactical purpose in the video game however can be used by either/any gamer. I composed a while earlier about classifications of action in technique gaming, and I feel that method video games have actually tended to have an enough amount of preparatory actions in them (e.g. actions that players build up over time in order to give themselves an eventual leg up in the video game) and video game maps in particular stay pretty fixed over the course of any competitive multiplayer match, unless dynamic map aspects are present. Of course, Earth 2150 is undoubtedly an example of cooking area sink design: gamers develop their own units, the video game has a picture in image mode where the gamer can see numerous locations of the map at the same time, theres a system for digging and moving systems around in underground tunnels on a separate layer of the map … the list goes on. Theres not much in a Brood War map thats going to mess with a players expectations of how various encounters are going to go, for instance, or the parts of the map that are going to matter over the course of a match.
In the majority of cases, the majority of actions gamers can take is to eliminate stated dynamic map components from the video game. Theres a lot of burning and crushing and destroying that goes on, and not a lot of growing or shoring up.
In Zero-K, surface manipulation can be a pretty big offer.
Even StarCraft 2 and Grey Goo have dipped their toe a bit into maps that can evolve in time with the addition of rocks that block particular map gain access to points; and, in StarCraft 2s case, pillars which can be ruined to block off access to locations of the map with particles that can itself be destroyed to open the course again..
Explaining about Terrain Most of the times, applications of vibrant map components are primarily focused on how systems traverse the video game area. Destructible bridges are a fine example of this – in several of the Command and Conquer video games, Engineers can re-building bridges by going into a designated structure at either end of the bridge.
Ultimately, I believe its an excellent thing to have dynamic elements on the game map, whether its as simple as rocks that obstruct courses, which can be ruined to open them up, or whether its more complex like protective tools that can serve either player, and be damaged by capabilities (like grenades). When the map reacts to gamer action, it develops emerging depth in the game by providing the gamers brand-new locations of the map to eliminate over (whether its for resources, or for real weapons of war to steal from their challenger), or producing brand-new ways to respond on certain areas of the map by getting rid of or including protective options, or brand-new methods to handling their opponents..
Some games, such as Earth 2150 and, more just recently, Zero-K, do permit a more free-form modification of surface itself: making mountains, bridging gorges, digging ditches, that sort of thing.
I tend to be more in favor (personally) of game systems that are plainly specified and constrained, while still enabling deep and complex interactions in between units. I tend to be a bit careful of more freeform systems, including design your own units type systems in video games. I find that its frequently easy to find ideal integrates in those systems that actually have a smaller number of viable builds/strategies than video games with pre-defined systems and likewise that theyre also eventually too much intricacy buying insufficient depth, with the added threat of that intricacy in fact damaging emerging gameplay where its attempting to cultivate it rather.
While not seen ranked multiplayer any more, Company of Heroes 2 also introduced with weather condition results on the game map, where at irregular intervals blizzards would take place, freezing water, producing snow drifts which would slow down infantry, and producing hostile environments where infantry would die without access to a heat source. This wasnt so much driven by gamer action, however did force interesting reactions from gamers in terms of preparing for the blizzards and how the game worked throughout and even after them.
In Command and Conquer Remastered, however, the existence of Tiberium on the map can have some impact (this is more real in Tiberian Sun, where Tiberium restores much faster and can be more lethal). In the older games, gamers dont have much alternative to control where Tiberium is, however as the maps clear out of Tiberium, they end up being much more secure for infantry to pass through, which can have some influence on the progress of an individual match.
One thing I always enjoy to see in an RTS is when its game maps, or a minimum of portions of them, have the ability to develop over time in response to the actions players take. To a lower degree, I likewise take pleasure in seeing maps which change in time without player input, to require players to adjust to altering scenarios and danger profiles, however I feel that has less of a strong case in competitive games.
If you desire, check out the complete article at my blog.
Company of Heroes video games, and now Iron Harvest, have a comparable concept because when systems die they drop either the weapon theyre crewing, or a weapon theyre bring that then any other infantry squad can appropriate. This permits for both tactical versatility (because gamers are able to gain team types on the fly) and a transfer of resources from one player to the other, since the weapons all expense resources and a player can get a tool paid for by their opponent at no charge. In fact, C&C 3 does this also with some automobiles dropping wrecks that can be re-crewed by engineers for quick access to a brand-new unit..
Wrapping it UpTheres certainly cases that can be made both in favor of, and in opposition to, both what Im calling “vibrant map components,” “dynamic terrain,” and standard fixed RTS maps. Competitive perfectionists: those that primarily play Age of Empires 2 or StarCraft 2, tend to appreciate the relatively minimal rough edges that maps supply that obstruct of the expression of their ability and competitive drive. Theres not much in a Brood War map thats going to tinker a gamers expectations of how various encounters are going to go, for example, or the parts of the map that are going to matter throughout a match.
Some Additional ExamplesRelics RTS video games are more recent examples of video games with dynamic map components. In Dawn of War 2 and Company of Heroes 2, some greater tier systems can crushing terrain and cover underfoot or under tread, and some weapons hit hard enough to create craters that can themselves provide cover. Additionally, in these video games, when cars die they stay behind on the map and can be used as cover or damaged completely. With time in these games, the map devolves into something else, without cover for infantry, covered in craters and the cigarette smoking wrecks of halftracks and tanks.
