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Imagine an RTS game where so-called basic units play the main role throughout a whole game session.

In my game basic units are actually programmable by a player (like in Colobot/Ceebot), that's why it is so important to keep them significant from the first to the last second of each session.

Problem

I found out that end-game of a typical session is quite boring, no impression of... say, development of a game since middle-game. Don't know how to describe this feeling correctly.

I'm looking for reference to other games where such problem of end-game was resolved.

Thanks in advance.

UPDATE

Some more background:

The game is about splitting tasks which are best solved by chip and by brain. Player does not have to micromanage, he or she writes algorithms (in advance) instead. Players are to make strategic decisions and give high-level orders. I.e. if you have better combat algorithms for a group of bots == you're better at micromanagement. The same goes for engineering units in home front.

The typical border between middle-game and end-game is when all "free" resource sources are conquered by one of players, resources are being drilled, roads a constructed and factories produce bots at full speed (everything is automated by players in a way they want). Frontier line is more or less clear and stable.

From this point there is no choice of rush/produce/defend, you are to collect forces, invent tricky maneuvers and attack.

At this moment there is only one work for players brains: tricky tactics. It is something human brain excels at (in comparison to algorithms).

Balance is so that frontal attacks are very costly (good defense can destroy a great amount of units if an attack is frontal). Therefore attacking from multiple directions, "red herring" и fast relocation along the front line become very important (exactly like at wars in the middle of XXth century, e.g. WWII).

Again, this is where the human brain is much better than any program, so it makes no sense [for players] to write algorithms for such tasks.

My concerns is that in end-game it becomes just like a hexagon game with a very limited amount of units since all underlying tasks are "encapsulated" by algorithms.

Supreme Commander resolves such problem by introducing experimentals, Populous does it with spells (I remind, Populous: The Beginning has only five basic units).

Again, thanks in avance :-)

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Tough question.. try to describe the middle to end game dynamics a little better. –  Diego Oct 23 '11 at 16:50
    
You're right, it has to be clarified. I will update the post right now. Thank you, @Diego. –  Daniel Vartanov Oct 25 '11 at 4:53
    
Starcraft avoids this drawn-out endgame by making the fight rapid enough it will probably end before it reaches this drawn-out point. –  Jonathan Hobbs Oct 25 '11 at 13:18

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The reason why it's boring is because at one point in the game, it will become a repetitive scenario where two armies clash, and then there's a race to rebuild the armies, clash again, repeat until one dies.

The way good RTS counter this is by introducing hard to get technology at the end of the game where if you have it, you have such a great advantage that your enemy will lose unless they see it coming. This can be units, upgrades, abilities, etc. which are powerful and ensure that the game ends fairly soon.

An example of this is the Zerg brood lords. It takes a long time to get, but once they are out, the game won't last long. They're so costly that if the Zerg loses them he's dead, and it's so powerful that if the enemy has no immediate counter, he's dead instead.

Not sure how to invent something for your basic units, but maybe some spells or awesome weapons can be researched for them?

The main points are:

  1. Gradually increasing unit costs = more valuable army = increasingly important battles.
  2. Gradually increasing unit damage = shorter battles relative to amount of units = spend money faster in the end game = game ends faster.
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Thanks! Sorry, I have no reputation to vote for it yet :-) –  Daniel Vartanov Oct 25 '11 at 5:12

Adding upgrades to the units and buildings is one way to add a rich variety of dynamics to the game.

However, take a look at this game. It's different, yes, but it would fall in the same problem of build, clash, the end. But it doesn't fall, and it doesn't have any kind of upgrades. The strategy aspect here is in advancing your territory during the game with walls, traps, doors that open for your team only etc. You do have a few moments of just building, but from there you have to do all at the same time. All this building is playing pretty much the same role as upgrades in usual RTS.

My suggestion is to make changing the units' algorithms occasionally a key point in winning! For example, making workers stop gathering resources to fix a building or accompany an army to set a new outpost, closer to the battlefield, in order to advance on the enemy. If it's easier to just make more units than to reassign them, then make them more expensive.

Remember, even the smallest change in the game's parameters can change the game dynamics dramatically.

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