Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hold the Door! - pouring salt in the wound for all the Game of Throne fans - #hodor #gameofthrones #got #holdthedoor

"Hold the door" from Star Trek IV: Voyage Home

"Hold the door" from Archer

"Hold the door" from Hackers

"Hold the door" from Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1

"Hold the door" from War Games

"Hold the goddamn door" from War Games

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Killing of the Real-time Strategy game

Real time strategy (RTS) game is often defined by what it is not, rather than what it is.  When looking up real time strategy game, you'll often find it described as a strategy game that is not turned-based.1  I find this tendency as funny.  Normally, something is defined by its characteristics, not the lack thereof.  A real time strategy game is a strategy game played in real time (hence the name) between two or more opposing teams.  Elements of real time strategy games typically include fighting units used for attack, harvesting units used to gather resources, structures of various functions, terrains of various properties that aid or reduce defense, unit spawning, hidden map areas until explored (fog of war), etc.

Generally, real time strategy games allow the player to control position of units on a field of play (map) with various types of terrain. Units can be assigned to act on specified targets.  For example, harvesting units can be assigned to collect resources at a specific location on the map.  Another example, fighting units can be assigned to attack (cause damage) on specified opponent's units.  Typically, units without specified targets will act autonomously in how they attack nearby opposing units or collect nearby resources.

One of the first real time strategy games is The Ancient Art of War, which was initially released in 1984.  I played this game for many hours.  I even also designed many of my own levels for this game.  Many games have followed.  Dune II is often considered the break-thru title that popularized real time strategy.  Prior to online gaming, many releases of real time strategy games supported diverse game-play possibilities.

An alternate viewpoint about real time strategy games can be found in the article What is a real-time strategy game? An exploration and definition.

Currently, real-time strategy games are looking like the proverbial red-headed step child of gaming. Fairly few RTS are being made any more (for a variety of reasons, but that is a topic for another article perhaps) and they tend not to sell particularly well, nor do most of them hold on to viable communities for considerable periods of time...
The author of this article laments that real time strategy games have not been particularly common or successful in recent years.

I found another article, Did the multiplayer online battle arena kill real-time strategy, that claims to explain why real time strategy games aren't be developed anymore, from a perspective of a Blizzard fan.  In this article, the cause is passively blamed on the popularization of massive multiplayer (MMO) online games.  I think this author is wrong.  He references events long after real time strategy games began to falter.  However, the popularization of online gaming is related to the demise of the real time strategy genre, it wasn't related to MMO's, such as World of Warcraft.

Real time strategy games seemed to be an excellent fit for online gaming.  Instead of being pitted against the limited AI, players are able to play against other humans.  However, instead of valuing the challenge of playing against humans with various strategies, a vocal set of players didn't want other humans to use other types of winning strategies against them. They wanted to limit all human players to the same strategies that they chose for themselves.

Developers unfortunately listened to these vocal users too much and reduced real time strategy games down to frantic rushes to resources and frantic rushes on opponent's bases with very repetitive build order of units and structures.  Instead of adding capabilities to increase the number of possible strategies (to better match the real world), developers reduced game play down to focus on one strategy.  The games were still tactical in how you faced units against each other, but they lost all sense of strategy.  With reduced game play possibilities, developers lost their ability to be innovative and bring in new inspiration into the subsequent real time strategy games.  Without the ability to expand playable strategies of real time strategy games, the genre has atrophied.