A cooperative hierarchical RTS: could it work?

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A cooperative hierarchical RTS: could it work?

Postby Spambot5546 » Fri Apr 22, 2011 7:59 pm UTC

A friend and I were discussing how RTSes tend to be more about micromanagement than actual strategy and we started talking and came up with an idea. We make the RTS co-op, and instead of having each new player spawn with their own base they are instead put in charge of a certain portion or aspect of the existing base.

Basically if would work like this: You start with two players working their respective bases. As they build more and keeping tabs on everything becomes more difficult they flag the server to invite another player in. The original player now becomes the overall commander with the newbie as a subordinate (though the OC can promote the sub-commander). The sub-commander is given control of resource gathering, or the army, or base construction, or something else, or some portion of those things. As more is added more players can be brought in.

Given a sufficiently intricate game each side could conceivably end up with a dozen players. The ones at the bottom at the chain of command would be free to micromanage their units/buildings/whatever and the higher up ones would be free to make strategic decisions.

While I feel that this offers an ocean of strategic options I also feel like the idea would be doomed to failure because everyone would raegquaat when they see that the role of "combat commander" is already filled and they're going to be stuck mining Vespene.
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Re: A cooperative hierarchical RTS: could it work?

Postby Xeio » Fri Apr 22, 2011 8:03 pm UTC

I actually liked a mode like this in the origional starcraft, when you could have two players control the same base/units.

Inviting players as the game has already progressed would be... a daunting prospect (particularly for the new player) though. And nobody wants to sit around half an hour waiting to be "activated" either...

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Re: A cooperative hierarchical RTS: could it work?

Postby Menacing Spike » Fri Apr 22, 2011 8:06 pm UTC

Xeio wrote:I actually liked a mode like this in the origional starcraft, when you could have two players control the same base/units.

Possible with mods in SC2.

OP:
Try Savage 2/Natural Selection 2. Savage has a leader that plays a rts game, manages workers, casts buffs, gives orders; two officers that give orders and plant respawn buildings; and players that beat the shit out of each other.
Natural Selection has a similar structure for the marines.

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Re: A cooperative hierarchical RTS: could it work?

Postby Spambot5546 » Fri Apr 22, 2011 8:28 pm UTC

Menacing Spike wrote:Try Savage 2/Natural Selection 2. Savage has a leader that plays a rts game, manages workers, casts buffs, gives orders; two officers that give orders and plant respawn buildings; and players that beat the shit out of each other.
Natural Selection has a similar structure for the marines.

I'm familiar with Savage, but wanted something where each player is still playing a strategy game.
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Re: A cooperative hierarchical RTS: could it work?

Postby Menacing Spike » Fri Apr 22, 2011 8:35 pm UTC

Spambot5546 wrote:I'm familiar with Savage, but wanted something where each player is still playing a strategy game.


That doesn't exist that I know of; savage was IIRC the closest (with squad management and all).
You might want to try modding a SC2 map like that; the tools are there!

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Re: A cooperative hierarchical RTS: could it work?

Postby Eseell » Fri Apr 22, 2011 8:45 pm UTC

Spambot5546 wrote:While I feel that this offers an ocean of strategic options I also feel like the idea would be doomed to failure because everyone would raegquaat when they see that the role of "combat commander" is already filled and they're going to be stuck mining Vespene.

You could have players sign up for specific roles in addition to commander, like combat micro or econ micro or base building/tech tree kind of stuff. Then when the role is open they get slotted into the one they want instead of one that will make them raegquaat. I think it might be tough to get thrown into the middle of a skirmish that's been ongoing for some time with no idea what the situation looks like, so maybe, but maybe there's a solution to that. Players could get a couple of minutes of notice that they're going to be "drafted" and they get to see the battle space from the perspective of their commander or at least their new position before they actually start playing.

Like Xeio, I used to play a lot of Team FFA in SC; my friends and I had it setup where one person would focus on macro, one person on combat micro, and one person on econ micro. It worked pretty well, especially at LAN parties.
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Re: A cooperative hierarchical RTS: could it work?

