RTS Campaigns

RTS Campaigns

Postby Lim » Mon Oct 22, 2012 1:13 am

Okay, so I'm making another thread about RTS's and the stuff within them. I'm sure it'll be as impossibly popular as the last one.

RTS campaigns hold quite a special place within gaming. Just the level of quality of the campaign can tell you a lot about the creation of the game and the stance of the developers on what they think about game design as a whole. They tend to fall into one of these catagories.
You can forever know, and get frustrated at an RTS campaign based on a lower part of this list. May you all go with wisdom and grace in the knowledge that it has granted you.

Type 1: This is most characterized by all campaign's story holding a straight, canonical plot. It may have one campaign following one race's or faction's exploits as they meet up with the others. It may have multiple races or factions going about they're way through the plot, but it's all canonical. There is, in essence, one long campaign recounting everyone doing everything.
Everyone has unique things to do, we'll oftetimes'll have special advancement throughout the story as developers somehow fucking learned that getting the same upgrades every fucking mission was boring and stupid (though the guy that didn't realize that was probably the same guy that was designing the keybindings, so whatever). Everything is happy and great and everyone gets hugs and high-fives all the time.

Type 2: This is where you play on two or more different sides and all everything within those campaigns are NOT canon. Usually you pick your side in a menu-y device and go through that part of a conflict. Usually the two or more campaigns will vaguely mirror each other, each doing mildly the same thing as the other but in their own way. Only one really wins, and so only one actually "counts."
It isn't the worst kind of thing to play through, and, despite being who I am and having the horrific biases as I do, I may have totally combined it with Type 1 had it not been for the mirroring thing, which really does define it more than anything.

Type 3: This is where every faction essentially goes through the same campaign. Everyone does the same thing, goes through the same obstacle courses. There is no real gameplay distinction between anyone, and you can oftentimes even hear to story stretching to try and include everyone in the attempt at an all-encompassing campaign.
This is where we start to get more and more into the realm of not caring about the solo experience or not having enough money to cover both sides and swinging for the multiplayer. If they're horrifically crafty they'll still get you to play through it multiple times just to see how some of the characters react to the situations and twists you know are coming, but it isn't the best experience ever.

Type 4: This is where the developers threw up their hands and said, "you know what'd be fun? Playing a multiplayer game with bots a dozen and half times!" Every faction plays through a number of missions that is, essentially the player against a number of bots with very minimal story.
There's often a strategic Risk-like map with minimal mechanics about as well thought-out as Risk (that isn't a compliment, in case you were wondering). You could just play scenarios and get the same effect, but, hey it may not be very fun and might just be a load of shit, but, hey. Y'know? Yeah. Yeah.
Ahuh? Yeah...

There is also often a lot of mixture and cross-breeding between these four types. So you may very well have a Type 1 with bits of Type 2 scattered about it (like StarCraft 2) or a Type 4 with bits of Type 3 (like Dawn of War: Dark Crusade and maybe even Soulstorm if you happen to catch me massively intoxicated) or even a Type 4 with a Type 1 (like Rise of Legends). So nothing is actually end all, but it is.

But, hey, why does this happen more than any other game out there? Why aren't there obvious little niches of hatred for other game types?
Most every game has they're default story mode that has some amount of relevance to what the developers may have wanted the game to actually be. This is, obviously, most evident in any game designed for multiplayer, and, therefore, the solo experience usually fails and falls short because of that. The developers simply don't care so much about that aspect. They simply don't have enough money to make every part of their game up to the standard that they, or their customers, may want. This goes to the point where games completely omit the solo experience completely (and the opposite has been true since the very beginning). Relying entirely on the multiplayer experience to carry the game through. This has worked very very well in some cases, but games are still released with smatterings of one or the other to the point where that aspect might as well not be there at all. This is done for the sake of expectations, tradition, and to try and milk whatever extra money possible.

RTS's probably fall into that probably more than anything else. RTS's are one of the hardest genres to make. They're hard to design around, hard to balance (you have to account for every single thing's build time, speed, rotation speed, firing speed, missile speed, damage, damage per second, defense, cost, cost efficiency, vision radius, range, toughness, and any other variable you feel like putting in. Accuracy? Dodge rate? Why not? Heap those fuckers on there), hard to make AI for, hard to make engaging, and you definitely can't top-down design anything ever because it'll change five hundred times before you're done with it (and don't get me started on the model actually being appropriate for the unit's niche).
So they tend to not be able to incorporate both the solo and multiplayer experience all great and gritty. And they're so always made to be multiplayer.
Every time.
All the time.
Why that really is, I'd just have to guess at. Maybe any kind of solo experience-focused RTS eventually just decides that that exact genre just isn't worth it for what they're doing. It just proves too clumsy and only ends up skirting the edge of a traditional RTS.
Or maybe traditional RTS's just don't suit themselves to solo games, and just lean more toward multiplayer purely in design. Or maybe because I think that the idea that something can't lend itself to something else purely on principle is hose-thieving cattlewash I could shove several sharp implements down your throat for suggesting that load of shit.
So they always go full multiplayer, and the campaign often suffers for it. Why RTS developers always feel the need to include a campaign every single time is beyond me. Even though it really isn't and I can probably guess as to box copies of games always having a solo player thing to some degree as an expectation while Indy developers who are often behind solo-player-less games have to rely on electronic distribution and can do whatever they want.
And that Indy developers rarely make RTS's because they're too horrifically demanding.
But that probably goes further than what I actually have experience in or the right to suggest.
But that didn't stop me at "Okay" so I don't know why I'd care now.
Stay one step ahead in terms of logic

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