Big units, like the Carnifex, have the ability to crush map elements by walking through them.
Supreme Commander has a somewhat different take on this: In SupCom, when systems pass away, they leave a wreck that can be restored for resources, seeding the sites of fights with important income for whomever reclaims it. This does not change the map itself as much, but does alter how players engage with the map and which parts of it may be the most valuable to hold or contest.
A screenshot from the Steam version of Z which shows what cliffs look like. Heaven tank at the top of the image is shooting cliffs to ruin them so that it can travel through..
What do you consider the topic of vibrant map components? Should maps be more fixed, like in StarCraft, or should they evolve more like in Relics RTS? Is more freeform surface adjustment like Zero-K or Earth 2150 better, or going too far?
Builder units in Earth 2150 can modify map surface to make bridges, walls, ditches, and more..
Obviously, Earth 2150 is admittedly an example of kitchen sink style: gamers design their own systems, the video game has a photo in picture mode where the gamer can watch numerous areas of the map concurrently, theres a system for digging and moving units around in underground tunnels on a different layer of the map … the list goes on. Zero-K is probably the RTS that I can believe of which takes surface adjustment most seriously. There are tactical and strategic aspects to the video games surface management system that interest me, even if I havent played much of the video game yet.
I wish to be 1000% clear here: Im not saying that Im against complete surface adjustment in RTS games. Im simply saying that Im skeptical of it and have yet to be persuaded either method. Once I get more hours into Zero-K as to the results of that experience, I may report back.
While admittedly more binary, I tend to choose things like how bridges work in (most) C&C games. This gives both gamer a lot of say over when, and how, bridges exist on a game map. And, to me, concrete objects on the map like buildings, rock to hide troops behind, trenches … these are things that a player can understand and translate plainly.
While truly remarkable, Im not totally convinced that competitive technique games are constantly made much better by offering players with unlimited freedom to modify the terrain of a map. In Earth 2150, for example, I hardly ever if ever used the surface modification tools for any factor.
Thanks for reading.
I require to be cautious here: Im particularly utilizing the term “dynamic map aspects” rather of “vibrant terrain” due to the fact that in nearly no case is the actual surface of the map able to be customized. By contrast, a dynamic map aspect is in some ways similar to a player-produced structure: its something that can not move, that can be ruined, however in the case of a dynamic map component it likewise serves some tactical purpose in the video game but can be used by either/any player.
The oldest video game where I remember seeing what Im calling a vibrant map is Z, the retro tactical robotic game by Bitmap Brothers. In that game, there are cliffs which block traversal by units (see screenshot above).
There are strategies and technique games, nevertheless, where the map itself is able to be customized by gamers in a variety of ways: opening up new attack paths or closing them off, altering which areas of the map gamers care about and wish to contest, or removing alternatives from gamers in particular geographic locations..
In addition in Company of Heroes 2, dynamites and some weapons are able to damage ice under soldiers and tanks, immediately killing them by submerging them in the freezing water below. This sometimes has a significant impact in winter season maps, in addition to changing how units are forced to move while on ice (to avoid holes in the ice). I think throughout blizzards, ice could re-freeze as well, developing a cadence of changes as ice was ruined and re-frozen.
Usually, I seem like it would benefit maps in RTS video games to feel more like a living place and less like a fixed game board. They need to develop based on player actions, with crashing helicopters digging up grass, buildings burning down, walls falling apart as cars or shots pass through them. I ultimately like this for mechanical/systems reasons, but I imagine it would likewise be cool visually.
If you desire, check out the complete short article at my blog site.
Company of Heroes 2 goes farther with this than any other game I can consider (consisting of C&C 3) with de-crewed tanks having the capability to be captured by other gamers. Given that tanks are so effective and expensive, scoring one off of a challenger is a significant gain. I consider these dropped weapons and crew weapons and tanks to be dynamic map aspects in exactly the exact same way that I consider dead units in Supreme Commander to be such: theyre complimentary resources that occur in areas on the map that are the outcome of fight in between gamers, that can player/team either advantage and cause those areas of the map to become temporarily tactically or tactically essential, to state nothing of dead lorries ending up being cover for infantry in these video games..
The following blog site post, unless otherwise noted, was composed by a member of Gamasutras community.The thoughts and opinions revealed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent business
I actually truly like Supreme Commanders method, and have executed a comparable system in my personal video game job: SCRAP mod. In SCRAP, when systems pass away, they decay into resources after spending 3 minutes as a burning wreck, giving players time to jockey for control of those resources prior to really being able to mine them.
Why is it essential to me that dynamic map aspects be developed as the result of indirect action? I composed a while ago about classifications of action in strategy gaming, and I feel that technique video games have tended to have an enough quantity of preparatory actions in them (e.g. actions that players build up over time in order to give themselves an ultimate leg up in the video game) and game maps in specific stay lovely fixed over the course of any competitive multiplayer match, unless dynamic map elements are present. Adding reactive aspects to the map, to me, is a favorable thing.