Postby Spambot5546 » Fri Apr 22, 2011 8:56 pm UTC

Eseell wrote:You could have players sign up for specific roles in addition to commander, like combat micro or econ micro or base building/tech tree kind of stuff. Then when the role is open they get slotted into the one they want instead of one that will make them raegquaat.

One idea we had actually discussed was adding an RPG element to it. That way a player who does econ a lot starts getting bonuses when they're in an econ role.
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Re: A cooperative hierarchical RTS: could it work?

Postby Levi » Fri Apr 22, 2011 9:05 pm UTC

Leveling outside of individual battles is a bad idea in RTSes. It makes things really suck for low-level players.

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Re: A cooperative hierarchical RTS: could it work?

Postby Menacing Spike » Fri Apr 22, 2011 9:08 pm UTC

Levi wrote:Leveling outside of individual battles is a bad idea in RTSes. It makes things really suck for low-level players.


But that sells better.

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Re: A cooperative hierarchical RTS: could it work?

Postby psion » Fri Apr 22, 2011 10:19 pm UTC

Handling solely economy or tech sounds immensely boring. It could be like Savage or NS except the lesser players control squads of units RTS style. Maybe with multiple base commanders to build units and so forth for their assigned players. The base commanders could send out weaker squads assuming they don't have anyone assigned to them. That way no one is forced into a role that they don't want. It sounds difficult to design but that's how I'd do it.

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Re: A cooperative hierarchical RTS: could it work?

Postby Vaniver » Fri Apr 22, 2011 10:55 pm UTC

The problem with coop games that do role specialization is that if the player distribution and the optimal team distribution are very different, then that generates friction.
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Re: A cooperative hierarchical RTS: could it work?

Postby Meem1029 » Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:03 am UTC

One way this could be done is sort of like how Ender commanded the people in Ender's Game (I'm talking about the ending part. I'll spoiler the rest in case anyone hasn't read it. If this is the case, go read it now. It's awesome.)
Spoiler:
What I mean by this is how in the end during the Third Invasion when Ender is commanding people and they each take control of smaller combat groups. Perhaps the commander could be in charge of economy at the same time as giving orders. For example, I would probably enjoy getting a small group of units, and having a specific goal to achieve with them (maybe I'd be in charge of taking down enemy watchtowers or something). One potential problem with this is the trust necessary between team members since if anyone screws up, you can all be in trouble due to it. This could be bad for new people who are figuring out game mechanics, as if they get yelled at for causing a loss, they might be scared away.
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Re: A cooperative hierarchical RTS: could it work?

Postby Amalith » Sat Apr 23, 2011 3:15 am UTC

It's a cool idea, though I don't think it could work for a general game. What immediately popped into my head though was clan battles. It'd be perfect: practiced teams each focused on their section working as a whole. It's very reminiscent of clan battles of any other game, just in an RTS. Probably not everyone's cup of tea, but I think it'd be fun. A person micromanaging each army, while others have bases they control, managing economy and production for their section. Of course, the army guy would be waiting around while the first base is being built, but I think for many people, this wouldn't be a problem (or you could start with more than typically expected in an RTS, but then you're getting closer to everyone just being a seperate player). A single commander could just tell everyone what they're going for, though that might not be necessary if the team is communicative (as one would expect in a clan setting).

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Re: A cooperative hierarchical RTS: could it work?

Postby bigglesworth » Sat Apr 23, 2011 8:43 am UTC

This could potentially be very cool.

I'm imagining something like Total Annihilation, where your commander unit is a builder and a fighter. What you then do is have different types of commander. You could choose a base-building one, a war-fighting one, but they'd each be able to build, they'd just be able to build different things. The base-building one would get resource extraction, heavy industry, base defences. The war-fighting one would get weaker temporary unit production, recon towers, earthworks, MG nests, that sort of thing.

You could make the armies independent of the base-production commanders by having a reinforcements option that has to be turned off in order to receive troops from the base: i.e. choose between a set amount of reinforcements or command the army you're given by your team-mate.

I was thinking that there could be a specific hotkey for assigning a portion of your units over to someone else - make a group, then assign it over.
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Re: A cooperative hierarchical RTS: could it work?

