Skirmishes; building units in RTS matches

16 Feb

There is a problem with introducing people to Real Time Strategy games, they tend to find them baffling  and weird due to many of the mechanics, such as having units be “build” and only starting with one builder unit and an HQ building.  I believe that reframing RTS matches can help shorten the ‘leap of logic’ people must make when first encountering them. In game, Matches are often referred to as Skirmishes, and I think that framing Matches as that type of battle will provide a reference model for the genre.

A skirmish is a type of battle where detachments from larger armies fight for a non-critical advantage, like say, in a theater level conflict, the two sides simultaneously realize a small village is unoccupied by the other and send in small units to set up defenses in the village. The two sides encounter each other and start asking for help  from other units in the area. The two try to either drive each other out of the area or take control of the key defensive position that was the objective of the skirmish long enough to make it too difficult to take. Both sides are only interested in victory if it’s cheap enough, being willing to commit units that are extremely advanced but only in limited numbers, decisive in the small battle but hopefully getting those advanced units back.

Research could be thought of as the player justifing the request of more powerful units and ‘building’ it could be waiting for it to reach the front. Behaviors that break the illusion the players are a commander of a small, informal unit, like skipping light tanks and going for heavy ones, would cause the player to fail. The goal would be to create a mindset that would be familiar with a new audience, but still allow room for high amounts of skill growth by modelling it on something real.


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