Microing

Like all RTS games, microing plays a big part in gameplay. However, microing in Strike Tactics is more akin to earlier, classic RTS titles. Starcraft 1 rather than Starcraft 2. Warcraft 2 rather than Warcraft 3. Age of empires 2 over AOE3, etc. 

Unit abilities - or lack therof

What makes microing closer to these earlier titles? The single most important factor is unit abilities. In Strike Tactics, there are no unit abilities. Or at least, no unit abilities that the player manually clicks. This changes the microing dynamic completely and makes microing more about unit positioning than unit abilities. It also means less keyboard jockying and more long term economic and military strategy (i.e. macroing). Your units are more or less, independent, and don't require babysitting. 

Broad roles

Unit roles in Strike Tactics are extremely broad. Most air units can attack most ground units. Most ground units can attack air units. Granted, certain gun types are ineffective againt air (i.e. those with slow rotation speeds), they nonetheless can still fire and still hit air units.

This broad role unit design as opposed to strict role, is very much by design. It lowers the skill-ceiling, enforces the 50-50 air vs. ground dynamic, and makes massing single unit types more viable. I say "more viable" because obviously only needing to create 1 unit to win the game is a serious design flaw - that is very much not my intention. My intention is to make unit counters not as hard as they are in games like starcraft 2. There is still a strong counter system (i.e. bombers are effective against ground units, the peregrine is an air superiority unit, Merk is anti air, etc), only the counters are a bit softer. 20 bullfrogs (ground cannon unit) will easily get decimated by a squadron of bombers, but they will at least take out a few bombers with them. 

Perhaps I am misguided in thinking that broad roles will result in a funner RTS game. If that is the case, I can always change things later. Game meta is discovered, not designed. A strict role counter system which is unforgiving and harder rather than softer, is better for an esports game. My goal with Strike Tactics however, is not to create an esport, but something fun for the average RTS gamer. 

Pathfinding 

Another big factor is pathfinding. I don't want to insult myself and say ground units in Strike Tactics are programmed to have stupid pathfinding - but given the limited resources the browser has, my solutions for pathfinding are far more primitive than, say, Starcraft 2. In SC2, units move seamlessly. If one unit needs to get in front of another, the units make coordinated movements to make that happen. In Strike Tactics, if a unit gets in the way of another unit, the unit waits for the other to pass. If it takes too long, it finds an entirely new path. Some units move based on relative positioning, others, specifically air units, move in clumps.

Is my pathfinding optimal? Absolutely not. But in order to succeed, you must learn the nuances of unit movement and positioning. Each unit has its own unique movement attributes. Ground units have movement speed and turn speed. Air units are a bit more complicated, because it involves more advanced 2D physics: speed, maximum velocity, acceleration, angular velocity, etc. Some air units can hover in place - others cannot. Some air units clump; others, do not. 

Weaponry

Every weapon in Strike Tactics has its own unique properties. For example, some weapons can rotate, others can only fire from the angle at which the unit is pointed at. Some weapons have rotation speeds, others turn instantly to acquire targets. Some guns can only fire once every second, others, 10 times per second. 

Every weapon has bullets and bullets come with their own unique set of properties. There are different types of bullets: lasers, cannon, artillery shells and bombs. Some bullets have a blast radius which cause them to do damage to units within a radius of their destination. Other bullets can pierce through units, to hit units behind the first unit they hit. 

In summary, there is a lot of variety to the kinds of weaponry you will find in Strike Tactics. 

Physics

2D physics plays a large role in the outcome of engagements. In a lot of RTS titles, physics is simplified. Take Starcraft 2. If a unit is in range, it will fire in a straight line and hit its target every time. In ST, it's a bit more complicated than that. The gun on the unit will fire if its target is within range, but like with real world physics, guns are not 100% accurate. Guns will fire when an enemy is within range, and also when the angle measured between the gun and its target is within a certain margin of error. But the aiming is affected by many other factors, such as:

  • The speed of the unit which is being fired at
  • The speed of the unit firing (guns with the ability to rotate can generally fire while the unit is moving)
  • The rate at which the gun fires
  • The speed at which the bullet travels
  • The angle variance of the gun (real guns have recoil, which means the faster they fire, the less accurate they fire)

Please note, this is not random missing. Randomness is a bad, artificial and lazy mechanic - at least, in an RTS game. Bullets don’t randomly miss their targets; they miss because of some physical factor, such as the rotation of the unit, rotation of the gun, speed of the unit, etc. Much like the real world - there are a number of things that factor into the equation which ultimately answers the question "did this unit do damage to this other unit?"

This intention is for all of these factors to be accurately represented in what you see on the screen, so players can learn optimal unit handling - where to move a unit and when - based on their previous experiences handling the unit.

Some might argue that picture-perfect pathfinding, unit abilities, and a more absolute weapon/damage system, not so severely affected by the nuances of 2D physics, is a better way to design an RTS. My goal is not necessarily to create something better, but rather, something different. The world already has Starcraft 2 - and it's a fantastic game. I want to explore new RTS mechanics, while still embodying the spirit of classic RTS.

 

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