Postby suweid » Sat Apr 23, 2011 11:18 am UTC

I love the concept. In my mind it could stretch out from FPS to RTS, with various stages of abstractions for higher tier commanders. I.e. larger scale than the op suggested, with many more players. I'm just going to mash some ideas in...

But for not let's imagine Crysis-1 level of openness, and start there.

  • Players adhere to one battle-group. Let's say there's one battle per day [or whatever time unit you like] per battle-group.
  • You join up as "private". You get your orders from officers above you [Let's say that at the start of the battle these officers are AI]. If you do a good enough job, your officer has the ability to promote or kick you out (If you are running around without any pants on...). The mechanics are rigged so that more and more players have a chance to advance, and lower tier peons are successively replaced by the AI.
  • There are several tiers of play. Let's say you start with a fast-pace FPS. You can advance to squad leader (still FPS), then maybe to base commander (with ability to jump to and fro FPS and base build mode), then maybe you command several bases, and so on.
  • Some players can get stuck in FPS mode as elite forces, and some can get stuck wherever they wish. Sort of to each his own - paradigm.
  • When the game advances to sufficiently high overall level, the AI that took over no longer can build, just maintain what's already built. Generally the AI should be pretty dim.
  • Lower echelon players should be able to somehow demote the higher ups. And even though someone has already mentioned that RPG style is unsuitable, there should be a bare minimum requirement met for each level of play. For example, you need to do the usual move your camera about and shoot at stuff to be eligible for a grunt role, then, say pass an ender-game-like simulation for the highest level of command, and clock one million billion hours as a lower level officer.
  • As the battle day progresses, you find that you don't need to be glued to your screen to scream out order. "Win that war"-order can take a long time, and even though you are a higher up you no longer matter as much, and can go about your work.
  • I accidentally clicked submit, so I'll stop the rant here....

I think that more likely than not, we'll see this kind of game before the end of the running decade. More massive, more immersive and more and more complex. Part of the limitation is still in the hardware, and part is in finding the right mix that would be fun.

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Re: A cooperative hierarchical RTS: could it work?

Postby Technical Ben » Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:09 pm UTC

Is this not what they are trying to do with Eve online? Nuking the entire battle field from orbit to add to the confusion too. :lol:
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Re: A cooperative hierarchical RTS: could it work?

Postby CombustibleLemons » Mon Apr 25, 2011 12:26 am UTC

if the mundane tasks like resource gathering were made easier then yes this would work.perhaps make the resource line be able to be raided by some computer controlled thing at random times or idk any thing. as long as things that are normally automated are made unauto then yes this could work like a charm. to eliminate grief or the like "court martial" or votes would work. the OC could give overall tasks such as attack here on the map taking this route then the subordinate would do it or get court martialed. the hardest part would the joining mid game system. if you made it so there was a lobby and people could choose the "class" (put limits on the classes obviously) it would work.
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Re: A cooperative hierarchical RTS: could it work?

Postby bigglesworth » Mon Apr 25, 2011 12:31 am UTC

Amalith wrote:It's very reminiscent of clan battles of any other game, just in an RTS.
I missed this the first time around. It's a good idea: the MMORPGRTS. Instead of a 3rd-person action game, but with MMORPG, you'd have an RTS. Instead of powers and armour and such, you'd have units in your army. Each 'dungeon raid' would be like a coop map. PVP would be like usual RTS PVP. You'd level up in the units and amount of them you can use.
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Re: A cooperative hierarchical RTS: could it work?

Postby Midnight » Mon Apr 25, 2011 9:47 am UTC

the ascendancy from FPS to some kind of squad game to a small-scale RTS to a full-blown economy-n-errythang RTS would be awesome--but yeah, the biggest flaw would be undoubtedly getting all kinds of people that want to play each individual level, without all trying to fill the same roles, and generally without much friction at all.
the problem with people joining at the lowest level and having to work their way up is that, over time, more and more people would move up, and then you have too many generals. You NEED the most people at the lowest FPS level--and you don't want people in it for the FPS game to move up unwillingly, and you don't want people in it for the RTS game to have to slog through lame FPS nonsense before 'the real game' starts.
One solution to that is make the spots competitive, but then anyone that just barely gets edged out would be pissed. You'd need to make each person able and willing to do the roles that they've signed up for, which demands the intensive task of making each level similarly immersive.

thing is, you really only get that in smaller communities, and then the UI wouldn't be as polished as it would need to be for that kind of topdown interfacing.

honestly, I feel like the RPG elements would be shorter-term for the FPS players: eg kill-streak bonuses that last for that life (a la CoD), or just a simple +<stat or whatever> after getting X number of kills, to last the whole game, or even possibly things like winning a game giving you a morale bonus for your next game (wouldn't stack very high at all, maybe +2/4/5% to damage with a 3+ win streak)... but the higher up you are, the more overarching the bonuses are. Thus, the overall commander of the game wouldn't NEED a +1-clip-for-all-his-troops bonus @ 1000 kills, cause all of his troops got those by their individual merit; the commander would get +2% for econ after a thousand kills for the remaining duration of the game (he could also get the morale bonus thing, but that isn't really necessary if his troops have it; if they were separate (to account for various players moving in and out of games) they'd have to be very very small) and with 10 wins or whatever would get +1% to econ forever, or something.
pretty much the FPS levelups and stuff last maybe a minute minimum, or up to a life, a game, two or three games tops--and the RTS commander gets bonuses that last a game, a few games, or forever at the top end.
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Re: A cooperative hierarchical RTS: could it work?

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Apr 25, 2011 12:41 pm UTC

I think the idea's been tried before with space ship commandeering; one person is making the calls and giving orders, while other people are manning the guns, or fighters, etc. It doesn't strike me as something that will work very effectively, and is better suited to 'wanna be the gunner? now you can!' type games instead.
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Re: A cooperative hierarchical RTS: could it work?

Postby CombustibleLemons » Mon Apr 25, 2011 9:15 pm UTC

if the map was so big one commander couldn't control everything would be advantageous too
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Re: A cooperative hierarchical RTS: could it work?

Postby IcedT » Tue Apr 26, 2011 5:39 am UTC

bigglesworth wrote:
Amalith wrote:It's very reminiscent of clan battles of any other game, just in an RTS.
I missed this the first time around. It's a good idea: the MMORPGRTS. Instead of a 3rd-person action game, but with MMORPG, you'd have an RTS. Instead of powers and armour and such, you'd have units in your army. Each 'dungeon raid' would be like a coop map. PVP would be like usual RTS PVP. You'd level up in the units and amount of them you can use.

I've thought about games like this, and the big problem is that one of the main elements of traditional strategy is competition over a relatively fixed amount of resources in a relatively closed environment. These thing's don't carry over well to the MMO setup.

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Re: A cooperative hierarchical RTS: could it work?

Postby LaserGuy » Thu Apr 28, 2011 8:52 pm UTC

Hmm... this what was sort of came to mind for me when I first read your suggestion.

Start with a game like Heroes of Might and Magic. Each player entering the game gets, let's say, 1 hero and 1 castle, and no single player can control more than 1 hero and 3 castles at a time. Castles have a control area under which flagged mines and other resources will donate to the castle, but resources outside that range cannot be controlled by the castle. If two heroes encounter each other, they can fight (of course), or one player can swear allegiance to the other. A percentage of the resources from the vassal's mines are then also sent to the lord (say, an ore mine giving 2 ore per turn would also give 2 ore per week to the lord), allowing them to extend their control beyond their own lands; in addition, a percentage of experience gained from the vassal would be passed up to the lord (not a penalty, just new experience generated...) and resources/experience from the vassals of vassals are also passed upward, but to a lesser degree with each upward rank. Make the tech tree quite a bit larger and make random monsters/items respawn and you're probably set. Heroes who lose their home castles can become nomadic and either try to steal a castle from another player, or get recruited into service (and given either a castle or just units/resources) by another player.

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Re: A cooperative hierarchical RTS: could it work?

Postby BoomFrog » Tue May 03, 2011 6:57 am UTC

Didn't puzzle pirates have tiered job's, where starting players were pumping the bilges and the most advanced were captains of their own ship and such?

Make two game modes, AI run army where everyone plays the lowest level fps only and you earn "gold". And Commander run armys where the commander payed a bunch of gold to start his army and then he has to recruit people to join his army at all levels. That should even out the supply and demand of high rank positions. Only good commanders will keep their troops. (basically the 2nd mode is clan wars)

AI would only fight other AI run armies so it'd be fair.
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Re: A cooperative hierarchical RTS: could it work?

Postby andrewxc » Thu May 05, 2011 11:02 am UTC

Technical Ben wrote:Is this not what they are trying to do with Eve online? Nuking the entire battle field from orbit to add to the confusion too. :lol:

Yes, they are attempting to do this with EVE: Online. I'm not sure how big the game can be / will be allowed to get. When I joined in 2004, the universe seemed so massive and there was so much stuff to do, I got lost until I had direction from corpies. I couldn't even imagine what the game looks like from an outsider's perspective, now.
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Re: A cooperative hierarchical RTS: could it work?

Postby Beardhammer » Wed Jun 08, 2011 9:38 am UTC

Spambot5546 wrote:
Menacing Spike wrote:Try Savage 2/Natural Selection 2. Savage has a leader that plays a rts game, manages workers, casts buffs, gives orders; two officers that give orders and plant respawn buildings; and players that beat the shit out of each other.
Natural Selection has a similar structure for the marines.

I'm familiar with Savage, but wanted something where each player is still playing a strategy game.


I don't know if it'd be practical to have an RTS setup like that, though. As mentioned, RTSes tend to be less about strategy and more about tactics (or in leetspeek, micro!) If you slowed things down or put it into a TBS game, you'd spend 80% of the game getting newcomers caught up before they can actually DO anything useful for you. In an RTS, the game would be proceeding too fast and they'd likely need to step aside and just watch you play.

Hell, a lot of newer players in SC2 team games do this - they share control and then basically expect their partner to play both sides for them while they go play SimCity in their base or something.

Really, Savage - and to a somewhat lesser extent, Battlefield - are really about the best you can expect from this sort of concept. You have a commander who has godmode view of the map, who communicates it to his underlings (the squad leaders), who then communicate that to their minions (squad members.)

If you were to do this on a very large, almost MMO-like scale, you could have the little minions acquire your lumber or gold or food by playing a shooter, and have the RTS elements be what the higher-ups do. Maybe the minions are playing capture the flag around a sawmill; they capture the flag and lumber gets added to the team's resources. The big boss delegates that and other resources to his underlings, who can then build new structures to unlock new classes/weapons for the minions, or maybe just dump it into upgrades for the minions (your archers now shoot +2 arrows of awesome!) On a smaller scale, you'd remove the middleman underlings and make the CTF aspect be more like "go here, grab logs, try not to die on the way back." Use the resources to upgrade your minions' stuff, or use it to build a siege weapon that your minions can cruise around in to wreck the enemy base.

The whole RTS+shooter/action game concept's pretty fun, but I think it'd be hard to implement well.

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Re: A cooperative hierarchical RTS: could it work?

Postby Gelsamel » Sat Jun 11, 2011 4:53 am UTC

I would love a game like this, I like resource gathering.

Edit: I should add, that I love the idea of Strategy games, but as pointed out I don't really find any of them that fun because it's all about tactics (micro) and building just a few unit types that completely counter the enemy's army rather than both sides having a diversified army and using strategy. When ever I play it with friends I am the guy who likes to focus solely on economy and defenses and then just tribute everything to my partner.

If there could be a truly strategic RTS that incorporated stuff like morale, legislation, disasters, peace/trade agreements, etc. Ie. a true empire simulator, but real time, and with hierarchical co-op, that would be the most amazing game ever. Perhaps some kind of Civ/Savage/AoE hybrid with hirarchical coop.

Problem is that a lot of people like things to be fast... and so this game wouldn't be that popular... I myself have no problem with an MMORPG-like game that is more focused on the development of an empire where it might be that a lot of your time is spent not fighting monsters but simply liasing with traders, guarding caravans, helping villiagers rebuild after an earthquake. As long as the game makes me feel like I'm impacting the world/empire or even just the hamlets and villiages you interact with in a positive and tangible way (ie. none of this hours of effort for 0.1% shit) then I'd have great fun in that game.
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